20 – Letter to Mary Ann Smith from Frederick Smith, Oct 1900

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[FS/2/2/4/2/20]

*[1]

*[2]

[No Salutation]

[[1]] to a rice lover like me begins to pall after a time. We have tried washing the rice for the last day or two to get rid of the sticky mass & get the grains separate. The result would have amused you it was converted into a water pap which I duly swallowed, but I have requested not to trouble further with this process but run on the old lines. In spite of being conservative I did think a fresh pudding would be useful, so I directed a bread pudding to be made. You might ‘Dear Madge’ follow the recipe carefully as you will find it invaluable for home consumption or for the purpose of giving permanent indigestion to your many friends; here it is — Take a sufficient number of slices of bread, place in a commandeered (otherwise stolen) pie dish, cover with water, sprinkle on sugar to taste & bake. Serve hot, & if it is not the nastiest, doughy, indigestible, pasty poultice like mess you have ever seen or tasted you will surprise your ever affectionate Fred ‘Madge’. We did not repeat Madge’s experiment. Even I could not

[[2]] tackle it, it nearly killed the [illeg.] & paralysed the chef. We are still eating plain boiled rice. & the funny thing is that when I get to India I will get little else. You might send me a prescription for a pudding, a beef steak pudding & a currant dumpling would be to me at the present moment as much source of satis-faction[sic], as a big dinner at the Cecil is to many people to night[sic]. Its the crust of the puddings which at present defeats us.

Now breakfast is quite good I get my oatmeal from B’f’tein[Bloemfontein]. I steal my eggs & a paternal Govt provides me with some excellent fat bacon. Butter I have practically not tasted since I left England I cannot eat the tinned filth & practically never think of it. It never occurs to me that I go month after month without even seeing it. But my breakfast is a great success, & Hallet is positively crushed if the meat turns out tough, or the rice insufficiently boiled. I have taught him how to make a stew; good thing I like stews for I have two a day month after month. Yah! that would suit you! Our idiotic hen took it into

[[3]] her red head that she wanted a family, so she gave up “borning” eggs, & took to sitting in one place all day. How Hallet prides himself on his know-ledge[sic] of poultry, but he reported that the hen was “terrible” slow in laying (everything is terrible with him, my mare is terrible thin, or Tommy is terrible fat) & took all day over it & then did nothing. With my intuitive genius in these matters I grasped the situation, & directed Jugguroo to pour over the devoted would be mother a pint of water every time she was found sitting in the nest. The results were quite good, she went off in the sulks for a few days, but has returned with renewed vigour, & brought a pal back (not a male) & these two fight like the devil in the morning for the use of the one nest, for the honour of laying an egg for master.

So Hallet is cheering up, he was much depressed when the hen went off. Now see what a thin veneer civilisation is, & how the savage will come up, I have finally made up my mind that the day I leave here for good, I shall eat that hen & taste poultry for the first time for many weeks. How low one is capable of falling!

[[4]] My cat has kittens, but they never appear at the family mansion. They lie in an outhouse & are positively wild, they spit, fight, bite & scratch any innocent hand extended towards them. I dont[sic] invite ‘Tiddles’ into my part of the show, for to tell you the truth I am not sure she whether her habits are strictly sanitary, at any rate I dont[sic] like the smell. She is fond of the horses & rubs herself up against Tommy’s legs.

The Baccy has arrived. Excellent stuff not quite like I smoked last time but very good. It may be a trifle strong & I want something weak, please therefore send me Wills Capstan Navy Cut Yellow Label Mild & I will try that & see whether that or the Scotch mixture suits me best. I fancy though always a poor smoker that I am not as good as I was.

11 Oct — Kruger[3] declared war this day last year & we are still at it. A force Force came in here this morning & was sniped at a man being shot killed within a mile or two of this place. I should declare peace & then hang every man caught. I would offer a good price & get all the ring leaders. I was so busy yesterday that I could not touch this letter

[No valediction]

(Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study the electronic images of this document where possible)

(http://www.rcvsvethistory.org/archive-collection/fs-working-papers/)

[1] This letter bears no address or date, presumably because it is incomplete

[2] Annotated with ‘3’ (presumably the page number)

[3] Paul Kruger (1825-1904), President of the South African Republic 1883-1900

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