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[Sunday] 1. 9. 12.
My dear Nancy,
Am glad you have both arrived home, & hope Jinnie won the bet about the dinner, to pay Mother out for her want of faith in her daughters.
I trust you served up the salmon with mayonnaise sauce. It was one of Michael's catches. Though getting on in years I have not yet learnt the art of running after the upper ten.
E. V. Lucas & family have departed after a month's stay.
A. E. W. Mason also, after 10 days.
Anthony Hope Hawkins, wife, son & daughter & governess have been here five weeks & are still hanging on.
Nurse Loosemore, who nursed Mrs Arthur, is also here for an indefinite period.
Lord Lucas & Miss Herbert his sister, also were here for 10 days.
We have had (to use slang) the pick of the literary geniuses of England, but alas — either my liver is out of order, or my ideals too high, for at close quarters they are but mortal & very ordinary at that.
The weather has been very good for Scotland, & the fishing has been splendid. They (the boys) generally go on ponies & are getting quite expert at riding.
Jack is not with us — his holidays do not come convenient.
J. M. B. is well, & much better than I have seen him for some years.
Did you realize how well George played at Lord's cricket Ground? You would have thought someone had given Nico sixpence that day, his spirits were so high.
Minnie is busy, but more cheerful than of yore. Lilian (parlourmaid) kindly turned kitchen-maid just while we're here & she has been most helpful & happy about it. Bessie took to her bed for a few days after our arrival - I think she missed London - however she is quite recovered now. Minnie also sent a fish to her home, also Lilian, also Bessie also Mr Brown (J.M.B.'s butler), also Michael's ghillie - the man who accompanies him in his travels & whom I implore not to bring him back in pieces. This castle seems not to have any history, being quite modern. It belongs to a Sir Samuel Scott, who is M.P. for Paddington. But the country around is grand, really magnificent. There are two housemaids & an odd man kept here all the year round. They are Scotch - very. Then there's Sandy, a boatman, who also comes in to meals, & the postman who sleeps in a room outside & has to be paid separate for bringing our letters from Tarbert - 12 miles away.
I sent Lilian to fetch in the Blacksmith's daughters the other night, & with an old melodeon [a type of accordion] we saw a fine Scotch reel & a real [?Schollishe] done. They are fine dancers. The heel and toe were perfect. I was quite envious. I hear the coachman's son plays the bag-pipe, so I have hopes of getting him in. The billiard room is hung with tapestry illustrating Biblical stories - one of Joseph being sold by his brothers. The other rooms are not interesting - except the kitchen. 3 fireplaces, splendid tables & a full set of copper saucepans of all sizes which Minnie thinks we might take back to 23 [Campden Hill Square], or at any rate one or two, if only Marion (head housemaid) will say they have worn out. I have not seen a newspaper since I came so am lost as regards the outside world. There is a service in the Blacksmith's tonight, but as they are always in Gaelic, we none of us go. The school is 2 miles away - generally 14 scholars in summer. The mistress has a <u>strap<\u> — Nicholas has seen it. We leave here about the 17th, if all goes well. Then P[eter] goes to Eton alone, & George to Cambridge. Michael is now top of his school, & Nico is top but one of his class.
Nico & two boys from the cottages here had a football match, they called it Castle .v. Village. They enjoyed the kicking immensely, but which side won I cannot discover.
I trust mother is keeping well. My love to you all & congratulations to Jinnie [???] the Alconbury prizes not forgetting her promise of the lace.
[AB: A wonderfully chatty letter from Mary Hodgson to her mother, which gives a fine glimpse of her character as well as the upstairs-downstairs life at the castle. Nice to see that Mary was not above nurgling a few of the castle saucepans! The letter was one of many that Mary's niece Mary Hill gave me when we visited her in 1976.]
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