Letter from Alice Welsh to Her Sister Anna Maria Welsh from Cairo, Feb. 18, 1871

Here is the text of another letter from the group sent to me by Lydia Wiley of Philadelphia:


Feb. 18th, 1871

My dear Sister Anna

I was much pleased to receive a letter from you this morning dated Jan. 19th. Many thanks for it. I beg a thousand pardons for committing such an unpardonable mistake as to mistake Somers elegant new coat for his old one. Really it was too bad, but you should have written to me of it when it was bought for I asked you to keep me posted about his new clothes. I knew that his coat last spring was made with a view to his growing into it and as I had no idea that he had grown so much, and the one in the photograph really looked very much like the same and I thought looked very pretty.

I know of no new style of dress, but when we get back to a civilized part of the world, we are going to see if we cannot find something pretty for summer wear for both the boys, although it will be so late in the season when we return that I suppose they will have most of their outfit. However it will do no harm for them to have one or two extra dresses if we can find anything pretty, so I wish you would send their measures around the shoulders, length of skirt, length of waist from the shoulder, length of arm, and any other measure that you think will assist us to get whatever we see to fit them. I should also like to have their measure around the neck in case I should happen to see any pretty little collars. You must not be disappointed, however, if we should come home without a single thing for them, for you know it entirely depends upon whether we see anything pretty or not. In a month or two I am going to send for their measures to have the highland suits made by. When in London I got a little printed slip from the store to be filled up with the different measures. They always make the suits by measure, so I hope to have no difficulty, but am waiting as long as possible before sending to you so that the children may have all the time to grow.

Feb. 19th. I had a letter from Father this morning. They seem to having a moderately good time, but have many inconveniences to put up with. When they called for clean towels, they were informed that each person received one every four days! Did you ever hear of such a thing? They made a great fuss which ended in each one being allowed a clean one every other day. Just imagine such a thing. The bed linen they refused to change more than once in the three weeks. They were all very excepting Miss Turner who was suffering from headache caused by the motion. So, you see, it was a very good thing that I did not go for my head is much more easily affected than Miss T’s.

I know you will be much pleased to hear that according to the Dr’s orders I am now taking pills of iron and quinine twice a day. My appetite is becoming enormous (it always is exceedingly good) and my strength is increasing with alarming rapidity. I hear that the Camacs have arrived today, but have not yet seen them. They have been up the Nile. Mr. & Mrs., Millie, the two girls, fifteen and fourteen, two smaller girls, seven and five, and little Charley, two and a half, two nurses, the courier and a governess. Don’t you envy Mrs. Camac? She, however, does not look upon things as I do and declares it no trouble in the world to travel with such a large family, that the children are very good little travellers and she enjoys everything. She certainly has a very happy disposition and the children are nice little things. It quite makes me shiver to read of the cold weather that you have been having, and although my fondness for this place is not great, it is not unpleasant as I read to be able to sit by the open window with the mild air blowing in upon me.

Feb. 21st. Yesterday after delivering very decided instructions to Henry, who is not at all enterprising, he announced to me at about three o’clock that he had hired a horse and phaeton for me. So Miss Kate and I started forth. The wagon was very nice looking, but the horse was miserable in appearance and, as I soon found out, in every other respect. Such a ride as we had! Each time that I stopped whipping for a moment to rest myself, the horse stopped likewise. After half an hour of this violent exercise I was quite worn out and delivered reins and whip into the hands of the small boy who sat perched up behind on the dickey, who exerted his utmost strength and skill for some time and expressed himself much pleased when I took them from him again as he was much fatigued. After such delightful experience I determined not to go out again unless I could be supplied with a better steed, a thing which Henry declares to be impossible, so I shall be obliged to content myself with walking, for donkey riding, which is quite fashionable here, I can’t endure.

Tomorrow will be Washington’s birthday as well as Ash Wednesday. I do not know why it is, but, although there are several ministers here, no notice of any service has been given out and I am very much afraid that there will not be any.

You must not be disappointed if none you have letters from Father during the three weeks that he is on the Nile for the mails in that part of the country are exceedingly irregular. At all events he cannot answer any of yours, for all his letters await him here in Cairo. Please tell John and all the others this for they might think their letters lost if they received no answers. Perhaps, however, Father may have written and said so, before this.

Feb. 22nd. There was Church, and I have just returned. The congregation did not exceed twenty in number. It would have been much larger, I imagine, for on Sunday the room is always filled, if any notice had been given last Sunday, but it was not.

Tell Mr. Smith that I am sorry to disagree with him on any subject, but that Ellen and I both think that the Englishmen we have met while travelling are the pleasantest people that we have ever had anything to do with, and although he cannot like England as a nation, he couldn’t help liking the people we have met. He, however, need feel no uneasiness as we have met a great many and like them all equally well.

Two of the small Camacs are in my room with me now paying a visit. The little boy can speak nothing but French. Give much love to Mr. Smith, a kiss for Somers, an kind remembrances to Hannah and the two Bridgets. As well as love to all at home from, Your very affectionate sister,