2nd April 1862

My dear Mother

I received your letter today. You astonish me when you speak of letters and papers being sent to me. It is a good two months since I got your last letters and as for papers, none has ever arrived with the exception of one where it gave an account of the laying of the foundation stone of the new Post Office. There must be something wrong somehow in the Postal Department as I have written either twice or thrice since the one you mention as having received, for I wrote that on New Year’s Day.

But my dear Mother, I was glad to see you are well as I am happy to say it leaves little Jamie, and myself. You make me laugh by the way you ask about the house. You have no idea how we do things in this country as nobody cooks or washes here. Why I have as many servants as Mr BOYD, in the first place. I have a cook or Khans-amah, a bearer or valet who looks after my things and the house, an Ayah or nurse who looks after Jamie, washes and dresses him and looks after his things; a Bheestie or water carrier who draws water from the well and brings when required, a tailor who is always mending and sewing on buttons on the breeks and sarks (editors note: Scots for trousers and shirts) and keeping a’ the best duds (Scots for clothes) in repair. A Dobie or washman who washes as many clothes as I have to give him (there is average 70 or 80 pieces every week to wash), it would rather astonish you to see the lot that goes sometimes, but you can’t do without them. Now that is all my private servants but I often have more in another month. I will have 2 Punkah coolies who pull the punkah all day and night (a canvas screen hanging from the roof pulled backward and forwards and keeps the room cool), and 1 Tattie coolie or a man to throw water on a framework that is fitted into the doors and is covered over with a kind of reed and when the hot winds are blowing outside, the water (being on the Tattie) keeps the room so cool. Besides I always have some of my Office men about so that I am never at a loss for servants.

Now my dear Mother, what do you think of my establishment? Will it do? I wish you were here, you would never need to soil your fingers.

I am so glad you saw Jeanie and that she was not annoyed. She is a good lass and he has a right to be a happy man that has her; and the old folks-they must be lonely now by themselves. I am happy to hear that the children are all well. Ann (editors note: Ann PATERSON) must be a big lass now and George (editors note: George PATERSON), he was my favourite. I am glad he is with Mr Boyd, he will get on well there. Does Alexander ever enquire about me as I never hear his name mentioned; his lecturing never did me much good (although he did it all for the best).

My dear Mother, I wish you would ask Mr BOYD if he could purchase a book on bookbinding and marbling showing the latest improvements; and one on lithography showing the same as we get all our things from England here and I wish some improvements if possible, although some of the work I can turn out would not disgrace an English house. So if Mr BOYD would tell you the names of any books that he thinks might answer, I would be much obliged; or even anything in the printing way as unless I know what to send for, I might be sending the wrong thing.

Uncle James at DRUMMOND, I will write to next mail as I have no time before the mail goes. The mail leaves today for BOMBAY.

We had a concert here the night before last in the Drawing class room, it went off very well. Jamie is at present singing away, it would amuse you to hear him and I. He is singing the air and I the bass.  But I must close as I have scarcely time to get my breakfast before nine o’clock and I must be off. The warm weather is creeping fast on us now and we must look out for a stewing before long. Remember me to all enquiring friends. If you see old Bob PATON, remember me to him.

You speak about my coming home. I am now in my last year. My time is up in January next (twelve years), but I don’t think it would be advisable in me taking discharge and throw up a good situation and all hopes of pension, for what would I do at home? I could never be so well off as I am, although home is always home!!!

Hoping to hear from you soon and that you have got my letters. I remain

Your affectionate Son

James Johnston

Tell me what you think or what you would advise me to do

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