Copyright 1912 by The Century Company
The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day—a day to
be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.
Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bed
without a wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be
scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and
all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say, 'Yes,
sir,' 'No, sir,' whenever a Trustee spoke.
It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest
orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first
Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close.
Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches
for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular
work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from four
to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled
her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and
started them in an orderly and willing line towards the dining-room to
engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune
Then she dropped down on the window seat and leaned throbbing temples
against the cool glass. She had been on her feet since five that
morning, doing everybody's bidding, scolded and hurried by a nervous
matron. Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that
calm and pompous dignity with which she faced an audience of Trustees
and lady visitors. Jerusha gazed out across a broad stretch of frozen
lawn, beyond the tall iron paling that marked the confines of the
asylum, down undulating ridges sprinkled with country estates, to the
spires of the village rising from the midst of bare trees.
The day was ended—quite successfully, so far as she knew. The
Trustees and the visiting committee had made their rounds, and read
their reports, and drunk their tea, and now were hurrying home to their
own cheerful firesides, to forget their bothersome little charges for
another month. Jerusha leaned forward watching with curiosity—and a
touch of wistfulness—the stream of carriages and automobiles that
rolled out of the asylum gates. In imagination she followed first one
equipage, then another, to the big houses dotted along the hillside.
She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with
feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring 'Home' to
the driver. But on the door-sill of her home the picture grew blurred.
Jerusha had an imagination—an imagination, Mrs. Lippett told her, that
would get her into trouble if she didn't take care—but keen as it was,
it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would
enter. Poor, eager, adventurous little Jerusha, in all her seventeen
years, had never stepped inside an ordinary house; she could not
picture the daily routine of those other human beings who carried on
their lives undiscommoded by orphans.
You are wan-ted
In the of-fice,
And I think you'd
Better hurry up!
Tommy Dillon, who had joined the choir, came singing up the stairs and
down the corridor, his chant growing louder as he approached room F.
Jerusha wrenched herself from the window and refaced the troubles of
'Who wants me?' she cut into Tommy's chant with a note of sharp anxiety.
Mrs. Lippett in the office,
And I think she's mad.
Tommy piously intoned, but his accent was not entirely malicious. Even
the most hardened little orphan felt sympathy for an erring sister who
was summoned to the office to face an annoyed matron; and Tommy liked
Jerusha even if she did sometimes jerk him by the arm and nearly scrub
his nose off.
Jerusha went without comment, but with two parallel lines on her brow.
What could have gone wrong, she wondered. Were the sandwiches not thin
enough? Were there shells in the nut cakes? Had a lady visitor seen
the hole in Susie Hawthorn's stocking? Had—O horrors!—one of the
cherubic little babes in her own room F 'sauced' a Trustee?
The long lower hall had not been lighted, and as she came downstairs, a
last Trustee stood, on the point of departure, in the open door that
led to the porte-cochere. Jerusha caught only a fleeting impression of
the man—and the impression consisted entirely of tallness. He was
waving his arm towards an automobile waiting in the curved drive. As
it sprang into motion and approached, head on for an instant, the
glaring headlights threw his shadow sharply against the wall inside.
The shadow pictured grotesquely elongated legs and arms that ran along
the floor and up the wall of the corridor. It looked, for all the
world, like a huge, wavering daddy-long-legs.
Jerusha's anxious frown gave place to quick laughter. She was by
nature a sunny soul, and had always snatched the tiniest excuse to be
amused. If one could derive any sort of entertainment out of the
oppressive fact of a Trustee, it was something unexpected to the good.
She advanced to the office quite cheered by the tiny episode, and
presented a smiling face to Mrs. Lippett. To her surprise the matron
was also, if not exactly smiling, at least appreciably affable; she
wore an expression almost as pleasant as the one she donned for
'Sit down, Jerusha, I have something to say to you.' Jerusha dropped
into the nearest chair and waited with a touch of breathlessness. An
automobile flashed past the window; Mrs. Lippett glanced after it.
'Did you notice the gentleman who has just gone?'
'I saw his back.'
'He is one of our most affluential Trustees, and has given large sums
of money towards the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention
his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown.'
Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being
summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of Trustees with
'This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You
remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through
college by Mr.—er—this Trustee, and both have repaid with hard work
and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment
the gentleman does not wish. Heretofore his philanthropies have been
directed solely towards the boys; I have never been able to interest
him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no
matter how deserving. He does not, I may tell you, care for girls.'
'No, ma'am,' Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected
at this point.
'To-day at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought
Mrs. Lippett allowed a moment of silence to fall, then resumed in a
slow, placid manner extremely trying to her hearer's suddenly tightened
'Usually, as you know, the children are not kept after they are
sixteen, but an exception was made in your case. You had finished our
school at fourteen, and having done so well in your studies—not
always, I must say, in your conduct—it was determined to let you go on
in the village high school. Now you are finishing that, and of course
the asylum cannot be responsible any longer for your support. As it
is, you have had two years more than most.'
Mrs. Lippett overlooked the fact that Jerusha had worked hard for her
board during those two years, that the convenience of the asylum had
come first and her education second; that on days like the present she
was kept at home to scrub.
'As I say, the question of your future was brought up and your record
was discussed—thoroughly discussed.'
Mrs. Lippett brought accusing eyes to bear upon the prisoner in the
dock, and the prisoner looked guilty because it seemed to be
expected—not because she could remember any strikingly black pages in
'Of course the usual disposition of one in your place would be to put
you in a position where you could begin to work, but you have done well
in school in certain branches; it seems that your work in English has
even been brilliant. Miss Pritchard, who is on our visiting committee,
is also on the school board; she has been talking with your rhetoric
teacher, and made a speech in your favour. She also read aloud an
essay that you had written entitled, "Blue Wednesday".'
Jerusha's guilty expression this time was not assumed.
'It seemed to me that you showed little gratitude in holding up to
ridicule the institution that has done so much for you. Had you not
managed to be funny I doubt if you would have been forgiven. But
fortunately for you, Mr.—, that is, the gentleman who has just
gone—appears to have an immoderate sense of humour. On the strength
of that impertinent paper, he has offered to send you to college.'
'To college?' Jerusha's eyes grew big. Mrs. Lippett nodded.
'He waited to discuss the terms with me. They are unusual. The
gentleman, I may say, is erratic. He believes that you have
originality, and he is planning to educate you to become a writer.'
'A writer?' Jerusha's mind was numbed. She could only repeat Mrs.
'That is his wish. Whether anything will come of it, the future will
show. He is giving you a very liberal allowance, almost, for a girl
who has never had any experience in taking care of money, too liberal.
But he planned the matter in detail, and I did not feel free to make
any suggestions. You are to remain here through the summer, and Miss
Pritchard has kindly offered to superintend your outfit. Your board
and tuition will be paid directly to the college, and you will receive
in addition during the four years you are there, an allowance of
thirty-five dollars a month. This will enable you to enter on the same
standing as the other students. The money will be sent to you by the
gentleman's private secretary once a month, and in return, you will
write a letter of acknowledgment once a month. That is—you are not to
thank him for the money; he doesn't care to have that mentioned, but
you are to write a letter telling of the progress in your studies and
the details of your daily life. Just such a letter as you would write
to your parents if they were living.
'These letters will be addressed to Mr. John Smith and will be sent in
care of the secretary. The gentleman's name is not John Smith, but he
prefers to remain unknown. To you he will never be anything but John
Smith. His reason in requiring the letters is that he thinks nothing
so fosters facility in literary expression as letter-writing. Since you
have no family with whom to correspond, he desires you to write in this
way; also, he wishes to keep track of your progress. He will never
answer your letters, nor in the slightest particular take any notice of
them. He detests letter-writing and does not wish you to become a
burden. If any point should ever arise where an answer would seem to
be imperative—such as in the event of your being expelled, which I
trust will not occur—you may correspond with Mr. Griggs, his
secretary. These monthly letters are absolutely obligatory on your
part; they are the only payment that Mr. Smith requires, so you must be
as punctilious in sending them as though it were a bill that you were
paying. I hope that they will always be respectful in tone and will
reflect credit on your training. You must remember that you are
writing to a Trustee of the John Grier Home.'
Jerusha's eyes longingly sought the door. Her head was in a whirl of
excitement, and she wished only to escape from Mrs. Lippett's
platitudes and think. She rose and took a tentative step backwards.
Mrs. Lippett detained her with a gesture; it was an oratorical
opportunity not to be slighted.
'I trust that you are properly grateful for this very rare good fortune
that has befallen you? Not many girls in your position ever have such
an opportunity to rise in the world. You must always remember—'
'I—yes, ma'am, thank you. I think, if that's all, I must go and sew a
patch on Freddie Perkins's trousers.'
The door closed behind her, and Mrs. Lippett watched it with dropped
jaw, her peroration in mid-air.
The Letters of
Miss Jerusha Abbott
Mr. Daddy-Long-Legs Smith
215 FERGUSSEN HALL
Here I am! I travelled yesterday for four hours in a train. It's a
funny sensation, isn't it? I never rode in one before.
College is the biggest, most bewildering place—I get lost whenever I
leave my room. I will write you a description later when I'm feeling
less muddled; also I will tell you about my lessons. Classes don't
begin until Monday morning, and this is Saturday night. But I wanted
to write a letter first just to get acquainted.
It seems queer to be writing letters to somebody you don't know. It
seems queer for me to be writing letters at all—I've never written
more than three or four in my life, so please overlook it if these are
not a model kind.
Before leaving yesterday morning, Mrs. Lippett and I had a very serious
talk. She told me how to behave all the rest of my life, and
especially how to behave towards the kind gentleman who is doing so
much for me. I must take care to be Very Respectful.
But how can one be very respectful to a person who wishes to be called
John Smith? Why couldn't you have picked out a name with a little
personality? I might as well write letters to Dear Hitching-Post or
I have been thinking about you a great deal this summer; having
somebody take an interest in me after all these years makes me feel as
though I had found a sort of family. It seems as though I belonged to
somebody now, and it's a very comfortable sensation. I must say,
however, that when I think about you, my imagination has very little to
work upon. There are just three things that I know:
I. You are tall.
II. You are rich.
III. You hate girls.
I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's rather
insulting to me. Or Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting to you, as
though money were the only important thing about you. Besides, being
rich is such a very external quality. Maybe you won't stay rich all
your life; lots of very clever men get smashed up in Wall Street. But
at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you won't mind. It's just a private pet
name we won't tell Mrs. Lippett.
The ten o'clock bell is going to ring in two minutes. Our day is
divided into sections by bells. We eat and sleep and study by bells.
It's very enlivening; I feel like a fire horse all of the time. There
it goes! Lights out. Good night.
Observe with what precision I obey rules—due to my training in the
John Grier Home.
Yours most respectfully,
To Mr. Daddy-Long-Legs Smith
I love college and I love you for sending me—I'm very, very happy, and
so excited every moment of the time that I can scarcely sleep. You
can't imagine how different it is from the John Grier Home. I never
dreamed there was such a place in the world. I'm feeling sorry for
everybody who isn't a girl and who can't come here; I am sure the
college you attended when you were a boy couldn't have been so nice.
My room is up in a tower that used to be the contagious ward before
they built the new infirmary. There are three other girls on the same
floor of the tower—a Senior who wears spectacles and is always asking
us please to be a little more quiet, and two Freshmen named Sallie
McBride and Julia Rutledge Pendleton. Sallie has red hair and a
turn-up nose and is quite friendly; Julia comes from one of the first
families in New York and hasn't noticed me yet. They room together and
the Senior and I have singles. Usually Freshmen can't get singles;
they are very scarce, but I got one without even asking. I suppose the
registrar didn't think it would be right to ask a properly brought-up
girl to room with a foundling. You see there are advantages!
My room is on the north-west corner with two windows and a view. After
you've lived in a ward for eighteen years with twenty room-mates, it is
restful to be alone. This is the first chance I've ever had to get
acquainted with Jerusha Abbott. I think I'm going to like her.
Do you think you are?
They are organizing the Freshman basket-ball team and there's just a
chance that I shall get in it. I'm little of course, but terribly
quick and wiry and tough. While the others are hopping about in the
air, I can dodge under their feet and grab the ball. It's loads of fun
practising—out in the athletic field in the afternoon with the trees
all red and yellow and the air full of the smell of burning leaves, and
everybody laughing and shouting. These are the happiest girls I ever
saw—and I am the happiest of all!
I meant to write a long letter and tell you all the things I'm learning
(Mrs. Lippett said you wanted to know), but 7th hour has just rung, and
in ten minutes I'm due at the athletic field in gymnasium clothes.
Don't you hope I'll get in the team?
PS. (9 o'clock.)
Sallie McBride just poked her head in at my door. This is what she
'I'm so homesick that I simply can't stand it. Do you feel that way?'
I smiled a little and said no; I thought I could pull through. At
least homesickness is one disease that I've escaped! I never heard of
anybody being asylum-sick, did you?
Did you ever hear of Michael Angelo?
He was a famous artist who lived in Italy in the Middle Ages.
Everybody in English Literature seemed to know about him, and the whole
class laughed because I thought he was an archangel. He sounds like an
archangel, doesn't he? The trouble with college is that you are
expected to know such a lot of things you've never learned. It's very
embarrassing at times. But now, when the girls talk about things that
I never heard of, I just keep still and look them up in the
I made an awful mistake the first day. Somebody mentioned Maurice
Maeterlinck, and I asked if she was a Freshman. That joke has gone all
over college. But anyway, I'm just as bright in class as any of the
others—and brighter than some of them!
Do you care to know how I've furnished my room? It's a symphony in
brown and yellow. The wall was tinted buff, and I've bought yellow
denim curtains and cushions and a mahogany desk (second hand for three
dollars) and a rattan chair and a brown rug with an ink spot in the
middle. I stand the chair over the spot.
The windows are up high; you can't look out from an ordinary seat. But
I unscrewed the looking-glass from the back of the bureau, upholstered
the top and moved it up against the window. It's just the right height
for a window seat. You pull out the drawers like steps and walk up.
Sallie McBride helped me choose the things at the Senior auction. She
has lived in a house all her life and knows about furnishing. You
can't imagine what fun it is to shop and pay with a real five-dollar
bill and get some change—when you've never had more than a few cents
in your life. I assure you, Daddy dear, I do appreciate that allowance.
Sallie is the most entertaining person in the world—and Julia Rutledge
Pendleton the least so. It's queer what a mixture the registrar can
make in the matter of room-mates. Sallie thinks everything is
funny—even flunking—and Julia is bored at everything. She never
makes the slightest effort to be amiable. She believes that if you are
a Pendleton, that fact alone admits you to heaven without any further
examination. Julia and I were born to be enemies.
And now I suppose you've been waiting very impatiently to hear what I
I. Latin: Second Punic war. Hannibal and his forces pitched camp at
Lake Trasimenus last night. They prepared an ambuscade for the Romans,
and a battle took place at the fourth watch this morning. Romans in
II. French: 24 pages of the Three Musketeers and third conjugation,
III. Geometry: Finished cylinders; now doing cones.
IV. English: Studying exposition. My style improves daily in
clearness and brevity.
V. Physiology: Reached the digestive system. Bile and the pancreas
next time. Yours, on the way to being educated,
PS. I hope you never touch alcohol, Daddy? It does dreadful things to
I've changed my name.
I'm still 'Jerusha' in the catalogue, but I'm 'Judy' everywhere else.
It's really too bad, isn't it, to have to give yourself the only pet
name you ever had? I didn't quite make up the Judy though. That's
what Freddy Perkins used to call me before he could talk plainly.
I wish Mrs. Lippett would use a little more ingenuity about choosing
babies' names. She gets the last names out of the telephone
book—you'll find Abbott on the first page—and she picks the Christian
names up anywhere; she got Jerusha from a tombstone. I've always hated
it; but I rather like Judy. It's such a silly name. It belongs to the
kind of girl I'm not—a sweet little blue-eyed thing, petted and
spoiled by all the family, who romps her way through life without any
cares. Wouldn't it be nice to be like that? Whatever faults I may
have, no one can ever accuse me of having been spoiled by my family!
But it's great fun to pretend I've been. In the future please always
address me as Judy.
Do you want to know something? I have three pairs of kid gloves. I've
had kid mittens before from the Christmas tree, but never real kid
gloves with five fingers. I take them out and try them on every little
while. It's all I can do not to wear them to classes.
(Dinner bell. Goodbye.)
What do you think, Daddy? The English instructor said that my last
paper shows an unusual amount of originality. She did, truly. Those
were her words. It doesn't seem possible, does it, considering the
eighteen years of training that I've had? The aim of the John Grier
Home (as you doubtless know and heartily approve of) is to turn the
ninety-seven orphans into ninety-seven twins.
The unusual artistic ability which I exhibit was developed at an early
age through drawing chalk pictures of Mrs. Lippett on the woodshed door.
I hope that I don't hurt your feelings when I criticize the home of my
youth? But you have the upper hand, you know, for if I become too
impertinent, you can always stop payment of your cheques. That isn't a
very polite thing to say—but you can't expect me to have any manners;
a foundling asylum isn't a young ladies' finishing school.
You know, Daddy, it isn't the work that is going to be hard in college.
It's the play. Half the time I don't know what the girls are talking
about; their jokes seem to relate to a past that every one but me has
shared. I'm a foreigner in the world and I don't understand the
language. It's a miserable feeling. I've had it all my life. At the
high school the girls would stand in groups and just look at me. I was
queer and different and everybody knew it. I could FEEL 'John Grier
Home' written on my face. And then a few charitable ones would make a
point of coming up and saying something polite. I HATED EVERY ONE OF
THEM—the charitable ones most of all.
Nobody here knows that I was brought up in an asylum. I told Sallie
McBride that my mother and father were dead, and that a kind old
gentleman was sending me to college which is entirely true so far as it
goes. I don't want you to think I am a coward, but I do want to be
like the other girls, and that Dreadful Home looming over my childhood
is the one great big difference. If I can turn my back on that and
shut out the remembrance, I think, I might be just as desirable as any
other girl. I don't believe there's any real, underneath difference,
Anyway, Sallie McBride likes me!
I've just been reading this letter over and it sounds pretty
un-cheerful. But can't you guess that I have a special topic due Monday
morning and a review in geometry and a very sneezy cold?
I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will add an indignant postscript.
We had a bishop this morning, and WHAT DO YOU THINK HE SAID?
'The most beneficent promise made us in the Bible is this, "The poor ye
have always with you." They were put here in order to keep us
The poor, please observe, being a sort of useful domestic animal. If I
hadn't grown into such a perfect lady, I should have gone up after
service and told him what I thought.
I'm in the basket-ball team and you ought to see the bruise on my left
shoulder. It's blue and mahogany with little streaks of orange. Julia
Pendleton tried for the team, but she didn't get in. Hooray!
You see what a mean disposition I have.
College gets nicer and nicer. I like the girls and the teachers and
the classes and the campus and the things to eat. We have ice-cream
twice a week and we never have corn-meal mush.
You only wanted to hear from me once a month, didn't you? And I've
been peppering you with letters every few days! But I've been so
excited about all these new adventures that I MUST talk to somebody;
and you're the only one I know. Please excuse my exuberance; I'll
settle pretty soon. If my letters bore you, you can always toss them
into the wastebasket. I promise not to write another till the middle
Yours most loquaciously,
Listen to what I've learned to-day.
The area of the convex surface of the frustum of a regular pyramid is
half the product of the sum of the perimeters of its bases by the
altitude of either of its trapezoids.
It doesn't sound true, but it is—I can prove it!
You've never heard about my clothes, have you, Daddy? Six dresses, all
new and beautiful and bought for me—not handed down from somebody
bigger. Perhaps you don't realize what a climax that marks in the
career of an orphan? You gave them to me, and I am very, very, VERY
much obliged. It's a fine thing to be educated—but nothing compared
to the dizzying experience of owning six new dresses. Miss Pritchard,
who is on the visiting committee, picked them out—not Mrs. Lippett,
thank goodness. I have an evening dress, pink mull over silk (I'm
perfectly beautiful in that), and a blue church dress, and a dinner
dress of red veiling with Oriental trimming (makes me look like a
Gipsy), and another of rose-coloured challis, and a grey street suit,
and an every-day dress for classes. That wouldn't be an awfully big
wardrobe for Julia Rutledge Pendleton, perhaps, but for Jerusha
I suppose you're thinking now what a frivolous, shallow little beast
she is, and what a waste of money to educate a girl?
But, Daddy, if you'd been dressed in checked ginghams all your life,
you'd appreciate how I feel. And when I started to the high school, I
entered upon another period even worse than the checked ginghams.
The poor box.
You can't know how I dreaded appearing in school in those miserable
poor-box dresses. I was perfectly sure to be put down in class next to
the girl who first owned my dress, and she would whisper and giggle and
point it out to the others. The bitterness of wearing your enemies'
cast-off clothes eats into your soul. If I wore silk stockings for the
rest of my life, I don't believe I could obliterate the scar.
LATEST WAR BULLETIN!
News from the Scene of Action.
At the fourth watch on Thursday the 13th of November, Hannibal routed
the advance guard of the Romans and led the Carthaginian forces over
the mountains into the plains of Casilinum. A cohort of light armed
Numidians engaged the infantry of Quintus Fabius Maximus. Two battles
and light skirmishing. Romans repulsed with heavy losses.
I have the honour of being,
Your special correspondent from the front,
PS. I know I'm not to expect any letters in return, and I've been
warned not to bother you with questions, but tell me, Daddy, just this
once—are you awfully old or just a little old? And are you perfectly
bald or just a little bald? It is very difficult thinking about you in
the abstract like a theorem in geometry.
Given a tall rich man who hates girls, but is very generous to one
quite impertinent girl, what does he look like?
You never answered my question and it was very important.
ARE YOU BALD?
I have it planned exactly what you look like—very
satisfactorily—until I reach the top of your head, and then I AM
stuck. I can't decide whether you have white hair or black hair or
sort of sprinkly grey hair or maybe none at all.
Here is your portrait:
But the problem is, shall I add some hair?
Would you like to know what colour your eyes are? They're grey, and
your eyebrows stick out like a porch roof (beetling, they're called in
novels), and your mouth is a straight line with a tendency to turn down
at the corners. Oh, you see, I know! You're a snappy old thing with a
I have a new unbreakable rule: never, never to study at night no
matter how many written reviews are coming in the morning. Instead, I
read just plain books—I have to, you know, because there are eighteen
blank years behind me. You wouldn't believe, Daddy, what an abyss of
ignorance my mind is; I am just realizing the depths myself. The
things that most girls with a properly assorted family and a home and
friends and a library know by absorption, I have never heard of. For
I never read Mother Goose or David Copperfield or Ivanhoe or Cinderella
or Blue Beard or Robinson Crusoe or Jane Eyre or Alice in Wonderland or
a word of Rudyard Kipling. I didn't know that Henry the Eighth was
married more than once or that Shelley was a poet. I didn't know that
people used to be monkeys and that the Garden of Eden was a beautiful
myth. I didn't know that R. L. S. stood for Robert Louis Stevenson or
that George Eliot was a lady. I had never seen a picture of the 'Mona
Lisa' and (it's true but you won't believe it) I had never heard of
Now, I know all of these things and a lot of others besides, but you
can see how much I need to catch up. And oh, but it's fun! I look
forward all day to evening, and then I put an 'engaged' on the door and
get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all the
cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my
elbow, and read and read and read one book isn't enough. I have four
going at once. Just now, they're Tennyson's poems and Vanity Fair and
Kipling's Plain Tales and—don't laugh—Little Women. I find that I am
the only girl in college who wasn't brought up on Little Women. I
haven't told anybody though (that WOULD stamp me as queer). I just
quietly went and bought it with $1.12 of my last month's allowance; and
the next time somebody mentions pickled limes, I'll know what she is
(Ten o'clock bell. This is a very interrupted letter.)
I have the honour to report fresh explorations in the field of
geometry. On Friday last we abandoned our former works in
parallelopipeds and proceeded to truncated prisms. We are finding the
road rough and very uphill.
The Christmas holidays begin next week and the trunks are up. The
corridors are so filled up that you can hardly get through, and
everybody is so bubbling over with excitement that studying is getting
left out. I'm going to have a beautiful time in vacation; there's
another Freshman who lives in Texas staying behind, and we are planning
to take long walks and if there's any ice—learn to skate. Then there
is still the whole library to be read—and three empty weeks to do it
Goodbye, Daddy, I hope that you are feeling as happy as I am.
PS. Don't forget to answer my question. If you don't want the trouble
of writing, have your secretary telegraph. He can just say:
Mr. Smith is quite bald,
Mr. Smith is not bald,
Mr. Smith has white hair.
And you can deduct the twenty-five cents out of my allowance.
Goodbye till January—and a merry Christmas!
Towards the end of
the Christmas vacation.
Exact date unknown
Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is
draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns.
It's late afternoon—the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour)
behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using
the last light to write to you.
Your five gold pieces were a surprise! I'm not used to receiving
Christmas presents. You have already given me such lots of
things—everything I have, you know—that I don't quite feel that I
deserve extras. But I like them just the same. Do you want to know
what I bought with my money?
I. A silver watch in a leather case to wear on my wrist and get me to
recitations in time.
II. Matthew Arnold's poems.
III. A hot water bottle.
IV. A steamer rug. (My tower is cold.)
V. Five hundred sheets of yellow manuscript paper. (I'm going to
commence being an author pretty soon.)
VI. A dictionary of synonyms. (To enlarge the author's vocabulary.)
VII. (I don't much like to confess this last item, but I will.) A pair
of silk stockings.
And now, Daddy, never say I don't tell all!
It was a very low motive, if you must know it, that prompted the silk
stockings. Julia Pendleton comes into my room to do geometry, and she
sits cross-legged on the couch and wears silk stockings every night.
But just wait—as soon as she gets back from vacation I shall go in and
sit on her couch in my silk stockings. You see, Daddy, the miserable
creature that I am but at least I'm honest; and you knew already, from
my asylum record, that I wasn't perfect, didn't you?
To recapitulate (that's the way the English instructor begins every
other sentence), I am very much obliged for my seven presents. I'm
pretending to myself that they came in a box from my family in
California. The watch is from father, the rug from mother, the hot
water bottle from grandmother who is always worrying for fear I shall
catch cold in this climate—and the yellow paper from my little brother
Harry. My sister Isabel gave me the silk stockings, and Aunt Susan the
Matthew Arnold poems; Uncle Harry (little Harry is named after him)
gave me the dictionary. He wanted to send chocolates, but I insisted
You don't object, do you, to playing the part of a composite family?
And now, shall I tell you about my vacation, or are you only interested
in my education as such? I hope you appreciate the delicate shade of
meaning in 'as such'. It is the latest addition to my vocabulary.
The girl from Texas is named Leonora Fenton. (Almost as funny as
Jerusha, isn't it?) I like her, but not so much as Sallie McBride; I
shall never like any one so much as Sallie—except you. I must always
like you the best of all, because you're my whole family rolled into
one. Leonora and I and two Sophomores have walked 'cross country every
pleasant day and explored the whole neighbourhood, dressed in short
skirts and knit jackets and caps, and carrying shiny sticks to whack
things with. Once we walked into town—four miles—and stopped at a
restaurant where the college girls go for dinner. Broiled lobster (35
cents), and for dessert, buckwheat cakes and maple syrup (15 cents).
Nourishing and cheap.
It was such a lark! Especially for me, because it was so awfully
different from the asylum—I feel like an escaped convict every time I
leave the campus. Before I thought, I started to tell the others what
an experience I was having. The cat was almost out of the bag when I
grabbed it by its tail and pulled it back. It's awfully hard for me
not to tell everything I know. I'm a very confiding soul by nature; if
I didn't have you to tell things to, I'd burst.
We had a molasses candy pull last Friday evening, given by the house
matron of Fergussen to the left-behinds in the other halls. There were
twenty-two of us altogether, Freshmen and Sophomores and juniors and
Seniors all united in amicable accord. The kitchen is huge, with
copper pots and kettles hanging in rows on the stone wall—the littlest
casserole among them about the size of a wash boiler. Four hundred
girls live in Fergussen. The chef, in a white cap and apron, fetched
out twenty-two other white caps and aprons—I can't imagine where he
got so many—and we all turned ourselves into cooks.
It was great fun, though I have seen better candy. When it was finally
finished, and ourselves and the kitchen and the door-knobs all
thoroughly sticky, we organized a procession and still in our caps and
aprons, each carrying a big fork or spoon or frying pan, we marched
through the empty corridors to the officers' parlour, where
half-a-dozen professors and instructors were passing a tranquil
evening. We serenaded them with college songs and offered
refreshments. They accepted politely but dubiously. We left them
sucking chunks of molasses candy, sticky and speechless.
So you see, Daddy, my education progresses!
Don't you really think that I ought to be an artist instead of an
Vacation will be over in two days and I shall be glad to see the girls
again. My tower is just a trifle lonely; when nine people occupy a
house that was built for four hundred, they do rattle around a bit.
Eleven pages—poor Daddy, you must be tired! I meant this to be just a
short little thank-you note—but when I get started I seem to have a
Goodbye, and thank you for thinking of me—I should be perfectly happy
except for one little threatening cloud on the horizon. Examinations
come in February.
Yours with love,
PS. Maybe it isn't proper to send love? If it isn't, please excuse.
But I must love somebody and there's only you and Mrs. Lippett to
choose between, so you see—you'll HAVE to put up with it, Daddy dear,
because I can't love her.
On the Eve
You should see the way this college is studying! We've forgotten we
ever had a vacation. Fifty-seven irregular verbs have I introduced to
my brain in the past four days—I'm only hoping they'll stay till after
Some of the girls sell their text-books when they're through with them,
but I intend to keep mine. Then after I've graduated I shall have my
whole education in a row in the bookcase, and when I need to use any
detail, I can turn to it without the slightest hesitation. So much
easier and more accurate than trying to keep it in your head.
Julia Pendleton dropped in this evening to pay a social call, and
stayed a solid hour. She got started on the subject of family, and I
COULDN'T switch her off. She wanted to know what my mother's maiden
name was—did you ever hear such an impertinent question to ask of a
person from a foundling asylum? I didn't have the courage to say I
didn't know, so I just miserably plumped on the first name I could
think of, and that was Montgomery. Then she wanted to know whether I
belonged to the Massachusetts Montgomerys or the Virginia Montgomerys.
Her mother was a Rutherford. The family came over in the ark, and were
connected by marriage with Henry the VIII. On her father's side they
date back further than Adam. On the topmost branches of her family
tree there's a superior breed of monkeys with very fine silky hair and
extra long tails.
I meant to write you a nice, cheerful, entertaining letter tonight, but
I'm too sleepy—and scared. The Freshman's lot is not a happy one.
Yours, about to be examined,
I have some awful, awful, awful news to tell you, but I won't begin
with it; I'll try to get you in a good humour first.
Jerusha Abbott has commenced to be an author. A poem entitled, 'From
my Tower', appears in the February Monthly—on the first page, which is
a very great honour for a Freshman. My English instructor stopped me
on the way out from chapel last night, and said it was a charming piece
of work except for the sixth line, which had too many feet. I will
send you a copy in case you care to read it.
Let me see if I can't think of something else pleasant— Oh, yes! I'm
learning to skate, and can glide about quite respectably all by myself.
Also I've learned how to slide down a rope from the roof of the
gymnasium, and I can vault a bar three feet and six inches high—I hope
shortly to pull up to four feet.
We had a very inspiring sermon this morning preached by the Bishop of
Alabama. His text was: 'Judge not that ye be not judged.' It was
about the necessity of overlooking mistakes in others, and not
discouraging people by harsh judgments. I wish you might have heard it.
This is the sunniest, most blinding winter afternoon, with icicles
dripping from the fir trees and all the world bending under a weight of
snow—except me, and I'm bending under a weight of sorrow.
Now for the news—courage, Judy!—you must tell.
Are you SURELY in a good humour? I failed in mathematics and Latin
prose. I am tutoring in them, and will take another examination next
month. I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but otherwise I don't care a
bit because I've learned such a lot of things not mentioned in the
catalogue. I've read seventeen novels and bushels of poetry—really
necessary novels like Vanity Fair and Richard Feverel and Alice in
Wonderland. Also Emerson's Essays and Lockhart's Life of Scott and the
first volume of Gibbon's Roman Empire and half of Benvenuto Cellini's
Life—wasn't he entertaining? He used to saunter out and casually kill
a man before breakfast.
So you see, Daddy, I'm much more intelligent than if I'd just stuck to
Latin. Will you forgive me this once if I promise never to fail again?
Yours in sackcloth,
This is an extra letter in the middle of the month because I'm rather
lonely tonight. It's awfully stormy. All the lights are out on the
campus, but I drank black coffee and I can't go to sleep.
I had a supper party this evening consisting of Sallie and Julia and
Leonora Fenton—and sardines and toasted muffins and salad and fudge
and coffee. Julia said she'd had a good time, but Sallie stayed to
help wash the dishes.
I might, very usefully, put some time on Latin tonight but, there's no
doubt about it, I'm a very languid Latin scholar. We've finished Livy
and De Senectute and are now engaged with De Amicitia (pronounced Damn
Should you mind, just for a little while, pretending you are my
grandmother? Sallie has one and Julia and Leonora each two, and they
were all comparing them tonight. I can't think of anything I'd rather
have; it's such a respectable relationship. So, if you really don't
object—When I went into town yesterday, I saw the sweetest cap of
Cluny lace trimmed with lavender ribbon. I am going to make you a
present of it on your eighty-third birthday.
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
That's the clock in the chapel tower striking twelve. I believe I am
sleepy after all.
Good night, Granny.
I love you dearly.
The Ides of March
I am studying Latin prose composition. I have been studying it. I
shall be studying it. I shall be about to have been studying it. My
re-examination comes the 7th hour next Tuesday, and I am going to pass
or BUST. So you may expect to hear from me next, whole and happy and
free from conditions, or in fragments.
I will write a respectable letter when it's over. Tonight I have a
pressing engagement with the Ablative Absolute.
Yours—in evident haste
Mr. D.-L.-L. Smith,
SIR: You never answer any questions; you never show the slightest
interest in anything I do. You are probably the horridest one of all
those horrid Trustees, and the reason you are educating me is, not
because you care a bit about me, but from a sense of Duty.
I don't know a single thing about you. I don't even know your name.
It is very uninspiring writing to a Thing. I haven't a doubt but that
you throw my letters into the waste-basket without reading them.
Hereafter I shall write only about work.
My re-examinations in Latin and geometry came last week. I passed them
both and am now free from conditions.
I am a BEAST.
Please forget about that dreadful letter I sent you last week—I was
feeling terribly lonely and miserable and sore-throaty the night I
wrote. I didn't know it, but I was just sickening for tonsillitis and
grippe and lots of things mixed. I'm in the infirmary now, and have
been here for six days; this is the first time they would let me sit up
and have a pen and paper. The head nurse is very bossy. But I've been
thinking about it all the time and I shan't get well until you forgive
Here is a picture of the way I look, with a bandage tied around my head
in rabbit's ears.
Doesn't that arouse your sympathy? I am having sublingual gland
swelling. And I've been studying physiology all the year without ever
hearing of sublingual glands. How futile a thing is education!
I can't write any more; I get rather shaky when I sit up too long.
Please forgive me for being impertinent and ungrateful. I was badly
Yours with love,
Yesterday evening just towards dark, when I was sitting up in bed
looking out at the rain and feeling awfully bored with life in a great
institution, the nurse appeared with a long white box addressed to me,
and filled with the LOVELIEST pink rosebuds. And much nicer still, it
contained a card with a very polite message written in a funny little
uphill back hand (but one which shows a great deal of character). Thank
you, Daddy, a thousand times. Your flowers make the first real, true
present I ever received in my life. If you want to know what a baby I
am I lay down and cried because I was so happy.
Now that I am sure you read my letters, I'll make them much more
interesting, so they'll be worth keeping in a safe with red tape around
them—only please take out that dreadful one and burn it up. I'd hate
to think that you ever read it over.
Thank you for making a very sick, cross, miserable Freshman cheerful.
Probably you have lots of loving family and friends, and you don't know
what it feels like to be alone. But I do.
Goodbye—I'll promise never to be horrid again, because now I know
you're a real person; also I'll promise never to bother you with any
Do you still hate girls?
Yours for ever,
8th hour, Monday
I hope you aren't the Trustee who sat on the toad? It went off—I was
told—with quite a pop, so probably he was a fatter Trustee.
Do you remember the little dugout places with gratings over them by the
laundry windows in the John Grier Home? Every spring when the hoptoad
season opened we used to form a collection of toads and keep them in
those window holes; and occasionally they would spill over into the
laundry, causing a very pleasurable commotion on wash days. We were
severely punished for our activities in this direction, but in spite of
all discouragement the toads would collect.
And one day—well, I won't bore you with particulars—but somehow, one
of the fattest, biggest, JUCIEST toads got into one of those big
leather arm chairs in the Trustees' room, and that afternoon at the
Trustees' meeting—But I dare say you were there and recall the rest?
Looking back dispassionately after a period of time, I will say that
punishment was merited, and—if I remember rightly—adequate.
I don't know why I am in such a reminiscent mood except that spring and
the reappearance of toads always awakens the old acquisitive instinct.
The only thing that keeps me from starting a collection is the fact
that no rule exists against it.
After chapel, Thursday
What do you think is my favourite book? Just now, I mean; I change
every three days. Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte was quite young
when she wrote it, and had never been outside of Haworth churchyard.
She had never known any men in her life; how COULD she imagine a man
I couldn't do it, and I'm quite young and never outside the John Grier
Asylum—I've had every chance in the world. Sometimes a dreadful fear
comes over me that I'm not a genius. Will you be awfully disappointed,
Daddy, if I don't turn out to be a great author? In the spring when
everything is so beautiful and green and budding, I feel like turning
my back on lessons, and running away to play with the weather. There
are such lots of adventures out in the fields! It's much more
entertaining to live books than to write them.
Ow ! ! ! ! ! !
That was a shriek which brought Sallie and Julia and (for a disgusted
moment) the Senior from across the hall. It was caused by a centipede
like this: only worse. Just as I had finished the last sentence and
was thinking what to say next—plump!—it fell off the ceiling and
landed at my side. I tipped two cups off the tea table in trying to
get away. Sallie whacked it with the back of my hair brush—which I
shall never be able to use again—and killed the front end, but the
rear fifty feet ran under the bureau and escaped.
This dormitory, owing to its age and ivy-covered walls, is full of
centipedes. They are dreadful creatures. I'd rather find a tiger
under the bed.
Friday, 9.30 p.m.
Such a lot of troubles! I didn't hear the rising bell this morning,
then I broke my shoestring while I was hurrying to dress and dropped my
collar button down my neck. I was late for breakfast and also for
first-hour recitation. I forgot to take any blotting paper and my
fountain pen leaked. In trigonometry the Professor and I had a
disagreement touching a little matter of logarithms. On looking it up,
I find that she was right. We had mutton stew and pie-plant for
lunch—hate 'em both; they taste like the asylum. The post brought me
nothing but bills (though I must say that I never do get anything else;
my family are not the kind that write). In English class this
afternoon we had an unexpected written lesson. This was it:
I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.
Brazil? He twirled a button
Without a glance my way:
But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show today?
That is a poem. I don't know who wrote it or what it means. It was
simply printed out on the blackboard when we arrived and we were
ordered to comment upon it. When I read the first verse I thought I
had an idea—The Mighty Merchant was a divinity who distributes
blessings in return for virtuous deeds—but when I got to the second
verse and found him twirling a button, it seemed a blasphemous
supposition, and I hastily changed my mind. The rest of the class was
in the same predicament; and there we sat for three-quarters of an hour
with blank paper and equally blank minds. Getting an education is an
awfully wearing process!
But this didn't end the day. There's worse to come.
It rained so we couldn't play golf, but had to go to gymnasium instead.
The girl next to me banged my elbow with an Indian club. I got home to
find that the box with my new blue spring dress had come, and the skirt
was so tight that I couldn't sit down. Friday is sweeping day, and the
maid had mixed all the papers on my desk. We had tombstone for dessert
(milk and gelatin flavoured with vanilla). We were kept in chapel
twenty minutes later than usual to listen to a speech about womanly
women. And then—just as I was settling down with a sigh of
well-earned relief to The Portrait of a Lady, a girl named Ackerly, a
dough-faced, deadly, unintermittently stupid girl, who sits next to me
in Latin because her name begins with A (I wish Mrs. Lippett had named
me Zabriski), came to ask if Monday's lesson commenced at paragraph 69
or 70, and stayed ONE HOUR. She has just gone.
Did you ever hear of such a discouraging series of events? It isn't
the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a
crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty
hazards of the day with a laugh—I really think that requires SPIRIT.
It's the kind of character that I am going to develop. I am going to
pretend that all life is just a game which I must play as skilfully and
fairly as I can. If I lose, I am going to shrug my shoulders and
laugh—also if I win.
Anyway, I am going to be a sport. You will never hear me complain
again, Daddy dear, because Julia wears silk stockings and centipedes
drop off the wall.
DEAR SIR: I am in receipt of a letter from Mrs. Lippett. She hopes
that I am doing well in deportment and studies. Since I probably have
no place to go this summer, she will let me come back to the asylum and
work for my board until college opens.
I HATE THE JOHN GRIER HOME.
I'd rather die than go back.
Yours most truthfully,
Vous etes un brick!
Je suis tres heureuse about the farm, parceque je n'ai jamais been on a
farm dans ma vie and I'd hate to retourner chez John Grier, et wash
dishes tout l'ete. There would be danger of quelque chose affreuse
happening, parceque j'ai perdue ma humilite d'autre fois et j'ai peur
that I would just break out quelque jour et smash every cup and saucer
dans la maison.
Pardon brievete et paper. Je ne peux pas send des mes nouvelles
parceque je suis dans French class et j'ai peur que Monsieur le
Professeur is going to call on me tout de suite.
je vous aime beaucoup.
Did you ever see this campus? (That is merely a rhetorical question.
Don't let it annoy you.) It is a heavenly spot in May. All the shrubs
are in blossom and the trees are the loveliest young green—even the
old pines look fresh and new. The grass is dotted with yellow
dandelions and hundreds of girls in blue and white and pink dresses.
Everybody is joyous and carefree, for vacation's coming, and with that
to look forward to, examinations don't count.
Isn't that a happy frame of mind to be in? And oh, Daddy! I'm the
happiest of all! Because I'm not in the asylum any more; and I'm not
anybody's nursemaid or typewriter or bookkeeper (I should have been,
you know, except for you).
I'm sorry now for all my past badnesses.
I'm sorry I was ever impertinent to Mrs. Lippett.
I'm sorry I ever slapped Freddie Perkins.
I'm sorry I ever filled the sugar bowl with salt.
I'm sorry I ever made faces behind the Trustees' backs.
I'm going to be good and sweet and kind to everybody because I'm so
happy. And this summer I'm going to write and write and write and
begin to be a great author. Isn't that an exalted stand to take? Oh,
I'm developing a beautiful character! It droops a bit under cold and
frost, but it does grow fast when the sun shines.
That's the way with everybody. I don't agree with the theory that
adversity and sorrow and disappointment develop moral strength. The
happy people are the ones who are bubbling over with kindliness. I
have no faith in misanthropes. (Fine word! Just learned it.) You are
not a misanthrope are you, Daddy?
I started to tell you about the campus. I wish you'd come for a little
visit and let me walk you about and say:
'That is the library. This is the gas plant, Daddy dear. The Gothic
building on your left is the gymnasium, and the Tudor Romanesque beside
it is the new infirmary.'
Oh, I'm fine at showing people about. I've done it all my life at the
asylum, and I've been doing it all day here. I have honestly.
And a Man, too!
That's a great experience. I never talked to a man before (except
occasional Trustees, and they don't count). Pardon, Daddy, I don't mean
to hurt your feelings when I abuse Trustees. I don't consider that you
really belong among them. You just tumbled on to the Board by chance.
The Trustee, as such, is fat and pompous and benevolent. He pats one
on the head and wears a gold watch chain.
That looks like a June bug, but is meant to be a portrait of any
Trustee except you.
I have been walking and talking and having tea with a man. And with a
very superior man—with Mr. Jervis Pendleton of the House of Julia; her
uncle, in short (in long, perhaps I ought to say; he's as tall as you.)
Being in town on business, he decided to run out to the college and
call on his niece. He's her father's youngest brother, but she doesn't
know him very intimately. It seems he glanced at her when she was a
baby, decided he didn't like her, and has never noticed her since.
Anyway, there he was, sitting in the reception room very proper with
his hat and stick and gloves beside him; and Julia and Sallie with
seventh-hour recitations that they couldn't cut. So Julia dashed into
my room and begged me to walk him about the campus and then deliver him
to her when the seventh hour was over. I said I would, obligingly but
unenthusiastically, because I don't care much for Pendletons.
But he turned out to be a sweet lamb. He's a real human being—not a
Pendleton at all. We had a beautiful time; I've longed for an uncle
ever since. Do you mind pretending you're my uncle? I believe they're
superior to grandmothers.
Mr. Pendleton reminded me a little of you, Daddy, as you were twenty
years ago. You see I know you intimately, even if we haven't ever met!
He's tall and thinnish with a dark face all over lines, and the
funniest underneath smile that never quite comes through but just
wrinkles up the corners of his mouth. And he has a way of making you
feel right off as though you'd known him a long time. He's very
We walked all over the campus from the quadrangle to the athletic
grounds; then he said he felt weak and must have some tea. He proposed
that we go to College Inn—it's just off the campus by the pine walk.
I said we ought to go back for Julia and Sallie, but he said he didn't
like to have his nieces drink too much tea; it made them nervous. So
we just ran away and had tea and muffins and marmalade and ice-cream
and cake at a nice little table out on the balcony. The inn was quite
conveniently empty, this being the end of the month and allowances low.
We had the jolliest time! But he had to run for his train the minute
he got back and he barely saw Julia at all. She was furious with me
for taking him off; it seems he's an unusually rich and desirable
uncle. It relieved my mind to find he was rich, for the tea and things
cost sixty cents apiece.
This morning (it's Monday now) three boxes of chocolates came by
express for Julia and Sallie and me. What do you think of that? To be
getting candy from a man!
I begin to feel like a girl instead of a foundling.
I wish you'd come and have tea some day and let me see if I like you.
But wouldn't it be dreadful if I didn't? However, I know I should.
Bien! I make you my compliments.
'Jamais je ne t'oublierai.'
PS. I looked in the glass this morning and found a perfectly new
dimple that I'd never seen before. It's very curious. Where do you
suppose it came from?
Happy day! I've just finished my last examination Physiology. And now:
Three months on a farm!
I don't know what kind of a thing a farm is. I've never been on one in
my life. I've never even looked at one (except from the car window),
but I know I'm going to love it, and I'm going to love being FREE.
I am not used even yet to being outside the John Grier Home. Whenever
I think of it excited little thrills chase up and down my back. I feel
as though I must run faster and faster and keep looking over my
shoulder to make sure that Mrs. Lippett isn't after me with her arm
stretched out to grab me back.
I don't have to mind any one this summer, do I?
Your nominal authority doesn't annoy me in the least; you are too far
away to do any harm. Mrs. Lippett is dead for ever, so far as I am
concerned, and the Semples aren't expected to overlook my moral
welfare, are they? No, I am sure not. I am entirely grown up. Hooray!
I leave you now to pack a trunk, and three boxes of teakettles and
dishes and sofa cushions and books.
PS. Here is my physiology exam. Do you think you could have passed?
LOCK WILLOW FARM,
I've only just come and I'm not unpacked, but I can't wait to tell you
how much I like farms. This is a heavenly, heavenly, HEAVENLY spot!
The house is square like this: And OLD. A hundred years or so. It
has a veranda on the side which I can't draw and a sweet porch in
front. The picture really doesn't do it justice—those things that
look like feather dusters are maple trees, and the prickly ones that
border the drive are murmuring pines and hemlocks. It stands on the
top of a hill and looks way off over miles of green meadows to another
line of hills.
That is the way Connecticut goes, in a series of Marcelle waves; and
Lock Willow Farm is just on the crest of one wave. The barns used to
be across the road where they obstructed the view, but a kind flash of
lightning came from heaven and burnt them down.
The people are Mr. and Mrs. Semple and a hired girl and two hired men.
The hired people eat in the kitchen, and the Semples and Judy in the
dining-room. We had ham and eggs and biscuits and honey and jelly-cake
and pie and pickles and cheese and tea for supper—and a great deal of
conversation. I have never been so entertaining in my life; everything
I say appears to be funny. I suppose it is, because I've never been in
the country before, and my questions are backed by an all-inclusive
The room marked with a cross is not where the murder was committed, but
the one that I occupy. It's big and square and empty, with adorable
old-fashioned furniture and windows that have to be propped up on
sticks and green shades trimmed with gold that fall down if you touch
them. And a big square mahogany table—I'm going to spend the summer
with my elbows spread out on it, writing a novel.
Oh, Daddy, I'm so excited! I can't wait till daylight to explore.
It's 8.30 now, and I am about to blow out my candle and try to go to
sleep. We rise at five. Did you ever know such fun? I can't believe
this is really Judy. You and the Good Lord give me more than I
deserve. I must be a very, very, VERY good person to pay. I'm going
to be. You'll see.
PS. You should hear the frogs sing and the little pigs squeal and you
should see the new moon! I saw it over my right shoulder.
How did your secretary come to know about Lock Willow? (That isn't a
rhetorical question. I am awfully curious to know.) For listen to
this: Mr. Jervis Pendleton used to own this farm, but now he has given
it to Mrs. Semple who was his old nurse. Did you ever hear of such a
funny coincidence? She still calls him 'Master Jervie' and talks about
what a sweet little boy he used to be. She has one of his baby curls
put away in a box, and it is red—or at least reddish!
Since she discovered that I know him, I have risen very much in her
opinion. Knowing a member of the Pendleton family is the best
introduction one can have at Lock Willow. And the cream of the whole
family is Master Jervis—I am pleased to say that Julia belongs to an
The farm gets more and more entertaining. I rode on a hay wagon
yesterday. We have three big pigs and nine little piglets, and you
should see them eat. They are pigs! We've oceans of little baby
chickens and ducks and turkeys and guinea fowls. You must be mad to
live in a city when you might live on a farm.
It is my daily business to hunt the eggs. I fell off a beam in the
barn loft yesterday, while I was trying to crawl over to a nest that
the black hen has stolen. And when I came in with a scratched knee,
Mrs. Semple bound it up with witch-hazel, murmuring all the time,
'Dear! Dear! It seems only yesterday that Master Jervie fell off that
very same beam and scratched this very same knee.'
The scenery around here is perfectly beautiful. There's a valley and a
river and a lot of wooded hills, and way in the distance a tall blue
mountain that simply melts in your mouth.
We churn twice a week; and we keep the cream in the spring house which
is made of stone with the brook running underneath. Some of the
farmers around here have a separator, but we don't care for these
new-fashioned ideas. It may be a little harder to separate the cream
in pans, but it's sufficiently better to pay. We have six calves; and
I've chosen the names for all of them.
1. Sylvia, because she was born in the woods.
2. Lesbia, after the Lesbia in Catullus.
4. Julia—a spotted, nondescript animal.
5. Judy, after me.
6. Daddy-Long-Legs. You don't mind, do you, Daddy? He's pure Jersey
and has a sweet disposition. He looks like this—you can see how
appropriate the name is.
I haven't had time yet to begin my immortal novel; the farm keeps me
PS. I've learned to make doughnuts.
PS. (2) If you are thinking of raising chickens, let me recommend Buff
Orpingtons. They haven't any pin feathers.
PS. (3) I wish I could send you a pat of the nice, fresh butter I
churned yesterday. I'm a fine dairy-maid!
PS. (4) This is a picture of Miss Jerusha Abbott, the future great
author, driving home the cows.
Isn't it funny? I started to write to you yesterday afternoon, but as
far as I got was the heading, 'Dear Daddy-Long-Legs', and then I
remembered I'd promised to pick some blackberries for supper, so I went
off and left the sheet lying on the table, and when I came back today,
what do you think I found sitting in the middle of the page? A real
I picked him up very gently by one leg, and dropped him out of the
window. I wouldn't hurt one of them for the world. They always remind
me of you.
We hitched up the spring wagon this morning and drove to the Centre to
church. It's a sweet little white frame church with a spire and three
Doric columns in front (or maybe Ionic—I always get them mixed).
A nice sleepy sermon with everybody drowsily waving palm-leaf fans, and
the only sound, aside from the minister, the buzzing of locusts in the
trees outside. I didn't wake up till I found myself on my feet singing
the hymn, and then I was awfully sorry I hadn't listened to the sermon;
I should like to know more of the psychology of a man who would pick
out such a hymn. This was it:
Come, leave your sports and earthly toys
And join me in celestial joys.
Or else, dear friend, a long farewell.
I leave you now to sink to hell.
I find that it isn't safe to discuss religion with the Semples. Their
God (whom they have inherited intact from their remote Puritan
ancestors) is a narrow, irrational, unjust, mean, revengeful, bigoted
Person. Thank heaven I don't inherit God from anybody! I am free to
make mine up as I wish Him. He's kind and sympathetic and imaginative
and forgiving and understanding—and He has a sense of humour.
I like the Semples immensely; their practice is so superior to their
theory. They are better than their own God. I told them so—and they
are horribly troubled. They think I am blasphemous—and I think they
are! We've dropped theology from our conversation.
This is Sunday afternoon.
Amasai (hired man) in a purple tie and some bright yellow buckskin
gloves, very red and shaved, has just driven off with Carrie (hired
girl) in a big hat trimmed with red roses and a blue muslin dress and
her hair curled as tight as it will curl. Amasai spent all the morning
washing the buggy; and Carrie stayed home from church ostensibly to
cook the dinner, but really to iron the muslin dress.
In two minutes more when this letter is finished I am going to settle
down to a book which I found in the attic. It's entitled, On the
Trail, and sprawled across the front page in a funny little-boy hand:
if this book should ever roam,
Box its ears and send it home.
He spent the summer here once after he had been ill, when he was about
eleven years old; and he left On the Trail behind. It looks well
read—the marks of his grimy little hands are frequent! Also in a
corner of the attic there is a water wheel and a windmill and some bows
and arrows. Mrs. Semple talks so constantly about him that I begin to
believe he really lives—not a grown man with a silk hat and walking
stick, but a nice, dirty, tousle-headed boy who clatters up the stairs
with an awful racket, and leaves the screen doors open, and is always
asking for cookies. (And getting them, too, if I know Mrs. Semple!) He
seems to have been an adventurous little soul—and brave and truthful.
I'm sorry to think he is a Pendleton; he was meant for something better.
We're going to begin threshing oats tomorrow; a steam engine is coming
and three extra men.
It grieves me to tell you that Buttercup (the spotted cow with one
horn, Mother of Lesbia) has done a disgraceful thing. She got into the
orchard Friday evening and ate apples under the trees, and ate and ate
until they went to her head. For two days she has been perfectly dead
drunk! That is the truth I am telling. Did you ever hear anything so
Your affectionate orphan,
PS. Indians in the first chapter and highwaymen in the second. I hold
my breath. What can the third contain? 'Red Hawk leapt twenty feet in
the air and bit the dust.' That is the subject of the frontispiece.
Aren't Judy and Jervie having fun?
I was weighed yesterday on the flour scales in the general store at the
Comers. I've gained nine pounds! Let me recommend Lock Willow as a
Behold me—a Sophomore! I came up last Friday, sorry to leave Lock
Willow, but glad to see the campus again. It is a pleasant sensation
to come back to something familiar. I am beginning to feel at home in
college, and in command of the situation; I am beginning, in fact, to
feel at home in the world—as though I really belonged to it and had
not just crept in on sufferance.
I don't suppose you understand in the least what I am trying to say. A
person important enough to be a Trustee can't appreciate the feelings
of a person unimportant enough to be a foundling.
And now, Daddy, listen to this. Whom do you think I am rooming with?
Sallie McBride and Julia Rutledge Pendleton. It's the truth. We have
a study and three little bedrooms—VOILA!
Sallie and I decided last spring that we should like to room together,
and Julia made up her mind to stay with Sallie—why, I can't imagine,
for they are not a bit alike; but the Pendletons are naturally
conservative and inimical (fine word!) to change. Anyway, here we are.
Think of Jerusha Abbott, late of the John Grier Home for Orphans,
rooming with a Pendleton. This is a democratic country.
Sallie is running for class president, and unless all signs fail, she
is going to be elected. Such an atmosphere of intrigue you should see
what politicians we are! Oh, I tell you, Daddy, when we women get our
rights, you men will have to look alive in order to keep yours.
Election comes next Saturday, and we're going to have a torchlight
procession in the evening, no matter who wins.
I am beginning chemistry, a most unusual study. I've never seen
anything like it before. Molecules and Atoms are the material
employed, but I'll be in a position to discuss them more definitely
I am also taking argumentation and logic.
Also history of the whole world.
Also plays of William Shakespeare.
If this keeps up many years longer, I shall become quite intelligent.
I should rather have elected economics than French, but I didn't dare,
because I was afraid that unless I re-elected French, the Professor
would not let me pass—as it was, I just managed to squeeze through the
June examination. But I will say that my high-school preparation was
not very adequate.
There's one girl in the class who chatters away in French as fast as
she does in English. She went abroad with her parents when she was a
child, and spent three years in a convent school. You can imagine how
bright she is compared with the rest of us—irregular verbs are mere
playthings. I wish my parents had chucked me into a French convent
when I was little instead of a foundling asylum. Oh no, I don't
either! Because then maybe I should never have known you. I'd rather
know you than French.
Goodbye, Daddy. I must call on Harriet Martin now, and, having
discussed the chemical situation, casually drop a few thoughts on the
subject of our next president.
Yours in politics,
Supposing the swimming tank in the gymnasium were filled full of lemon
jelly, could a person trying to swim manage to keep on top or would he
We were having lemon jelly for dessert when the question came up. We
discussed it heatedly for half an hour and it's still unsettled.
Sallie thinks that she could swim in it, but I am perfectly sure that
the best swimmer in the world would sink. Wouldn't it be funny to be
drowned in lemon jelly?
Two other problems are engaging the attention of our table.
1st. What shape are the rooms in an octagon house? Some of the girls
insist that they're square; but I think they'd have to be shaped like a
piece of pie. Don't you?
2nd. Suppose there were a great big hollow sphere made of
looking-glass and you were sitting inside. Where would it stop
reflecting your face and begin reflecting your back? The more one
thinks about this problem, the more puzzling it becomes. You can see
with what deep philosophical reflection we engage our leisure!
Did I ever tell you about the election? It happened three weeks ago,
but so fast do we live, that three weeks is ancient history. Sallie
was elected, and we had a torchlight parade with transparencies saying,
'McBride for Ever,' and a band consisting of fourteen pieces (three
mouth organs and eleven combs).
We're very important persons now in '258.' Julia and I come in for a
great deal of reflected glory. It's quite a social strain to be living
in the same house with a president.
Bonne nuit, cher Daddy.
Acceptez mez compliments,
We beat the Freshmen at basket ball yesterday. Of course we're
pleased—but oh, if we could only beat the juniors! I'd be willing to
be black and blue all over and stay in bed a week in a witch-hazel
Sallie has invited me to spend the Christmas vacation with her. She
lives in Worcester, Massachusetts. Wasn't it nice of her? I shall
love to go. I've never been in a private family in my life, except at
Lock Willow, and the Semples were grown-up and old and don't count.
But the McBrides have a houseful of children (anyway two or three) and
a mother and father and grandmother, and an Angora cat. It's a
perfectly complete family! Packing your trunk and going away is more
fun than staying behind. I am terribly excited at the prospect.
Seventh hour—I must run to rehearsal. I'm to be in the Thanksgiving
theatricals. A prince in a tower with a velvet tunic and yellow curls.
Isn't that a lark?
Do you want to know what I look like? Here's a photograph of all three
that Leonora Fenton took.
The light one who is laughing is Sallie, and the tall one with her nose
in the air is Julia, and the little one with the hair blowing across
her face is Judy—she is really more beautiful than that, but the sun
was in her eyes.
I meant to write to you before and thank you for your Christmas cheque,
but life in the McBride household is very absorbing, and I don't seem
able to find two consecutive minutes to spend at a desk.
I bought a new gown—one that I didn't need, but just wanted. My
Christmas present this year is from Daddy-Long-Legs; my family just
I've been having the most beautiful vacation visiting Sallie. She
lives in a big old-fashioned brick house with white trimmings set back
from the street—exactly the kind of house that I used to look at so
curiously when I was in the John Grier Home, and wonder what it could
be like inside. I never expected to see with my own eyes—but here I
am! Everything is so comfortable and restful and homelike; I walk from
room to room and drink in the furnishings.
It is the most perfect house for children to be brought up in; with
shadowy nooks for hide and seek, and open fire places for pop-corn, and
an attic to romp in on rainy days and slippery banisters with a
comfortable flat knob at the bottom, and a great big sunny kitchen, and
a nice, fat, sunny cook who has lived in the family thirteen years and
always saves out a piece of dough for the children to bake. Just the
sight of such a house makes you want to be a child all over again.
And as for families! I never dreamed they could be so nice. Sallie
has a father and mother and grandmother, and the sweetest
three-year-old baby sister all over curls, and a medium-sized brother
who always forgets to wipe his feet, and a big, good-looking brother
named Jimmie, who is a junior at Princeton.
We have the jolliest times at the table—everybody laughs and jokes and
talks at once, and we don't have to say grace beforehand. It's a
relief not having to thank Somebody for every mouthful you eat. (I
dare say I'm blasphemous; but you'd be, too, if you'd offered as much
obligatory thanks as I have.)
Such a lot of things we've done—I can't begin to tell you about them.
Mr. McBride owns a factory and Christmas eve he had a tree for the
employees' children. It was in the long packing-room which was
decorated with evergreens and holly. Jimmie McBride was dressed as
Santa Claus and Sallie and I helped him distribute the presents.
Dear me, Daddy, but it was a funny sensation! I felt as benevolent as
a Trustee of the John Grier home. I kissed one sweet, sticky little
boy—but I don't think I patted any of them on the head!
And two days after Christmas, they gave a dance at their own house for
It was the first really true ball I ever attended—college doesn't
count where we dance with girls. I had a new white evening gown (your
Christmas present—many thanks) and long white gloves and white satin
slippers. The only drawback to my perfect, utter, absolute happiness
was the fact that Mrs. Lippett couldn't see me leading the cotillion
with Jimmie McBride. Tell her about it, please, the next time you
visit the J. G. H.
PS. Would you be terribly displeased, Daddy, if I didn't turn out to
be a Great Author after all, but just a Plain Girl?
We started to walk to town today, but mercy! how it poured. I like
winter to be winter with snow instead of rain.
Julia's desirable uncle called again this afternoon—and brought a
five-pound box of chocolates. There are advantages, you see, about
rooming with Julia.
Our innocent prattle appeared to amuse him and he waited for a later
train in order to take tea in the study. We had an awful lot of
trouble getting permission. It's hard enough entertaining fathers and
grandfathers, but uncles are a step worse; and as for brothers and
cousins, they are next to impossible. Julia had to swear that he was
her uncle before a notary public and then have the county clerk's
certificate attached. (Don't I know a lot of law?) And even then I
doubt if we could have had our tea if the Dean had chanced to see how
youngish and good-looking Uncle Jervis is.
Anyway, we had it, with brown bread Swiss cheese sandwiches. He helped
make them and then ate four. I told him that I had spent last summer
at Lock Willow, and we had a beautiful gossipy time about the Semples,
and the horses and cows and chickens. All the horses that he used to
know are dead, except Grover, who was a baby colt at the time of his
last visit—and poor Grove now is so old he can just limp about the
He asked if they still kept doughnuts in a yellow crock with a blue
plate over it on the bottom shelf of the pantry—and they do! He
wanted to know if there was still a woodchuck's hole under the pile of
rocks in the night pasture—and there is! Amasai caught a big, fat,
grey one there this summer, the twenty-fifth great-grandson of the one
Master Jervis caught when he was a little boy.
I called him 'Master Jervie' to his face, but he didn't appear to be
insulted. Julia says she has never seen him so amiable; he's usually
pretty unapproachable. But Julia hasn't a bit of tact; and men, I
find, require a great deal. They purr if you rub them the right way
and spit if you don't. (That isn't a very elegant metaphor. I mean it
We're reading Marie Bashkirtseff's journal. Isn't it amazing? Listen
to this: 'Last night I was seized by a fit of despair that found
utterance in moans, and that finally drove me to throw the dining-room
clock into the sea.'
It makes me almost hope I'm not a genius; they must be very wearing to
have about—and awfully destructive to the furniture.
Mercy! how it keeps Pouring. We shall have to swim to chapel tonight.
Did you ever have a sweet baby girl who was stolen from the cradle in
Maybe I am she! If we were in a novel, that would be the denouement,
It's really awfully queer not to know what one is—sort of exciting and
romantic. There are such a lot of possibilities. Maybe I'm not
American; lots of people aren't. I may be straight descended from the
ancient Romans, or I may be a Viking's daughter, or I may be the child
of a Russian exile and belong by rights in a Siberian prison, or maybe
I'm a Gipsy—I think perhaps I am. I have a very WANDERING spirit,
though I haven't as yet had much chance to develop it.
Do you know about that one scandalous blot in my career the time I ran
away from the asylum because they punished me for stealing cookies?
It's down in the books free for any Trustee to read. But really,
Daddy, what could you expect? When you put a hungry little nine-year
girl in the pantry scouring knives, with the cookie jar at her elbow,
and go off and leave her alone; and then suddenly pop in again,
wouldn't you expect to find her a bit crumby? And then when you jerk
her by the elbow and box her ears, and make her leave the table when
the pudding comes, and tell all the other children that it's because
she's a thief, wouldn't you expect her to run away?
I only ran four miles. They caught me and brought me back; and every
day for a week I was tied, like a naughty puppy, to a stake in the back
yard while the other children were out at recess.
Oh, dear! There's the chapel bell, and after chapel I have a committee
meeting. I'm sorry because I meant to write you a very entertaining
letter this time.
PS. There's one thing I'm perfectly sure of I'm not a Chinaman.
Jimmie McBride has sent me a Princeton banner as big as one end of the
room; I am very grateful to him for remembering me, but I don't know
what on earth to do with it. Sallie and Julia won't let me hang it up;
our room this year is furnished in red, and you can imagine what an
effect we'd have if I added orange and black. But it's such nice,
warm, thick felt, I hate to waste it. Would it be very improper to
have it made into a bath robe? My old one shrank when it was washed.
I've entirely omitted of late telling you what I am learning, but
though you might not imagine it from my letters, my time is exclusively
occupied with study. It's a very bewildering matter to get educated in
five branches at once.
'The test of true scholarship,' says Chemistry Professor, 'is a
painstaking passion for detail.'
'Be careful not to keep your eyes glued to detail,' says History
Professor. 'Stand far enough away to get a perspective of the whole.'
You can see with what nicety we have to trim our sails between
chemistry and history. I like the historical method best. If I say
that William the Conqueror came over in 1492, and Columbus discovered
America in 1100 or 1066 or whenever it was, that's a mere detail that
the Professor overlooks. It gives a feeling of security and
restfulness to the history recitation, that is entirely lacking in
Sixth-hour bell—I must go to the laboratory and look into a little
matter of acids and salts and alkalis. I've burned a hole as big as a
plate in the front of my chemistry apron, with hydrochloric acid. If
the theory worked, I ought to be able to neutralize that hole with good
strong ammonia, oughtn't I?
Examinations next week, but who's afraid?
There is a March wind blowing, and the sky is filled with heavy, black
moving clouds. The crows in the pine trees are making such a clamour!
It's an intoxicating, exhilarating, CALLING noise. You want to close
your books and be off over the hills to race with the wind.
We had a paper chase last Saturday over five miles of squashy 'cross
country. The fox (composed of three girls and a bushel or so of
confetti) started half an hour before the twenty-seven hunters. I was
one of the twenty-seven; eight dropped by the wayside; we ended
nineteen. The trail led over a hill, through a cornfield, and into a
swamp where we had to leap lightly from hummock to hummock. of course
half of us went in ankle deep. We kept losing the trail, and we wasted
twenty-five minutes over that swamp. Then up a hill through some woods
and in at a barn window! The barn doors were all locked and the window
was up high and pretty small. I don't call that fair, do you?
But we didn't go through; we circumnavigated the barn and picked up the
trail where it issued by way of a low shed roof on to the top of a
fence. The fox thought he had us there, but we fooled him. Then
straight away over two miles of rolling meadow, and awfully hard to
follow, for the confetti was getting sparse. The rule is that it must
be at the most six feet apart, but they were the longest six feet I
ever saw. Finally, after two hours of steady trotting, we tracked
Monsieur Fox into the kitchen of Crystal Spring (that's a farm where
the girls go in bob sleighs and hay wagons for chicken and waffle
suppers) and we found the three foxes placidly eating milk and honey
and biscuits. They hadn't thought we would get that far; they were
expecting us to stick in the barn window.
Both sides insist that they won. I think we did, don't you? Because
we caught them before they got back to the campus. Anyway, all
nineteen of us settled like locusts over the furniture and clamoured
for honey. There wasn't enough to go round, but Mrs. Crystal Spring
(that's our pet name for her; she's by rights a Johnson) brought up a
jar of strawberry jam and a can of maple syrup—just made last
week—and three loaves of brown bread.
We didn't get back to college till half-past six—half an hour late for
dinner—and we went straight in without dressing, and with perfectly
unimpaired appetites! Then we all cut evening chapel, the state of our
boots being enough of an excuse.
I never told you about examinations. I passed everything with the
utmost ease—I know the secret now, and am never going to fail again.
I shan't be able to graduate with honours though, because of that
beastly Latin prose and geometry Freshman year. But I don't care.
Wot's the hodds so long as you're 'appy? (That's a quotation. I've
been reading the English classics.)
Speaking of classics, have you ever read Hamlet? If you haven't, do it
right off. It's PERFECTLY CORKING. I've been hearing about
Shakespeare all my life, but I had no idea he really wrote so well; I
always suspected him of going largely on his reputation.
I have a beautiful play that I invented a long time ago when I first
learned to read. I put myself to sleep every night by pretending I'm
the person (the most important person) in the book I'm reading at the
At present I'm Ophelia—and such a sensible Ophelia! I keep Hamlet
amused all the time, and pet him and scold him and make him wrap up his
throat when he has a cold. I've entirely cured him of being
melancholy. The King and Queen are both dead—an accident at sea; no
funeral necessary—so Hamlet and I are ruling in Denmark without any
bother. We have the kingdom working beautifully. He takes care of the
governing, and I look after the charities. I have just founded some
first-class orphan asylums. If you or any of the other Trustees would
like to visit them, I shall be pleased to show you through. I think
you might find a great many helpful suggestions.
I remain, sir,
Yours most graciously,
Queen of Denmark.
maybe the 25th
I don't believe I can be going to Heaven—I am getting such a lot of
good things here; it wouldn't be fair to get them hereafter too.
Listen to what has happened.
Jerusha Abbott has won the short-story contest (a twenty-five dollar
prize) that the Monthly holds every year. And she's a Sophomore! The
contestants are mostly Seniors. When I saw my name posted, I couldn't
quite believe it was true. Maybe I am going to be an author after all.
I wish Mrs. Lippett hadn't given me such a silly name—it sounds like
an author-ess, doesn't it?
Also I have been chosen for the spring dramatics—As You Like It out of
doors. I am going to be Celia, own cousin to Rosalind.
And lastly: Julia and Sallie and I are going to New York next Friday
to do some spring shopping and stay all night and go to the theatre the
next day with 'Master Jervie.' He invited us. Julia is going to stay
at home with her family, but Sallie and I are going to stop at the
Martha Washington Hotel. Did you ever hear of anything so exciting?
I've never been in a hotel in my life, nor in a theatre; except once
when the Catholic Church had a festival and invited the orphans, but
that wasn't a real play and it doesn't count.
And what do you think we're going to see? Hamlet. Think of that! We
studied it for four weeks in Shakespeare class and I know it by heart.
I am so excited over all these prospects that I can scarcely sleep.
This is a very entertaining world.
PS. I've just looked at the calendar. It's the 28th.
I saw a street car conductor today with one brown eye and one blue.
Wouldn't he make a nice villain for a detective story?
Mercy! Isn't New York big? Worcester is nothing to it. Do you mean
to tell me that you actually live in all that confusion? I don't
believe that I shall recover for months from the bewildering effect of
two days of it. I can't begin to tell you all the amazing things I've
seen; I suppose you know, though, since you live there yourself.
But aren't the streets entertaining? And the people? And the shops?
I never saw such lovely things as there are in the windows. It makes
you want to devote your life to wearing clothes.
Sallie and Julia and I went shopping together Saturday morning. Julia
went into the very most gorgeous place I ever saw, white and gold walls
and blue carpets and blue silk curtains and gilt chairs. A perfectly
beautiful lady with yellow hair and a long black silk trailing gown
came to meet us with a welcoming smile. I thought we were paying a
social call, and started to shake hands, but it seems we were only
buying hats—at least Julia was. She sat down in front of a mirror and
tried on a dozen, each lovelier than the last, and bought the two
loveliest of all.
I can't imagine any joy in life greater than sitting down in front of a
mirror and buying any hat you choose without having first to consider
the price! There's no doubt about it, Daddy; New York would rapidly
undermine this fine stoical character which the John Grier Home so
patiently built up.
And after we'd finished our shopping, we met Master Jervie at Sherry's.
I suppose you've been in Sherry's? Picture that, then picture the
dining-room of the John Grier Home with its oilcloth-covered tables,
and white crockery that you CAN'T break, and wooden-handled knives and
forks; and fancy the way I felt!
I ate my fish with the wrong fork, but the waiter very kindly gave me
another so that nobody noticed.
And after luncheon we went to the theatre—it was dazzling, marvellous,
unbelievable—I dream about it every night.
Isn't Shakespeare wonderful?
Hamlet is so much better on the stage than when we analyze it in class;
I appreciated it before, but now, dear me!
I think, if you don't mind, that I'd rather be an actress than a
writer. Wouldn't you like me to leave college and go into a dramatic
school? And then I'll send you a box for all my performances, and
smile at you across the footlights. Only wear a red rose in your
buttonhole, please, so I'll surely smile at the right man. It would be
an awfully embarrassing mistake if I picked out the wrong one.
We came back Saturday night and had our dinner in the train, at little
tables with pink lamps and negro waiters. I never heard of meals being
served in trains before, and I inadvertently said so.
'Where on earth were you brought up?' said Julia to me.
'In a village,' said I meekly, to Julia.
'But didn't you ever travel?' said she to me.
'Not till I came to college, and then it was only a hundred and sixty
miles and we didn't eat,' said I to her.
She's getting quite interested in me, because I say such funny things.
I try hard not to, but they do pop out when I'm surprised—and I'm
surprised most of the time. It's a dizzying experience, Daddy, to pass
eighteen years in the John Grier Home, and then suddenly to be plunged
into the WORLD.
But I'm getting acclimated. I don't make such awful mistakes as I did;
and I don't feel uncomfortable any more with the other girls. I used
to squirm whenever people looked at me. I felt as though they saw
right through my sham new clothes to the checked ginghams underneath.
But I'm not letting the ginghams bother me any more. Sufficient unto
yesterday is the evil thereof.
I forgot to tell you about our flowers. Master Jervie gave us each a
big bunch of violets and lilies-of-the-valley. Wasn't that sweet of
him? I never used to care much for men—judging by Trustees—but I'm
changing my mind.
Eleven pages—this is a letter! Have courage. I'm going to stop.
Dear Mr. Rich-Man,
Here's your cheque for fifty dollars. Thank you very much, but I do
not feel that I can keep it. My allowance is sufficient to afford all
of the hats that I need. I am sorry that I wrote all that silly stuff
about the millinery shop; it's just that I had never seen anything like
However, I wasn't begging! And I would rather not accept any more
charity than I have to.
Will you please forgive me for the letter I wrote you yesterday? After
I posted it I was sorry, and tried to get it back, but that beastly
mail clerk wouldn't give it back to me.
It's the middle of the night now; I've been awake for hours thinking
what a Worm I am—what a Thousand-legged Worm—and that's the worst I
can say! I've closed the door very softly into the study so as not to
wake Julia and Sallie, and am sitting up in bed writing to you on paper
torn out of my history note-book.
I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry I was so impolite about your
cheque. I know you meant it kindly, and I think you're an old dear to
take so much trouble for such a silly thing as a hat. I ought to have
returned it very much more graciously.
But in any case, I had to return it. It's different with me than with
other girls. They can take things naturally from people. They have
fathers and brothers and aunts and uncles; but I can't be on any such
relations with any one. I like to pretend that you belong to me, just
to play with the idea, but of course I know you don't. I'm alone,
really—with my back to the wall fighting the world—and I get sort of
gaspy when I think about it. I put it out of my mind, and keep on
pretending; but don't you see, Daddy? I can't accept any more money
than I have to, because some day I shall be wanting to pay it back, and
even as great an author as I intend to be won't be able to face a
PERFECTLY TREMENDOUS debt.
I'd love pretty hats and things, but I mustn't mortgage the future to
pay for them.
You'll forgive me, won't you, for being so rude? I have an awful habit
of writing impulsively when I first think things, and then posting the
letter beyond recall. But if I sometimes seem thoughtless and
ungrateful, I never mean it. In my heart I thank you always for the
life and freedom and independence that you have given me. My childhood
was just a long, sullen stretch of revolt, and now I am so happy every
moment of the day that I can't believe it's true. I feel like a
made-up heroine in a story-book.
It's a quarter past two. I'm going to tiptoe out to post this off now.
You'll receive it in the next mail after the other; so you won't have a
very long time to think bad of me.
Good night, Daddy,
I love you always,
Field Day last Saturday. It was a very spectacular occasion. First we
had a parade of all the classes, with everybody dressed in white linen,
the Seniors carrying blue and gold Japanese umbrellas, and the juniors
white and yellow banners. Our class had crimson balloons—very
fetching, especially as they were always getting loose and floating
off—and the Freshmen wore green tissue-paper hats with long streamers.
Also we had a band in blue uniforms hired from town. Also about a
dozen funny people, like clowns in a circus, to keep the spectators
entertained between events.
Julia was dressed as a fat country man with a linen duster and whiskers
and baggy umbrella. Patsy Moriarty (Patrici really. Did you ever hear
such a name? Mrs. Lippett couldn't have done better) who is tall and
thin was Julia's wife in a absurd green bonnet over one ear. Waves of
laughter followed them the whole length of the course. Julia played
the part extremely well. I never dreamed that a Pendleton could
display so much comedy spirit—begging Master Jervie's pardon; I don't
consider him a true Pendleton though, any more than I consider you a
Sallie and I weren't in the parade because we were entered for the
events. And what do you think? We both won! At least in something.
We tried for the running broad jump and lost; but Sallie won the
pole-vaulting (seven feet three inches) and I won the fifty-yard sprint
I was pretty panting at the end, but it was great fun, with the whole
class waving balloons and cheering and yelling:
What's the matter with Judy Abbott?
She's all right.
Who's all right?
That, Daddy, is true fame. Then trotting back to the dressing tent and
being rubbed down with alcohol and having a lemon to suck. You see
we're very professional. It's a fine thing to win an event for your
class, because the class that wins the most gets the athletic cup for
the year. The Seniors won it this year, with seven events to their
credit. The athletic association gave a dinner in the gymnasium to all
of the winners. We had fried soft-shell crabs, and chocolate ice-cream
moulded in the shape of basket balls.
I sat up half of last night reading Jane Eyre. Are you old enough,
Daddy, to remember sixty years ago? And, if so, did people talk that
The haughty Lady Blanche says to the footman, 'Stop your chattering,
knave, and do my bidding.' Mr. Rochester talks about the metal welkin
when he means the sky; and as for the mad woman who laughs like a hyena
and sets fire to bed curtains and tears up wedding veils and
BITES—it's melodrama of the purest, but just the same, you read and
read and read. I can't see how any girl could have written such a
book, especially any girl who was brought up in a churchyard. There's
something about those Brontes that fascinates me. Their books, their
lives, their spirit. Where did they get it? When I was reading about
little Jane's troubles in the charity school, I got so angry that I had
to go out and take a walk. I understood exactly how she felt. Having
known Mrs. Lippett, I could see Mr. Brocklehurst.
Don't be outraged, Daddy. I am not intimating that the John Grier Home
was like the Lowood Institute. We had plenty to eat and plenty to
wear, sufficient water to wash in, and a furnace in the cellar. But
there was one deadly likeness. Our lives were absolutely monotonous
and uneventful. Nothing nice ever happened, except ice-cream on
Sundays, and even that was regular. In all the eighteen years I was
there I only had one adventure—when the woodshed burned. We had to
get up in the night and dress so as to be ready in case the house
should catch. But it didn't catch and we went back to bed.
Everybody likes a few surprises; it's a perfectly natural human
craving. But I never had one until Mrs. Lippett called me to the
office to tell me that Mr. John Smith was going to send me to college.
And then she broke the news so gradually that it just barely shocked me.
You know, Daddy, I think that the most necessary quality for any person
to have is imagination. It makes people able to put themselves in
other people's places. It makes them kind and sympathetic and
understanding. It ought to be cultivated in children. But the John
Grier Home instantly stamped out the slightest flicker that appeared.
Duty was the one quality that was encouraged. I don't think children
ought to know the meaning of the word; it's odious, detestable. They
ought to do everything from love.
Wait until you see the orphan asylum that I am going to be the head of!
It's my favourite play at night before I go to sleep. I plan it out to
the littlest detail—the meals and clothes and study and amusements and
punishments; for even my superior orphans are sometimes bad.
But anyway, they are going to be happy. I think that every one, no
matter how many troubles he may have when he grows up, ought to have a
happy childhood to look back upon. And if I ever have any children of
my own, no matter how unhappy I may be, I am not going to let them have
any cares until they grow up.
(There goes the chapel bell—I'll finish this letter sometime).
When I came in from laboratory this afternoon, I found a squirrel
sitting on the tea table helping himself to almonds. These are the
kind of callers we entertain now that warm weather has come and the
windows stay open—
Perhaps you think, last night being Friday, with no classes today, that
I passed a nice quiet, readable evening with the set of Stevenson that
I bought with my prize money? But if so, you've never attended a
girls' college, Daddy dear. Six friends dropped in to make fudge, and
one of them dropped the fudge—while it was still liquid—right in the
middle of our best rug. We shall never be able to clean up the mess.
I haven't mentioned any lessons of late; but we are still having them
every day. It's sort of a relief though, to get away from them and
discuss life in the large—rather one-sided discussions that you and I
hold, but that's your own fault. You are welcome to answer back any
time you choose.
I've been writing this letter off and on for three days, and I fear by
now vous etes bien bored!
Goodbye, nice Mr. Man,
Mr. Daddy-Long-Legs Smith,
SIR: Having completed the study of argumentation and the science of
dividing a thesis into heads, I have decided to adopt the following
form for letter-writing. It contains all necessary facts, but no
I. We had written examinations this week in:
II. A new dormitory is being built.
A. Its material is:
(a) red brick.
(b) grey stone.
B. Its capacity will be:
(a) one dean, five instructors.
(b) two hundred girls.
(c) one housekeeper, three cooks, twenty waitresses,
III. We had junket for dessert tonight.
IV. I am writing a special topic upon the Sources of Shakespeare's
V. Lou McMahon slipped and fell this afternoon at basket ball, and she:
A. Dislocated her shoulder.
B. Bruised her knee.
VI. I have a new hat trimmed with:
A. Blue velvet ribbon.
B. Two blue quills.
C. Three red pompoms.
VII. It is half past nine.
VIII. Good night.
You will never guess the nice thing that has happened.
The McBrides have asked me to spend the summer at their camp in the
Adirondacks! They belong to a sort of club on a lovely little lake in
the middle of the woods. The different members have houses made of
logs dotted about among the trees, and they go canoeing on the lake,
and take long walks through trails to other camps, and have dances once
a week in the club house—Jimmie McBride is going to have a college
friend visiting him part of the summer, so you see we shall have plenty
of men to dance with.
Wasn't it sweet of Mrs. McBride to ask me? It appears that she liked
me when I was there for Christmas.
Please excuse this being short. It isn't a real letter; it's just to
let you know that I'm disposed of for the summer.
In a VERY contented frame of mind,
Your secretary man has just written to me saying that Mr. Smith prefers
that I should not accept Mrs. McBride's invitation, but should return
to Lock Willow the same as last summer.
Why, why, WHY, Daddy?
You don't understand about it. Mrs. McBride does want me, really and
truly. I'm not the least bit of trouble in the house. I'm a help.
They don't take up many servants, and Sallie an I can do lots of useful
things. It's a fine chance for me to learn housekeeping. Every woman
ought to understand it, and I only know asylum-keeping.
There aren't any girls our age at the camp, and Mrs. McBride wants me
for a companion for Sallie. We are planning to do a lot of reading
together. We are going to read all of the books for next year's
English and sociology. The Professor said it would be a great help if
we would get our reading finished in the summer; and it's so much
easier to remember it if we read together and talk it over.
Just to live in the same house with Sallie's mother is an education.
She's the most interesting, entertaining, companionable, charming woman
in the world; she knows everything. Think how many summers I've spent
with Mrs. Lippett and how I'll appreciate the contrast. You needn't be
afraid that I'll be crowding them, for their house is made of rubber.
When they have a lot of company, they just sprinkle tents about in the
woods and turn the boys outside. It's going to be such a nice, healthy
summer exercising out of doors every minute. Jimmie McBride is going
to teach me how to ride horseback and paddle a canoe, and how to shoot
and—oh, lots of things I ought to know. It's the kind of nice, jolly,
care-free time that I've never had; and I think every girl deserves it
once in her life. Of course I'll do exactly as you say, but please,
PLEASE let me go, Daddy. I've never wanted anything so much.
This isn't Jerusha Abbott, the future great author, writing to you.
It's just Judy—a girl.
Mr. John Smith,
SIR: Yours of the 7th inst. at hand. In compliance with the
instructions received through your secretary, I leave on Friday next to
spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm.
I hope always to remain,
(Miss) Jerusha Abbott
LOCK WILLOW FARM,
It has been nearly two months since I wrote, which wasn't nice of me, I
know, but I haven't loved you much this summer—you see I'm being frank!
You can't imagine how disappointed I was at having to give up the
McBrides' camp. Of course I know that you're my guardian, and that I
have to regard your wishes in all matters, but I couldn't see any
REASON. It was so distinctly the best thing that could have happened
to me. If I had been Daddy, and you had been Judy, I should have said,
'Bless you my child, run along and have a good time; see lots of new
people and learn lots of new things; live out of doors, and get strong
and well and rested for a year of hard work.'
But not at all! Just a curt line from your secretary ordering me to
It's the impersonality of your commands that hurts my feelings. It
seems as though, if you felt the tiniest little bit for me the way I
feel for you, you'd sometimes send me a message that you'd written with
your own hand, instead of those beastly typewritten secretary's notes.
If there were the slightest hint that you cared, I'd do anything on
earth to please you.
I know that I was to write nice, long, detailed letters without ever
expecting any answer. You're living up to your side of the
bargain—I'm being educated—and I suppose you're thinking I'm not
living up to mine!
But, Daddy, it is a hard bargain. It is, really. I'm so awfully
lonely. You are the only person I have to care for, and you are so
shadowy. You're just an imaginary man that I've made up—and probably
the real YOU isn't a bit like my imaginary YOU. But you did once, when
I was ill in the infirmary, send me a message, and now, when I am
feeling awfully forgotten, I get out your card and read it over.
I don't think I am telling you at all what I started to say, which was
Although my feelings are still hurt, for it is very humiliating to be
picked up and moved about by an arbitrary, peremptory, unreasonable,
omnipotent, invisible Providence, still, when a man has been as kind
and generous and thoughtful as you have heretofore been towards me, I
suppose he has a right to be an arbitrary, peremptory, unreasonable,
invisible Providence if he chooses, and so—I'll forgive you and be
cheerful again. But I still don't enjoy getting Sallie's letters about
the good times they are having in camp!
However—we will draw a veil over that and begin again.
I've been writing and writing this summer; four short stories finished
and sent to four different magazines. So you see I'm trying to be an
author. I have a workroom fixed in a corner of the attic where Master
Jervie used to have his rainy-day playroom. It's in a cool, breezy
corner with two dormer windows, and shaded by a maple tree with a
family of red squirrels living in a hole.
I'll write a nicer letter in a few days and tell you all the farm news.
We need rain.
Yours as ever,
SIR: I address you from the second crotch in the willow tree by the
pool in the pasture. There's a frog croaking underneath, a locust
singing overhead and two little 'devil downheads' darting up and down
the trunk. I've been here for an hour; it's a very comfortable crotch,
especially after being upholstered with two sofa cushions. I came up
with a pen and tablet hoping to write an immortal short story, but I've
been having a dreadful time with my heroine—I CAN'T make her behave as
I want her to behave; so I've abandoned her for the moment, and am
writing to you. (Not much relief though, for I can't make you behave
as I want you to, either.)
If you are in that dreadful New York, I wish I could send you some of
this lovely, breezy, sunshiny outlook. The country is Heaven after a
week of rain.
Speaking of Heaven—do you remember Mr. Kellogg that I told you about
last summer?—the minister of the little white church at the Corners.
Well, the poor old soul is dead—last winter of pneumonia. I went half
a dozen times to hear him preach and got very well acquainted with his
theology. He believed to the end exactly the same things he started
with. It seems to me that a man who can think straight along for
forty-seven years without changing a single idea ought to be kept in a
cabinet as a curiosity. I hope he is enjoying his harp and golden
crown; he was so perfectly sure of finding them! There's a new young
man, very consequential, in his place. The congregation is pretty
dubious, especially the faction led by Deacon Cummings. It looks as
though there was going to be an awful split in the church. We don't
care for innovations in religion in this neighbourhood.
During our week of rain I sat up in the attic and had an orgy of
reading—Stevenson, mostly. He himself is more entertaining than any
of the characters in his books; I dare say he made himself into the
kind of hero that would look well in print. Don't you think it was
perfect of him to spend all the ten thousand dollars his father left,
for a yacht, and go sailing off to the South Seas? He lived up to his
adventurous creed. If my father had left me ten thousand dollars, I'd
do it, too. The thought of Vailima makes me wild. I want to see the
tropics. I want to see the whole world. I am going to be a great
author, or artist, or actress, or playwright—or whatever sort of a
great person I turn out to be. I have a terrible wanderthirst; the
very sight of a map makes me want to put on my hat and take an umbrella
and start. 'I shall see before I die the palms and temples of the
Thursday evening at twilight,
sitting on the doorstep.
Very hard to get any news into this letter! Judy is becoming so
philosophical of late, that she wishes to discourse largely of the
world in general, instead of descending to the trivial details of daily
life. But if you MUST have news, here it is:
Our nine young pigs waded across the brook and ran away last Tuesday,
and only eight came back. We don't want to accuse anyone unjustly, but
we suspect that Widow Dowd has one more than she ought to have.
Mr. Weaver has painted his barn and his two silos a bright pumpkin
yellow—a very ugly colour, but he says it will wear.
The Brewers have company this week; Mrs. Brewer's sister and two nieces
One of our Rhode Island Reds only brought off three chicks out of
fifteen eggs. We can't imagine what was the trouble. Rhode island
Reds, in my opinion, are a very inferior breed. I prefer Buff
The new clerk in the post office at Bonnyrigg Four Corners drank every
drop of Jamaica ginger they had in stock—seven dollars' worth—before
he was discovered.
Old Ira Hatch has rheumatism and can't work any more; he never saved
his money when he was earning good wages, so now he has to live on the
There's to be an ice-cream social at the schoolhouse next Saturday
evening. Come and bring your families.
I have a new hat that I bought for twenty-five cents at the post
office. This is my latest portrait, on my way to rake the hay.
It's getting too dark to see; anyway, the news is all used up.
Good morning! Here is some news! What do you think? You'd never,
never, never guess who's coming to Lock Willow. A letter to Mrs.
Semple from Mr. Pendleton. He's motoring through the Berkshires, and
is tired and wants to rest on a nice quiet farm—if he climbs out at
her doorstep some night will she have a room ready for him? Maybe
he'll stay one week, or maybe two, or maybe three; he'll see how
restful it is when he gets here.
Such a flutter as we are in! The whole house is being cleaned and all
the curtains washed. I am driving to the Corners this morning to get
some new oilcloth for the entry, and two cans of brown floor paint for
the hall and back stairs. Mrs. Dowd is engaged to come tomorrow to
wash the windows (in the exigency of the moment, we waive our
suspicions in regard to the piglet). You might think, from this account
of our activities, that the house was not already immaculate; but I
assure you it was! Whatever Mrs. Semple's limitations, she is a
But isn't it just like a man, Daddy? He doesn't give the remotest hint
as to whether he will land on the doorstep today, or two weeks from
today. We shall live in a perpetual breathlessness until he comes—and
if he doesn't hurry, the cleaning may all have to be done over again.
There's Amasai waiting below with the buckboard and Grover. I drive
alone—but if you could see old Grove, you wouldn't be worried as to my
With my hand on my heart—farewell.
PS. Isn't that a nice ending? I got it out of Stevenson's letters.
Good morning again! I didn't get this ENVELOPED yesterday before the
postman came, so I'll add some more. We have one mail a day at twelve
o'clock. Rural delivery is a blessing to the farmers! Our postman not
only delivers letters, but he runs errands for us in town, at five
cents an errand. Yesterday he brought me some shoe-strings and a jar
of cold cream (I sunburned all the skin off my nose before I got my new
hat) and a blue Windsor tie and a bottle of blacking all for ten cents.
That was an unusual bargain, owing to the largeness of my order.
Also he tells us what is happening in the Great World. Several people
on the route take daily papers, and he reads them as he jogs along, and
repeats the news to the ones who don't subscribe. So in case a war
breaks out between the United States and Japan, or the president is
assassinated, or Mr. Rockefeller leaves a million dollars to the John
Grier Home, you needn't bother to write; I'll hear it anyway.
No sign yet of Master Jervie. But you should see how clean our house
is—and with what anxiety we wipe our feet before we step in!
I hope he'll come soon; I am longing for someone to talk to. Mrs.
Semple, to tell you the truth, gets rather monotonous. She never lets
ideas interrupt the easy flow of her conversation. It's a funny thing
about the people here. Their world is just this single hilltop. They
are not a bit universal, if you know what I mean. It's exactly the
same as at the John Grier Home. Our ideas there were bounded by the
four sides of the iron fence, only I didn't mind it so much because I
was younger, and was so awfully busy. By the time I'd got all my beds
made and my babies' faces washed and had gone to school and come home
and had washed their faces again and darned their stockings and mended
Freddie Perkins's trousers (he tore them every day of his life) and
learned my lessons in between—I was ready to go to bed, and I didn't
notice any lack of social intercourse. But after two years in a
conversational college, I do miss it; and I shall be glad to see
somebody who speaks my language.
I really believe I've finished, Daddy. Nothing else occurs to me at
the moment—I'll try to write a longer letter next time.
PS. The lettuce hasn't done at all well this year. It was so dry
early in the season.
Well, Daddy, Master Jervie's here. And such a nice time as we're
having! At least I am, and I think he is, too—he has been here ten
days and he doesn't show any signs of going. The way Mrs. Semple
pampers that man is scandalous. If she indulged him as much when he
was a baby, I don't know how he ever turned out so well.
He and I eat at a little table set on the side porch, or sometimes
under the trees, or—when it rains or is cold—in the best parlour. He
just picks out the spot he wants to eat in and Carrie trots after him
with the table. Then if it has been an awful nuisance, and she has had
to carry the dishes very far, she finds a dollar under the sugar bowl.
He is an awfully companionable sort of man, though you would never
believe it to see him casually; he looks at first glance like a true
Pendleton, but he isn't in the least. He is just as simple and
unaffected and sweet as he can be—that seems a funny way to describe a
man, but it's true. He's extremely nice with the farmers around here;
he meets them in a sort of man-to-man fashion that disarms them
immediately. They were very suspicious at first. They didn't care for
his clothes! And I will say that his clothes are rather amazing. He
wears knickerbockers and pleated jackets and white flannels and riding
clothes with puffed trousers. Whenever he comes down in anything new,
Mrs. Semple, beaming with pride, walks around and views him from every
angle, and urges him to be careful where he sits down; she is so afraid
he will pick up some dust. It bores him dreadfully. He's always
saying to her:
'Run along, Lizzie, and tend to your work. You can't boss me any
longer. I've grown up.'
It's awfully funny to think of that great big, long-legged man (he's
nearly as long-legged as you, Daddy) ever sitting in Mrs. Semple's lap
and having his face washed. Particularly funny when you see her lap!
She has two laps now, and three chins. But he says that once she was
thin and wiry and spry and could run faster than he.
Such a lot of adventures we're having! We've explored the country for
miles, and I've learned to fish with funny little flies made of
feathers. Also to shoot with a rifle and a revolver. Also to ride
horseback—there's an astonishing amount of life in old Grove. We fed
him on oats for three days, and he shied at a calf and almost ran away
We climbed Sky Hill Monday afternoon. That's a mountain near here; not
an awfully high mountain, perhaps—no snow on the summit—but at least
you are pretty breathless when you reach the top. The lower slopes are
covered with woods, but the top is just piled rocks and open moor. We
stayed up for the sunset and built a fire and cooked our supper.
Master Jervie did the cooking; he said he knew how better than me and
he did, too, because he's used to camping. Then we came down by
moonlight, and, when we reached the wood trail where it was dark, by
the light of an electric bulb that he had in his pocket. It was such
fun! He laughed and joked all the way and talked about interesting
things. He's read all the books I've ever read, and a lot of others
besides. It's astonishing how many different things he knows.
We went for a long tramp this morning and got caught in a storm. Our
clothes were drenched before we reached home but our spirits not even
damp. You should have seen Mrs. Semple's face when we dripped into her
'Oh, Master Jervie—Miss Judy! You are soaked through. Dear! Dear!
What shall I do? That nice new coat is perfectly ruined.'
She was awfully funny; you would have thought that we were ten years
old, and she a distracted mother. I was afraid for a while that we
weren't going to get any jam for tea.
I started this letter ages ago, but I haven't had a second to finish it.
Isn't this a nice thought from Stevenson?
The world is so full of a number of things,
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.
It's true, you know. The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go
round, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way.
The whole secret is in being PLIABLE. In the country, especially,
there are such a lot of entertaining things. I can walk over
everybody's land, and look at everybody's view, and dabble in
everybody's brook; and enjoy it just as much as though I owned the
land—and with no taxes to pay!
It's Sunday night now, about eleven o'clock, and I am supposed to be
getting some beauty sleep, but I had black coffee for dinner, so—no
beauty sleep for me!
This morning, said Mrs. Semple to Mr. Pendleton, with a very determined
'We have to leave here at a quarter past ten in order to get to church
'Very well, Lizzie,' said Master Jervie, 'you have the buggy ready, and
if I'm not dressed, just go on without waiting.' 'We'll wait,' said
'As you please,' said he, 'only don't keep the horses standing too
Then while she was dressing, he told Carrie to pack up a lunch, and he
told me to scramble into my walking clothes; and we slipped out the
back way and went fishing.
It discommoded the household dreadfully, because Lock Willow of a
Sunday dines at two. But he ordered dinner at seven—he orders meals
whenever he chooses; you would think the place were a restaurant—and
that kept Carrie and Amasai from going driving. But he said it was all
the better because it wasn't proper for them to go driving without a
chaperon; and anyway, he wanted the horses himself to take me driving.
Did you ever hear anything so funny?
And poor Mrs. Semple believes that people who go fishing on Sundays go
afterwards to a sizzling hot hell! She is awfully troubled to think
that she didn't train him better when he was small and helpless and she
had the chance. Besides—she wished to show him off in church.
Anyway, we had our fishing (he caught four little ones) and we cooked
them on a camp-fire for lunch. They kept falling off our spiked sticks
into the fire, so they tasted a little ashy, but we ate them. We got
home at four and went driving at five and had dinner at seven, and at
ten I was sent to bed and here I am, writing to you.
I am getting a little sleepy, though.
Here is a picture of the one fish I caught.
Ship Ahoy, Cap'n Long-Legs!
Avast! Belay! Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum. Guess what I'm
reading? Our conversation these past two days has been nautical and
piratical. Isn't Treasure Island fun? Did you ever read it, or wasn't
it written when you were a boy? Stevenson only got thirty pounds for
the serial rights—I don't believe it pays to be a great author. Maybe
I'll be a school-teacher.
Excuse me for filling my letters so full of Stevenson; my mind is very
much engaged with him at present. He comprises Lock Willow's library.
I've been writing this letter for two weeks, and I think it's about
long enough. Never say, Daddy, that I don't give details. I wish you
were here, too; we'd all have such a jolly time together. I like my
different friends to know each other. I wanted to ask Mr. Pendleton if
he knew you in New York—I should think he might; you must move in
about the same exalted social circles, and you are both interested in
reforms and things—but I couldn't, for I don't know your real name.
It's the silliest thing I ever heard of, not to know your name. Mrs.
Lippett warned me that you were eccentric. I should think so!
PS. On reading this over, I find that it isn't all Stevenson. There
are one or two glancing references to Master Jervie.
He has gone, and we are missing him! When you get accustomed to people
or places or ways of living, and then have them snatched away, it does
leave an awfully empty, gnawing sort of sensation. I'm finding Mrs.
Semple's conversation pretty unseasoned food.
College opens in two weeks and I shall be glad to begin work again. I
have worked quite a lot this summer though—six short stories and seven
poems. Those I sent to the magazines all came back with the most
courteous promptitude. But I don't mind. It's good practice. Master
Jervie read them—he brought in the post, so I couldn't help his
knowing—and he said they were DREADFUL. They showed that I didn't
have the slightest idea of what I was talking about. (Master Jervie
doesn't let politeness interfere with truth.) But the last one I
did—just a little sketch laid in college—he said wasn't bad; and he
had it typewritten, and I sent it to a magazine. They've had it two
weeks; maybe they're thinking it over.
You should see the sky! There's the queerest orange-coloured light
over everything. We're going to have a storm.
It commenced just that moment with tremendously big drops and all the
shutters banging. I had to run to close the windows, while Carrie flew
to the attic with an armful of milk pans to put under the places where
the roof leaks and then, just as I was resuming my pen, I remembered
that I'd left a cushion and rug and hat and Matthew Arnold's poems
under a tree in the orchard, so I dashed out to get them, all quite
soaked. The red cover of the poems had run into the inside; Dover
Beach in the future will be washed by pink waves.
A storm is awfully disturbing in the country. You are always having to
think of so many things that are out of doors and getting spoiled.
Daddy! Daddy! What do you think? The postman has just come with two
1st. My story is accepted. $50.
ALORS! I'm an AUTHOR.
2nd. A letter from the college secretary. I'm to have a scholarship
for two years that will cover board and tuition. It was founded for
'marked proficiency in English with general excellency in other lines.'
And I've won it! I applied for it before I left, but I didn't have an
idea I'd get it, on account of my Freshman bad work in maths and Latin.
But it seems I've made it up. I am awfully glad, Daddy, because now I
won't be such a burden to you. The monthly allowance will be all I'll
need, and maybe I can earn that with writing or tutoring or something.
I'm LONGING to go back and begin work.
Author of When the Sophomores Won
the Game. For sale at all news
stands, price ten cents.
Back at college again and an upper classman. Our study is better than
ever this year—faces the South with two huge windows and oh! so
furnished. Julia, with an unlimited allowance, arrived two days early
and was attacked with a fever for settling.
We have new wall paper and oriental rugs and mahogany chairs—not
painted mahogany which made us sufficiently happy last year, but real.
It's very gorgeous, but I don't feel as though I belonged in it; I'm
nervous all the time for fear I'll get an ink spot in the wrong place.
And, Daddy, I found your letter waiting for me—pardon—I mean your
Will you kindly convey to me a comprehensible reason why I should not
accept that scholarship? I don't understand your objection in the
least. But anyway, it won't do the slightest good for you to object,
for I've already accepted it and I am not going to change! That sounds
a little impertinent, but I don't mean it so.
I suppose you feel that when you set out to educate me, you'd like to
finish the work, and put a neat period, in the shape of a diploma, at
But look at it just a second from my point of view. I shall owe my
education to you just as much as though I let you pay for the whole of
it, but I won't be quite so much indebted. I know that you don't want
me to return the money, but nevertheless, I am going to want to do it,
if I possibly can; and winning this scholarship makes it so much
easier. I was expecting to spend the rest of my life in paying my
debts, but now I shall only have to spend one-half of the rest of it.
I hope you understand my position and won't be cross. The allowance I
shall still most gratefully accept. It requires an allowance to live
up to Julia and her furniture! I wish that she had been reared to
simpler tastes, or else that she were not my room-mate.
This isn't much of a letter; I meant to have written a lot—but I've
been hemming four window curtains and three portieres (I'm glad you
can't see the length of the stitches), and polishing a brass desk set
with tooth powder (very uphill work), and sawing off picture wire with
manicure scissors, and unpacking four boxes of books, and putting away
two trunkfuls of clothes (it doesn't seem believable that Jerusha
Abbott owns two trunks full of clothes, but she does!) and welcoming
back fifty dear friends in between.
Opening day is a joyous occasion!
Good night, Daddy dear, and don't be annoyed because your chick is
wanting to scratch for herself. She's growing up into an awfully
energetic little hen—with a very determined cluck and lots of
beautiful feathers (all due to you).
Are you still harping on that scholarship? I never knew a man so
obstinate, and stubborn and unreasonable, and tenacious, and
bull-doggish, and unable-to-see-other-people's-point-of-view, as you.
You prefer that I should not be accepting favours from strangers.
Strangers!—And what are you, pray?
Is there anyone in the world that I know less? I shouldn't recognize
you if I met you in the street. Now, you see, if you had been a sane,
sensible person and had written nice, cheering fatherly letters to your
little Judy, and had come occasionally and patted her on the head, and
had said you were glad she was such a good girl—Then, perhaps, she
wouldn't have flouted you in your old age, but would have obeyed your
slightest wish like the dutiful daughter she was meant to be.
Strangers indeed! You live in a glass house, Mr. Smith.
And besides, this isn't a favour; it's like a prize—I earned it by
hard work. If nobody had been good enough in English, the committee
wouldn't have awarded the scholarship; some years they don't. Also—
But what's the use of arguing with a man? You belong, Mr. Smith, to a
sex devoid of a sense of logic. To bring a man into line, there are
just two methods: one must either coax or be disagreeable. I scorn to
coax men for what I wish. Therefore, I must be disagreeable.
I refuse, sir, to give up the scholarship; and if you make any more
fuss, I won't accept the monthly allowance either, but will wear myself
into a nervous wreck tutoring stupid Freshmen.
That is my ultimatum!
And listen—I have a further thought. Since you are so afraid that by
taking this scholarship I am depriving someone else of an education, I
know a way out. You can apply the money that you would have spent for
me towards educating some other little girl from the John Grier Home.
Don't you think that's a nice idea? Only, Daddy, EDUCATE the new girl
as much as you choose, but please don't LIKE her any better than me.
I trust that your secretary won't be hurt because I pay so little
attention to the suggestions offered in his letter, but I can't help it
if he is. He's a spoiled child, Daddy. I've meekly given in to his
whims heretofore, but this time I intend to be FIRM.
With a mind,
Completely and Irrevocably and
I started down town today to buy a bottle of shoe blacking and some
collars and the material for a new blouse and a jar of violet cream and
a cake of Castile soap—all very necessary; I couldn't be happy another
day without them—and when I tried to pay the car fare, I found that I
had left my purse in the pocket of my other coat. So I had to get out
and take the next car, and was late for gymnasium.
It's a dreadful thing to have no memory and two coats!
Julia Pendleton has invited me to visit her for the Christmas holidays.
How does that strike you, Mr. Smith? Fancy Jerusha Abbott, of the John
Grier Home, sitting at the tables of the rich. I don't know why Julia
wants me—she seems to be getting quite attached to me of late. I
should, to tell the truth, very much prefer going to Sallie's, but
Julia asked me first, so if I go anywhere it must be to New York
instead of to Worcester. I'm rather awed at the prospect of meeting
Pendletons EN MASSE, and also I'd have to get a lot of new clothes—so,
Daddy dear, if you write that you would prefer having me remain quietly
at college, I will bow to your wishes with my usual sweet docility.
I'm engaged at odd moments with the Life and Letters of Thomas
Huxley—it makes nice, light reading to pick up between times. Do you
know what an archaeopteryx is? It's a bird. And a stereognathus? I'm
not sure myself, but I think it's a missing link, like a bird with
teeth or a lizard with wings. No, it isn't either; I've just looked in
the book. It's a mesozoic mammal.
I've elected economics this year—very illuminating subject. When I
finish that I'm going to take Charity and Reform; then, Mr. Trustee,
I'll know just how an orphan asylum ought to be run. Don't you think
I'd make an admirable voter if I had my rights? I was twenty-one last
week. This is an awfully wasteful country to throw away such an
honest, educated, conscientious, intelligent citizen as I would be.
Thank you for permission to visit Julia—I take it that silence means
Such a social whirl as we've been having! The Founder's dance came
last week—this was the first year that any of us could attend; only
upper classmen being allowed.
I invited Jimmie McBride, and Sallie invited his room-mate at
Princeton, who visited them last summer at their camp—an awfully nice
man with red hair—and Julia invited a man from New York, not very
exciting, but socially irreproachable. He is connected with the De la
Mater Chichesters. Perhaps that means something to you? It doesn't
illuminate me to any extent.
However—our guests came Friday afternoon in time for tea in the senior
corridor, and then dashed down to the hotel for dinner. The hotel was
so full that they slept in rows on the billiard tables, they say.
Jimmie McBride says that the next time he is bidden to a social event
in this college, he is going to bring one of their Adirondack tents and
pitch it on the campus.
At seven-thirty they came back for the President's reception and dance.
Our functions commence early! We had the men's cards all made out
ahead of time, and after every dance, we'd leave them in groups, under
the letter that stood for their names, so that they could be readily
found by their next partners. Jimmie McBride, for example, would stand
patiently under 'M' until he was claimed. (At least, he ought to have
stood patiently, but he kept wandering off and getting mixed with 'R's'
and 'S's' and all sorts of letters.) I found him a very difficult
guest; he was sulky because he had only three dances with me. He said
he was bashful about dancing with girls he didn't know!
The next morning we had a glee club concert—and who do you think wrote
the funny new song composed for the occasion? It's the truth. She
did. Oh, I tell you, Daddy, your little foundling is getting to be
quite a prominent person!
Anyway, our gay two days were great fun, and I think the men enjoyed
it. Some of them were awfully perturbed at first at the prospect of
facing one thousand girls; but they got acclimated very quickly. Our
two Princeton men had a beautiful time—at least they politely said
they had, and they've invited us to their dance next spring. We've
accepted, so please don't object, Daddy dear.
Julia and Sallie and I all had new dresses. Do you want to hear about
them? Julia's was cream satin and gold embroidery and she wore purple
orchids. It was a DREAM and came from Paris, and cost a million
Sallie's was pale blue trimmed with Persian embroidery, and went
beautifully with red hair. It didn't cost quite a million, but was
just as effective as Julia's.
Mine was pale pink crepe de chine trimmed with ecru lace and rose
satin. And I carried crimson roses which J. McB. sent (Sallie having
told him what colour to get). And we all had satin slippers and silk
stockings and chiffon scarfs to match.
You must be deeply impressed by these millinery details.
One can't help thinking, Daddy, what a colourless life a man is forced
to lead, when one reflects that chiffon and Venetian point and hand
embroidery and Irish crochet are to him mere empty words. Whereas a
woman—whether she is interested in babies or microbes or husbands or
poetry or servants or parallelograms or gardens or Plato or bridge—is
fundamentally and always interested in clothes.
It's the one touch of nature that makes the whole world kin. (That
isn't original. I got it out of one of Shakespeare's plays).
However, to resume. Do you want me to tell you a secret that I've
lately discovered? And will you promise not to think me vain? Then
I am, really. I'd be an awful idiot not to know it with three
looking-glasses in the room.
PS. This is one of those wicked anonymous letters you read about in
I've just a moment, because I must attend two classes, pack a trunk and
a suit-case, and catch the four-o'clock train—but I couldn't go
without sending a word to let you know how much I appreciate my
I love the furs and the necklace and the Liberty scarf and the gloves
and handkerchiefs and books and purse—and most of all I love you! But
Daddy, you have no business to spoil me this way. I'm only human—and
a girl at that. How can I keep my mind sternly fixed on a studious
career, when you deflect me with such worldly frivolities?
I have strong suspicions now as to which one of the John Grier Trustees
used to give the Christmas tree and the Sunday ice-cream. He was
nameless, but by his works I know him! You deserve to be happy for all
the good things you do.
Goodbye, and a very merry Christmas.
PS. I am sending a slight token, too. Do you think you would like her
if you knew her?
I meant to write to you from the city, Daddy, but New York is an
I had an interesting—and illuminating—time, but I'm glad I don't
belong to such a family! I should truly rather have the John Grier
Home for a background. Whatever the drawbacks of my bringing up, there
was at least no pretence about it. I know now what people mean when
they say they are weighed down by Things. The material atmosphere of
that house was crushing; I didn't draw a deep breath until I was on an
express train coming back. All the furniture was carved and
upholstered and gorgeous; the people I met were beautifully dressed and
low-voiced and well-bred, but it's the truth, Daddy, I never heard one
word of real talk from the time we arrived until we left. I don't
think an idea ever entered the front door.
Mrs. Pendleton never thinks of anything but jewels and dressmakers and
social engagements. She did seem a different kind of mother from Mrs.
McBride! If I ever marry and have a family, I'm going to make them as
exactly like the McBrides as I can. Not for all the money in the world
would I ever let any children of mine develop into Pendletons. Maybe
it isn't polite to criticize people you've been visiting? If it isn't,
please excuse. This is very confidential, between you and me.
I only saw Master Jervie once when he called at tea time, and then I
didn't have a chance to speak to him alone. It was really
disappointing after our nice time last summer. I don't think he cares
much for his relatives—and I am sure they don't care much for him!
Julia's mother says he's unbalanced. He's a Socialist—except, thank
Heaven, he doesn't let his hair grow and wear red ties. She can't
imagine where he picked up his queer ideas; the family have been Church
of England for generations. He throws away his money on every sort of
crazy reform, instead of spending it on such sensible things as yachts
and automobiles and polo ponies. He does buy candy with it though! He
sent Julia and me each a box for Christmas.
You know, I think I'll be a Socialist, too. You wouldn't mind, would
you, Daddy? They're quite different from Anarchists; they don't
believe in blowing people up. Probably I am one by rights; I belong to
the proletariat. I haven't determined yet just which kind I am going
to be. I will look into the subject over Sunday, and declare my
principles in my next.
I've seen loads of theatres and hotels and beautiful houses. My mind
is a confused jumble of onyx and gilding and mosaic floors and palms.
I'm still pretty breathless but I am glad to get back to college and my
books—I believe that I really am a student; this atmosphere of
academic calm I find more bracing than New York. College is a very
satisfying sort of life; the books and study and regular classes keep
you alive mentally, and then when your mind gets tired, you have the
gymnasium and outdoor athletics, and always plenty of congenial friends
who are thinking about the same things you are. We spend a whole
evening in nothing but talk—talk—talk—and go to bed with a very
uplifted feeling, as though we had settled permanently some pressing
world problems. And filling in every crevice, there is always such a
lot of nonsense—just silly jokes about the little things that come up
but very satisfying. We do appreciate our own witticisms!
It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a
great deal out of the little ones—I've discovered the true secret of
happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be for ever
regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most
that you can out of this very instant. It's like farming. You can
have extensive farming and intensive farming; well, I am going to have
intensive living after this. I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm
going to KNOW I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it. Most people don't
live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on
the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and
panting that they lose all sight of the beautiful, tranquil country
they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are
old and worn out, and it doesn't make any difference whether they've
reached the goal or not. I've decided to sit down by the way and pile
up a lot of little happinesses, even if I never become a Great Author.
Did you ever know such a philosopheress as I am developing into?
PS. It's raining cats and dogs tonight. Two puppies and a kitten have
just landed on the window-sill.
Hooray! I'm a Fabian.
That's a Socialist who's willing to wait. We don't want the social
revolution to come tomorrow morning; it would be too upsetting. We
want it to come very gradually in the distant future, when we shall all
be prepared and able to sustain the shock.
In the meantime, we must be getting ready, by instituting industrial,
educational and orphan asylum reforms.
Yours, with fraternal love,
Monday, 3rd hour
Don't be insulted because this is so short. It isn't a letter; it's
just a LINE to say that I'm going to write a letter pretty soon when
examinations are over. It is not only necessary that I pass, but pass
WELL. I have a scholarship to live up to.
Yours, studying hard,
President Cuyler made a speech this evening about the modern generation
being flippant and superficial. He says that we are losing the old
ideals of earnest endeavour and true scholarship; and particularly is
this falling-off noticeable in our disrespectful attitude towards
organized authority. We no longer pay a seemly deference to our
I came away from chapel very sober.
Am I too familiar, Daddy? Ought I to treat you with more dignity and
aloofness?—Yes, I'm sure I ought. I'll begin again.
My Dear Mr. Smith,
You will be pleased to hear that I passed successfully my mid-year
examinations, and am now commencing work in the new semester. I am
leaving chemistry—having completed the course in qualitative
analysis—and am entering upon the study of biology. I approach this
subject with some hesitation, as I understand that we dissect
angleworms and frogs.
An extremely interesting and valuable lecture was given in the chapel
last week upon Roman Remains in Southern France. I have never listened
to a more illuminating exposition of the subject.
We are reading Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey in connection with our course
in English Literature. What an exquisite work it is, and how
adequately it embodies his conceptions of Pantheism! The Romantic
movement of the early part of the last century, exemplified in the
works of such poets as Shelley, Byron, Keats, and Wordsworth, appeals
to me very much more than the Classical period that preceded it.
Speaking of poetry, have you ever read that charming little thing of
Tennyson's called Locksley Hall?
I am attending gymnasium very regularly of late. A proctor system has
been devised, and failure to comply with the rules causes a great deal
of inconvenience. The gymnasium is equipped with a very beautiful
swimming tank of cement and marble, the gift of a former graduate. My
room-mate, Miss McBride, has given me her bathing-suit (it shrank so
that she can no longer wear it) and I am about to begin swimming
We had delicious pink ice-cream for dessert last night. Only vegetable
dyes are used in colouring the food. The college is very much opposed,
both from aesthetic and hygienic motives, to the use of aniline dyes.
The weather of late has been ideal—bright sunshine and clouds
interspersed with a few welcome snow-storms. I and my companions have
enjoyed our walks to and from classes—particularly from.
Trusting, my dear Mr. Smith, that this will find you in your usual good
Most cordially yours,
Spring has come again! You should see how lovely the campus is. I
think you might come and look at it for yourself. Master Jervie
dropped in again last Friday—but he chose a most unpropitious time,
for Sallie and Julia and I were just running to catch a train. And
where do you think we were going? To Princeton, to attend a dance and
a ball game, if you please! I didn't ask you if I might go, because I
had a feeling that your secretary would say no. But it was entirely
regular; we had leave-of-absence from college, and Mrs. McBride
chaperoned us. We had a charming time—but I shall have to omit
details; they are too many and complicated.
Up before dawn! The night watchman called us—six of us—and we made
coffee in a chafing dish (you never saw so many grounds!) and walked
two miles to the top of One Tree Hill to see the sun rise. We had to
scramble up the last slope! The sun almost beat us! And perhaps you
think we didn't bring back appetites to breakfast!
Dear me, Daddy, I seem to have a very ejaculatory style today; this
page is peppered with exclamations.
I meant to have written a lot about the budding trees and the new
cinder path in the athletic field, and the awful lesson we have in
biology for tomorrow, and the new canoes on the lake, and Catherine
Prentiss who has pneumonia, and Prexy's Angora kitten that strayed from
home and has been boarding in Fergussen Hall for two weeks until a
chambermaid reported it, and about my three new dresses—white and pink
and blue polka dots with a hat to match—but I am too sleepy. I am
always making this an excuse, am I not? But a girls' college is a busy
place and we do get tired by the end of the day! Particularly when the
day begins at dawn.
Is it good manners when you get into a car just to stare straight ahead
and not see anybody else?
A very beautiful lady in a very beautiful velvet dress got into the car
today, and without the slightest expression sat for fifteen minutes and
looked at a sign advertising suspenders. It doesn't seem polite to
ignore everybody else as though you were the only important person
present. Anyway, you miss a lot. While she was absorbing that silly
sign, I was studying a whole car full of interesting human beings.
The accompanying illustration is hereby reproduced for the first time.
It looks like a spider on the end of a string, but it isn't at all;
it's a picture of me learning to swim in the tank in the gymnasium.
The instructor hooks a rope into a ring in the back of my belt, and
runs it through a pulley in the ceiling. It would be a beautiful
system if one had perfect confidence in the probity of one's
instructor. I'm always afraid, though, that she will let the rope get
slack, so I keep one anxious eye on her and swim with the other, and
with this divided interest I do not make the progress that I otherwise
Very miscellaneous weather we're having of late. It was raining when I
commenced and now the sun is shining. Sallie and I are going out to
play tennis—thereby gaining exemption from Gym.
A week later
I should have finished this letter long ago, but I didn't. You don't
mind, do you, Daddy, if I'm not very regular? I really do love to
write to you; it gives me such a respectable feeling of having some
family. Would you like me to tell you something? You are not the only
man to whom I write letters. There are two others! I have been
receiving beautiful long letters this winter from Master Jervie (with
typewritten envelopes so Julia won't recognize the writing). Did you
ever hear anything so shocking? And every week or so a very scrawly
epistle, usually on yellow tablet paper, arrives from Princeton. All
of which I answer with business-like promptness. So you see—I am not
so different from other girls—I get letters, too.
Did I tell you that I have been elected a member of the Senior Dramatic
Club? Very recherche organization. Only seventy-five members out of
one thousand. Do you think as a consistent Socialist that I ought to
What do you suppose is at present engaging my attention in sociology?
I am writing (figurez vous!) a paper on the Care of Dependent Children.
The Professor shuffled up his subjects and dealt them out
promiscuously, and that fell to me. C'est drole ca n'est pas?
There goes the gong for dinner. I'll post this as I pass the box.
Very busy time—commencement in ten days, examinations tomorrow; lots
of studying, lots of packing, and the outdoor world so lovely that it
hurts you to stay inside.
But never mind, vacation's coming. Julia is going abroad this
summer—it makes the fourth time. No doubt about it, Daddy, goods are
not distributed evenly. Sallie, as usual, goes to the Adirondacks.
And what do you think I am going to do? You may have three guesses.
Lock Willow? Wrong. The Adirondacks with Sallie? Wrong. (I'll never
attempt that again; I was discouraged last year.) Can't you guess
anything else? You're not very inventive. I'll tell you, Daddy, if
you'll promise not to make a lot of objections. I warn your secretary
in advance that my mind is made up.
I am going to spend the summer at the seaside with a Mrs. Charles
Paterson and tutor her daughter who is to enter college in the autumn.
I met her through the McBrides, and she is a very charming woman. I am
to give lessons in English and Latin to the younger daughter, too, but
I shall have a little time to myself, and I shall be earning fifty
dollars a month! Doesn't that impress you as a perfectly exorbitant
amount? She offered it; I should have blushed to ask for more than
I finish at Magnolia (that's where she lives) the first of September,
and shall probably spend the remaining three weeks at Lock Willow—I
should like to see the Semples again and all the friendly animals.
How does my programme strike you, Daddy? I am getting quite
independent, you see. You have put me on my feet and I think I can
almost walk alone by now.
Princeton commencement and our examinations exactly coincide—which is
an awful blow. Sallie and I did so want to get away in time for it,
but of course that is utterly impossible.
Goodbye, Daddy. Have a nice summer and come back in the autumn rested
and ready for another year of work. (That's what you ought to be
writing to me!) I haven't any idea what you do in the summer, or how
you amuse yourself. I can't visualize your surroundings. Do you play
golf or hunt or ride horseback or just sit in the sun and meditate?
Anyway, whatever it is, have a good time and don't forget Judy.
This is the hardest letter I ever wrote, but I have decided what I must
do, and there isn't going to be any turning back. It is very sweet and
generous and dear of you to wish to send me to Europe this summer—for
the moment I was intoxicated by the idea; but sober second thoughts
said no. It would be rather illogical of me to refuse to take your
money for college, and then use it instead just for amusement! You
mustn't get me used to too many luxuries. One doesn't miss what one
has never had; but it's awfully hard going without things after one has
commenced thinking they are his—hers (English language needs another
pronoun) by natural right. Living with Sallie and Julia is an awful
strain on my stoical philosophy. They have both had things from the
time they were babies; they accept happiness as a matter of course.
The World, they think, owes them everything they want. Maybe the World
does—in any case, it seems to acknowledge the debt and pay up. But as
for me, it owes me nothing, and distinctly told me so in the beginning.
I have no right to borrow on credit, for there will come a time when
the World will repudiate my claim.
I seem to be floundering in a sea of metaphor—but I hope you grasp my
meaning? Anyway, I have a very strong feeling that the only honest
thing for me to do is to teach this summer and begin to support myself.
Four days later
I'd got just that much written, when—what do you think happened? The
maid arrived with Master Jervie's card. He is going abroad too this
summer; not with Julia and her family, but entirely by himself I told
him that you had invited me to go with a lady who is chaperoning a
party of girls. He knows about you, Daddy. That is, he knows that my
father and mother are dead, and that a kind gentleman is sending me to
college; I simply didn't have the courage to tell him about the John
Grier Home and all the rest. He thinks that you are my guardian and a
perfectly legitimate old family friend. I have never told him that I
didn't know you—that would seem too queer!
Anyway, he insisted on my going to Europe. He said that it was a
necessary part of my education and that I mustn't think of refusing.
Also, that he would be in Paris at the same time, and that we would run
away from the chaperon occasionally and have dinner together at nice,
funny, foreign restaurants.
Well, Daddy, it did appeal to me! I almost weakened; if he hadn't been
so dictatorial, maybe I should have entirely weakened. I can be
enticed step by step, but I WON'T be forced. He said I was a silly,
foolish, irrational, quixotic, idiotic, stubborn child (those are a few
of his abusive adjectives; the rest escape me), and that I didn't know
what was good for me; I ought to let older people judge. We almost
quarrelled—I am not sure but that we entirely did!
In any case, I packed my trunk fast and came up here. I thought I'd
better see my bridges in flames behind me before I finished writing to
you. They are entirely reduced to ashes now. Here I am at Cliff Top
(the name of Mrs. Paterson's cottage) with my trunk unpacked and
Florence (the little one) already struggling with first declension
nouns. And it bids fair to be a struggle! She is a most uncommonly
spoiled child; I shall have to teach her first how to study—she has
never in her life concentrated on anything more difficult than
ice-cream soda water.
We use a quiet corner of the cliffs for a schoolroom—Mrs. Paterson
wishes me to keep them out of doors—and I will say that I find it
difficult to concentrate with the blue sea before me and ships
a-sailing by! And when I think I might be on one, sailing off to
foreign lands—but I WON'T let myself think of anything but Latin
The prepositions a or ab, absque, coram, cum, de e or ex, prae, pro,
sine, tenus, in, subter, sub and super govern the ablative.
So you see, Daddy, I am already plunged into work with my eyes
persistently set against temptation. Don't be cross with me, please,
and don't think that I do not appreciate your kindness, for I
do—always—always. The only way I can ever repay you is by turning
out a Very Useful Citizen (Are women citizens? I don't suppose they
are.) Anyway, a Very Useful Person. And when you look at me you can
say, 'I gave that Very Useful Person to the world.'
That sounds well, doesn't it, Daddy? But I don't wish to mislead you.
The feeling often comes over me that I am not at all remarkable; it is
fun to plan a career, but in all probability I shan't turn out a bit
different from any other ordinary person. I may end by marrying an
undertaker and being an inspiration to him in his work.
My window looks out on the loveliest landscape—ocean-scape,
rather—nothing but water and rocks.
The summer goes. I spend the morning with Latin and English and
algebra and my two stupid girls. I don't know how Marion is ever going
to get into college, or stay in after she gets there. And as for
Florence, she is hopeless—but oh! such a little beauty. I don't
suppose it matters in the least whether they are stupid or not so long
as they are pretty? One can't help thinking, though, how their
conversation will bore their husbands, unless they are fortunate enough
to obtain stupid husbands. I suppose that's quite possible; the world
seems to be filled with stupid men; I've met a number this summer.
In the afternoon we take a walk on the cliffs, or swim, if the tide is
right. I can swim in salt water with the utmost ease you see my
education is already being put to use!
A letter comes from Mr. Jervis Pendleton in Paris, rather a short
concise letter; I'm not quite forgiven yet for refusing to follow his
advice. However, if he gets back in time, he will see me for a few
days at Lock Willow before college opens, and if I am very nice and
sweet and docile, I shall (I am led to infer) be received into favour
Also a letter from Sallie. She wants me to come to their camp for two
weeks in September. Must I ask your permission, or haven't I yet
arrived at the place where I can do as I please? Yes, I am sure I
have—I'm a Senior, you know. Having worked all summer, I feel like
taking a little healthful recreation; I want to see the Adirondacks; I
want to see Sallie; I want to see Sallie's brother—he's going to teach
me to canoe—and (we come to my chief motive, which is mean) I want
Master Jervie to arrive at Lock Willow and find me not there.
I MUST show him that he can't dictate to me. No one can dictate to me
but you, Daddy—and you can't always! I'm off for the woods.
Your letter didn't come in time (I am pleased to say). If you wish your
instructions to be obeyed, you must have your secretary transmit them
in less than two weeks. As you observe, I am here, and have been for
The woods are fine, and so is the camp, and so is the weather, and so
are the McBrides, and so is the whole world. I'm very happy!
There's Jimmie calling for me to come canoeing. Goodbye—sorry to have
disobeyed, but why are you so persistent about not wanting me to play a
little? When I've worked all the summer I deserve two weeks. You are
However—I love you still, Daddy, in spite of all your faults.
Back at college and a Senior—also editor of the Monthly. It doesn't
seem possible, does it, that so sophisticated a person, just four years
ago, was an inmate of the John Grier Home? We do arrive fast in
What do you think of this? A note from Master Jervie directed to Lock
Willow and forwarded here. He's sorry, but he finds that he can't get
up there this autumn; he has accepted an invitation to go yachting with
some friends. Hopes I've had a nice summer and am enjoying the country.
And he knew all the time that I was with the McBrides, for Julia told
him so! You men ought to leave intrigue to women; you haven't a light
Julia has a trunkful of the most ravishing new clothes—an evening gown
of rainbow Liberty crepe that would be fitting raiment for the angels
in Paradise. And I thought that my own clothes this year were
unprecedentedly (is there such a word?) beautiful. I copied Mrs.
Paterson's wardrobe with the aid of a cheap dressmaker, and though the
gowns didn't turn out quite twins of the originals, I was entirely
happy until Julia unpacked. But now—I live to see Paris!
Dear Daddy, aren't you glad you're not a girl? I suppose you think
that the fuss we make over clothes is too absolutely silly? It is. No
doubt about it. But it's entirely your fault.
Did you ever hear about the learned Herr Professor who regarded
unnecessary adornment with contempt and favoured sensible, utilitarian
clothes for women? His wife, who was an obliging creature, adopted
'dress reform.' And what do you think he did? He eloped with a chorus
PS. The chamber-maid in our corridor wears blue checked gingham
aprons. I am going to get her some brown ones instead, and sink the
blue ones in the bottom of the lake. I have a reminiscent chill every
time I look at them.
Such a blight has fallen over my literary career. I don't know whether
to tell you or not, but I would like some sympathy—silent sympathy,
please; don't re-open the wound by referring to it in your next letter.
I've been writing a book, all last winter in the evenings, and all the
summer when I wasn't teaching Latin to my two stupid children. I just
finished it before college opened and sent it to a publisher. He kept
it two months, and I was certain he was going to take it; but yesterday
morning an express parcel came (thirty cents due) and there it was back
again with a letter from the publisher, a very nice, fatherly
letter—but frank! He said he saw from the address that I was still at
college, and if I would accept some advice, he would suggest that I put
all of my energy into my lessons and wait until I graduated before
beginning to write. He enclosed his reader's opinion. Here it is:
'Plot highly improbable. Characterization exaggerated. Conversation
unnatural. A good deal of humour but not always in the best of taste.
Tell her to keep on trying, and in time she may produce a real book.'
Not on the whole flattering, is it, Daddy? And I thought I was making
a notable addition to American literature. I did truly. I was
planning to surprise you by writing a great novel before I graduated.
I collected the material for it while I was at Julia's last Christmas.
But I dare say the editor is right. Probably two weeks was not enough
in which to observe the manners and customs of a great city.
I took it walking with me yesterday afternoon, and when I came to the
gas house, I went in and asked the engineer if I might borrow his
furnace. He politely opened the door, and with my own hands I chucked
it in. I felt as though I had cremated my only child!
I went to bed last night utterly dejected; I thought I was never going
to amount to anything, and that you had thrown away your money for
nothing. But what do you think? I woke up this morning with a
beautiful new plot in my head, and I've been going about all day
planning my characters, just as happy as I could be. No one can ever
accuse me of being a pessimist! If I had a husband and twelve children
swallowed by an earthquake one day, I'd bob up smilingly the next
morning and commence to look for another set.
I dreamed the funniest dream last night. I thought I went into a book
store and the clerk brought me a new book named The Life and Letters of
Judy Abbott. I could see it perfectly plainly—red cloth binding with
a picture of the John Grier Home on the cover, and my portrait for a
frontispiece with, 'Very truly yours, Judy Abbott,' written below. But
just as I was turning to the end to read the inscription on my
tombstone, I woke up. It was very annoying! I almost found out whom
I'm going to marry and when I'm going to die.
Don't you think it would be interesting if you really could read the
story of your life—written perfectly truthfully by an omniscient
author? And suppose you could only read it on this condition: that
you would never forget it, but would have to go through life knowing
ahead of time exactly how everything you did would turn out, and
foreseeing to the exact hour the time when you would die. How many
people do you suppose would have the courage to read it then? or how
many could suppress their curiosity sufficiently to escape from reading
it, even at the price of having to live without hope and without
Life is monotonous enough at best; you have to eat and sleep about so
often. But imagine how DEADLY monotonous it would be if nothing
unexpected could happen between meals. Mercy! Daddy, there's a blot,
but I'm on the third page and I can't begin a new sheet.
I'm going on with biology again this year—very interesting subject;
we're studying the alimentary system at present. You should see how
sweet a cross-section of the duodenum of a cat is under the microscope.
Also we've arrived at philosophy—interesting but evanescent. I prefer
biology where you can pin the subject under discussion to a board.
There's another! And another! This pen is weeping copiously. Please
excuse its tears.
Do you believe in free will? I do—unreservedly. I don't agree at all
with the philosophers who think that every action is the absolutely
inevitable and automatic resultant of an aggregation of remote causes.
That's the most immoral doctrine I ever heard—nobody would be to blame
for anything. If a man believed in fatalism, he would naturally just
sit down and say, 'The Lord's will be done,' and continue to sit until
he fell over dead.
I believe absolutely in my own free will and my own power to
accomplish—and that is the belief that moves mountains. You watch me
become a great author! I have four chapters of my new book finished
and five more drafted.
This is a very abstruse letter—does your head ache, Daddy? I think
we'll stop now and make some fudge. I'm sorry I can't send you a
piece; it will be unusually good, for we're going to make it with real
cream and three butter balls.
PS. We're having fancy dancing in gymnasium class. You can see by the
accompanying picture how much we look like a real ballet. The one at
the end accomplishing a graceful pirouette is me—I mean I.
My Dear, Dear, Daddy,
Haven't you any sense? Don't you KNOW that you mustn't give one girl
seventeen Christmas presents? I'm a Socialist, please remember; do you
wish to turn me into a Plutocrat?
Think how embarrassing it would be if we should ever quarrel! I should
have to engage a moving-van to return your gifts.
I am sorry that the necktie I sent was so wobbly; I knit it with my own
hands (as you doubtless discovered from internal evidence). You will
have to wear it on cold days and keep your coat buttoned up tight.
Thank you, Daddy, a thousand times. I think you're the sweetest man
that ever lived—and the foolishest!
Here's a four-leaf clover from Camp McBride to bring you good luck for
the New Year.
Do you wish to do something, Daddy, that will ensure your eternal
salvation? There is a family here who are in awfully desperate
straits. A mother and father and four visible children—the two older
boys have disappeared into the world to make their fortune and have not
sent any of it back. The father worked in a glass factory and got
consumption—it's awfully unhealthy work—and now has been sent away to
a hospital. That took all their savings, and the support of the family
falls upon the oldest daughter, who is twenty-four. She dressmakes for
$1.50 a day (when she can get it) and embroiders centrepieces in the
evening. The mother isn't very strong and is extremely ineffectual and
pious. She sits with her hands folded, a picture of patient
resignation, while the daughter kills herself with overwork and
responsibility and worry; she doesn't see how they are going to get
through the rest of the winter—and I don't either. One hundred
dollars would buy some coal and some shoes for three children so that
they could go to school, and give a little margin so that she needn't
worry herself to death when a few days pass and she doesn't get work.
You are the richest man I know. Don't you suppose you could spare one
hundred dollars? That girl deserves help a lot more than I ever did.
I wouldn't ask it except for the girl; I don't care much what happens
to the mother—she is such a jelly-fish.
The way people are for ever rolling their eyes to heaven and saying,
'Perhaps it's all for the best,' when they are perfectly dead sure it's
not, makes me enraged. Humility or resignation or whatever you choose
to call it, is simply impotent inertia. I'm for a more militant
We are getting the most dreadful lessons in philosophy—all of
Schopenhauer for tomorrow. The professor doesn't seem to realize that
we are taking any other subject. He's a queer old duck; he goes about
with his head in the clouds and blinks dazedly when occasionally he
strikes solid earth. He tries to lighten his lectures with an
occasional witticism—and we do our best to smile, but I assure you his
jokes are no laughing matter. He spends his entire time between
classes in trying to figure out whether matter really exists or whether
he only thinks it exists.
I'm sure my sewing girl hasn't any doubt but that it exists!
Where do you think my new novel is? In the waste-basket. I can see
myself that it's no good on earth, and when a loving author realizes
that, what WOULD be the judgment of a critical public?
I address you, Daddy, from a bed of pain. For two days I've been laid
up with swollen tonsils; I can just swallow hot milk, and that is all.
'What were your parents thinking of not to have those tonsils out when
you were a baby?' the doctor wished to know. I'm sure I haven't an
idea, but I doubt if they were thinking much about me.
I just read this over before sealing it. I don't know WHY I cast such
a misty atmosphere over life. I hasten to assure you that I am young
and happy and exuberant; and I trust you are the same. Youth has
nothing to do with birthdays, only with ALIVEDNESS of spirit, so even
if your hair is grey, Daddy, you can still be a boy.
Dear Mr. Philanthropist,
Your cheque for my family came yesterday. Thank you so much! I cut
gymnasium and took it down to them right after luncheon, and you should
have seen the girl's face! She was so surprised and happy and relieved
that she looked almost young; and she's only twenty-four. Isn't it
Anyway, she feels now as though all the good things were coming
together. She has steady work ahead for two months—someone's getting
married, and there's a trousseau to make.
'Thank the good Lord!' cried the mother, when she grasped the fact that
that small piece of paper was one hundred dollars.
'It wasn't the good Lord at all,' said I, 'it was Daddy-Long-Legs.'
(Mr. Smith, I called you.)
'But it was the good Lord who put it in his mind,' said she.
'Not at all! I put it in his mind myself,' said I.
But anyway, Daddy, I trust the good Lord will reward you suitably. You
deserve ten thousand years out of purgatory.
Yours most gratefully,
May it please Your Most Excellent Majesty:
This morning I did eat my breakfast upon a cold turkey pie and a goose,
and I did send for a cup of tee (a china drink) of which I had never
Don't be nervous, Daddy—I haven't lost my mind; I'm merely quoting
Sam'l Pepys. We're reading him in connection with English History,
original sources. Sallie and Julia and I converse now in the language
of 1660. Listen to this:
'I went to Charing Cross to see Major Harrison hanged, drawn and
quartered: he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that
condition.' And this: 'Dined with my lady who is in handsome mourning
for her brother who died yesterday of spotted fever.'
Seems a little early to commence entertaining, doesn't it? A friend of
Pepys devised a very cunning manner whereby the king might pay his
debts out of the sale to poor people of old decayed provisions. What
do you, a reformer, think of that? I don't believe we're so bad today
as the newspapers make out.
Samuel was as excited about his clothes as any girl; he spent five
times as much on dress as his wife—that appears to have been the
Golden Age of husbands. Isn't this a touching entry? You see he
really was honest. 'Today came home my fine Camlett cloak with gold
buttons, which cost me much money, and I pray God to make me able to
pay for it.'
Excuse me for being so full of Pepys; I'm writing a special topic on
What do you think, Daddy? The Self-Government Association has
abolished the ten o'clock rule. We can keep our lights all night if we
choose, the only requirement being that we do not disturb others—we
are not supposed to entertain on a large scale. The result is a
beautiful commentary on human nature. Now that we may stay up as long
as we choose, we no longer choose. Our heads begin to nod at nine
o'clock, and by nine-thirty the pen drops from our nerveless grasp.
It's nine-thirty now. Good night.
Just back from church—preacher from Georgia. We must take care, he
says, not to develop our intellects at the expense of our emotional
natures—but methought it was a poor, dry sermon (Pepys again). It
doesn't matter what part of the United States or Canada they come from,
or what denomination they are, we always get the same sermon. Why on
earth don't they go to men's colleges and urge the students not to
allow their manly natures to be crushed out by too much mental
It's a beautiful day—frozen and icy and clear. As soon as dinner is
over, Sallie and Julia and Marty Keene and Eleanor Pratt (friends of
mine, but you don't know them) and I are going to put on short skirts
and walk 'cross country to Crystal Spring Farm and have a fried chicken
and waffle supper, and then have Mr. Crystal Spring drive us home in
his buckboard. We are supposed to be inside the campus at seven, but
we are going to stretch a point tonight and make it eight.
Farewell, kind Sir.
I have the honour of subscribing myself,
Your most loyall, dutifull, faithfull and obedient servant,
Dear Mr. Trustee,
Tomorrow is the first Wednesday in the month—a weary day for the John
Grier Home. How relieved they'll be when five o'clock comes and you
pat them on the head and take yourselves off! Did you (individually)
ever pat me on the head, Daddy? I don't believe so—my memory seems to
be concerned only with fat Trustees.
Give the Home my love, please—my TRULY love. I have quite a feeling
of tenderness for it as I look back through a haze of four years. When
I first came to college I felt quite resentful because I'd been robbed
of the normal kind of childhood that the other girls had had; but now,
I don't feel that way in the least. I regard it as a very unusual
adventure. It gives me a sort of vantage point from which to stand
aside and look at life. Emerging full grown, I get a perspective on
the world, that other people who have been brought up in the thick of
things entirely lack.
I know lots of girls (Julia, for instance) who never know that they are
happy. They are so accustomed to the feeling that their senses are
deadened to it; but as for me—I am perfectly sure every moment of my
life that I am happy. And I'm going to keep on being, no matter what
unpleasant things turn up. I'm going to regard them (even toothaches)
as interesting experiences, and be glad to know what they feel like.
'Whatever sky's above me, I've a heart for any fate.'
However, Daddy, don't take this new affection for the J.G.H. too
literally. If I have five children, like Rousseau, I shan't leave them
on the steps of a foundling asylum in order to insure their being
brought up simply.
Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Lippett (that, I think, is truthful;
love would be a little strong) and don't forget to tell her what a
beautiful nature I've developed.
Do you observe the postmark? Sallie and I are embellishing Lock Willow
with our presence during the Easter Vacation. We decided that the best
thing we could do with our ten days was to come where it is quiet. Our
nerves had got to the point where they wouldn't stand another meal in
Fergussen. Dining in a room with four hundred girls is an ordeal when
you are tired. There is so much noise that you can't hear the girls
across the table speak unless they make their hands into a megaphone
and shout. That is the truth.
We are tramping over the hills and reading and writing, and having a
nice, restful time. We climbed to the top of 'Sky Hill' this morning
where Master Jervie and I once cooked supper—it doesn't seem possible
that it was nearly two years ago. I could still see the place where
the smoke of our fire blackened the rock. It is funny how certain
places get connected with certain people, and you never go back without
thinking of them. I was quite lonely without him—for two minutes.
What do you think is my latest activity, Daddy? You will begin to
believe that I am incorrigible—I am writing a book. I started it
three weeks ago and am eating it up in chunks. I've caught the secret.
Master Jervie and that editor man were right; you are most convincing
when you write about the things you know. And this time it is about
something that I do know—exhaustively. Guess where it's laid? In the
John Grier Home! And it's good, Daddy, I actually believe it is—just
about the tiny little things that happened every day. I'm a realist
now. I've abandoned romanticism; I shall go back to it later though,
when my own adventurous future begins.
This new book is going to get itself finished—and published! You see
if it doesn't. If you just want a thing hard enough and keep on trying,
you do get it in the end. I've been trying for four years to get a
letter from you—and I haven't given up hope yet.
Goodbye, Daddy dear,
(I like to call you Daddy dear; it's so alliterative.)
PS. I forgot to tell you the farm news, but it's very distressing.
Skip this postscript if you don't want your sensibilities all wrought
Poor old Grove is dead. He got so that he couldn't chew and they had
to shoot him.
Nine chickens were killed by a weasel or a skunk or a rat last week.
One of the cows is sick, and we had to have the veterinary surgeon out
from Bonnyrigg Four Corners. Amasai stayed up all night to give her
linseed oil and whisky. But we have an awful suspicion that the poor
sick cow got nothing but linseed oil.
Sentimental Tommy (the tortoise-shell cat) has disappeared; we are
afraid he has been caught in a trap.
There are lots of troubles in the world!
This is going to be extremely short because my shoulder aches at the
sight of a pen. Lecture notes all day, immortal novel all evening,
make too much writing.
Commencement three weeks from next Wednesday. I think you might come
and make my acquaintance—I shall hate you if you don't! Julia's
inviting Master Jervie, he being her family, and Sallie's inviting
Jimmie McB., he being her family, but who is there for me to invite?
Just you and Lippett, and I don't want her. Please come.
Yours, with love and writer's cramp.
I'm educated! My diploma is in the bottom bureau drawer with my two
best dresses. Commencement was as usual, with a few showers at vital
moments. Thank you for your rosebuds. They were lovely. Master
Jervie and Master Jimmie both gave me roses, too, but I left theirs in
the bath tub and carried yours in the class procession.
Here I am at Lock Willow for the summer—for ever maybe. The board is
cheap; the surroundings quiet and conducive to a literary life. What
more does a struggling author wish? I am mad about my book. I think
of it every waking moment, and dream of it at night. All I want is
peace and quiet and lots of time to work (interspersed with nourishing
Master Jervie is coming up for a week or so in August, and Jimmie
McBride is going to drop in sometime through the summer. He's
connected with a bond house now, and goes about the country selling
bonds to banks. He's going to combine the 'Farmers' National' at the
Corners and me on the same trip.
You see that Lock Willow isn't entirely lacking in society. I'd be
expecting to have you come motoring through—only I know now that that
is hopeless. When you wouldn't come to my commencement, I tore you
from my heart and buried you for ever.
Judy Abbott, A.B.
Isn't it fun to work—or don't you ever do it? It's especially fun
when your kind of work is the thing you'd rather do more than anything
else in the world. I've been writing as fast as my pen would go every
day this summer, and my only quarrel with life is that the days aren't
long enough to write all the beautiful and valuable and entertaining
thoughts I'm thinking.
I've finished the second draft of my book and am going to begin the
third tomorrow morning at half-past seven. It's the sweetest book you
ever saw—it is, truly. I think of nothing else. I can barely wait in
the morning to dress and eat before beginning; then I write and write
and write till suddenly I'm so tired that I'm limp all over. Then I go
out with Colin (the new sheep dog) and romp through the fields and get
a fresh supply of ideas for the next day. It's the most beautiful book
you ever saw—Oh, pardon—I said that before.
You don't think me conceited, do you, Daddy dear?
I'm not, really, only just now I'm in the enthusiastic stage. Maybe
later on I'll get cold and critical and sniffy. No, I'm sure I won't!
This time I've written a real book. Just wait till you see it.
I'll try for a minute to talk about something else. I never told you,
did I, that Amasai and Carrie got married last May? They are still
working here, but so far as I can see it has spoiled them both. She
used to laugh when he tramped in mud or dropped ashes on the floor, but
now—you should hear her scold! And she doesn't curl her hair any
longer. Amasai, who used to be so obliging about beating rugs and
carrying wood, grumbles if you suggest such a thing. Also his neckties
are quite dingy—black and brown, where they used to be scarlet and
purple. I've determined never to marry. It's a deteriorating process,
There isn't much of any farm news. The animals are all in the best of
health. The pigs are unusually fat, the cows seem contented and the
hens are laying well. Are you interested in poultry? If so, let me
recommend that invaluable little work, 200 Eggs per Hen per Year. I am
thinking of starting an incubator next spring and raising broilers.
You see I'm settled at Lock Willow permanently. I have decided to stay
until I've written 114 novels like Anthony Trollope's mother. Then I
shall have completed my life work and can retire and travel.
Mr. James McBride spent last Sunday with us. Fried chicken and
ice-cream for dinner, both of which he appeared to appreciate. I was
awfully glad to see him; he brought a momentary reminder that the world
at large exists. Poor Jimmie is having a hard time peddling his bonds.
The 'Farmers' National' at the Corners wouldn't have anything to do
with them in spite of the fact that they pay six per cent. interest
and sometimes seven. I think he'll end up by going home to Worcester
and taking a job in his father's factory. He's too open and confiding
and kind-hearted ever to make a successful financier. But to be the
manager of a flourishing overall factory is a very desirable position,
don't you think? Just now he turns up his nose at overalls, but he'll
come to them.
I hope you appreciate the fact that this is a long letter from a person
with writer's cramp. But I still love you, Daddy dear, and I'm very
happy. With beautiful scenery all about, and lots to eat and a
comfortable four-post bed and a ream of blank paper and a pint of
ink—what more does one want in the world?
Yours as always,
PS. The postman arrives with some more news. We are to expect Master
Jervie on Friday next to spend a week. That's a very pleasant
prospect—only I am afraid my poor book will suffer. Master Jervie is
Where are you, I wonder?
I never know what part of the world you are in, but I hope you're not
in New York during this awful weather. I hope you're on a mountain
peak (but not in Switzerland; somewhere nearer) looking at the snow and
thinking about me. Please be thinking about me. I'm quite lonely and
I want to be thought about. Oh, Daddy, I wish I knew you! Then when
we were unhappy we could cheer each other up.
I don't think I can stand much more of Lock Willow. I'm thinking of
moving. Sallie is going to do settlement work in Boston next winter.
Don't you think it would be nice for me to go with her, then we could
have a studio together? I would write while she SETTLED and we could
be together in the evenings. Evenings are very long when there's no
one but the Semples and Carrie and Amasai to talk to. I know in
advance that you won't like my studio idea. I can read your
secretary's letter now:
'Miss Jerusha Abbott.
'Mr. Smith prefers that you remain at Lock Willow.
'ELMER H. GRIGGS.'
I hate your secretary. I am certain that a man named Elmer H. Griggs
must be horrid. But truly, Daddy, I think I shall have to go to
Boston. I can't stay here. If something doesn't happen soon, I shall
throw myself into the silo pit out of sheer desperation.
Mercy! but it's hot. All the grass is burnt up and the brooks are dry
and the roads are dusty. It hasn't rained for weeks and weeks.
This letter sounds as though I had hydrophobia, but I haven't. I just
want some family.
Goodbye, my dearest Daddy.
I wish I knew you.
Something has happened and I need advice. I need it from you, and from
nobody else in the world. Wouldn't it be possible for me to see you?
It's so much easier to talk than to write; and I'm afraid your
secretary might open the letter.
PS. I'm very unhappy.
Your note written in your own hand—and a pretty wobbly hand!—came
this morning. I am so sorry that you have been ill; I wouldn't have
bothered you with my affairs if I had known. Yes, I will tell you the
trouble, but it's sort of complicated to write, and VERY PRIVATE.
Please don't keep this letter, but burn it.
Before I begin—here's a cheque for one thousand dollars. It seems
funny, doesn't it, for me to be sending a cheque to you? Where do you
think I got it?
I've sold my story, Daddy. It's going to be published serially in
seven parts, and then in a book! You might think I'd be wild with joy,
but I'm not. I'm entirely apathetic. Of course I'm glad to begin
paying you—I owe you over two thousand more. It's coming in
instalments. Now don't be horrid, please, about taking it, because it
makes me happy to return it. I owe you a great deal more than the mere
money, and the rest I will continue to pay all my life in gratitude and
And now, Daddy, about the other thing; please give me your most worldly
advice, whether you think I'll like it or not.
You know that I've always had a very special feeling towards you; you
sort of represented my whole family; but you won't mind, will you, if I
tell you that I have a very much more special feeling for another man?
You can probably guess without much trouble who he is. I suspect that
my letters have been very full of Master Jervie for a very long time.
I wish I could make you understand what he is like and how entirely
companionable we are. We think the same about everything—I am afraid
I have a tendency to make over my ideas to match his! But he is almost
always right; he ought to be, you know, for he has fourteen years'
start of me. In other ways, though, he's just an overgrown boy, and he
does need looking after—he hasn't any sense about wearing rubbers when
it rains. He and I always think the same things are funny, and that is
such a lot; it's dreadful when two people's senses of humour are
antagonistic. I don't believe there's any bridging that gulf!
And he is—Oh, well! He is just himself, and I miss him, and miss him,
and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the
moonlight because it's beautiful and he isn't here to see it with me.
But maybe you've loved somebody, too, and you know? If you have, I
don't need to explain; if you haven't, I can't explain.
Anyway, that's the way I feel—and I've refused to marry him.
I didn't tell him why; I was just dumb and miserable. I couldn't think
of anything to say. And now he has gone away imagining that I want to
marry Jimmie McBride—I don't in the least, I wouldn't think of
marrying Jimmie; he isn't grown up enough. But Master Jervie and I got
into a dreadful muddle of misunderstanding and we both hurt each
other's feelings. The reason I sent him away was not because I didn't
care for him, but because I cared for him so much. I was afraid he
would regret it in the future—and I couldn't stand that! It didn't
seem right for a person of my lack of antecedents to marry into any
such family as his. I never told him about the orphan asylum, and I
hated to explain that I didn't know who I was. I may be DREADFUL, you
know. And his family are proud—and I'm proud, too!
Also, I felt sort of bound to you. After having been educated to be a
writer, I must at least try to be one; it would scarcely be fair to
accept your education and then go off and not use it. But now that I
am going to be able to pay back the money, I feel that I have partially
discharged that debt—besides, I suppose I could keep on being a writer
even if I did marry. The two professions are not necessarily exclusive.
I've been thinking very hard about it. Of course he is a Socialist,
and he has unconventional ideas; maybe he wouldn't mind marrying into
the proletariat so much as some men might. Perhaps when two people are
exactly in accord, and always happy when together and lonely when
apart, they ought not to let anything in the world stand between them.
Of course I WANT to believe that! But I'd like to get your unemotional
opinion. You probably belong to a Family also, and will look at it
from a worldly point of view and not just a sympathetic, human point of
view—so you see how brave I am to lay it before you.
Suppose I go to him and explain that the trouble isn't Jimmie, but is
the John Grier Home—would that be a dreadful thing for me to do? It
would take a great deal of courage. I'd almost rather be miserable for
the rest of my life.
This happened nearly two months ago; I haven't heard a word from him
since he was here. I was just getting sort of acclimated to the
feeling of a broken heart, when a letter came from Julia that stirred
me all up again. She said—very casually—that 'Uncle Jervis' had been
caught out all night in a storm when he was hunting in Canada, and had
been ill ever since with pneumonia. And I never knew it. I was
feeling hurt because he had just disappeared into blankness without a
word. I think he's pretty unhappy, and I know I am!
What seems to you the right thing for me to do?
Yes, certainly I'll come—at half-past four next Wednesday afternoon.
Of COURSE I can find the way. I've been in New York three times and am
not quite a baby. I can't believe that I am really going to see
you—I've been just THINKING you so long that it hardly seems as though
you are a tangible flesh-and-blood person.
You are awfully good, Daddy, to bother yourself with me, when you're
not strong. Take care and don't catch cold. These fall rains are very
PS. I've just had an awful thought. Have you a butler? I'm afraid of
butlers, and if one opens the door I shall faint upon the step. What
can I say to him? You didn't tell me your name. Shall I ask for Mr.
My Very Dearest Master-Jervie-Daddy-Long-Legs Pendleton-Smith,
Did you sleep last night? I didn't. Not a single wink. I was too
amazed and excited and bewildered and happy. I don't believe I ever
shall sleep again—or eat either. But I hope you slept; you must, you
know, because then you will get well faster and can come to me.
Dear Man, I can't bear to think how ill you've been—and all the time I
never knew it. When the doctor came down yesterday to put me in the
cab, he told me that for three days they gave you up. Oh, dearest, if
that had happened, the light would have gone out of the world for me.
I suppose that some day in the far future—one of us must leave the
other; but at least we shall have had our happiness and there will be
memories to live with.
I meant to cheer you up—and instead I have to cheer myself. For in
spite of being happier than I ever dreamed I could be, I'm also
soberer. The fear that something may happen rests like a shadow on my
heart. Always before I could be frivolous and care-free and
unconcerned, because I had nothing precious to lose. But now—I shall
have a Great Big Worry all the rest of my life. Whenever you are away
from me I shall be thinking of all the automobiles that can run over
you, or the sign-boards that can fall on your head, or the dreadful,
squirmy germs that you may be swallowing. My peace of mind is gone for
ever—but anyway, I never cared much for just plain peace.
Please get well—fast—fast—fast. I want to have you close by where I
can touch you and make sure you are tangible. Such a little half hour
we had together! I'm afraid maybe I dreamed it. If I were only a
member of your family (a very distant fourth cousin) then I could come
and visit you every day, and read aloud and plump up your pillow and
smooth out those two little wrinkles in your forehead and make the
corners of your mouth turn up in a nice cheerful smile. But you are
cheerful again, aren't you? You were yesterday before I left. The
doctor said I must be a good nurse, that you looked ten years younger.
I hope that being in love doesn't make every one ten years younger.
Will you still care for me, darling, if I turn out to be only eleven?
Yesterday was the most wonderful day that could ever happen. If I live
to be ninety-nine I shall never forget the tiniest detail. The girl
that left Lock Willow at dawn was a very different person from the one
who came back at night. Mrs. Semple called me at half-past four. I
started wide awake in the darkness and the first thought that popped
into my head was, 'I am going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!' I ate breakfast
in the kitchen by candle-light, and then drove the five miles to the
station through the most glorious October colouring. The sun came up
on the way, and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed crimson and orange
and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled with hoar frost; the air
was keen and clear and full of promise. I knew something was going to
happen. All the way in the train the rails kept singing, 'You're going
to see Daddy-Long-Legs.' It made me feel secure. I had such faith in
Daddy's ability to set things right. And I knew that somewhere another
man—dearer than Daddy—was wanting to see me, and somehow I had a
feeling that before the journey ended I should meet him, too. And you
When I came to the house on Madison Avenue it looked so big and brown
and forbidding that I didn't dare go in, so I walked around the block
to get up my courage. But I needn't have been a bit afraid; your
butler is such a nice, fatherly old man that he made me feel at home at
once. 'Is this Miss Abbott?' he said to me, and I said, 'Yes,' so I
didn't have to ask for Mr. Smith after all. He told me to wait in the
drawing-room. It was a very sombre, magnificent, man's sort of room. I
sat down on the edge of a big upholstered chair and kept saying to
'I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs! I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!'
Then presently the man came back and asked me please to step up to the
library. I was so excited that really and truly my feet would hardly
take me up. Outside the door he turned and whispered, 'He's been very
ill, Miss. This is the first day he's been allowed to sit up. You'll
not stay long enough to excite him?' I knew from the way he said it
that he loved you—and I think he's an old dear!
Then he knocked and said, 'Miss Abbott,' and I went in and the door
closed behind me.
It was so dim coming in from the brightly lighted hall that for a
moment I could scarcely make out anything; then I saw a big easy chair
before the fire and a shining tea table with a smaller chair beside it.
And I realized that a man was sitting in the big chair propped up by
pillows with a rug over his knees. Before I could stop him he
rose—rather shakily—and steadied himself by the back of the chair and
just looked at me without a word. And then—and then—I saw it was
you! But even with that I didn't understand. I thought Daddy had had
you come there to meet me or a surprise.
Then you laughed and held out your hand and said, 'Dear little Judy,
couldn't you guess that I was Daddy-Long-Legs?'
In an instant it flashed over me. Oh, but I have been stupid! A
hundred little things might have told me, if I had had any wits. I
wouldn't make a very good detective, would I, Daddy? Jervie? What
must I call you? Just plain Jervie sounds disrespectful, and I can't
be disrespectful to you!
It was a very sweet half hour before your doctor came and sent me away.
I was so dazed when I got to the station that I almost took a train for
St Louis. And you were pretty dazed, too. You forgot to give me any
tea. But we're both very, very happy, aren't we? I drove back to Lock
Willow in the dark but oh, how the stars were shining! And this
morning I've been out with Colin visiting all the places that you and I
went to together, and remembering what you said and how you looked.
The woods today are burnished bronze and the air is full of frost.
It's CLIMBING weather. I wish you were here to climb the hills with
me. I am missing you dreadfully, Jervie dear, but it's a happy kind of
missing; we'll be together soon. We belong to each other now really
and truly, no make-believe. Doesn't it seem queer for me to belong to
someone at last? It seems very, very sweet.
And I shall never let you be sorry for a single instant.
Yours, for ever and ever,
PS. This is the first love-letter I ever wrote. Isn't it funny that I