December 17th – 21st
Mother and I went over to Sati today to stay with the Coffins. We were a large party and had a ripping time. We used to go hunting, had some splendid runs and kills and after lunch we used to play tennis till tea, then stroll till dinner, then from 9.30 until 12 we hopped about like made things amusing ourselves with baby games.
December 22nd – 28th
We have had a very jolly Xmas week. On Xmas night we made as much noise as possible and ragged a great deal, drank numerous healths, absent friends and individual ones. All felt a little sad because of reminiscences but tried our best to drive away blues. On Monday night the English mail came and it was a most exciting minute. I had a very nice dak, hearing from most of the people I expected to. I had a letter from CWM who it appears is getting on quite well and having a good time. I am so glad, as I was desperately afraid he would bother himself over our unfortunate affair d’amour.
He wrote quite cheerily perhaps, rather bitterly and mentioned that he couldn’t understand how Mother could possibly say he had “taken advantage of her kindness”. Who has been poisoning his mind still further goodness only knows, someone wishing to do one a good turn I suppose.
Mother and I rode over to Bettiah one day and whilst there visited the Christian settlement which is looked after by 9 R.C. nuns and two priests. It was most interesting, the so called convent is surrounded by a high wall and to one side is a courtyard where live a lot of people. They showed us a baby with a face like an old woman, and a woman who laughed at everything and anything but had the largest mouth I ever saw and one wondered how on earth she happened to get hold of so many teeth. One or two wee babies were sitting on the floor in the middle of the courtyard, all with something different the matter with them. We are going to see them again when we go to Bettiah for the Meet. The Settlement is very large and very old. On the way driving to it we passed through a large native bazaar where one could get anything from fish and meat to glass bangles and earrings. We mean to go at New Year.
Dec 30th, Friday
Factory life is very much the same from day to day. We ride till lunch, then either play tennis or work and sleep until tea, then when it gets dark we stroll and return to read and sew till dinner. Not having any dogs now we cannot hunt.
Mother and Ell went to Durbhungah (sic) yesterday. About a week ago the Maharajah died suddenly and his brother succeeds him, at whose Durbar they have gone to be present. I wish I could have seen it. Yesterday morning when riding we came across such a picturesque scene. It was a stretch of open road leading to a village, fringed with palms and in the foreground was a group of men beside a bullock cart and further along 5 or 6 women in scarlet dresses carrying baskets on their heads. Such an Oriental scene. Today took us along the banks of a river and on either side were bamboos and the yellow flowering, strong scented Barbul tree. It looked just like a hothouse in Kew.
We ride from one piece of Indigo land to another, cultivation everywhere as far as one can see, Cecil giving orders and I trying to understand them in the hopes of bettering my knowledge of Hindoostani (sic). I have flowing conversations with the servants.
The last day of 98, and how thankful I am that this beastly years is over. I distinguished myself by taking my first toss. It was over a jump and Hermiston wriggled just in the middle so I was left where I least expected! Cecil was able to catch him as I followed meekly behind on foot with a crowd of natives all round me showing me the way. Of course I couldn’t understand a word.