September 18, 1908 Grove House
My dearest Robin,
I have already made two attempts to write to you this week. I hope this the third will arrive at completion. Your letter of advice for carrying on the simple life arrived most opportunely the day before I came up here. [This letter of Robin’s is not extant.] We have been at it twenty-four hours and twenty-five minutes now and are getting on splendidly. It took me nine hours to get here. It’s rather an out of the way spot. I arrived just in time to help cook the supper, which was quite a success. Today we had roast leg of mutton for lunch. We were a little anxious about it as we had neither of us done anything of the kind before, however it turned out quite a masterpiece.
We have taken one of the oaths and have so far washed up everything after each meal. The other, to have a meal in no other house, we shall probably keep without taking, as the cook at the Whiteheads’ other house leaves tomorrow to be married and they don’t seem to have got another, so I expect they will all be coming up here for meals! when they hear what cooks we are!
We don’t have to draw lots for lighting the fire, as we have arranged with the station master’s son to do it before we are up. The station is the only building anywhere near, so the station master and a friend staying with him, an inspector of police, walk round the house at night to see that we are all right. We are well guarded aren’t we? Mabel Witts said she was sure we should see ghosts if we were alone in the house but we did not meet any last night.
We have not managed any sketching today as it began to rain as soon as we had got the work done!
We are going cub-hunting on foot on Monday, if we are energetic enough to get up in time. The Warwickshire turned up at Kitebrook just as we had finished breakfast on Tuesday. Reggie and I dashed forth in wild excitement and pursued to Chastleton Grove, regardless of the fact that it was raining cats and dogs.
We had a rifle competition the other day for the best scores at 50 and 100 yards. The shooting was not of a high order on the whole, as it was a very gusty day. Reggie was first with 29 and 28, Mr. Richardson second 27 and 21, myself third 24 and 21, Mr. Harry Causton fifth and last 17 and 15. My best scores are 29 at 50 and 26 at 100 yards out of 35. I shall practice up to have a match against you when you come back.
Reggie took me out to shoot rabbits one evening, but they were rather too quick of hearing for us and we only got one shot each. I just tickled up my rabbit, but he got up and ran away so I don’t think he was much damaged, anyway I hope not!
Have you heard of Mr. Hewitt’s engagement? It was such a surprise to the neighborhood. The lady, a Miss Johnes, is a friend of the Lawrences’ and they met at a garden party at the Lawrences’ on August 24th. Two days later they played together in the golf croquet tournament at the Moreton garden fête and were much struck with each other. In fact he asked her to go on to stay at Maugersbury, which she did next day till the following Monday and he proposed to her on the Sunday; so says report in the shape of those two charming gossips, Mrs. Evered and Mrs. Francis. A case of love at first sight!!! The wedding is fixed for October 12th. No one guessed anything about it till it appeared in the “Morning Post” about a week ago. Report also says Mr. Hewitt is pained to think everyone is so surprised. He thought people knew he always intended to marry! I was given a full account of the proceedings during the storms at the Club on Tuesday. Miss Lewis is to be married on Tuesday. Report (the same as before) says she isn’t quite sure if she really wants to. It must be dreadful to have such an undecided mind that it won’t stick when once it’s made up!
I dispatched my photograph last week. I hope it will arrive in due course. They made me fill up a very threatening paper at the post office which said the parcel might be “seized” if the contents were not accurately described.
There has been a great commotion in the family just lately. I think you know that Geoff will be 21 in November and that Kitebrook will then be his own property. About a fortnight ago Auntie and I each got a letter from Geoff saying he thought he ought to give us as much warning as possible that he intended to let or sell the place as soon as possible. Of course I knew it would eventually be let if he went into the army and there were none of us to be there, but it was rather a shock to hear that he intended to let it without even consulting us or considering us in any way. I don’t quite know what will happen to us. Nothing is decided as yet. Geoff is such a very difficult person to deal with and never seems to be of the same mind for two minutes together. On the same day, he wrote to Auntie, Uncle Jim, and the uncle who has taken Mr. Martin’s place, and each letter absolutely contradicted the other as to his intentions. He cannot legally turn us out until Michaelmas two years, I believe, as he cannot give notice until he is of age and has to give a year from Michaelmas. Of course we should not enforce that, but it is very difficult to know what to do, and the decision has practically been left to me as Reggie is under age, so has no voice in the matter really; and the uncles say it makes no difference to them where we live. Of course I should hate to leave Kitebrook and I simply don’t know what is best to be done. It will be intolerable there if Geoff fills the house with his friends and plays master in the way he seems inclined to do. And yet if we go and he is unable to let the place (and it is sure to be difficult in the middle of the winter) I don’t see how he can possibly keep it up, as he does not come into a good deal of his money till he is 25, which is just as well. Perhaps he will have learnt wisdom by then.
I believe the uncles and Geoff and the lawyer are to meet one day this week to arrange something. I told the uncles to tell Geoff we would stay for a year if he was quite willing for us to do so, otherwise we would go at once. I think that was best, don’t you? Heaven only knows where we are to go if we have to move. We can think of no house except the one Mrs. Dick had at Maugersbury and we don’t know what that is like, as we have never even seen it. I can’t imagine anything much more awful than living in Maugersbury! Geoff seems to think he is wasting money in keeping up Kitebrook when he is so little there. It does not seem to occur to him that Reggie and I each pay a share and of course if we leave he will have it all to do himself and at the rate he is living now he could not possibly do it. Things are in a hateful muddle altogether, but I suppose they will come straight in time. Geoff also declares he will give up the army. He tried to chuck the training in the middle but fortunately an uncle stepped in and prevented him.
My remarks about not trying new horses this season were a little premature, for since I last wrote I have found, tried, and secured a very nice horse. He was produced by the worthy Hawker, who took Blackbird in part exchange. He is a great big black horse just over 16 hands with a white star in his forehead, rather like Blackbird altogether, only much bigger and up to any amount of weight, so Reggie will be able to ride him too. Hawker says Mr. Bailey used to ride him last season but I don’t seem to remember him. I am looking forward to quite a good season with him and Pedlar and half a day on Ladysmith now and then.
You must have had huge fun camping out, but the rain must have been a bit upsetting. How funny it should have started just after you said you never had any!
I am looking forward tremendously to those photographs. I wonder how you are getting on with your lawn. It seems so funny somehow to think of lawns and gardens out in your country. One always imagines crops and things growing on every available spot and the house simply a necessity because one must have somewhere to live.
I think we should be rather glad of you and your labor saving ideas sometimes. It would certainly be nice to have someone to clean the knives and boots and fetch the coals! I arrived here with a bad cold too, which does not exactly add to my enjoyment of the situation. It’s much better to-day though and I am feeling more equal to cope with hot fires and heavy saucepans. By the bye, it’s two days since I began this letter. If I ever indulge in a cold when I come out to B. C. you will have to clean the pots and pans those days!
My “rather wild” partner in the doubles at Stow was Betty Whitehead, the girl I am staying with now.
I believe I am going on to Leamington for a few days when I leave here. I hope they won’t all give me good advice this time! I expect they will think a week up here will satisfy my desires to be my own cook and housemaid etc. all in one, but I don’t think it will at all, for we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves! The rest of the Whitehead family come up and wonder at us, and ask how long we are going to stay.
What a tremendous year for crops it seems to be in Canada. From the papers one would think everyone was making a fortune in about five minutes!
Reggie has invited me to the Woolwich ball in November. It ought to be rather fun, only I never enjoy dances much when I don’t know the people.
Well, it’s time to get the tea!! I wish you were here to taste some of our cakes!
Ever your loving