The following letter was written by Margaret Dunscombe to her brother Cecil, from Stuart, Florida on June 6, 1910. The envelope is addressed to "Cecil Dunscombe, Yeo, 2nd Cl., U.S.S. Connecticut, c/o Postmaster of New York City, Atlantic fleet." Note that Margaret spells the family name with an "e," whereas Cecil's letters home from The Curtis School in 1897 and 1898 lacked the concluding letter.
I gave our (?) mother her letter from you, and was very glad to get my own. I hadn't forgotten you -- not a bit of it -- if you would really like me to write oftener I will, if I can catch you in all those foreign (?) you are going to dig into.
I saw a picture in the paper of the girls who helped launch to Florida -- as the old song says -- what would we mortals ever do (?) (?) not for the lassies oh: Even you seem to have taken some in tow : : : Did you have a good time at it? And what sort of people are they?
It would be a fine thing for us if you could get to little old Stuart soon. Just think! I haven't seen you at all since we started our last home -- the last. I hope there are people in this house who would be glad to see you!
There is an ex-sea captain who lives here -- (?) must have spoken to you of him --Captain Sewall of Sewell's Point -- a trifle (?) of us. We have told him and his wife a lot about you, and they watch your ship in the papers with much interest. They have done a great deal to make it pleasant for us too --- he comes from a good family, and looks the real thing. Mrs. Sewall has just had me up there for three days -- the squirrels used to come from all around, and take the bread out of our hands -- but their (?) is a coon that sneaks in by moonlight from the woods -- He came to the door, and as I was a guest, I was given one piece after another of bread to hand him, till he (?) back to the woods again. They can get craw fish from their pier -- a (?) larger than a lobster, and all sorts of (delicious?) fish -- Captain Sewall has been in all those places we expect you will be, in the East, and tells us all about them. He and she are coming to dinner tomorrow to (?) O.C. with us. When we get rich, I already anticipate visitors for days at a time. When !!!?
These disgusting chickens gave up laying eggs some time ago, and now they are getting a disease and dying. It would make a gourmand weep to see chickens drop off like that.
I don't spend a great deal of time at the photographers, you imagine, and haven't had any more recent productions for you. You should be satisfied with what you get! It's more than more deserving people can bless themselves with! (Just count up the (?). I wrote a bread & butter letter to Mrs. Sewall this morning and had to beg (?) for the stamp to send it, so if I put this in one of her letters to you, I trust you will understand the (economy?) I packed a bag full of frills to decorate (?) at the Sewalls, I forgot to put in a nightgown. So she lent me one, and now I am at my wits end to iron it without making it change complection (sic). Don't laugh at a trouble so real!
The sun is racing from me; I must close; and hope you will write, and that you had a good time on your furlough. You are right, I'm busy -- but never too much for my first brother.
Much love always, Margaret.
Monday 6 June, 1910.
(There is a penciled note going up the side of this last page: "The lost is found!!! (This letter was lost.")
The following letter from Margaret to her brother Cecil is undated, but must have been written some time around 1915:
St. Mary's Convent
I've just seen Sister Mary Theodore who said that all my share in the 20000 had been signed to Pa, and so there is no more to be said on the part of the Convent. She said if he is in difficulty he is at perfect liberty to use it because it is his anyway - Pa thought only the 2500 had been given to him, that if he will get a copy of the paper from Plainfield Trust Company, he will see that the 3300 is his too - that is the reason that when St. M. Theodore first heard of it, she said I had done wrong to sign such a paper without asking anyone because if I married, I would take what I had to my husband and just so, the convent is in need of money to keep going - that now that she hears Pa needs it, she takes a different stand, and says it is his anyway to use - I didn't sign papers without asking that I know of (as a novice) anyway, its all vague to me except that Pa has it - Don't tell him all that's on this page - unless you want to - because he is sensitive about taking it anyway - but it is true that the Sisters policy is great generosity - perhaps at times more than they can well afford - and for the sake of what they stand for I don't like to have them misjudged.
I did have such a nice time with you. and am so very glad indeed to have had the opportunity of knowing Marie. She is true gold and I am sure will only become moreso as she grows older - I will write her a line to go in with this tonight. The Mother was anxious to hear if I stayed long enough to really see everyone, as she wanted me to do that and did you know Pa couldn't have come over the other night. I think he needs the rest, and yet felt he must come as long as I was there.
Please excuse this paper - I must find a sheet for Marie - but was in great haste to get you this word that I know will rejoice you. I shall pray for your little house on the Med. if that is the best - that is my part and no small power it is! With much love always
I am anxious to hear how Pa's affairs turn out - especially the lawsuit of that injured girl.
This letter dated November 15, 1915, is addressed to Mr. Cecil Dunscombe, U.S.S. Wyoming, c/o Postmaster of New York City. The letter is accompanied by one written in French to Cecil's new wife Marie.
St. Mary's on the Mountain
Your letter was a bomb of delight! The idea of your doing so exciting a thing as to marry and not even letting us have a thrill over it!! - And you must have devised how rejoiced I would be to welcome a French sister - why didn't you bring her to my (prosession?) and I would have seen you both? Anyway I'll write her a little note of friendship and send it in yours. I congratulate you from the ends of my heart - you have chosen a nationality full of beautiful ideal and of charm and I'm quite sure I'd love her - indeed I do anyway.
I started a letter for your birthday but didn't know where to send it and tore it up. I'd love to have you write me oftener - why couldn't we do it once in two months or so - or perhaps your wife would do the writing as Carroll's does - the news down there oftenest comes through her - Cal writes on occassion (sic) though.
How in the world do you find (?) to (?) a ship! - And is it traveling at the time or stationed at Virginia? And how often can you get back to see your wife? - Wouldn't (Mom?) have been surprised to know a few years ago that was to become of us all (?) - French - German --?-.
We've had lots to do here and today one of the helpers become ill - I'm infirmarian and you know about how much I know of sickness - well I am about (?) (now?) like a (?) - there was dyptheria going around here but fortunately nothing worse than tonsylitis (sic) came to the school - this last one has had most violent pains so that I had to grab her ankles and squeeze out the feeling! - Don't breathe dyptheria to Pa it didn't come here and would only terrify him, I sleep at the Convent and work at the school - have an amply nice little cell and am almost too happy to have. Write soon - With much love to you both from Margaret.
The following is the text of a letter written by Margaret to her bother Cecil. The year must be 1918, and the letterhead reads as follows: "Mission of St. Mary the Virgin, Philippine Islands, Catholic Sagada." The original is in the possession of Bruce Dunscombe.
If this letter reaches you, it will tell of loving thoughts and prayers that follow you -- and if you are in the midst of fighting or hardness of any kind, and that can cheer, I shall be very glad.
I can hear so very little of you-- Pa sent me one of your censored postcards from some French town, and it could say little -- I sent it home, because they pray much for you at the convent -- you will never be left alone in the press of whatever you may have to do.
Pa also told me that you are the father o two these days -- a little daughter! -- I wonder if you will have seen her by this time? I've written to Marie -- who seems to me a courageous person, and no hysterical little fly off the handle -- I feel much admiration for her, and always have.
Pa sent to us here a magazine about the war published by the N.Y. Times -- It is very interesting, and I can keep up a little with you. It also tells much about the taking (Yermoalean?) -- which quite thrills us. They had a Mass of Thanksgiving for it at home -- the soldiers there at least must be warm -- but you and all those in other regions must be suffering from this extreme cold -- I am glad that even here, we have been able to share it somewhat -- the cold of a country that is supposed to be warm and races like ice up and down your spinal (?) column. It is little indeed I (sic) common with the suffering, heroic world.
We have come to know the Sagada village quite intimately -- do you remember when we were in Hooper Street, how Uncle Inglis used to tell us stories about the men who live with their house in a tree and spin long yarns about them? It is stranger when you stop to think, to be talking with the same kind in their own language (the tree men live in another place) and trying to get at their ideas! --- these seem few and scanty. We were lent a book on the religion of such people as these and it throws light on much that seems queer -- they think there is life = stuff -- like (some?) elixir of life -- in every one -- great chiefs have most -- and if they can take a head of canables (sic) eat a person -- it is transferred to themselves their (sic) to die. And to do what profits them in this life, is (goodest?) -- not a moral thing at all, but what is good for themselves & bodies. It is so different a point of vision from ours that it is hard to put yourself in their place in thought -- and especially as they have many good and (visionary?) characteristics. One of the great sins is not to be polite -- because a man injuries (sic) himself with others by rudeness and most of all with the devils -- who are the souls of dead people -- their families are turned to foes as soon as they die, and they always live in fear -- many cannot for this reason -- to please the devils. -- And they are not sitting with their mouths open for xhianity -- It may be that we shall live to see no great change -- but I am sure that no good is ever lost, and quite content not to see it. Taft wrote a very interesting book of these people they say, but we haven't seen it -- the friars came to great suffering -- they had only rice to eat etc -- but did good work -- we may come to (?) other kind of suffering --- and if it were not so, I think the work should be of less value -- I heard it said that every friend of God had suffered much except Solomon -- the richest of the Israel kings you know -- and his heart became depraved and his salvation uncertain -- and I think of it with the soldiers and people who are suffering to (sic) greatly. The small (?) dashed in the home the other day, and turned himself
(The remainder of the letter is lost)