Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Chumbi Tibet. 19-02-1904

My dear Bertie

Thanks for the letter received yesterday and also for the cigarettes that arrived this morning. I am delighted to have them as the ones I got from the stores - "an Egyptian blend" I do not care for very much. Yours are beauties - I remember from a Tin you sent me over before. Yours are Capstans.

We are very quiet here, the General and Staff have returned from Tuna where they thought there might be some fighting but nothing happened. For the last three days we have had snow but not enough to worry one - though we have had to beat it off our tents to prevent them coming down. My house has become very leaky as it not asdfasd and rainproof. Still it is not very cold and when it is snowing the wind ceases to blow, which is a great blessing.

I am including a cutting from one of the papers, which you might read and afterwards send on to Delia. The Calcutta papers, "The Englishmen" and "The Statesmen" both of whose correspondents are here both give very good accounts of expedition and if you see anything interesting in the "Pioneer" you might cut them out and send them to Delia. I see plenty of papers but as they don't belong to me I cannot mutilate them.

Every night I make up a Bridge party and everyone is delighted to come and play a few rubbers as my house is very warm and comfortable and time passes rapidly until bedtime. We had just finished last night when one of my sergeants rushed in to say that a Tibetan Dooly* bearer was lying outside with his throat cut. I found the man lying in the snow unconscious and bleeding from several cuts in his neck . However when I had taken him in to the surgery and examined him I found that the wounds were not very deep and I think he will recover.

Our troubles here are well shown in this case it was that it was so late (11.30pm) that I had no warm water and I had to use frozen water - and carbolic acid was also frozen and when I had only washed the wound for a few minutes my own hands were so frozen I could feel nothing. However I took the man in to my hut and kept him before the fire all night. The next morning handed him over to the NF Hospital. He had been attacked by one of my own Tibetans (they were all drunk, being their New Year's Day - Feb 18) but at the Court of Enquiry yesterday at which I was a witness, practically no evidence could be extracted from other Tibetans as to how it happened.

I was very pleased to hear about the ponies. I expect you want a stronger bit for Kitty and her head kept lower. She used to be so handy that Hoare at Fatahynah offered me R500/- for her to play in the Polo Tournament at Hainital where there is a very small ground and afterwards to sell her to me again for R400/- - my original price. Of course I would not take it as he rode R1000/- - R1200/- ponies himself - being a heavyweight - and what was R100/- to me with the chance of Kitty being damaged. On his side it would have been a tremendous bargain, as he knew Kitty had often played there and knew the ground.

I received my mail letters from Delia this morning - she is greatly worried over her Servants - the nurse has gone sick and the housemaid wants a holiday!!! Poor Delia. The servant question here is no mean difficulty. Most of the servants after coming a few marches - ran away - and I don't blame them - it is hardly worth dying of pneumonia or losing most of your Toes or Fingers from frostbite for the sake of any extra R5/- 10/ per mensam. My Servant does me well except on a few occasions when to cheer himself up he drinks a bottle of native liquor and is incapable for 24 hours. Still I don't worry him as his joys are very few and far between up here.

My boss is still away and I am running the show. The Madras Sappers have not improved yet but I don't think the General likes to send them down as they have certainly done good work. Sheppard arrived here from Guntak yesterday to see the General and today the General goes with him to Guntak on Inspection Duty. We are all here very interested in the Russo Japanese war but our news is somewhat late. How well the Japs are doing the Russians will have no time to give to us!! Well so long - much love, send this on to Delia.

Your Affectionate Brother


PS: I have had some photos taken of the Hospital Camp and also a group of the personnel. I have sent the films down to Calcutta to be developed. They are very good and when they arrive I will send them along.

Editor’ Note: Doolie* is a kind of litter suspended from men's shoulders, for carrying persons or things; a palanquin.

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