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Sadong River Borneo]. June 25, 1855.
My dear Fanny,— ... I am now obliged to keep fowls and pigs, or we should get nothing to eat. I have three pigs now and a China boy to attend to them, who also assists in skinning “orang-utans,” which he and Charles are doing at this moment. I have also planted some onions and pumpkins, which were above ground in three days and are growing vigorously. I have been practising salting pork, and find I can make excellent pickled pork here, which I thought was impossible, as everyone I have seen try has failed. It is because they leave it to servants, who will not take the necessary trouble. I do it myself. I shall therefore always keep pigs in the future. I find there will not be time for another box round the Cape, so must have a small parcel overland. I should much like my lasts, but nothing else, unless some canvas shoes are made.
If the young man my mother and Mr. Stevens mentioned comes, he can bring them. I shall write to Mr. Stevens about the terms on which I can take him. I am, however, rather shy about it, having hitherto had no one to suit me. As you seem to know him, I suppose he comes to see you sometimes. Let me know what you think of him. Do not tell me merely that he is “a very nice young man.” Of course he is. So is Charles a very nice boy, but I could not be troubled with another like him for any consideration whatever. I have written to Mr. Stevens to let me know his character, as regards neatness and perseverance in doing anything he is set about. From you I should like to know whether he is quiet or boisterous, forward or shy, talkative or silent, sensible or frivolous, delicate or strong. Ask him whether he can live on rice and salt fish for a week on an occasion—whether he can do without wine or beer, and sometimes without tea, coffee or sugar—whether he can sleep on a board—whether he likes the hottest weather in England—whether he is too delicate to skin a stinking animal—whether he can walk twenty miles a day—whether he can work, for there is sometimes as hard work in collecting as in anything. Can he draw (not copy)? Can he speak French? Does he write a good hand? Can he make anything? Can he saw a piece of board straight? (Charles cannot, and every bit of carpenter work I have to do myself.) Ask him to make you anything—a little card box, a wooden peg or bottle-stopper, and see if he makes them neat, straight and square. Charles never does anything the one or the other. Charles has now been with me more than a year, and every day some such conversation as this ensues: “Charles, look at these butterflies that you set out yesterday.” “Yes, sir.” “Look at that one—is it set out evenly?” “No, sir.” “Put it right then, and all the others that want it.” In five minutes he brings me the box to look at. “Have