The British Presence
in Southern Patagonia

++  Ruby Clarkson writes to her mother (1915)  ++

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c/o Sub-Inspección de Faros
Casilla 367
Punta Arenas
10th March 1915

My own Darling Motherie,

Here I am sitting in our sitting room in our Hotel Royal. where we have been for nearly a week now. It seems a time since I wrote to you last, & since I heard from you, but the trouble is that there are no boats. There may be one going home soon so I am going to be ready with my letter for it, else there may not be a chance for a long time again.

Well, my own mother, I must tell you all about it right from the beginning.

On Saty the 27th of Feby. we were married. I bustled round all morning & arranged flowers for Miss Dickson. I had beautiful flowers given to me by a great many, & I had Dickson's house a perfect bower. I had one particularly pretty spray bouquet given me but as I was only wearing a costume & hat I didn't carry flowers. I wanted to be as plain as possible. Well, I made a trifle & one or two odds & ends, & then got dressed. I wore a pretty pale gray thick silk costume - kind of crepe de chine but very thick. It had a double skirt, & a pretty coat with a belt round. I wore a plain silk blouse with one of these standing out collars, & that I had out over my coat. And a pale gray hazel straw, well tilted, with a big palest of pink plume in it. One of these knotted ostrich feathers, & a very good one. When Bill finds the time I must get him to snap me for you for it is quite a pretty rig-out.

Well, it is necessary to have a civil wedding first in Chile, so old Brandt the man who performs the ceremony, came to the house at 3 p.m. & only a few minutes served for that part of the business. Gallie was Bill's best man, I (for preference) had no bridesmaid. Mr. Dickson gave me away. Then we had cake & champagne, & went up in coaches to the church. There Cater the parson married us, & made the service short but beautiful. Mrs Cater played us in & out — the wedding marches, & also the wedding hymn during the ceremony. It wasn't such an ordeal as I fancied it would be, & we weren't half as nervous as we expected to be. Quite a crowd turned up at church, so they came down, after showering us well with rice & confetti, & had cake & "fizz", & then tea just handed round. Miss Dickson then had a dinner for us, with just twelve at it. Mr & Mrs Townsend (who were so good to John when he was ill) I'm very fond of them & they are always good to me. Mr & Mrs Rosas (of the Chilean navy) & the rest all bachelors. The dinner was a huge success, & when Mr Boyd got up at the end to make a little speech, he asked them all to drink to the absent friends that he was sure the bride would like to be present. Oh Motherie, I loved him for it, even if it did bring a huge lump to my throat. I silently, as I drank, said in to myself "To my Mother".

Well, after dinner we had music & some of them danced while I played & there was some great fun. We got away about 12 o'clock after speeches etc. They put Bill & me in the middle of a ring & sang round us, "for they are jolly good fellows". Oh, & a lot more such things happened, but we were glad when the coach door closed and we were left to ourselves. We were both pretty tired. We came to our rooms here, & Mr Knight who has just come from home married too & who is living also in the hotel, came up the stair playing a tune on a comb outside our door. So when we opened, he said he had brought the band up to welcome us home!!   When we came inside there was a huge bouquet of carrots & turnips on the table in the sitting room, & when we looked into our bedroom, how we laughed. A whole crowd had been up, & they had stretched a string from one corner of the room to the other, & there were at least 10 pairs of boots hanging there, & a long strip of paper with the words "Welcome Home" printed on it.

Well, anyway eventually we got the whole thing cleared, & next morning we got up, & went off to San Gregorio by motor car. Dr France who is a great friend of Bills, gave us his motor car to go where we liked in, & Mrs Cameron who wasn't able to come in again for the wedding, asked us out. So we went on the Sunday. We thought we'd slip away quietly, but it was not to be: there were about a dozen waiting for us. Bill had gone round & fetched the car earlier & it was standing at the door of the Hotel. They showered us once more with rice, & when we got as far as Río Seco we found a pair of old shoes hanging on to the back of the car. We were six hours on the way, but the day was lovely. We were lucky as regards weather right thro' the piece. The Camerons gave us a glorious time tho' it was short four days. We got a good day to come back too, & we were loaded up with frozen lambs from the Freezing Works, & sheepskins, & dear knows all what, & Mr & Mrs C. gave me a cheque for £10 to buy a present with.

Anyhow, we had dinner at Dicksons the night we got back, & since then we have fixed up our rooms very comfortably, & I guess will be very sorry to leave them when the time comes.

Now I must tell you some of the presents we got.

- a case of solid silver tea spoons pretty ones from Mr & Mrs Townsend

- a case of solid silver handled afternoon tea knives from Mr & Mrs Perkins

- the same but a different pattern from Mr & Mrs McLean

- a silver & glass butter dish & knife from Capt Milward (British Consul!)

- a silver fern pot from Mr & Mrs McDonald (Peruvian Consul)

- a silver teapot, sugar & cream from Mr & Mrs Jacobs (Miss Jackson that was) and oh they are lovely ones

- a silver & glass biscuit barrel, a butter dish & a jam dish all to match from Mr & Mrs Boyd

- a silver sweets dish, such a pretty one from Dr & Mrs France

- a Wedgewood salad bowl with big spoon & fork to match from Mr & Mrs Hugh Chetwood-Aitken

- a solid silver inkstand & penholder from Mrs Percy Hobbs

- a tantalus from Mr Foggie

{- two hallmarked silver vases from Mr Gallie
{- two very solid silver serviette rings with our monograms on from Mr Lethaby (Those are the two Bill digged with)

- a solid silver butter dish & knife, a dear little one from Mr Philip Lethaby (the former one's brother)

- a very pretty silver marmalade pot from Miss Mary Cameron (cousin to the others)

- And a very handsome pale blue crepe de chine Japanese Kimono, all worked in palest of blue & white roses, from Mrs A. A. Cameron (also cousin, the very wealthy one). Its the loveliest garment I possess.

- And today we got another cheque from Mr Walter Wood to buy something else.

Everybody has been so good & we purposely didn't send out invitations so that people wouldn't feel obliged to give us presents in these hard times. but you see it had no effect.

Oh, & we had the dearest little lighthouse given to us. So appropriate because we so often called Bill "the little lighthouse" - that's his work in the Govt. here. It is made of brass & has the lantern in the form of a red globe, encased in a brass cage. Everything complete & it is a night light. Mr & Mrs Rosas gave it to us.

What I'm short of is linen. I'm longing for the things to come that I asked Syd to get for me. I need the teacloths & things very badly. I have had several callers already, & theres a whole crowd coming to tea with me on Friday. I bought one tea cloth today & it cost $20. That's awfully dear — about 15/- at the present rate of exchange.

We went up to Mrs Townsend's to tea on Sunday & she wanted me to go for a motor drive this afternoon, but Bill was called away two nights ago, to fix some lighthouse that was out, & I expected him back today. I was very glad I hadn't gone, for he came in, just as I was sitting down to start to write to you before tea — about three o'clock. I was glad to see him back, but I must get used to his going away sometimes. However he doesn't expect to be away often this year, because the Govt. has no money, & they are economising in every way.

How happy we are, Motherie, we just couldn't be more so. Here's Bill's step on the stair.


That finished my letter for yesterday Mother darling, & I believe there will be a boat here tomorrow, or Saty, so I have to write to Bill's mother this time too.

We have just finished lunch a little while ago, & Bill is away back to his office. He has two hours — 11.30 a.m. till 1.30 p.m. And he doesn't start till half past nine in the morning & finishes at five so he isn't frightfully hardworked, eh? The other[?] times he has are when he has to go away on one of the little Govt. boats down the straits.

I have to go out to tea this afternoon to Mrs Cater's. I don't like her, & I wish she hadn't asked me, but I've made up my mind to return every call the first time, leave our cards (which to me is all tommy rot!) & then I'll please myself after about whom to go to visit. Everybody comes to call on you here, & I've no patience with a great many of them but I must put up with it. Bill is of one mind with me in this, & says I'm just to please myself about things.

Mrs Cameron has got over her operations very well, & is looking like her old self again. The wound in her back for the kidney operation is such a big one. She must have suffered dreadfully, & she feels it now sometimes when she's tired, but no wonder. I'll send you some snap shots we took out there, Bill got one copy of each today, but we'll do some for you & some for his Mother. They are only small ones, & rather amusing but there is one awfully good one of Mrs C, & two of Bill & me in our car!!!

Well, my own Darling Motherie, I am longing for a letter from you, I don't seem to have heard for such a long time. I wonder when this awful war is going to cease. The papers make me so triste now to read them.

Another interruption — Mrs Clark & Mrs Knight, both living in the hotel, came in to see me. Now I hear the boat is coming tonight & I must rush & write a note to Mrs Clarkson. My boy is Bill now to you Motherie, — not Mr Clarkson, eh? He's a darling!

My fondest love, mother mine, & Bills love too to you & Syd. Will write to her when I find time. Always your loving & very happy Ruby.

Thanks: Liz Patterson (VII-2011)
Updated: 24-VII-2011