Letter from Arthur to his sister Margaret, 6 August 1906
[No original available]
August 6, 1906.
Sylvia and her mother managed their journeys successfully on Friday and we are all very prosperous and enjoying ourselves. It is a very good thing that Sylvia came away.
I look on this week as an interval between Mumpses. By the end of this week I expect some of these boys here to begin to swell, and then probably we shall arrange for Jack to join us and finish his convalescence here. Meanwhile he seems to be enjoying himself pretty well with “the Dragon, to wit Mary,” and is to exchange visits with Gerald Millar.
We have had plenty of bathing, and the boys play endless cricket and lawn tennis in the garden. Just now we have an invasion by some friends of Jimmy’s: Nicholson, an artist, and his family, one of them being a boy of an age for George, and a large game of cricket is going on in the garden. Yesterday we had a good walk with my friend Fraser, who left this morning. We actually had a little unfamiliar rain, but today it is set fair again as usual. The sea has become thoroughly warm, and we all enjoy the water very much, except Sylvia, who has not yet completed her bathing costume …
Mrs. du Maurier leaves us, I believe, at the end of the week. Our party has seemed rather large lately, but we have no more visitors in prospect.
(A note from Sylvia to Margaret, enclosed with the above:)
Arthur seems wonderfully better, darling M, and is less thin and is very cheerful considering everything. Everyone is full of admiration for him – those who see him and those who hear from him. As for his wife, her feelings cannot be written in ink.
Your Sylvia lovingly.
Jack had caught mumps just before the beginning of the holidays and stayed behind at Berkhamsted for the first few days with Mary Hodgson. Very independent, Mary H., and devoted more to S. (as was natural) and to us than to Arthur. I once tried, not many years ago, to get her to tell me something about A., but it was always difficult, her emotions were too strong and she could hardly speak. All she said was, “your father was a very just man.”
In the event only George caught mumps at Rustington, and the rest of us escaped.
Nicholson was the William Nicholson, and I suppose the son may have been Ben Nicholson, now an established painter too. Nico has most, if not all, of the designs done by W.N. for Peter Pan, and invited the old man – surely one of the most delightful old men in the world – to dinner a few years ago to authenticate them, which he duly did; adding that they were really his property, having been stolen from his painting room at the Duke of York’s Theatre. They still hang, however, in Nico’s dining room at 22 C[ampden] H[ill] S[quare].
The rent of Cudlow House, as has been noted, appears to have been paid by Emma du M. So far as I can make out, J.M.B. was there most of the time, though curiously enough, while I remember a lot about this last of the Rustington holidays, I cannot recall either him or Granny there.
“My friend, Fraser” exists far at the back of my memory, a dim and I think spectacled figure, probably legal.
A good many photographs of this time survive, mostly on the beach and bathing, and, I suppose, taken by J.M.B.; though some may be by old Mrs Wellesley, a great lover of A. and S. who had a cottage there, and was also an expert photographer. An indoor photograph of Arthur in a Norfolk jacket, reading, taken by her at Rustington in 1899, was considered by Margaret Ll.D. the best likeness of him. There can certainly be no better. There is a strong look of Jack Ll.D. I went to tea with Mrs Wellesley in London not long before her death (in 1928 or so) when she spoke of Arthur and Sylvia in a way to ring your heart.
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