My dear Miss F. This is the second letter I have written in the New Year, and must be to you -I have often taken up my pen to begin a letter to you before - but my [joints?] have been heavy lately, and have made it difficult to get in ____letters. This has been the first Xmas I have ever spent away from my people, and no one knows better than you what the breaking up of home means. This year we are all scattered - Arthur & Con on the high seas returning from the Cape where they had been to visit my aunt Lady Loch -Emmy and the boys visiting various relations, and I here away from them all. Still I am bound in common gratitude to say that I am the only one who is well off -I have learnt this year more than ever before to __ of the Balfours, as well as in this home, and the family life here has been particularly happy this last month. When I think of them all, you always make one of the picture, in my mind's eye, and if I shared no other feeling with them, I should have the love & gratitude they all have for you - I wonder how you are this Xmas, if you have kept free from cold, if yr house is warmer, if you have had any brightness round you, and as much sympathy & love as you want -you can never have as much as you deserve, you know dearie, til you get to yr reserved place! Here the weather has been wonderfully fine & frosty - with only snow during the last two days. The brothers began their holiday by culling, and then went on with shooting, and we have Nina & Charlie, and Mr Penn from Anhefield for the shooting days. They had 3 days this year instead of two, and Arthur thought his pheasants had not been slaughtered in sufficient numbers, but the [hunters?] kindly explained to him that that was because he did not understand anything about it. Arthur went one day to the culling, & one day to the shooting, for duty's sake, but has otherwise clung to his bicycle for his own pleasure wheeling it up & down the West Approach hill with the most childish enjoyment.
[last page has been stuck down so some of the writing has been obscured]
Nina was here for nearly ____________ and made us all happy - ____________ in the house, is as good as ___________ She was not looking very well, ________ worried that she had been over ________ but I think her time here did her _______ Alice caught a very bad cold at _______ beginning of the time, which helped to make her more depressed than usual, and she got it into her head that Arthur is taking her abroad to please her & not himself - which is very silly of her, for even if this were true, Alice can make him enjoy it by enjoying it herself. They start on the 4th (for Pan) and are to be back on the 28th -I go South with Eustance on the 7th to greet mother, the babies all follow the 9th & Gerald & Frances leave
on the 11th - Gerald stays on to give a lecture at the school here on the Labour Commission - The children have all been wonderfully well - my two.
Paper has 'WHITTINGHAME PRESTONKIRK' NB Station: - EAST LINTON NBR y . Telegraphs: - PRESTONKIRK 3 ¼ Miles' printed on it in black ink. No signature, last pages of letter are missing. 2 Jan [1892 crossed out]