August 18, 1908 KITEBROOK,
My dearest Robin,
I am sorry my full-faced photo does not meet with your approval. [This reference and others below apparently derive from a letter of Robin’s which is not extant. It must have been written in early August.] The fact is I take worse that way than any other way even. I shall have the back of my head done next time!
We are having a very strenuous time at tennis. I have played nearly every day for the last month. Yesterday we went to a party at the Barnsleys and as several people did not turn up, those of us who did had a pretty hard time. I never paused for an instant except for tea and got through nine setts, the last a single against Roderic.
The Stow Tournament lasted three days and a bit. There were a tremendous lot of entries. Several strangers came up from Cheltenham. Norah and Mr. Garnett won the mixed doubles, Norah and Francie the ladies’, and the brothers West from Cheltenham the men’s. Francie won the ladies’ singles and Mr. Tennant, a friend of the Grisewoods’, won the men’s. I only played in the ladies’ doubles with Betty Whitehead and we were beaten at once by a very feeble pair.
I hope you and Harry played nicely after your long rest and won your match the other day. Next week we all play for the cup at Stow. As there is no handicap, I am afraid I shan’t get far. Francie holds it now and I suppose she will continue to hold it as long as she plays.
My “hen” tournament is now a thing of the past and I am quite grey! I collected ten couples after all and they all played in one lot. I had a most exciting time for the few days before, wondering whether I should play myself or not. First a telegram put me out, then a note put me in again, and so it went on. In the end I played instead of Norah as she was worn out with the Stow tournament. Three couples tied, Mrs. Warden and Daisy Johnson, Mrs. Pierrté and Betty Whitehead, and Mrs. Norman Whitaker and myself; so we had to have a little American tournament to ourselves. Mrs. Warden and I won and Mrs Pierrté was second. We didn’t get on very well in the dark and it was pitch dark when we finished.
The Wittses have an American tournament next Friday. I am taking the field with Mr. Crocker. As I always shriek with laughter whenever I hear him speak or see him try to take a ball, I don’t know how we shall get on. I consider he was very rude to me, as just after he had asked me to play with him he said, “You know I am so bad, I don’t like to ask anyone at all good!” I quite realize that I am not much of a performer but I don’t think he need have pointed it out to me like that!
The tennis dance was considered a great success, I believe, but I was so cross all the time I couldn’t enjoy it. I only promised to go because Betty was so keen about it. We had to leave the club in the middle of a most exciting match between Norah and Mr. Garnett and two Cheltenham people and rush home to dress, which annoyed me a good deal; and then Betty said she had toothache and would rather not go, which annoyed me still more. So Auntie and I reluctantly sallied forth to the fray. There were just over fifty people there, I believe, hardly anyone I had ever danced with before, so it was altogether very dull.
Mrs. Becher is not to be outdone by Stow so is getting up a dance at Bourton on Thursday. I have not yet heard of anyone who is going. Certainly nothing will induce me to.
Betty departed yesterday, to the enormous relief of Auntie and myself. We can’t imagine how we stood her for so long in the winter! She is the laziest person on earth and if left alone for a minute promptly goes to sleep, which is irritating. The other day I sent her out to sketch, as I happened to be busy. Two hours later I went to see how she was getting on. She had drawn one tree and been asleep all the rest of the time.
I expect I shall have a cheerful time with her when I go to Yorkshire, but it will be all the better for me if she does nothing!
I am so glad you had such a good hay season. You must be glad when it is over.
Are the masons and carpenters getting reconciled to your views yet or have they locked you up as a dangerous lunatic? I should love to be able to take a peep at all you are doing, and it seems such a long time off before I can, doesn’t it?
Yes, I think you did make a mistake in not trying to persuade Auntie that you really wanted me, because she doesn’t believe it a bit and you do want me very much, don’t you, Robin? I have told her you do but she doesn’t think I know!, so we have given up discussing the subject. It is so cold today, only about 60°, and yesterday was almost 100°. I don’t like these rapid changes.
We went to such a splendid entertainment at Kingham on Saturday, a sale of work and Pierrot entertainment which was quite excellent, done by Marjorie, Freddie and Artie Grisewood, Dorothy Hoare, Alice Robinson (not Lockwood), and Mr. Tennant. Freddie sang some very good songs and Alice recited things she had written herself. Mr. Tennant was the shining light. He both sang and recited some killing things. He played his own accompaniments and had an idiotic way of gazing round at the audience with his eyes shut which was very comic. We all got quite helpless with laughter.
Later. Time and the luncheon bell overtook me this morning. We went up to the Club this afternoon. There were not many people there, for a wonder. I played three irritating setts with Mr. Murray, the parson of Bourton on the Hill. I expect you remember the little creature, he used to hunt last winter. He is quite hopeless at tennis. When our opponents began to lob, he weakly flicked at the ball and murmured, “What on earth is one to do with a ball like that?” I got so cross at last that I said, “Why hit it, of course!” He seemed quite hurt about it and didn’t ask my advice any more.
Norah has had a letter from Harry today and I haven’t had one from you, so she crows. I am so glad you won your tennis match. You sound a pair of demons. I hope you were equally successful next time.
Tomorrow I am going over to Burford for the day with Violet Causton. We are going to sketch and take photographs and explore. Do you remember our little trip to Burford?–how you would insist it was my shortest way home, and I pretended to believe you! What years and years ago it seems!
Violet came this evening. She seems extra full of go. After keeping me playing the pianola till about 11:30 she then insisted on taking a photo of Auntie and me by flashlight in her bedroom. Since then she and Auntie have had a pillow fight and she has stuffed Auntie’s bed with clothes brushes. I think I have landed them safely in their rooms at last. It’s nearly one o’clock tomorrow morning.
Norah is under the impression that you live in an arid spot where no flowers grow. That isn’t so, is it? I don’t like gardens without flowers. I am trying to learn the rudiments of gardening too from my worthy aunt. At present the only thing I can do is take rose cuttings. My last year’s ones are turning out a huge success. We have had no rain worth mentioning for ages and everyone is complaining as usual. Fortunately we hardly ever get short of water here.
Mrs. Style is getting up a garden fête for the Moreton hospital next week. It consists of a bazaar, golf-croquet tournament, and variety entertainments. Marjorie and I are going to act “The Backward Child”. As we have not yet managed a reheasal and it is two years since our last performance of it, I don’t know how we shall get on! The room we act in is so tiny and generally so packed one can’t move and so hot one can’t breathe. Last year I got quite muddle-headed from the heat and should have considered the advisability of fainting had there been time and room and anyone to carry me out.
I don’t think your people have put in an appearance at Lemington yet. It doesn’t look as though they had half finished building. I hear they are at Marlow now. The Styles went to spend a weekend with them. I have not seen any of them for ages, not even Miss Risley. I suppose she can’t be at Stow now, for I have been there pretty frequently lately.
I sent your photographs to my aunt at Leamington to look at. She thinks it must be quite a delightful place. I am longing to get one of the finished house.
I hope the stairs have gone in satisfactorily. If they are as steep as they look from your drawing, I expect I shall start by breaking my neck. I am not much good at steep slopes, as I proved in Switzerland!
Ever your loving