[Note: The Watsons had recently emigrated from England to Aliwal North, South Africa.]
Feb 19th 1880
My Dear Ellie
We received your most welcome letter by Steamer "Garonne". It was such a delight to me, after two months interval: it is the first time you have missed a month since you went to Africa. I will be able to write more regularly, now that I have got a girl, than I have been doing.
We are all pretty well, except Thomas -- he has a cold and is a little billious. I feel much better since we moved into this nice house, and do not feel the heat nearly so much. The rooms are large and lofty, and the situation is much better, so open and pleasant, and we are quite near to the Creek. Thomas and the boys often bathe: it is salt water. In the evening there is such a cool breeze from the sea: our house stands upon a little higher ground than many of the houses near and we catch any breeze there may be. It is a very hot morning out in the sun, but just a little warm in the house.
I was glad to hear that you can do with the heat pretty well; it is the same with you as with us. A very great deal depends upon the sort of house you have; and the fine garden and trees you have will all help to make your life more comfortable. I have had a taste of the roughness of colonial life. I feel such a difference, although I think I am just as industrious. Yet it is in a cleaner and more ladylike fashion than washing and scrubbing; and to be able to sit down and sew or read, after so much drudgery, seems quite a luxury.
One morning when Thomas and the boys were bathing, I took Nellie across to them, and undressed her. Freddie carried her in to her da; he gave her two good dips. She was frightened. She clung to me when she got out and sobbed out "oh ma I was nearly dead", "there was too much water". Since then, Nellie wont [sic] hear of bathing any more.
I have made her such a lot of things since I got the girl: white petticoats, two new dresses, one a white one, the other light print trimmed with embroidery. I am going to make her another next week, and some new drawers. I like to send them out neatly dressed. The girl takes them when it is not too hot. I have got the Boys each a new suit of light tweed, a better quality than they have hitherto worn. I think they do not destroy them quite so fast as they did at home, although I am often making school trousers. They do not cost much. I am quite expert at making them, and tweed is cheaper here than in England, and Australian made wears capitally. I buy their best ready made: Fred's was £1:10s:, but they are all wool, very good; and long trousers; he is nearly my own height; Addisons [sic] were only 14s:6d. I made myself a light print the other week; it was quite a success in fit and style, very cool for morning wear. I wear my pretty blue muslin in the afternoons. The grey dress I spoke to you about getting is come home. It is very sweetly made, trimmed silk buttons and ribbon bows, and suits me very well.
I have had a good deal of work fitting
up the house, but have got it neatly finished now. How I do wish
you could see us in it, and drop in and have tea and fruit. We
half live on fruit: the grapes are very fine now, 2d a pound.
You speak of having figs, are not they nice? I am so fond of the
black ones, more so than the green. The apples are very fine and
juicy, 2d a pound also. We have not mealies or banannas [sic]
here: you might send us some seed, and directions how to grow
and cook or eat them -- that is, if not too bulky. We want to
grow all our own vegetables; if we can have plenty of variety,
it will be so nice.
[remainder of letter missing]
April 10th 1880
My Dear Ellie,
We were so pleased with your last interesting letter. I was not a little amused at the information for my private ear (by the bye Thomas read it first, and wishes to know how many are expected). I think that you will have got one from me by now, containing the same kind of news; ours is expected perhaps two months earlier ! than yours; but, you know I am not good at dates, and I don't guarantee the time like you. I am pretty well just now. I have had an awful time of it. I have had weeks of the tic, and neuralgia in the head, but I think I am through with that now. I got out yesterday a little.
We are having lovely weather now; the intense heat has passed; and it is very cool in the mornings and evenings, but deliciously warm in the day. But still we only light a fire when we want [to] cook our food, we don't feel the need of it for warmth.
I suppose you will h[ave] got the portraits by this time. We do not think them good of Fred or myself. The others are good, but Nellie is the best of all. Mary is very well just now. She is just about going o[n?] to walk; she can go a step or two alone, and can go very nicely if you take [her] hand when outside. Ellie has got such a tongue, she prattles and talks all day long. She is a very strong healthy child, we seem never to have known any trouble with her. I often talk to her of Auntie and Uncle and Kate and John; but, poor little girl, she has no idea what I mean by those terms. She asks such droll questions: she gravely enquired the other day if you had any legs ! But she seems quite inclined to like "cousin Kate". I told her she was a nice little girl; she said she would let her play with her doll ! when she comes. Just now, Nellie is rich in dolls: she has a boy and girl "Jack" and "Rosie". I was at a Bazaar and bought her [a] few toys; she has quite dethroned the Kitten since she got them.
Dear Ellie, I have such a lot more I would like to say; but I am so tired with sitting over this, I must leave off for tonight.
April 16th 
Since I wrote the above, I have had a return of tic. I feel quite weak and depressed with the continual pain. I am pretty well, except that. I am looking forward to the Mail coming in tomorrow or next day. I do hope Robert will send us a letter. I feel so uneasy about him; sometimes at nights, I get on to think about him and get quite nervous, imagining all kinds of things to have happened to prevent him.
May 11th 
My Dear Ellie
You will see by date my letter has lain a long time, but I have been very unwell. I had purging for a few weeks, and got so bad with cramps and coldness, that we had to get a Doctor. He said it was English Cholera. He soon gave me releif [sic] from the extreme symptoms, but I am still not right. I have chronic [?] repurging, it keeps me feeling rather weak, and very easily tired; but [I] persevere in getting about, and looking after the House and girl myself as far as possible. It pays, if one can possibly do so, to have a continual eye upon their work. I have got a new girl, she is only fifteen, but looks pretty strong. I will have the cooking and ironing to do, as well as to give some assistance with the washing; but still, I think we shall be more comfortable, as she will stay at nights, and Thomas is a great deal out in the evenings. It will not seem so dull. I pay her 7/- a week. I envy you your cheap servants. I got another letter from you on Monday by the "Orient" and a most interesting one from John. Thomas was delighted with it. The latter is tremendously busy
[remainder of letter missing]
August 25th 1880.
My dear Ellie,
You will think me unkind in not writing sooner, but you must try to forgive me for my trouble seemed to upset me so. I don't seem as if I could settle my mind to writing but time is merciful and helps to dull the pain of the sharpest sorry and to me it is the hardest loss I have ever sustained. I had her more to nurse than any of my children and she was such a Mother's pet, being so delicate I indulged her, and she was not a child that spoiled with petting. She only seemed sweeter and more winning in her little ways. Thomas was so attached to her and he used to play with her and nurse her so much, I know he misses her constantly although he does not say much. When she was ill, he stayed up at nights and nursed her so tenderly everything that could possibly be done for her from the very first, we did, to try to save her, and several times she seemed to rally and we flattered ourselves that she was going to get well again, but the disease kept relapsing. Oh! Ellie it is hard work, we know that God knows best. I try to be resigned but I miss her so much, even with the baby to look after, and he helps me a little, he is beginning to take notice. He is a very big baby. I have plenty of milk for him and he grows so fast. He is so much stronger than dear Mary ever was. I do hope he will be spared to us. It is dreadful to lose so many, I am so fidgety about him, I carry him with me wherever I go, it is you and Kate once again. I am so strong and well and I could not bear the thought of having him out of my sight and he certainly pays for care for he is a splendid boy.
It is Saturday morning and so fine, I have just washed Harold and put him to sleep. I have not anything pressing so I hasten to the pleasant task of writing some more twaddle to you. I have had such a good recovery from my confinement. Everything seemed to go on so well compared to last time and baby thrives so much better with not having the bottle. I had a terrible time at the birth, I was so long ill and so severely held, I did wish I had you with me. It would have been such a comfort but the nurse was very kind and my friend Mrs. Allen was with me. She reminds me so much of you in her personal appearance and more so in her disposition. I never had a friend I thought so much of. They have only been a short time out here, came from Dipton. He is a local preacher with us and I suppose a very good one. She is about my own age and has four children, youngest Addison's age, many a happy hour we spend together. I can talk freely to her and she to me, you would like her I am sure.
You will see by the date that I have taken a long rest. Well the truth is I have been so very busy I have scarcely known how to turn. Mr.&Mrs. Stanger and their two sons arrived here from Melbourne, and we had them to entertain for 3 days. They slept out and we have had to look to them and help them in settling down, getting a house and few things to start with. Poor things, they are to be pitied, Mr. Stanger is very nervy and poor Millie is a long way gone in consumption. We got the news of your dear little daughter's birth a week ago. I was so delighted about it, I hope she will be spared to you and be a comfort to you all the days of your life. Dear little Kate will be proud of her sister, I wish I could see her and kiss her sweet face. Dear Ellie hug her and kiss her and bless her for her Aunty, over and over again. Some people have said to me, it would have been nice if my baby had been a girl but it would have not filled Mary's place. Dear little Mary, it seems a sweet memory to have had such a dear little child. I like to sit thinking of her and picturing her face and fancying I see her trotting about. She could talk so well too.
I must finish now, just time to catch
the mail. Yours in love Kate.
Old Port Road
near Port Adelaide
Dec 8th 1880
My Dear Ellie
I am almost ashamed of myself, for neglecting writing to you for so long; but I have been kept so busy, for I have had both Nellie and Addison down with measles. Nellie is not quite recovered yet, although in a fair way, but I have been thinking of you every day. I hope by this time you have got nice and strong, and that your little Annie is growing apace; may God bless her, and make her a blessing to you. We often talk of you all, and feel not a little anxious as to how the war affects you and your work in Aliwal.
I can hardly describe my feelings to you on receiving your last letter, telling me all about your confinement. I felt a sick feeling of longing to rush off to you, that I must [multiple underlines] see you and your infant; but alas ! I had to stifle those feelings, and try to reconcile myself to the inevitable; but oh ! for a day or two together, if it was only to compare Babies. My joy grows beautifully, he is a strong lusty active child. I feel my shoulders ache at night with him jumping and springing all day; but he is such a good child, and sleeps so well at nights, I do not need to feed him at all.
I am in most excellent health myself, so is Thomas and Fred; the latter is growing a tall, bright looking boy. I have just got him a new suit of light grey, and it is made quite a long coat; he looks so smart in them. His other suit was in very good order, so he looks nice in them to go to school. Da is drumming him up in his Latin just now; so if I was to forget, and put a little bit in, you must just excuse me !! He is having a hard time this week: he goes up to town four days, for examination at the training college; he is a candidate for one of the Exhibitions. There are six given, and twenty five candidates; if he wins one he will get a college training. For three years, we will receive thirty pounds a year for him, and that will more than pay his college fees. It is a very stiff examination, we scarcely think he will get it; but he will have another chance, for boys under fourteen only are eligible, and he can go up another year if he fails this. He has worked hard, and trudged off to night school, in all weathers, as cheerfully as possible; and got up in the mornings sometimes early, to get to school an hour before time; for Mr Martin, the master, will give industrious boys any amount of help. I will tell you the result if we know before this goes off.
I have been busy making Baby a white satin hat, with white feather. You have no idea what a success it is; he really looks lovely in it. The white pelisse you bought for Nellie; I washed and trimmed it with pink silk quilted; you would think it new, he is quite a little swell when I take him out. Nellie is in second mourning now, I am still wearing deep mourning.
I bought a swarm of Bees in the spring of the year: we will have a supply of Honey soon. We had a great deal of waste in garden stuff, so I purchased two little pigs to feed; and I have invested in ten fouls [sic] and a rooster. I have had seven of them sitting, and now I have 52 fifty two! chickens, all growing well. They are principally Brahmas, so they will be nice for the table, and the eggs are so nice for the little ones. I had some duck eggs given to me; I set a hen with them, and have eleven fine young ducks. We have a fine place to keep them here. You will think I have quite a farm yard; but it [is] so different from home -- we have plenty ground and feed is cheap, so many wheat mills near.
I am very tired now and must say good night; I know you will remember this is my dear little girl's birthday.
Old Port Road
Jan 26th 
My Dear Ellie
We received your most welcome letter on the 24th, and were glad to see your handwriting again, although I was the delinquent this time. But you know how much there is to do, when a new baby comes, and only one young servant. I never worked so hard in all my life, but I thank God I have health and strength to do it, and I try to find my pleasure is my work.
We are having very hot weather just now, but I like it; it is not enervating like Indian heat, and our children are all in robust health. Harold is a vigorous kicking croning[?] young gentleman now: bab bab babing, all day long. He is very good natured. I have not commenced feeding him yet. I wish I could see your dear little Annie and compare notes. I will have baby photographed and sent to you. Get little Annie taken on your knee dear, that I may see how you look with your new treasure. Oh if I could only see you once more, I would bear a good deal of inconvenience in circumstances, patiently, only to live near each other again. I think some day we may.
We had a letter from John, and one from Uncle Stan, same time as yours came. There was some news of Robert in their letters. Thomas asked them to go down and see him, if possible, and get our picture "sticks" and send it out, as he would not do it; it has arrived safely.
Feb 2d 
I had to leave my letter rather abruptly the other day. Harold woke up and I had to nurse him.
Hannah told them that Robert had given up his situation, at a moment's notice! and has been out of work for six months, and was still when they wrote. She said the new Governor and he could not get on together; and, dear Ellie, I scarcely like to say so, but they think that he has been living on our money. He refuses to see them: they have tried all ways, but he keeps out of their way. Thomas says if he had only written to us, he would not think of pressing for the money; although we need it to finish our house, and told him so. I could not have beleived [sic] it of him, and yet I feel almost compelled. I love him so dearly, that I have felt his conduct to be a very severe blow.
But you see, his silence, both to you and to us, is so inexplicable; and I can't see how they can have lived for six months, unless they have appropriated our money. You would know that Thomas gave him a "power of Attorney" to receive accounts for us; and half of the partnership money from Mr Shewbrooks; we ought to have had the latter long before this. John wishes Thomas to send plain instructions what they are to do in the matter for us. He has decided to give them power to take the Business entirely out of his hands; and to get all documents left with him, from him; but, if he has taken our money for his own use, not to press him for it. Thomas feels very sore about it. He was very generous with Robert; he paid all his expenses up to London when we came off, and made him a present of five pounds, and was going to pay him ten per cent, for his trouble on our behalf. Also, if he wished to come out here, to bear the expense of his passage out. If he has been doing as they think, he is conscientious enough to be thoroughly miserable and ashamed, and it would not be possible for him to write to you.
Thomas is out this evening, and Fred is at the night school. The other children are in bed. The house seems quiet and dull, as the girl goes home to sleep. She is not very satisfactory; I think I will have to change. They are so bad to get, and so "cheeky" and independent, so different from
[remainder of letter missing]
near Port Adelaide
Wednesday May 11th 
My Dear Ellie
We received yours dated March 26th, on Monday. You will see that is long in coming. I was feeling terribly anxious to have a letter, and, when Thomas brought it in, I was almost dancing with delight; I determined to write more regularly. I was so low spirited for a long time after Mary's death; but time is merciful, and I feel now that it was ordered for the best; and I look on to the time when I shall meet her again, and I am trying to live in readiness for that.
I was so pleased with the delightful detail of your letter. I see my fair niece before me, in green plush trimmed dress and silk[?] hat, and black stockings! Bless her dear face, I wish I could see her. The little John in suits is almost beyond my powers of imagination; after leaving him a fat lump of a Baby, to hear of him going into suits. Let me tell you, your troubles are just beginning, they take such a keeping right in knickerbockers. My Nellie is rather poorly, she has a cold and a hacking cough that I do not like. I am keeping her in doors and doctering [sic]. I hope she will soon be well. I am well myself, except a little touch of Rheumatics. Thomas and the others are pretty well. Baby is crawling all day long, and tr[y]ing to raise himself by the chairs etc. I will have his portrait taken to send you soon. I would like little Annie's and yours again; if you have not got them done by [the time] this reaches you, set off at once.
Our new Minister Mr Jenkins, is in the Circuit. He is a very much better man than we have had, a good speaker, ready witted, and a kind manner. His wife seems nice too, but I have not got much acquainted with her yet. They have six children, two girls and four boys; she dresses them so smartly. The weddings help our ministers here very much; they get at the least 3 guineas, and often five pounds a wedding.
I was pleased with what John said about coming here. I was thinking it over last evening, and dreamt about it after I went to bed. I thought I went down the river in a little Steamer, and then stepped on board one of the large Orient liners; and I saw Kate, a tall girl that I scarcely knew; and a Lady turned suddenly round on deck, and it was you, not the least altered; and we were locked in each other's arms in a moment. And then I woke up, and I beleive [sic] cried a little; it seemed such a disappointment that it was only a dream, that I am almost crying now when I write of it. But oh! my darling Ellie, if only we may meet again, in a few years time, if there is that to look forward to, I can bear the seperation [sic] with hope in the future. Well, we must try and be patient, and trust; surely the way will open in some way or other.
Winter is upon us now; we had our first fire in our sitting room yesterday evening. It is warm in the middle of the day. It has been such a nice cool summer, that is for Australia. They say the Climate gets cooler. I do not know; I think our bodies get accustomed to it. I could not bear the cold of an English winter now; I am sure, if I was to go back at that season, I would be ill again.
I forgot to tell you, we had a reception tea for Mr. Jenkins. Mrs Leits[?] and I collected £4:13s:-- towards it; and we got cakes, milk, cream and all sorts of things given to us. So, you see, I am at my old trade again. I think I shall be happier now on the Sundays. They have been my most miserable days hitherto; but I think we have had about the "sorriest" Minister in the Colony, although as a man he was a harmless body, nobody could fall out with him.
Be assured, dear Ellie, of my warmest and unalterable love.
Jan 7th 1882
My Dear Ellie
I have been waiting and expecting a letter from you for some weeks, but I am doomed to disappointment. I have had nothing from you since I last wrote: this is several times that I have sent two letters to your one.
We are well with the exception of Baby; he has been very poorly for a fortnight, and still is far from well. Dysentry from teething. We think him a little better today: he is more inclined to get down and walk, although very weak. Thomas is a little out of sorts too with same complaint.
The news of greatest importance that I have to communicate this time is that Fred has passed and gained an exhibition. There were six boys gained them, and Fred was second 2 on the list, "in order of merit". Other 8 boys gained sufficient marks to have passed, had there been more exhibitions offered. So, you see by that, Fred's papers must have been very good; in several subjects he answered all of the questions. So, in a month's time, Fred will enter the "Prince Alfred College"; and, of course, we are very pleased about this and a little bit proud. He richly deserves this, for no one but myself knows how resolutely he has worked for it, turning out three nights a week in all weathers, for lessons in extra subjects. I know you will rejoice with me, or I would not tell you it all so very fully.
I have had an interval here of a few hours. It is such a beautiful evening, bright moonlight and delightfully cool after the heat of the day, and we have been enjoying ourselves sitting on the verandah. I have come in to finish this off. I will send a longer one next time, when I hear from you.
"Dress news"! I have got a pretty light grey dress -- expect it home tomorrow from the dress maker; and a cream coloured satin bonnet, trimmed with handsome feather and tulle and lace of the same colour. It is very stylish, and suits me very well indeed. Nellie has had a new rig out. Baby too, bless him.
And, by the bye, Ellie, there is another B..y coming in the winter, all being well. Don't tell anybody you know. How about yourself, are you in the same ship! I have never been so well in similar circumstances. I got a Homeopathic remedy of the name of "Threasatum[?]", that quite cured me of sickness. I write this for your benefit. Be sure to get it if you require it; the effects are quite marvellous.
I have no more news: I am anxiously waiting for news from you. I cannot always send two letters to your one. I hope they will come a little oftener. With kind love to John, and kisses for your dear little ones. I am your loving sister
Monday March 
My Dear Ellie
I received a very interesting letter from you, just after I had posted my last to you. We were so glad, for it was long in coming. I have been very poorly since then, or I would have written sooner. I had Dysentry to a fearful extent. We had to get the Doctor, but I was ill a fortnight before we got him, so that I felt very weak for a long time after.
However, I am better again now, and Baby is quite well too. He is getting such a big strong boy, can talk a little too: what is lacking in distinctness, he makes up for in force. We have had his portrait taken. I send you one, but they are very poor. We had them done at the port [; the] best photographers are in Adelaide. The weather was so hot, I did not want to take him there, but when it gets cooler I will have him done again. He is fair with light hair and blue eyes, otherwise the likeness is there.
Nellie is growing tall, gets out of her frocks in no time. She goes to a Ladies' school and is coming on very well; is a little vain in her disposition; is very fond of clothes -- nothing delights her so much as new things, and she always wants them on to school.
Mrs. Allen and I are going to Mr Howchin's to tea today: Mrs A knew them at home. I have not much time to write this morning, as we are going in the half past one train[?] to Adelaide; and then we get tram car to Parkside, where they live. We expect to enjoy ourselves. Thomas will meet us there a little later, and Mr & Mrs Goodwin will be there also. I just wish you and John were going, then we would have a happy time.
May 21st 
I am quite ashamed of my long neglect, when I look at those dates; but I have been so busy, sewing, cleaning etc. that I feel I am a little excusable. We had a letter from John on Friday, with the sad news of your dear little boy's death. It was a great shock to us. I do sincerely sympathise with you both in this sad trouble. I pray that God may give you comfort in your sorrow. I know He will give healing, and enable you to feel resigned to His will. May you be enabled to lean upon him.
I am thankful to say we are all in pretty good health. I have been unusually well for some time, that is, considering that I expect an addition to our family next month early. But yesterday and today I have felt very unable to get about. We have had the masons at work, building us a kitchen. We have transformed the former one into a capital dining room. We have six rooms, a bath room and dairy. They are all large lofty rooms, but one. The whole house has been redecorated and cleaned; and now all is done, we look so nice and are in such apple pie order, that I wish you could see it.
I have the same girl Emma. She has been with us twelve months; she is clean and tidy and quiet, and so patient with children; and I have got a monthly nurse of respectable character engaged. I hope I will get nicely
[remainder of letter missing]
August 16th 1882.
My dear Ellie,
You will no doubt think me very negligent, it is so long since I have written to you but my hands are so full. Baby requires so much attention although very good, yet he likes to be nursed and when sleeping, I have so many jobs to do, that letter writing gets pushed to one side, until my conscience gets so uneasy, then I let my work lie and sit down. That is just how it is, you must just try and forgive me darling. You always were of a forgiving disposition and I don't suppose South African air will have altered you at all. I expect to find you the same dear old Nell (when we meet again in two years time) as I left, that is in disposition. I suppose we will both see differences in personal appearance. Thomas is very much altered, much stouter and his hair grey and thin. The Church trouble we have had here has worn him very much. I look much younger than he does and you remember it was the other way, but his heart is still young. I think is one of the sort that will never be classed among old men. He has the same love of boyish fun and frolic as ever. We are all in first rate health now, the children grow, Nellie is quite a handy little maiden now. She can nurse her little brother and talk like a Mother to him. She has him now, he is crying and I must leave off to comfort him. He is growing so nicely, big and fat just such another as Addison but fair and blue eyed. He takes such a great deal of notice. Harold is turning a splendid boy, pretty looking and so old fashioned. Just lately, we noticed Addison shooting out tall. He is different to any of the others both in appearance and disposition. I think he will turn out very steady going and persevering and entirely free from affectation. I cannot say this of Nellie for she puts on all sorts of little airs and graces, picked up from the older girls at school. She often amuses me with her funny little ways. I wish you could see them all and I often try to picture your little darlings, dear little Annie will not know her Auntie Kate, but I love her although I have not seen her. I often talk to my children about yours, and dear Uncle John and Auntie Ellie. I make your names household words. By the time this reaches you, I hope you will be nicely through your trial, may God bless you and your dear child. I pray every day that you may be brought safely through.
Mrs Allen and I are going to hear a lady preacher this evening at the Baptist Chapel. A Mrs.Maeysitz? a Jewess. She has gone all over the Colony preaching in the Baptist Churches and I suppose done a great deal of good.
We have had a series of popular concerts in the Port Town Hall. Thomas took a season ticket and we have enjoyed them very much. I have just had a black cashmere dress made trimmed with velveteen, a very good one, and beautifully made. Also a dark grey home spun for home wear, and a good black jacket trimmed with corded silk. Everything in dress is so cheap here no one need to go shabby.
[the rest of this letter appears
to be missing]
[undated, circa October 1882]
My Dear Ellie
I have not heard from you since I despatched my last letter; but I have so many things to write about, that I think it time to get one started. I hope soon to hear news of your confinement. I am feeling rather anxious for news.
Since I wrote, I have had Baby very ill of Bronchitis. I am happy to say he has quite recovered. It was an anxious time; I had to walk the floor at nights with him for nearly a week -- he was always worst at nights.
And just after he got better, Harold took "German Measles"; and he suffered a great deal, poor little fellow, but was so brave and good all through. Doctor said his symptoms were very bad, so you may think how frightened that made me; but still I felt as if he would pull through. The rash remained out for about ten days, and was fiery red, attended with great fever and restlessness. His eyes and ears were fearfully bad. Indeed, it seemed quite an aggravated form of the disease, in every way. He had excessive pain in his bowels, and so sore and tender we could scarcely touch him. We have a very skillful Doctor, particularly with Children.
As soon as he was quite well again, Nellie took Mumps, but I managed to cure her without calling the Doctor. And then Fred followed on with the same thing. And then I had Neuralgia for a fortnight. But I really think we are all about right again now.
Thomas will be writing John by this Mail, with a good deal of connexional news. There will be an Official request sent out by this Mail to general Committee for Rev John Watson (now of Aliwal North), to be requested to come here as Minister: you will get details from Thomas. My mind is in far too elevated a state to come down to details. I am so delighted to think of the possibility that we may see you, in a comparatively short time; and it is really very necessary that we should have a good man out here, it will be the Salvation of our cause in this colony. Mr Howchin says, if John can come soon
[remainder of letter missing]
[fragment is possibly part of the same letter]
I hope the G.C. will see their way to send a Minister in your place at Aliwal, so that you may come soon. Our circumstances are exceptional here, in fact it is a critical time. It will be real missionary work, perhaps rather uphill at first. There has been so much strife and contention but the minority (our side) are the most intelligent and they are deeply in earnest. It is a conscience matter with them. They mean to stand firm and do what they think to be right and I do believe God will own and prosper their work and the cause will get on. I must lay my pen down tonight, the children are all off to bed and I am very tired. I had face ache until 4 o'clock this morning so good night dear over the sea. I wish it and waft a prayer for your welfare every night at bedtime. Kate. Xxxxxxxx
Kate is not up but desires me to finish the letters off as it is mail day. I am desired to say she had a great deal of news of dresses, her own, our Nellie, and even myself; of course I am not capable of going into it, but I can certify the Dressmaker has been here on more than one occasion recently and there are a good many new dresses astir. I really forget the colours and materials (but these are minor points I presume.)
I trust we will hear from you soon after you receive this and also when you hear from the Committee in London. Thomas.
[Note: the Watsons did move to
Adelaide, arriving July 1883. They returned to England in April
[Note: unbeknownst to Kate, Eleanor had died in England on 3rd April 1901]
10th April 
My dear Ellie,
I received Kate's interesting letter yesterday. I was longing for one from you, I am very anxious about your health, I hope this last attack may not last long. I think you will have to do like my dear Thomas, be content to take things very quietly and let work alone and conserve the little strength you have.
I was a little puzzled as to whether to write to you or Kate but perhaps she will read this and excuse me writing to her just at present, for I am kept very busy just now. I have Winnie down with Typhoid Fever. She has been very ill indeed but is now a little better, although she still has not got the turn, but her temperature is slowly going down. So with care and good nursing she will (T.G.) pull through. She has been in bed three weeks and for some time before was in and "out of sorts" condition. We were staying at the Park when she took ill and as there is no Dr. there I had to bring her up to our town house, to have medical attendants. The Doctor still comes twice a day, there was a time when I got afraid I would lose my darling but I felt that in even this I could say not my will but thine be done oh God! I left the servant at the seaside house to look after Thomas and Percy. Percy comes up to business every day, Thomas only once a week. He finds it rather monotonous without me but as he is in such weak health, the Dr. says that is the safest thing to do, so I am in this big house all by myself. Of course I see a good deal of Nellie, she lives next door. I have a gap in the fence I slip in to all my meals there. Poor Winnie only has milk and barley water. A char woman comes once a week to clean up and Harold is staying with Fred., so I can have perfect stillness in the house and that is very needful for Winnie.
I had only been home a short time when this illness commenced, for Percy got very home sick at Katoomba (N.S.W.) and I went down to him early in January and stayed two months in the lovely Blue Mountains and Harold went with me for a three weeks holiday. I stayed until Percy was quite restored to health and strength as we think he now is, for he has kept so well since our return.
The scenery in the Blue Mountains baffle all description, it was a continual feast to me, I got so well there, I used to walk miles and go down all the lovely gullies. I performed what was considered quite a feat for an elderly woman like myself to do. I went down to the bottom of Linden? Falls to the forest, 2,300 feet, returning by Leura Falls. I will never forget that day, one lovely scene after another. I was fearfully tired next day but so satisfied. It seems as if I was to be prepared for this time of strain and trial for I have felt so well and able for the heavy and unaccustomed work.
Tell dear Kate that I am thinking of her very often this month. I pray every day for her that she may do well in her time of trial. It is a very anxious time for Mothers, I felt very troubled about Nellie and Jessie, but they both got on all right. Nellie's baby is such a great fat girl and the dearest little pet you have even seen. They all say I will spoil her, I will try not to, but she is very sweet and I see so much of her she knows me so well and has such a jolly laugh for me as soon as ever she sights me. She has just got two teeth.
Jessie's little Kate is a very pretty fair child of a much smaller and more delicate build, but I do not think she is delicate but it has been very much against her that her Mother could not nurse her, however now she is thriving and taking a great deal of notice. About our trip to England! I am afraid we will postpone it to another year. We did intend leaving this month, but Percy's long illness and Thomas' too and now Winnie's seems to have baulked all our plans. I would like to have all the English summer so as far as I can see, I do not think we will be coming this season. I am very sorry but I could not be happy to leave Percy until we are quite sure his health is going to be all right. We think he will do now but he has so often rallied and then gone so suddenly down again that one never feels sure of him.
I read this week in the Christian World of the Simultaneous Mission and Kate speaks of the good being done in her husband's Church. I am delighted to hear of it, there seems a great deadness here in spiritual things, it is indeed refreshing to hear of a good work in other places. Personally I have been wonderfully blessed quite lately. I know more of the "the joy of believing" and of implicit trust, this last fortnight in the empty house (save for poor unconscious Winnie) keeping watch over her at night I have felt such a conscious nearness to God and His sustaining grace has been such a real tangible thing to me.
Well I must say goodnight, it is very late, I can lie down and sleep now. Winnie is quietly sleeping and much better. I have raced through this letter so don't be critical. All the neighbourhood is still.
Good night dear one, God have you
in his keeping till we meet again. Kate.