Letter from Roy Bruce to Maud Bruce (identifier: 135607)

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My dearest girl:
At last I am
able to sit down and give you
an account of my doings. We
have had a very strenuous time,
dogged by shocking luck but
now it is all over and we
recognise the results might have
been so much worse.
I told you in my
last letter how our horses & guns
had got delayed on the road.
Well the horses did not arrive
until New Year's day and my
gun has not arrived yet.
On Friday when exercising the
horses Black sprained Fairyland's
back, luckily it was not very bad
and with hot fermentations and
embrocation she was able to start
in the Loyd Lindsay on Saturday,
but it spoilt our chances. Black
nearly broke down when it happened.
However we got second, being beaten
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by only 4 points by the Christchurch
team we beat at the Timaru show.
With my gun team misfortune
hung to us right along. I could
not get a gun to practice with or
a set of nickometers to train a range
taker. The consequence was I started
in the competition with 5 men
out of the 9 who had never seen the
gun before
, and had only had the
competition explained on paper, even
then we ran second and were only
20 points (maximum 530) behind the
winning team (4th Waikato). We beat
the Timaru infantry team (who were
3rd and had all their team here) by
23 points, for which we were all
devoutly thankful. I think we would
have wept if they had been ahead
of us. Five teams started. The
competition was lost on the range taking,
poor old Edgar who had only half
3
an hour's practice in his life made
a bloomer. It was not his fault &
I was very proud to run second. We
made all our points on getting into
and out of action. The judges
Capt. Wallingford (the champion rifle
shot of the world) & Henderson told
me we did exceptionally fast time.
I know I never ran so fast in my
life before, and I was told afterwards
that to see the horseholders getting
the horses to gallop by prodding
them with their bayonets (of course
in the sheath) was worth seeing.
Had we had our own beautifully
polished equipment and one day's
practice with the nickometers we
must have won very easily. We
will be right next year though, the
two Black's, Mechan & Husband have
asked me to take them into the
team, and with them I don't think
anything can look at us.
About an hour after the competition
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Ross broke his collar bone, he jumped
on Golden Grape bareback to get something
and the horse bolted and eventually
threw him against a post & rail fence,
I did not see it, but I was told he
was lucky to save his life.
Golden Grape's legs are in a very
bad way and Fairyland is still a
bit stiff, and the other two horses have
more or less sufferred, which is not
surprising considering we only had
4 horses here and entered for every
mounted event in appalling heat.
With 9 men & 4 horses to travel from
Timaru compete against the pick of
the North & South Islands & get 5
seconds & 2 firsts seems to me fairly
creditable. With reasonable luck two
of those seconds would have been firsts.
On New Year's day we went out
to the races & saw the Great Northern
Derby. Ellerslie is a fine course and
the gardens are lovely. Didn't have any
luck but wasn't betting much. Backed
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Bonny Helen for the Derby but she
was outclassed. There were some
lovely horses here and the racing
was excellent. I enjoyed the day
thoroughly, but all the time I
do so want you with me, we
would have a lovely time here,
except you might feel the heat.
I have met several people
here I used to know, amongst them
Robison who I was with at
Awakino, they are living here now,
and I am going to dinner there
tomorrow night.
Marchant went down to
Rotorua yesterday and Andrews &
Bowie went back last night. I
have not done any business yet, all
my time has been well filled, but
I am going to start today. I see
by the paper that the boat with
the skins on board has arrived.
I hope to be back in about
a week, but I will wire as soon
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as I know.
We had rather a rotten New Year's
Eve, tried to have a spree but it
failed principally owing to us having
an ice that did not agree with us.
We saw the Old Year out at the
Exhibition amongst fireworks and
rockets (a poor display) and then came
home to bed.
Two letters from you have arrived
safely and I was very glad to get
them. I hope you won't think I have
neglected you the last few days, but
I have had no time to myself, what
with searching for the gun, and one
disappointment after another, things at
times have been only middling.
Good bye sweetheart, do take care
of yourself, some day we will have a
lovely holiday together. Give little
Helen a good humbug and keep a
nice kiss for yourself. I do hope
your mother returns soon. With very
much love & affection.
Roy.