March 27/17 ? at Sea
I scribbled you a line in the train coming down to Karachi, but I’m afraid I have’nt written since then, & I’m sure I don’t know when this will reach you as I shan’t be able to post it till we land, and I have’nt an idea when that will be.
When we got to Karachi we were held up two days for some unknown reason, but I was really very glad. I know one Stanley in the D.M.S. was there, so I rang him up & demanded meals etc. I knew him well of course in Lansdowne as we were there many years together, and he & Dick shared a bungalow in Karachi all last hot weather, so I thought I had some claim on his hospitality. Mrs Stanley is with him now, & of course I knew her well too. We had nothing to do in Karachi except wait, so I spent most of my time there, I had dinner with them each night I was there. I also saw ‘June’ who was flourishing, but seemed absurdly small, only about ½ Susan’s size. She is a great favourite with the people whom she is with & I don’t think they would part with her for worlds. I met them too, but only for a minute or two, as they had to dash off & play tennis.
I met a whole lot of Dick’s friends. They were all frightfully sorry he had gone & said some very nice things about him, & he was evidently the buzz in Karachi. I have written & told him all about it.
There is an officer who has joined us from the 3rd Gurkhas, one Dent by name. His mother was a Miss Boisragon, who seems to have known you in the Hartley Wintney days. Dent tells me he came up to see the family at Camberley when he was at the R.M.C 10 years ago, & you were out, but he met two of the sisters. His people live at Brockenhurst now, his father is a Major I think. He mentioned this to me, & I thought you’d be interested to hear of it, though I don’t remember ever hearing you mention either name, Boisragon or Dent. There is also a Capt Gore on board who was at the R.M.C with me & says he remembers us all. He is a great friend of the Rayners apparently, & spent most of his last leave with them.
½ the Bn: is on another ship, & the other ½ on this one with me. There is another regiment on board also, & quite a nice lot of officers. They were up Assam way when Dick & Ben were there, & remember them both well. Would you say I was meeting many of Dick’s friends lately!
Quite an ordinary voyage so far; roughish outside Karachi but nice & calm ever since. It’s not hot either, yet, though I expect we shall get all we want of that before we’re done. Lovely cool breeze all day & night so far. The other regiment has a band on board which serves to while away an hour or so every afternoon. It’s a funny little ship; in ordinary times used for carrying Mohamedan pilgrims to Mecca & elsewhere.
We left Delhi the day before the mail was due, having been a fortnight without one. That was a week ago, so that makes 3 weeks now without an English mail, & heaven knows when we shall get it now! We shipped a lot of mails on this old tub at Karachi, & it’s just possible ours may be among that lot, but I doubt it. All my letters will be censored now of course, so I shan’t be able to tell you much. In any case I trust you are prepared for a thoroughly erratic mail from me from now onwards, for besides the probable difficulties of writing often, the posts must of necessity be erratic, for they of course take 2nd place to everything else – out there now.
I cabled you from Karachi; I wonder if you ever got it? I should like ½ doz: rolls of films for my camera sometime, if you can get them, a vest pocket Kodak. I simply could’nt get any in India when we left. Get the freshest you can, ones that have’nt got to be developed for months yet.
We shall be anxious to get some news when we land, as we have’nt had any of course since we left, and we have no wireless on this boat; and I expect some big things will have happened while we have been on the voyage, though it’s only a matter of 6 or 7 days. No more for the present, I’ll finish this off before we land.
Major Henry Wilkinson Dent (died 1918)
Mabel Maxwell Boisragon Dent
Guy Herbert de Boisragon Dent, their son – author of SF novel ‘The Emperor of If’