16th May 1861

My dear Mother,
It is with pleasure I sit down to write you a few lines as the mail leaves here today for England. News I have none as there is nothing fresh stirring in this part of the world with the exception of small pox. It don’t seem to very fatal, although a good number have had it.

I told you in my last letter about the ‘volunteering’. I did not volunteer, but stayed as I was, but on second thoughts I was aware that when my 12 years were up, if I took on again I would have to take on for ‘General Service’, so my case has been referred to the Commander in Chief by the Principal of the College and as yet no answer has arrived, and of course cannot say how it has been decided. I do not want to leave where I am and do not care much which service I am in, so long as they let me stay (where I am), but if not, I will take my discharge, although I should like to stay for the sake of my pension, for in a short time I intend to apply for promotion to a Warrant Officer. I have broached the subject to the Principal and he says he will forward my application, but I must wait a little first. It will be a first rate thing for me as it would give me a pension of about £60 a year, more than a pound a week, so there is something to look out for. I was promised the rank if I would only stay in my last place, but I would have had a great deal of knocking about and that would not have answered for Becky; besides my pay is better here £12 a month (120 rupees) and my hours are from 6 in the morning ’till 1pm, with an hour for breakfast.
Becky has been complaining for sometime back with face ache and has got her head tied up now and is not able to write to you. Little Jamie is singing away like a lintie; he has such an ear for music. I can’t hum a tune but he’ll have it off by heart in no time. I am happy to say he is keeping first rate since he came here and also Becky.
We had an awful day yesterday of wind and dust. It was awful, you could do nothing; everything was smothered in dust, a good inch thick. It would amuse you to see the sand storms we have occasionally.
Now my dear mother, I will try and get some news before I write to you again, but everything is very dull here, but I like it all the better for that, so goodbye for the present.
To all enquiring friends, give my best respects and when you write to Aunt Agnes or Uncle ADIE, give my best love to them and tell them I often think of them. Be sure and write as I am always anxious and glad to hear from you, and believe me still

your affectionate Son

James Johnston