Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Part 2 out of 3
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
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
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 moment.
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
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
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
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, clear 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 it before.
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 downs 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' pardon; I don't consider him a true
Pendleton though, an more than I consider you a true Trustee.
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 (eight seconds).
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
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
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
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 unnecessary verbiage.
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 Plays.
V. Lou McMahon slipped and fell this afternoon at basket ball,
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, an 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
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 yo 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 Lock Willow.
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
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
I don't think I am telling you at all what I started to say,
which was this:
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 South.'
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 from Ohio.
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 Orpingtons.
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 town.
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 HOUSEKEEPER.
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 safety.
With my hand on my heart--farewell.
PS. Isn't that a nice ending? I got it out of Stevenson's
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
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 with me.
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 kitchen.
`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
`We have to leave here at a quarter past ten in order to get
to church by eleven.'
`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,'
`As you please,' said he, `only don't keep the horses standing
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
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
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 letters.
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
And, Daddy, I found your letter waiting for me--pardon--I mean
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 the end.
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,
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
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 dollars.
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?
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
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 Christmas box.
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 engrossing place.
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
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
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 superiors.
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 lessons.
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
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
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 belong?
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 twenty-five.
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
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
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
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 Grammar.
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 again.
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 five days.
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 awfully dog-in-the-mangerish.
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 America!
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 enough touch.
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 girl.
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
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 surprises?
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
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.
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