April 28 1854
My dear Papa,
I thank you for your letter received on my birthday, and for the pretty things you have got for me. I wonder what they are; not a book I suppose, else it might perhaps have travelled by railway, but it is no use guessing.
We have had a sad change of weather here; a very sharp frost on Sunday night, which injured a great many things; the young potatoes, peaches, and apple blossoms were particularly maltreated, and the two beautiful azalias, just opening were completely destroyed: even the oak tree at the corner of the terrace had its [sic] young leaves shrivelled, and
even a wild rose bush in the hedge is drooping many things however have entirely escaped; amongst them the lilacs which are as fresh as ever.
The potentilla anserina is coming into flower near the stream behind the house.
Mama was sorry she had not asked you to send from London, the forms of prayer for the day of humiliation, for only think they were not to be had here, although asked for on monday [sic], and though Mr Ivison went after them himself, they never arrived. I only saw one person in church, besides the clergymen, who was provided with a copy, but several had got fragments of the Times, which we had also fortunately kept.
We had some rain last night and this morning, but it seems already to be clearing up.
Our little bantam hen is now sitting on eight eggs, and we have got a new one from Portinscale, very pretty with muffled paws; her name is Sultana.
It appears, I was incorrect in saying that the peaches were injured, for they were already set, and the gardener washed them curiously with cold water in the morning before the heat of the sun could melt the frost; which plan he says generally succeeds in preserving the fruit.
Yesterday the gardener of the Island came over here; he said there was less mischief done in his garden, being more sheltered; Mama saw him, and settled that when the weather is favourable we should go over there and see the place.
Good-bye dear Papa, Yr Affecte and dutiful daughter
H F Talbot Esqre