June 7, 1908
How lazy of you not to have written to me. I hope you have been employing your time in fixing a spot for my hearthrug.
We have been having glorious weather all the week until today, which is quite cold and has been raining in torrents, so we have gone back to crouching over the fire instead of panting in any little patch of shade we can find.
On Monday, Norah and I went for a long walk or rather climb up the Mettenberg. We left Auntie at the hotel to watch us through the telescope, and I think it was just as well we did as we crawled about the most precipitous banks looking for flowers and it would have given her fits to see us hanging on by the skin of our teeth. (We were out of sight of the telescope by then fortunately.) At last we came to a big snow drift which we could not get over so we slithered down a precipice meaning to go back by some wooden steps round the edge of the cliff. However we found you had to cross some very wobbly planks to get to them, with a prospect of a rapid descent onto the glacier, so we thought better of it and struggled up our precipice once more and returned by the way we had come.
We went up to the Eismeer on Wednesday, which is as far as the Jungfrau railway is finished. Just before we got to the tunnel the train stopped and we were all shot out to wait at a most uninteresting and desolate looking spot for an hour and a half. It was called the Eigergletscher and was much like any other glacier only rather dirtier. I believe the pause was intended for us to go and have a big feed at the restaurant, but as we had our own food with us their kind arrangements were rather wasted on us. We then proceeded on our way through a tunnel through the Eiger for an hour or so till we came to a spot with little peep holes into the outside world. There we disembarked for a quarter of an hour to take photographs and gaze at the surrounding country through a telescope. Then we went on to the Eismeer. The trains are so badly arranged that we had either one minute or an hour and a quarter to look at the view. Of course one minute was no use so we had to stay the hour and a quarter and nearly got frozen as the thermometer was hovering round freezing point, and although we had taken coats it was a bit of a change from the 85 in the shade down here. There was nothing much to be seen as one can only get out on the glacier in the summer, so we took more photographs and looked through more telescopes and tried to keep as warm as circumstances would permit. The proper thing seemed to be to have a big meal or to write shoals of picture post-cards to one’s friends, but neither form of amusement seemed to appeal to us.
On the way down we stopped for two hours on the top of a young mountain called the Little Sheidegg, where we grubbed up all sorts of plants. Norah is taking a regular garden home with her. We are told you are not allowed to take plants out of the country so she means to pack them in her boots and hopes they won’t be discovered if her box is examined. The Byasses are staying at Interlaken and came up here the other day just for an hour to “do” Grindelwald. It ended in their sitting down to tea with us and then rushing off to catch their train without seeing anything but the view from our hotel. They start home on Tuesday too but, as we go straight away to London and they stop a night at Basle and Boulogne to avoid travelling at night, we shan’t come across them. I am not at all looking forward to going home and the prospect of tennis bores me intensely, but I suppose it won’t when I begin. It is funny that I never had any real wish to go abroad until I went last year, and now I can’t think why I never made Auntie take me before. I am afraid there is something lazy in me too which likes the sort of life of having nothing very special to do. I expect I should soon get tired of that though, anyhow I hope so!! We went to a dear little place called Mürren the other day. It is built on a narrow ledge high above the Lauterbrunnen valley and is reached by a tremendously steep railway. We meant to have gone there after this but we all like this so much we have not been able to tear ourselves away.
Norah had a letter from Francie the other day saying Mrs. Witts’ brother had died so Guiting now belongs to Mrs. Witts and the idiotic old woman thinks it is her duty to let Fosse Cottage and go and live there! Did you ever hear such a mad idea? Fancy those wretched girls being shut up there. Francie seems awfully upset about it and says she believes they are to go in the autumn. Someone ought to reason with the old thing, but I don’t see who is to venture, as she won’t stand much interference and loves going against as many people as she can. I can’t imagine tennis parties without the Witts and as they must never be a minute late for 7:30 dinner it really would not be worth their while going to any. Fancy the poor things having to hunt with the North Cotswold too!!
Quite a lot of people have arrived here now. There was quite a large congregation at Church this morning and the singing was somewhat better, but the chaplain gave us the most melancholy sermon which lasted twenty-three minutes. He is the most desperate old bore and we waste much valuable time in trying to avoid him. He would insist that Norah could sing because she had “musical bumps”. I think he’s rather dotty. So yesterday she had to go and sit in her room to avoid being carried off to choir practice. He hasn’t been quite so keen on her since he heard her discussing Derby winners! There is another parson here who says he spends his whole time dodging the old boy round corners. There are however two not quite young damsels who seem to appreciate his attentions and he had the most interesting conversation with them one evening, telling their bumps I think. Unfortunately Norah and I spluttered so audibly behind our books that we had to go and sit in another room, but Auntie managed to sit it out and told us about it after. He told them they had more heart than head and warned them to be very careful and endeavor to restrain their affections. One of them is to love very deeply but not quite wisely. They are no longer young and very plain, poor dears, and they answered that they lived in Hampstead or Hammersmith or somewhere and there was only one young man there! He also implored them to take up some kind of work and not to waste their lives. He thought Norah would make a good hospital-nurse, by the way! He didn’t suggest anything for me. I don’t think I can have interested him much.
I couldn’t finish this last night as the chaplain and the minor canon were having an animated discussion about the Athanasian Creed and I felt forced to listen. The poor old “chap.” got quite annoyed about it and brought the most absurd arguments (if they could possibly be called arguments) to bear on the subject. We had to go to bed at last because we laughed so disgracefully and the first thing I saw when I came down this morning was the “chap.” and the canon arguing on the mat at the foot of the stairs. They seem to have parted friends though, as they shook each other warmly by the hand when the canon left just now.
I have had my third fall, so I think I ought to manage to get home all in one piece now with any sort of luck. I took a header down stairs. I flattered myself no-one had seen, as I had made no noise and picked myself up very quickly, but when I arrived in the hall I found Norah and the lift-boy in convulsions. Luckily everyone else was at lunch.
We are going to spend one night in London on our way home and are going up again in about a fortnight for a week or two. Auntie thinks it would amuse me to go to some theatres and exhibitions and things. I dare say it will.
I am sorry to say Trevy Martin died last Friday. [Mr. Martin was a trustee in charge of Kathleen’s inheritance and may have been her legal guardian as well. See Kathleen — May 14, 1908.] He seems to have had an operation for appendicitis. Auntie saw him just before we came away and thought how much better than usual he seemed, so it was a great shock when we got a telegram to say he had died. He was such a dear old man too, in spite of his ideas not quite fitting in with ours. I think I told you I was to have gone to stay with him next month.
When does Mrs. Stubbs get into Lemington? I suppose they have begun their alterations by now. Perhaps Fosse Cottage would have suited them if it had been “to let” sooner. Daphne will have to take up tennis. I don’t think she plays at all, does she? [Mrs. Stubbs is Robin’s step-mother, Daphne his half-sister.]
We have been grubbing up gentians all the morning to stuff Norah’s boots with and meant to have gone after all sorts of Alpine plants this afternoon, but it has begun to deluge so we shall have to get them tomorrow before we start. Storms seem to come on so suddenly in this country. It’s just like turning on a hose, there’s no warning drizzle to begin with.
I am hoping to find a letter waiting for me in London. I think I deserve one and I certainly want one.
Yours with love,