Daisie had a tennis party on Saturday and so it poured all day, glad to have the dust laid anyway. What does one do when one retires after all this busy life – is it possible to sit still and do nothing? In addition to my Brigade Command I also Command this enormous station, then there is my beloved Soldiers’ Home, then Masonry, I belong to the Craft Lodge, the Mark and Ark, and the Chapter, then I belong to the C.E.M.S. and have to read papers and lecture, then I have the side shows for “Our Day” Dec. 12th. Mrs. Jarley’s Waxworks*, Mock Picture Gallery, Cocoanut Shies, Fortune-telling. It can only be done by decentralisation and I am A1. at that I believe.
* Mrs. Jarley was a character in Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop, who exhibited ‘live waxworks’, that is, actors dressed to look as wax models. The novelty was that each was ‘commanded’ to come to life. This discussion here explains how the performance became quite standard in such events as “Our Day”, a charity fundraising day.
The Soldiers’ Home interests me vastly, and is quite a success. It really is cold now. Everything is abnormally quiet. Finances are really looking quite cheerful with my large pay and with Insurance Policies ripening and dropping in at the rate of £225 a year. Some day we really shall be clear of debt and that will indeed be a red letter day!
Quite settled down now and comfortable – Weather ideal, very few sand-flies or mosquitos. Daisie has no one to help her with Susanna till Miss Key comes, so is tied to the house. Mrs. Denne arrived on Tuesday 20th to run the Home for us and stayed with us till yesterday morning. She is a good sort and will do well I think.
Arrived 6 a.m. Quite cold – breakfast at the Soldier’s Home – Looking very smart and nice. Garden and bungalow flourishing. It is nice to be home again, but the first few days mean a good deal of hard work and worry, mostly on Daisie’s shoulders. Susanna is well and not troublesome.
It is very hot. Our routine is, tea at 5 a.m. When I come back from riding at 8 a.m. I have milk and soda – then Soldiers’ Home accounts etc., then Brigade Office – bicycle back to breakfast 10.30 a.m. back to office, bicycle home 1.30 p.m., a little fruit – mangoes. Bed from 2.0 to 3.30 then tea – writing, bath 5 p.m. We get outside about 7 p.m., it is too hot to go out earlier – dinner at about 9 p.m. Daisie spends most of her time feeding her new found dove which I saved from the crows who were pecking it to death, her rabbits and her pigeons and chickens.
Only a month more and we hope to be getting some fresh air in Murree. It is interesting running the Soldiers’ Home and issuing meat pies and ice-creams to soldiers and it is interesting too to learn the tricks and profits of contractors. The profits are enormous and must run to quite £500 a year! I make a quantity of lemonade that costs Rs 2/- and sells at Rs. 8/-, luckily, in my case, all the money goes back to the men. I do not try to make profit but it just tumbles into my lap! I have 4 private soldiers, 2 barmen, 1 Games and 1 Billiard man, and about 10 native servants. We get up Whist Drives, Dances (ye Gods! temperature of 118º in the shade!), Lantern Lectures, Concerts, Billiard Tournaments. The men steal all the papers, knives, forks and spoons. One in 10 does, the others are as honest as the day.
Note: Rs = Rupees
£500 in 1917 is worth approximately £39,800 in 2017 values. See here for more info.
It has been unbearably hot and life not worth living. Prickly heat very bad. A storm coming on now may cool us. Soldiers’ Home going very well, I give them an address to-morrow.
I really cannot do any more hot weathers – I have done so since 1884, and no nice billets in the hills, one stands them less well as time goes on. Pigeons and rabbits and gardening keep Daisie fit and busy but she looks forward to seeing Susanna in August. Her 6th birthday is on Saturday.