April 14, 1908 Kelowna, B. C.
My dearest Kathleen,
I am sending you my photograph. It is not much to look at but perhaps that isn’t entirely the camera’s fault, though as a matter of fact I don’t believe my mouth really does undulate across my face as the photograph makes it. Anyhow here it is with my love and I wish the original got half the opportunities this photograph will have of seing you, that is if you ever take it out to look at it. I also send a photograph of the house taken some years ago which I must say I think rather flattering, for the trees in the background, I regret to say, are no more as they were on a neighbouring farm and have been ruthlessly cut down. It is a fright the way they are cutting down all the trees round here. The valley isn’t half so nice as it used to be but that is one of the evils of prosperity. Land is too valuable to be covered by trees unless they are of the fruit variety.
Harry and I had a quite uneventful trip across. We stayed two days at Johnny Leigh’s farm at Brandon. He had been alone all the winter and had scarcely seen a soul. I don’t know how he could put up with it. I should imagine that to live on the prairies was the most melancholy form of existence possible. We spent the best part of one day in Brandon itself before going on to the farm and were quite at a loss for something to do until we saw an advertisement of a lady Palmist who had once told the fortune of the King when Prince of Wales (or so she said) so we each invested a dollar pour passer le temps. I had never had my fortune told before but I thought she was rather good. She said amongst other things that I was very unsettled at present but should be more settled in a year or two. The first part of which is true. It is unsettling to go back to the old Country (England is never called anything else out here), still more unsettling to leave you behind there; and, as all my prospects are changed now and I have any amount of things to think about, I expect she was right in saying I was unsettled. I hope the second part of the sentence is equally true.
She also said that I should not be likely to work for anybody else for a salary but preferred to work for myself, which is what I have often told you, and that I should live to be 75. (She gave Harry 76 so you see she has got her science down to a fine point). She saw lots of voyages in my hand and said I should cross the water pretty frequently which may possibly be correct. [Robin died in September 1957, aged 75 years and 3 months.]
She said there was a girl with rather light brown hair and who was a “leetle broad across the shoulders” (the palmist was a french woman) who was having a great influence on my life. Do you consider yourself a “leetle broad across the shoulders”? I do not understand how she could tell that from my hand. I expect she went on the length of my arm and supposed it had got stretched somehow.
I forgot to ask her when I was going to be married but that doesn’t matter as I have a shrewd suspicion I know without being told by any palmist.
I have your photograph framed now and hanging just over my desk where it looks exceedingly nice. The only fault I have to find with it is that you are always looking into the distance over my left shoulder and I should so much rather you were looking back at me.
My estimable man Powell has managed very well while have been away and I found everything in fine condition when I came back. He takes a tremendous lot of trouble over things that the average hired man out here wouldn’t dream of doing and takes as much interest in the farm as I do.
It didn’t take me long to get back to work again and cooking and dish washing seem to come quite naturally. I rather like the spring work on a farm as it is nearly all done with horses and I am handier with a horse than a hoe, which comes into play later in the season when the weeds come up and the weather gets hot. (This is also the time when Powell does most of the work.)
Everything is just getting nice here now, the trees will soon be out and the grass is getting green and even the horses begin to look nicer now that they are losing their winter coats It is really some pleasure to groom a horse now when they are shedding their long coats (they are never clipped) as they begin to get nice and shiny and less like highland cattle.
I have four to feed, groom, and harness each morning before breakfast, after which we straighten up a little in the house, not very much if we are busy, and I take two of them out harrowing more or less all day, always allowing a comfortable time for lunch (we have it at 12 o’clock and call it dinner) and stop work about 5 o’clock when the usual evening work begins as on all farms, i. e. getting the cows in, milking, separating, feeding calves, fixing up the horses for the night, etc., and at 6 we have supper and by 7 that is done and the dishes washed up and after that there is nothing to be done till bedtime. You might think the evenings would be long as I can’t imagine what you would do in England if you had finished dinner at that hour. Out here I never find the evenings long enough though it would be hard to say what one does till bedtime. Sometimes, of course, write long letters like this and then it gets long past bedtime and when my Admirable Crichton comes to tell me it is 6 o’clock tomorrow morning I shall wish I was back at the Cottage with a 12 o’clock meet at Stow in front of me.
There is also an extra inducement to sit up tonight as Powell has gone down town and will bring the mail back with him and there may be a letter from you. I do hope there is. I haven’t heard for three weeks now that is since the day I sailed and you don’t know how eagerly I look for a letter. It doesn’t matter how short it is, a letter from you is worth all the rest of my mail put together. It gives me more pleasure to get a letter from you ending up, “your loving Kathleen,” as one of yours did, than anything else out here can possibly do. I seem to have written quite a lot tonight, though I have my doubts about the quality of the material. You can read it by installments or, say, one page to be taken nightly as a soporific. (I am hoping this word means sleep-inducer but am a little doubtful since writing it.) No more at present.
Ever your loving