Few young women who joined the Fishing Fleet, the regular convoy of husband-seekers to British India, can have imagined what it was like to live with a tea planter or an engineer in the mofussil, the quaint Urdu word for the sticks. In the jungles of Assam or deserts of Sindh, they would find themselves fifty miles from the nearest hospital or club, and an infinite distance from the rolling hills of Surrey or Wiltshire whence they came.
Not that they had much option. They tended to be the girls who were either too plain or too poor to attract a mate back home. Rather than see their daughters become governesses and slip into certain spinsterhood, their mothers booked them a passage on a P&O steamer and sent