Location: England, United Kingdom
A document written by Sarah Kirke recalling her childhood.
Consider the feeling, the instincts of a Girl with 5 brothers her immediate seniors! True the brothers had three elder Sisters - very "superior" (& emancipated) to the 5 males, but inestimably important compared with Frog - the Infant girl! One sister, the eldest was married to a husband, leaving several mooning "would be s" lamenting. Two remained at home. The youngest, 12 years junior to the 3, superfluous, having left school at an earlier age than in these days of Competitive Exams, proved to be tiresome to her seniors, and if anyone can visualise the life of "A Toad under a Harrow", that person may, in a measure understand what Frog had to expect!
Thanks to the most perfect parents and the love of brothers, uncles and cousins, male and female, the "Chit" survived and carried a light heart, seeing the sunshine of live and not being unduly depressed by the clouds.
The time was not uninteresting, and that the said "chit" remained unattached was due to her deep sense of what she would require before she accepted the responsibilities and duties of married life.
At the age of 17½ the die was cast! There was no hesitation tho' marriage meant the separation from most dearly loved parents and, after two years engagement, husband and wife started their mutual life on Foreign Service (at Gibraltar) where their first child, a son, was born.
Returning to Home Service, in a popular seaside garrison town(Southsea), two happy years passed, bringing with them a second son and a daughter. There followed 5 years in an inland county town (Reading), where two more sons were born, and where many life long friendships were established, but - as must be in military service - Foreign Service - India this time - divided the family, three children being left at Home for Education and two accompanying their parents to India.
Within 18 months the Mother and children were sent home and though recurring & serious illness followed, the family was re-united after 5½ years and for another 2 years remained so.
Strange to say (in the view of the rising generation) though I am now a gt grandmother and might for years have been a gt grandmother, I was once an infant and memory takes one back to the earliest stage of childhood, when - the youngest of a family of 9, of whom my immediate seniors were five brother, I never lacked incitement to mischief, not to daring!
But the earliest, most lasting recollection, stamped deeply in my heart and mind is still that which carries me back to my beloved father and mother. My father, a fearless horseman, never failed to give me the joy of a ride to the stables, almost before I could walk. So soon as a small child could fit on a donkey, I was his companion. As the months passed, the donkey was superseded by a poiny and whether with or without a saddle or bridle, the 5 elder brothers, adored by the small sister, expected their said sister to be as fearless as they were themselves! Many a time, halter on arm, one of more of the brothers gratified the ambition of the small sister by smuggling her away into a meadow where a deep ditch compelled a "jump", and when the steed was caught, & the trust child was placed thereon - halter in hand - minus saddle - a sharp cut with shipe started the amusement which was deepest joy to the nursery truant and a source of satisfaction to the boys that their small sister was not a coward.
Later, the donkey of infancy was superseded by a Cob with sufficient mischief to satisfy an ambitious child - At that time there were no no3. pommelled saddles, neither had a man's saddle been recognised as a suitable seat for a woman rider! One kep one's seat by balance and with or without a stirrup.
Years later, on Foreign Service (including India) and elsewhere - Especially in Spain - the training of the small child proved its value in the life of the woman - not only as regards personal pleasure but in the mother's competence in starting her sons with a real love of horsemanship. In later years, when riding days were over - Alas! - visiting the Rock tombs of Sicily, the writer was deeply impressed by the fact that the Heroes were buried with Horse and Dog - man's two most constant friends.
(This is typed up from a hand written document held by her family)