Letter written by Anstice Abbott to her sister Emily Jacob (nee Abbott) after attending the wedding of Emily’s son Harold.

March 4th 1893

My dear Emily,

You will be looking out for a letter from me and I must make a beginning this morning. The SS Karaghat arrived in Mandrie harbour at five. The launch was soon alongside that was sent out for me, and a young man also with a telegram from Col Hunter. A carriage was awaiting me at the Bunder (?) and I was whisked off to the travellers bungalow where a substantial Chota Hazari was soon ready for me. I felt like somebody as every one was most polite and nothing to pay anywhere. The young man said everything was done to Colonel Hunter’s orders. The 36 miles of driving with servants in scarlet livery was done in little more than four hours and I drove into the Residency to find to find Colonel and Mrs Hunter and Harold awaiting me on the steps of the Residency. Lily Hunter and Mrs Burke soon appeared to add to the cordial welcome. Harold and then Lily came into my room and we visited in exchanging news until I was ready to prepare to make myself presentable. Harold looks thin. He says he is very well and that it is only the hard riding in the districts that has pulled down his flesh. He appears very well. As for Lily I like her much. She has a sweet girlish face and her manners are pretty and modest. The two are evidently very fond of each other but there is no false prudishness or silly nonsense. There are a Mr and Mrs McClelland here from Jannapore. I do not know what he is nor his title as yet. Then there is a Lieutenant Harrison. He is the Political Agent and Chief Engineer etc...and the best man. The padre a Rev Mr Bailie is expected every moment. The house is large with many rooms and all seems to be comfortably cared for. Col and Mrs Hunter are at home in the act of entertaining. In the evening of yesterday all went to drive out, Col Hunter, M MClelland and I. My thirty six miles were enough for one day. We sat under the trees and talked. After dinner there was music and billiards.

This morning at eight o’clock we all went to visit the palace at the Raja’s invitation. The native town with its very high and massive walls has within a clean and prosperous look. The houses are all of stone and tiles and everybody seemed comfortably clothed, not a naked forlorn child did I see. The new Palace is about fifteen years old. The Rajah and his brother welcomed us all the top of the fine staircase and was most kind and polite in showing us over the new and the old palace. The new is decorated in French and Italian style – a great pity. It is bright and beautiful but not in harmony with the Rajah and his people. Both the young men spoke English well and their manners were gracious and courtly. They are fine looking Rajputs. The old palace some of it 140 years old was much more interesting, small and dark compared with the other, but the carvings and ceilings were exquisite And what surprised me very much, scarcely a reminder of idolatry I do not think I saw a cut or a caring of a god or goddess. There were many pictures hanging up, a large number were English portraits of the year 1750 -60, innumerable mirrors, a picture of Christ and his disciples and another where he was healing the sick, both painted in 1756. In one room there were cushions and divans, the air heavy with incense and candle smoke, all sorts of odd things about and a very sweetened music box playing languid airs. It was just such a voluptuous room as made one think of Mrs Isaacs. Since our return we have had breakfast. This evening we are invited to the Rajahs to see fireworks and then to dinner. My invitation is a bright green card with gilt lettering.
5th Yesterday afternoon we drove over to the church and looked to its arrangements and rehearsed the hymns. At seven o’clock we were dressed for dinner and drove to the Hamirsir Tank. The whole lake the mandup the museum and part of the city walls were illuminated and a most lovely sight and pyramids of lamps were swilling about in the lake. The Rajah and his brother received us in the mandup and later all the European party had arrived, the fireworks were let off. Rockets set pieces showers of fire and many such successful things. Then we drove through long lines and crowds of people to the palace. The palace is lit by electricity and was a blaze of light from the courtyard every room we entered. Col and Mrs Hunter were the host and hostess of the dinner, there were sixteen at the table. The officers are very few in camp now. The flowers fruit and bonbons and light and the gay dresses of the ladies made a very brilliant scene, the dinner was a very good one and the Rajah, his brother and the Prince came in at dessert. There was a band playing all the time. I suppose I am indebted to being Harold’s only relative to enjoy all the privileges of first lady. I sat between Col Hunter and Mr McClellan this time, for Lily sat at her father’s right as the dinner was in her honor. After coffee we adjourned to the magnificent durbar room and listened to some music, a part of it was played on bowls full of water jaltarang, it is called. All the retainers of the palace were allowed to come in. It was very generous of the Rajah to do so much.

Monday. Yesterday we had a quite pleasant Sunday. We had morning service and communion at 8, I rested and read during the day and then at five went to evening service. Mr Bailie gave a simple but good talk. Afterwards we all drove to the King’s gardens and had a walk about the beautiful grounds. I had Harold and Lily to myself. The Rajah and his brother were there too and we chatted with them awhile. After dinner Harold came into my room and we had reading and talking. He seems to very glad I came. It is pleasant to know that Lily also belongs to the ------ known. She seems a very conscientious girl. I am glad she takes no wine, she and Harold scarcely ever touch anything but water.

This forenoon we have been to the church to decorate it. Mr Bailey was very suggestive and helpful. I had the pulpit decorated and our Mrs Burke and our Mrs McClelland the altar and chancel and the rest we did together. It is all to be photographed and I will see that you have one. I have just been to talk with Lily and now must look after my own vanities.

The house looks very pretty. The cake is magnificent. There is to be a band outside of the church and then here before the house. The Rajah and his brother will be at the wedding.

Evening. The festivities are over and you will wish to hear of them. At quarter to two Mrs Newton, Mrs Burke, Mrs McClelland and I drove to the church. The road from the residency to the church was lined with mounted troops who saluted as we passed. After us came Harold, Mr McLelland and Lieutenant Harrington the best man. Mrs Hunter, Capt Light and I sat on one side of the chancel and the officers and ladies of the camp on the other. Soon the Rajah and his brother came, most resplendent in silken robes, with diamonds, rubies, pearls and emeralds. They sat at the end of our pew. A number of Parsee and Bramin officials all came in and some young officers. Harold looked calm and self possessed as he stood in his fine uniform waiting for his bride. As soon as the bride appeared leaning on her father’s arm, we heard the hymn ‘the voice that breathed o’er Eden. The bridal dress was a heavy white satin with a small double plait around the bottom of the skirt which had a long train of course. The bodice had the sash which is in fashion now and the immense puffer sleeves. The upper part was covered with beautiful Brussels lace and at her neck the bridge wore a lovely brooch of pearls, something like this (she gives a small diagram - KJ), Harold’s gift. Her veil made a large square which fell gracefully about her and was caught by a short wreath of orange blossoms and she had a spray of the same on the lace in front. She carried an exquisite bouquet all of orange flowers with long white streamers They were a fine looking pair as they stood together Harold’s responses were clear and firm when it came to Lilian’s turn I could see his lip tremble, however there was no need for she seemed as self possessed as he after the first few words her tones were low but distinct. As they went out of the church the band outside struck up the wedding march and the wedded pair drove of in a four-in-hand to the residency. The rest of us followed and first of all we had out photographs taken on the steps, then we went in, the bride cut the cake with the bridegrooms sword and then healths were drunk of the bridal couple, of Col and Mrs Hunter, and of the Rajah. Harold made a proper speech in return in a very proper way. The Rajah performed ---- for them and made an exceedingly good speech. While the friends were looking at the presents Mrs Burke and I helped the bride lay aside her wedding robes. She was soon metamorphized into a trim little travelling bride in dark blue serge and a white straw hat. After a cup of tea, they started off for Mandrie, amid a shower of rice, roses and slippers. They are to stay at the residency there until Thursday morning and then go with the McLellands to Jamnagar and stay one night, starting by dark the next day for Ahmedabad and then on to Palansour. When the guests were gone Mr Bailie cut some of the cake and it was sent to the camp. The rest is to be done today. We packed up most of the presents and were tired when dinner came and only sat on the verandah and chatted until an early retiring. Lieut Harrington wrote up an article for the papers. This morning we have been finishing up the packing and now go to breakfast.

Noon. Yesterday after breakfast we went to the palace to the the Ranees. There are two of them and four children. The prince is a fine little fellow of 7 years. It was a really interesting sight and visit. In the afternoon we were again busy with the cakes and then went for tennis given by the Rajahs brother. I had a long talk with him. Mr Balie and Lt Harrington went off early in the morning. Tomorrow morning Col Hunter the McLellands and I are to start at five o’clock and just have time to see Harold and Lilian before they leave with the McLellands for Jahmagar, Col Hunter is going with me to Bombay. He has business with the Governor. It will be very nice for me to have his company. He has ordered a carriage to be ready for me at the wharf. Everything is free and kindly Mrs McLelland and I have just returned from visiting the girls school and the High School. The letters go off today and I have come very nearly to the end of my story. I will try and enclose a copy of the list of presents if I can find time. I am writing to Fred but only a short letter. If you will let Chloe see this I will be very glad for I cannot copy the proceedings of the week. I suppose Justin will soon be with you as he will probably leave Vienna on Friday. I wish you could have been here but I have tried to be second best.

Very lovingly your sister Anstice Abbott.