Frank Maciver was in school on Friday looking years older Papa says. He is coming to tea with us tomorrow. I wish it had been when you were at home. He was in the retreat at Cambrai when the guns were lost but as it happened the gun he was on was got off as it had been half a kilometre to the rear of the main lot… Stornoway, 20th January. 1918

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson 20th January 1918

It’s Mrs Gibson’s turn to write to Jean again this week as Mr Gibson is still down with a bad cold. This week, she has heard from a few lads who are home on leave before heading back out to continue in the war effort. There was also an outbreak of what was assumed to be scarlet fever at Laxdale school, but it was subsequently diagnosed as German measles. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Dear She-ann,

This is really Papa’s turn to write but he is again in bed today with his cold.  We had thought it better but his head got bad last night again.  He took some am quinine which relieved it and today I got him to stay in bed.  I do wish this cold would go away, it is staying too long.  Fortunately the thaw has come today and perhaps we may now have milder weather.  I haven’t been out today at all being busy with the usual up and down stairs with meals and peats and so on.  But I am going to post this after the church goes in.  You will be sorry to hear that Mrs. Menzies is no better but rather worse I fear.  I am afraid Mr. M. will have to get Miss Dean back.  I haven’t been down but am going now that the snow is going.

Mr. Clark was in last evening and stayed to tea with us.  The doctor thinks now it was not scarlet fever but German measles.  The three younger ones all had it.  Billy and Ellis are now back to school.  Laxdale is to re-open tomorrow.

Alex. Matheson from Salonika was at tea with us on Thursday.  He has till the end of Jany.

On Friday afternoon Miss Smith and Miss Macfarquhar were in for a while and in the evening Ella Mackenzie was in and stayed to supper.  She brought us some nice books on loan, among them Jusserand’s “Wayfarers of the Fourteenth Centy.” Which is the great mine for the social conditions of the Chaucer age, also Chesterton’s Short History of England.  The history is written from the Roman Catholic standpoint.

‘Lil Lizzie turned up this morning with a very dirty face, the first time she has been here since Friday week.  It was good to get even a little drop of milk again.

The school news is that Mr and Mrs. Colin John have another little son.  Poor Mary will have her hands very full.  She is getting on all right.

Frank Maciver was in school on Friday looking years older Papa says.  He is coming to tea with us tomorrow.  I wish it had been when you were at home.  He was in the retreat at Cambrai when the guns were lost but as it happened the gun he was on was got off as it had been half a kilometre to the rear of the main lot.

I asked Mr. Clark about the classes Bessie was taking.  Up till Christmas she had senior anatomy only.  Now she is going to work at zoo.(?) and chemistry in the lab. on her own.  She is to have two hours at Skerry’s each Saturday with a coach and she had written to a lady coach also but had had no reply.  She will take the two exams. at Easter and after that go on with her anatomy I think, but as you know I find it difficult to make out what Mr. Clark says.  He was saying that in the hostel they have no fires but pipe-heating and Bessie was finding it dreadfully cold.  It seems that like the Nicolson they were short of coal.

I forgot to say that Edward Mackenzie was in on Friday evening.  He leaves tonight to take up his commission.  He makes a dapper little officer.  He isn’t as tall as I am but likely he will grow some yet.  Hope you also have milder weather.

Love from us both to Sheann.

Your loving Ma

P.S. S’nice of Miss Grainger-Stewart.  I wanted Papa to write to her about you long ago but he “woodn’t.”  How is Mrs. Milne now?  Better I hope.  Love to poor Maud.

Ref: 1992.50.64ii/L24

Transcribed by Dawn MacDonald, Museum Visitor Assistant

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