Opua December 14th 1887
I received your letter last week but had not time to answer it for I did not get it out of the Office until Thursday morning. I hope I have not troubled you too much in asking you to get the calico. If I have, do not get it. I was going to trouble you further in getting a little fruit , for we can not get any down here and I should like to get some for the children at Christmas.
They are all talking about hanging their stockings up. Amy sends her love and she hopes you are enjoying yourself in town.
She also wishes you would come down, but I suppose it is no use to ask you to come to such a dull place as this. Roddy wishes to be remembered to you. I have not sent him to Kawakawa. Mrs Harris says it is too near Christmas for him to go now, but I shall see about him going after. But I must come to a close for I do not feel inclined to write much and I have two other letters to write, and I am sure they will be short. Things are very dull here but we must live in hope if we die in dispare. (sic)
If things are not better, I shall have to leave Mother in charge and see if I cannot get a situation as a Housekeeper or somethign else to do. Trusting you are well, I remain
P.S. The Norvel and Saxon will be going to town this week - and both of them will be down before Christmas
From Jane to Welsh, 14 December 1887
This letter from Jane to Welsh ( and the first one we have from Jane) could be in reply to his letter of 21st November but I suspec t it is a later letter that we do not have a copy of . Once more though there is much talk of the desire of both Jane and Welsh to be together.
It is clear in this letter that Jane is not in a great financial situation . We assume she is running a boarding house as this seems to have been her main form of income through most of her life. It sounds as if there isn’t much business just prior to Christmas
“Roddy” refers to John Roderick McRae , Jane’s eldest son. Born in 1871 he was 16 years old at the time of this letter and one would assume Jane was keen for him to be out working to help support the family
We received your letter last week and all the goods all in good order and we are much obliged. I also let Amy read your letter and what she could not make out , I read for her. I told her to write today but she did not, but she is such a poor writer that makes her not like to write. But I am not a very good scholar myself so I should not say much about any one, eh! Amy and I are very glad you are so comfortable. It is a nice part of town that you live in, not too thickly built on.
I must now thank you for the things you sent. The calico is very good. It was for Amy and she is much pleased with it and all the other good things. I do not think they would have got much if you had not sent them for I had the misfortune of braking(sic) the clock and had to get a new one for we could not do without the time in a place like this. I am glad that you have the prospect of such a merry Christmas. The town will be quite lively, but we shall be quieter than usual, for the people are all going to town ( that can afford it); but it is getting very late. I had some work to finish and send home first thing in the morning so I had to finish it tonight, but I will add a few more lines in the morning. I have had a very bad head ache all day, in fact I am hardly ever free from it.
Thursday morning, and a beautiful morning . The Bay is so pretty.. there are a lot of boats about with their white sails set. I trust we shall have Hector over for Christmas Day. We are all going out the day after to a picnic party ad a place called Wapau, a very pretty place.
You say in your letter that you wish we were with you, so I can say in return that I wish you were with us. I wish we could do anything for you to help to pay for your kindness. Amy sends her love and wishes you a merry Christmas. She says you promised to come back, but she will write next week. With the complements of the season, I must now close, I remain
From Jane to Welsh, 20 Dec 1887
It is clear from this letter from Jane to Welsh ( replying to a letter we unfortunately dont have a copy of) that he has sent the “fixings for Christmas” he referred to in a previous letter. . Again we get a clear impression that financially things are not great for Jane. Replacing a broken clock ( which could be a considerable expense in the 19th century) used up much of the money she would have spent on the family Christmas .
Jane’s mention of having Hector over is another indication of that relationship growing but it was to be another 3 years until she married him.
I have not been able to find out where “Wapau” might be. We could assume it is relatively close to Opua, a day trip or less by boat or by road as they were headed there for a picnic