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Title: Agnes Shakespeare (Nesta), Alberta to "My darling Mother".
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileShakespeare, Agnes/24
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.9909229
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 21:09:99.
Word Count1125
TranscriptHigh River, Alberta.
July 3, 1897

My darling Mother.

I am thinking of you all day long, and Lou Lou and
May at home. Though by this time I hope and trust that you
have had certain news of how he is getting on, still my own
state of uncertainty makes me feel as if you were uncertain
too. You will want to know how I heard the news about our
darling boy. It was Mrs. Bedingfeld who received - very
late, on account of the floods - a paper from Manitoba,
with a long telegram about the trouble on the Indian
frontier, and when she saw the name Lieut. Higginson
1st [Sihks?] she gave the papers with a note to Frank
Bedingfeldd, for Walter. He met him, as he expected, at
a place where a sale was to be held, and so Walter got the
news first. There were two men whom he had to bring back
to lunch with us, and it wasn't till the afternoon that
he took me out for a walk by ourselves, and then he told me.
Archie was my first thought and you were my second. It must
have been such a shock to you, poor Mother! Oh. how I do
hope this Colonel is at Rockport. I can't help thinking
he would have gone to you once when he heard the news. It
would have been so like him. And then he would have known
exactly how to procure information for you. I have a
strong idea - and may it prove a true one is my hope through
all these days - that if anyone is wounded on active service,
his relations can write to War Office, asking for news of him.
And of course it is so easy for them with the wire at their
command, to find out and let you know. What a mercy it is
that he is in a place where communication is easy and not
as happened only last year to those two young officers,
Fowler and Edwards, first shut up in the mountains, and then
actually prisoners, and one of them wounded too. And yet
you see they both came home quite safe to their friends. What
thanks we must give to God, who protected the life of our
dearest boy, when two of his brother-officers lost theirs,
in that gallant retreat. And what a splendid order they must
have maintained I think to have lost only one sixth of their
numbers, though they were only 300 against such odds. When
the full accounts arrive, I am certain they will say it was
a retreat finer than many a victory: for every one knows the
retreating fight is the very hardest of all, and everyone
knows too how the Sikhs can be depended on. The officers who
held the garrison at Chitral said over and over again that
they never could have done it, but for the Sikhs. How
thankful I am that he had Sikhs round him! But I do wish
I knew what sort of place this [Dettakhele?] is in the place
they fell back on; for I believe our boy must be there still.
Walter keeps telling me that wounds heal so quickly, and
that most likely under three weeks. Archie will be invalided
home, and on his way back to us, and we rejoicing at the honours
he has won, and every other soldier envying him. You will
see him - but I will not. Ah, indeed Mother, you have not
the worst of it, though you must have suffered so much at
the first news, I know. But there you are in the old home,
you are still the centre of all our lives, and when the
boys get leave home, you are the one they go to, and you
see them first and longest. I wrote a letter to Archie -
not the day I got the news, but the next morning. Walter
said he would go straight to High River and back. There
might possibly be a mail. He had a six o'clock breakfast,
and while he was eating it, I wrote my letter; and he said
I had better send it to Rockport. So I did. He got back
late that night, but with no letters. However in three days
more we heard that our mail had arrived at the [symbol -
bar-U]. Walter simply couldn't go, but Mr. [Waldy?]
immediately said he would. He is a very kind man. It
was a scorching hot thundery day, and he had a twenty-three
mile ride. He never stayed for any lunch, but came straight
back with the mail, and a great bunch of these splendid
secret lilies which he had gathered on the hills. I call
them soldier-lilies now (they grow up perfectly straight)
- for the very first letter of my mail was one from darling
Archie himself, in answer to my last. And he said he was
hoping for 3 months leave in July, and how Billie had just
written to him - "hardly legible from excitement" about his
departure to Natal. The he said how his own British
regiment would be in the thick of it too. Isn't
it strange now to think how they were all disappointed
and his chance came , and he distinguished himself
before any of them? But there was a postscript to
the letter dated May 14th saying a wire had just come
from the D.A.A.G. Punjab frontier force to his colonel,
saying no leave was to be given to officers of regiments
in Tochi Valley and those absent were to be recalled.
So that looks to me as if they expected some trouble.
But the telegram in the Manitoba paper (date June 14th)
spoke as if the whole thing were a surprise. Which of
course in one sense it must have been. But still I
know the [Wazinis?] have never been trusted from the
beginning. Well Mother dear, you know more about it
all by this time. I am expecting the Weekly Times of
June 18th possibly tomorrow, and if get it, I know
I shall have a letter from home too. Tell May that
your letter and hers - both for our wedding day -
came together with Archie's, and I was ever so much
cheered up by them. I can imagine the sketch of
Sea Pinks exactly, colouring and all, from her little
sketch. Walter is so good and thoughtful, trying to
do all he can to divert my thoughts, at the same time
that he is entangled - mentally and bodily, in a new
barbed-wire fence himself. Very best love to you all
there. I don't know just when this can go.

Your loving daughter