Letter from Gerald du Maurier to his newly-married sister Sylvia. Undated, but Peter's guess is late 1892/early 1893.
[Unfortunately the database requires a precise date, so 1 December 1892 is a guestimate at best.]
[No original available]
New Grove House,
My sweetest Sylvia,
I am writing in no good mood, having slept last night with Punch. As May is away I took charge of him. First I blew out my candle and yelled for him until I was hoarse, and I was just getting out of bed to fetch him when something fell on my face with ghastly force. Good Heavens! Was it a sirloin of underdone beef? No! 'Twas Punch.
To seize him by one ear and the tail and hurl him from the bed was but the work of a moment. A yelp, a crash, and I knew no more. I woke up this morning feverish, and with a weight on my chest. Punch again!
We are now having him stuffed!
I hope you are getting on alright.
How's the man? As fond of pears as ever?
I have to feed May's squirrel now. So he's naturally having a h-ll of a time.
The new slavey has come. She walks like Sir Richard Temple and is an ugly likeness of Walker with the mumps.
I must now leave off.
Believe me, Your loving Brother
(with a flourish) Albert Victor.
I can only guess that this letter, which is entirely undated, was addressed to S. at her new home, and that it belongs to late 1892 or early 1893.
I have no other knowledge of Punch, presumably a dog belonging chiefly to May du M.
A brilliant letter-writer, Gerald, and I don't think this side of him is clearly enough brought out by Daphne [in her biography "Gerald: A Portrait"]. At this time he was, I fancy, just kicking his heels, and had not yet decided on the stage as his profession.
A's fondness for eating fresh fruit has been remarked on in one or two previous letters, and was evidently a standing joke. I don't know who Walker was.
Lady Ponsonby writes: "They had a dear little house (or Sylvia made it so), a sort of maisonette in Craven Terrace, off the Bayswater Road. I write that year in October: 'To tea with Sylvia in her dear little house, which was very delightful.' I remember Arthur telling me that she gave away his trousers for plants which a man brought round on a barrow. Sylvia took me to my first dance, at the George Lewis's, that year."
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