Wynne’s journey to India.
Travel in the 1890s involved a great deal more effort than it does today. For one thing, there was all the baggage required for a long stay away. Since the journey alone took so long people resigned themselves to being away for months, not weeks, and in this case Wynne was away from the beginning of November 1898 until May 11th 1899.
On October 24th all the baggage was sent off ahead, and then on Monday October 31st she travelled up to London on the train with Elliot, her brother, who was accompanying her. They stayed there until the Wednesday, then went to Charing Cross. Wynne’s mother was already in India, having left on October 18th because there was no space in the boat that Wynne and Ell were booked on.
” We started off to catch the 9.10 at Charing Cross and just missed it, we swore a good (deal) but afterwards were frightfully glad as we heard that when the passengers got to Dover they were told it was too rough to cross and so had either to come on to Folkstone or wait until one o’clock! Well we crossed at Folkstone and I don’t think I have ever had a worse crossing and a weirder time – it was too rough to go outside so we were all boxed up together in the saloon, the noises were better imagined than described – bears and cats weren’t in it. Of course I was desperately ill and felt frightfully cattish till I got to Marseilles, we had a most comfortable journey down from Paris and I slept all the way…and then came on board when we found Walter (her uncle) etc… luckily I have two very nice ladies in my cabin and manage quite comfortably.”
They passed through the Straits of Messina on the Saturday, noting that Stromboli was smoking. So far, Wynne was enjoying her companions, and had played piquette (or piquet – a card game) with a man she called the Apostle, a Greek. She had watched the phosphorus over the side, and attempted to dance, “but it was no good, each time we flew to our side (of the boat) and stuck there!” Then there was church on Sunday, and on Monday a day of lazy idleness as the weather improved, though by the afternoon sports had been arranged, and an impromptu concert fixed for the evening, with some of the passengers performing. Port Said was due to be reached the following day, and “a fancy dress ball is rumoured after Aden I believe, what a business it will be getting dressed…I wish it was an ordinary ball and not fancy dress, so much less trouble.”
November 8th 1898, Tuesday
This morning we reached Port Said at about 10.0. From the outside it looked very pretty but as soon as we approached we saw what a really filthy hole it was. The coaling, to my mind, is really interesting, it is done so marvellously quickly, and the men who work it look just like fiends incarnate tearing up and down with their filthy baskets. We threw them down pennies as they came near, and the scramble was frantic. The Apostle, Mr Adams, Ell and myself went ashore about 10.30 and stayed till 5.0. Port Said is a weird hole and no mistake, there is only one main street and that is lined with shops, the street is filled with hawkers of all possible kinds, who teaze one to death – all along, donkeys rejoicing in the names of Mrs Langtry, the Bishop of Bombay, Mrs Maybrick etc stand at every corner, and their owners rush out always addressing one by the names of Mackenzie and Ferguson!!
First of all we went to the Eastern Exchange and secured a table for our lunch, after which we went and bought 1000 cigarettes, and I got some fans, a parasol etc for my Jap dress which I am to wear at the fancy dress ball. We then flew about to several different places and finally finished by watching the cricket all the afternoon, it was a match between the “Egyptians” and Port Said, I have not yet heard who won. We had tea given us and then returned back again. I am writing this after dinner and all the men have gone ashore again. I do hope they will not be foolish enough to go to the roulette tables as they are the most awful swindle imaginable. One of the trio lost no end at one this afternoon I hear, and is very sick in consequence. We leave tonight as soon as the mail steamer arrives.
Wednesday: Suez Canal
We have been going through the Canal all today, what a weird deserted place it is, nothing but sand for miles and miles round, sand, cormorants and an occasional dhow to relieve the monotony.
Thursday: Red Sea
Oh! the heat is groiling, I have got white clothes on today and would infinitely be doing without even them!
Last night we had a huge concert and a Mr Dalby conjured for us, he does it very neatly, one trick he did was particularly neat. First he procured a glass of sherry and three caps, then he got a man to drink the former and asked him which of the latter he would like the sherry found under, so he pointed to one and Mr Dalby said “certainly” and put the cap on the man’s head!! The funny part was that he never saw it a bit and everybody simply yelled all round!
I have got my white skirt so filthy and was set to go and change but Mrs Gore is still dressing and has her maid in there so of course it is impossible to get in (to the cabin).
November 12th, Saturday
Still hotter today. I shall soon develop into a little grease spot! We reach Aden tomorrow.
Arrived at Aden today but I did not go ashore as we only stopped there 3 hours and I thought it was not worth while, of course as soon as we arrived the ship was surrounded with “Have a dive” boys and sellers of feathers and horns etc…I got letters from Eve and Mum which was jolly.
Weather not so hot but a jolly old ground swell on, and I am feeling sicky picky tee.
The (fancy dress) ball was a great success and great fun. They decorated the ship with flags which although it made the place rather hot improved the look. I went as a Jap and the dress was lent me by Mrs Benn and so saved me no end of trouble, the first prize was given to Miss Walker dressed as a lamp shade, the second to Miss Pugh, an old Welsh woman, and the third Mrs Jenkins, a Jap. The man’s first was given to Mr Simpson globe trotter, and the second to Mr Preston, an Afghan.
November 15th Tuesday
A ripping day and quite smooth. Read and wrote all morning and knitted.
Baggage Day and a tremendous scurry as tomorrow is packing day, most people are frightfully glad that the voyage is nearly over, it is scarcely necessary to say I don’t agree with them. We are in the Indian Ocean now and Sports are the order of the day, how these people can go hopping about like demented fiends I don’t know, I slack from morn till eve and talk such yards of nonsense.
Overpoweringly hot, and I have all my packing to do, the heat in our cabin is weird. I wish I had a maid to pack all my things and do everything for me. Sports of all kinds went on today, but as I was packing, thank goodness, I escaped; the phosphorus was gorgeous tonight and I watched it with Major J (Jackson). Its the last night and I feel so blue I don’t want to say goodbye to all my pals at all.
It is the last day. Oh how I hate it! We entered the harbour (Bombay) before six this morning, and the sunrise was perfect, the harbour I find is most picturesque and so native looking, or rather one ought to call it oriental I suppose.
(There followed transfers by tender to the shore, long periods searching for their baggage on the docks, and then lengthy train journeys up through India to Muzufferpore (Muzaffarpur), and from there to Dokraha (near Bettiah), where her sister and mother were waiting for her. Then for the next four months she had to get used to a different way of life: “Indian way of living is so funny I find, we get up at 6 o’clock every day, have chota hasri, then write till 11.30 when we go to bath, redress, for breakfast (so called) but its just like lunch, after which one lazes generally sleeps, till tea at 4.0, goes riding and at 8.0 is dinner, so on the whole one has a pretty long day as one never goes to bed until after ten of course, but its an ideal life I find although out here in a factory very quiet naturally.”
The days passed pleasurably enough – riding, polo matches, occasional sight-seeing, lots of calling on friends and neighbours…and plenty of silly games.