June 16, 1908
Moreton in Marsh
My dearest Robin,
I have just got your letter [i. e. Robin — May 28, 1908] this morning. I was beginning to wonder if I should ever hear from you again. Do you know it’s three weeks since I got your last one? I call it perfectly disgraceful! If you hold up Norah to me as a pattern letter-writer I shall retaliate with Harry, as Norah heard from him several times while we were abroad! As a matter of fact I think some of my letters must have mis-fired, as I have written every week since April 30 and that one at any rate doesn’t seem to have reached you; however there was nothing worth reading in it. [No letter of Kathleen’s dated April 30, 1908 is extant.]
We had a delightful time abroad and I was quite sorry to come home. We left Grindelwald at 4:00 o’clock and did not get to London till 4:00 the next day (Wednesday), so we had a good long journey. We stayed the night in London but Norah came straight on home. I have not seen her since we got back but I hear she is still alive. I think she is wonderfully better for the change and ought to be equal to any amount of tennis. She got all her plants home safely but we had quite an exciting time with them. There were too many to go in her boots so the rest were done up in a parcel and carried inside her great coat. We thought our goods were not examined till we got to Folkstone so she put them in her bag when we went to bed. We were just going to sleep when the ticket-collector came in and said the customs-man would be along in a minute, so Norah leapt out of her berth and unpacked the precious plants and hid them under her pillow till the gentleman had left. Of course I nearly gave the show away by laughing and had to pretend to be asleep.
We had a very smooth crossing. The Byasses, who came by the next boat, said it was a dense fog, so we were lucky to escape that. We had to have rather a frugal dinner on the train as we found there was no dining-car attached and the only things we could get at Berne were stale rolls and cherries and sticks of chocolate! Not very substantial, but better than nothing and kept us alive till Bâle, where we got more rolls and coffee.
I am hoping to go to the club for some tennis this afternoon but it is trying to rain at present. I expect I shall be pretty hopeless, as I have only got last year’s sprung racquet. I was so busy choosing a hat in London that I had no time to get a racquet too.
Many happy returns of your birthday and all my best wishes, Robin dear. I had been wondering which was the day as I knew it was in June, and I had decided I should have to wish you many happy returns of the whole month. I’m afraid my good wishes are rather late but better late than never!
I wonder if you have begun to alter the house yet or if my letter on the opinions of my relations made you wait to think it over. I am very anxious to get your answer and to hear your ideas on the subject. All the same I think I know what they will be and expect the house is going on apace, isn’t it? For you are a very determined person you know! (and so am I so I hope we shan’t ever take opposite sides of a case!). It does sound funny to be able to pick up one’s house and put it somewhere else, and without turning out of it too. You know you are a dear to be doing all this for me, but I’m going to try and be worth it if you don’t quite spoil me before I have time to begin by taking such a lot of trouble for me! You can’t think how I am longing to see it all and I keep wondering what you are doing and what it will be like. You’ll have to take lots more photographs for me when it’s done so that I can compare them with the others, which I am looking forward to getting soon.
I liked to hear your “point of view” and I think mine is much the same. I am sure you are right. It’s just the little everyday things of life which make up happiness or the reverse, and being rich and going in for all sorts of amusements and things count for very little so long as one’s home-life goes well. And there you have Mrs. Barnsley’s little sermon to me, which I think I told you about, only in her opinion it is not love which makes the wheels run smoothly but a sort of mutual understanding and a similarity of tastes and ideas, but I won’t believe that. It sounds a very poor thing by itself, don’t you think? I wonder which way they began and when and why she came to this decision. It seems to me that the understanding and all the rest of it can’t help being contained in the love. She drew a harrowing picture of a friend of hers to prove her point but only succeeded in convincing me that they couldn’t have cared two straws about each other, so I really didn’t think it applied to us; but I politely refrained from saying so and promised to consider the matter. I wonder how many people I have made that promise to! I should think I should still be considering till it’s too late to consider any more and we just have to sit down and wait to see who’s going to be right; but I know we are and it always considers out to that each time when, in a dutiful moment, it strikes me that I have not given sufficient thought to somebody or other’s opinions. I have had quite a peaceful time abroad as Aunt Fanny has ceased from vain arguments and of course Norah sees things in my light.
I am glad to hear you enjoyed one of your dances. I admire your energy but do please be careful in the future not to swallow dust in such large quanties. It can’t be good for the digestion, although possibly an economical substitute for supper. I am sorry the English one did not meet with your approval. It’s really most unpatriotic of you to be bored with the institutions of your native land, but you can’t expect me to believe that you preferred dancing to a gramophone and swallowing clouds of dust to Mr. Joyce and less gritty refreshment.
No, I don’t think one hammock is enough for two people. (I dare say you have forgotten you ever said it would be.) One is sure to get sat on and it’s generally the smaller one–at least Marjorie used to sit heavily on me when we used ours as a boat and rowed with croquet mallets. She took every opportunity of falling on me too when we upset, which we did pretty often. Since my early youth I have given up sharing hammocks with my friends, but you seem to know all about their capacities. Did they hang round the orchard the other night when the moon was full and the dust was thick?
What nonsense I am writing, but I have no news of the neighborhood to tell you as the Barnsleys are the only people we have seen since we came home.
The Wittses are advertising Fosse Cottage, I hear, and are going to take the name of Waddingham. Isn’t it absurd!
I suppose Master Baby Lyons is your God-son as he has been presented with your name? [sic–The baby’s surname was probably Lysons.]
We go to London on Monday for two visits to two great aunts, and then I am probably going down to Eastbourne to stay with Margaret Barnes, you remember her, she stayed with us for the Ladies Ball.
The poor old pony I learnt to ride on has had to be shot, which is rather sad. He used to do the mowing so we are trying to get another to replace him. As it has got to fit the boots, it’s rather difficult. One came to be looked at this morning and Knowles played prince to the pony’s Cinderella. He got one shoe on and it stuck and I thought he would have pulled the wretched pony’s leg off but it didn’t seem to mind a bit, so it’s evidently quiet. They say when it is shod differently the boots will fit so it’s coming on trial and we hope to get the lawn mown by Friday, as we have asked some folks to play tennis that day.
I have heard no more of Peggy Fenwick’s engagement so I suppose it was one of Marjorie’s special inventions. It was lucky I didn’t write to congratulate her!
By the bye, would you mind tying a little bit of string round your letters in the future or packing them in a box? The last two have arrived literally bursting with their news and with a large patch on one end stating that they were “found open and officially sealed”. Think how tantalizing it would have been if one of the middle pages had droppped out! And I don’t want to share your letters with the Moreton post office people either!
Oh, you can’t think how nice it is to feel you are really wanting me out in B. C. and sometimes I imagine myself there and wonder what I should be doing. I can’t tell you how I want you back, but a quarter of that tiresome year is gone now, isn’t it, and someday I suppose it will all be gone.
They had a Conservative fête at Chastleton just before we came home and Mrs. Style sang a song called “Unionists be ready!” written by Miss Whitmore Jones. You know the old thing I mean, the owner of Chastleton, aged some eighty odd summers! I should love to have heard it.
With love and all my best wishes for future birthdays since I am rather late for this one,