Thursday, 15 January 2009

Chumbi 15-1-1904

My dear Bertie,

I received your letter this morning and I was glad to hear that you had had such a splendid Christmas. There is a Drake Brackman in this show. I expect it must be a brother of your friend. My last letter I wrote direct to Delia as I wanted it to catch the mail. I continued from Kapaap from which place I despatched my last letter to you and which you tell me you forwarded on. Except for the cold and the hard going over huge boulders very slippery from the ice, the Talap Pass presented no difficulties and we arrived here on the 7th, finding the General and the Mission had gone of to Phari, twenty miles from here. There has been no fighting except that one officer of the Gurkhas 4th had a brickbat thrown at him when at Phari which knocked him silly for a time during which his rifle and ammunition were run off with. It has been kept very quiet and I don't know the full particulars. He had some Sepoys with him but they had been given instruction not to fire so the fellow, a Lama, got away all right.

Half the troops are here and half at Phari but I understand that we are all shortly moving up to Phari where about 2000 Tibetan are expected to be threatening about. It is intensely cold here but my Tibetan Doolie bearers have built me a house of stones where I have a fire all day long and I hence am fairly comfortable at night. I crawl in to heaps of bedding sown together to form a "bag" which is the only way to keep warm. Stores are now off and I have come down to the Tummy's ration of bread, meat, potatoes, sugar, Tea, etc. Luckily I have an 'A' cook who makes these things into a splendid dinner. At present I am messing in the hospital as the tents are so small and everyone is moving about daily so much so that everyone makes their own arrangements for messing and there is no general mess. However when I do dine out I find that I get a much finer dinner at home.

I have very few sick so I am not overworking. I tried my hand at my rifle yesterday and hit a handkerchief rolled in to a knot at one hundred yards twice following - my only shots - so I think it is fairly accurate. I then had a turn with my revolver where I went all round a tin - could not hit it for "nuts" so before I fire at a Tibetan I shall run up to him and fire. I am actually keeping a diary so I shall be able to write a book on my return.

I went to see the only English woman in Tibet, a missionary at Yatang. She has been here since 96 -although the Indian Government have tried hard to turn her out. She keeps a "store" otherwise the Tibetans themselves would turn her out. I bought some stores and she gave me the most delicious lunch ending up with some Mince Pies so I did very well. Her name is Miss Anna Taylor and her Sister describes in the Illustrated London News Supplement of December 5th 1903, a visit to her and this part of the World. There is also a lot about her and Tibet in the Guardian, which number I do not know (this information for Delia).

My dog Pincher is doing wonderfully well and I do hope he will live. I have never seen him fitter with an appetite like a wolf. I received Delia's mail letter yesterday, written on Christmas day. I'm afraid my money for toys for the Children arrived too late. Still it would do for New Year's day. Everyone seems to have been exceptionally kind to the youngsters who had any amount of toys. Goodbye, I am very fit and actually managed to have a bath today at 12 o'clock when the sun was up.

Your affectionate brother


PS: The two Sappers here are Capt. Elliott CRE and Garstin - Sappers & Miners (Madras) - but don't think they have met you. Cecil.

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