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Title: Agnes Shakespeare (Nesta), Alberta, to "My darling Mother".
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileShakespeare, Agnes/17
SenderShakespeare, Agnes
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAlberta, Canada
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceD3590/M/4/1-16: Deposited by Godfrey Higginson Skrine Esq.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9909234
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 21:09:99.
Word Count1327
TranscriptHigh River, Alberta,
May 19th, 1897.

My darling Mother
Though rather sleepy, I must get in a letter to you
some time tonight, as I hear the horses were got in purposely
for us to ride over to Pekisko tomorrow; and it seems too long
since I sent you a letter. "Getting in the horses" means
in the whole band, as they always follow each other, and you
can never get in one without all the others. At present they
are not even behind a fence; they might range anywhere over
the whole prairie if they liked, but likely they are "located":
that is, they look on this ranch as their home, and so they
don't go more than a mile or so from the fence. Of course there
must be always one or two horses kept in the stable or round
the corrals, so when you want fresh horses, you can take one,
ride out and get in the band. You corral them, then catch the
ones you want, and let the rest go. I believe I am to have
Morgan's horse to ride tomorrow. The handsome little chestnut
I told you about, didn't I? - as I have given two other horses,
besides Billy my own, as much as they want at present. You
would be surprised to see the rides I can take now, and not
feel the riding, if only I get lunch some time or other. I'm
a whole lot stronger than I was last year. But I must say I
like to have a fresh horse every day. It's the greatest
of luxuries. Last week we made up our minds we simply must go
to the Oxley Ranche. The Springetts had been asking us to go
and make a stay there, ever since we came to the country.
They live about 22 miles away. So on Thursday last I packed
my little saddle-bag, got out my summer habit with a thin
silk shirt, and a careful new veil! - for it was piping
hot weather, and off we went after breakfast, on two
right handsome horses. Walter was riding "Harry" - the
big chestnut I called after the Colonel, and I had his
favourite "Browny", who is better for these long trips than
my own. They did look so nice together, their summer coats
are so jolly and shining. We rode over that high ridge
all covered with willows where we went driving one day last
fall, but now all the willows are pale gold and green, a
perfect mass of their fluffy sort of flowers. But the
Rockies were lost to sight in the smoke of prairie-fires;
you could only see the snow shining through here and there,
high up in the sky. We rode down a lovely valley below the
ridge, and then for a long time over the open prairie,
which was much like people at home imagine the prairie to be
than our own part of the country. For it was much flatter,
with only a slight roll, and a far low horizon rather like
the sea; splendid country for riding, we loped along so
easily, smooth grass, and no badger holes to dodge. I'd
love to be coyote-hunting there. We got to the Oxley about
5 o'clock - we had stopped at another ranch for lunch and
a long visit - and the first thing I saw was Mrs Springett's
little girl - two years old - seated in her high chair, just
ready to howl, and the other one, a yearling - staggering
across the floor with the gait peculiar to her age. Then I
knew what our visit was likely to prove; - and so it did: though
I must say they were nice little children. Still in a ranch
house children are a dire mistake. You can't get away from
them. If you don't see them, you hear them; and not in the
faint, melodious way we hear children at home far off at the
top of the house, but quite plain and clear through the thin
wooden walls, just as if they were in the room. Nothing amuses
me more than to see Walter at these times. The mothers always
think that he is one of those rare and beautiful manly
that love children and all young and helpless things. [... ...?]
This is because he isn't afraid of the children, with the
helpless terror that some men have; and of course in a way,
he is the sort of character they mean. But they would think
far less of him if they heard him expressing to me in private
his devout thankfulness for having been spared these
I believe it must have been the terror of the past few years
to him: and it is only now that he feels sufficiently sure of
my sympathy on the subject, that he expresses it. My dear
you needn't think us both very unnatural. If you just knew
what it would be like in a ranch house without the array of
maids and the secure retreats that a woman has at home. And
then if you could see the children here; either in perpetually
renewed white frocks that you know it takes a woman her whole
life to wash and iron - or else- much the most frequent case -
"sensibly dressed" in dirty little rumpled dark clothes, smeared
with goodness knows what mixture of what, and laying grubby
hands on everything around them. No, thank you. I really
couldn't. Poor Mrs, Shepperd brought her little boy here the
other day, quite a small child. He was very good on the whole;
but there was an interval while his mother was in my room, when
he was wandering in and out at the door into Walter's dressing
room. I thought I had repaired all his depredations afterwards.
I put back the shaving brush into its ring and the brushes and
he had scattered about too, but next morning Walter opened the
door and asked me, "Was that little brute in here yesterday?" -
"Yes. Why?" - "Look at my boot-trees lying there on the grass."
The child had hurled them out of the window, if you please.
But it was worth anything to see Walter stand gazing at them,
gently murmuring, "The little brute! Oh, by George, I'm
thankful I haven't any - here, you'd better go along and
The weather just now is perectly glorious - awfully
hot, I should say, but still fresh. The cattle are getting
as fat and jolly as they can be; the little calves are coming
in showers. It's pretty to see them skipping thro' the herd
in all directions. In some ways this is really the nicest
time of year after the winter bothers, and spring bother are
well over, and you have no more fear of things dying on you,
and it's not time to think about the hay. You can just ride
among your herd, and think how well they look, and what a lot
of calves there are going to be, and it's very encouraging and
jolly. Walter looks as light-headed as anything. It's a very
funny thing that our mail seems to have stuck somewhere. I have
not had a letter from you or the others since I came back from
Calgary; but don't imagine I'm fussing, for I had one from
the faithful Colonel, so I know it's all right. I think you
must have been all three moving at the same time, and it's so
hard to write letters then. But still I'm sure one letter must
have been delayed somewhere, and the papers too. The only thing
I want to know is if you are all right again after your second
collapse at [Forenaghts?]. Perhaps I'll get one tomorrow
at Pekisko. Best love from us both to you all. I really must
go to bed.
Your loving daughter