17 February 1918

S. Hilda’s Hall,

Oxford.

17.2.18

                My dear Mother,

Very many thanks for your two parcels and the letters enclosed.  I have some great ideas on the subject of Mephi, but am waiting to consult our best actress before I make a move.  The cake is delicious, and the pies a godsend, as I think I shall have to have my lunch out on Tuesday, since I want to go boating at 1.40.  I have a late lecture that day, and it is ½ an hour’s walk from the Hall to the boathouse.  Polite cocoas were in abeyance last week, but begin afresh this, so I have need of supplies.

I don’t think I told you about our walk last Sunday.  Joyce and Evelyn Ellis and I went a short lunch walk, and had a most hilarious time.  We sat on a stile and ate our lunch, adding sardines to the Hall scones, and my hat dropped into the stream!  That was the second time that happened that week.  The previous afternoon my oilskin one fell into the river while I was punting, but fortunately the inside came uppermost.

The play was performed on Tuesday last.  I was dresser-in-chief to the whole caste.  No one but I could tie properly Ella’s and Gertrude’s “obis” – the sash affair.  I got quite expert at the job, which leaves quite a large scope for artistic taste.  Also I had to sew Muriel into her lady abbess’ garb – a tricky job considering the fidgetiness and grimaces of the patient!  Muriel as a Holy Nun was priceless.  Her manner, austere expression, and glad eyes – were superb!  I tell her that never again shall I believe in seeming holiness.

Muriel has not been at all well lately.  The previous week she had to spend three days in bed with a bad headache, and chafed the whole time at the boredom and inactivity.  She isn’t really right yet.  The real fact of the matter is she is worrying hard, because her mother is just departing for France, and she will only just snatch a weekend with her before she goes.  She will have an awfully lonely vac, poor kid, as the whole family appear to have decamped.

I have made the surprising discovery that I can work hard.  This week I have worked 7 hrs per diem on an average.  Once it was 8 hrs.  Both my coaches have been angelic this week.  The Levett was making tender inquiries after my work last Wednesday, and between us we concocted a new plan of action by which I am to use only the Dic. Of Nat. Biog. and original documents.  The consequence is I now dwell in the Rad.  Last week I was burrowing in Strafford’s letters and dispatches, this week in Cromwell’s.  You can’t think how I am enjoying it.  Mr Stampa has also been jolly nice.  I arrived at my coaching last Thursday with only half an essay, and he was perfectly charming, and said if I hadn’t time I needn’t write for him now, as I knew how to write an essay, and the reading was more important.  The reason why the essay didn’t get  finished was because I had been browsing in Walisczensky’s “Peter the Great”, culling many choice tit-bits.  A priceless people, the Russians!  Stampa and I discussed them, past, present, and future, all through my last coaching, also the war and the present situation.  Highly instructive!

I have been punting again this week. On Wednesday Anker took three of us out, and we complaining that you never got a punt to yourself for practice, just left it to us to do as we liked, go where we like, and coach one another.  We had a ripping 2 hrs, and went further up the river than I had ever been before.  Once before with Anker we picked up a scull for two wretched cadets, and got ourselves aground on a root in the process.  We nearly went over in getting off again.  Says Anker “I love helping men on the river.  It’s the only sport in which we can excel them”.

Please thank Maxted for his letter and tell him I will write to him as soon as I possibly can.  Dearest love to Daddie and the kid,

Your loving daughter,

Margot.

Next letter will be posted on 21 February 2015

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