My Great Aunt Lucy was a sweet, gentle and intelligent lady who loved to sketch and paint.
Becky and Lucy had aways been close and Becky missed Lucy a lot. They were similar in looks and demeanour – slender with fair hair and blue eyes. However, neither of them was close to their sister Martha, who actually didn’t resemble anyone in the Ross family. She was short and stout with a badly pockmarked face as a result of chicken pox when she was a child. Harriet woud bandage her hands so she couldn’t pick the scabs from her face, but it didn’t work. Lucy reckoned that it was because of the pock mark scars on her face that contributed to Martha’s transition from normal chid to cantankerous young woman. But even without the scars, Martha bore little resembance to her siblings.
But what my Great Aunt Martha lacked for in looks and grace she made up for in talent. Martha worked as a seamstress for the Drury Lane Theatre in London and was, by all accounts, one of the best.
Lucy wrote to Becky reguarly keeping Becky constantly in touch with her life in Jamaica. For Becky, who would read Lucy’s letters over and over again, usually on her way home from work, freezing cold and trudging through London smog, snow or rain, Jamaica must have seemed magical, like paradise.
Letter from Lucy Sincair, Constant Spring Hotel, St Andrews, Jamaica
Becky Ross, Droop Street, Paddington, London, England
Bertram Pollock is a charming man, born and bred in Jamaica. I like him a lot and John speaks favourably of him as a man who is fair and reasonable. The plantation is a few miles outside of Kingston, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Because our new home is not ready to live in, John is boarding in a room above the stables on the estate and I am staying here at the Constant Spring Hotel, which is quite nearby.
I have been here a short amount of time Becky and have seen little of the island, but already I have discovered so much beauty here.
Jamaica attacks one’s senses, the sight of brightly coloured parrots, mocking-birds, sugar birds or to use their more common name, the banana quit and right now, Becky, as I sit here in the hotel’s gardens writing to you, flying in and out of the trees and shrubs are beautiful long-tailed hummingbirds.
The other day I saw a sinister looking blue black bird with a huge beak. I’m told it’s called a john crow bird and is the most often seen bird on the island. It’s a great scavenger, very clumsy and ugly on the ground but so beautiful and majestic in flight Becky.
Jamaica is full of vibrant colour and beauty and is a naturalist’s paradise. The spectacular scenery is enriched by the vivid flowers and scent of the roses that abound, roses and bourgainvillea in every conceivable colour, as well as bright yellow allamandas, the annatto which has rose coloured flowers and purplish pods, the ebony which has yellow flowers and always comes out after rain and the pale blue flower of the lignum-vitae which grows over most of the island. To wake early and see the stars fade away and in their place watch a glorious sunrise and at sunset every night the frogs, crickets and fireflies all make their presence felt and voices heard.
From the fruit trees which are everywhere Becky, you can just pick and eat mangos, guava, papaw, oranges and other more exotic fruits that I have never heard of like ackee, which is very popular here. And if you can find something sharp and heavy enough to crack open a coconut, you can drink the milk from it.
I long to be settled in our house so I can explore the island more and paint instead of the pencil sketches I continually do whenever I’m out and about.
Socially, Jamaica has a lot to offer, but, I do miss the theatres, art galleries and museums in London. But in spite of that, I am convinced we made the right choice about coming here. In fact I have almost forgotten what my former life in London was like because we have both settled down so well.
Tell Martha that Jamaican women are very fashion conscious and do seem to spend a lot of money on clothes which are certainly more expensive here than in London and I’m told they often arrange for material and patterns to be shipped over fromLondon.
We must persuade Pa to let you visit.
Your loving sister (signed “Lucy”)
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