|Agnes Shakespeare (Nesta), Alberta to May (Higginson?)
|Irish Emigration Database
|D3590/M/4/1-16: Deposited by Godfrey Higginson Skrine
|The Public Record Office, Northern Ireland
|Document added by LT, 21:09:99.
| High River, Alberta. July 29th, 1897
My darling May.
If ever I knew what it was to be thankful...! I do
assure you, words fail me to that degree that I positively
hardly can write this letter. Between our darling boy's
safety, and Hessie's and her baby's too. This idea of a
baby belonging to this family! I call it simply splendid.
Never in my born life did I get such a surprise. And two
such things to come out of one envelope, as your letter about
Hessie, and that absolutely beautiful letter of our boy's.
Give Lou Lou my very best thanks for copying it out for me word
for word as she did. No one could have believed it, without
saying it. To think of that heroic boy lying there with
his wounded arm, and expecting the operation actually to
begin, while he was calmly writing everything he could think
of to comfort poor Mother, and quoting dear old Craig too -
"Ye're wrang, ye're wrang, and I'll tell ye why ye're wrang!"
It seems as if Craig came into everything that happens to us,
doesn't it? And tell Lou Lou this. That darling boy actually
wrote to me too - just a short little page in pencil - which
I could hardly see to read when I opened it - as you may
imagine - "Dear Nesta, I'm very tired of writing and this
is out of the contract but I thought I must just send you a
line to say I am getting on splendidly."
- the date of this was June 19th. And the writing was just
like his own only a little turned the other way, and the
envelope was addressed by himself in ink. Walter asked if he
might hear what Archie said about himself, and so I just
read him the whole letter. Lou Lou's copy, I mean. I never
saw him more touched by anything than he was at hearing when
and how that letter was written. I must tell you all this
happened after 10.P.M. last night and he had had no supper!
Walter had gone into High River (he posted my letter to Mother)
and the train didn't arrive till 4.10.P.M. So he didn't get
home till 10 o'clock. And he brought that letter from you and
Lou Lou, and also Mother's letter, also such a nice letter
which Hessie had written to me herself two or three days before
the event (not dated) and left open for Francis to send a report
of her which he did on June 14th. It was really very good
of them both, and the short letter from Francis was most
I thought he had been through a perfect agony of suspense,
it was very plain - "almost unendurable" he calls it. And poor
dear Hessie had been very plucky through it all, he said.
Which I can well believe; but the poor child must have had
an awful time, lasting for such ages, from 4 o'clock till 8.
No wonder they blessed that nurse. I expect she is a jewel
of a woman. But my dear - don't go for to think there was
anything specially wrong because she had chloroform, for that
is quite the commonest way of managing it now, I believe: -
as you probably know. For after all you have done and arranged
for Hessie, you must have learnt heaps more than I would know.
Why, I know nothing - or less than that! And its the greatest
mistake to be such a useless block, that's what I think. Just
imagine that good, kind Mrs. Hodson coming to your help so
nobly. Quite what I should expect of her. I took the greatest
liking to her the only time I saw her, and only that she would
hardly remember me, I should like to be remembered to her.
I wonder how her poor son is? I nearly convulsed myself over
that woman at Walpole's. Who but an Irish woman would ever ask
such an utterly idiotic question? - and then answer it herself!
all to absolutely no purpose, as boy or girl can make no
possible difference in clothes of that size. Why, my goodness
me! - to think of all you have been doing, and thinking, and
expecting - and I utterly out of it, never dreaming of such
a thing. Don't imagine I didn't think of it, a hundred times.
But I made up my mind not to ask any questions, as if there was
anything to be told, of course I was sure I should be told.
Instead of which - well, I never. Poor Hessie! it was all to
save me anxiety. And such nice letters as she wrote to me,
evidently taking great pleasure in the prospect, and full of
all the things that had been done for her, especially by you -
"May working her fingers to the bone, as usual." and by Hessie's
account sending her "about every week" parcels of things "all
covered and stamped with her own beautiful embroidery which
would take anyone else a lifetime to do." She described the
little quilt at length (it must have been lovely), also the
room that had been papered by Lou Lou with its curtains,
blue and white, and the crown of everything, the little blue and
Lou Lou must do a photo of the child in that cot for us.
Tell her that photo of F & H [Francis and Hessie?] in the boat
on the lake is without exception the prettiest photo I eversaw,
and the perfect image of them both. Everyone admires it
tremendously. Of course the dark Scotch fir is the making of
it. The one of the car is splendid too, but the other is
my favourite. Fancy Mother making flannel things for Hessie!
I remember her doing it long ago. I specially remember
a kind of little shirt she had to make for Billie out of
fine [cambric?], with a little flap hanging over in front.
This was always her work for the period of M. Guibal's French
lesson, and it all came out of a little long-shaped box,
don't you remember? studded with steel nails. My dear, as
to whether this baby will reconcile Francis to his people,
I simply haven't an idea. In all reason and conscience
you would suppose it must. But there has never been one
scrap of either reason or conscience in their proceedings
from beginning to end. So it's absolutely useless to
conjecture. My intention is to take all the pleasure we
can out of the event, simply for our own sake, and for Francis
and Hessie; but to leave his people out of it altogether.
If it wasn't for poor Francis and his peace of mind, and of
course the thought of his future, I should say we were well
rid of the whole [Drumnasole?] pack. But I wish to goodness
they had stayed away out of the glens. One thing is, old
Mrs. [Twirly?] is crazy about babies, and it is she who is at
the bottom of the trouble. But even if she wanted to, she
might not be able to turn the old man round now. I don't
care - for our sakes - one two penny hand. Very best love.
Hay is going swimmingly. I am leaving on the mail now.
your loving sister,