1st March 1876
My dear Mother,
This leaves us all well and hoping it finds you the same. We are all busy packing ready for the start. I hope to leave Roorkee on the 11th and Bombay on the 23rd of this month by the troopship “Jumna” and the trip to England will take, I believe, about 33 days so that I may expect to be in Portsmouth about the 28th of April.
As I am uncertain until I get to Bombay as to whether I will be able to get Jamie home with me in the troopship, I don’t know when I may get to London as if I cannot take him with me. He will have to go by the next P&O Steamer, which leaves Bombay 4 days after me, however it will be a matter of 2 or 3 days. I may stay a couple of days in London and then I will go down to Cambridge and see Aunt Agnes, as it is a short distance from London, and then I will start for “Auld Reekie” (Editor’s Note: affectionate Scots name for Edinburgh), but you will hear from me before then.
You ought to hear the yarns the youngsters have about the trip, it would amuse you and I wish we were off. It is a blessed job this packing. Poor Letty is fagged out as I am only at home morning and evening so that the heavy share of it falls to her lot. I expect she will stare when she looks at the sea for the first time and sees the ships, and in fact it will be quite a sight to me after so many years. The last time I saw a ship was 30th September 1853, the day I landed at Calcutta. (Editor’s Note: see ‘About James Johnston’ for more information on his arrival in India).
You mentioned in your last letter about bringing home some “Tussa” (Editor’s Note: Also known as Tussar which is silk made by Tussar silk worms used for making a saree and other Indian garments) and handkerchiefs. I wish you had spoken earlier as the men only come round at certain times, but I will do what I can at Allahabad where most likely we will see some as we will stay there a couple of days. We are bringing some of that curry powder with us – I hope you will like it – it is a daily dish with us – but we cook it different to what they do at home – Letty can make very good curry she often makes some herself as a change from the books.
We all send our love and kisses hoping to meet you soon
Your affectionate Son
J . Johnston