S. Hilda’s Hall,
My dear Mother,
Thank you very much indeed for your letter, the enclosed note, and the parcel, and also for your card this morning. The ginger-breads were delicious; you note they are already in the past tense! Please thank Max for his letter – and will answer it soon if I have not time to-day. The 10/- was very welcome, although I am not out of money at present. Still I foresee bankruptcy before the 22nd is past, for Finance week begins next Saturday, and people have already begun offering to clean your bike (9d and 1/-), sell you an extra fire (1/-), wash your china (3d), make your bed on Sundays (2d), and so forth. We aim at raising £10 this year, which works out at about 5/- per head! The B. usually comes down very handsomely with about £2.
I was very anxious to hear how Daddie is getting on. I have not felt at all easy about him. Do you think it was a touch of flue? Do take care of him and yourself and the boy, for there seems to be a general expectation of a fresh outbreak this spring. Still I should think Daddie was well out of the Tube strike! Why is Miss Fininglay coming to see you? I thought she had departed for E. Africa, or is it one of the others?
Today and yesterday have been brilliantly fine, though frosty. The meadows are frozen and everyone who knows how is skating. If the frost holds Gerry and I have promised ourselves we will borrow two pairs of skates, and betake ourselves to an obscure piece of ice, and …… see what happens. Meadow skating is ideal for beginners, as there is nowhere more than a foot of water – mostly the ice is just a thin sheet over the ground itself. The river has gone down, so we expect the return of the punts and canoes tomorrow. Rowing is a unique experience just now. Yesterday we rowed in brilliant sunshine in a boat covered with rime, and with ice on the water here and there. I am to row in the gig, which is the final height of glory. It also means that I am the ninth person for the eight. If anyone falls out, I shall substitute. Anyway it means the Eight for a dead cert next year.
Yesterday afternoon Joan Curzon and I went to see Martin Harvey in the “Burgomaster of Stilemonde”. It is by Maeterlinck, you know, and is written about the German occupation of Belgium in 1914. It is fine play, and Martin Harvey as the charming old Burgomaster, wrapped up in his fruit and his flowers, was perfectly delicious. Rutland Barrington was also in the caste, playing the part of an old gardiner [sic]. His voice is very husky, but his figure is as fine as ever, even through the bulky trousers and wispy sabots of the Belgian peasant.
Wasn’t he the “I stole the prince and brought him here” man? He looked as if he could dance still, if he tried.
I am sending home several pounds of clothes for the wash. Will you please send them all back sometime but there is no hurry for any but the stockings. I shall enclose two of Joyce’s handkerchiefs which she lent me when my nose began to bleed last night. If I send them to the laundry, they will either be remarked in my name, or else be put to her account, neither of which I want to happen.
G. Bob is lecturing very interestingly this term. He has recommended us to read Vittoria for the Union of Italy, and also Mrs Browning’s letters and diary. Also Swinburne’s “Songs before Sunrise”. Some literature! Dr Carlyle is very nice. Isabel and I exchange impressions of him.
I forget whether I told you I had been elected W.E.A. rep. It is a job entailing much correspondence, some of it with undergrads! This is my fifth letter today!
Please give my best love to Daddie and Max. I have a study circle in my room tonight, so must stop writing now and make preparations. Take care of yourself,
Your loving daughter,
1 “I stole the prince and brought him here” – a quote from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Gondoliers’. Rutland Barrington had been a noted member of the D’Oyly Carte Company.
Next letter to be posted on 16 February.