Prologue

 

1903

Dear Mr. Stubbs

I am afraid I cannot grant your request about the photo for I have not been taken since I was fifteen, & you would not recognise that.  We had an exceptionally dull Bridge party on Saturday.  Everyone seemed half asleep after the dance.

I am just starting out hunting.

Wishing you Good Luck

Yrs very sincerely

M. Kathleen Freer

 

1904

My dear Robin

I suppose you have arrived long before this.  How do you like your new corner of the world?  You must have had a very rough passage, it seemed to do nothing but rain and blow the whole of February.  It has been snowing today!  Mrs Style is getting up some theatricals at Moreton for Easter week, the piece is to be “My Soldier Boy”, it ought to be good as Col. Grundy, Mr Greenwood, Mrs Rose, and Miss Haughton are acting, also Mrs Richardson.  We wonder very much what she will be like.  I have just got a new bicycle with a free-wheel.

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The hunting is nearly over now we have had some rather good days lately.  I have not got a horse yet but I have just heard of two & hope one may suit.

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I think our theatricals were a success although Marjorie Grisewood did not act after all as her aunt died just before.  Norah Prichard was simply excellent as the masculine woman and Reggie as her effeminate husband made quite a hit.  The two plays were “Woman’s Wrongs” and “Dearest Mamma”.  I was young & foolish in one, and an awful old terror in the other.

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Mr. Brassey sent me a “brush” the other day of which I am awfully proud as the fox was killed after one of the runs of the season, from near Tew to Blenheim Park on Feb. 22nd.  It was a capital run & I think it was clever of my little cob to be in at the death, for eleven miles with my not altogether fairy-like form to carry was a bit rough on her.

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We came up to London yesterday . . . .   I am hoping to go to some theatres next week.  I am very anxious to go to the “Duke of Killiecrankie” which I hear is screamingly funny.  Do you indulge in theatres in Kamloops or is it too select?

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We stayed at Bannock in Perthshire for a fortnight.  Of course it rained nearly all the time but we soon got used to that & fished hard all day.  I had never fished before & I did not catch anything very large except the boat and a rock or two and occasionally myself!  The views from some of the mountains round were lovely, even surpassing those of Elm Park Gardens.  I did go to the “Duke of Killiecrankie” when I was in London and liked it immensely.  I thought it was very funny.  Kamloops sounds a very dangerous place to live in.

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I wish you would not use such horrid ink.  It all came off on my fingers when I read your letter!  Or did you forget to blot it?  Please don’t send any more messages to my Aunt for I simply dur’n’t deliver them, her hair would stand on end!  You see, her ideas are somewhat old-fashioned and if she knew I wrote to you it would give her what is commonly called “fits”, and the “local report” might come to an untimely end.  I don’t mean that she would have any objection to my writing to you personally but that I should write to anyone of your sex except my brothers and an uncle or so would astonish her. 

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 I went up for the Eton and Harrow match which was great fun, although there was never any doubt about the result.  Harrow played very well the second day & did their best to make it a draw, but, much to our joy Eton won by an innings and twelve runs.

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I am playing in a ladies cricket match at Moreton to-morrow which will be rather amusing, I expect.  I don’t think we have got a single respectable bowler on our side.  I practised hard all yesterday morning and bowled a straight ball about once in six overs!

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I played in a golf croquet tournament the other day which was rather fun.  I was second, beaten by Marjorie Grisewood.  I played in one before that & carried off the booby prize!  I had a partner who got through two hoops during the afternoon & he was not even amusing to make up for his bad play.  I am not sure where to address this letter so I shall send it to Kamloops & hope for the best.  I have absolutely nothing more to say, there is nothing going on except tennis, tennis, tennis every day.

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I am so glad you won the tennis match even though you were beaten (that sounds rather Irish, but I dare say you will understand it).  37 miles sounds a very long drive but I suppose you don’t think so much of distance as we do in England.

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Hunting has begun in earnest now that we have at last had enough rain to make jumping possible.  My horse promises well for the future but at present there is a delightful uncertainty about each fence.  Some, he jumps in first class style and others he rushes madly through, making a nice gap for anyone who may be behind.  The latter method is not altogether successful with stone-walls, as you might imagine.

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I must stop now, as it is so dark I can’t see the ink pot.

Yrs very sincerely

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How are all your pets? the cat & kittens and those useful horses.  I am now having my steed lunged over a stiff pole to try & make him rise better.  I think it will do him good if he comes down once or twice and hurts himself.  Have you been playing any hockey on the ice this winter?

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We had a most amusing little dance at Bourton last night.  Lady Sherborne kept everyone in fits of laughter the whole evening.  Do you remember her last year?  I think she was even funnier if possible this year.  She brought a whole party of “lords” & “ladies” and “honorables” which made us all feel awfully insignificant!  She kept one particular favorite at her side the whole time and took a “turn” round the room with him every now & then with her eyes shut and a wrapt expression on her face.  One of the lords was dispatched at intervals to look for her ermine tippet which kept on getting lost.  She refused to take one of her party home unless he danced with her, & when she finally left she took away a lot of crackers!

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We have won another hockey match and are awfully proud of ourselves!  We beat East Glos. 2nd XI on their own ground by one goal to none, that one scored by my worthy self just four minutes before time was called!  We think we shall have to play the 1st XI next as we have beaten the 2nd twice.  We had a most amusing match at Stow the other day.  I took a mixed team against the Witts Family–ten of them.  Several of the boys had never played before and it turned into a regular bear-fight and everyone rushed madly about.  We were 2 goals all at the end so we had to play for five minutes more each way to decide and they got another goal.  Then we all set to and abused one another, it was a tremendous success!

 

1905

I am just starting the search for a hunter again.  I spent all last winter trying horses and got what I thought was a very nice one quite at the end of the season, but he has not fulfilled his early promise and I cannot persuade him to jump.  He rushes madly through everything.  As our groom says, “He is too cunning and wants a pair of spurs!”  As I am not prepared to ride with the second spur on the handle of my whip, I suppose we shall have to get rid of him.  I saw a very nice looking horse the other day belonging to Mr Crocker which I hope will suit me–it is warranted a good fencer anyway.  I hope to have a trial day on it when the frost goes.  How is your steed?  We are having absolutely horrid weather, bitterly cold and a perfect hurricane.  I believe it is snowing too.  Though I am sitting in a room with a big fire, the thermometer is only 46.  I don’t like it.  It reminds me of the days when I was at school where they seemed to think it good for us to freeze.

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I am so glad you use nice ink now which does not leave the print of your name written backwards on my thumb when I read your letters!

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We have been driving after the hounds this morning, but they were having a really bad day and it poured with rain and hail and we got very wet and cross so we came home.  I have descended to hunting in wheels now as I had a fall about a month ago and sprained my right hand and wrist and have not been able to use it since.  I have only been able to write for the last few days.

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We are trying to get up some theatricals at Easter, and have settled on a charming little play called “Orange Blossoms”.  It sounds peaceful but it’s not.  Indeed, everybody quarrels with everybody else, but of course just as they are going to shoot each other they find they have made a mistake and make it up again.

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The Heythrop Ball was great fun . . . .  I had my arm in a sling which rather interfered with my dancing and I hate watching other people.  It makes me so curious.  You have no idea how difficult it is to dance semi-detached in a very crowded room!  We didn’t have the “Choristers” either, which was a great disappointment as I think it is quite the best valse there is.

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I am going to drive Mrs Style up to Stow this afternoon to play hockey.  I hope the springs of the cart will be equal to the test.  I saw your brother the other day.  He seems to be working very hard at his music.

 

1906

What bad luck your little mare getting kicked.  I was so sorry to hear about it.  I hope you have found another by now, though I do call it rather indecent haste!  Mine is quite sound again and is being got into condition for hunting.  I have not ridden her myself yet, as I thought it would be as well to wait till after playing for the Stow championship to get smashed up, as she has bucked off both the stable boys and our old groom and will probably treat me likewise, and the ground is very hard!!

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I am afraid tennis is nearly over now.  I have been playing hard all the summer, but it isn’t true I only live to amuse myself, as judging by your last letter you seem to imagine, in fact I do heaps of other things besides, including hard manual labor in the garden.  To return to the tennis, I am awfully proud of myself as I won the singles at the Junction!!!!!  I had a handicap of 15.3 and there were no very brilliant performers in the field, so I had a fairly easy time of it.  I was crushed the next week at Stow though, by Marjorie Grisewood whom I had to play level.  Next Tuesday we play for a cup presented by Francie Witts, there is no handicap so I shan’t have a look in.  Miss Steinmetz seems painfully likely to win it.

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Mrs Grisewood has quite distinguished herself at last.  Mrs Cholmondeley has been very ill for sometime and last Tuesday Mrs Grisewood was told or imagines she was told she was dead so she spread it round the country and Miss Young wrote a letter of condolence to Miss Cholmondeley and the poor old lady is still alive now!!  Mrs Johnson also sent her maid with a note, but with unusual sense in one of her class she saw the blinds were not down so took the note back, rather a let-off for Mrs Johnson.

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I played for Stow in an exciting ladies cricket match the other day against Slaughter, the latter won by six wickets, but as it was too early to leave off they all went in and we got them out for five runs!  I believe we are to play the Stratford ladies one day.  Some of them are rather vicious–one I bowled out two years ago hit me hard at hockey six months later and lamed me for three weeks.

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  Personally I should think if one could do it, it would be rather jolly to cook and do things for oneself, but I am afraid I should soon starve if I went to a desert island by myself to try for as I believe I once told you the only things I can make are gingerbreads and toffee which would be a bit monotonous.

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I am not to be allowed to hunt Geoff’s horse at present as it is being taken immense care of to run in a point to-point race at Cambridge the end of this month.  He is not going to ride it himself but is going to give a “friend” the chance of breaking his neck.  It is a wonderful jumper and seems a very willing sort of beast.

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An old lady of 80 came to play Bridge this afternoon.  Fortunately I was only required to look on.  She played with Grandfather and great was his consternation when she declared diamonds on five to the eight!

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Well, I really think I have covered enough paper with nonsense, but there really isn’t anything else to talk about except the suffragettes or the Thaw trial and they are about as idiotic as anything else.  They all want shutting up, or hanging.

 

1907

I took my first trip abroad in the spring–actually succeeded in moving my respected Aunt out of her native land at last!  We tried to get someone to go with us but couldn’t so we got a bit bored with each other by the end of the three weeks especially as it rained most of the time, however I loved it.  We went to the Italian Lakes and to Lucerne on the way back.  I thought Bellagio quite the dearest, quaintest little place I have ever seen and should have liked to have stayed there for ever.  We can neither of us speak a word of Italian and sometimes got in hopeless muddles in shops.  One day we were lunching in a small café and could not make them understand we wanted some soda-water–they kept bringing us mustard!  Finally the manager was produced and we got it.  Then we asked for cheese and the brilliant waiter brought us more soda-water!!  I tell Aunt Fanny she will have to take me abroad each year now she has once started.  I took crowds of photographs but have not managed to develop any of them yet.

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You seem to have had ghastly weather on your side of the pond.  I read somewhere of the thermometer going down to 40 degrees below zero–surely that can’t be true.  Anyway, I hope it’s not where you are .  . . . .  Your “Surprise Parties” sound awfully jolly .  . . . .  The Moreton dance was a great success and I think there will be one next year.  Anyway I mean to do my best to help the committee up to the mark so mind you are at home for it.  . . . .  When are you coming back?  In time for the hunting I suppose?  I do hope we shall get a nice open season.  My mare was quite sound all last season so barring accidents she ought to be all right this . . . .  Looking forward to seeing you in the despised old country soon.

Very sincerely yours

      Kathleen

 

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