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Title: Agnes Shakespeare (Nesta), Alberta, to "My Darling May"
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileShakespeare, Agnes/2
SenderShakespeare, Agnes
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAlberta, Canada
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceD3590/M/4/1: Deposited by Godfrey Higginson Skrine Esq.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9909227
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 21:09:99.
Word Count1786
TranscriptHigh River, Alberta, Jan. 14th 1897

My Darling May
Needless to say 'many thanks for your last,' as that is
a perennial observation & which you may suppose as the
beginning of every letter I write. There certainly never
was such a correspondent as you are: and how you find time
for everything beats me. I have been fancying the arrival
of Archie's tiger skins ever since. Just fancy two tiger
skins from one of our own boys at Rockport! "The like o'
that's tremen'ius [tremendous?]!" - as Alicx [Alex?] used
to say. No wonder that Mother pranced round them "with the
step of an Empress," the idea of which greatly overcame Walter.

Mind you tell about the result of the plum pudding you made!
Wasn't it funny, each of us struggling with one at the same
time? and funnier still, I was stuck with just the same panic
as you, that I had chopped the suet too large. Yet it came
out perfectly all right; and [Florence?] says its the
artistic instinct in each of us, always struggling after
impossible perfections, that raises these panics about suet.
Such a mail as we had last time! With the papers & books
that had been sent us, it was the full of a tray. Of
course [Florence's?] increased the pile. She has been
buried deep in the Nansen Chronicle that Mother
sent here. Nina wrote me such a nice letter, just
like herself, and sent me two photos of her two boys.
I think they are the delight of her life. I am afraid
she misses her a good deal. You see Connie Sutton &
Kittie Hamilton both being married now & very much
absorbed - it makes a good deal of difference to Nina,
though she unselfishly rejoices about it. I was very
sorry to hear that Kittie was somehow laid low, with nerves
that had given way. I have not heard of any particular
reason for it, so I am very sorry. Connie was very ill
indeed for months, but after her little boy was born, she
got much better. Little Dick Sutton is devoted to the
small half-brother; and it is an awfully good
thing for him to have one. An only child is rather a
dreary thing. Of course you remember my lovely Lady
Cynthia that I told you so much about. Nina told me
that she was always asking after us now, and I was much
surprised and awfully delighted: It seems lovely to be
remembered by that beauty & that voice. I have so often
told Walter about her. He knows her husband's younger
brother Hugh Graham very well. He used to be out in
this country, & long to come back. But he can't.
'Cause why, he married a rich American, and has now an
"establishment" of much splendour at [Biuster?]
where Walter stays with them sometimes, & hunts. They
asked us what would we like for a wedding present, do
you remember, and I made Walter say "forks!" So they sent
us 3 dozen. And to continue the story, that rich American
is a first cousin of the Stiles's, that I liked so much,
that stayed with us here, you remember. Aren't people
wonderfully mixed up in the world? Julie Stiles sent
me a box of South American stories for Xmas. Constance,
Kathleen, Mrs. Balfour, & Mr. Wollaston sent me books,
& Gerald is going to. Nice people. But I must say, on
the whole, I had rather be asked, as the Colonel asks:
more power to him! So I send you this drawing of a
jam jar, out of the Graphic, as I think that won [one?]
to be the least troublesome way - with address. As he
asked you, I send it to you, not him. You might say to
him that I was very glad indeed to be asked, with a
definite price given. Gerald asked me to choose a book:
but you know when you have a house, there are a good many
things more wanted than new books. He said he had heard
from you lately, of which I was very glad; as he appreciates
letters from you. Have you heard about the terrible illness
of poor Mary Skrine, at Warleigh? She is the niece I am
so very fond of, a really beautiful girl, and for some
reason best known to herself, she is devoted to me. She
was ill, but coming about, and their own doctor said there
was nothing the matter with her, till her mother consulted
someone else who said that nothing could save her life
except a most dangerous operation within three days.
This was performed, & for weeks her life was uncertain,
but she is not convalescent, thank goodness! only she
does not know the real nature of her illness, - it was
tubercular peritonitis - and the danger now is consumption.
They hope that being so young, she is only twenty two, she
may completely recover, but I can't help seeing they are
very doubtful. I feel very sad about it. She is a beautiful
girl and also a very high-minded and clever one; I don't know
that I ever saw one of her age with greater depth of feeling.
And I think it is rather a wonder that she should be so
unspoilt, for she has been so much admired & made much of.
Her Aunt, the Duchess of Buckingham is always taking her
about. Hessie saw her at Claverton, & she wrote to me how
much she admired Hessie.
Well this letter, you will think, is all about other people.
It's time I got to our interesting selves. We are having a very
quiet, quite a happy time of it, and I think Florence is
enjoying herself as much as I ever saw her do. What she enjoys
is simply the monotony of things. You know she is like me in
that: the more one day is like another the better she likes it.
Also she seems to admire the winter colouring of the prairie,
and the sunset lights, and the brilliant moonlight nights, which
I must say are the brightest I ever have seen. And she takes
such an interest in all that goes on. The gifted Henry, the
[day-breed?] has finished making the new corral, & gone
for the present. We had a regular run of annoyances during the
two days last week. I'll tell you. It began by our finding
one day, nearly at the end of our rise, a fine yearling dead,
& partly eaten. I waited till Walter had done his examination,
after which his sole remark was - "Pretty cheek of the wolves!"
- I felt awfully sick at this, & so did he; as you know it was
just a little earlier than this last year when the wolves
descended on us, killing one a night for nearly a week. Well,
he took off that afternoon, procured some poison, & poisoned
the carcase - which was all he could do. That night there was
a very high wind. Next morning the first thing
we saw on looking out was one side of the new corral fence
blown over and flat on its face. An encouraging sign of the
future, certainly. You must observe it was a lean-fence
as they call it, that is, one constructed entirely by
balance: for you can't dig post holes in winter. Very
well, by the time breakfast was over, a cow came along the
hill side near the house, slipped on the ice, fell, broke her
leg, (presumably) & lay groaning. This was "a beautiful
cow, mind ye, in the best bloom of her youth." - and you
can't mend a cow with a broken leg. However of all these
catastrophies we made the best. The poor cow was killed
at once, for beef: and as something had to be killed
for beef anyway, before long, it was not so much to be
deplored. The gay half-breed discovered that he had built
the side of the fence that fell without giving it sufficient
slope. He and Morgan rectified that in the course of the
morning, the next thing was to ride forth and visit the
carcase; which when we did, we discovered four coyotes lying
dead round about it, but no sign of Mr. Wolf. And as nearly
a week has passed since then, & no harm at all has come
to the herd, we coclude that it was not done by wolves at
all, and are much relieved in mind. This is the hisory of
our troubles, and their ending. You might safely say, it is a
peaceful life, if those are its worst troubles. There's
no doubt that this is a very peaceful life, if people are
made so that they can be content with it. We are content
with it, entirely so. But no doubt we have what wont be
thought exceptional tastes. We like being let alone, we
like monotony, we like riding so many hours a day over
the same country, we like reading in the evenings. Florence
says she thinks it is very very seldom that married people
have minds and tastes so exactly alike as Walter and I have.
I have come to think it rather remarkable myself. It makes
a most blesed harmony. - And when you consider that Walter
is English of the English, & I am Irish of the Irish. Well,
I really must stop. I am sending this to Lisloughry,
thinking and greatly hoping too that you are there now.
Of course give our love to Hessie and Francis. And isn't
this queer? Yesterday I learnt that Lord Ardilann had a
share in the [O] Ranche. (Do you know that you have to
call that [O] bar-you?) He and Lord Castletown, Godfrey
Seringe's cousin,had shares in the H.L. Ranche, of which
Godfrey was manager once, but afterwards it was incorporated
with the [O], of which the inimitable Fred Stimson is now
manager. They are our nearest neighbours now. You must
tell that to Francis, and let Francis tell Lord Ardilann,
and talk to him about ranching & show him what a lot he
knows about it; and then work on him somehow to send him
(Francis) out to this very place to look after his interests
here. Then Francis could stay with us, and of course his
travelling expenses wont have to be paid. Wouldn't Francis
love to see a ranche again? You bet your life. So tell
him this.
Your loving sister

P.S. The shop should be directed to write on the
outside of the parcel - "Glass Jam-dish." for the
benefit of the Custom house.