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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/41
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSaturday 27 August 1904
Address FromBedford, Eastern Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other Versions
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Legend
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand.
1 Bedford
2 Saturday morning
3
4 Darling Will
5
6 We got here at dawn this morning. Ettie has been writing fully to you
7so I need not write all over again. After four days hard work sinking
8deep trenches at each side of the grave the lower part all through
9solid sandstone & rock we found the dear remains all perfect, the box
10decayed in parts but still there resting on two great rocks. On
11Wednesday night we had the new coffin put in over it & had it raised
12not disturbing even the ground upon the lid & had it placed at sunset
13under the trees beside the grave & covered up. At dawn the next
14morning Ettie pu ^& I^ I got up & went down before any one was there
15softly we removed a few handfuls of earth & there were the dear
16remains, all perfect & entire. The back of the dear head we uncovered
17& kissed it & covered it with flowers, & the feet, all lying exactly
18as when put in to rest ab not one even misplaced. We covered it all
19with flowers & earth, & had it all covered by the time the work men
20returned It seemed to me a kind of resurrection as the early sunlight
21came & shone again on the dear old head that had been buried that for
22twenty eight years had rested under the earth away from the sunlight,
23he always loved so. It was a great strain, dear, much greater even
24than I had expected, but to me it was all beautiful, nothing painful
25or sad. I was so glad when we got it upon the wagon with us. Then one
26sort of seemed to collapse a bit when it was all over. For those four
27days one had not been able to leave the grave for a second watching
28with a kind of agony of anxiety every movement of each chisel or pick
29lest it might disturb something. All the last two days every thing had
30to be broken away by hand with chisels lest harm should be done. We
31took out for you after the coffin was in the new box, the bottom of
32the old one to show you the strange state of preservation in which it
33was. The beloved remains were not decayed in the least, rather
34hardened & dark like polished iron. It is very mysterious how it
35should have remained so perfect. The alpaca which was nailed over the
36coffin was still there quite perfect in bits. I shall be in Cape Town
37by the 7th of August. Mrs Purcell has got me some rooms in Tambers
38Kloof. If the little mother & father are then buried I can be there
39too.
40
41 I think the old man would have liked the thought of the little group
42of children, & grand children being about him that day, the grand
43children he would so greatly have rejoiced in had he ever lived to see
44them.
45
46 unreadableGood bye dear Laddie.
47 Much love to all at home. I will let you know the day I arrive.
48 Olive
49
50 We had it beautifully soldered down. I watched it all being done
51myself, the outer cace is common & poor but ^the gilding & metal work
52are of the best.^
53
54
55