[Postmark, Dundee, New Zealand]W7468 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Helen Gartshore
Mar 29 1904
To: Calvin McQuesten Macleod, Alberta
From: R.M.S. Karamea,
Little did I think when I received your lovely long interesting letter, that when I answered it, it would be from the other side of the world. I suppose you have heard by this time, of my sudden departure. I am having my long planned trip at last & enjoying it very much though under rather peculiar circumstances to which I will refer later on (sounds like a speech, doesn't it? ). I came on from New York with Mrs. Howard Taylor, which was as you may imagine, a treat in itself. She makes a charming travelling companion & chaperone.
We came over on the steamer Cedric, the largest vessel afloat, I believe. Certainly she is a beauty. She can carry 3000 passengers (the accommodation is fine. We came second class) everything was lovely only the company was rather mixed. The day I went on board I prepared to have a pretty slow time as there seemed to be no one at all companionable. I was agreeably disappointed, however & met some very nice people & was up to all my old tomboy tricks all the way over. I was about the only eligible girl & as there were four or five nice young men, I hadn't much chance to be lonely. We used to have fine times all day playing games & I developed into quite a formidable opponent in deck billiards. Then we spent our evenings at music. I played accompaniment to a young soprano, then there was a splendid tenor & the rest of the men sang bass. There was another girl who sang with us. She hadn't much of a voice but "every little helps." We had quite a choral society. Mrs. Taylor had very little time to join in with our amusements, as she had a great deal of correspondence & besides was correcting the first edition of her new book "Pastor Hsi." Have you read it? If not be sure to get it. It is splendid. Mrs. Taylor was a universal favorite on board & in consequence I came in for an extra share of attention from the stewards. They couldn't do enough for her & I went halvers [sic].
Most of the men had been out west & were going home to the Old Country, some on visits & some for good. There were two very nice fellows came from somewhere in the region of Macleod. I asked them if they knew you but they didn't. Their names were Mr. Hansen & Mr. Hewit, chums. They had tried farming, ranching & gold mining, but hadn't made much of a success of anything, so were going home rather down in the mouth. I don't know if they are going back again but if they do & you happen to meet them be good to them. Mr. Hansen especially is an awfully nice fellow, but knocking around the way he has been for a good many years he had forgotten pretty well all about religion I think. Mrs. Taylor had a good many earnest talks with him & he seemed very anxious. I am praying that by this time he may have been led to decide as he is really a splendid fellow. In looks & manner he reminded me very much of our mutual friend Mr. Johnson. He had the same heavy laugh & pleasant smile. Before I heard his name I couldn't help wondering if he were any relation. There was also an awfully nice man from Montana. His name was Mr. Mitchell. He was very quiet & reserved at first but before we got to Liverpool, we became great friends. He was such a fine, strong, conscientious fellow but a Roman Catholic. I don't see how a thoughtful & good man can blindly follow the priests of Rome. He is a horse trainee & I sincerely wish Lesslie were going somewhere in his direction. He doesn't smoke or drink & has a great reverence for his mother & women in general. Besides this he is a successful & pushing business man, has travelled a good deal, in a small way, & knows a good deal of the world. I told him about Lesslie & he said he ought to do well if he only keeps free from drinking & gambling. I've no doubt he would too, if he only had some nice companions. However I don't think he is as likely to make mistakes in that respect now as he was when he first went out. He says he knows enough now to avoid a good deal that he did not when he first went out.
Now I must go on with my trip. Before I got off the ship at Liverpool I was handed two letters from my uncle Captain Burton of the Karamea, saying he was sailing at noon the following day. This was about 6.30 P.M. You can imagine my surprise as I expected at least a week in London before sailing, possibly over a month. Then I had to telegraph down to London for him to meet me. I got hold of my stateroom luggage without any trouble, but couldn't find my trunk from the hold. It had almost all my belongings, all but just enough to last me till I got to Liverpool. Finally I had to go off & leave it, & although I left full directions concerning it, I had to come away without it. I hope by this time it is found & is following by the next steamer. I didn't say anything about it to them at home as I knew it would only cause useless worry.
I wasn't in England more than fifteen hours & all I saw of London was passing through in a hansom in the midst of fog & rain. I hadn't even time to get any money as Father had arranged so am travelling practically on charity. Then the strangest thing of all is that I am travelling from London to New Zealand, a 48 day trip, the only passenger & the only woman on board. I am sworn in on the ship's crew as "stewardess," but all I have done is make trouble for every one. Of course I have the run of the ship & spend most of my time up on the bridge in company with the officers on duty. It is the best place on the ship, up there & I'll miss going up there very much if there are passengers on board when I come home.
I am learning a great deal about the sea too, also the stars & everything but practical navigation & that is quite beyond me. We are just about half way now, having sighted, signaled the Cape of Good hope yesterday. My impressions of South Africa are not very flattering. Such heaps of barren rocks. They look as though they were good for nothing but wrecking vessels & I expect they are. There was one high & dry when we passed. I could go on writing for a long time yet but really it would not do as I have so many other letters to write. Do write to me again when you have time. Your last gave a great deal of pleasure & amusement to the family. Hoping you are well & enjoying your life & work as much as ever, I remain ,
Your sincere friend