Frances and Jane Coster of Eastbourne

10 Oct 19??: Frances Coster to Her Niece, Florence Scott

This is a letter written in 19?? by Frances Coster (Nurse to the children of General Plaoutine) to her niece, Florence Mary Stilwell of New Zealand.

24 Quai de la Cour
St. Petersburg
10th October [year cut off on photocopy]

My dear Florrie,

Your letter and the packet of photographs arrived quite safely and on the same day. I was very glad to get them and send you many thanks for all. In you I seem to see a likeness to your Father, whom I have not seen since he first left England for New Zealand, but Ada certainly reminds me of your dear Mother. Your children all look very nice, and you look such a happy family. It is very strange that I have never been able, until now, to find out your married name. When I was last in England, four years ago, I begged your Uncle James to do so if possible, for I have been longing to hear of or from you, dearie, all these years, and never forget your birthday the 1st of June. Although many nieces and nephews have been born and grown up since then, I remember none but yours.

I know, dear Florrie, I must try to explain how the correspondence between us ceased, yet it seems I should have written to you at the time. But, after my last letter, your Father wrote something rather strange to me, and I did not care to answer more than was necessary to say. Then he said you had gone from home and that you were married, so I lost you. But he came to England and saw your Grandmother and Aunt Jane. I was never there when he came, or most probably should have found out more about you. They told me he had one of your sisters with him, and I think they stayed some days at Eastbourne. And, last time, Uncle Jim's wife, Aunt Sophie, told me he had a little boy with him, but she did not know whose child it was. I had no idea your Father was living at Tunbridge Wells or certainly I should have gone there to see him. Living away in Russia one loses touch with many things and people, but those who live nearer each other cannot understand how we like to hear a little more about those so far away. I am so glad to hear you have a good husband and nice children and think the life in New Zealand must be very pleasant and interesting.

Both your Aunt Jane and I would like very much to pay you a visit, but I am afraid it is not likely I shall ever do so. Janey might, perhaps – she is ten years younger – but, at present, she has no time. Now we must write to each other often, Florrie, and not lose touch again. I remember you so well. You were such a dear, bright little girl, and I wonder if you have any recollection of me. It seems scarcely probable. You used to call me ikle Auntie. I shall think of you at Christmas time. How strange that when all the world here is covered with deep snow and all the rivers frozen over, you should be enjoying mid summer and camping out by the sea side. It must be very nice, though, but our English Plum Pudding would scarcely seem seasonable. I expect you have plenty of fresh fruit instead.

Janey told me she sent some photographs of herself to you. I wonder whether you received them. I have none taken recently but might send what were taken some years ago, if you care to have one. I should like also to see your sons and husband when you have their photos to spare. I think now Aunt Jane is in the Crimea. She may not write to you in answer to yours. She has not said she would write but was delighted with your letter and the photos which she has kept. I mean those of the two girls and also Ada, but she will bring them when she returns to St. Petersburg, which I hope she will do during the coming winter.

And now, dear Florrie, I will stop writing for the present. Give my kind regards to your husband and love to all the young people, your brothers and sister included, and to your self. Much love and all good wishes from your ever loving and

Affectionate Aunt
Frances Coster

Please write again soon if you have time.