THE following few words have been selected from letters written by some of Sister Henrietta's friends at the time of her death.
Bishop Gaul, who knew her all the time she was in Africa, says he
"Thanks God for all the inspiration that flowed forth continuously from a life dedicated and a heart and will consecrated perseveringly and zealously to the service of God and man."
Mrs. Webb, the widow of the late Bishop of Bloemfontein, says:
"All the whole early life of Bloemfontein crowds into my mind as I dwell on her and her extraordinary capability and genius, and power of commanding love and reverence. She was my most loving friend and helper ever since I knew her, and so loyal and true. How much I owe to her I can never say, nor how much I admired and loved her."
It will be remembered by those who have read her letters with what delight she mentions her visits to Mrs. Currey at Welgelégen, and the refreshment she gained from all the kindness and rest she received there.
Mrs. Currey writes:
"I enjoyed her society most when she came, as she did occasionally, to spend a few days for rest with us at Welgelégen. After the war I was shocked at the change in her. I had arranged an upstairs room for her, as I thought she would be quieter there, but when I took her to it, I was so shocked at the difficulty she experienced in getting up--she was perfectly breathless--that I immediately had a downstairs room prepared for her, for which she was most grateful. The first few days she hardly spoke, but gradually the rest and quiet began to work wonders and she was quite bright before she left."
And Miss L. Douglas writes:
"I think what struck me most about her was her wonderful keenness about everything. In spite of her busy life and all she had to do she managed to read so much and she was so determined that other people should read and think and keep their minds healthy and their sympathies good. I never remember any talk with her which did not make me feel that I must work with a better courage and a stronger hope. Surely she will always be remembered as a great and noble woman."
And one other writer says:
"Sister Henrietta has done more for South Africa than, perhaps, any other one woman. She has opened to its women a door of usefulness by pointing out to them work which, like all work well done, greatly enriches the world. She has lived to see the fruits of her labours, and, as she wished, she has died full of work and days."
SOUTH AFRICAN COLONISATION SOCIETY,
23 ARMY AND NAVY MANSIONS,
VICTORIA STREET, LONDON, S.W.
It is with the deepest sorrow and the sincerest regret that my Committee and myself have heard of the death of Sister Henrietta of St. Michael's Home, Kimberley.
I have been requested as President to express to you in the name of the Society and of its Executive their heartfelt sympathy with you and Miss Stock-dale in your irreparable loss.
My Committee can never sufficiently express the deep debt of gratitude they owe to Sister Henrietta for her constant help so readily given, and for the unvarying interest she evinced in the work of the South African Colonisation Society. The splendid work done by Sister Henrietta at Kimberley will ever remain a lasting memorial to her.
THE REVEREND C. STOCKDALE,
STOKE PRIOR VICARAGE,
Extracts from Sister Henrietta's Letters.
WE left Bloemfontein on Friday, March 31st. We were almost afraid to go on, because of the exceeding badness of the roads. We outspanned at Blain's Vley, and then went on in good heart through the mud again to Barber's Pan, a great waste of shallow water with low shores. Here was a small "Winkel," i.e. a shop, where we again outspanned, and proceeded to set out our provisions. Just as this was done the rain, which we had seen scudding about from one hill to another, came to us, and obliged us to pack up hastily, and beg for shelter in the store. There we were allowed, not only shelter, but the loan of some plates, and the use of a back parlour, with a table and two benches. Very destitute of beauty and pleasure the place seemed, with the grey water, lifeless veldt, and steadily pouring rain outside, and the dismal closeness and bareness within; yet not quite without grace, for on the wall was a beautiful print of Venice, and when we opened the door, a tame springbok, with lovely soft eyes, came in to make friends with us.
It was late in the afternoon when the rain ceased, and we were able to go on our way brightly enough at first but very heavily afterwards, as hour after hour passed, and darkness came on, and our horses got more and more tired. At last a bank of mud about three feet high brought us to a standstill. No whipping, or shouting, or coaxing, was of any avail; no turning back a little way and coming at it again deceived the horses. The Bishop got out and at once fell down in the slimy, slippery mud, and then after another attempt at getting over the bank, I got out too. Nothing can describe the stickiness and slipperiness. At every step I was nearly down, until the Bishop got a waterproof sheet to serve as an island for me. Then they all went away, and left me sitting on my waterproof sheet, quite alone in my now moonlight world. In about a quarter of an hour they appeared again on my side of the mud bank, having driven round it. After all, we found we were not more than ten minutes away from help and friends! We soon drove up to the door of the hotel, and were warmly greeted and every possible kindness shewn to us. After a good tea, we were glad enough to go to our rooms. Mine contained four beds, all ready for inmates, and one very tiny jug and basin; that was all, except a small skin, spread on the mud floor; but it was very nice and clean and comfortable. It was much more than I expected--to have the choice of four beds!
We had coffee at daybreak the next morning, and crossed the beautiful Modder River on our way to Boshof, with grateful remembrances of the kindness which had made no charge for our entertainment. We had a long day before us. We passed through large plains, covered with countless springbok and wildebeest. It was so pretty to see the springbok almost flying through the air sometimes, seeming hardly to touch the ground--once, too, when we outspanned, we found a beautiful creature of the locust kind, nearly four inches long, and very broad and fat; glossy black, with scarlet horns, large scarlet mandibles, scarlet eyebrows, and stockings and gloves, and a scarlet collar; the upper wings were as black as the rest of the body, but the under ones were bright pink. Leaving Boshof at ten o'clock on Sunday morning, we were tired out when we got to Kimberley. Our way was principally through bush and between pretty rocky hills. We saw a crowd of vultures round a dead deer. Our driver got off the cart and drove them away; but some were so gorged they could hardly get up from the ground, only flying a little way. They settled on the carcase again almost before we drove on, seeming like evil spirits cowering over some poor lost soul; so unclean, so evil, they looked. We were so glad when, from the top of a steep descent, we saw the white tents of Kimberley in the distance, and outspanned rejoicingly for the last tune.
It was a strange Passion Sunday; but something of the Sunday peace seemed brooding over the quiet, silent, passionless world we passed through. With darkness came rain; and Kimberley streets were almost knee-deep in mud. We drove to the Governor's house, admiring the discretion of our horses; for whereas in the open veldt they had frequently stopped and refused to go on, they ploughed manfully through the streets of the town. No one was expecting us to come through such mud and rain. A servant came out to see who the brave people were who had just arrived, and after a minute or two, first one and then another of the clergy came hurrying up to welcome the Bishop. Others followed, and at last came the Governor and his Secretary--the former exclaiming, "Welcome at last, my Lord! I am sorry to have no better house to receive you in, but while the Hospital is in such a state, we cannot spare money for private houses."
That was the beginning of many a long talk, and the key-note to many an earnest prayer, during the next few days. After we had had some tea, it was time to go out again--to Church. But before service we had a few minutes in the clergy-house, i.e. in two tiny iron sheds which are dignified by that name. Two of the clergy live there; one room being the general sitting-room, and the other their bedroom. Both rooms looked nice and pretty; but between them, alas! is a gutter, which the rain had turned into a rapid stream. A good jump would have taken me across, had the doors of the two rooms been opposite each other; but one room being up the gutter, and the other down, I had to wade for several steps before I was on dry land again. Both rooms are so small that the masters thereof look something like Alice in Wonderland when she drank out of the wrong bottle.
The Church is a large roomy building, on which Kimberley has spent £3,000; but it is sadly in want of the very decencies which should accompany worship. There is paper in the windows instead of glass; the floor is the bare earth; the carpet in the Sanctuary is what you would think a disgrace to your hall.
How can we speak of the Palace of the Great King as the joy of the whole earth, when His very Presence Chamber is bare of every sign of a Royal Master and adoring servants? It did seem to me so sad for those two clergymen, just come from England, to find such emptiness in the only place they could look upon as a home.
Before the next day was over, the Governor had undertaken to build new wards and a house, and to furnish both, if we would provide the nurses; and the Bishop had accepted his offer, on condition of board and lodging being supplied to us.
The old Hospital which I went to see is in a terrible state. A fire destroyed the first building, and so the present one, which was hastily run up to take its place, is wholly inadequate to the number of patients. Eighteen men are put into a room which would scarcely hold six, conveniently. They have very narrow beds, with only one thin mattress; there are no quilts, no screens, no books except a few old volumes which are kept in the pantry; not a table or chair! There is no mortuary; the dead are put out under the verandah, in the veldt, for there is no enclosure, until they can be buried. The floor was the bare earth. There are never less than six urgent cases, waiting for a vacant bed.
Great personal kindness is shown to the patients; the Governor is continually there, and I know that it is much that there should be even a shelter provided for a man to lay down his weary head and die.
But all this makes the Bishop sadly anxious. We need all the prayers you can give us. I was only there for four days, but I saw many a sad sight, and heard many a terrible tale of suffering.
There is much happiness and kindness and goodwill at the Diamond Fields; the kindness and cordiality that was shown to me I can never forget. On Friday morning we set out before sunrise, and after a good journey of only two days, we arrived at home in time for Palm Sunday.
CARNARVON HOSPITAL, KIMBERLEY, 1879.
You will be pleased to see my date, as I am to write it, although they tell me that I am only here for three months, still I hope and hope on that I may stay. . . . The Bishop really only sent me here because the Hospital must have been given up if he hadn't, but he hopes a nurse may be out from England in June who will undertake it permanently. I hope she won't. I have been so busy and am now writing when I ought to be doing something else. I feel this difference in my strength that whereas it used to be my best rest and recreation to write a letter, now I find it impossible to do so when work is over, and I am only fit to lie down or sit in an easy chair and have a chat. ... I am so happy here, it is a beautiful work and I dearly love it. We are so full here, always refusing patients, actually seven in one day.
BLOEMFONTEIN, July, 1880.
It is I fear a long time since I wrote to you, but I have for some time been very busy, which must be my excuse, for I feel my 33 years chiefly in being rather used up after a day's work. A good deal has happened one way and another since I last wrote to you, I think. I can hardly say how anxiously we are waiting for Mr. Gray's reply (Rev. C. Gray, Rector of Blyth, Notts). Oh! my dear Kimberley, if only it can get a really good experienced Priest what a thing it will be for it. There has been a little trouble about the Hospital there, one nurse has been ill. ... I can hardly believe how few months ago it is since I was there, fighting that battle on the side of Life against Death, which seems to leave one breathless when one comes away from it; I have often said lately that now the break has been thoroughly made, and I hear nothing of it except every week or two some little detail, that I hope I shall never go back again. But after all I believe my heart is there; looking back all seems empty and useless after the daily, hourly claims upon all one has or is or can lay claim to. I said I had been very busy indeed here, and so I have.
The laundry has been put into my hands, and although we have a very good matron there is a good bit to do for a laundry that washes for about 130 people. I have of course to sort all the clothes both clean and dirty, and I keep all the house linen mended and made.
I sleep in the linen room, which is a good-sized place with great presses up both sides, and the sorting table. The most troublesome part about it is that the girls bring their own linen, so there is an endless searching after one girl's pillowcase and another girl's towel, etc.
I am helped in this by a very nice girl who knows her work and is very pleasant and amiable about it. I have of course to manage all the money, pay all the washerwomen and see that the whole laundry is kept in repair and clean. The whole comes to about £28 a month. It takes in all this place and the Hospital. The Bishop has been very good, for when he saw I cleaned up the linen room, he got me some nice new presses and gave me some new kamtulicon with a pattern on it for the floor.
Another department which has been handed over to me, the Chapel, has been most beautifully kept by Sister Frances. When I took it from her it was in beautiful order. I am afraid I shall not do it half as well; it is of course a thing which, added to the warden's room, keeps one constantly going. A large Chapel and Antechapel and Sacristy like ours, in incessant use from 6 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., has a great deal of work in it. The only other thing I have to do is to keep a sort of general supervision of the Hospital here, and all I really do is to spend an hour there every day, which is very pleasant. I am very fortunate in not having any walks or schoolroom charges with the children. I shall be sorry to break into all this for private nursing, which I am to do once or twice in the half year, and I only hope I shall not go to it very much fatigued, for in itself it is the most tiring thing.
You will wonder that I have girls to help me in all these ways; but you see we take a good many who have some claim upon us for either very little money or none at all, and these girls are supposed when they get old enough to help the Sisters in various ways, in the linen room, the Chapel, the work room, with the little children, etc.,--just by way of helping a Sister. I think it is a very good plan, much better than pretending they are not under any obligation to us.
I must tell you what a patient of mine here said about my cooking. He spread the report when he left the Hospital that he always had thought American cooks on board ship were very good, but they were nothing to Sister Henrietta; I have given him such a scolding since for not paying his fees that I am afraid he will say no more about it.
The house here is finished at last; it still is, of course, small for the number who inhabit it; a number of people, I am sorry to say, still sleep in the practising rooms.
To her little Goddaughter, M. H. W., at Bole, aged Six Years.
MY DEAR LITTLE GODDAUGHTER,
Although you are often in my mind when I say my prayers, you were brought before me with particular clearness last night when I got another little goddaughter, not one like you with fair hair, and brown eyes, and a white skin, nor yet a little infant as you were when you were baptized, but a girl of twelve years old, as far as we can tell, with a black skin, and black eyes, and little black knobs of hair on her head, and a very flat nose, and large lips sticking out much beyond it. But she is like you in one thing, for she is now called Mary, not after her own mother, but the Mother of our Blessed Lord.
She used to be called Sara, and it is so confusing changing names that I wanted her to have her heathen name for her Christian one, but she begged so hard to have "none Sara" as she said, that I agreed, and she was so anxious to be called after the Virgin Mary, that although we have so many Marys in the house I could not say No to that either. I suppose you will ask me if she is a good little girl! Well, I think she is, although she is sometimes disobedient, and sometimes runs away from her work, and sometimes, I fear, makes false excuses to go home and see her mother at a place called Vihook; perhaps you will say, "I am sure I never do such naughty things as those," but you must think of the difference between you; you were a Christian when you were a few weeks old, but this little girl has had about twelve years of heathenism. Your parents and grandparents have been Christians back and back for more than a thousand years, but although this little girl's mother was baptized a short time ago she has a long, long inheritance of evil.
You have been guarded from all knowledge of sin, and this poor child has been brought up in the midst of wickedness, such as is not known in a Christian land, to think things right and good which your mother would shudder to think of you hearing about. And you see when the devil has had her for his own for so long, you may be sure that he will not let God's good Spirit possess her without a struggle that will almost tear her poor little body and soul apart. Do you know that generally out here if a heathen becomes a Christian and fights hard with the devil and will be good, he dies after a year or two. A glorious death, is it not? Such a death of victory as we might all long for, but what a tale it tells of Satan's power in a heathen country. Now, perhaps you will ask me what this little Mary can do. Well, quantities of things which you can't, although she cannot do the things which you can. She has not worn boots all her life through, so the soles of her feet are like those of a dog, and she can run and jump like a dog, on sharp stones, through the becks and shallow rivers, amongst thistles and bushes without being a bit afraid of getting her feet cut or scratched; she can swim like a fish and dive like a frog, and carry a wine bottle full of milk a mile and a half standing upright on her head without a cork, without putting a hand up to hold it, and without spilling a drop. You could not carry it so for half a yard, but she can manage it in a high wind, run backwards way on and jump from one stone to another.
Besides she can wash and iron like an old woman, and scrub a floor and set the table. She can tell you all about our LORD'S birth and Crucifixion, and some of the miracles and events of His life as well, and she can say the LORD'S Prayer; but she does not know capital A from round O, she can't count beyond her five fingers, she does not know the clock, she can't sing any nice little songs or say any pretty hymns or the Creed or the Catechism or sew or write, but then again she can speak three languages, English and Dutch and Seralong. Now, would you like to know how this little Mary is dressed? She generally wears a nice print frock and pinafore, made rather low in the neck, to show a row of beads which she wears round her throat; and the frock is short, for you see women do not wash here with hot water in a washing tub, but they stand in a pond and wash on a stone, and beat the clothes hard on it too, and so make a great many holes; and she ties a red, blue, or white and pink handkerchief round her head like a turban; and she wears such large heavy brass earrings in her poor little ears you could almost put your finger into the hole they have made. She has two little heathen sisters, called Michelle and Sabina,--please GOD some day they shall be Christian women.
I hope, my dear child, that you are a good girl and go to church and school and say your prayers. I am your affectionate godmother,
SISTER HENRIETTA, C.S.M., & A.A.
CARNARVON HOSPITAL, KIMBERLEY, February, 1881.
I must try and write you a letter while I am waiting for the doctors and amidst the innumerable knocks at my door. This war (Transvaal) trouble makes all the servants very troublesome, and housekeeping more than ever difficult, particularly as wood is £25 a load, and everything else at a proportionate price. Our bills for washing for 25 people last month were £91 5s., so both ends have to be a good deal stretched nowadays.
There is wonderfully little talk about the war here. The whole Transvaal is like a beleaguered city, none comes out and none goes in. Lots of people I know are in Pretoria.
We are working hard here to get a new whig, with a very energetic Committee. They say it is due to the public to lay before them a report of all that has been done, and that has given me a good deal of work as I was on the Sub-Committee, and had to supply materials to those who really drew it up. But I think it is due to the public, and it is nice work.
The work is rather overwhelming. ... Seeing visitors, answering the door bell, and seeing after all their wills and death notices and money affairs is nearly enough work for one person, without all the rest I have to do. But, thank God, I keep wonderfully well, and considering that I have only had one afternoon off duty since I came here on October the 19th I am not so very much worn out. I have not one skilled or experienced nurse with me, or one who has had a full European training. I live in hopes, however, and until these are fulfilled, must patiently wait. We have had a very nice set of patients lately, one a nephew of Lock-hart's (Life of Scott), and a brother of the present novelist Lockhart, a capital little fellow, who got well at once. Just now we have one of the Freres in with jaundice, a nephew of my dear Sir Bartle Frere. He has presented me with a very handsome Sussex spaniel, which would be a white elephant if I did not live in hopes of his making a prolonged stay at Bishop's Glen (her brother's farm).
It was such a pleasure to get a letter from you the other day, and to hear something about you and your doings and your work and life. As you say, one does lean on one's kindred more and more as one finds how fleeting all friendship is without the tie of blood or of childish affection. In all the fulness of my life here and the incessant claims upon me, I am often, as far as this world goes, intensely lonely, and in that loneliness one cannot always grasp the fellowship and kindred with that beyond. But I have more than I have ever asked or thought, certainly more than I have deserved. Good-bye.
IN THE TRAIN TO CAPETOWN, August, 1892.
You will be surprised to see I am in the train again, and I feel surprised to find myself here. But I got such urgent letters from Robben Island that I could only come down here and see about it. [Some of her nurses were already there and for some time worked amongst the lepers, but it was given up after a time as a branch of work from the hospital, and undertaken by others apart from the Sisterhood.] I hope only to be absent six days, in which time I shall have had 1300 miles train journey, and, I hope, done a good bit of work. ...
I had been up night and day before I left Kimberley, and leaving by the 8 o'clock train yesterday morning, I slept nearly all day and quite all night, and feel quite rested to-day. Yesterday as I was leaving Kimberley an old Malay woman came up and gave me a large bag of oranges and bananas; at De Aar a fruit seller brought up a lot of oranges, and at dinner last night at Victoria the woman said: "Are you a Church Sister? No, we don't take payment from our own people." At breakfast just now the waiter said when I took out my purse: "Your breakfast is paid for, Madam." It is very good of them all, isn't it?
ST. MICHAEL'S HOME, BLOEMFONTEIN, Nov. 25th, 1894.
Resignation of Hospital at Kimberley.
Well, we have decided to give up the poor old Hospital. Our notice goes hi to the Board for Dec. I2th. There is much that makes me very sad, but still there is much to be thankful for that we can lay down our work when it is done, and let others go on with it and do their share. I shall never again have such a congenial life and work; but I am glad to have had eighteen years at it. It is settled that we should move into old S. Michael's Home on the cricket ground and keep the private nurses on there, and I hope a good many odds and ends of work may turn up to do besides, some of which I hope may bring in some pennies, for I shall find it hard enough to make both ends meet, but I shall be much freer in some ways, and not have, I do hope, such very hard work, late and early as the Hospital is. I am going back home, you see I still say home, to-morrow. I daresay I shall have a worrying six months, but that I can't help.... My lovely time in England seems like a dream.
War. KIMBERLEY, 1899.
August.--We are all breathless with anxiety about war. You mustn't think I am massacred if it is declared and you don't always hear from me.... The great fear we have is for the waterworks; just imagine this town in summer without water; but there has been a guard over the engines for months past, and I hear too they are fortifying them.
September.--The country is in a terrible state. We may be blockaded here any day, and I am glad to have ... away for that reason. England seems so slow in her preparations. Of course the Boers are only dilly-dallying with Chamberlain while they get everything ready and mountains of ammunition. There seems no doubt war must come now. You must not be alarmed if you don't hear very regularly, as ships are taken at the last moment for transport and the line of rail will probably be attacked. We are having a great force here, so I hope we are safe; and even now the search light is scouring the country the whole night, and searching every corner of the town. I don't know why, but they have ceased to light the town after 8 p.m. Still the world goes on, dancing and racing and playing tennis and dining.
October.--Of course, no one ever talks of anything but the war. The coal question is very serious; I have laid in enough for five months, which will surely see us through the trouble. The whole country is in an uproar. How people can stand by and see such things and deprecate war, I cannot imagine. There was a review on Friday of our 3000 men. It was grievous to see the fine stalwart men, I thought, and think how many of them would be lying still in the veldt before many weeks were over. [This was the last letter that came through before the war.--C. S.]
February, 1900.--After all the deadly dulness of the siege, especially latterly, when we never thought or talked of anything but getting a little more food, I am terribly rushed with work. We have undertaken three temporary Hospitals of 300 beds amongst them, and as all sorts of things have to be referred to me, I am incessantly on the go. When this is over, nearly all the nurses are leaving; some are tired and some are cross ,and some want to go home, and I am sure I don't wonder. Dead donkey and old horse and brown bread are not very nourishing. It is a great mercy we are having cooler weather; the awful heat of the last four months has increased every one's sufferings so; indeed, there is hardly a young child left in Kimberley.
February, 1901.--Everyone is going through the misery of ruin and separation and suffering; it is wonderful how brave H. is, never a word of complaint, not like me who have grumbled enough, although at the worst I had bread and tea and donkey's fetlocks; how often I have thought of father's old jokes about dead donkeys; he little thought one of us would ever be thankful to have a bit of one. It was much better than the horse skeletons, not so dry.
The intolerable heat we are enduring and the terrible drought are enough to try anyone; the heat is really like a furnace. Yesterday the whole town was in black and in stillness for the Queen; cabs and trams stopped, and all work stopped--even, alas! the ice houses closed.
1902.--We have had such a day at the Restaurant to-day, nearly fifty girls sitting at their little tables, chatting away and enjoying themselves so much. We have teachers, typewriters and nurses, milliners and forewomen out of shops, and the great mass of them are shop girls. The recreation room is crowded now; I expect on Saturday we shall not have room for half. I love it, but I have only undertaken it for three months. We have taken in twopences and threepences £7 10s. in these first ten days, and it is increasing every day. If only we can manage our rent of £10 a month, that's the great pull. I do hope it will go on well.
Hostel for Girls and Women.
February, 1903.--We got over our stone-laying all right. The stone itself and all that was beautifully done. Little Margery Thomson gave a bouquet which was lovely when it arrived, but withered every moment in the heat till there was hardly anything left. Mrs. Chamberlain looked exceedingly well in a white muslin and lace dress. Oh, I was tired when it was all over, and I was glad it was well over; I shall be more glad on the opening day. I have just been writing to thank my old friend Mr. Michaelis for £250 donation towards the Hostel.
The whole ground is being washed for diamonds now, and the sifting makes a terrible dust. You seem to think we have sold S. Michael's Home, but indeed we have not, only the old hovel on the new piece of ground; every inch of the ground is being washed for diamonds, but they have hitherto only found about sixty carats and only two really good stones, but it suits me to have it done and the "B. flats" killed out of it. I grieve to say the tenders are much larger than we anticipated for the new building and everything nice has to be taken out of it, and four rooms and the bath and linen rooms too--still they will get it sooner finished, and I will not harass my old age with a great building debt. The Hostel and the Home together keep me awake a good deal (at night), but now the Home is settled, I don't much worry about it any longer, but shall devote my energies to earning the money (£1500). Somehow I never can ask people for money for our own concerns, but old and old-fashioned as I am I can still earn it. We have a Sisters' meeting here every month which I much enjoy; all the Sisters in the Archdeaconry come in for the afternoon and we have tea and Vespers and a talk and chat. Some of them stay to supper and some don't, as they have night-schools and things to see to.
I am so awfully tired and worn out. I was called up seven times last night after a dreadfully hard day yesterday, and I have been on my feet or at my desk the whole day.
To a Friend on the Anniversary of her Father's Death, 1902.
I have been thinking of you all so much to-day, I feel I must write to you. This has been a trying day to you all, I know, and if it has all come so vividly back to me, what must it have been to all of you? How well I can recall that beautiful lawn and the shadows lying across the sunlight, and the peacocks, and C. and I sitting on the bench together for a few minutes--and how good and patient you all were, when you knew so well how dreadful the loss was, and how life could never be the same again. For when one's parents are called away, and one's earthly home, the home party of one's childhood, is broken up, one may perhaps be just as happy, but things are not the same. We can but turn to Him Who knows so well the sweetness of filial love, and the sharpness of filial grief--and find--
"No earthly father loves like Thee."
And again the following year:
I have never written a line of congratulation to E. or to any of you on her engagement, and now she is already married. Do give her my best love and best wishes for all her future life. As you said in one of your letters, this two years has indeed been one of change to you all, but I think it is often so--long, quiet years, and then such an uprooting--the seed growing quietly and secretly, deep roots of character, flowers of grace and love, weeds of bad habits injuring them as much as they can, the slow ripening and garnering--and then a time of change and trial--the threshing-floor where it is all sifted and examined and brought to light, the mill where all our fancies and ways are ground to powder, the leaven working--and then the Bread of God's Household, the life-giving and sustaining "Corn of the Mighty and Wine that blossometh into Virgins"--however, I mustn't run on with my own thoughts....
August, 1903. New Wing at S. Michael's Home, Kimberley.--Here is my weekly letter though I have not much to put into it. The great event of the week has been the blessing of our new Wing. Unfortunately nearly all the nurses were away, but we had quite a gathering of old friends and clergy. We borrowed the processional Cross from S. Cyprian's and sang "Except the Lord" and "There is a blessed Home" and "Now that the daylight." The Archdeacon said some beautiful prayers and we had the Cross carried upstairs and down and out into the balcony which is like a very large room and so nice. Then they all came into the Common Room to tea. ... I seem to be rather less driven now but there is a great deal of work still. I am so bothered by people and their fees. I suppose money is what they call "tight," but then we are having great expenses--the new Wing has cost about £2300. Dear me! I look up and see the photograph of Stoke Prior Church just in front of t me and wish I was walking about the churchyard with you and C. . . .
December. Miss Watkins.--I am sending C. M. a little note book, and Miss Watkins has put into it a photograph of her own dear face---a face which I can't hide from myself is fading away from me day by day--and then, oh, what shall I do? No one can ever know what she has been to me for twenty years. I don't know myself.
June, 1904. Hostel for Women and Girls at Kimberley.--I have greatly dreaded the formal opening of the Hostel, and I have just come away from the most delightful function. Lady Michell, who is our president, was asked to do it, but said she would rather her husband did it, so they both came on their way to Rhodesia. The speeches were very nice; the Archdeacon spoke first, then Sir Lewis Michell, then the Mayor--he has some seventy girls working under him--then came "God save the King."
We had a splendid tea; I had nothing to do with that--two of the committee did it all, brought extra servants and did it so nicely. I had such a nasty Sunday yesterday. The cook wished to go to an early Celebration, and the last thing at night I was told she had left a message saying unless the stove flues were thoroughly cleaned out she couldn't cook the dinner. Rather in wrath I arose at 4.45, meaning to set the boy on it; but once in the kitchen I found the whole thing choked with soot and ashes, and that the boy knew nothing about it, so I stayed on with black darkness outside and in fearful cold, and soon made myself as black as the darkness. At 8 o'clock she came in, and I informed her I would never do it again for her. We finished at 8.30, and I was so awfully tired I could do nothing but sit about all day. I did not even once go to Church--however, I was there before the sun this morning, so I don't feel very wicked. Poor cook cried nearly all day yesterday because "I don't like Sister to lose her Church."
September. Princess Christian.--I have just seen all my nurses who are at home off to present an address to Princess Christian who is stopping in Kimberley for two days; they do look so sweet in their dark blue dresses and white muslin caps and large aprons. I am sure a nicer looking set could not be found anywhere. My turn was yesterday when the Princess gave me a nod and smile hi Church and sent for me to see her in the evening. I really did enjoy myself so much. Sir John Fullerton and Miss Loch are in waiting, both such delightful people, and my half or three-quarters of an hour alone with the Princess was delightful too. You know she had sent for me before in London, so we met quite as friends, and the way she talked was really most charming, although she cried sadly about Prince Christian Victor. When we kissed one another at parting I thought how pleased our dearest mother would have been. She said she was surprised to hear me say I had never seen the Queen, as she thought I had been sent for to see her. I could only say I wished I had. Altogether it was a most delightful time and quite cheered me up. After seeing our people she is going to open a new Children's Ward at the Hospital, and then on to the Falls--and oh, I do want to go to the Falls so much myself; however, I daresay I shall some day. . . . Everyone is charmed with the Princess. She has given a great deal of pleasure in these two days, but I fear she is tired to death.
October. Hostel.--I had to go to the Hostel about some business on Tuesday, and so went to supper there. I was so pleased--the house was full of people. I came in one of the last to supper, but it was so nice to see the girls and women sitting about the hall at their little tables eating a good wholesome meal in comfort and order. After supper, as I went to Miss C.'s room, we met a lady coming in who was going to have a French class; and when after an hour or two at the books I came out, three women were waiting to see me about situations for themselves or their friends. It was all so orderly and quiet, yet full of energy and vigour. The number of women who come, for a meal, a bath, to meet friends, to stay a night, a week or a month, while they see the doctor, the dressmaker, the schools, is countless. Is it not a good thing for them instead of staying about in hotels or boarding-houses?
November. S. Peter's Home, Grahamstown.--I wish I could convey to you any idea of the beauty of this place. You might appreciate it as much in the middle of November in England as I do after a three years' drought up country. . . . This is the Mother's birthday, and I wish you could see the flowers that have come in for her--the roses and lilies and carnations and many others--but nearly all white, as if she was dead; I am so fond of coloured flowers. I went to the sea the end of last week from Thursday to Saturday. The bush all the way was lovely with white, pink and mauve ivy-leaved geraniums and quantities of little scented geraniums in full flower too, sheets of the blue plumbago and quantities of scarlet tecoma and yellow jasmine--there was colour for you! The fields of pineapple were all of a red brown, like red ploughed fields, and the orange groves golden with fruit still; wild palms and ferns growing everywhere and curious aloes and real green, green grass all the way--so lovely. I got the Mother two large green orchids out of the bush, each spike nearly two feet high, and you could hardly believe that each flower was not a praying mantis, with their long bodies, folded wings, clawy feet and legs and funny faces.
1905. Hostel.--Last Thursday brought me the delightful thing, a cheque for £1000--from Mr. Beit--a whole £1000, no legacy duty or bank charges or anything else--to enlarge the Hostel with.
I am sending C. a lucky bean--after years of just tossing about, quite an industry has sprung up in our rubies and river pebbles. It has always been said that the rubies were too highly tempered to cut, but last year some of our nurses sent some to a lapidary in Birmingham, and he cut and polished and set them, and they made most lovely ornaments. The pebbles too are beautiful--onyx and agates of all kinds and crystals, which take a lovely polish. There is a shop here of nothing else; the man yesterday gave me this bean "for luck," so I am sending it to C. "for luck." I hope she will like it, from "Afric's sunny fountains."
August. Miss Watkins' Death.--I know you will grieve for me when I say that the terrible blow I have seen coming so long has fallen on me. My dearest Miss Watkins died this morning. It was all just as she would most have wished--"all Sacraments and Church blest things" round her, and Dr. Watkins and I close by her. She was taken ill with a very severe form of influenza going about, on Wednesday night. I saw from the first moment it was hopeless, and she died at 3.50 this morning. Except to lie down for a few hours each morning I scarcely left her, and I am so glad I was able to be with her. She lies now in the room next to this one, looking so sweet; but oh, that cold smile is not like the loving one which always greeted me for twenty-one years whenever I saw her. She was always looking out for my return if I was away but ten minutes. We twice said yesterday that although there had been much sadness in the daily failure of strength this winter, the winter had been a happy one, for I had sat with her in the Common Room whenever I could, and we were always happy together. For twenty-one years we have lived together with scarcely a thought apart, and except once for about a day some eighteen years ago, not a shadow of coldness on our love and trust for one another. Her pupils, the Guild, the Hostel, a great scheme in the new Midwifery Bill in England (the paper appointing her Instructress of Midwifery throughout England was lying unopened on the table when she died), all her stamp work which brings us in such a lot of money every year, her work in the house here of helping me in everything and doing it ten thousand times better than I can--there is not a corner of the house which has not a sign of her work in it, this made, that covered, something else mended. Then all her patients in the town. Who is going to do all her work, I don't know. I only know S. and I can't, and yet we must do our poor best to follow her who made an act of devotion of everything, who did everything with a thoroughness and finish I never saw in anyone else's work but my own mother's, and who was loved by everyone. Yesterday the house was beset with people down to a poor consumptive Kaffir, who dragged his aching limbs three miles to ask how she was, and then turned round and dragged them back again. I am taking to-day for my sorrow and then I shan't make much moan afterwards, for time will make no difference. I shall mourn for her and miss her all my life. During this last month she does seem to have done so much, and all the time her life was ebbing away--our store grows in Paradise.
Hostel.--The Beit wing at the Hostel looks so nice. I love the eighteen long windows on the east side.
Climate.--Christmas! Oh how I wish I could spend it with you. But as we get old such joys are not for us; only one hopes the Communion of Saints grows nearer in love's spirit.
The thermometer was 93 in our hall at tea a few afternoons ago, and I am sure has often been as much only we've not looked to see. I get my best sleep under the verandah between ten and twelve, last night I slept till one, and very glad I was. . . . I got up at 2.20 this morning and sat in the window and mended my clothes for an hour and a half, my tongue like a nutmeg grater, it was so dry. To add to our miseries we have a swarm of hopping locusts in the town. It gives you a bilious headache to walk along the streets and see this incessant jumping all round you, and they get into the larder and the hall and the passage, into the beds and on your clothes--they are loathsome.
January, 1906. Bloemfontein Retreat.--I hope S. wrote last week and told you I had come here for Retreat, I got here on Saturday afternoon and we went into Retreat on Sunday evening. I was dreadfully worn out, but the rest and peace and silence have done me so much good. . . . We were twenty-seven in Retreat and two were not there. How different from old times when Bishop Webb used to take such enormous pains over his course of addresses to three. I am going home again tomorrow. I hope to get away for a holiday later; but after Easter is so cold and there is not much good in holiday-making in Lent. I'm sure I don't know where to go or who to go to. I think I should ask Miss B., except that she will always go out of her bedroom for me.
We got into our new Wing at the Hostel the day I left. Oh, it did look so nice and fresh and new.
Kimberley. Princess Christian.--I have just been writing to the Princess Christian's secretary. The Princess wished me to make some alterations on our work which I did not want to make. . . . This mail brought me a most kind and gracious message through her secretary. She is quite right theoretically, but theory and practice are sometimes difficult to work out together. I am very glad she has forgiven me, for I do esteem her, and she is so thoroughly with me on Church lines.
Resigns Hostel.--I have had a terrible heart-break this week. I have had to give up the secretary's post at the Hostel . . . with the greatest grief I did so; and really the place is lovely now we have the new ground, and the new wing is finished. Perhaps I thought too much of it--I loved the work and the place, I have had a hard half year and I have wept many tears, and I do feel most awfully lonely. One does as life goes on and those one loves are taken from one, and work falls into younger people's hands, and new plans and methods are tried.
However, I suppose it is the way the world goes round.
Oh, how I do wish I could talk things over with Miss Watkins! However, she is spared all the annoyance.
I am going the end of this week to Grahamstown I hope, and very much I am looking forward to it. The heat here is intolerable; I never knew anything like it. I do hope it will be cooler there. We still have no rain. The Duke and Duchess of Connaught are here. I should think they must think it an awful place.
February.--I am really writing from S. Peter's Home, Grahamstown, and how I wish you were here too, so that we might sit in this lovely garden and have some good talks together. We have had some beautiful services this morning--such a beautiful Choral Celebration at 7.30 with about eighty Sisters and Mistresses, and I suppose about eighty students from the Training College, and then Mattins with the whole Chapel quite full of students, except the choir where the Sisters sit.
The weather here is quite cool, like the very best summer weather in England, with frequent showers, so balmy and fresh. My window overlooks a valley with rising ground beyond, and a day or two ago I saw in the early dawn what I had never seen before, a good-sized bird spring again and again from the tops of the trees below me and shoot up into the air and hang there for a few moments as if it kept itself up with difficulty; then go down spread out like a child's kite, tail foremost, and then turn right over and go head foremost down properly. They tell me it was a kite.
The other day two of us were driving along a road cut out of fir plantations on the side of a hill, when a springbuck came over the top, running down almost to the road before it saw us, when it gave such a start it fell right down, picked itself up and bounded on crossing the road behind us--pretty creature.
Loss of Miss Watkins.--Miss Watkins ... I do grieve for her so; now I am away from work and spend many hours in the day by myself I more than ever feel her loss. Everyone is very good to me, and I ought not to feel so sad, but I do.
Work.--I will try and give you an account of my day yesterday. I got up at 1.45 a.m. and called a nurse, and got her the things she wanted and sent her off to a sick person who sent at that agreeable hour for a nurse. I then went to bed again, and at 6.30 had a cup of tea and got up, went to church and then to market where I had to lay in a stock of provisions for three days for my family, as tomorrow is a bank holiday, and also for the Mission Sisters at S. Matthew's, whose marketing I do for them as they are too far from the shops to do it themselves. For meat I got a whole kid and half a huge buck. Then we had breakfast; then I had to go to the bank and to buy some handkerchiefs as S. had been to my drawer before she went away and taken every single clean handkerchief I possessed with her, and I had nothing. When I came home I found a nurse was wanted in Kenilworth, and I had to get her some lunch and a cab and get her off. Then came a telegram for a nurse to go to Pieterburg, right up in the North Transvaal near Swaziland, and a good many things had to be seen to about that. During all the morning people kept coming in to see me about every conceivable thing, and I had to write numerous notes and letters and two or three telegrams and use the telephone many times. After dinner I wrote again, then had a cup of tea, saw the servants, laundry people, and so on, who are paid weekly, and went off to the Confessional at S. Matthew's. Afterwards I stayed and had a little chat and saw the Sisters and clergy. Came home and saw the Swaziland nurse had her supper, and suddenly remembered I had not got her a passport--so I went to the station with her and got one from the station-master. Then I came home to our supper, wrote a little, fed the cats and shut them up, saw a man a long time about a servant, and a woman about a nurse, made up my money for the day, locked up all round, let in a nurse who had been to the theatre and finally settled down to sleep at about 11.15 p.m. I was up again at 5.15 to call the nurses who wanted to go to the six o'clock service this morning. There's a specimen of a day.
Expenses.--I have just added up my month's expenses and find rates and taxes for April come to £53--is it not dreadful? Still April is the worst month, beginning with Municipal Registry £27; our light rate for the last year has been £60--water £18--telephone £10--dust, etc., £21--roads £7 5s. 0d., and so on; it is cruel, is it not? And there are lots more--quit rent and so on; then insurance, and £1200 to £1400 in salaries. Wages and washing are both enormous items.
Foreign Stamps.--I am, in a humble way, carrying on dear Miss Watkins' stamp trade, and I am very delighted at getting 273. 8d. in a few days. Many weeks I get 10s. or 6s. 6s., sometimes only 2s. 6d., but it is all pure profit and all helps. I never spend any time over it, only just odds and ends, and so far I rather like it. I shan't get £20 a year as she used to do.
May. Beginning of Breakdown of Health.--My memory became so frightfully bad that I asked the Doctor if I was going to have softening of the brain. I can remember very little, direct letters to wrong people and make all kinds of blunders. He says no. My brain is right enough, but the state of my heart causes an irregular flow of blood, and so there are lapses. It seems to me to be a distinction without a difference, except, I suppose, if I had disease of the brain I should go on getting worse, and my heart will probably improve from time to time. It is very uncomfortable making these foolish mistakes, but I suppose I am old--I am nearly fifty-nine--and I have had a very hard year in many ways since last Whitsuntide. Our Church Work Party has now paid £1000 into the Building Fund, twenty-one months' work, but it is a lot of money, is it not, to get off our fingers? They are having a sale next month--nothing is to be there for which the materials cost more than a shilling; it is rather hard here to find anything which does not come to that or more than that. I think 2s. 6d. would have been a better limit.
I feel more and more I am too old and old-fashioned for most people. I was amused at a description of myself in a book of South African travels I took up lately. . . . People are very good to me, but oh, every day and hour I miss my dearest friend more and more, and long for her advice and her help and her sympathy and her companionship. She used to say she hoped I should die before she did, for she thought I should be so lost without her--and how well she knew!
Wedding.--One of the nurses is to be married on Wednesday, and they go straight off to Canada. S. is bridesmaid and I am Father; we are giving her a little party. The wedding is at 9.30 and the Celebration immediately afterwards--then they all come here.
To her Sister in Switzerland.--I am so constantly thinking of you and wondering what you are doing, where you are and what you are seeing. I hope when you went through Rouen you looked out for the Little Duke's part of the Cathedral, and that you went to Saint Ouen and saw the Font described in the first lines of the Baptistery. "There is a Font within whose burnished face." I believe it is self-filling from a well--or spring.
Cemetery.--I took a cab yesterday and drove down to the Cemetery. I got a few flowers, six violets, two bunches of white phlox, a bit of S. John's Wort, two double daisies, two little white asters and some mignonette. The Easter wreaths were still on our eleven graves, and I cleared them off and put them all tidy; it is a sweet, peaceful spot but not so nice as it used to be, for they have cleared away a thick hedge full of cactus and pretty aloes and wattles and such things, which grew in front on the other side of the walk, and have got a long row of children's graves instead. Our piece is nearly full, but I have a little piece for myself which S. and Dr. Watkins know about, and a little space for Sister Louisa; when those two are filled my labours will be over. It is very different from the green grass and peaceful shadows of Stoke Prior; you don't know how often I think of lying there. (One of the nurses has just come in to have some sand taken out of her eye, so you see there is still something left for me to do.) I think all that Hostel business has shattered me, mind and body, very much. I collected £8000 for that place, and three or four of us worked hard for three and a half years at it; it is a beautiful place now it is finished.
Our pupils' examination is on Friday, and it keeps me busy, as I always give them papers myself the last fortnight--they are a good and clever set.
Domestic.--I have had some long drives lately, and now that it often tires me to walk down the passage, it is a great thing for me. I still go more than half a mile to Church every morning, however, and to market, where I do my whole day's housekeeping, on my way back. It is such a convenience and getting some choice and picking out the best--fish, meat, eggs, butter, vegetables, fruit and many other things--all in huge quantities--to get it all over in a quarter of an hour. I give little boys 3d. or 6d. for carrying it home for me. We so often get half an antelope sent us at this time of year, and I never eat it without saying how incomparably better it is than English venison.
July. Mr. Beit's Death.--So my kind friend Mr. Beit has gone to his rest and left his millions, which he used so wisely and generously when he was alive, behind him. And he has left a noble will, has he not? And the Bishop of Mashonaland one of his executors! With all his wealth and his enormous power and grasp of mind he was one of the simplest of men. He partly gave and partly obtained for me £7000 in money and kind when I was collecting for the Hostel.
Weather.--It is just like last year. Up to this morning such a biting wind and then this afternoon hot sun and the wind changed, but you cannot think what the drought is. Not a green blade anywhere, and everything, house and fence and leafless hedges all in a thick blanket of gray dust--one wears it and eats it and drinks it and breathes it and sleeps in it--a shower of rain would wash us all clean, and make green leaves spring up everywhere. Sunday's thermometer was highest 127°, lowest on grass 19°--108 degrees difference.
October. Lourensford, Somerset West.--Here I am in this most delightful place and I am constantly wishing that you and many whom I love were with me. I came down last Monday night, and I think the rest in the train did me good; and I got to this enchanting place last Wednesday morning, to find Miss Page the kindest of hostesses and to feel myself growing better every hour. Indeed now, I feel quite well again and eat and sleep so well. It is a large estate of Sir James Sievewright's, some eight or nine farms, all fruit, and this one is most lovely. The azaleas and rhododendrons and roses in full beauty, and such roses I never saw before. The river rushing and sparkling close by, going down to the sea from the mountains. The mountains and huge rocks towering overhead, the brawling trout streams everywhere, the long oak avenues. Palms and long drives all over the place, which is beautifully kept. They have a great number of orange groves which are in full bloom now, and the scent is heavenly.
December. Life's Sorrows.--Oh, I have such dreadfully sad cases on my hands. Why, oh why, are people made to suffer so awfully--one sees people broken-hearted by Death--but oh, what is death and separation and loneliness and disappointment compared to the awful sorrows one meets with, unspeakable, concealed with a brave face and constant work, and yet wounding the heart and killing all possible joy and hope in life? Sorrows borne with such courage and yet there, and there for life. I suppose it is the people, not the external things. My life has been strenuous, but with none of these wasting sorrows.
Poor P. and J. had no minds left; they went before the body. Oh dear, I hope mine won't or yours either.
To a Friend who had lost her Husband, 1907.
I had just seen the cable telling me of dear Bishop Webb's death, when I opened a letter from home, and found a newspaper cutting telling me of your great loss. I had been constantly thinking of you during the few previous weeks, and thinking I would write to you, but I had nothing to say. I little thought how full of you and your sorrow my mind and heart would soon be.
Dear E., what can one say when these great griefs fall on people--everything seems wide of the mark. Yet I could not bear not to tell you how grieved I am for you, and how in all these years of separation I love you and admire you just as much,--no, more than I used to do when we were girls.
What a terrible blank this will be to you, for however warm and bright Faith and Hope may be, however sure and certain the knowledge of the blessedness of the happy dead, there is still the dreadful miss, which I think grows greater as years roll on, of the actual bodily presence, the human hand, the dear voice, the constant tender care, which I think only comes to each of us once in our lives. You have had thirty-three years of unusual happiness and the loss is all the greater. Some day, when you have time, you will write and tell me about it, dear E., for I shall long to know. My little corner in S. Cyprian's Church knows you well.
Ever your loving old friend,
SISTER HENRIETTA, C.S.M. & A.A.
To the Same.
I was so pleased to get your dear letter of November 10th, and I am astonished and ashamed to see how long it has been unanswered, but I have reached the age when time flies, and the state of mind and body when anything new is an exertion--or old either, for writing to you is an old, old occupation of mine, and one I have always loved. It is one of my many blessings that I have such faithful friends, and like you I can truly say that my heart never grows cold to them; and I know if we met, old women as we are, we should have as glorious a time together as ever. I have had a series of illnesses, some of them very painful, but "Still my life goes on, goes on, although the spinning is all done." I meet with so very much kindness. I have some very good and dear friends in Cape Town who live in a charming place on the Rhodes Estate, who are kind enough to let me go to them from time to time, and the damp air and lower altitude give me great relief as far as my heart trouble is concerned. What you say of the stronghold Bishop King has been for so long, through his unfailing loyalty and devotion to the Church, strikes me so much. And now he too is at rest, and his visible, tangible help removed. The Church in South Africa has lately had a great loss in the death of Sister Theodora of All Saints Sisterhood. For the last twenty-five years she has devoted herself, or been devoted by her Community, to educational work amongst upper class girls, and she has been a great and most blessed influence in thousands of homes. She has had a long failure, and died soon after Christmas. She and I were constant friends of many years' standing. Who is to take her place? I shall tire you, but it seems so natural to write to you.
There is my Zulu at the door asking if my letters are ready for the post.
Ever your loving old friend, with many, many happy remembrances,
SISTER HENRIETTA, C.S.M. & A.A.
January, 1907. Hospital.--My poor old Hospital which I always feel such a love for and look back upon with such pleasure, and which is now such a beautiful and wealthy place.
As to dear Miss Watkins, I only miss her and mourn for her more and more every day, I think. I so often wish I could have the last six months with her over again.
I have come to the conclusion I am not fit to live with; I do hope I am not turning into a cross old woman, but I fear I am.
I should dearly like to be with you all a little while, but one can't have all one likes. I am very, very thankful for my quiet and sufficient home, and congenial work that I can manage in my old age.
May. Health.--I saw the Doctor the other day and asked him to tell me exactly what he thought of me. I have known for years that I have mitral disease of the heart ... he went on to say my heart was giving out altogether, that if I went on as I do now "a complete breakdown" was very near. ... I don't think I shall live many years, if any. I have too much pain and distress of breathing, and general and increasing feeling of illness--all to-day I have felt most thoroughly ill for instance, yet I have moved about very little. I am afraid this may come as a shock to you, but you mustn't make a trouble of it. I feel myself as if my life was lived and my work done, and I only hope to go on quietly doing the little I can now till this world is over, and I should be thankful to be spared a long period of old age and weakness and decay. I may have it yet, you know. I may pull together again, but somehow I don't think I shall, for every week I do less than the week before, something is given up or made easier. Of course I am lonely, but I have many kind friends and much of vigour and interest in my life still, and I have great comfort in the priest who hears my confessions. Well, that's enough to say about myself.
I see Dr. Watkins thinks my time is very short. I am so glad he lets me see it.
June. Books for Guild.--I have been so pleased this week. We had decided if we could anyway afford it to have Archbishop Trench's Miracles for our next course of reading in the Guild, and I wrote to Miss Trench to know whether she could get them cheaper for us. She replies that she and her brother would like to give them as it is just the use they most like their father's works to be put to. So the twenty-four nice clean volumes will arrive any day now; I got the invoice yesterday. It will please the Guild very much, I think.
Health.--I have for nearly a week been laid on the shelf, and find it rather dreary work. De Beers has sent me down a lovely wheeled chair. Since I broke down people have been very good to me, and I greatly enjoy seeing them, and I feel less ill than when I was trying so hard to do as usual. There is no doubt I can do less every day; there is always something given up. Meanwhile I am hoping to go to Bloemfontein next week. I am to go first class and one of the other Sisters with me to see after me, and, I suppose, with all the paraphernalia I have always despised. However, I can't help it now, "another shall gird thee." Bishop Gaul is here; he came in yesterday afternoon and stayed a long time. We were talking of the number of South African Bishops who, we hope, are in Paradise--Gray, Armstrong, Cotterill, Merriman, Webb, Callaway, Bransby-Key, Wilkinson, Douglas-Mackenzie, Bousfield, Mackenzie, Tozer, Smythies, Twells, Knight Bruce, Hicks, Claughton, Welby, Holmes, Macrorie--and most of them at their posts. The others working hard for the Church elsewhere, or in great infirmity of body and mind. Oh, yes, and the martyred Bishop Hannington--twenty-one in sixty years.
On July 6th she went to Bloemfontein.--I arrived here yesterday after a journey in which everything had been arranged for me by Dr. Fuller. Sister C. was with me and was endlessly good. I had been rather upset and overdone the day before.
A doctor came to see me this morning. . . Afterwards I asked what he said ... he said, "Her heart is quite worn out."
July 22nd.--I am feeling so much better this morning that I think I must write to you before a bad time comes on. I am still leading the life of a doll, being dressed and undressed. I may get back to Kimberley I think for a bit after all. I wish you could see the weaver birds building just in front of my window and hear the dreadful way in which the hens scold the cock for not doing better. They were in the garden when we came in 1874, and are hard at it still.
August 4th.--It is very cold, but as soon as it is a little warmer I must try and get back to Kimberley, and when the hot weather sets in I must try and get south a bit if I am strong enough.
In some ways I am better; I don't loathe food quite as much as I did and I feel stronger, but in the main way, of course, I am worse, and have such a constant horrible weight and pressure on my poor labouring chest. I often long so much to see you and C., but I put the thought away--there is no good dwelling on it. Nothing could have been kinder or more thoughtful in every way than they have been here, and I have had many comforts I couldn't have in a smaller house. One of the Sacred Mission Fathers has been every day all this long time and I feel very grateful to him; he has been a great comfort to me, especially once when they thought I was dying and called him up in the middle of the night; he has communicated me in my room three or four times a week.
Yesterday morning I was wheeled into Chapel, and I mean to go to-morrow or Wednesday.
Life.--I don't know that I have much to say. My life is so quiet and dull, lying in bed generally till midday, and going back there directly after dinner, often lying down in the afternoon. I get many kind letters from old friends, which are a great comfort to me. I wish you were listening to the band of a merry-go-round instead of me. I have had it for a week, and it has nearly driven me mad already. . . . Things are very bad here, and of course get worse. Kimberley mine is closed, fancy that, after forty years of working day and night, Sunday and week-day.
October.--Oh, I do wish I could see you. I so often think of what I will say to you when I do, and these bungling letters are only better than nothing.
Cats.--I have got such a sweet little blue Persian kitten; it is so loving and gentle and flies about the house and garden looking like a heap of dust. Her father is very fond of her, and gives her bits off his plate, but her mother bites her and slaps her till I wonder she lives sometimes. Persian kittens are difficult to bring up, with their weak chests and the thieving propensities of so many people towards them, and their own vanity.
Garden.--I have been very poorly all this week, so oppressed and breathless, but I am most thankful I have no dropsy, at least at present. . . . Yesterday I was so ill all day I could hardly speak. I have just been out in my chair in the garden; it does look so pretty and green and full of blossom, quite sheets of crimson ivy-leaved geranium and mixed with it double white and pink begonias, and then a little further on sunflowers and mauve petunias, and over all the pink blossom of the tamarisk trees waving on its long feathery stalks. There now! you would only despise our poor flowers if you saw them and think how much more lovely yours were.
I wish by any means I could show you the loveliness of our tamarisk trees; there is a river of them the most lovely glowing pink along the wall, and near where I am sitting there is a tree some thirty-five feet high laden with great branches of bloom. They are always lovely, in the winter with their fine network of red stems, the first fresh brilliant green in the spring, three of these splendid flowerings one after another in the summer, and golden yellow in the autumn. They grow so easily and are so common you only see them in gardens like ours where there are only common hardy plants. I have lately allowed violets to grow in great patches; they are always green and fresh in the greatest heat if they are well watered, and are most refreshing, I think. They flower very well too for many weeks, both blue and white. The gardenia is just coming out and is a mass of long pale green buds. The roses which have been so beautiful are nearly over; there is not one La France on the bush. As I write such a lovely bouquet has been brought in of two branches of lady lilies, one of longiflora and a great big fox-glove, so beautiful and refreshing.
Home.--Oh! C., I do wish you could come and see me. It is at times like these one feels these terrible partings.
November.--Mr. Bevan came and spent an evening with me lately. I enjoyed it so much, talking over so many old and new things and people.
Health.--I had an overhauling from the Doctor yesterday, and for the first time he said I was better. I knew I was, but to-day I have felt unusually ill; it is always so. I wonder how long this torpid life will go on--one thing is certain, I cannot do one atom more than I am doing, and if I try to do it I shall altogether break down.
I got to Church yesterday, S. Alban's. I had a De Beers chair to take me to our gate and a victoria to take me to Church and the parish chair to take me to the Church door and a basket chair just inside, and then Mr. Allum brought me the Sacrament. "If this be I, as I suppose I be!"
January, 1908. Health.--I must own I am better when I am quite still, but what good is one's life to one like that. It fills me with horror, for I know as I get worse and worse it means I shall be pinned more and more to one room, to one chair, to one sofa, to one bed until I "lay me down with a will" in my narrow bed, as Stevenson says.
May. Old Friends.--I have had the great pleasure of having dear Miss Battye here for a few days. To have a real steady old friend like that of so many years' standing come to see you is so very delightful.
She has been so interested in going round and seeing all the changes since she left me sixteen years ago.
Church-going.--I got down to Church yesterday, and drove to one door and found ten steep steps, then to another and found nine, to another and found six. I climbed these with great difficulty and found I was a Sabbath day's journey from both Altars, so after resting a time I descended the six steps and came home, and haven't got over it yet. ... I must have my chair kept in the Church and be wheeled up to the Altar.
I have been very unwell lately with such dreadful breathlessness, unable to move or sleep or get into any position in which I can breathe without a struggle ... if I forget and take a hasty step, I am done for.
August. P.A. Synod.--Except for the wonderful outbreak of prayer--and it is a large except--one fails to see I think what particular good the P.A. Congress is to do. As you say the strife of tongues is terrible, and what can be the outcome of all this talking? Here and there perhaps some enthusiasm stirred up, some sense of duty brought home. But the unrest, chatter, laughing and joking over the most serious subjects is to me the reverse of a promise of increased holiness of life. I think the talk about missionaries is one of the most trying to read. As if people could come and settle joyfully amongst the heathen and convert them with nothing to bear but the parting from friends, and nothing to learn in the way of doing it, as if it were not the most difficult work that can be and the one fullest of temptations. It takes years of mistakes, backslidings, recoveries, failures, hoping against hope, humble acknowledgment of one's own incapacity and many other things, before a man and still more a woman, can reach the heathen at all. The immense difficulty of learning an unwritten and most subtle language with many dialects; then all the temptations to give it up when you feel you are despised and mocked at by inferiors; the difficulty of keeping the Faith amongst those who have it not; the loneliness. "Let us leave the Kaffirs and go across the border where the very stones are the finest bread."
When people took these stories to Bishop Webb in old days, his face used to light up and he used to say: "Ah, yes, the devil has come down to you having great wrath, for he knows that he has but a short time." But that short time often seems very long, and here are these dear people thinking of nothing but the first step.
Health.--I have been miserably ill this last week. .... I often don't know how to live, and I don't suppose I shall have to find out very long. Things sometimes seem a little hard, but they are not really. I counted the cost long ago ... it is all in the day's march and doesn't matter. I have very, very much to be thankful for.
November. S. Andrew's Day.--It is thirty-four years to-day since I was made a Novice. How few who gathered round the Altar that day are here now. Bishop Webb, Archdeacon Croghan, Mother Emma, Sister Agatha, Mr. Hubbard, Bishop Mackenzie--not many more than Harry, Bishop Gaul and myself--we were all young people then, mostly in our twenties, some few low down in their thirties--and how daring and devoted and full of enthusiasm we all were. We would have stuck at nothing. Do you know that verse of Adelaide Procter's--something about
"Where are all that happy angel band?
............In their places
Weary men and worn-out women stand."
It is much that some of us are in our places, either here or in the "Land beyond the Sea."
April, 1909.--The Paschal moon is rising so large and bright just before me, shining through the trees of the garden, as it may have done in Gethsemane.
Welgelégen.--Here I am quite safely hi this enchanting place. My train left at midnight last Wednesday, and Dr. Watkins came to the station to see me off safely. I came by myself. . . and to avoid a change Dr. Jameson sent his carriage to Salt River to meet me. The porters there put a large armchair in a trolley and wheeled me across the line. M. and M. Currey met me there, so I had no trouble, and was not a bit tired, for I had a compartment to myself all the way and kept lying down. It isn't like me to be so faddy on a journey, but then I often say this poor crippled old being, with panting breath, is not me. . . . They have a wheeled chair for me and yesterday I went half round this lovely garden. My windows look into the kitchen garden. .... I have greatly enjoyed watching some bananas coming into flower. I am so much enjoying myself amidst all this kindness, and seeing many old friends, and my breathing is so much better.
Later. Reading.--Here I am still in bed and still with much pain, but, I am thankful to say, better. This is the third week in bed. After our warm winter we have had ten days of bitter wind and cold frosty nights, and I am glad to be safe shut up from it. I have been reading a quantity of old books while I have been ill: The Uncommercial Traveller, The Four Georges and Silas Marner, and a good bit of Gibbon's Decline and Fall. I like them much better than newer books, although, of course, Freeman's and Creighton's Histories are delightful reading. I hardly ever read a novel or a story-book now. Some months ago I read one (I forget the author) about a young Quaker who went to Egypt. It gives a horrible picture of court and social life in Egypt; I didn't like the book at all. Now Miss Yonge and Miss Coleridge and Miss Branston write no more it seems so hard to get any book where married people really are married, and say they are and wish to keep so--a real clean, healthy tale seems almost unknown now. I often resort to the "Waverleys."
Foreign Stamps.--They have been a great resource to me since I have been ill. I often sit up some hours on sleepless nights and sort them and trim them and so on.
September.--The weather is getting very hot and flies and mosquitoes coming on apace. I have been having the mosquito netting put over my windows to-day--the greatest possible comfort.
A woman and little boy have just been in. They came out from Australia in the Waratah. She was so ill at sea her husband brought her ashore at Durban. It quite made me shudder to look at her and think of the awful nearness to what I suppose there is little doubt now was an awful death--those three wrecks on our shores have made a terrible sensation.
October.--Here is another week "added to the sum of our days" as the old Prayer-book at Grayingham used to say. I went to Church on Sunday, the first Sunday service I had had since August the 1st. I think they all thought me very obstinate and tiresome, but I thought I would go while I could.
Cape Town.--I cannot imagine Cape Colony without a Governor and a Government House, a centre of hospitality and kindness. While I was at Cape Town in April, the Governor's wife came every other day to see me, and several times brought her beautiful children with her; after a time she had to go to Durban and I saw her no more. I saw a good many people and met with very much kindness. I had the use of Dr. Jameson's carriage all the time; I arrived in it and departed in it.
How nice it is for C. getting this Swiss tour, but I can't think how she can leave home and the strawberries just now.
November 1st. Cemetery.--We went to Church this morning in very hot weather, and after breakfast to the Cemetery. S. wanted to go as it is her mother's birthday, one of the nurses to see her sister's grave, and I always like to go when I can at special seasons. We took quite a number of ornithogolums and gardenias down. All our graves--ten of them--looked very quiet and peaceful, and the Cemetery was beautiful with flowers and the young green on the trees. It is a nice quiet spot to rest in at last. The whole town is glorious with flowers; it was so pleasant driving through it. The cabman said: "Did you ever know such a year for flowers; they are in sheets of bloom everywhere?" and so they are. Yet it has been a cold spring, very, very dry with bitter winds and clouds of dust. You would think no green thing could live. In the Cemetery to-day the Australian willows had been cut down to about the size of rhododendrons, and the young shoots were all topped with great bunches of their crimson and yellow flowers.
Birds.--I wanted to tell you about some birds. The large locust bird comes generally or rather always in the summer when locusts are about--generally they don't seem to settle or breed here, but the last four or five years they have made a large colony at the foot of some hills near Graspan. When first I saw them I thought it was an enormous flock of sheep. Last year they came in hundreds--no one knew where from or where they fed or roosted--and walked about in the grass near the reservoir.
In the greater interest taken in Natural History lately, and especially here since the Natural History Museum was opened, people began to speculate as to what these locust birds really were. It was decided they were white storks, from Holland, not the grey German storks. Some naturalists in Holland caught some of their storks and fitted copper rings on their legs, dated and named them and let them go. Quite a number of these have been caught here. I suppose they migrate to Egypt and North Africa, and then follow the swarms of locusts down here. They always catch and eat them on the wing so high they can hardly be seen, but you know at once when they are at work by the showers of large gauze wings which fall all round you like a snowstorm.
November. Weather.--I seem to have written to you while we had a few drops of rain falling, but we certainly have not had ten minutes' rain since early in May, and now in addition to our constant winds and dust we are having fearful hot winds; they wear one's nerves to a thread--and oh, if you knew what the flies are! I keep them very fairly out of my rooms by having the windows and fanlights all covered with mosquito netting, but they rush in if the door is left open for a minute; but oh, the Common Room is fearful.
Health.--I have to tell you of a great event that has occurred since I wrote last. My needle has walked out quite quietly after troubling me for two years and ten months. It seemed incredible as I looked at it that the little rusty black bar could have caused the pain and illness I had to bear. Well, thank God, that is over now, and I hope I may soon discard my air cushion and forget all about abscesses and such horrible things that cause so much pain.
April 25th, 1910.--It is thirty-six years to-day since I first arrived in Bloemfontein. I am almost the only one left of the party who stood round the wagon that night. The Bishop, Archdeacon Croghan, Mother Emma, Miss Grimes, Miss Sibley, Minnie Webb and little Alice--all gone, but thirty-six years is a long time. I am sure then I did not think I should last so long; and how the place has altered and developed. This great city was a canvas town. The Cathedral (Bloemfontein) now so large was a tiny church. Bishop's Lodge hardly more than a cottage, now a big house--the Home a cottage really, now a huge wilderness of bricks and mortar; about a thousand people, black and white, in Bloemfontein, now I suppose some 30,000. Yet I always look back to those first days with their privations and makeshifts and first start of everything as some of our pleasantest days.
March. Comet.--We are all looking for Halley's Comet. Old Mrs. Mann, who is over eighty, can just remember her father, the Astronomer Royal, calling her from amongst a party of people and lifting her up to look through a telescope and saying, "You are the youngest person in the room and the only one with any likelihood of seeing it when it comes again."
The present Astronomer Royal insists on her going to the Observatory and looking at it through the telescope once more as soon as it is visible.
May.--We are seeing the comet beautifully. I suppose it is too light in England, but it is curious how it and the shooting stars coincide with the death of King Edward. "When beggars die there are no comets seen, the heavens themselves shoot forth upon the death of Princes." What a pageant his funeral must have been!
May 30th. Union of South Africa.--To-morrow we see the consummation devoutly hoped for for forty years: The Union of South Africa under the British Flag.
June. Old Days.--Mind you tell me all about Kingerby. How I should like to have my chair there for a day or two and go all about the old place--it seems to me I remember every inch and bush. I wonder if the woodpeckers and wood-pigeons still live there as they used to do, and what the Church is like now, and if the graves of our kindred are looked after.
Blessed Sacrament.--Please thank C. very much for his notes, which are very helpful, especially his own. I have quite come to accept absolutely Bishop Creighton's view, that wine is commonly speaking the fermented juice of the grape, and that it has been used now for nearly 2000 years. But I believe that the whole Presence is contained in any part of the whole--but the whole must be there--the Consecrated Bread and Wine must be there to constitute a valid Sacrament. That being there, one may for reasons partake of the Bread or the Cup and fully receive, but until both are Consecrated there is no valid Sacrament. I wish I could express myself as he does, but I know what he means, and I believe it.
Health.--You ask me if I can't come home with poor P.'s money. (£100 had been left her.) I would never ask for such money for myself I hope, and besides you don't know what you are asking. I have not been upstairs here for some five years, and I am too infirm to get about more than just from room to room.
I drive to Church and up to the Church door and have my chair to meet me there; and I lead quite an invalid life, a very lazy one too, I fear. I am much better than last year, but I am only a poor old creature at the best of times and little or nothing entirely upsets me.
Climate.--There have been some sad deaths here; this cold long winter has tried everyone. On Friday night there were eight degrees of frost, and the night before was colder still; since then it has been oppressively hot. We are so pressed for nurses, but I am hoping to get some out from England almost at once. By that time I expect everyone will be well again, and there will be nothing to do.
There is dreadful illness all about, and I spend all my substance--not in riotous living--but in telegraphing everywhere I can think for nurses.
Thank you for sending J.'s letter. I could not have believed he was eighty-four--everyone seems about that age now.
German Guest.--We have had such a nice lady staying here, a professional philologist; she is travelling to study some Bushmen's words and has gone on to-day into the wilds. She is a German and so very, very nice.
September. Cape Town Visit.--I am, I hope, leaving for Cape Town on Friday next at 1.15 a.m. I get there soon after seven on Saturday morning, for I am going direct to Rondebosch. I am rather sorry to leave my own little garden, just as everything is coming into bud and bloom, but I shall be there for the full glory of the flowers, the arums, periwinkles and the lovely sorrels which are so beautiful, hanging in great bunches like gigantic polyanthus, white, rose, lemon, crimson and mauve, all along the roads, and I hope some of the orchids. The hydrangeas will hardly be out; they are like a blue lake near Groot Schür.
Welgelégen.--I wish you could see the colour of the oak which has just burst into leaf and catkins in front of one of my bedroom windows and of the wistaria with its beautiful mauve blossoms and brown leaves just below it on the old slave-built garden wall, with the morning sun shining on them, although the mountains are all in silver shining mist. I had a beautiful drive last week in a motor right up the Lion's Head mountain to the Rhodes monument. Anything more beautiful than the great Greek monument, with its huge bronze lions, and Physical Energy ramping before it, the view, the Stellenbosch Hills, the shoulder of Table Mountain, and the sheets of flowers at one's feet, it would be impossible to think of. For some two or three miles we had passed through a little bright blue sort of scrub in full flower, and of course everywhere arums in their best beauty, the large periwinkle streaming with its azure flowers, scarlet mesembryanthemums shining out like jewels, yellow creeping flowers of all kinds--that great daisy flower, orange with a string of pearls inside (which used to be a great plant for bordering beds when I was young, but only got sun enough to come into blossom about three times in an English summer), the most beautiful of all. We came back through Groot Schür with its beautiful flowering trees in full bloom, and great wistaria hedges some thirty feet high or more, but it looked rather desolate and lonely.
You should just hear as I do the chorus of turtle doves purring away in the trees and woods. But they are not a patch on English wood-pigeons; they never exhort one another to "tak two coos." There are very few small birds here except starlings that Mr. Rhodes brought from England and let loose; they and his grey American squirrels are in tens of thousands.
October.--I write you one more letter from this delightful place. The C.'s have been so good to me, making it so home-like and pleasant. A friend took me in last Saturday to see the flower market, and really it was a sight to behold. Some of the flowers--double anemones, carnations, sweet peas--bowlsful like large flat baths--and the great large violets of course were garden flowers, brought in by cottagers from the country; but the great mass of flowers were wild--arums, too common to have very many there; ixias, yellow, orange and loveliest of all--pale green with black hearts, growing on long thin stems. Heath of every variety of lovely colouring, roses and irises--quantities and quantities of other flowers, gladioli especially--and as the whole town goes down to the market for their Sunday flowers, you pass no one without a bunch in the streets. We stopped there a little while to watch them. This market goes on twice a week till 2 p.m. It is indeed a sight and so are the sellers--old slaves and farm and mountain dwellers of many nearly extinct races, who bring them down. Afterwards we went out to Sea Point and drove along the sea wall for some time. The Atlantic was as blue as heaven, and the waves breaking on the granite tossing their white foam high in the air were so beautiful. It was a perfect day; you have to get out many miles to get into the country. But still in every cranny of the wall, every break in rocks, every bare space, the flowers are a miracle. We turned at last and went by an old road over the pass between the Peak and Table Mountain, up and up in zigzags, leaving fully leaved heavy oaks at the bottom, and getting amongst those just breaking into leaf--the hotels on the shore looking like dolls' houses--and so over the "Neck" into Cape Town again. Lady M. had brought sponge cake with her and a Thermos full of new milk, which we had and were glad of on one of the flat green lawns surrounded by great rocks above the sea.
Old Girls' Meeting, Bloemfontein.--I hope you will see a newspaper S. has sent with the account of the Old Girls' Meeting at Bloemfontein. How Bishop Webb would have enjoyed it, and enjoyed seeing and talking to these elderly women whom he had known as children.
December.--I cannot remember a word of all I had to say. I am too tired and done up. I am so weary of being so kept to my chair, unable to get a book from the next room or to call anyone, and I am a good deal tired of my own company and being so much alone. However, it is all right; it is only when I feel so much overdone I get despondent.
This is the Christmas mail, and I have nothing for you but my best love and best, best wishes. Oh, how much I wish we could spend Christmas Day together.
December 26th.--I dreaded Christmas so, and now it is over peacefully in spite of the awful heat.
Words can't say what it is, and so exhausting. Yesterday we were sixteen to dinner in the Common Room and six in the kitchen, and in spite of everything except soup and vegetables being iced, and great dishes of ice about the table which generally makes one cool, I thought I should die of heat. . . . We had the most beautiful flowers and fruit I ever saw at Christmas; the flowers, of course, were various--they are nearly all gone to-day, poor things, but yesterday they were beautiful. If we don't get rain soon I think we shall blow up--only three short showers since the beginning of last April. I can't think how anything lives. Write and tell me all about your Christmas and all you did.
We had great discussions yesterday as to whether it was Sunday. I maintain that although, of course, the day of the week was Sunday, it was not Sunday in any ecclesiastical sense--ask C. and tell me what he says. If it was Sunday, what Sunday was it? and where are its services, Collect, etc.?
March, 1911. Bad Case.--I have been kept a long time with a miserable case . . . sent out here with no provision to earn her living; a hundred trials, all a step lower than the one before, failure in all, then long illness and waking up to utter destitution ... is giving her board and lodging for a little help in the house, but instead of being most grateful as she ought to be she is full of grumbles. What is one to do with such people? I always feel "but for the grace of God, there goes Henrietta Stockdale." I think they are the most pitiable cases and so hopeless.
Cats.--I have had a most beautiful kitten given to me; his pedigree shows he has such a lot of grand relations I feel quite humble before him. He is a sweet and most beautiful person too; he is a lovely present and very valuable too--the most gentle affectionate creature. Everyone in Africa is mad about cats.
Mind you tell me all about your Christmas services, hymns, dinner and all. I like to know all about everything. There, my head is like wool and I can write no more. Good-bye.
Bishopric of George.--I think our Bishopric is going through. The new Bishop of George. . . . How one sees Bishop Gray's wisdom and wonderful farsightedness as years roll on. He was collecting money for the Bishopric of George when he died. Well, that Bishop will have a lovely home, all in primeval forests, and on great rocks and mountains, with rivers and sea and every natural beauty.
September.--I am dog-tired and have but little time. We have the Sheffield Choir here; the whole place is upside down with excitement. There are 200 of them, and that by no means covers the whole party, servants, a doctor, nurses and so on. They have with them a ton and a half of music. Two ladies are here, nice friendly people, quite ready to be pleased and satisfied. Before dinner they sang to me quite a long time, some pieces from "The Elijah" and "The Messiah"--a song--and one of them played most beautifully. Their singing was beautiful--really good, finished singing, as easy and apparently spontaneous as a bird's singing, standing quite still with no faces or grimaces and such full deep voices. It was a wonderful treat to me.
. . . They were extremely nice girls, most anxious not to give any trouble, full of enjoyment of anything done for them, and most beautifully punctual, never a moment late.
Dow. Lady Loch.--As soon as they went dear Lady Loch came. I was so afraid I could not make her comfortable, but she seemed quite happy; and said several times over she was so sorry to leave. I was very happy with her, and I did so enjoy having her. After ten years we met as if we had never parted. It was a great enjoyment to me. She was afraid before she came she would be too much for me,--really she was a great rest. All this time I have had no housekeeper, and at the end of this week four or five temperance delegates are coming for a week. I get an old parlour-maid in who really looks after them all. It means a good deal of washing up, and all the time I am so crippled and stupid and go to bed directly after dinner.
Have you seen Father Congreve's new book Christian Progress; it is so beautiful. I love his book mainly about his life in Africa called The Spiritual Order, but I expect you know that. It is a pity his books are so expensive. I lend mine about a good deal, for few people have them.
How sad everything is in life just now.
25th. Sunday Work.--We had rather a severe day yesterday (Sunday). I got to Church early and so did a good many of the others, but at 2.30 a.m. the bell rang for two nurses to go to a poor girl in a penitentiary, and they were not able to leave her till 10 p.m. Then there was the ordinary day's work of washing and dressing and looking to of ten patients, all our household of guests, an operation in a village near at 5 p.m., and all the preparation for it and watching afterwards for hours. Then the ordinary evening work, and then just when we thought we had done, two lots of instruments sent in by surgeons to be sterilized. It is a good bit of work for a Sunday, isn't it? and all the out nurses at work too. We have had 403 cases this year already, long and short, young and old, people of all nations and colours and speeches and conditions, from an Italian prince to a beggar. It makes life more interesting.
New Aisle at Bloemfontein.--I hear our new aisle in our Chapel at Bloemfontein in Bishop Webb's memory looks very well and is very good. I am longing to see it. The Chapel as he left it was a great choir with a small ante-choir. We have now put a choir for the Sisters at the east end, and the rest is a nave and this aisle for our various people--mistresses, girls, orphans, etc., a much nicer arrangement.
The following is her last letter home, written on Monday, October 2nd, two days before she had the stroke:
The Bishops are all about, meeting in Natal to decide about the Bishop of Kimberley. ... I wonder whom we shall have. Personally I shall much feel being cut off from the old diocese, its memories, associations and traditions. What a struggle it was to found this diocese; and now "a little one has become" not a thousand exactly, but five dioceses, Bloemfontein, Mashonaland, Pretoria, Kimberley and Basutoland, and Mashonaland is dividing itself into two already. How Bishop Webb tackled it all I can't think. The Transvaal, which was the first division, was an immense labour to him. He used to go there for six months every two or three years. Our new aisle at Bloemfontein is to be dedicated I hope on S. Andrew's Day in his memory--forty-one years since his consecration. . . .
I have just been reading a beautiful book my friend G. H. sent me, by Father Congreve, Christian Progress. I am sending it to Lady Loch for the voyage, and will tell her to send it on to you when she gets to England; then you can read it and send it back to me. I suppose you have seen his still more beautiful books, Spiritual Progress and Christian Life a Response. Spiritual Progress is nearly all about work and life in the South African Church. My dearest dear love, Good-bye. Your very loving sister,
S. HENRIETTA, C.S.M, & A.A.
On October the 6th her brother and sister were in the garden at Stoke Prior Vicarage just after Mattins, when a telegram was brought to them--only three words. She had died that morning. For three weeks afterwards her letters came each week as they had done so regularly for so many years, then nothing more--only the memory and the example.