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Title: Agnes Shakespeare (Nesta), Alberta to Archie Higginson.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileShakespeare, Agnes/27
SenderShakespeare, Agnes
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAlberta, Canada
RecipientHigginson, Archie
Recipient Gendermale
SourceD3590/M/4/1-16: Deposited by Godfrey Higginson Skrine
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9909230
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 21:09:99.
Word Count1180
TranscriptHigh River, Alberta. July 6, 1897

My darling boy

if you thought I was half out of my head
when I wrote to you last, you mustn't wonder.
Remember I only knew the bare facts of the fight,
and that you were 'severely wounded'. That was all
the Winnipeg paper told. And for exactly a week I
knew not a thing more. I didn't know where you were
wounded, or how much, or if you were recovering, or
even if we had our darling Archie in this world any
more. Sometimes I thought that you and [Burkly?] were
together now and sometimes I thought that surely God
would not take both our brothers away from us in one
short year. For indeed I felt that that would be the
death of mother - and what should we do. But yet I
couldn't bear to write to you as if you were not really
there. And then, what do you think? - the very day
after I wrote to you, I got your own last letter. Walter
had taken my letter in to High River to post,
and to see if he could get any mail - for the country
has been flooded and bridges broken and the mail service
of course irregular in consequence. There was none there
at all; but Mr. [Waldy?] - a friend who was staying with us -
heard that the mail had reached Pekisko. And he rode off
there, and brought our back as fast as ever he could. And
he brought me a great bunch of red lilies with them.
And the very first of my letters was your own last letter
to me, with the postscript saying that all leave had been
stopped, and the officers absent from the Tuchi Valley
were to be recalled. The date of that was May 14th.
The red lilies that came with that letter of yours I
christened "soldier lilies." And afterwards when the
good news came, I filled all the room with soldier lilies
in your honour - our splendid soldier boy. Oh, my dear,
how often did I read your letter over during that week -
thinking would it be the last I should have from you, or
would the loved hand-writing come over the world to me
again. Without Walter I don't know how i should ever
have got through that week but Walter was always full of
confidence and encouragement; and together we calculated
the days till the Weekly Times of June 18th should come.
And after all, do you know, it came as a surprise in the
end, half-a-day sooner than we thought possible. I must
tell you how it came. I was sitting at luncheon, with six
gentlemen who had all arrived from a sale that took place
at a near ranche that morning; one of them was the Sheriff,
who I had never seen before; the others were friends of
ours. Suddenly there appeared at the window, a total
stranger with a kind of smile on his face, and this turned
out to be a cousin of Walter's, one Bean Creed, who had come
to pay us a visit. He didn't know his way in. Of course
I brought him in, and was just giving him some lunch, when
he said - "By the way, I brought your mail. I captured it
at High River." And he pulled it out of his pocket. I saw
the yellow cover of the "Weekly Times." And I asked the company
to excuse me. I could not have opened it there and Walter was
out of the room. I fled to my room, with the "Times", and never
in my life, never did I read words with such thankfulness as
"Liet. Higginson, wounded in the left arm." Oh, my darling
boy, what thanks were in my heart, and have been from
that blessed moment to this. That awful week was over in
a flash. Walter came in to my room half a minute after,
having heard that the mail had come. What we said or did I
couldn't tell you, for the first few minutes but then he
had to go back to his guests. It sounds rather odd perhaps
to rejoice so wildly because you were wounded in the left
arm, and severely wounded too: but if you knew what all
my fears had been. You wouldn't wonder. And then in May's
letter I heard that the Times had twice reported that all
the wounded officers were doing well, and there was no danger.
I made myself presentable and called up all the calmness
I could, and marched back to the guests after luncheon.
We talked about other things first, but of course I could
no more have helped telling them than I could have flown.
For the matter of that I was so stiff with pride and glory
it's a wonder I could move leg or limb. They were all most
awfully nice and sympathetic, and congratulated me so sincerely,
on your safety and your gallant service, both - that at last
I took your photo off my writing table and showed it to
them. Oh my boy, but it was "a great day for Ireland!"
and every morning I wake now, how it jumps into my head
that Archie is safe before my eyes are open, and it's the
last thing I think of at night, and all day long I'm simply
skipping. It never occurred to my stupid mind until I read
May's letter that you were not only in it, but actually
in command, as after that terrible moment when you were
all fired upon, and poor Colonel Bunney and Captain Browne
were killed, you were the senior officer. I felt dazed
even to think of it. The idea of our own Archie commanding
from that moment, and stopping to shell Shirania, and keeping
the men together, and finally bringing the guns and all at
11 o'clock at night in to [Dulla Khel?] - and with your
poor wounded arm. The only thing I'm afraid of is that
you may have fainted from the wound and the loss of blood,
and been taken back unconscious by the other brave men, your
own Sikhs. Anyway I'm glad that I said from the very
beginning, when I hadn't the least idea of your being in
command, that it was a glorious retreat. Oh, how I do
long to hear your own account of it; - and to think of
your sending that wire the very first thing so as to
save Mother and all of us from suspense. Poor Colonel Bunney!
You mustn't think I am so heartless as not to feel anything
about his death and the other brave officers, in the middle
of my thanksgiving for you, to God who kept your life safe
while you walked through the Valley of the Shadow of death
that day and night. What a place that Tochi Valley is!
Walter sends you his love, and his heartfelt congratualtions,
and he longs to see you.

Your loving sister