My first three weeks� leave was due in August, and I arranged to spend it in Lusaka, in Northern Rhodesia, with Vera and Harvey. I travelled by train. Into our compartment at Bulawayo came Mrs Tredgold, whose husband was on the Copperbelt helping to quell a miners� strike. She was very surprised when asked by the Immigration chap for her passport: �I didn�t know I needed one� she said, �I�m just going to join my husband.� After a gentle reprimand she was allowed to proceed. We had a lovely view of Victoria Falls from the train, but only a short stop at the station.
In Lusaka, new to me were pawpaw trees growing in back yards, and all the dogs being muzzled because of rabies. I went with Harvey on some of his veterinary rounds, and he and Vera arranged dinner parties for me to meet people. Elizabeth Neal was often with us, and she was enjoying her Government job, getting around very practically on a motorbike. For a sundowner dance to which they planned to take me, Vera and Harvey had difficulty in finding a partner for me. Finally on the very morning, 1 was driving with Harvey in the main street when he stopped the car and spoke to a young man: �Pat, can you come to a sundowner dance this evening?� Pat had a quick look at me, and decided that he was available.
That evening he danced every dance, mostly with me - and I really thought that he liked dancing. At the end, he insisted on driving me home in his jalopy, and before we had gone very far he asked me to marry him. I laughed gaily, and said what nonsense before we even knew each other. He stopped the car with a jerk, the windscreen broke, and my hand had a nasty gash. He took me to a doctor friend who dressed my hand, and in due course delivered me to the Purchases after I had agreed to go out with him again.
I only had about five days left, as I planned to spend two days at the Falls and two more with my cousin Margaret in Johannesburg. Pat took me out to the farm he was managing for Gordon James, who travelled a lot and was away at this time, and we had a picnic on the boss�s verandah - some rather tough cold beef, and a salad dressed with mayonnaise made by Pat, followed by tinned apricots. For tea he had made some excellent scones.
One evening he invited Vera and Harvey to bring me out for a buffalo hunt, and for this he rigged up four doors, with blankets and cushions, in a fig tree, intending that we should quietly watch for the expected visit of the buffalo which had been seen in the vicinity. Nobody ever saw a buffalo that night - Harvey and Vera dozed, and Pat and I talked all night, getting to know each other and liking what we learned. He then persuaded me to cut out my two days at the Falls and spend them in Lusaka, and promised me that he would take me to the Falls for our honeymoon - I had by then agreed to marry him. The evening I was due to leave, we were still talking, talking, sitting at the station, and he only just heaved me aboard in time as the train drew out. I spent two hours at the Falls with a friend whom Pat had deputed to show me as much as possible.