1st January 1976
You suggested when you were here in the Summer that I should write a short account of my childhood, so that you and my other grandchildren would know a little more about me, their Danish grandmother and her years in Palestine. I am going to put down the events I remember, but I only wish I knew more about the condition of the country - as it was then under Turkish rule - as a child one's interests are limited by one's ability to absorb information, and how I wish I had been able to take in more.
A Child in Palestine
It was in 1897 that my parents uprooted themselves fro Denmark where their families had lived for many generations.
I was only 9 years old, able to read and write but not particularly interested in the usual school subjects, but when they told us we were going to Palestine I was very excited. They were influenced by a revival of religious fervour and for some years they had been involved in constant prayer meetings which took place either in our drawing room or in other people's. Being an only child I heard a lot and was very frightened of God, who seemed to be ready to pounce on me when I said or did something naughty. The devil too was a menace, because he apparently whispered into one's ear suggesting naughtiness. When going into a dark room I always held my hands over my ears just in case he should be after me because he loved darkness I was told, and though God was Light, he smote with lightning, and so the thunderstorms were ghastly experiences..
Mother was delicate and I do not seem to remember being with her much. We had a jolly Norwegian maid who took charge of me as well as running the housekeeping, and she was always a great joy to me. We sang songs together and she told stories that were fun - God did not seem to worry her overmuch, and when there was a prayer meeting on in the drawing room, I became adept at slipping out of the room and taking refuge with her.
Father was by nature a very
cheerful man and I felt safe with him, but not with my mother. Later on in life
I realised that she suffered from a weakness which was considered incurable
in those days, but quite ealisily remedied nowadays. It may have made her a
pessimist and she could not cope with any boisterousness from me. She became
interested in 'women's Rights' - an early start of Feminism - and wrote a book
which I read when I was grown up. It propounded a theory that woman's fall in
the Garden of Eden was the beginning of all women's troubles and grievances.
We had become unworthy of our high calling and men had lost their respect for
us. How to regain our rightful pklace was a subject she brooded on and spoke
at Women's Meetings about. Later on, when I grew up and heard her speak, I greatly
admired her gift for holding an audience's rapt attention. When women's misdemeanours
were discussed she would quote Carlyle: Men are what women make them'.
The letter is unfinished.