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By JEAN WEBSTER
Author of “Daddy-Long-Legs,” etc., etc.
With sketches by the author and an illustration by Herman Pfeifer
John Grier Home, November 15. day's work is over, and I 'm tired, I Dear Judy:
have n't the spirit to rise and meet it. Betsy and I are just back from a giro And now especially since you 've in our new motor-car. It undoubtedly bought Shadywell, and are going to be does add to the pleasure of institution life. here every summer, I resent having to The car of its own accord turned up Long leave. Next year, when I 'm far away, Ridge Road, and stopped before the gates I'll be consumed with homesickness, of Shadywell. The chains were up, and thinking of all the busy, happy times at the shutters battened down, and the place the John Grier, with you and Betsy and looked closed and gloomy and rain- Percy and our grumbly Scotchman worksoaked. It wore a sort of Fall of the ing away cheerfully without me. How House of Usher air, and did n't in the can anything ever make up to a mother least resemble the cheerful house that used for the loss of 107 children? to greet me hospitably in the summer af- I trust that Judy, Junior, stood the ternoons.
journey into town without upsetting her I hate to have our nice summer ended. usual poise. I am sending her a bit giftie, It seems as though a section of my life made partly by myself and chiefly by Jane. was shut away behind me, and the un- But two rows, I must inform you, were known future was pressing awfully close. done by the doctor. One only gradually Positively, I 'd like to postpone that wed- plumbs the depths of Sandy's nature. ding another six months, but I 'm afraid After a ten-months' acquaintance with the poor Gordon would make too dreadful a man, I discover that he knows how to fuss. Don't think I 'm getting wobbly, knit, an accomplishment he picked up in for I 'm not. It 's just that somehow I his boyhood from an old shepherd on the need more time to think about it, and
Scotch moors. March is getting nearer every day. I He dropped in three days ago and stayed know absolutely that I 'm doing the most for tea, really in almost his old friendly sensible thing. Everybody, man or wo- mood. But he has since stiffened up man,
for being nicely and again to the same man of granite we knew apprc
heerfully married; but all summer. I 've given up trying to oh de
I do hate upheavals, make him out. I suppose, however, that be such a world-with- any one might be expected to be a bit Sometimes when the down with a wife in an insane asylum.
1 Copyright, 1915, by JEAN WEBSTER. All rights reserved.
I wish he'd talk about it once. It 's selfish fact that I and the John Grier are awful having such a shadow hovering in going to be lonely without you this winthe background of your thoughts and ter. I really think it 's entrancing to never coming out into plain sight.
have a husband who engages in such picI know that this letter does n't contain turesque pursuits as financing tropical a word of the kind of that
like railroads and developing asphalt lakes and to hear. But it 's that beastly twilight rubber groves and mahogany forests. I hour of a damp November day, and I 'm wish that Gordon would take to life in in a beastly uncheerful mood. I 'm aw- those picturesque countries; I'd be more fully afraid that I am developing into a thrilled by the romantic possibilities of temperamental person, and Heaven the future. Washington seems awfully knows Gordon can supply all the tempera- commonplace compared with Honduras ment that one family needs! I don't and Nicaragua and the islands of the know where we 'll land if I don't pre- Caribbean. serve my sensibly stolid, cheerful nature. I 'll be down to wave good-by. Have you really decided to go South
Addio! with Jervis? I appreciate your feeling
Sallie. (to a slight extent) about not wanting to be separated from a husband; but it does seem sort of hazardous to me to move so
November 24. young a daughter to the tropics.
Dear Gordon: The children are playing blindman's
back to town, and is sailbuff in the lower corridor. I think I 'll ing next week for Jamaica, where she is have a romp with them, and try to be in to make her headquarters while Jervis a more affable mood before resuming my cruises about adjacent waters on these enpen.
tertaining new ventures of his. Could n't A bientôt !
you engage in traffic in the South Seas? SALLIE. I think I'd feel pleasanter about leaving
my asylum if you had something romantic P.S. These November nights are pretty
and adventurous to offer instead. And cold, and we are getting ready to move
think how beautiful you'd be in those the camps indoors. Our Indians are very
white linen clothes! I really believe I pampered young savages at present, with
might be able to stay in love with a man a double supply of blankets and hot-water bottles. I shall hate to see the camps go;
quite permanently if he always dressed in
white. they have done a lot for us. Our lads
You can't imagine how I miss Judy. will be as tough as Canadian trappers
Her absence leaves a dreadful hole in my when they come in.
up for a November 20. week-end soon? I think the sight of you Dear Judy:
would be very cheering, and I 'm feeling Your motherly solicitude is sweet, but awfully down of late. You know, my I did n't mean what I said. Of course dear Gordon, I like you much better when it 's perfectly safe to convey Judy, Junior, you 're right here before my eyes than to the temperately tropical lands that are when I merely think about you from a washed by the Caribbean. She 'll thrive distance. I believe you must have a sort as long as you don't set her absolutely on of hypnotic influence. Occasionally, after top of the equator. And your bungalow, you 've been away a long time, your spell shaded by palms and fanned by sea- wears a little thin; but when I see you, it breezes, with an ice-machine in the back all comes back. You 've been away now a yard and an English doctor across the long, long time; so, please come fast and bay, sounds made for the rearing of babies. bewitch me over again! My objections were all due to the
December 2. adventure. There are n't any romantic Dear Judy:
possibilities waiting to surprise you around Do you remember in college, when you
each corner. and I used to plan our favorite futures, The disgraceful truth is that one man how we were forever turning our faces does n't seem quite enough for me. I like southward? And now to think it has the variety of sensation that you get only really come true, and you are there, coast- from a variety of men. I 'm afraid I 've ing around those tropical isles! Did you spent too firtatious a youth, and it is n't ever have such a thrill in the whole of
me to settle. your life, barring one or two connected I seem to have a very wandering pen. with Jervis, as when you came up on deck To return: I saw you off, and took the in the early dawn and found yourself rid- ferry back to New York with a horribly ing at anchor in the harbor of Kingston, empty feeling. After our intimate, goswith the water so blue and the palms so sipy three months together, it seems a tergreen and the beach so white?
rible task to tell you my troubles in tones I remember when I first woke in that that will reach to the bottom of the conharbor; I felt like a heroine of grand tinent. My ferry slid right under the opera surrounded by untruly beautiful
nose of your steamer, and I could see you painted scenery. Nothing in my four and Jervis plainly leaning on the rail. I trips to Europe ever thrilled me like the waved frantically, but you never blinked queer sights and tastes and smells of
an eyelash. Your gaze was fixed in those three warm weeks seven years ago. homesick contemplation upon the top of And ever since, I 've panted to get back. the Woolworth Building. When I stop to think about it, I can Back in New York, I took myself to hardly bring myself to swallow our unex- a department store to accomplish a few citing meals; I wish to be dining on cur- trifles in the way of shopping. As I was ries and tamales and mangos. Is n't it entering through their revolving-doors, funny? You 'd think I must have a dash who should be revolving in the other diof creole or Spanish or some warm blood rection but Helen Brooks! We had a in me somewhere, but I 'm nothing on terrible time meeting, as I tried to go earth but a chilly mixture of English and back out, and she tried to come back in ; I Irish and Scotch. Perhaps that is why I thought we should revolve eternally. But hear the South calling. "The palm we finally got together and shook hands, dreams of the pine, and the pine of the and she obligingly helped me choose fifpalm.”
teen dozen pairs of stockings and fifty After seeing you off, I turned back to caps and sweaters and two hundred union New York with an awful wander-thirst suits, and then we gossiped all the way up gnawing at my vitals. I, too, wanted to to Fifty-second Street, where we had be starting off on my travels in a new luncheon at the Women's University blue hat and a new blue suit with a big Club. bunch of violets in my hand. For five I always liked Helen.
She 's not specminutes I would cheerfully have said tacular, but steady and dependable. Will good-by forever to poor dear Gordon in
you ever forget the way she took hold of return for the wide world to wander in. that senior pageant committee and I suppose you are thinking they are not whipped it into shape after Mildred had entirely incompatible - Gordon and the made such a mess of it? How would she wide world; but I don't seem able to get do here as a successor to me? I am filled your point of view about husbands. I see with jealousy at the thought of a succesmarriage as a man must, a good, sensible sor, but I suppose I must face it. workaday institution, but awfully curbing “When did you last see Judy Abbott?" to one's liberty. Somehow, after you're was Helen's first question. married forever, life has lost its feeling of “Fifteen minutes ago," said I. “She
has just set sail for the Spanish main with But as they began to get acquainted, a husband and daughter and nurse and they did n't like the same books or jokes maid and valet and dog."
or people or amusements. He was expan“Has she a nice husband ?"
sive and social and hilarious, and she “None better.”
was n't. First they bored, and then they “And does she still like him?"
irritated, each other. Her orderliness "Never saw a happier marriage." made him impatient, and his disorder
It struck me that Helen looked a trifle liness drove her wild. She would spend bleak, and I suddenly remembered all a day getting closets and bureau drawers that gossip that Marty Keene told us last in order, and in five minutes he would stir summer; so I hastily changed the conver- them into chaos. He would leave his sation to a perfectly safe subject like or- clothes about for her to pick up, and his phans.
towels in a messy heap on the bath-room But later she told me the whole story floor, and he never scrubbed out the tub. herself in as detached and impersonal a And she, on her side, was awfully unreway as though she were discussing the sponsive and irritating, -she realized it characters in a book. She has been living fully,—she got to the point where she alone in the city, hardly seeing any one, would n't laugh at his jokes. and she seemed low in spirits and glad to I suppose most old-fashioned, orthodox talk. Poor Helen appears to have made people would think it awful to break up a an awful mess of her life. I don't know marriage on such innocent grounds. It any one who has covered so much ground seemed so to me at first; but as she went in such a short space of time. Since her on piling up detail on detail, each trivial graduation she has been married, has had in itself, but making a mountainous total, a baby and lost him, divorced her husband, I agreed with Helen that it was awful to quarreled with her family, and come to keep it going It was n't really a marthe city to earn her own living. She is riage; it was a mistake. reading manuscript for a publishing house. So one morning at breakfast, when the
There seems to have been no reason subject of what they should do for the for her divorce from the ordinary point summer came up, she said quite casually of view; the marriage just simply did n't that she thought she would go West and work. They were n't friends. If he had get a residence in some State where you been a woman, she would n't have wasted could get a divorce for a respectable cause; half an hour talking with him. If she had and for the first time in months he agreed been a man, he would have said: “Glad with her. to see you. How are you?” and gone on. You can imagine the outraged feelings And yet they married. Is n't it dreadful of her Victorian family. In all the seven how blind this sex business can make peo- generations of their sojourn in America ple?
they have never had anything like this to She was brought up on the theory that record in the family Bible. It all comes a woman's only legitimate profession is from sending her to college and letting home-making. When she finished col- her read such dreadful modern people as lege, she was naturally eager to start on
Ellen Key and Bernard Shaw. her career, and Henry presented himself. "If he had only got drunk and dragged Her family scanned him closely, and me about by the hair," Helen wailed, "it found him perfect in every respect-good would have been legitimate ; but because family, good morals, good financial posi- we did n't actually throw things at each tion, good-looking. Helen was in love other, no one could see any reason for a with him. She had a big wedding and divorce.” lots of new clothes and dozens of embroid- The pathetic part of the whole business ered towels. Everything looked pro- is that both she and Henry were admirpitious.
ably fitted to make some one else happy.
Saturday morning. I meant to get this letter off two days ago; and here I am with volumes written, but nothing mailed.
We 've just had one of those miserable deceiving nights-cold and frosty when you go to bed, and warm and lifeless when you wake in the dark, smothered under a mountain of blankets. By the time I had removed my own extra covers and plumped up my pillow and settled comfortably, I thought of those fourteen bundled-up babies in the fresh-air nursery. Their so-called night nurse sleeps like a top the whole night through. (Her name is next on the list to be expunged.) So I roused myself again, and made a little blanket-removing tour, and by the time I had finished I was forever awake. It is not often that I pass a nuit blanche; but when I do, I settle world problems. Is n't it funny how much keener your mind is when
you are lying awake in the dark? I began thinking about Helen Brooks, and I planned her whole life over again. I don't know why her miserable story has taken such a hold over me; it 's a disheartening subject for an engaged girl to contemplate. I keep saying to myself, What if Gordon and I, when we really get acquainted, should change our minds about liking each other? The fear grips my heart and wrings it dry. But I am marrying him for no reason in the world except affection.
I'm not particularly ambitious. Neither his position nor his money ever tempted me in the least; and certainly I am not doing it to find my life-work, for in order to marry, I am having to give up the work that I love. I really do love this work; I go about planning and planning their baby futures, feeling that I 'm constructing the nation. Whatever becomes of me in after life, I am sure I 'll be the more capable for having had this tremendous experience. And it is a tremendous experience, the nearness
to humanity that an asylum brings. I am learning so many new things every day that when each Saturday night comes I look back on the Sallie of last Saturday night, amazed at her ignorance.
You know I am developing a funny old characteristic; I am getting to hate change. I don't like the prospect of having my life disrupted. I used to love the excitement of volcanoes, but now a high level plateau is my choice in landscape. I am very comfortable where I am; my desk and closet and bureau drawers are organized to suit me: and, oh, I dread unspeakably the thought of the upheaval that is going to happen to me next year! Please don't imagine that I don't care for Gordon quite as much as any man has a right to be cared for. It is n't that I like him any the less, but I am getting to like orphans the more.
I just met our medical adviser a few minutes ago as he was emerging from the nursery - Allegra is the only person in the institution who is favored by his austere social attentions. He paused in passing to make a polite comment upon the sudden change in the weather, and to express the hope that I would remember him to Mrs. Pendleton when I wrote.
This is a miserable letter to send off on its travels, with scarcely a word of the kind of news that you like to hear. But our bare little orphan-asylum up in the hills must seem awfully far away from the palms and orange-groves and lizards and tarantulas that you are enjoying.
Have a good time, and don't forget the John Grier Home
December 11. Dear Judy:
Your Jamaica letter is here, and I 'm glad to learn that Judy, Junior, enjoys traveling. Write me every detail about your house, and send some photographs, so I can see you in it. What fun it must be to have boat of your own that chugs about those entertaining seas! Have you worn all of your eighteen white dresses