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215 Fergussen Hall, September 24th.
Dear Kind-Trustee- Who-Sends-Orphans-to-College,
Here I am! I travelled yesterday for four hours in a train. It's a funny sensation, isn't it? I never rode in one before.
College is the biggest, most bewildering place — I get lost whenever I leave my room. I will write you a description later when I'm feeling less confused; also I will tell you about my lessons. Classes don't begin until Monday morning, and this is Saturday night. But I wanted to write a letter first just to get acquainted.
It seems strange to be writing letters to somebody you don't know. It seems strange for me to be writing letters at all — I've never written more than three or four in my life, so please excuse me if these are not a model kind.
Before leaving yesterday morning, Mrs. Lippett and I had a very serious talk. She told me how to behave all the rest of my life, and especially how to behave toward the kind gentleman who is doing so much for me. I must take care to be Very Respectful.
But how can one be very respectful to a person who wishes to be called John Smith? Why couldn't you have picked out a name with a little personality?
I have been thinking about you a great deal
this summer; having somebody take an interest in me after all these years, makes me feel as though I have found a sort of family. It seems as though I belonged to somebody now, and it's a very comfortable feeling. 1 must say, however, that when I think about you, my imagination has very little to work upon. There are just three things that I know:
I. You are tall.
II. You are rich.
III. You hate girls.
I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's sort of insulting to me. Or Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting to you, as though money were the only important thing about you.
So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you won't mind. It's just a private pet name — we won't tell Mrs. Lippett.
The ten o'clock bell is going to ring in two minutes. Our day is divided into sections by bells. We eat and sleep and study by bells. It's very enlivening; I feel like a fire horse all of the time. There it goes! Lights out. Good night.
Observe with what precision I obey rules — due to my training in the John Grier Home.
Yours most respectfully, Jerusha Abbott.
To Mr. Daddy-Long-legs Smith.
I love college and I love you for sending me — I'm very, very happy, and so excited every moment of the time that I can hardly sleep. You can't imagine how different it is from the John Grier Home. I never dreamed there was such a place in the world. I'm feeling sorry for everybody who isn't a girl and who can't come here; I am sure the college you attended when you were a boy couldn't have been so nice.
My room is up in a tower that used to be the contagious ward before they built the new infirmary. There are three other girls on the same floor of the tower — a Senior who wears spectacles and is always asking us please to be a little more quiet, and two Freshmen named Sallie McBride and Julia Rutledge Pendleton. Sallie has red hair and a turnup nose and is quite friendly; Julia comes from one of the first families in New York and hasn't noticed me yet. They room together and the Senior and I have singles. Usually Freshmen can't get singles; they are very few, but I got one without even asking. I suppose the registrar didn't think it would be right to ask a properly brought up girl to room with a foundling. You see there are advantages!
After you've lived in a ward for eighteen years with twenty room-mates, it is restful to be alone. This is the first chance I've ever had to get ac-
quainted with Jerusha Abbott. I think Ãò going to like her. Do you think you are?
They are organizing the Freshman basket-ball team and there's just a chance that I shall make it. I'm little of course, but terribly quick and strong. While the others are hopping about in the air, I can get under their feet and grab the ball. It's a lot of fun practising — out in the athletic field in the afternoon with the trees all red and yellow and the air full of the smell of burning leaves, and everybody laughing and shouting. These are the happiest girls I ever saw — and I am the happiest of all!
I meant to write a long letter and tell you all the things I'm learning (Mrs. Lippett said you wanted to know) but 7th hour has just rung, and in ten minutes I'm due at the athletic field in sport clothes. Don't you hope I'll make the team?
Yours always, Jerusha Abbott.
P. S. (9 o'clock).
Sallie McBride just put her head in at my door. This is what she said:
"I'm so homesick that I simply can't stand it. Do you feel that way?"
I smiled a little and said no I thought I could pull through. At least homesickness is one disease that I've escaped! I never heard of anybody being asylumsick, did you?
2 — 6-302 17
Did you ever hear of Michael Angelo?
He was a famous artist who lived in Italy in the Middle Ages. Everybody in English Literature seemed to know about him and the whole class laughed because I thought he was an archangel. He sounds like an archangel, doesn't he? The trouble with college is that you are expected to know such a lot of things you've never learned. It's very confusing at times. But now, when the girls talk about things that I've never heard of, I just keep still and look them up in the encyclopedia.
I made an awful mistake the first day. Somebody mentioned Maurice Maeterlinck1, and I asked if she was a Freshman. That joke has gone all over college. But anyway, I'm just as bright in class as any of the others — and brighter than some of them!
Sallie is the most amusing person in the world
— and Julia Rutledge Pendleton the least so. It's
1 Maurice Maeterlinck (1862—1949)— Mopic Ìåòåðë³íê
— áåëüã³éñüêèé ïèñüìåííèê — Ìîðèñ Ìåòåðëèíê — áåëüãèé
without any further examination. Julia and I were born to be enemies.
Wednesday. Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,
I've changed my name.
I'm still "Jerusha" in the catalogue, but I'm "Judy" every place else. I didn't quite make up the Judy though. That's what Freddie Perkins used to call me before he could talk plain.
Do you want to know something? I have three pairs of kid gloves. I've had kid mittens before from the Christmas tree, but never real kid gloves with five fingers. I take them out and try them on every little while.
(Dinner bell. Good-by.)
What do you think, Daddy? The English instructor said that my last paper shows an unusual amount of originality. She did, truly. Those were her words. It doesn't seem possible, does it, considering the eighteen years of training that I've had? The aim of the John Grier Home is to turn the ninety-seven orphans into ninety-seven twins.
I hope that I don't hurt your feelings when I criticize the home of my youth? But you have the upper hand, you know, for if I become too imperti-
nent, you can always stop payment on your checks. That isn't a very polite thing to say — but you can't expect me to have any manners; a foundling asylum isn't a young ladies' finishing school.
Nobody here knows that I was brought up in an asylum. I told Sallie McBride that my mother and father were dead, and that a kind old gentleman was sending me to college — which is entirely true so far as it goes. I don't want you to think I am a coward, but I do want to be like the other girls, and that Dreadful Home hanging over my childhood is the one great big difference. If I can turn my back on that and shut out the remembrance, I think I might be just as desirable as any other girl. I don't believe there's any real difference, do you?
Anyway, Sallie McBride likes me! Yours ever,
Saturday morning. October 25th.
I've made the basket-ball team and you ought to see the bruise on my left shoulder. It's blue and mahogany with little streaks of orange. Julia Pendleton tried for the team, but she didn't make it. Hooray!
You see what a mean disposition I have.
College gets nicer and nicer. I like the girls and the teachers and the classes and the campus and the things to eat. We have ice-cream twice a week and we never have corn-meal mush.
You only wanted to hear from me once a month, didn't you? And I've been peppering you with letters every few days! But I've been so excited about all these new adventures that I must talk to somebody; and you're the only one I know. Please excuse my being so chatty; I'll settle pretty soon. If my letters bore you, you can always throw them into the waste-basket. I promise not to write another till the middle of November.
Yours most talkative, Judy Abbott.
November 15th. Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,
You've never heard about my clothes, have you, Daddy? Six dresses, all new and beautiful and bought for me — not handed down from somebody bigger. You gave them to me, and I am very, very, very much obliged. It's a fine thing to be educated — but it's nothing compared to the dizzying experience of owning six new dresses.
I suppose you're thinking now what a frivolous, shallow, little beast she is, and what a waste of money to educate a girl?
But Daddy, if you'd been dressed
the girl who first owned my dress, and she would whisper and giggle and point it out to the others. The bitterness of wearing your enemies' cast-off clothes eats into your soul. P. S. I know I'm not to expect any letters in return, and I've been warned not to bother you with questions, but tell me, Daddy, just this once — are you awfully old or just a little old? And are you perfectly bald or just a little bald? It is very difficult thinking about you in the abstract like a theorem in geometry.
Given a tall rich man who hates girls, but is very generous to one quite impertinent girl, what does he look like? R. S. V. P.2
-ôð. äàéòå â³äïîâ³äü, áóäü ëàñêà (ïðèïèñêà
-ïîæàëóéñòà, îòâåòüòå (ïðèïèñêà â êîíöå
You never answered my question and it was very important.
ARE YOU BALD?
I have it planned exactly what you look like — very satisfactorily — until I reach the top of your head, and then 1 stop. I can't decide whether you have white hair or black hair or sort of sprinkly gray hair or maybe none at all.
Would you like to know what color your eyes are? They're gray, and your eyebrows stick out like a porch-roof and your mouth is a straight line with a tendency to turn down at the corners. Oh, you see, I know! You're an actual old thing with a temper.
I have a new unbreakable rule: never to study at night no matter how many written reviews are coming in the morning. Instead, I read just plain books — I have to, you know, because there are eighteen blank years behind me. You wouldn't believe, Daddy, what an abyss of ignorance my mind is; I am just realizing the depths myself.
I never read "David Copperfield" or "Ivanhoe" or "Cinderella" or "Blue Beard" or "Robinson
Crusoe" or "Jane Eyre" or "Alice in Wonderland" or a word of Rudyard Kipling. I didn't know that Henry the Eighth was married more than once or that Shelly was a poet. I didn't know that people used to be monkeys and that the Garden of Eden was a beautiful myth, I didn't know that George Eliot was a woman. I had never seen a picture of the "Mona Lisa" and (it's true but you won't believe it) I had never heard of Sherlock Holmes.
Now, I know all of these things and a lot of others besides, but you can see how much I need to catch up. And oh, but it's fun! I look forward all day to evening, and then I put a "don't disturb" on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all the cushions behind me on the couch and light the lamp at my elbow, and read and read and read. One book isn't enough. I have four going at once. Just now, they're Tennyson's poems and "Vanity Fair" and Kipling's "Plain Tales." I find that I am the only girl in college who wasn't brought up on "Little Women". I haven't told anybody though (that would stamp me as strange). I just quietly went and bought it with $ 1.12 of my last month's allowance.
(Ten o'clock bell. This is a very interrupted letter.)
The Christmas holidays begin next week and the trunks are up. The corridors are so crowded that you can hardly get through, and everybody is
so noisy with excitement that studying is getting left out. I'm going to have a beautiful time in vacation; there's another Freshman who lives in Texas staying behind, and we are planning to take long walks and — if there's any ice — learn to skate. Then there is still the whole library to be read — and three empty weeks to do it in!
Good-by, Daddy, I hope that you are feeling as happy as I am.
Yours ever, Judy.
P. S. Don't forget to answer my question. If you don't want the trouble of writing, have your secretary telegraph. He can just say:
Mr. Smith is quite bald,
Mr. Smith is not bald,
Mr. Smith has white hair.
And you can spend the twenty-five cents out of
Good-by till January — and a merry Christmas!
Toward the end of the
Exact date unknown.
Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is covered in white snow and
the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corn. It's late afternoon — the sun is just setting (a cold yellow color) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.
Your five gold pieces were a surprise! I'm not used to receiving Christmas presents. But I like them just the same. Do you want to know what I bought with my money?
I. A silver watch in a leather case to wear on
II. Matthew Arnold's poems.
III. A hot-water bottle.
IV. A rug. (My tower is cold.)
V. Five-hundred sheets of yellow manuscript paper. (I'm going to start being an author pretty soon.)
VI. A dictionary of synonyms, (To enlarge the author's vocabulary.)
VII. (I don't much like to confess this last item,
And now, Daddy, never say I don't tell all!
It was a very low motive, if you must know it, that prompted the silk stockings. Julia Pendleton comes into my room to do geometry, and she sits cross legged on the couch and wears silk stockings every night. But just wait — as soon as she gets back from vacation I shall go in and sit on her couch in my silk stockings. You see, Daddy, the miserable creature that I am — but at least I'm
honest; and you know already, from my asylum record that I wasn't perfect, didn't you?
And now, shall I tell you about my vacation, or are you only interested in my education as such?
The girl from Texas is named Leonora Fenton. (Almost as funny as Jerusha, isn't it?) I like her, but not so much as Sallie McBride; I shall never like any one so much as Sallie — except you. I must always like you the best of all, because you're my whole family. Leonora and I and two Sophomores have walked across the country every pleasant day and explored the whole neighbourhood. Once we walked into town — four miles — and stopped at a restaurant where the college girls go for dinner. It was such a fun! Especially for me, because it was so awfully different from the asylum.
Vacation will be over in two days and I shall be glad to see the girls again. My tower is just a little lonely...
Eleven pages — poor Daddy, you must be tired! I meant this to be just a short little thank-you note — but when I get started I seem to have a ready pen.
Good-by, and thank you for thinking of me — I should be perfectly happy except for one little threatening cloud on the horizon. Examinations come in February.
Yours with love. Judy.
P.S. Maybe it isn't proper to send love? If it isn't,
please excuse. But I must love somebody and there's only you and Mrs. Lippett to choose between, so you see — you'll have to put up with it. Daddy dear, because I can't love her.
On the Eve. Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,
You should see the way this college is studying! We've forgotten we ever had a vacation. Fifty-seven irregular verbs have I introduced to my brain in the past four days — I'm only hoping they'll stay till after examinations.
Some of the girls sell their text-books when they're through with them, but I intend to keep mine. Then after I've graduated I shall have my whole education in a row in the book-case, and when I need to use any detail, I can turn to it without the slightest hesitation. So much easier and more accurate than trying to keep it in your head.
Julia Pendleton dropped in this evening to pay a social call, and stayed a full hour. She got started on the subject of family, and I couldn't switch her off. She wanted to know what my mother's maiden name was — did you ever hear such an impertinent question to ask of a person from a foundling asylum? I didn't have the courage to say I didn't know, so I just miserably mentioned the first name I could think of, and that was Montgomery. Then she wanted to know whether I belonged to the
Massachusetts Montgomerys or the Virginia Montgomerys.
Her mother was a Rutherford. The family came over in the ark, and were connected by marriage with Henry the VIII. On her father's side they date back further than Adam.
I meant to write you a nice, cheerful, entertaining letter to-night, but I'm too sleepy — and frightened. The Freshman's lot is not a happy one.
Yours, about to be
Sunday. Dearest Daddy-Long-Legs.
I have some awful, awful, awful news to tell you, but I won't begin with it; I'll try to get you in a good humor first.
Jerusha Abbott has commenced to be an author. A poem entitled "From my Tower," appears in the February Monthly on the first page, which is a very great honour for a Freshman.
I will send you a copy in case you care to read it.
Let me see if I can't think of something else pleasant — Oh, yes! I'm learning to skate, and can glide about quite respectably all by myself. Also I've learned how to slide down a rope from the roof of the gymnasium and I can vault a bar three feet and six inches high — I hope shortly to pull up to four feet.
This is the sunniest, most blinding winter after -noon, with icicles dripping from the fir trees and all the world bending under a weight of snow — except me, and I'm bending under a weight of sorrow.
Now for the news — courage, Judy! — you must tell. Are you surely in a good humor? I flunked mathematics and Latin prose. I am tutoring in them, and will take another examination next month. I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but otherwise I don't care a bit because I've learned such a lot of things not mentioned in the catalogue. I've read seventeen novels and a lot of poetry — really necessary novels like "Vanity Fair" and "Alice in Wonderland."
So you see, Daddy, I'm much more intelligent than if I'd just learnt only Latin. Will you forgive me this once if I promise never to flunk again?
Yours in sackcloth and ashes,
The Ides of March3 DearD. L. L.,
I am studying Latin prose composition. My reexamination comes the 7th hour next Tuesday, and I am going to pass or BUST. So you may expect to hear from me next, whole and happy and free from conditions, or in fragments.
3 The Ides of March— 15 áåðåçíÿ çà äàâíüîðèìñüêèì êàëåíäàðåì — 15 ìàðòà ïî äðåâíåðèìñêîìó êàëåíäàðþ
² will write a respectable letter when it's over. Tonight I have a pressing engagement with the Ablative Absolute.
Yours — in evident haste, J. A.
March 26th. Mr. G. L. L. Smith,
Sir: You never answer any questions; you never show the slightest interest in anything I do. You are probably the horridest one of all those horrid Trustees, and the reason you are educating me is, not because you care a bit about me, but from a sense of Duty.
I don't know a single thing about you. I don't even know your name. It is very dull writing to a Thing. I haven't a doubt but that you throw my letters into the waste-basket without reading them. In future I shall write only about work.
My reexaminations in Latin and geometry came last week. I passed them both and I am now free from conditions.
Yours trully, Jerusha Abbott.
April 2d, Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,
I am a BEAST.
Please forget about that dreadful letter I sent
you last week — I was feeling terribly lonely and miserable and sore-throaty the night I wrote. I didn't know it, but I was just coming down with tonsillitis and grippe and lots of things mixed. I'm in the infirmary now, and have been here for six days; this is the first time they would let me sit up and have a pen and paper. The head nurse is very bossy. But I've been thinking about it all the time and I shan't get well until you forgive me. Here is a picture of the way I look, with a bandage tied around my head in rabbit's ears. Doesn't that arouse your sympathy? I can't write any more; I get sort of shaky when I sit up too long. Please forgive me for being impertinent and ungrateful. I was badly brought up.
Yours with love. Judy Abbott.
The Infirmary. April 4th.
Yesterday evening just toward dark, when I was sitting up in bed looking out at the rain and feeling awfully bored with life in a great institution, the nurse appeared with a long white box addressed
to me, and filled with the loveliest pink rosebuds. And much nicer still, it contained a card with a very polite message written in a funny little uphill hand (but one which shows a great deal of character). Thank you, Daddy, a thousand times. Your flowers make the first real, true present I ever received in my life. If you want to know what a baby I am, I lay down and cried because I was so happy.
Now that I am sure you read my letters, I'll make them much more interesting, so they'll be worth keeping in a safe with red tape around them — only please, take out that dreadful one and burn it up. I'd hate to think that you ever read it over.
Thank you for making a very sick, cross, miserable Freshman cheerful. Probably you have lots of loving family and friends, and you don't know what it feels like to be alone. But I do.
Good-by — I'll promise never to be horrid again, because now I know you're a real person; also I'll promise never to bother you with any more questions.
Do you still hate girls?
Yours forever, Judy.
8th hour, Monday. After chapel, Thursday.
What do you think is my favorite book? Just
3 — 6-302 33
now, I mean; I change every three days. Wuthering Heights*, Emily Bronte was quite young when she wrote it.
Sometimes a dreadful fear comes over me that I'm not a genius. Will you be awfully disappointed, Daddy, if I don't turn out to be a great author? In the spring when everything is so beautiful and green and budding, I feel like turning my back on lessons, and running away to play with the weather. There are such lots of adventures out in the fields! It's much more entertaining to live books than to write them.
May 27th. Daddy-Long-Legs, Esq.
Dear Sir: I am in receipt of a letter from Mrs. Lippett. She hopes that I am doing well in behaviour and studies. Since I probably have no place to go this summer, she will let me come back to the asylum and work for my board until college opens. I HATE THE JOHN GRIER HOME. I'd rather die than go back.
Yours most truthfully, Jerusha Abbott.
4 Wuthering Heights"Ãðîçîâèé ïåðåâàë" — ðîìàí àíãë³éñüêî¿ ïîåòåñè XIX ñò. Åì³ë³¿ Áðîíòå. — "Ãðîçîâîé ïåðåâàë" — ðîìàí àíãëèéñêîé ïîýòåññû XIX â. Ýìèëèè Áðîíòå.
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