Return to calein day main page

caelin day novels
return to caelin-day.com homepage of john Stevenson

 

Dear Enemy
by Jean Webster

 

DEAR ENEMY

 

STONE GATE, WORCESTER,

MASSACHUSETTS,

December 27.
Dear Judy:

Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement.
Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas
present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model
institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money?
Me--I, Sallie McBride, the head of an orphan asylum! My poor
people, have you lost your senses, or have you become addicted to
the use of opium, and is this the raving of two fevered
imaginations? I am exactly as well fitted to take care of one
hundred children as to become the curator of a zoo.

And you offer as bait an interesting Scotch doctor? My dear
Judy,--likewise my dear Jervis,--I see through you! I know
exactly the kind of family conference that has been held about
the Pendleton fireside.

"Isn't it a pity that Sallie hasn't amounted to more since
she left college? She ought to be doing something useful instead
of frittering her time away in the petty social life of
Worcester. Also [Jervis speaks] she is getting interested in
that confounded young Hallock, too good-looking and fascinating
and erratic; I never did like politicians. We must deflect her
mind with some uplifting and absorbing occupation until the
danger is past. Ha! I have it! We will put her in charge of
the John Grier Home." Oh, I can hear him as clearly as if I were
there! On the occasion of my last visit in your delectable
household Jervis and I had a very solemn conversation in regard
to (1) marriage, (2) the low ideals of politicians, (3) the
frivolous, useless lives that society women lead.

Please tell your moral husband that I took his words deeply
to heart, and that ever since my return to Worcester I have been
spending one afternoon a week reading poetry with the inmates of
the Female Inebriate Asylum. My life is not so purposeless as it
appears.

Also let me assure you that the politician is not dangerously
imminent; and that, anyway, he is a very desirable politician,
even though his views on tariff and single tax and trade-unionism
do not exactly coincide with Jervis's.

Your desire to dedicate my life to the public good is very
sweet, but you should look at it from the asylum's point of view.

Have you no pity for those poor defenseless little orphan
children?

I have, if you haven't, and I respectfully decline the
position which you offer.

I shall be charmed, however, to accept your invitation to
visit you in New York, though I must acknowledge that I am not
very excited over the list of gaieties you have planned.

Please substitute for the New York Orphanage and the
Foundling Hospital a few theaters and operas and a dinner or so.
I have two new evening gowns and a blue and gold coat with a
white fur collar.

I dash to pack them; so telegraph fast if you don't wish to
see me for myself alone, but only as a successor to Mrs. Lippett.
Yours as ever,

Entirely frivolous,

And intending to remain so,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

P.S. Your invitation is especially seasonable. A charming young
politician named Gordon Hallock is to be in New York next week.
I am sure you will like him when you know him better. P.S. 2.
Sallie taking her afternoon walk as Judy would like to see her:

 

I ask you again, have you both gone mad?

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

February 15.
Dear Judy:

We arrived in a snowstorm at eleven last night, Singapore and
Jane and I. It does not appear to be customary for
superintendents of orphan asylums to bring with them personal
maids and Chinese chows. The night watchman and housekeeper, who
had waited up to receive me, were thrown into an awful flutter.
They had never seen the like of Sing, and thought that I was
introducing a wolf into the fold. I reassured them as to his
dogginess, and the watchman, after studying his black tongue,
ventured a witticism. He wanted to know if I fed him on
huckleberry pie.

It was difficult to find accommodations for my family, Poor
Sing was dragged off whimpering to a strange woodshed, and given
a piece of burlap. Jane did not fare much better. There was not
an extra bed in the building, barring a five-foot crib in the
hospital room. She, as you know, approaches six. We tucked her
in, and she spent the night folded up like a jackknife. She has
limped about today, looking like a decrepit letter S, openly
deploring this latest escapade on the part of her flighty
mistress, and longing for the time when we shall come to our
senses, and return to the parental fireside in Worcester.

I know that she is going to spoil all my chances of being
popular with the rest of the staff. Having her here is the
silliest idea that was ever conceived, but you know my family. I
fought their objections step by step, but they made their last
stand on Jane. If I brought her along to see that I ate
nourishing food and didn't stay up all night, I might come--
temporarily; but if I refused to bring her--oh, dear me, I am
not sure that I was ever again to cross the threshold of Stone
Gate! So here we are, and neither of us very welcome, I am
afraid.

I woke by a gong at six this morning, and lay for a time
listening to the racket that twenty-five little girls made in the
lavatory over my head. It appears that they do not get baths,--
just face-washes,--but they make as much splashing as twenty-five
puppies in a pool. I rose and dressed and explored a bit. You
were wise in not having me come to look the place over before I
engaged.

While my little charges were at breakfast, it seemed a happy
time to introduce myself; so I sought the dining room. Horror
piled on horror--those bare drab walls and oil-cloth-covered
tables with tin cups and plates and wooden benches, and, by way
of decoration, that one illuminated text, "The Lord Will
Provide"! The trustee who added that last touch must possess a
grim sense of humor.

Really, Judy, I never knew there was any spot in the world so
entirely ugly; and when I saw those rows and rows of pale,
listless, blue-uniformed children, the whole dismal business
suddenly struck me with such a shock that I almost collapsed. It
seemed like an unachievable goal for one person to bring sunshine
to one hundred little faces when what they need is a mother
apiece.

I plunged into this thing lightly enough, partly because you
were too persuasive, and mostly, I honestly think, because that
scurrilous Gordon Hallock laughed so uproariously at the idea of
my being able to manage an asylum. Between you all you
hypnotized me. And then of course, after I began reading up on
the subject and visiting all those seventeen institutions, I got
excited over orphans, and wanted to put my own ideas into
practice. But now I'm aghast at finding myself here; it's such a
stupendous undertaking. The future health and happiness of a
hundred human beings lie in my hands, to say nothing of their
three or four hundred children and thousand grandchildren. The
thing's geometrically progressive. It's awful. Who am I to
undertake this job? Look, oh, look for another superintendent!

Jane says dinner's ready. Having eaten two of your
institution meals, the thought of another doesn't excite me.

LATER.

 

The staff had mutton hash and spinach, with tapioca pudding
for dessert. What the children had I hate to consider.

I started to tell you about my first official speech at
breakfast this morning. It dealt with all the wonderful new
changes that are to come to the John Grier Home through the
generosity of Mr. Jervis Pendleton, the president of our board of
trustees, and of Mrs. Pendleton, the dear "Aunt Judy" of every
little boy and girl here.

Please don't object to my featuring the Pendleton family so
prominently. I did it for political reasons. As the entire
working staff of the institution was present, I thought it a good
opportunity to emphasize the fact that all of these upsetting,
innovations come straight from headquarters, and not out of my
excitable brain.

The children stopped eating and stared. The conspicuous
color of my hair and the frivolous tilt of my nose are evidently
new attributes in a superintendent. My colleagues also showed
plainly that they consider me too young and too inexperienced to
be set in authority. I haven't seen Jervis's wonderful Scotch
doctor yet, but I assure you that he will have to be VERY
wonderful to make up for the rest of these people, especially the
kindergarten teacher. Miss Snaith and I clashed early on the
subject of fresh air; but I intend to get rid of this dreadful
institution smell, if I freeze every child into a little ice
statue.

This being a sunny, sparkling, snowy afternoon, I ordered
that dungeon of a playroom closed and the children out of doors.

"She's chasin' us out," I heard one small urchin grumbling as
he struggled into a two-years-too-small overcoat.

They simply stood about the yard, all humped in their
clothes, waiting patiently to be allowed to come back in. No
running or shouting or coasting or snowballs. Think of it!
These children don't know how to play.

STILL LATER.

 

I have already begun the congenial task of spending your
money. I bought eleven hot-water bottles this afternoon (every
one that the village drug store contained) likewise some woolen
blankets and padded quilts. And the windows are wide open in the
babies' dormitory. Those poor little tots are going to enjoy the
perfectly new sensation of being able to breathe at night.

There are a million things I want to grumble about, but it's
half-past ten, and Jane says I MUST go to bed.

Yours in command,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. Before turning in, I tiptoed through the corridor to make
sure that all was right, and what do you think I found? Miss
Snaith softly closing the windows in the babies' dormitory! Just
as soon as I can find a suitable position for her in an old
ladies' home, I am going to discharge that woman.

Jane takes the pen from my hand.

Good night.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

February 20.
Dear Judy:

Dr. Robin MacRae called this afternoon to make the acquaintance
of the new superintendent. Please invite him to dinner upon the
occasion of his next visit to New York, and see for yourself what
your husband has done. Jervis grossly misrepresented the facts
when he led me to believe that one of the chief advantages of my
position would be the daily intercourse with a man of Dr.
MacRae's polish and brilliancy and scholarliness and charm.

He is tall and thinnish, with sandy hair and cold gray eyes.
During the hour he spent in my society (and I was very sprightly)
no shadow of a smile so much as lightened the straight line of
his mouth. Can a shadow lighten? Maybe not; but, anyway, what
IS the matter with the man? Has he committed some remorseful
crime, or is his taciturnity due merely to his natural
Scotchness? He's as companionable as a granite tombstone!

Incidentally, our doctor didn't like me any more than I liked
him. He thinks I'm frivolous and inconsequential, and totally
unfitted for this position of trust. I dare say Jervis has had a
letter from him by now asking to have me removed.

In the matter of conversation we didn't hit it off in the
least. He discussed broadly and philosophically the evils of
institutional care for dependent children, while I lightly
deplored the unbecoming coiffure that prevails among our girls.

To prove my point, I had in Sadie Kate, my special errand
orphan. Her hair is strained back as tightly as though it had
been done with a monkey wrench, and is braided behind into two
wiry little pigtails. Decidedly, orphans' ears need to be
softened. But Dr. Robin MacRae doesn't give a hang whether their
ears are becoming or not; what he cares about is their stomachs.
We also split upon the subject of red petticoats. I don't see
how any little girl can preserve any self-respect when dressed in
a red flannel petticoat an irregular inch longer than her blue
checked gingham dress; but he thinks that red petticoats are
cheerful and warm and hygienic. I foresee a warlike reign for
the new superintendent.

In regard to the doctor, there is just one detail to be
thankful for: he is almost as new as I am, and he cannot instruct
me in the traditions of the asylum. I don't believe I COULD have
worked with the old doctor, who, judging from the specimens of
his art that he left behind, knew as much about babies as a
veterinary surgeon.

In the matter of asylum etiquette, the entire staff has
undertaken my education. Even the cook this morning told me
firmly that the John Grier Home has corn meal mush on Wednesday
nights.

Are you searching hard for another superintendent? I'll stay
until she comes, but please find her fast.

Yours,

With my mind made up,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

 

SUP'T'S OFFICE,

JOHN GRIER HOME,

February 27.
Dear Gordon:

Are you still insulted because I wouldn't take your advice?
Don't you know that a reddish-haired person of Irish forebears,
with a dash of Scotch, can't be driven, but must be gently led?
Had you been less obnoxiously insistent, I should have listened
sweetly, and been saved. As it is, I frankly confess that I have
spent the last five days in repenting our quarrel. You were
right, and I was wrong, and, as you see, I handsomely acknowledge
it. If I ever emerge from this present predicament, I shall in
the future be guided (almost always) by your judgment. Could any
woman make a more sweeping retraction than that?

The romantic glamour which Judy cast over this orphan asylum
exists only in her poetic imagination. The place is AWFUL.
Words can't tell you how dreary and dismal and smelly it is: long
corridors, bare walls; blue-uniformed, dough-faced little inmates
that haven't the slightest resemblance to human children. And
oh, the dreadful institution smell! A mingling of wet scrubbed
floors, unaired rooms, and food for a hundred people always
steaming on the stove.

The asylum not only has to be made over, but every child as
well, and it's too herculean a task for such a selfish,
luxurious, and lazy person as Sallie McBride ever to have
undertaken. I'm resigning the very first moment that Judy can
find a suitable successor, but that, I fear, will not be
immediately. She has gone off South, leaving me stranded, and of
course, after having promised, I can't simply abandon her
asylum. But in the meantime I assure you that I'm homesick.

Write me a cheering letter, and send a flower to brighten my
private drawing room. I inherited it, furnished, from Mrs.
Lippett. The wall is covered with a tapestry paper in brown and
red; the furniture is electric-blue plush, except the center
table, which is gilt. Green predominates in the carpet. If you
presented some pink rosebuds, they would complete the color
scheme.

I really was obnoxious that last evening, but you are
avenged.

Remorsefully yours,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. You needn't have been so grumpy about the Scotch doctor.
The man is everything dour that the word "Scotch" implies. I
detest him on sight, and he detests me. Oh, we're going to have
a sweet time working together

 

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

February 22.

My dear Gordon:

Your vigorous and expensive message is here. I know that you
have plenty of money, but that is no reason why you should waste
it so frivolously. When you feel so bursting with talk that only
a hundred-word telegram will relieve an explosion, at least turn
it into a night lettergram. My orphans can use the money if you
don't need it.

Also, my dear sir, please use a trifle of common sense. Of
course I can't chuck the asylum in the casual manner you
suggest. It wouldn't be fair to Judy and Jervis. If you
will pardon the statement, they have been my friends for many
more years than you, and I have no intention of letting them go
hang. I came up here in a spirit of--well, say adventure, and I
must see the venture through. You wouldn't like me if I were a
short sport. This doesn't mean, however, that I am sentencing
myself for life; I am in tending to resign just as soon as the
opportunity comes. But really I ought to feel somewhat gratified
that the Pendletons were willing to trust me with such a
responsible post. Though you, my dear sir, do not suspect it, I
possess considerable executive ability, and more common sense
than is visible on the surface. If I chose to put my whole soul
into this enterprise, I could make the rippingest superintendent
that any 111 orphans ever had.

I suppose you think that's funny? It's true. Judy and
Jervis know it, and that's why they asked me to come. So you
see, when they have shown so much confidence in me, I can't throw
them over in quite the unceremonious fashion you suggest. So
long as I am here, I am going to accomplish just as much as it is
given one person to accomplish every twenty-four hours. I am
going to turn the place over to my successor with things moving
fast in the right direction.

But in the meantime please don't wash your hands of me under
the belief that I'm too busy to be homesick; for I'm not. I wake
up every morning and stare at Mrs. Lippett's wallpaper in a sort
of daze, feeling as though it's some bad dream, and I'm not
really here. What on earth was I thinking of to turn my back
upon my nice cheerful own home and the good times that by rights
are mine? I frequently agree with your opinion of my sanity.

But why, may I ask, should you be making such a fuss? You
wouldn't be seeing me in any case. Worcester is quite as far
from Washington as the John Grier Home. And I will add, for your
further comfort, that whereas there is no man in the
neighborhood of this asylum who admires red hair, in Worcester
there are several. Therefore, most difficult of men, please be
appeased. I didn't come entirely to spite you. I wanted an
adventure in life, and, oh dear! oh dear! I'm having it!
PLEASE write soon, and cheer me up.
Yours in sackcloth,

SALLIE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

February 24.
Dear Judy:

You tell Jervis that I am not hasty at forming judgments. I have
a sweet, sunny, unsuspicious nature, and I like everybody,
almost. But no one could like that Scotch doctor. He NEVER
smiles.

He paid me another visit this afternoon. I invited him to
accommodate himself in one of Mrs. Lippett's electric-blue
chairs, and then sat down opposite to enjoy the harmony. He was
dressed in a mustard-colored homespun, with a dash of green and a
glint of yellow in the weave, a "heather mixture" calculated to
add life to a dull Scotch moor. Purple socks and a red tie, with
an amethyst pin, completed the picture. Clearly, your paragon of
a doctor is not going to be of much assistance in pulling up the
esthetic tone of this establishment.

During the fifteen minutes of his call he succinctly outlined
all the changes he wishes to see accomplished in this
institution. HE forsooth! And what, may I ask, are the duties
of a superintendent? Is she merely a figurehead to take
orders from the visiting physician?

It's up wi' the bonnets o' McBride and MacRae!

I am,

Indignantly yours,
SALLIE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Monday.
Dear Dr. MacRae:

I am sending this note by Sadie Kate, as it seems impossible to
reach you by telephone. Is the person who calls herself Mrs.
McGur-rk and hangs up in the middle of a sentence your
housekeeper? If she answers the telephone often, I don't see how
your patients have any patience left.

As you did not come this morning, per agreement, and the
painters did come, I was fain to choose a cheerful corn color to
be placed upon the walls of your new laboratory room. I trust
there is nothing unhygienic about corn color.

Also, if you can spare a moment this afternoon, kindly motor
yourself to Dr. Brice's on Water Street and look at the dentist's
chair and appurtenances which are to be had at half-price. If
all of the pleasant paraphernalia of his profession were here,--
in a corner of your laboratory,--Dr. Brice could finish his 111
new patients with much more despatch than if we had to transport
them separately to Water Street. Don't you think that's a useful
idea? It came to me in the middle of the night, but as I never
happened to buy a dentist's chair before, I'd appreciate some
professional advice.
Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

March 1.
Dear Judy:
Do stop sending me telegrams!

Of course I know that you want to know everything that is
happening, and I would send a daily bulletin, but I truly don't
find a minute. I am so tired when night comes that if it weren't
for Jane's strict discipline, I should go to bed with my clothes
on.

Later, when we slip a little more into routine, and I can be
sure that my assistants are all running off their respective
jobs, I shall be the regularest correspondent you ever had.

It was five days ago, wasn't it, that I wrote? Things have
been happening in those five days. The MacRae and I have mapped
out a plan of campaign, and are stirring up this place to its
sluggish depths. I like him less and less, but we have declared
a sort of working truce. And the man IS a worker. I always
thought I had sufficient energy myself, but when an improvement
is to be introduced, I toil along panting in his wake. He is as
stubborn and tenacious and bull-doggish as a Scotchman can be,
but he does understand babies; that is, he understands their
physiological aspects. He hasn't any more feeling for them
personally than for so many frogs that he might happen to be
dissecting.

Do you remember Jervis's holding forth one evening for an
hour or so about our doctor's beautiful humanitarian ideals?
C'EST A RIRE! The man merely regards the J. G. H. as his own
private laboratory, where he can try out scientific experiments
with no loving parents to object. I shouldn't be surprised
anyday to find him introducing scarlet fever cultures into
the babies' porridge in order to test a newly invented serum.

Of the house staff, the only two who strike me as really
efficient are the primary teacher and the furnace-man. You
should see how the children run to meet Miss Matthews and beg for
caresses, and how painstakingly polite they are to the other
teachers. Children are quick to size up character. I shall be
very embarrassed if they are too polite to me.

Just as soon as I get my bearings a little, and know exactly
what we need, I am going to accomplish some widespread
discharging. I should like to begin with Miss Snaith; but I
discover that she is the niece of one of our most generous
trustees, and isn't exactly dischargeable. She's a vague,
chinless, pale-eyed creature, who talks through her nose and
breathes through her mouth. She can't say anything decisively
and then stop; her sentences all trail off into incoherent
murmurings. Every time I see the woman I feel an almost
uncontrollable desire to take her by the shoulders and shake some
decision into her. And Miss Snaith is the one who has had entire
supervision of the seventeen little tots aged from two to five!
But, anyway, even if I can't discharge her, I have reduced her to
a subordinate position without her being aware of the fact.

The doctor has found for me a charming girl who lives a few
miles from here and comes in every day to manage the
kindergarten. She has big, gentle, brown eyes, like a cow's, and
motherly manners (she is just nineteen), and the babies love her.

At the head of the nursery I have placed a jolly, comfortable
middle-aged woman who has reared five of her own and has a hand
with bairns. Our doctor also found her. You see, he is useful.
She is technically under Miss Snaith, but is usurping
dictatorship in a satisfactory fashion. I can now sleep at night
without being afraid that my babies are being inefficiently
murdered.

You see, our reforms are getting started; and while I
acquiesce with all the intelligence at my command to our
doctor's basic scientific upheavals, still, they sometimes leave
me cold. The problem that keeps churning and churning in my mind
is: How can I ever instil enough love and warmth and sunshine
into those bleak little lives? And I am not sure that the
doctor's science will accomplish that.

One of our most pressing INTELLIGENT needs just now is to get
our records into coherent form. The books have been most
outrageously unkept. Mrs. Lippett had a big black account book
into which she jumbled any facts that happened to drift her way
as to the children's family, their conduct, and their health.
But for weeks at a time she didn't trouble to make an entry. If
any adopting family wants to know a child's parentage, half the
time we can't even tell where we got the child!

"Where did you come from, baby dear?"
"The blue sky opened, and I am here,"

is an exact description of their arrival.

We need a field worker to travel about the country and pick
up all the hereditary statistics she can about our chicks. It
will be an easy matter, as most of them have relatives. What do
you think of Janet Ware for the job? You remember what a shark
she was in economics; she simply battened on tables and charts
and surveys.

I have also to inform you that the John Grier Home is
undergoing a very searching physical examination, and it is the
shocking truth that out of the twenty-eight poor little rats so
far examined only five are up to specification. And the five
have not been here long.

Do you remember the ugly green reception room on the first
floor? I have removed as much of its greenness as possible, and
fitted it up as the doctor's laboratory. It contains scales and
drugs and, most professional touch of all, a dentist's chair and
one of those sweet grinding machines. (Bought them second-
hand from Doctor Brice in the village, who is putting in, for the
gratification of his own patients, white enamel and nickel-
plate.) That drilling machine is looked upon as an infernal
engine, and I as an infernal monster for instituting it. But
every little victim who is discharged FILLED may come to my room
every day for a week and receive two pieces of chocolate. Though
our children are not conspicuously brave, they are, we discover,
fighters. Young Thomas Kehoe nearly bit the doctor's thumb in
two after kicking over a tableful of instruments. It requires
physical strength as well as skill to be dental adviser to the J.
G. H.
. . . . . . . . . .

Interrupted here to show a benevolent lady over the
institution. She asked fifty irrelevant questions, took up an
hour of my time, then finally wiped away a tear and left a dollar
for my "poor little charges."

So far, my poor little charges are not enthusiastic about
these new reforms. They don't care much for the sudden draft of
fresh air that has blown in upon them, or the deluge of water. I
am shoving in two baths a week, and as soon as we collect tubs
enough and a few extra faucets, they are going to get SEVEN.

But at least I have started one most popular reform. Our
daily bill of fare has been increased, a change deplored by the
cook as causing trouble, and deplored by the rest of the staff as
causing an immoral increase in expense. ECONOMY spelt in
capitals has been the guiding principle of this institution for
so many years that it has become a religion. I assure my timid
co-workers twenty times a day that, owing to the generosity of
our president, the endowment has been exactly doubled, and that I
have vast sums besides from Mrs. Pendleton for necessary purposes
like ice cream. But they simply CAN'T get over the feeling that
it is a wicked extravagance to feed these children.

The doctor and I have been studying with care the menus of
the past, and we are filled with amazement at the mind that could
have devised them. Here is one of her frequently recurring
dinners:

BOILED POTATOES
BOILED RICE
BLANC MANGE

 

It's a wonder to me that the children are anything more than
one hundred and eleven little lumps of starch.

Looking about this institution, one is moved to misquote
Robert Browning.

"There may be heaven; there must be hell;
Meantime, there is the John Grier--well!"
S. McB.

 

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Saturday.
Dear Judy:

Dr. Robin MacRae and I fought another battle yesterday over a
very trivial matter (in which I was right), and since then I have
adopted for our doctor a special pet name. "Good morning,
Enemy!" was my greeting today, at which he was quite solemnly
annoyed. He says he does not wish to be regarded as an enemy.
He is not in the least antagonistic--so long as I mold my policy
upon his wishes!

We have two new children, Isador Gutschneider and Max Yog,
given to us by the Baptist Ladies' Aid Society. Where on earth
do you suppose those children picked up such a religion? I
didn't want to take them, but the poor ladies were very
persuasive, and they pay the princely sum of four dollars and
fifty cents per week per child. This makes 113, which makes us
verycrowded. I have half a dozen babies to give away. Find
me some kind families who want to adopt.

You know it's very embarrassing not to be able to remember
offhand how large your family is, but mine seems to vary from day
to day, like the stock market. I should like to keep it at about
par. When a woman has more than a hundred children, she can't
give them the individual attention they ought to have.

 

Monday.

 

This letter has been lying two days on my desk, and I haven't
found the time to stick on a stamp. But now I seem to have a
free evening ahead, so I will add a page or two more before
starting it on a pleasant journey to Florida.

I am just beginning to pick out individual faces among the
children. It seemed at first as though I could never learn them,
they looked so hopelessly cut out of one pattern, with those
unspeakably ugly uniforms. Now please don't write back that you
want the children put into new clothes immediately. I know you
do; you've already told me five times. In about a month I shall
be ready to consider the question, but just now their insides are
more important than their outsides.

There is no doubt about it--orphans in the mass do not appeal
to me. I am beginning to be afraid that this famous mother
instinct which we hear so much about was left out of my
character. Children as children are dirty, spitty little things,
and their noses all need wiping. Here and there I pick out a
naughty, mischievous little one that awakens a flicker of
interest; but for the most part they are just a composite blur of
white face and blue check.

With one exception, though. Sadie Kate Kilcoyne emerged from
the mass the first day, and bids fair to stay out for all time.
She is my special little errand girl, and she furnishes me
with all my daily amusement. No piece of mischief has been
launched in this institution for the last eight years that did
not originate in her abnormal brain. This young person has, to
me, a most unusual history, though I understand it's common
enough in foundling circles. She was discovered eleven years ago
on the bottom step of a Thirty-ninth Street house, asleep in a
pasteboard box labeled, "Altman & Co."

"Sadie Kate Kilcoyne, aged five weeks. Be kind to her," was
neatly printed on the cover.

The policeman who picked her up took her to Bellevue where
the foundlings are pronounced, in the order of their arrival,
"Catholic, Protestant, Catholic, Protestant," with perfect
impartiality. Our Sadie Kate, despite her name and blue Irish
eyes, was made a Protestant. And here she is growing Irisher and
Irisher every day, but, true to her christening, protesting
loudly against every detail of life.

Her two little black braids point in opposite directions; her
little monkey face is all screwed up with mischief; she is as
active as a terrier, and you have to keep her busy every moment.
Her record of badnesses occupies pages in the Doomsday Book. The
last item reads:

"For stumping Maggie Geer to get a doorknob into her mouth--
punishment, the afternoon spent in bed, and crackers for supper."

It seems that Maggie Geer, fitted with a mouth of unusual
stretching capacity, got the doorknob in, but couldn't get it
out. The doctor was called, and cannily solved the problem with
a buttered shoe-horn. "Muckle-mouthed Meg," he has dubbed the
patient ever since.

You can understand that my thoughts are anxiously occupied in
filling every crevice of Sadie Kate's existence.

There are a million subjects that I ought to consult with the
president about. I think it was very unkind of you and him to
saddle me with your orphan asylum and run off South to play.
It would serve you right if I did everything wrong. While you
are traveling about in private cars, and strolling in the
moonlight on palm beaches, please think of me in the drizzle of a
New York March, taking care of 113 babies that by rights are
yours--and be grateful.

I remain (for a limited time),

S. McBRIDE.

 

SUP'T JOHN GRIER HOME.
Dear Enemy:

I am sending herewith (under separate cover) Sammy Speir, who got
mislaid when you paid your morning visit. Miss Snaith brought
him to light after you had gone. Please scrutinize his thumb. I
never saw a felon, but I have diagnosed it as such.
Yours truly,
S. McBRIDE.

 

SUP'T JOHN GRIER HOME,

March 6.
Dear Judy:

I don't know yet whether the children are going to love me or
not, but they DO love my dog. No creature so popular as
Singapore ever entered these gates. Every afternoon three boys
who have been perfect in deportment are allowed to brush and comb
him, while three other good boys may serve him with food and
drink. But every Saturday morning the climax of the week is
reached, when three superlatively good boys give him a nice
lathery bath with hot water and flea soap. The privilege of
serving as Singapore's valet is going to be the only incentive I
shall need for maintaining discipline.

But isn't it pathetically unnatural for these youngsters to
be living in the country and never owning a pet? Especially when
they, of all children, do so need something to love. I am going
to manage pets for them somehow, if I have to spend our new
endowment for a menagerie. Couldn't you bring back some baby
alligators and a pelican? Anything alive will be gratefully
received.

This should by rights be my first "Trustees' Day." I am
deeply grateful to Jervis for arranging a simple business meeting
in New York, as we are not yet on dress parade up here; but we
are hoping by the first Wednesday in April to have something
visible to show. If all of the doctor's ideas, and a few of my
own, get themselves materialized, our trustees will open their
eyes a bit when we show them about.

I have just made out a chart for next week's meals, and
posted it in the kitchen in the sight of an aggrieved cook.
Variety is a word hitherto not found in the lexicon of the
J.G.H. You would never dream all of the delightful surprises we
are going to have: brown bread, corn pone, graham muffins, samp,
rice pudding with LOTS of raisins, thick vegetable soup, macaroni
Italian fashion, polenta cakes with molasses, apple dumplings,
gingerbread--oh, an endless list! After our biggest girls have
assisted in the manufacture of such appetizing dainties, they
will almost be capable of keeping future husbands in love with
them.

Oh, dear me! Here I am babbling these silly nothings when I
have some real news up my sleeve. We have a new worker, a gem of
a worker.

Do you remember Betsy Kindred, 1910? She led the glee club
and was president of dramatics. I remember her perfectly; she
always had lovely clothes. Well, if you please, she lives only
twelve miles from here. I ran across her by chance yesterday
morning as she was motoring through the village; or, rather, she
just escaped running across me.

I never spoke to her in my life, but we greeted each other
like the oldest friends. It pays to have conspicuous hair; she
recognized me instantly. I hopped upon the running board of her
car and said:

"Betsy Kindred, 1910, you've got to come back to my orphan
asylum and help me catalogue my orphans."

And it astonished her so that she came. She's to be here
four or five days a week as temporary secretary, and somehow I
must manage to keep her permanently. She's the most useful
person I ever saw. I am hoping that orphans will become such a
habit with her that she won't be able to give them up. I think
she might stay if we pay her a big enough salary. She likes to
be independent of her family, as do all of us in these degenerate
times.

In my growing zeal for cataloguing people, I should like to
get our doctor tabulated. If Jervis knows any gossip about him,
write it to me, please; the worse, the better. He called
yesterday to lance a felon on Sammy Speir's thumb, then
ascended to my electric-blue parlor to give instructions as
to the dressing of thumbs. The duties of a superintendent are
manifold.

It was just teatime, so I casually asked him to stay, and he
did! Not for the pleasure of my society,--no, indeed,--but
because Jane appeared at the moment with a plate of toasted
muffins. He hadn't had any luncheon, it seems, and dinner was a
long way ahead. Between muffins (he ate the whole plateful) he
saw fit to interrogate me as to my preparedness for this
position. Had I studied biology in college? How far had I gone
in chemistry? What did I know of sociology? Had I visited that
model institution at Hastings?

To all of which I responded affably and openly. Then I
permitted myself a question or two: just what sort of youthful
training had been required to produce such a model of logic,
accuracy, dignity, and common sense as I saw sitting before me?
Through persistent prodding I elicited a few forlorn facts, but
all quite respectable. You'd think, from his reticence, there'd
been a hanging in the family. The MacRae PERE was born in
Scotland, and came to the States to occupy a chair at Johns
Hopkins; son Robin was shipped back to Auld Reekie for his
education. His grandmother was a M'Lachlan of Strathlachan (I am
sure she sounds respectable), and his vacations were spent in the
Hielands a-chasing the deer.

So much could I gather; so much, and no more. Tell me, I
beg, some gossip about my enemy--something scandalous by
preference.

Why, if he is such an awfully efficient person does he bury
himself in this remote locality? You would think an up-and-
coming scientific man would want a hospital at one elbow and a
morgue at the other. Are you sure that he didn't commit a crime
and isn't hiding from the law?

I seem to have covered a lot of paper without telling you
much. VIVE LA BAGATELLE!
Yours as usual,

SALLIE.

P.S. I am relieved on one point. Dr. MacRae does not pick out
his own clothes. He leaves all such unessential trifles to his
housekeeper, Mrs. Maggie McGurk.

Again, and irrevocably, good-by!

 

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Wednesday.
Dear Gordon:

Your roses and your letter cheered me for an entire morning, and
it's the first time I've approached cheerfulness since the
fourteenth of February, when I waved good-by to Worcester.

Words can't tell you how monotonously oppressive the daily
round of institution life gets to be. The only glimmer in the
whole dull affair is the fact that Betsy Kindred spends four days
a week with us. Betsy and I were in college together, and we do
occasionally find something funny to laugh about.

Yesterday we were having tea in my HIDEOUS parlor when we
suddenly determined to revolt against so much unnecessary
ugliness. We called in six sturdy and destructive orphans, a
step-ladder, and a bucket of hot water, and in two hours had
every vestige of that tapestry paper off those walls. You can't
imagine what fun it is ripping paper off walls.

Two paperhangers are at work this moment hanging the best
that our village affords, while a German upholsterer is on his
knees measuring my chairs for chintz slip covers that will hide
every inch of their plush upholstery.

Please don't get nervous. This doesn't mean that I'm
preparing to spend my life in the asylum. It means only that I'm
preparing a cheerful welcome for my successor. I haven't dared
tell Judy how dismal I find it, because I don't want to cloud
Florida; but when she returns to New York she will find my
official resignation waiting to meet her in the front hall.

I would write you a long letter in grateful payment for seven
pages, but two of my little dears are holding a fight under the
window. I dash to separate them.

Yours as ever,

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

March 8.

My dear Judy:

I myself have bestowed a little present upon the John Grier
Home--the refurnishing of the superintendent's private parlor. I
saw the first night here that neither I nor any future occupant
could be happy with Mrs. Lippett's electric plush. You see, I am
planning to make my successor contented and willing to stay.

Betsy Kindred assisted in the rehabilitation of the Lippett's
chamber of horrors, and between us we have created a symphony in
dull blue and gold. Really and truly, it's one of the loveliest
rooms you've ever seen. The sight of it will be an artistic
education to any orphan. New paper on the wall, new rugs on the
floor (my own prized Persians expressed from Worcester by an
expostulating family). New casement curtains at my three
windows, revealing a wide and charming view, hitherto hidden by
Nottingham lace. A new big table, some lamps and books and a
picture or so, and a real open fire. She had closed the
fireplace because it let in air.

I never realized what a difference artistic surroundings make
in the peace of one's soul. I sat last night and watched my fire
throw nice highlights on my new old fender, and purred with
contentment. And I assure you it's the first purr that has come
from this cat since she entered the gates of the John Grier Home.

But the refurnishing of the superintendent's parlor is the
slightest of our needs. The children's private apartments demand
so much basic attention that I can't decide where to begin. That
dark north playroom is a shocking scandal, but no more shocking
than our hideous dining room or our unventilated dormitories or
our tubless lavatories.

If the institution is very saving, do you think it can ever
afford to burn down this smelly old original building, and put up
instead some nice, ventilated modern cottages? I cannot
contemplate that wonderful institution at Hastings without being
filled with envy. It would be some fun to run an asylum if you
had a plant like that to work with. But, anyway, when you get
back to New York and are ready to consult the architect about
remodeling, please apply to me for suggestions. Among other
little details I want two hundred feet of sleeping porch running
along the outside of our dormitories.

You see, it's this way: our physical examination reveals the
fact that about half of our children are aenemic--aneamic--
anaemic (Mercy! what a word!), and a lot of them have tubercular
ancestors, and more have alcoholic. Their first need is oxygen
rather than education. And if the sickly ones need it, why
wouldn't it be good for the well ones? I should like to have
every child, winter and summer, sleeping in the open air; but I
know that if I let fall such a bomb on the board of trustees, the
whole body would explode.

Speaking of trustees, I have met up with the Hon. Cyrus
Wykoff, and I really believe that I dislike him more than Dr.
Robin MacRae or the kindergarten teacher or the cook. I seem to
have a genius for discovering enemies!

Mr. Wykoff called on Wednesday last to look over the new
superintendent.

Having lowered himself into my most comfortable armchair, he
proceeded to spend the day. He asked my father's business, and
whether or not he was well-to-do. I told him that my father
manufactured overalls, and that, even in these hard times, the
demand for overalls was pretty steady.

He seemed relieved. He approves of the utilitarian aspect of
overalls. He had been afraid that I had come from the family of
a minister or professor or writer, a lot of high thinking and no
common sense. Cyrus believes in common sense.

And what had been my training for this position?

That, as you know, is a slightly embarrassing question. But
I produced my college education and a few lectures at the School
of Philanthropy, also a short residence in the college settlement
(I didn't tell him that all I had done there was to paint the
back hall and stairs). Then I submitted some social work among
my father's employees and a few friendly visits to the Home for
Female Inebriates.

To all of which he grunted.

I added that I had lately made a study of the care of
dependent children, and casually mentioned my seventeen
institutions.

He grunted again, and said he didn't take much stock in this
new-fangled scientific charity.

At this point Jane entered with a box of roses from the
florist's. That blessed Gordon Hallock sends me roses twice a
week to brighten the rigors of institution life.

Our trustee began an indignant investigation. He wished to
know where I got those flowers, and was visibly relieved when he
learned that I had not spent the institution's money for them.
He next wished to know who Jane might be. I had foreseen that
question and decided to brazen it out.

"My maid," said I.

"Your what?" he bellowed, quite red in the face.

"My maid."

"What is she doing here?"

I amiably went into details. "She mends my clothes, blacks
my boots, keeps my bureau drawers in order, washes my hair."

I really thought the man would choke, so I charitably added
that I paid her wages out of my own private income, and paid five
dollars and fifty cents a week to the institution for her board;
and that, though she was big, she didn't eat much.

He allowed that I might make use of one of the orphans for
all legitimate service.

I explained--still polite, but growing bored--that Jane had
been in my service for many years, and was indispensable.

He finally took himself off, after telling me that he, for
one, had never found any fault with Mrs. Lippett. She was a
common-sense Christian woman, without many fancy ideas, but with
plenty of good solid work in her. He hoped that I would be wise
enough to model my policy upon hers!

And what, my dear Judy, do you think of that?

The doctor dropped in a few minutes later, and I repeated
the Hon. Cyrus's conversation in detail. For the first time in
the history of our intercourse the doctor and I agreed.

"Mrs. Lippett indeed!" he growled. "The blethering auld
gomerel! May the Lord send him mair sense!"

When our doctor really becomes aroused, he drops into Scotch.
My latest pet name for him (behind his back) is Sandy.

Sadie Kate is sitting on the floor as I write, untangling
sewing-silks and winding them neatly for Jane, who is becoming
quite attached to the little imp.

"I am writing to your Aunt Judy," say I to Sadie Kate. "What
message shall I send from you?"

"I never heard of no Aunt Judy."

"She is the aunt of every good little girl in this school."

"Tell her to come and visit me and bring some candy," says
Sadie Kate.

I say so, too.

My love to the president,

SALLIE.

 

 

March 13.

MRS. JUDY ABBOTT PENDLETON,

Dear Madam:

Your four letters, two telegrams, and three checks are at hand,
and your instructions shall be obeyed just as quickly as this
overworked superintendent can manage it.

I delegated the dining room job to Betsy Kindred. One
hundred dollars did I allow her for the rehabilitation of that
dreary apartment. She accepted the trust, picked out five likely
orphans to assist in the mechanical details, and closed the door.

For three days the children have been eating from the desks in
the schoolroom. I haven't an idea what Betsy is doing; but she
has a lot better taste than I, so there isn't much use in
interfering.

It is such a heaven-sent relief to be able to leave something
to somebody else, and be sure it will be carried out! With all
due respect to the age and experience of the staff I found here,
they are not very open to new ideas. As the John Grier Home was
planned by its noble founder in 1875, so shall it be run today.

Incidentally, my dear Judy, your idea of a private dining
room for the superintendent, which I, being a social soul, at
first scorned, has been my salvation. When I am dead tired I
dine alone, but in my live intervals I invite an officer to share
the meal; and in the expansive intimacy of the dinnertable I get
in my most effective strokes. When it becomes desirable to plant
the seeds of fresh air in the soul of Miss Snaith, I invite her
to dinner, and tactfully sandwich in a little oxygen between her
slices of pressed veal.

Pressed veal is our cook's idea of an acceptable PIECE DE
RESISTANCE for a dinner party. In another month I am going to
face the subject of suitable nourishment for the executive staff.

Meanwhile there are so many things more important than our own
comfort that we shall have to worry along on veal.

A terrible bumping has just occurred outside my door. One
little cherub seems to be kicking another little cherub
downstairs. But I write on undisturbed. If I am to spend my
days among orphans, I must cultivate a cheerful detachment.

Did you get Leonora Fenton's cards? She's marrying a medical
missionary and going to Siam to live! Did you ever hear of
anything so absurd as Leonora presiding over a missionary's
menage? Do you suppose she will entertain the heathen with skirt
dances?

It isn't any absurder, though, than me in an orphan asylum,
or you as a conservative settled matron, or Marty Keene a social
butterfly in Paris. Do you suppose she goes to embassy balls in
riding clothes, and what on earth does she do about hair? It
couldn't have grown so soon; she must wear a wig. Isn't our
class turning out some hilarious surprises?

The mail arrives. Excuse me while I read a nice fat letter
from Washington.

 

Not so nice; quite impertinent. Gordon can't get over the
idea that it is a joke, S. McB. in conjunction with one hundred
and thirteen orphans. But he wouldn't think it such a joke if he
could try it for a few days. He says he is going to drop off
here on his next trip North and watch the struggle. How would it
be if I left him in charge while I dashed to New York to
accomplish some shopping? Our sheets are all worn out, and we
haven't more than two hundred and eleven blankets in the house.

Singapore, sole puppy of my heart and home, sends his
respectful love.
I also,
S. McB.

 

 

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Friday.
My dearest Judy:

You should see what your hundred dollars and Betsy Kindred did to
that dining room!

It's a dazzling dream of yellow paint. Being a north room,
she thought to brighten it; and she has. The walls are
kalsomined buff, with a frieze of little molly cottontails
skurrying around the top. All of the woodwork--tables and
benches included--is a cheerful chrome yellow. Instead of
tablecloths, which we can't afford, we have linen runners, with
stenciled rabbits hopping along their length. Also yellow bowls,
filled at present with pussywillows, but looking forward to
dandelions and cowslips and buttercups. And new dishes, my
dear--white, with yellow jonquils (we think), though they may be
roses; there is no botany expert in the house. Most wonderful
touch of all, we have NAPKINS, the first we have seen in our
whole lives. The children thought they were handkerchiefs and
ecstatically wiped their noses.

To honor the opening of the new room, we had ice-cream and
cake for dessert. It is such a pleasure to see these children
anything but cowed and apathetic, that I am offering prizes for
boisterousness--to every one but Sadie Kate. She drummed on the
table with her knife and fork and sang, "Welcome to dem golden
halls."

You remember that illuminated text over the dining-room
door--"The Lord Will Provide." We've painted it out, and covered
the spot with rabbits. It's all very well to teach so easy a
belief to normal children, who have a proper family and roof
behind them; but a person whose only refuge in distress will be a
park bench must learn a more militant creed than that.

"The Lord has given you two hands and a brain and a big world
to use them in. Use them well, and you will be provided for; use
them ill, and you will want," is our motto, and that with
reservations.

In the sorting process that has been going on I have got rid
of eleven children. That blessed State Charities Aid Association
helped me dispose of three little girls, all placed in very nice
homes, and one to be adopted legally if the family likes her.
And the family will like her; I saw to that. She was the prize
child of the institution, obedient and polite, with curly hair
and affectionate ways, exactly the little girl that every family
needs. When a couple of adopting parents are choosing a
daughter, I stand by with my heart in my mouth, feeling as though
I were assisting in the inscrutable designs of Fate. Such a
little thing turns the balance! The child smiles, and a loving
home is hers for life; she sneezes, and it passes her by forever.

Three of our biggest boys have gone to work on farms, one of
them out West to a RANCH! Report has it that he is to become a
cowboy and Indian fighter and grizzly-bear hunter, though I
believe in reality he is to engage in the pastoral work of
harvesting wheat. He marched off, a hero of romance, followed by
the wistful eyes of twenty-five adventurous lads, who turned back
with a sigh to the safely monotonous life of the J. G. H.

Five other children have been sent to their proper
institutions. One of them is deaf, one an epileptic, and the
other three approaching idiocy. None of them ought ever to have
been accepted here. This as an educational institution, and we
can't waste our valuable plant in caring for defectives.

Orphan asylums have gone out of style. What I am going to
develop is a boarding school for the physical, moral, and mental
growth of children whose parents have not been able to provide
for their care.

"Orphans" is merely my generic term for the children; a good
many of them are not orphans in the least. They have one
troublesome and tenacious parent left who won't sign a surrender,
so I can't place them out for adoption. But those that are
available would be far better off in loving foster-homes than in
the best institution that I can ever make. So I am fitting them
for adoption as quickly as possible, and searching for the homes.

You ought to run across a lot of pleasant families in your
travels; can't you bully some of them into adopting children?
Boys by preference. We've got an awful lot of extra boys, and
nobody wants them. Talk about anti-feminism! It's nothing to
the anti-masculinism that exists in the breasts of adopting
parents. I could place out a thousand dimpled little girls with
yellow hair, but a good live boy from nine to thirteen is a drug
on the market. There seems to be a general feeling that they
track in dirt and scratch up mahogany furniture.

Shouldn't you think that men's clubs might like to adopt
boys, as a sort of mascot? The boy could be boarded in a nice
respectable family, and drawn out by the different members on
Saturday afternoons. They could take him to ball games and
the circus, and then return him when they had had enough, just as
you do with a library book. It would be very valuable training
for the bachelors. People are forever talking about the
desirability of training girls for motherhood. Why not institute
a course of training in fatherhood, and get the best men's clubs
to take it up? Will you please have Jervis agitate the matter at
his various clubs, and I'll have Gordon start the idea in
Washington. They both belong to such a lot of clubs that we
ought to dispose of at least a dozen boys.

I remain,

The ever-distracted mother of 113.

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

March 18.
Dear Judy:

I have been having a pleasant respite from the 113 cares of
motherhood.

Yesterday who should drop down upon our peaceful village but
Mr. Gordon Hallock, on his way back to Washington to resume the
cares of the nation. At least he said it was on his way, but I
notice from the map in the primary room that it was one hundred
miles out of his way.

And dear, but I was glad to see him! He is the first glimpse
of the outside world I have had since I was incarcerated in this
asylum. And such a lot of entertaining businesses he had to talk
about! He knows the inside of all the outside things you read in
the newspapers; so far as I can make out, he is the social center
about which Washington revolves. I always knew he would get on
in politics, for he has a way with him; there's no doubt about
it.

You can't imagine how exhilarated and set-up I feel, as
though I'd come into my own again after a period of social
ostracism. I must confess that I get lonely for some one who
talks my kind of nonsensical talk. Betsy trots off home every
week end, and the doctor is conversational enough, but, oh, so
horribly logical! Gordon somehow seems to stand for the life I
belong to,--of country clubs and motors and dancing and sport and
politeness,--a poor, foolish, silly life, if you will, but mine
own. And I have missed it. This serving society business is
theoretically admirable and compelling and interesting, but
deadly stupid in its working details. I am afraid I was never
born to set the crooked straight.

I tried to show Gordon about and make him take an interest in
the babies, but he wouldn't glance at them. He thinks I came
just to spite him, which, of course, I did. Your siren call
would never have lured me from the path of frivolity had Gordon
not been so unpleasantly hilarious at the idea of my being able
to manage an orphan asylum. I came here to show him that I
could; and now, when I can show him, the beast refuses to look.

I invited him to dinner, with a warning about the pressed
veal; but he said no, thanks, that I needed a change. So we went
to Brantwood Inn and had broiled lobster. I had positively
forgotten that the creatures were edible.

This morning at seven o'clock I was wakened by the furious
ringing of the telephone bell. It was Gordon at the station,
about to resume his journey to Washington. He was in quite a
contrite mood about the asylum, and apologized largely for
refusing to look at my children. It was not that he didn't like
orphans, he said; it was just that he didn't like them in
juxtaposition to me. And to prove his good intentions, he would
send them a bag of peanuts.

I feel as fresh and revivified after my little fling as
though I'd had a real vacation. There's no doubt about it, an
hour or so of exciting talk is more of a tonic to me than a pint
of iron and strychnine pills.

You owe me two letters, dear Madam. Pay them TOUT DE SUITE,
or I lay down my pen forever.

Yours, as usual,

S. McB.

 

Tuesday, 5 P.M.
My dear Enemy:

I am told that during my absence this afternoon you paid us a
call and dug up a scandal. You claim that the children under
Miss Snaith are not receiving their due in the matter of cod-
liver oil.

I am sorry if your medicinal orders have not been carried
out, but you must know that it is a difficult matter to introduce
that abominably smelling stuff into the inside of a squirming
child. And poor Miss Snaith is a very much overworked person.
She has ten more children to care for than should rightly fall
into the lot of any single woman, and until we find her another
assistant, she has very little time for the fancy touches you
demand.

Also, my dear Enemy, she is very susceptible to abuse. When
you feel in a fighting mood, I wish you would expend your
belligerence upon me. I don't mind it; quite the contrary. But
that poor lady has retired to her room in a state of hysterics,
leaving nine babies to be tucked into bed by whomever it may
concern.

If you have any powders that would be settling to her nerves,
please send them back by Sadie Kate.

Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

 

Wednesday Morning.
Dear Dr. MacRae:

I am not taking an unintelligent stand in the least; I am simply
asking that you come to me with all complaints, and not stir up
my staff in any such volcanic fashion as that of yesterday.

I endeavor to carry out all of your orders--of a medical
nature--with scrupulous care. In the present case there seems to
have been some negligence; I don't know what did become of those
fourteen unadministered bottles of cod-liver oil that you have
made such a fuss about, but I shall investigate.

And I cannot, for various reasons, pack off Miss Snaith in
the summary fashion you demand. She may be, in certain respects,
inefficient; but she is kind to the children, and with
supervision will answer temporarily.

Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

 

Thursday.
Dear Enemy:

SOYEZ TRANQUILLE. I have issued orders, and in the future the
children shall receive all of the cod-liver oil that by rights is
theirs. A wilfu' man maun hae his way.

S. McB.

 

March 22.
Dear Judy:

Asylum life has looked up a trifle during the past few days--
since the great Cod-Liver Oil War has been raging. The first
skirmish occurred on Tuesday, and I unfortunately missed it,
having accompanied four of my children on a shopping trip to the
village. I returned to find the asylum teeming with hysterics.
Our explosive doctor had paid us a visit.

Sandy has two passions in life: one is for cod-liver oil and the
other for spinach, neither popular in our nursery. Some time
ago--before I came, in fact--he had ordered cod-liver oil for all
{aenemic}
of the{ }--Heavens! there's that word again!
{aneamic}
--children, and had given instructions as to its application to
Miss Snaith. Yesterday, in his suspicious Scotch fashion, he
began nosing about to find out why the poor little rats weren't
fattening up as fast as he thought they ought, and he un
earthed a hideous scandal. They haven't received a whiff of cod-
liver oil for three whole weeks! At that point he exploded, and
all was joy and excitement and hysterics.

Betsy says that she had to send Sadie Kate to the laundry on
an improvised errand, as his language was not fit for orphan
ears. By the time I got home he had gone, and Miss Snaith had
retired, weeping, to her room, and the whereabouts of fourteen
bottles of cod-liver oil was still unexplained. He had accused
her at the top of his voice of taking them herself. Imagine Miss
Snaith,--she who looks so innocent and chinless and inoffensive--
stealing cod-liver oil from these poor helpless little orphans
and guzzling it in private!

Her defense consisted in hysterical assertions that she loved
the children, and had done her duty as she saw it. She did not
believe in giving medicine to babies; she thought drugs bad for
their poor little stomachs. You can imagine Sandy! Oh, dear!
oh, dear! To think I missed it!

Well, the tempest raged for three days, and Sadie Kate nearly
ran her little legs off carrying peppery messages back and forth
between us and the doctor. It is only under stress that I
communicate with him by telephone, as he has an interfering old
termagant of a housekeeper who "listens in" on the down-stairs
switch. I don't wish the scandalous secrets of the John Grier
spread abroad. The doctor demanded Miss Snaith's instant
dismissal, and I refused. Of course she is a vague, unfocused,
inefficient old thing, but she does love the children, and with
proper supervision is fairly useful.

At least, in the light of her exalted family connections, I
can't pack her off in disgrace like a drunken cook. I am hoping
in time to eliminate her by a process of delicate suggestion;
perhaps I can make her feel that her health requires a winter in
California. And also, no matter what the doctor wants, so
positive and dictatorial is his manner that just out of self-
respect one must take the other side. When he states that the
world is round, I instantly assert it to be triangular.

Finally, after three pleasantly exhilarating days, the whole
business settled itself. An apology (a very dilute one) was
extracted from him for being so unkind to the poor lady, and full
confession, with promises for the future, was drawn from her. It
seems that she couldn't bear to make the little dears take the
stuff, but, for obvious reasons, she couldn't bear to cross Dr.
MacRae, so she hid the last fourteen bottles in a dark corner of
the cellar. Just how she was planning to dispose of her loot I
don't know. Can you pawn cod-liver oil?

LATER.

 

Peace negotiations had just ended this afternoon, and Sandy
had made a dignified exit, when the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff was
announced. Two enemies in the course of an hour are really too
much!

The Hon. Cy was awfully impressed with the new dining room,
especially when he heard that Betsy had put on those rabbits with
her own lily-white hands. Stenciling rabbits on walls, he
allows, is a fitting pursuit for a woman, but an executive
position like mine is a trifle out of her sphere. He thinks it
would be far wiser if Mr. Pendleton did not give me such free
scope in the spending of his money.

While we were still contemplating Betsy's mural flight, an
awful crash came from the pantry, and we found Gladiola Murphy
weeping among the ruins of five yellow plates. It is
sufficiently shattering to my nerves to hear these crashes when I
am alone, but it is peculiarly shattering when receiving a call
from an unsympathetic trustee.

I shall cherish that set of dishes to the best of my ability,
but if you wish to see your gift in all its uncracked beauty, I
should advise you to hurry North, and visit the John Grier Home
without delay.

Yours as ever,

SALLIE.

 

March 26.
My dear Judy:

I have just been holding an interview with a woman who wants to
take a baby home to surprise her husband. I had a hard time
convincing her that, since he is to support the child, it might
be a delicate attention to consult him about its adoption. She
argued stubbornly that it was none of his business, seeing that
the onerous work of washing and dressing and training would fall
upon her. I am really beginning to feel sorry for men. Some of
them seem to have very few rights.

Even our pugnacious doctor I suspect of being a victim of
domestic tyranny, and his housekeeper's at that. It is
scandalous the way Maggie McGurk neglects the poor man. I have
had to put him in charge of an orphan. Sadie Kate, with a very
housewifely air, is this moment sitting cross-legged on the
hearth rug sewing buttons on his overcoat while he is upstairs
tending babies.

You would never believe it, but Sandy and I are growing quite
confidential in a dour Scotch fashion. It has become his habit,
when homeward bound after his professional calls, to chug up to
our door about four in the afternoon, and make the rounds of the
house to make sure that we are not developing cholera morbus or
infanticide or anything catching, and then present himself at
four-thirty at my library door to talk over our mutual problems.

Does he come to see me? Oh, no, indeed; he comes to get tea
and toast and marmalade. The man hath a lean and hungry look.
His housekeeper doesn't feed him enough. As soon as I get
the upper hand of him a little more, I am going to urge him on to
revolt.

Meanwhile he is very grateful for something to eat, but oh,
so funny in his attempts at social grace! At first he would hold
a cup of tea in one hand, a plate of muffins in the other, and
then search blankly for a third hand to eat them with. Now he
has solved the problem. He turns in his toes and brings his
knees together; then he folds his napkin into a long, narrow
wedge that fills the crack between them, thus forming a very
workable pseudo lap; after that he sits with tense muscles until
the tea is drunk. I suppose I ought to provide a table, but the
spectacle of Sandy with his toes turned in is the one gleam of
amusement that my day affords.

The postman is just driving in with, I trust, a letter from
you. Letters make a very interesting break in the monotony of
asylum life. If you wish to keep this superintendent contented,
you'd better write often.

. . . . . . . .

Mail received and contents noted.

Kindly convey my thanks to Jervis for three alligators in a
swamp. He shows rare artistic taste in the selection of his post
cards. Your seven-page illustrated letter from Miami arrives at
the same time. I should have known Jervis from the palm tree
perfectly, even without the label, as the tree has so much the
more hair of the two. Also, I have a polite bread-and-butter
letter from my nice young man in Washington, and a book from him,
likewise a box of candy. The bag of peanuts for the kiddies he
has shipped by express. Did you ever know such assiduity?

Jimmie favors me with the news that he is coming to visit me
as soon as father can spare him from the factory. The poor boy
does hate that factory so! It isn't that he is lazy; he just
simply isn't interested in overalls. But father can't understand
such a lack of taste. Having built up the factory, he of course
has developed a passion for overalls, which should have been
inherited by his eldest son. I find it awfully convenient to
have been born a daughter; I am not asked to like overalls, but
am left free to follow any morbid career I may choose, such as
this.

To return to my mail: There arrives an advertisement from a
wholesale grocer, saying that he has exceptionally economical
brands of oatmeal, rice, flour, prunes, and dried apples that he
packs specially for prisons and charitable institutions. Sounds
nutritious, doesn't it?

I also have letters from a couple of farmers, each of whom
would like to have a strong, husky boy of fourteen who is not
afraid of work, their object being to give him a good home.
These good homes appear with great frequency just as the spring
planting is coming on. When we investigated one of them last
week, the village minister, in answer to our usual question,
"Does he own any property?" replied in a very guarded manner, "I
think he must own a corkscrew."

You would hardly credit some of the homes that we have
investigated. We found a very prosperous country family the
other day, who lived huddled together in three rooms in order to
keep the rest of their handsome house clean. The fourteen-year
girl they wished to adopt, by way of a cheap servant, was to
sleep in the same tiny room with their own three children. Their
kitchen-dining-parlor apartment was more cluttered up and unaired
than any city tenement I ever saw, and the thermometer at eighty-
four. One could scarcely say they were living there; they were
rather COOKING. You may be sure they got no girl from us!

I have made one invariable rule--every other is flexible. No
child is to be placed out unless the proposed family can offer
better advantages than we can give. I mean than we are going to
be able to give in the course of a few months, when we get
ourselves made over into a model institution. I shall have to
confess that at present we are still pretty bad.

But anyway, I am very CHOOSEY in regard to homes, and I
reject three-fourths of those that offer.

LATER.

 

Gordon has made honorable amends to my children. His bag of
peanuts is here, made of burlap and three feet high.

Do you remember the dessert of peanuts and maple sugar they
used to give us at college? We turned up our noses, but ate. I
am instituting it here, and I assure you we don't turn up our
noses. It is a pleasure to feed children who have graduated from
a course of Mrs. Lippett; they are pathetically grateful for
small blessings.

You can't complain that this letter is too short.

Yours,

On the verge of writer's cramp,

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Off and on, all day Friday.
Dear Judy:

You will be interested to hear that I have encountered another
enemy--the doctor's housekeeper. I had talked to the creature
several times over the telephone, and had noted that her voice
was not distinguished by the soft, low accents that mark the
caste of "Vere de Vere"; but now I have seen her. This morning,
while returning from the village, I made a slight detour, and
passed our doctor's house. Sandy is evidently the result of
environment--olive green, with a mansard roof and the shades
pulled down. You would think he had just been holding a funeral.

I don't wonder that the amenities of life have somewhat escaped
the poor man. After studying the outside of his house, I was
filled with curiosity to see if the inside matched.

Having sneezed five times before breakfast this morning, I
decided to go in and consult him professionally. To be sure, he
is a children's specialist, but sneezes are common to all ages.
So I boldly marched up the steps and rang the bell.

Hark! What sound is that that breaks upon our revelry? The
Hon. Cy's voice, as I live, approaching up the stairs. I've
letters to write, and I can't be tormented by his blether, so I
am rushing Jane to the door with orders to look him firmly in the
eye and tell him I am out.

. . . . . . . .

On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined. He's gone.

But those eight stars represent eight agonizing minutes spent
in the dark of my library closet. The Hon. Cy received Jane's
communication with the affable statement that he would sit
down and wait. Whereupon he entered and sat. But did Jane leave
me to languish in the closet? No; she enticed him to the nursery
to see the AWFUL thing that Sadie Kate has done. The Hon. Cy
loves to see awful things, particularly when done by Sadie Kate.
I haven't an idea what scandal Jane is about to disclose; but no
matter, he has gone.

Where was I? Oh, yes; I had rung the doctor's bell.

The door was opened by a large, husky person with her sleeves
rolled up. She looked very businesslike, with a hawk's nose and
cold gray eyes.

"Well?" said she, her tone implying that I was a vacuum-
cleaning agent.

"Good morning." I smiled affably, and stepped inside. "Is
this Mrs. McGurk?"

"It is," said she. "An' ye'll be the new young woman in the
orphan asylum?"

"I am that," said I. "Is himself at home?"

"He is not," said she.

"But this is his office hour."

"He don't keep it regular'."

"He ought," said I, sternly. "Kindly tell him that Miss
McBride called to consult him, and ask him to look in at the John
Grier Home this afternoon."

"Ump'!" grunted Mrs. McGurk, and closed the door so promptly
that she shut in the hem of my skirt.

When I told the doctor this afternoon, he shrugged his
shoulders, and observed that that was Maggie's gracious way.

"And why do you put up with Maggie?" said I.

"And where would I find any one better?" said he. "Doing the
work for a lone man who comes as irregularly to meals as a
twenty-four-hour day will permit is no sinecure. She furnishes
little sunshine in the home, but she does manage to produce a hot
dinner at nine o'clock at night."

Just the same, I am willing to wager that her hot dinners
are neither delicious nor well served. She's an inefficient,
lazy old termagant, and I know why she doesn't like me. She
imagines that I want to steal away the doctor and oust her from a
comfortable position, something of a joke, considering. But I am
not undeceiving her; it will do the old thing good to worry a
little. She may cook him better dinners, and fatten him up a
trifle. I understand that fat men are good-natured.

TEN O'CLOCK.

 

I don't know what silly stuff I have been writing to you off
and on all day, between interruptions. It has got to be night at
last, and I am too tired to do so much as hold up my head. Your
song tells the sad truth, "There is no joy in life but sleep."

I bid you good night.

S. McB.

 

Isn't the English language absurd? Look at those forty
monosyllables in a row!

 

J. G. H.,

April 1.
Dear Judy:

I have placed out Isador Gutschneider. His new mother is a
Swedish woman, fat and smiling, with blue eyes and yellow hair.
She chose him out of the whole nurseryful of children because he
was the brunettest baby there. She has always loved brunettes,
but in her most ambitious dreams has never hoped to have one of
her own. His name is going to be changed to Oscar Carlson, after
his new dead uncle.

My first trustees' meeting is to occur next Wednesday. I
confess that I am not looking forward to it with impatience--
especially as an inaugural address by me will be its chief
feature. I wish our president were here to back me up! But at
least I am sure of one thing. I am never going to adopt the
Uriah Heepish attitude toward trustees that characterized Mrs.
Lippett's manners. I shall treat "first Wednesdays" as a
pleasant social diversion, my day at home, when the friends of
the asylum gather for discussion and relaxation; and I shall
endeavor not to let our pleasures discommode the orphans. You
see how I have taken to heart the unhappy experiences of that
little Jerusha.

Your last letter has arrived, and no suggestion in it of
traveling North. Isn't it about time that you were turning your
faces back toward Fifth Avenue? Hame is hame, be 't ever sae
hamely. Don't you marvel at the Scotch that flows so readily
from my pen? Since being acquent' wi' Sandy, I hae gathered a
muckle new vocabulary.
The dinner gong! I leave you, to devote a revivifying half-
hour to mutton hash. We eat to live in the John Grier Home.

SIX O'CLOCK.

 

The Hon. Cy has been calling again. He drops in with great
frequency, hoping to catch me IN DELICTU. How I do not like that
man! He is a pink, fat, puffy old thing, with a pink, fat, puffy
soul. I was in a very cheery, optimistic frame of mind before
his arrival, but now I shall do nothing but grumble for the rest
of the day.

He deplores all of the useless innovations that I am
endeavoring to introduce, such as a cheerful playroom, prettier
clothes, baths, and better food and fresh air and play and fun
and ice-cream and kisses. He says that I will unfit these
children to occupy the position in life that God has called them
to occupy.

At that my Irish blood came to the surface, and I told him
that if God had planned to make all of these 113 little children
into useless, ignorant, unhappy citizens, I was going to fool
God! That we weren't educating them out of their class in the
least. We were educating them INTO their natural class much more
effectually than is done in the average family. We weren't
trying to force them into college if they hadn't any brains, as
happens with rich men's sons; and we weren't putting them to work
at fourteen if they were naturally ambitious, as happens with
poor men's sons. We were watching them closely and individually
and discovering their level. If our children showed an aptitude
to become farm laborers and nurse-maids, we were going to teach
them to be the best possible farm laborers and nurse-maids; and
if they showed a tendency to become lawyers, we would turn them
into honest, intelligent, open-minded lawyers. (He's a lawyer
himself, but certainly not an open-minded one.)

He grunted when I had finished my remarks, and stirred his
tea vigorously. Whereupon I suggested that perhaps he needed
another lump of sugar, and dropped it in, and left him to absorb
it.

The only way to deal with trustees is with a firm and steady
hand. You have to keep them in their places.

Oh, my dear! that smudge in the corner was caused by
Singapore's black tongue. He is trying to send you an
affectionate kiss. Poor Sing thinks he's a lap dog--isn't it a
tragedy when people mistake their vocations? I myself am not
always certain that I was born an orphan asylum superintendent.

Yours, til deth,

S. McB.

 

SUPERINTENDENT'S OFFICE,

JOHN GRIER HOME,

April 4.

THE PENDLETON FAMILY,

Palm Beach, Florida.

Dear Sir and Madam:

I have weathered my first visitors' day, and made the trustees a
beautiful speech. Everybody said it was a beautiful speech--even
my enemies.

Mr. Gordon Hallock's recent visit was exceptionally
opportune; I gleaned from him many suggestions as to how to carry
an audience.

"Be funny."--I told about Sadie Kate and a few other cherubs
that you don't know.

"Keep it concrete and fitted to the intelligence of your
audience."--I watched the Hon. Cy, and never said a thing
that he couldn't understand.

"Flatter your hearers."--I hinted delicately that all of
these new reforms were due to the wisdom and initiative of our
peerless trustees.

"Give it a high moral tone, with a dash of pathos."--I dwelt
upon the parentless condition of these little wards of Society.
And it was very affecting--my enemy wiped away a tear!

Then I fed them up on chocolate and whipped cream and
lemonade and tartar sandwiches, and sent them home, expansive and
beaming, but without any appetite for dinner.

I dwell thus at length upon our triumph, in order to create
in you a happy frame of mind, before passing to the higeous
calamity that so nearly wrecked the occasion.

"Now follows the dim horror of my tale,
And I feel I'm growing gradually pale,
For, even at this day,
Though its smell has passed away,
When I venture to remember it, I quail!"

 

You never heard of our little Tammas Kehoe, did you? I
simply haven't featured Tammas because he requires so much ink
and time and vocabulary. He's a spirited lad, and he follows his
dad, a mighty hunter of old--that sounds like more Bab Ballads,
but it isn't; I made it up as I went along.

We can't break Tammas of his inherited predatory instincts.
He shoots the chickens with bows and arrows and lassoes the pigs
and plays bull-fight with the cows--and oh, is very destructive!
But his crowning villainy occurred an hour before the trustees'
meeting, when we wanted to be so clean and sweet and engaging.

It seems that he had stolen the rat trap from the oat bin,
and had set it up in the wood lot, and yesterday morning was so
fortunate as to catch a fine big skunk.

Singapore was the first to report the discovery. He returned
to the house and rolled on the rugs in a frenzy of remorse over
his part of the business. While our attention was occupied with
Sing, Tammas was busily skinning his prey in the seclusion of the
woodshed. He buttoned the pelt inside his jacket, conveyed it by
a devious route through the length of this building, and
concealed it under his bed where he thought it wouldn't be found.

Then he went--per schedule--to the basement to help freeze the
ice-cream for our guests. You notice that we omitted ice-cream
from the menu.

In the short time that remained we created all the counter-
irritation that was possible. Noah (negro furnace man) started
smudge fires at intervals about the grounds. Cook waved a
shovelful of burning coffee through the house. Betsy sprinkled
the corridors with ammonia. Miss Snaith daintily treated the
rugs with violet water. I sent an emergency call to the doctor
who came and mixed a gigantic solution of chlorid of lime. But
still, above and beneath and through every other odor, the unlaid
ghost of Tammas's victim cried for vengeance.

The first business that came up at the meeting, was whether
we should dig a hole and bury, not only Tammas, but the whole
main building. You can see with what finesse I carried off the
shocking event, when I tell you that the Hon. Cy went home
chuckling over a funny story, instead of grumbling at the new
superintendent's inability to manage boys.

We've our ain bit weird to dree!

As ever,

S. McBRIDE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Friday, likewise Saturday.
Dear Judy:

Singapore is still living in the carriage house, and receiving a
daily carbolic-scented bath from Tammas Kehoe. I am hoping that
some day, in the distant future, my darling will be fit to
return.

You will be pleased to hear that I have instituted a new
method of spending your money. We are henceforth to buy a part
of our shoes and drygoods and drug store comestibles from local
shops, at not quite such low prices as the wholesale jobbers
give, but still at a discount, and the education that is being
thrown in is worth the difference. The reason is this: I have
made the discovery that half of my children know nothing of money
or its purchasing power. They think that shoes and corn meal and
red-flannel petticoats and mutton stew and gingham shirts just
float down from the blue sky.

Last week I dropped a new green dollar bill out of my purse,
and an eight-year-old urchin picked it up and asked if he could
keep that picture of a bird. (American eagle in the center.)
That child had never seen a bill in his life! I began an
investigation, and discovered that dozens of children in this
asylum have never bought anything or have ever seen anybody buy
anything. And we are planning to turn them out at sixteen into a
world governed entirely by the purchasing power of dollars and
cents! Good heavens! just think of it! They are not to lead
sheltered lives with somebody eternally looking after them; they
have got to know how to get the very most they can out of every
penny they can manage to earn.

I pondered the question all one night, at intervals, and went
to the village at nine o'clock the next morning. I held
conferences with seven storekeepers; found four open-minded and
helpful, two doubtful, and one actively stupid. I have started
with the four--drygoods, groceries, shoes, and stationery. In
return for somewhat large orders from us, they are to turn
themselves and their clerks into teachers for my children, who
are to go to the stores, inspect the stocks, and do their own
purchasing with real money.

For example, Jane needs a spool of blue sewing-silk and a
yard of elastic; so two little girls, intrusted with a silver
quarter, trot hand in hand to Mr. Meeker's. They match the silk
with anxious care, and watch the clerk jealously while he
measures the elastic, to make sure that he doesn't stretch it.
Then they bring back six cents change, receive my thanks and
praise, and retire to the ranks tingling with a sense of
achievement.

Isn't it pathetic? Ordinary children of ten or twelve
automatically know so many things that our little incubator
chicks have never dreamed of. But I have a variety of plans on
foot. Just give me time, and you will see. One of these days
I'll be turning out some nearly normal youngsters.

 

LATER.

 

I've an empty evening ahead, so I'll settle to some further
gossip with you.

You remember the peanuts that Gordon Hallock sent? Well, I
was so gracious when I thanked him that it incited him to fresh
effort. He apparently went into a toy shop, and placed himself
unreservedly in the hands of an enterprising clerk. Yesterday
two husky expressmen deposited in our front hall a crate full of
expensive furry animals built to be consumed by the children of
the rich. They are not exactly what I should have purchased had
I been the one to disburse such a fortune, but my babies find
them very huggable. The chicks are now taking to bed with them
lions and elephants and bears and giraffes. I don't know what
the psychological effect will be. Do you suppose when they grow
up they will all join the circus?

Oh, dear me, here is Miss Snaith, coming to pay a social
call.

 

Good-by.

S.

P.S. The prodigal has returned. He sends his respectful
regards, and three wags of the tail.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

April 7.
My dear Judy:

I have just been reading a pamphlet on manual training for girls,
and another on the proper diet for institutions--right
proportions of proteins, fats, starches, etc. In these days of
scientific charity, when every problem has been tabulated, you
can run an institution by chart. I don't see how Mrs. Lippett
could have made all the mistakes she did, assuming, of
course,that she knew how to read. But there is one quite
important branch of institutional work that has not been touched
upon, and I myself am gathering data. Some day I shall issue a
pamphlet on the "Management and Control of Trustees."

I must tell you the joke about my enemy--not the Hon. Cy, but
my first, my original enemy. He has undertaken a new field of
endeavor. He says quite soberly (everything he does is sober; he
has never smiled yet) that he has been watching me closely since
my arrival, and though I am untrained and foolish and flippant
(sic), he doesn't think that I am really so superficial as I at
first appeared. I have an almost masculine ability of grasping
the whole of a question and going straight to the point.

Aren't men funny? When they want to pay you the greatest
compliment in their power, they naively tell you that you have a
masculine mind. There is one compliment, incidentally, that I
shall never be paying him. I cannot honestly say that he has a
quickness of perception almost feminine.

So, though Sandy quite plainly sees my faults, still, he
thinks that some of them may be corrected; and he has determined
to carry on my education from the point where the college dropped
it. A person in my position ought to be well read in physiology,
biology, psychology, sociology, and eugenics; she should know the
hereditary effects of insanity, idiocy, and alcohol; should be
able to administer the Binet test; and should understand the
nervous system of a frog. In pursuance whereof, he has placed at
my disposal his own scientific library of four thousand volumes.
He not only fetches in the books he wants me to read, but comes
and asks questions to make sure I haven't skipped.

We devoted last week to the life and letters of the Jukes
family. Margaret, the mother of criminals, six generations ago,
founded a prolific line, and her progeny, mostly in jail, now
numbers some twelve hundred. Moral: watch the children with
a bad heredity so carefully that none of them can ever have any
excuse for growing up into Jukeses.

So now, as soon as we have finished our tea, Sandy and I get
out the Doomsday Book, and pore over its pages in an anxious
search for alcoholic parents. It's a cheerful little game to
while away the twilight hour after the day's work is done.

QUELLE VIE! Come home fast and take me out of it. I'm
wearying for the sight of you.

SALLIE.

 

 

J. G. H.,

Thursday morning.
My dear Pendleton Family:

I have received your letter, and I seize my pen to stop you. I
don't wish to be relieved. I take it back. I change my mind.
The person you are planning to send sounds like an exact twin of
Miss Snaith. How can you ask me to turn over my darling children
to a kind, but ineffectual, middle-aged lady without any chin?
The very thought of it wrings a mother's heart.

Do you imagine that such a woman can carry on this work even
temporarily? No! The manager of an institution like this has
got to be young and husky and energetic and forceful and
efficient and red-haired and sweet-tempered, like me. Of course
I've been discontented,--anybody would be with things in such a
mess,--but it's what you socialists call a holy discontent. And
do you think that I am going to abandon all of the beautiful
reforms I have so painstakingly started? No! I am not to be
moved from this spot until you find a superintendent superior to
Sallie McBride.

That does not mean, though, that I am mortgaging myself
forever. Just for the present, until things get on their
feet. While the face washing, airing, reconstructing period
lasts, I honestly believe you chose the right person when you hit
upon me. I LOVE to plan improvements and order people about.

This is an awfully messy letter, but I'm dashing it off in
three minutes in order to catch you before you definitely engage
that pleasant, inefficient middle-aged person without a chin.

Please, kind lady and gentleman, don't do me out of me job!
Let me stay a few months longer. Just gimme a chance to show
what I'm good for, and I promise you won't never regret it.

S. McB.

 

J. G. H.,

Thursday afternoon.
Dear Judy:

I've composed a poem--a paean of victory.

Robin MacRae
Smiled today.

It's the truth!
S. McB.

 

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

April 13.
Dear Judy:

I am gratified to learn that you were gratified to learn that I
am going to stay. I hadn't realized it, but I am really getting
sort of attached to orphans.

It's an awful disappointment that Jervis has business which
will keep you South so much longer. I am bursting with talk, and
it is such a laborious nuisance having to write everything I want
to say.

Of course I am glad that we are to have the building
remodeled, and I think all of your ideas good, but I have a few
extra good ones myself. It will be nice to have the new
gymnasium and sleeping-porches, but, oh, my soul does long for
cottages! The more I look into the internal workings of an
orphan asylum, the more I realize that the only type of asylum
that can compete with a private family is one on the cottage
system. So long as the family is the unit of society, children
should be hardened early to family life.

The problem that is keeping me awake at present is, What to
do with the children while we are being made over? It is hard to
live in a house and build it at the same time. How would it be
if I rented a circus tent and pitched it on the lawn?

Also, when we plunge into our alterations, I want a few guest
rooms where our children can come back when ill or out of work.
The great secret of our lasting influence in their lives will be
our watchful care afterward. What a terrible ALONE feeling it
must give a person not to have a family hovering in the
background! With all my dozens of aunts and uncles and mothers
and fathers and cousins and brothers and sisters, I can't
visualize it. I'd be terrified and panting if I didn't have lots
of cover to run to. And for these forlorn little mites, somehow
or other the John Grier Home must supply their need. So, dear
people, send me half a dozen guest rooms, if you please.

Good-by, and I'm glad you didn't put in the other woman. The
very suggestion of somebody else taking over my own beautiful
reforms before they were even started, stirred up all the
opposition in me. I'm afraid I'm like Sandy--I canna think aught
is dune richt except my ain hand is in 't.

Yours, for the present,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Sunday.
Dear Gordon:

I know that I haven't written lately; you have a perfect right to
grumble, but oh dear! oh dear! you can't imagine what a busy
person an orphan asylum superintendent is. And all the writing
energy I possess has to be expended upon that voracious Judy
Abbott Pendleton. If three days go by without a letter she
telegraphs to know if the asylum has burned; whereas, if you--
nice man--go letterless, you simply send us a present to remind
us of your existence. So, you see, it's distinctly to our
advantage to slight you often.

You will probably be annoyed when I tell you that I have
promised to stay on here. They finally did find a woman to take
my place, but she wasn't at all the right type and would have
answered only temporarily. And, my dear Gordon, it's true, when
I faced saying good-by to this feverish planning and activity,
Worcester somehow looked rather colorless. I couldn't bear to
let my asylum go unless I was sure of substituting a life packed
equally full of sensation.

I know the alternative you will suggest, but please don't--
just now. I told you before that I must have a few months longer
to make up my mind. And in the meantime I like the feeling that
I'm of use in the world. There's something constructive and
optimistic about working with children; that is, if you look at
it from my cheerful point of view, and not from our Scotch
doctor's. I've never seen anybody like that man; he's always
pessimistic and morbid and down. It's best not to be too
intelligent about insanity and dipsomania and all the other
hereditary details. I am just about ignorant enough to be light-
hearted and effective in a place like this.

The thought of all of these little lives expanding in every
direction eternally thrills me. There are so many possibilities
in our child garden for every kind of flower. It has been
planted rather promiscuously, to be sure, but though we
undoubtedly shall gather a number of weeds, we are also hoping
for some rare and beautiful blossoms. Am I not growing
sentimental? It is due to hunger--and there goes the dinner-
gong! We are going to have a delicious meal: roast beef and
creamed carrots and beet greens, with rhubarb pie for dessert.
Would you not like to dine with me? I should love to have you.

Most cordially yours,

S. McB.

P.S. You should see the number of poor homeless cats that these
children want to adopt. We had four when I came, and they have
all had kittens since. I haven't taken an exact census, but I
think the institution possesses nineteen.

 

April 15.
My dear Judy:

You'd like to make another slight donation to the J. G. H. out of
the excess of last month's allowance? BENE! Will you kindly
have the following inserted in all low-class metropolitan
dailies:

Notice!
To Parents Planning to Abandon their Children:
Please do it before they have reached their third year.

 

I can't think of any action on the part of abandoning parents
that would help us more effectually. This having to root up evil
before you begin planting good is slow, discouraging work.

We have one child here who has almost floored me; but I WILL
NOT acknowledge myself beaten by a child of five. He alternates
between sullen moroseness, when he won't speak a word, and the
most violent outbursts of temper, when he smashes everything
within reach. He has been here only three months, and in that
time he has destroyed nearly every piece of bric-a-brac in the
institution--not, by the way, a great loss to art.

A month or so before I came he pulled the tablecloth from the
officers' table while the girl in charge was in the corridor
sounding the gong. The soup had already been served. You can
imagine the mess! Mrs. Lippett half killed the child on that
occasion, but the killing did nothing to lessen the temper, which
was handed on to me intact.

His father was Italian and his mother Irish; he has red hair
and freckles from County Cork and the most beautiful brown
eyes that ever came out of Naples. After the father was stabbed
in a fight and the mother had died of alcoholism, the poor little
chap by some chance or other got to us. I suspect that he
belongs in the Catholic Protectory. As for his manners--oh dear!
oh dear! They are what you would expect. He kicks and bites and
swears. I have dubbed him Punch.

Yesterday he was brought squirming and howling to my office,
charged with having knocked down a little girl and robbed her of
her doll. Miss Snaith plumped him into a chair behind me, and
left him to grow quiet, while I went on with my writing. I was
suddenly startled by an awful crash. He had pushed that big
green jardiniere off the window-sill and broken it into five
hundred pieces. I jumped with a suddenness that swept the ink-
bottle to the floor, and when Punch saw that second catastrophe,
he stopped roaring with rage and threw back his head and roared
with laughter. The child is DIABOLICAL.

I have determined to try a new method of discipline that I
don't believe in the whole of his forlorn little life he has ever
experienced. I am going to see what praise and encouragement and
love will do. So, instead of scolding him about the jardiniere,
I assumed that it was an accident. I kissed him and told him not
to feel bad; that I didn't mind in the least. It shocked him
into being quiet; he simply held his breath and stared while I
wiped away his tears and sopped up the ink.

The child just now is the biggest problem that the J. G. H.
affords. He needs the most patient, loving, individual care--a
proper mother and father, likewise some brothers and sisters and
a grandmother. But I can't place him in a respectable family
until I make over his language and his propensity to break
things. I separated him from the other children, and kept him in
my room all the morning, Jane having removed to safe heights all
destructible OBJETS D'ART. Fortunately, he loves to draw, and he
sat on a rug for two hours, and occupied himself with colored
pencils. He was so surprised when I showed an interest in a red-
and-green ferryboat, with a yellow flag floating from the mast,
that he became quite profanely affable. Until then I couldn't
get a word out of him.

In the afternoon Dr. MacRae dropped in and admired the
ferryboat, while Punch swelled with the pride of creation. Then,
as a reward for being such a good little boy, the doctor took him
out in his automobile on a visit to a country patient.

Punch was restored to the fold at five o'clock by a sadder
and wiser doctor. At a sedate country estate he had stoned the
chickens, smashed a cold frame, and swung the pet Angora cat by
its tail. Then when the sweet old lady tried to make him be kind
to poor pussy, he told her to go to hell.

I can't bear to consider what some of these children have
seen and experienced. It will take years of sunshine and
happiness and love to eradicate the dreadful memories that they
have stored up in the far-back corners of their little brains.
And there are so many children and so few of us that we can't hug
them enough; we simply haven't arms or laps to go around.

MAIS PARLONS D'AUTRES CHOSES! Those awful questions of
heredity and environment that the doctor broods over so
constantly are getting into my blood, too; and it's a vicious
habit. If a person is to be of any use in a place like this, she
must see nothing but good in the world. Optimism is the only
wear for a social worker.

"'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock"--do you know
where that beautiful line of poetry comes from? "Cristabel," of
English K. Mercy! how I hated that course! You, being an English
shark, liked it; but I never understood a word that was said from
the time I entered the classroom till I left it. However, the
remark with which I opened this paragraph is true. It IS the
middle of night by the mantelpiece clock, so I'll wish you
pleasant dreams.
ADDIO!

SALLIE.

 

Tuesday.

Dear Enemy:

You doctored the whole house, then stalked past my library with
your nose in the air, while I was waiting tea with a plate of
Scotch scones sitting on the trivet, ordered expressly for you as
a peace-offering.

If you are really hurt, I will read the Kallikak book; but I
must tell you that you are working me to death. It takes
almost all of my energy to be an effective superintendent, and
this university extension course that you are conducting I find
wearing. You remember how indignant you were one day last week
because I confessed to having stayed up until one o'clock the
night before? Well, my dear man, if I were to accomplish all the
vicarious reading you require, I should sit up until morning
every night.

However, bring it in. I usually manage half an hour of
recreation after dinner, and though I had wanted to glance at
Wells's latest novel, I will amuse myself instead with your
feeble-minded family.

Life of late is unco steep.
Obligingly yours,

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

April 17.
Dear Gordon:

Thank you for the tulips, likewise the lilies of the valley.
They are most becoming to my blue Persian bowls.

Have you ever heard of the Kallikaks? Get the book and read
them up. They are a two-branch family in New Jersey, I think,
though their real name and origin is artfully concealed. But,
anyway,--and this is true,--six generations ago a young
gentleman, called for convenience Martin Kallikak, got drunk one
night and temporarily eloped with a feeble-minded barmaid, thus
founding a long line of feeble-minded Kallikaks,--drunkards,
gamblers, prostitutes, horse thieves,--a scourge to New Jersey
and surrounding States.

Martin later straightened up, married a normal woman, and
founded a second line of proper Kallikaks,--judges, doctors,
farmers, professors, politicians,--a credit to their country.
And there the two branches still are, flourishing side by side.
You can see what a blessing it would have been to New Jersey
if something drastic had happened to that feeble-minded barmaid
in her infancy.

It seems that feeblemindedness is a very hereditary quality,
and science isn't able to overcome it. No operation has been
discovered for introducing brains into the head of a child who
didn't start with them. And the child grows up with, say, a
nine-year brain in a thirty-year body, and becomes an easy tool
for any criminal he meets. Our prisons are one-third full of
feeble-minded convicts. Society ought to segregate them on
feeble-minded farms, where they can earn their livings in
peaceful menial pursuits, and not have children. Then in a
generation or so we might be able to wipe them out.

Did you know all that? It's very necessary information for a
politician to have. Get the book and read it, please; I'd send
my copy only that it's borrowed.

It's also very necessary information for me to have. There
are eleven of these chicks that I suspect a bit, and I am SURE of
Loretta Higgins. I have been trying for a month to introduce one
or two basic ideas into that child's brain, and now I know what
the trouble is: her head is filled with a sort of soft cheesy
substance instead of brain.

I came up here to make over this asylum in such little
details as fresh air and food and clothes and sunshine, but,
heavens! you can see what problems I am facing. I've got to make
over society first, so that it won't send me sub-normal children
to work with. Excuse all this excited conversation; but I've
just met up with the subject of feeble-mindedness, and it's
appalling--and interesting. It is your business as a legislator
to make laws that will remove it from the world. Please attend
to this immediately,
And oblige,

S. McBRIDE,

Sup't John Grier Home.

 

Friday.
Dear Man of Science:

You didn't come today. Please don't skip us tomorrow. I have
finished the Kallikak family and I am bursting with talk. Don't
you think we ought to have a psychologist examine these children?

We owe it to adopting parents not to saddle them with feeble-
minded offspring.

You know, I'm tempted to ask you to prescribe arsenic for
Loretta's cold. I've diagnosed her case; she's a Kallikak. Is
it right to let her grow up and found a line of 378 feeble-minded
people for society to care for? Oh dear! I do hate to poison
the child, but what can I do?

S. McB.

 

 

Dear Gordon:

You aren't interested in feeble-minded people, and you are
shocked because I am? Well, I am equally shocked because you are
not. If you aren't interested in everything of the sort that
there unfortunately is in this world, how can you make wise laws?

You can't.

However, at your request, I will converse upon a less morbid
subject. I've just bought fifty yards of blue and rose and green
and corn-colored hair-ribbon as an Easter present for my fifty
little daughters. I am also thinking of sending you an
Easter present. How would a nice fluffy little kitten please
you? I can offer any of the following patterns:--

 

Number 3 comes in any color, gray, black, or yellow. If you
will let me know which you would rather have, I will express it
at once.

I would write a respectable letter, but it's teatime, and I
see that a guest approaches.

ADDIO!

SALLIE.

P.S. Don't you know some one who would like to adopt a desirable
baby boy with seventeen nice new teeth?

 

April 20.
My dear Judy:

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns! We've had a Good
Friday present of ten dozen, given by Mrs. De Peyster Lambert, a
high church, stained-glass-window soul whom I met at a tea a few
days ago. (Who says now that teas are a silly waste of time?)
She asked me about my "precious little waifs," and said I was
doing a noble work and would be rewarded. I saw buns in her eye,
and sat down and talked to her for half an hour.

Now I shall go and thank her in person, and tell her with a
great deal of affecting detail how much those buns were
appreciated by my precious little waifs--omitting the account of
how precious little Punch threw his bun at Miss Snaith and
plastered her neatly in the eye. I think, with encouragement,
Mrs. De Peyster Lambert can be developed into a cheerful giver.

Oh, I'm growing into the most shocking beggar! My family
don't dare to visit me, because I demand BAKSHISH in such a
brazen manner. I threatened to remove father from my calling
list unless he shipped immediately sixty-five pairs of overalls
for my prospective gardeners. A notice from the freight office
this morning asks me to remove two packing cases consigned to
them by the J. L. McBride Co. of Worcester; so I take it that
father desires to continue my acquaintance. Jimmie hasn't sent
us anything yet, and he's getting a huge salary. I write him
frequently a pathetic list of our needs.

But Gordon Hallock has learned the way to a mother's heart.
I was so pleasant about the peanuts and menagerie that now he
sends a present of some sort every few days, and I spend my
entire time composing thank-you letters that aren't exact copies
of the ones I've sent before. Last week we received a dozen big
scarlet balls. The nursery is FULL of them; you kick them before
you as you walk. And yesterday there arrived a half-bushel of
frogs and ducks and fishes to float in the bathtubs.

Send, O best of trustees, the tubs in which to float them!

I am, as usual,

S. McBRIDE.

 

Tuesday.
My dear Judy:

Spring must be lurking about somewhere; the birds are arriving
from the South. Isn't it time you followed their example?

Society note from the BIRD O' PASSAGE NEWS:

"Mr. and Mrs. First Robin have returned from a trip to
Florida. It is hoped that Mr. and Mrs. Jervis Pendleton will
arrive shortly."

Even up here in our dilatory Dutchess County the breeze
smells green. It makes you want to be out and away, roaming the
hills, or else down on your knees grubbing in the dirt. Isn't it
funny what farmering instincts the budding spring awakens in even
the most urban souls?

I have spent the morning making plans for little private
gardens for every child over nine. The big potato field is
doomed. That is the only feasible spot for sixty-two private
gardens. It is near enough to be watched from the north windows,
and yet far enough away, so that their messing will not injure
our highly prized landscape lawn. Also the earth is rich, and
they have some chance of success. I don't want the poor little
chicks to scratch all summer, and then not turn up any treasure
in the end. In order to furnish an incentive, I shall announce
that the institution will buy their produce and pay in real
money, though I foresee we shall be buried under a mountain of
radishes.

I do so want to develop self-reliance and initiative in these
children, two sturdy qualities in which they are conspicuously
lacking (with the exception of Sadie Kate and a few other bad
ones). Children who have spirit enough to be bad I consider very
hopeful. It's those who are good just from inertia that are
discouraging.

The last few days have been spent mainly in charming the
devil out of Punch, an interesting task if I could devote my
whole time to it. But with one hundred and seven other little
devils to charm away, my attention is sorely deflected.

The awful thing about this life is that whatever I am doing,
the other things that I am not doing, but ought to be, keep
tugging at my skirts. There is no doubt but Punch's personal
devil needs the whole attention of a whole person,--preferably
two persons,--so that they could spell each other and get some
rest.

Sadie Kate has just flown in from the nursery with news of a
scarlet goldfish (Gordon's gift) swallowed by one of our babies.
Mercy! the number of calamities that can occur in an orphan
asylum!

9 P.M.

 

My children are in bed, and I've just had a thought.
Wouldn't it be heavenly if the hibernating system prevailed among
the human young? There would be some pleasure in running an
asylum if one could just tuck the little darlings into bed the
first of October and keep them there until the twenty-second of
April.

I'm yours, as ever,

SALLIE.

 

 

April 24.
Dear Jervis Pendleton, Esq.:

This is to supplement a night telegram which I sent you ten
minutes ago. Fifty words not being enough to convey any idea of
my emotions, I herewith add a thousand.

As you will know by the time you receive this, I have
discharged the farmer, and he has refused to be discharged.
Being twice the size of me, I can't lug him to the gate and chuck
him out. He wants a notification from the president of the board
of trustees written in vigorous language on official paper in
typewriting. So, dear president of the board of trustees, kindly
supply all of this at your earliest convenience.

Here follows the history of the case:

The winter season still being with us when I arrived and
farming activities at a low ebb, I have heretofore paid little
attention to Robert Sterry except to note on two occasions that
his pigpens needed cleaning; but today I sent for him to come and
consult with me in regard to spring planting.

Sterry came, as requested, and seated himself at ease in my
office with his hat upon his head. I suggested as tactfully as
might be that he remove it, an entirely necessary request, as
little orphan boys were in and out on errands, and "hats off in
the house" is our first rule in masculine deportment.

Sterry complied with my request, and stiffened himself to be
against whatever I might desire.

I proceeded to the subject in hand, namely, that the diet of
the John Grier Home in the year to come is to consist less
exclusively of potatoes. At which our farmer grunted in the
manner of the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff, only it was a less ethereal and
gentlemanly grunt than a trustee permits himself. I enumerated
corn and beans and onions and peas and tomatoes and beets and
carrots and turnips as desirable substitutes.

Sterry observed that if potatoes and cabbages was good enough
for him, he guessed they was good enough for charity children.

I proceeded imperturbably to say that the two-acre potato
field was to be plowed and fertilized, and laid out into sixty
individual gardens, the boys assisting in the work.

At that Sterry exploded. The two-acre field was the most
fertile and valuable piece of earth on the whole place. He
guessed if I was to break that up into play gardens for the
children to mess about in, I'd be hearing about it pretty danged
quick from the board of trustees. That field was fitted for
potatoes, it had always raised potatoes, and it was going to
continue to raise them just as long as he had anything to say
about it.

"You have nothing whatever to say about it," I amiably
replied. "I have decided that the two-acre field is the best
plot to use for the children's gardens, and you and the potatoes
will have to give way."

Whereupon he rose in a storm of bucolic wrath, and said he'd
be gol darned if he'd have a lot of these danged city brats
interfering with his work.

I explained--very calmly for a red-haired person with Irish
forebears--that this place was run for the exclusive benefit of
these children; that the children were not here to be exploited
for the benefit of the place, a philosophy which he did not
grasp, though my fancy city language had a slightly dampening
effect. I added that what I required in a farmer was the ability
and patience to instruct the boys in gardening and simple outdoor
work; that I wished a man of large sympathies whose example would
be an inspiring influence to these children of the city streets.

Sterry, pacing about like a caged woodchuck, launched into a
tirade about silly Sunday-school notions, and, by a transition
which I did not grasp, passed to a review of the general subject
of woman's suffrage. I gathered that he is not in favor of the
movement. I let him argue himself quiet, then I handed him a
check for his wages, and told him to vacate the tenant house by
twelve o'clock next Wednesday.

Sterry says he'll be danged if he will. (Excuse so many
DANGEDS. It is the creature's only adjective.) He was engaged
to work for this institution by the president of the board of
trustees, and he will not move from that house until the
president of the board of trustees tells him to go. I don't
think poor Sterry realizes that since his arrival a new president
has come to the throne.

ALORS you have the story. I make no threats, but Sterry or
McBride--take your choice, dear sir.

I am also about to write to the head of the Massachusetts
Agricultural College, at Amherst, asking him to recommend a good,
practical man with a nice, efficient, cheerful wife, who will
take the entire care of our modest domain of seventeen acres, and
who will be a man with the right personality to place over our
boys.

If we get the farming end of this institution into running
shape, it ought to furnish not only beans and onions for the
table, but education for our hands and brains.

 

I remain, sir,
Yours most truly,
S. McBRIDE,
Superintendent of the John Grier Home.

P.S. I think that Sterry will probably come back some night and
throw rocks through the windows. Shall I have them insured?

 

 

My dear Enemy:

You disappeared so quickly this afternoon that I had no chance to
thank you, but the echoes of that discharge penetrated as far as
my library. Also, I have viewed the debris. What on earth did
you do to poor Sterry? Watching the purposeful set of your
shoulders as you strode toward the carriage house, I was filled
with sudden compunction. I did not want the man murdered, merely
reasoned with. I am afraid you were a little harsh.

However, your technic seems to have been effective. Report
says that he has telephoned for a moving wagon and that Mrs.
Sterry is even now on her hands and knees ripping up the parlor
carpet.

For this relief much thanks.

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

 

April 26.
Dear Jervis:

Your vigorous telegram was, after all, not needed. Dr. Robin
MacRae, who is a grand PAWKY mon when it comes to a fight,
accomplished the business with beautiful directness. I was so
bubbling with rage that immediately after writing to you I called
up the doctor on the telephone, and rehearsed the whole business
over again. Now, our Sandy, whatever his failings (and he has
them), does have an uncommon supply of common sense. He knows
how useful those gardens are going to be, and how worse than
useless Sterry was. Also says he, "The superintendent's
authority must be upheld." (That, incidentally, is beautiful,
coming from him.) But anyway, those were his words. And he hung
up the receiver, cranked up his car, and flew up here at lawless
speed. He marched straight to Sterry, impelled by a fine Scotch
rage, and he discharged the man with such vigor and precision,
that the carriage house window was shattered to fragments.

Since this morning at eleven, when Sterry's wagonload of
furniture rumbled out of the gates, a sweet peace has reigned
over the J. G. H. A man from the village is helping us out while
we hopefully await the farmer of our dreams.

I am sorry to have troubled you with our troubles. Tell Judy
that she owes me a letter, and won't hear from until she has paid
it.
Your ob'd't servant,

S. McBRIDE.

 

Dear Judy:

In my letter of yesterday to Jervis I forgotted (Punch's word) to
convey to you our thanks for three tin bathtubs. The skyblue tub
with poppies on the side adds a particularly bright note to the
nursery. I do love presents for the babies that are too big to
be swallowed.

You will be pleased to hear that our manual training is well
under way. The carpenter benches are being installed in the old
primary room, and until our schoolhouse gets its new addition,
our primary class is meeting on the front porch, in accordance
with Miss Matthew's able suggestion.

The girls' sewing classes are also in progress. A circle of
benches under the copper beech tree accommodates the hand
sewers, while the big girls take turns at our three machines.
Just as soon as they gain some proficiency we will begin the
glorious work of redressing the institution. I know you think
I'm slow, but it's really a task to accomplish one hundred and
eighty new frocks. And the girls will appreciate them so much
more if they do the work themselves.

I may also report that our hygiene system has risen to a high
level. Dr. MacRae has introduced morning and evening exercises,
and a glass of milk and a game of tag in the middle of school
hours. He has instituted a physiology class, and has separated
the children into small groups, so that they may come to his
house, where he has a manikin that comes apart and shows all its
messy insides. They can now rattle off scientific truths about
their little digestions as fluently as Mother Goose rhymes. We
are really becoming too intelligent for recognition. You would
never guess that we were orphans to hear us talk; we are quite
like Boston children.

2 P.M.

 

O Judy, such a calamity! Do you remember several weeks ago I
told you about placing out a nice little girl in a nice family
home where I hoped she would be adopted? It was a kind Christian
family living in a pleasant country village, the foster-father a
deacon in the church. Hattie was a sweet, obedient, housewifely
little body, and it looked as though we had exactly fitted them
to each other. My dear, she was returned this morning for
STEALING. Scandal piled on scandal: SHE HAD STOLEN A COMMUNION
CUP FROM CHURCH!

Between her sobs and their accusations it took me half an
hour to gather the truth. It seems that the church they attend
is very modern and hygienic, like our doctor, and has introduced
individual communion cups. Poor little Hattie had never heard of
communion in her life. In fact, she wasn't very used to church,
Sunday-school having always sufficed for her simple religious
needs. But in her new home she attended both, and one day, to
her pleased surprise, they served refreshments. But they skipped
her. She made no comment, however; she is used to being skipped.

But as they were starting home she saw that the little silver cup
had been casually left in the seat, and supposing that it was a
souvenir that you could take if you wished, she put it into her
pocket.

It came to light two days later as the most treasured
ornament of her doll's-house. It seems that Hattie long ago saw
a set of doll's dishes in a toy shop window, and has ever since
dreamed of possessing a set of her own. The communion cup was
not quite the same, but it answered. Now, if our family had only
had a little less religion and a little more sense, they would
have returned the cup, perfectly unharmed, and have marched
Hattie to the nearest toy shop and bought her some dishes. But
instead, they bundled the child and her belongings into the first
train they could catch, and shoved her in at our front door,
proclaiming loudly that she was a thief.

I am pleased to say that I gave that indignant deacon and his
wife such a thorough scolding as I am sure they have never
listened to from the pulpit. I borrowed some vigorous bits from
Sandy's vocabulary, and sent them home quite humbled. As for
poor little Hattie, here she is back again, after going out with
such high hopes. It has an awfully bad moral effect on a child
to be returned to the asylum in disgrace, especially when she
wasn't aware of committing a crime. It gives her a feeling that
the world is full of unknown pitfalls, and makes her afraid to
take a step. I must bend all my energies now toward finding
another set of parents for her, and ones that haven't grown so
old and settled and good that they have entirely forgotten their
own childhood.

Sunday.

 

I forgot to tell you that our new farmer is here, Turnfelt by
name; and his wife is a love, yellow hair and dimples. If she
were an orphan, I could place her in a minute. We can't let her
go to waste. I have a beautiful plan of building an addition to
the farmer's cottage, and establishing under her comfortable care
a sort of brooding-house where we can place our new little
chicks, to make sure they haven't anything contagious and to
eliminate as much profanity as possible before turning them loose
among our other perfect chicks.

How does that strike you? It is very necessary in an
institution as full of noise and movement and stir as this to
have some isolated spot where we can put cases needing individual
attention. Some of our children have inherited nerves, and a
period of quiet contemplation is indicated. Isn't my vocabulary
professional and scientific? Daily intercourse with Dr. Robin
MacRae is extremely educational.

Since Turnfelt came, you should see our pigs. They are so
clean and pink and unnatural that they don't recognize one
another any more as they pass.

Our potato field is also unrecognizable. It has been divided
with string and pegs into as many squares as a checker-board,
and every child has staked out a claim. Seed catalogues form our
only reading matter.

Noah has just returned from a trip to the village for the
Sunday papers to amuse his leisure. Noah is a very cultivated
person; he not only reads perfectly, but he wears tortoise-shell-
rimmed spectacles while he does it. He also brought from the
post office a letter from you, written Friday night. I am pained
to note that you do not care for "Gosta Berling" and that Jervis
doesn't. The only comment I can make is, "What a shocking lack
of literary taste in the Pendleton family!"

Dr. MacRae has another doctor visiting him, a very melancholy
gentleman who is at the head of a private psychopathic
institution, and thinks there's no good in life. But I suppose
this pessimistic view is natural if you eat three meals a day
with a tableful of melancholics. He goes up and down the world
looking for signs of degeneracy, and finds them everywhere. I
expected, after half an hour's conversation, that he would ask to
look down my throat to see if I had a cleft palate. Sandy's
taste in friends seems to resemble his taste in literature.
Gracious! this is a letter!

Good-by.

SALLIE.

 

Thursday, May 2.
Dear Judy:

Such a bewildering whirl of events! The J. G. H. is breathless.
Incidentally, I am on the way toward solving my problem of what
to do with the children while the carpenters and plumbers and
masons are here. Or, rather, my precious brother has solved it
for me.

This afternoon I went over my linen supply, and made the
shocking discovery that we have only sheets enough to change the
children's beds every two weeks, which, it appears, is our
shiftless custom. While I was still in the midst of my household
gear, with a bunch of keys at my girdle, looking like the
chatelaine of a medieval chateau, who should be ushered in but
Jimmie?

Being extremely occupied, I dropped a slanting kiss on his
nose, and sent him off to look over the place in charge of my two
oldest urchins. They collected six friends and organized a
baseball game. Jimmie came back blown, but enthusiastic, and
consented to prolong his visit over the week end, though after
the dinner I gave him he has decided to take his future meals at
the hotel. As we sat with our coffee before the fire, I confided
to him my anxiety as to what should be done with the chicks while
their new brooder is building. You know Jimmie. In one half a
minute his plan was formulated.

"Build an Adirondack camp on that little plateau up by the
wood lot. You can make three open shacks, each holding eight
bunks, and move the twenty-four oldest boys out there for the
summer. It won't cost two cents."

"Yes," I objected, "but it will cost more than two cents to
engage a man to look after them."

"Perfectly easy," said Jimmie, grandly. "I'll find you a
college fellow who'll be glad to come during the vacation for his
board and a mere pittance, only you'll have to set up more
filling board than you gave me tonight."

Dr. MacRae dropped in about nine o'clock, after visiting the
hospital ward. We've got three cases of whooping cough, but all
isolated, and no more coming. How those three got in is a
mystery. It seems there is a little bird that brings whooping
cough to orphan asylums.

Jimmie fell upon him for backing in his camp scheme, and the
doctor gave it enthusiastically. They seized pencil and
paper and drew up plans. And before the evening was over, the
last nail was hammered. Nothing would satisfy those two men but
to go to the telephone at ten o'clock and rouse a poor carpenter
from his sleep. He and some lumber are ordered for eight in the
morning.

I finally got rid of them at ten-thirty, still talking
uprights and joists and drainage and roof slants.

The excitement of Jimmie and coffee and all these building
operations induced me to sit down immediately and write a letter
to you; but I think, by your leave, I'll postpone further details
to another time.
Yours ever,

SALLIE.

 

Saturday.
Dear Enemy:

Will you be after dining with us at seven tonight? It's a real
dinner party; we're going to have ice-cream.

My brother has discovered a promising young man to take
charge of the boys,--maybe you know him,--Mr. Witherspoon, at the
bank. I wish to introduce him to asylum circles by easy steps,
so PLEASE don't mention insanity or epilepsy or alcoholism or any
of your other favorite topics.

He is a gay young society leader, used to very fancy things
to eat. Do you suppose we can ever make him happy at the John
Grier Home?
Yours in evident haste,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

Sunday.

Dear Judy:

Jimmie was back at eight Friday morning, and the doctor at a
quarter past. They and the carpenter and our new farmer and Noah
and our two horses and our eight biggest boys have been working
ever since. Never were building operations set going in faster
time. I wish I had a dozen Jimmies on the place, though I will
say that my brother works faster if you catch him before the
first edge of his enthusiasm wears away. He would not be much
good at chiseling out a medieval cathedral.

He came back Saturday morning aglow with a new idea. He had
met at the hotel the night before a friend who belongs to his
hunting club in Canada, and who is cashier of our First (and
only) National Bank.

"He's a bully good sport," said Jimmie, "and exactly the man
you want to camp out with those kids and lick 'em into shape.
He'll be willing to come for his board and forty dollars a month,
because he's engaged to a girl in Detroit and wants to save. I
told him the food was rotten, but if he kicked enough, you'd
probably get a new cook."

"What's his name?" said I, with guarded interest.

"He's got a peach of a name. It's Percy de Forest
Witherspoon."

I nearly had hysterics. Imagine a Percy de Forest
Witherspoon in charge of those twenty-four wild little savages!

But you know Jimmie when he has an idea. He had already
invited Mr. Witherspoon to dine with me on Saturday evening, and
had ordered oysters and squabs and ice-cream from the village
caterer to help out my veal. It ended by my giving a very
formal dinner party, with Miss Matthews and Betsy and the doctor
included.

I almost asked the Hon. Cy and Miss Snaith. Ever since I
have known those two, I have felt that there ought to be a
romance between them. Never have I known two people who matched
so perfectly. He's a widower with five children. Don't you
suppose it might be arranged? If he had a wife to take up his
attention, it might deflect him a little from us. I'd be getting
rid of them both at one stroke. It's to be considered among our
future improvements.

Anyway, we had our dinner. And during the course of the
evening my anxiety grew, not as to whether Percy would do for us,
but as to whether we should do for Percy. If I searched the
world over, I never could find a young man more calculated to win
the affection of those boys. You know, just by looking at him,
that he does everything well, at least everything vigorous. His
literary and artistic accomplishments I suspect a bit, but he
rides and shoots and plays golf and football and sails a boat.
He likes to sleep out of doors and he likes boys. He has always
wanted to know some orphans; often read about 'em in books, he
says, but never met any face to face. Percy does seem too good
to be true.

Before they left, Jimmie and the doctor hunted up a lantern,
and in their evening clothes conducted Mr. Witherspoon across a
plowed field to inspect his future dwelling.

And such a Sunday as we passed! I had absolutely to forbid
their carpentering. Those men would have put in a full day,
quite irrespective of the damage done to one hundred and four
little moral natures. As it is, they have just stood and looked
at those shacks and handled their hammers, and thought about
where they would drive the first nail tomorrow morning. The more
I study men, the more I realize that they are nothing in the
world but boys grown too big to be spankable.

I am awfully worried as to how to feed Mr. Witherspoon.
He looks as though he had a frightfully healthy appetite, and
he looks as though he couldn't swallow his dinner unless he had
on evening clothes. I've made Betsy send home for a trunkful of
evening gowns in order to keep up our social standing. One thing
is fortunate: he takes his luncheon at the hotel, and I hear
their luncheons are very filling.

Tell Jervis I am sorry he is not with us to drive a nail for
the camp. Here comes the Hon. Cy up the path. Heaven save us!

Ever your unfortunate,

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

May 8.
Dear Judy:

Our camp is finished, our energetic brother has gone, and our
twenty-four boys have passed two healthful nights in the open.
The three bark-covered shacks add a pleasant rustic touch to the
grounds. They are like those we used to have in the Adirondacks,
closed on three sides and open in the front, and one larger than
the rest to allow a private pavilion for Mr. Percy Witherspoon.
An adjacent hut, less exposed to the weather, affords extremely
adequate bathing facilities, consisting of a faucet in the wall
and three watering-cans. Each camp has a bath master who stands
on a stool and sprinkles each little shiverer as he trots under.
Since our trustees WON'T give us enough bathtubs, we have to use
our wits.

The three camps have organized into three tribes of Indians,
each with a chief of its own to answer for its conduct, Mr.
Witherspoon high chief of all, and Dr. MacRae the medicine
man. They dedicated their lodges Tuesday evening with
appropriate tribal ceremonies. And though they politely invited
me to attend, I decided that it was a purely masculine affair, so
I declined to go, but sent refreshments, a very popular move.
Betsy and I walked as far as the baseball field in the course of
the evening, and caught a glimpse of the orgies. The braves were
squatting in a circle about a big fire, each decorated with a
blanket from his bed and a rakish band of feathers. (Our
chickens seem very scant as to tail, but I have asked no
unpleasant questions.) The doctor, with a Navajo blanket about
his shoulders, was executing a war dance, while Jimmie and Mr.
Witherspoon beat on war drums--two of our copper kettles, now
permanently dented. Fancy Sandy! It's the first youthful
glimmer I have ever caught in the man.

After ten o'clock, when the braves were safely stowed for the
night, the three men came in and limply dropped into comfortable
chairs in my library, with the air of having made martyrs of
themselves in the great cause of charity. But they did not
deceive me. They originated all that tomfoolery for their own
individual delectation.

So far Mr. Percy Witherspoon appears fairly happy. He is
presiding at one end of the officers' table under the special
protection of Betsy, and I am told that he instills considerable
life into that sedate assemblage. I have endeavored to run up
their menu a trifle, and he accepts what is put before him with a
perfectly good appetite, irrespective of the absence of such
accustomed trifles as oysters and quail and soft-shell crabs.

There was no sign of a private sitting room that I could put
at this young man's disposal, but he himself has solved the
difficulty by proposing to occupy our new laboratory. So he
spends his evenings with a book and a pipe, comfortably stretched
in the dentist's chair. There are not many society men who would
be willing to spend their evenings so harmlessly. That girl in
Detroit is a lucky young thing.

Mercy! An automobile full of people has just arrived to look
over the institution, and Betsy, who usually does the honors, not
here. I fly.

ADDIO!

SALLIE.

 

My dear Gordon:

This is not a letter,--I don't owe you one,--it's a receipt for
sixty-five pairs of roller skates.

Many thanks.

S. McB.

 

Friday.
Dear Enemy:

I hear that I missed a call today, but Jane delivered your
message, together with the "Genetic Philosophy of Education."
She says that you will call in a few days for my opinion of the
book. Is it to be a written or an oral examination?

And doesn't it ever occur to you that this education business
is rather one-sided? It often strikes me that Dr. Robin MacRae's
mental attitude would also be the better for some slight
refurbishing. I will promise to read your book, provided you
read one of mine. I am sending herewith the "Dolly Dialogues,"
and shall ask for an opinion in a day or so.

It's uphill work making a Scotch Presbyterian frivolous, but
persistency accomplishes wonders.

S. McB.

 

May 12.
My dear, dear Judy:

Talk about floods in Ohio! Right here in Dutchess County we are
the consistency of a wet sponge. Rain for five days, and
everything wrong with this institution.

The babies have had croup, and we have been up o' nights with
them. Cook has given notice, and there's a dead rat in the
walls. Our three camps leaked, and in the early dawn, after the
first cloudburst, twenty-four bedraggled little Indians, wrapped
in damp bedding, came shivering to the door and begged for
admission. Since then every clothesline, every stair-railing has
been covered with wet and smelly blankets that steam, but won't
dry. Mr. Percy de Forest Witherspoon has returned to the hotel
to wait until the sun comes out.

After being cooped up for four days with no exercise to
speak of, the children's badness is breaking out in red spots,
like the measles. Betsy and I have thought of every form of
active and innocent occupation that could be carried on in such a
congested quarter as this: blind man's buff and pillow fights and
hide-and-go-seek, gymnastics in the dining room, and bean-bags in
the school room. (We broke two windows.) The boys played
leapfrog up and down the hall, and jarred all the plaster in the
building. We have cleaned energetically and furiously. All the
woodwork has been washed, and all of the floors polished. But
despite everything, we have a great deal of energy left, and we
are getting to that point of nerves where we want to punch one
another.

Sadie Kate has been acting like a little deil--do they have
feminine deils? If not, Sadie Kate has originated the species.
And this afternoon Loretta Higgins had--well, I don't know
whether it was a sort of fit or just a temper. She lay down on
the floor and howled for a solid hour, and when any one tried to
approach her, she thrashed about like a little windmill and bit
and kicked.

By the time the doctor came she had pretty well worn herself
out. He picked her up, limp and drooping, and carried her to a
cot in the hospital room; and after she was asleep he came down
to my library and asked to look at the archives.

Loretta is thirteen; in the three years she has been here she
has had five of these outbreaks, and has been punished good and
hard for them. The child's ancestral record is simple: "Mother
died of alcoholic dementia, Bloomingdale Asylum. Father
unknown."

He studied the page long and frowningly and shook his head.

"With a heredity like that, is it right to punish the child
for having a shattered nervous system?"

"It is not," said I, firmly. "We will mend her shattered
nervous system."

"If we can."

"We'll feed her up on cod-liver oil and sunshine, and find a
nice kind foster mother who will take pity on the poor little--"

But then my voice trailed off into nothing as I pictured
Loretta's face, with her hollow eyes and big nose and open mouth
and no chin and stringy hair and sticking-out ears. No foster
mother in the world would love a child who looked like that.

"Why, oh, why," I wailed, "doesn't the good Lord send orphan
children with blue eyes and curly hair and loving dispositions?
I could place a million of that sort in kind homes, but no one
wants Loretta."

"I'm afraid the good Lord doesn't have anything to do with
bringing our Lorettas into the world. It is the devil who
attends to them."

Poor Sandy! He gets awfully pessimistic about the future of
the universe; but I don't wonder, with such a cheerless life as
he leads. He looked today as though his own nervous system was
shattered. He had been splashing about in the rain since five
this morning, when he was called to a sick baby case. I made him
sit down and have some tea, and we had a nice, cheerful talk on
drunkenness and idiocy and epilepsy and insanity. He dislikes
alcoholic parents, but he ties himself into a knot over insane
parents.

Privately, I don't believe there's one thing in heredity,
provided you snatch the babies away before their eyes are opened.

We've got the sunniest youngster here you ever saw; his mother
and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Silas all died insane, but he is as
placid and unexcitable as a cow.

Good-by, my dear. I am sorry this is not a more cheerful
letter, though at this moment nothing unpleasant seems to be
happening. It's eleven o'clock, and I have just stuck my head
into the corridor, and all is quiet except for two banging
shutters and leaking eaves. I promised Jane I would go to
bed at ten.
Good night, and joy be wi' ye baith!

SALLIE.

P.S. There is one thing in the midst of all my troubles that I
have to be grateful for: the Hon. Cy has been stricken with a
lingering attack of grippe. In a burst of thankfulness I sent
him a bunch of violets.
P.S. 2. We are having an epidemic of pinkeye.

 

May 16.
Good morning, my dear Judy!

Three days of sunshine, and the J. G. H. is smiling.

I am getting my immediate troubles nicely settled. Those
beastly blankets have dried at last, and our camps have been made
livable again. They are floored with wooden slats and roofed
with tar paper. (Mr. Witherspoon calls them chicken coops.) We
are digging a stone-lined ditch to convey any further cloudbursts
from the plateau on which they stand to the cornfield below. The
Indians have resumed savage life, and their chief is back at his
post.

The doctor and I have been giving Loretta Higgins's nerves
our most careful consideration. We think that this barrack life,
with its constant movement and stir, is too exciting, and we have
decided that the best plan will be to board her out in a private
family, where she will receive a great deal of individual
attention.

The doctor, with his usual resourcefulness, has produced the
family. They live next door to him and are very nice people; I
have just returned from calling. The husband is foreman of the
casting room at the iron works, and the wife is a comfortable
soul who shakes all over when she laughs. They live mostly
in their kitchen in order to keep the parlor neat; but it is such
a cheerful kitchen that I should like to live in it myself. She
has potted begonias in the window and a nice purry tiger cat
asleep on a braided rug in front of the stove. She bakes on
Saturday--cookies and gingerbread and doughnuts. I am planning
to pay my weekly call upon Loretta every Saturday morning at
eleven o'clock. Apparently I made as favorable an impression on
Mrs. Wilson as she made on me. After I had gone, she confided to
the doctor that she liked me because I was just as common as she
was.

Loretta is to learn housework and have a little garden of her
own, and particularly play out of doors in the sunshine. She is
to go to bed early and be fed up on nice nourishing food, and
they are to pet her and make her happy. All this for three
dollars a week!

Why not find a hundred such families, and board out all the
children? Then this building could be turned into an idiot
asylum, and I, not knowing anything about idiots, could
conscientiously resign and go back home and live happily ever
after.

Really, Judy, I am growing frightened. This asylum will get
me if I stay long enough. I am becoming so interested in it that
I can't think or talk or dream of anything else. You and Jervis
have blasted all my prospects in life.

Suppose I should retire and marry and have a family. As
families go nowadays, I couldn't hope for more than five or six
children at the most, and all with the same heredity. But,
mercy! such a family appears perfectly insignificant and
monotonous. You have institutionalized me.

Reproachfully yours,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. We have a child here whose father was lynched. Isn't that
a piquant detail to have in one's history?

 

Tuesday.
Dearest Judy:

What shall we do? Mamie Prout does not like prunes. This
antipathy to a cheap and healthful foodstuff is nothing but
imagination, and ought not to be countenanced among the inmates
of a well-managed institution. Mamie must be made to like
prunes. So says our grammar teacher, who spends the noonday hour
with us and overlooks the morals of our charges. About one
o'clock today she marched Mamie to my office charged with the
offense of refusing, ABSOLUTELY refusing, to open her mouth and
put in a prune. The child was plumped down on a stool to await
punishment from me.

Now, as you know, I do not like bananas, and I should hate
awfully to be forced to swallow them; so, by the same token, why
should I force Mamie Prout to swallow prunes?

While I was pondering a course that would seem to uphold Miss
Keller's authority, but would at the same time leave a loophole
for Mamie, I was called to the telephone.

"Sit there until I come back," I said, and went out and
closed the door.

The message was from a kind lady wishing to motor me to a
committee meeting. I didn't tell you that I am organizing local
interest in our behalf. The idle rich who possess estates in
this neighborhood are beginning to drift out from town, and I am
laying my plans to catch them before they are deflected by too
many garden parties and tennis tournaments. They have never been
of the slightest use to this asylum, and I think it's about time
they woke up to a realization of our presence.

Returning at teatime, I was waylaid in the hall by Dr.
MacRae, who demanded some statistics from my office. I
opened the door, and there sat Mamie Prout exactly where she had
been left four hours before.

"Mamie darling!" I cried in horror. "You haven't been here
all this time?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Mamie; "you told me to wait until you came
back."

That poor patient little thing was fairly swaying with
weariness, but she never uttered a whimper.

I will say for Sandy that he was SWEET. He gathered her up
in his arms and carried her to my library, and petted her and
caressed her back to smiles. Jane brought the sewing table and
spread it before the fire, and while the doctor and I had tea,
Mamie had her supper. I suppose, according to the theory of some
educators, now, when she was thoroughly worn out and hungry,
would have been the psychological moment to ply her with prunes.
But you will be pleased to hear that I did nothing of the sort,
and that the doctor for once upheld my unscientific principles.
Mamie had the most wonderful supper of her life, embellished
with strawberry jam from my private jar and peppermints from
Sandy's pocket. We returned her to her mates happy and
comforted, but still possessing that regrettable distaste for
prunes.

Did you ever know anything more appalling than this soul-
crushing unreasoning obedience which Mrs. Lippett so insistently
fostered? It's the orphan asylum attitude toward life, and
somehow I must crush it out. Initiative, responsibility,
curiosity, inventiveness, fight--oh dear! I wish the doctor had
a serum for injecting all these useful virtues into an orphan's
circulation.

LATER.

 

I wish you'd come back to New York. I've appointed you press
agent for this institution, and we need some of your floweriest
writing immediately. There are seven tots here crying to be
adopted, and it's your business to advertise them.

Little Gertrude is cross-eyed, but dear and affectionate and
generous. Can't you write her up so persuasively that some
loving family will be willing to take her even if she isn't
beautiful? Her eyes can be operated on when she's older; but if
it were a cross disposition she had, no surgeon in the world
could remove that. The child knows there is something missing,
though she has never seen a live parent in her life. She holds
up her arms persuasively to every person who passes. Put in all
the pathos you are capable of, and see if you can't fetch her a
mother and father.

Maybe you can get one of the New York papers to run a Sunday
feature article about a lot of different children. I'll send
some photographs. You remember what a lot of responses that
"Smiling Joe" picture brought for the Sea Breeze people? I can
furnish equally taking portraits of Laughing Lou and Gurgling
Gertrude and Kicking Karl if you will just add the literary
touch.

And do find me some sports who are not afraid of heredity.
This wanting every child to come from one of the first families
of Virginia is getting tiresome.

Yours, as usual,

SALLIE.

 

Friday.
My dear, dear Judy:

Such an upheaval! I've discharged the cook and the housekeeper,
and in delicate language conveyed the impression to our grammar
teacher that she needn't come back next year. But, oh, if I
could only discharge the Honorable Cy!

I must tell you what happened this morning. Our trustee, who
has had a dangerous illness, is now dangerously well again, and
dropped in to pay a neighborly call. Punch was occupying a rug
on my library floor, virtuously engaged with building blocks. I
am separating him from the other kindergarten children, and
trying the Montessori method of a private rug and no nervous
distraction. I was flattering myself that it was working well;
his vocabulary of late has become almost prudish.

After half an hour's desultory visit, the Hon. Cy rose to go.
As the door closed behind him (I am at least thankful the child
waited for that), Punch raised his appealing brown eyes to mine
and murmured, with a confiding smile:

"Gee! ain't he got de hell of a mug?"

If you know a kind Christian family where I can place out a
sweet little five-year boy, please communicate at once with

S. McBRIDE,

Sup't John Grier Home.

 

 

Dear Pendletons:

I've never known anything like you two snails. You've only just
reached Washington, and I have had my suitcase packed for days,
ready to spend a rejuvenating week end CHEZ VOUS. Please hurry!
I've languished in this asylum atmosphere as long as humanely
possible. I shall gasp and die if I don't get a change.

Yours,

on the point of suffocation,

S. McB.

P.S. Drop a card to Gordon Hallock, telling him you are there.
He will be charmed to put himself and the Capitol at your
disposal. I know that Jervis doesn't like him, but Jervis ought
to get over his baseless prejudices against politicians. Who
knows? I may be entering politics myself some day.

 

My dear Judy:

We do receive the most amazing presents from our friends and
benefactors. Listen to this. Last week Mr. Wilton J. Leverett
(I quote from his card) ran over a broken bottle outside our
gate, and came in to visit the institution while his chauffeur
was mending the tire. Betsy showed him about. He took an
intelligent interest in everything he saw, particularly our new
camps. That is an exhibit which appeals to men. He ended
by removing his coat, and playing baseball with two tribes of
Indians. After an hour and a half he suddenly looked at his
watch, begged for a glass of water, and bowed himself off.

We had entirely forgotten the episode until this afternoon,
when the expressman drove up to the door with a present for the
John Grier Home from the chemical laboratories of Wilton J.
Leverett. It was a barrel--well, anyway, a good sized keg--full
of liquid green soap!

Did I tell you that the seeds for our garden came from
Washington? A polite present from Gordon Hallock and the U. S.
Government. As an example of what the past regime did not
accomplish, Martin Schladerwitz, who has spent three years on
this pseudo farm, knew no more than to dig a grave two feet deep
and bury his lettuce seeds!

Oh, you can't imagine the number of fields in which we need
making over; but of course you, of all people, can imagine.
Little by little I am getting my eyes wide open, and things that
just looked funny to me at first, now--oh dear! It's very
disillusionizing. Every funny thing that comes up seems to have
a little tragedy wrapped inside it.

Just at present we are paying anxious attention to our
manners--not orphan asylum manners, but dancing school manners.
There is to be nothing Uriah Heepish about our attitude toward
the world. The little girls make curtseys when they shake hands,
and the boys remove caps and rise when a lady stands, and push in
chairs at the table. (Tommy Woolsey shot Sadie Kate into her
soup yesterday, to the glee of all observers except Sadie, who is
an independent young damsel and doesn't care for these useless
masculine attentions.) At first the boys were inclined to jeer,
but after observing the politeness of their hero, Percy de Forest
Witherspoon, they have come up to the mark like little
gentlemen.

Punch is paying a call this morning. For the last half-hour,
while I have been busily scratching away to you, he has been
established in the window seat, quietly and undestructively
engaged with colored pencils. Betsy, EN PASSANT, just dropped a
kiss upon his nose.

"Aw, gwan!" said Punch, blushing quite pink, and wiping off
the caress with a fine show of masculine indifference. But I
notice he has resumed work upon his red-and-green landscape with
heightened ardor and an attempt at whistling. We'll succeed yet
in conquering that young man's temper.

 

Tuesday.

 

The doctor is in a very grumbly mood today. He called just
as the children were marching in to dinner, whereupon he marched,
too, and sampled their food, and, oh, my dear! the potatoes were
scorched! And such a clishmaclaver as that man made! It is the
first time the potatoes ever have been scorched, and you know
that scorching sometimes happens in the best of families. But
you would think from Sandy's language that the cook had scorched
them on purpose, in accordance with my orders.

As I have told you before, I could do very nicely without
Sandy.

 

Wednesday.

 

Yesterday being a wonderful sunny day, Betsy and I turned our
backs upon duty and motored to the very fancy home of some
friends of hers, where we had tea in an Italian garden. Punch
and Sadie Kate had been SUCH good children all day that at the
last moment we telephoned for permission to include them, too.

"Yes, indeed, do bring the little dears," was the
enthusiastic response.

But the choice of Punch and Sadie Kate was a mistake. We
ought to have taken Mamie Prout, who has demonstrated her ability
to sit. I shall spare you the details of our visit; the climax
was reached when Punch went goldfishing in the bottom of the
swimming pool. Our host pulled him out by an agitated leg, and
the child returned to the asylum swathed in that gentleman's
rose-colored bathrobe.

What do you think? Dr. Robin MacRae, in a contrite mood for
having been so intensely disagreeable yesterday, has just invited
Betsy and me to take supper in his olive-green house next Sunday
evening at seven o'clock in order to look at some
microscopic slides. The entertainment, I believe, is to consist
of a scarlet-fever culture, some alcoholic tissue, and a
tubercular gland. These social attentions bore him excessively;
but he realizes that if he is to have free scope in applying his
theories to the institution he must be a little polite to its
superintendent.

I have just read this letter over, and I must admit that it
skips lightly from topic to topic. But though it may not contain
news of any great moment, I trust you will realize that its
writing has consumed every vacant minute during the last three
days.
I am,

Most fully occupied,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. A blessed woman came this morning and said she would take a
child for the summer--one of the sickest, weakest, neediest
babies I could give her. She had just lost her husband, and
wanted something HARD to do. Isn't that really very touching?

 

Saturday afternoon.
Dear Judy and Jervis:

Brother Jimmie (we are very alliterative!), spurred on by sundry
begging letters from me, has at last sent us a present; but he
picked it out himself.

WE HAVE A MONKEY! His name is Java.
The children no longer hear the school bell ring. On the day the
creature came, this entire institution formed in line and filed
past and shook his paw. Poor Sing's nose is out of joint. I
have to PAY to have him washed.

Sadie Kate is developing into my private secretary. I have
her answer the thank-you letters for the institution, and her
literary style is making a hit among our benefactors. She
invariably calls out a second gift. I had hitherto believed that
the Kilcoyne family sprang from the wild west of Ireland, but I
begin to suspect that their source was nearer Blarney Castle.
You can see from the inclosed copy of the letter she sent to
Jimmie what a persuasive pen the young person has. I trust that
in this case at least, it will not bear the fruit that she
suggests.

 

Dear Mr. Jimie

We thank you very much for the lovly monkey you give. We name
him java because that's a warm iland across the ocian where he
was born up in a nest like a bird only big the doctor told us.

The first day he come every boy and girl shook his hand and
said good morning java his hand feels funny he holds so tite. I
was afraid to touch him but now I let him sit on my shoulder and
put his arms around my kneck if he wants to. He makes a funny
noise that sounds like swering and gets mad when his tale is
puled.

We love him dearly and we love you two.

The next time you have to give a present, please send an
elifant. Well I guess Ill stop.

Yours truly,

SADIE KATE KILCOYNE.

 

 

Percy de Forest Witherspoon is still faithful to his little
followers, though I am so afraid he will get tired that I urge
him to take frequent vacations. He has not only been faithful
himself, but has brought in recruits. He has large social
connections in the neighborhood, and last Saturday evening he
introduced two friends, nice men who sat around the campfire and
swapped hunting stories.

One of them was just back from around the world, and told
hair-raising anecdotes of the head hunters of Sarawak, a narrow
pink country on the top of Borneo. My little braves pant to grow
up and get to Sarawak, and go out on the war-path after head
hunters. Every encyclopedia in this institution has been
consulted, and there isn't a boy here who cannot tell you the
history, manners, climate, flora, and fungi of Borneo. I only
wish Mr. Witherspoon would introduce friends who had been head
hunting in England, France, and Germany, countries not quite so
CHIC as Sarawak, but more useful for general culture.

We have a new cook, the fourth since my reign began. I
haven't bothered you with my cooking troubles, but institutions
don't escape any more than families. The last is a negro woman,
a big, fat, smiling, chocolate-colored creature from Souf
Ca'lina. And ever since she came on honey dew we've fed! Her
name is--what do you guess? SALLIE, if you please. I suggested
that she change it.

"Sho, Miss, I's had dat name Sallie longer'n you, an' I
couldn't get used nohow to answerin' up pert-like when you sings
out `Mollie!' Seems like Sallie jest b'longs to me."

So "Sallie" she remains; but at least there is no danger of
our getting our letters mixed, for her last name is nothing so
plebeian as McBride. It's Johnston-Washington, with a hyphen.

Sunday.

 

Our favorite game of late is finding pet names for Sandy.
His austere presence lends itself to caricature. We have just
originated a new batch. The "Laird o' Cockpen" is Percy's
choice.

The Laird o' Cockpen he's proud and he's great;
His mind is ta'en up wi' the things of the state.

Miss Snaith disgustedly calls him "that man," and Betsy refers to
him (in his absence) as "Dr. Cod-Liver." My present favorite is
"Macphairson Clon Glocketty Angus McClan." But for real poetic
feeling, Sadie Kate beats us all. She calls him "Mister Someday
Soon." I don't believe that the doctor ever dropped into verse
but once in his life, but every child in this institution knows
that one poem by heart.

Someday soon something nice is going to happen;

Be a good little girl and take this hint:
Swallow with a smile your cod-liver ile,

And the first thing you know you will have a peppermint.

 

It's this evening that Betsy and I attend his supper party,
and I confess that we are looking forward to seeing the interior
of his gloomy mansion with gleeful eagerness. He never talks
about himself or his past or anybody connected with himself. He
appears to be an isolated figure standing on a pedestal labeled
S C I E N C E, without a glimmer of any ordinary affections or
emotions or human frailties except temper. Betsy and I are
simply eaten up with curiosity to know what sort of past he came
out of; but just let us get inside his house, and to our
detective senses it will tell its own story. So long as the
portal was guarded by a fierce McGurk, we had despaired of ever
effecting an entrance; but now, behold! The door has opened of
its own accord.

To be continued.

S. McB.

 

Monday.
Dear Judy:

We attended the doctor's supper party last night, Betsy and Mr.
Witherspoon and I. It turned out a passably cheerful occasion,
though I will say that it began under heavy auspices.

His house on the inside is all that the outside promises.
Never in my life have I seen such an interior as that man's
dining room. The walls and carpets and lambrequins are a heavy
dark green. A black marble mantelpiece shelters a few smoking
black coals. The furniture is as nearly black as furniture
comes. The decorations are two steel engravings in shiny black
frames--the "Monarch of the Glen," and the "Stag at Bay."

We tried hard to be light and sparkling, but it was like
eating supper in the family vault. Mrs. McGurk, in black alpaca
with a black silk apron, clumped around the table, passing cold,
heavy things to eat, with a step so firm that she rattled the
silver in the sideboard drawers. Her nose was up, and her mouth
was down. She clearly does not approve of the master's
entertaining, and she wishes to discourage all guests from ever
accepting again.

Sandy sort of dimly knows that there is something the matter
with his house, and in order to brighten it up a bit in honor of
his guests, he had purchased flowers,--dozens of them,--the most
exquisite pink Killarney roses and red and yellow tulips. The
McGurk had wedged them all together as tight as they would fit
into a peacock-blue jardiniere, and plumped it down in the center
of the table. The thing was as big as a bushel-basket.
Betsy and I nearly forgot our manners when we saw that
centerpiece; but the doctor seemed so innocently pleased at
having obtained a bright note in his dining room that we
suppressed our amusement and complimented him warmly upon his
happy color scheme.

The moment supper was over, we hastened with relief to his
own part of the house, where the McGurk's influence does not
penetrate. No one in a cleaning capacity ever enters either his
library or office or laboratory except Llewelyn, a short, wiry,
bow-legged Welshman, who combines to a unique degree the
qualities of chambermaid and chauffeur.

The library, though not the most cheerful room I have ever
seen, still, for a man's house, is not so bad--books all around
from floor to ceiling, with the overflow in piles on floor and
table and mantelpiece; half a dozen abysmal leather chairs and a
rug or so, with another black marble mantelpiece, but this time
containing a crackling wood fire. By way of bric-a-brac, he has
a stuffed pelican and a crane with a frog in its mouth, also a
raccoon sitting on a log, and a varnished tarpon. A faint
suggestion of iodoform floats in the air.

The doctor made the coffee himself in a French machine, and
we dismissed his housekeeper from our spirits. He really did do
his best to be a thoughtful host and I have to report that the
word "insanity" was not once mentioned. It seems that Sandy, in
his moments of relaxation, is a fisherman. He and Percy began
swapping stories of salmon and trout, and he finally got out his
case of fishing flies, and gallantly presented Betsy and me with
a "silver doctor" and a "Jack Scott" out of which to make
hatpins. Then the conversation wandered to sport on the Scotch
moors, and he told about one time when he was lost, and spent the
night out in the heather. There is no doubt about it, Sandy's
heart is in the highlands.

I am afraid that Betsy and I have wronged him. Though
it is hard to relinquish the interesting idea, he may not,
after all, have committed a crime. We are now leaning to the
belief that he was crossed in love.

It's really horrid of me to make fun of poor Sandy, for,
despite his stern bleakness of disposition, he's a pathetic
figure of a man. Think of coming home after an anxious day's
round to eat a solitary dinner in that grim dining room!

Do you suppose it would cheer him up a little if I should
send my company of artists to paint a frieze of rabbits around
the wall?

With love, as usual,

SALLIE.

 

Dear Judy:

Aren't you ever coming back to New York? Please hurry! I need a
new hat, and am desirous of shopping for it on Fifth Avenue, not
on Water Street. Mrs. Gruby, our best milliner, does not believe
in slavishly following Paris Fashions; she originates her own
styles. But three years ago, as a great concession to
convention, she did make a tour of the New York shops, and is
still creating models on the uplift of that visit.

Also, besides my own hat, I must buy 113 hats for my
children, to say nothing of shoes and knickerbockers and shirts
and hair-ribbons and stockings and garters. It's quite a task to
keep a little family like mine decently clothed.

Did you get that big letter I wrote you last week? You never
had the grace to mention it in yours of Thursday, and it was
seventeen pages long, and took me DAYS to write.

Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

P.S. Why don't you tell me some news about Gordon? Have you
seen him, and did he mention me? Is he running after any of
those pretty Southern girls that Washington is so full of? You
know that I want to hear. Why must you be so beastly
uncommunicative?

 

Tuesday, 4:27 P.M.
Dear Judy:

Your telegram came two minutes ago by telephone.

Yes, thank you, I shall be delighted to arrive at 5:49 on
Thursday afternoon. And don't make any engagements for that
evening, please, as I intend to sit up until midnight talking
John Grier gossip with you and the president.

Friday and Saturday and Monday I shall have to devote to
shopping. Oh, yes, you're right; I already possess more clothes
than any jailbird needs, but when spring comes, I must have new
plumage. As it is, I wear an evening gown every night just to
wear them out--no, not entirely that; to make myself believe that
I'm still an ordinary girl despite this extraordinary life that
you have pushed me into.

The Hon. Cy found me yesterday arrayed in a Nile-green crepe
(Jane's creation, though it looked Parisian). He was quite
puzzled when he found I wasn't going to a ball. I invited him to
stay and dine with me, and he accepted! We got on very affably.
He expands over his dinner. Food appears to agree with him. If
there's any Bernard Shaw in New York just now, I believe that I
might spare a couple of hours Saturday afternoon for a matinee.
G. B. S.'s dialogue would afford such a life-giving contrast to
the Hon. Cy's.

There's no use writing any more; I'll wait and talk.

ADDIO.

SALLIE.

P.S. Oh dear! just as I had begun to catch glimmerings of
niceness in Sandy, he broke out again and was ABOMINABLE. We
unfortunately have five cases of measles in this institution, and
the man's manner suggests that Miss Snaith and I gave the measles
to the children on purpose to make him trouble. There are many
days when I should be willing to accept our doctor's resignation.

 

Wednesday.
Dear Enemy:

Your brief and dignified note of yesterday is at hand. I have
never known anybody whose literary style resembled so exactly his
spoken word.

And you will be greatly obliged if I will drop my absurd
fashion of calling you "Enemy"? I will drop my absurd fashion of
calling you Enemy just as soon as you drop your absurd fashion of
getting angry and abusive and insulting the moment any little
thing goes wrong.

I am leaving tomorrow afternoon to spend four days in New
York.

Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

 

CHEZ THE PENDLETONS, New York.
My dear Enemy:

I trust that this note will find you in a more affable frame of
mind than when I saw you last. I emphatically repeat that it was
not due to the carelessness of the superintendent of our
institution that those two new cases of measles crept in, but
rather to the unfortunate anatomy of our old-fashioned building,
which does not permit of the proper isolation of contagious
cases.

As you did not deign to visit us yesterday morning before I
left, I could not offer any parting suggestions. I therefore
write to ask that you cast your critical eye upon Mamie Prout.
She is covered all over with little red spots which may be
measles, though I am hoping not. Mamie spots very easily.

I return to prison life next Monday at six o'clock.

Yours truly,

S. McBRIDE.

P.S. I trust you will pardon my mentioning it, but you are not
the kind of doctor that I admire. I like them chubby and round
and smiling.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

June 9.
Dear Judy:

You are an awful family for an impressionable young girl to
visit. How can you expect me to come back and settle down
contentedly to institution life after witnessing such a happy
picture of domestic concord as the Pendleton household
presents?

All the way back in the train, instead of occupying myself
with two novels, four magazines, and one box of chocolates that
your husband thoughtfully provided, I spent the time in a mental
review of the young men of my acquaintance to see if I couldn't
discover one as nice as Jervis. I did! (A little nicer, I
think.) From this day on he is the marked-down victim, the
destined prey.

I shall hate to give up the asylum after getting so excited
over it, but unless you are willing to move it to the capital, I
don't see any alternative.

The train was awfully late. We sat and smoked on a siding
while two accommodations and a freight dashed past. I think we
must have broken something, and had to tinker up our engine. The
conductor was soothing, but uncommunicative.

It was 7:30 when I descended, the only passenger, at our
insignificant station in the pitch darkness and RAIN, without an
umbrella, and wearing that precious new hat. No Turnfelt to meet
me; not even a station hack. To be sure, I hadn't telegraphed
the exact time of my arrival, but, still, I did feel rather
neglected. I had sort of vaguely expected all ONE HUNDRED AND
THIRTEEN to be drawn up by the platform, scattering flowers and
singing songs of welcome. Just as I was telling the station man
that I would watch his telegraph instrument while he ran across
to the corner saloon and telephoned for a vehicle, there came
whirling around the corner two big searchlights aimed straight at
me. They stopped nine inches before running me down, and I heard
Sandy's voice saying:

"Weel, weel, Miss Sallie McBride! I'm thinking it's ower
time you came back to tak' the bit bairns off my hands."

That man had come three times to meet me on the off chance of
the train's getting in some time. He tucked me and my new hat
and bags and books and chocolates all in under his waterproof
flap, and we splashed off. Really, I felt as if I was getting
back home again, and quite sad at the thought of ever having
to leave. Mentally, you see, I had already resigned and packed
and gone. The mere idea that you are not in a place for the rest
of your life gives you an awfully unstable feeling. That's why
trial marriages would never work. You've got to feel you're in a
thing irrevocably and forever in order to buckle down and really
put your whole mind into making it a success.

It's astounding how much news can accrue in four days. Sandy
just couldn't talk fast enough to tell me everything I wanted to
hear. Among other items, I learned that Sadie Kate had spent two
days in the infirmary, her malady being, according to the
doctor's diagnosis, half a jar of gooseberry jam and Heaven knows
how many doughnuts. Her work had been changed during my absence
to dishwashing in the officers' pantry, and the juxtaposition of
so many exotic luxuries was too much for her fragile virtue.

Also, our colored cook Sallie and our colored useful man Noah
have entered upon a war of extermination. The original trouble
was over a little matter of kindling, augmented by a pail of hot
water that Sallie threw out of the window with, for a woman,
unusual accuracy of aim. You can see what a rare character the
head of an orphan asylum must have. She has to combine the
qualities of a baby nurse and a police magistrate.

The doctor had told only the half when we reached the house,
and as he had not yet dined, owing to meeting me three times, I
begged him to accept the hospitality of the John Grier. I would
get Betsy and Mr. Witherspoon, and we would hold an executive
meeting, and settle all our neglected businesses.

Sandy accepted with flattering promptness. He likes to dine
outside of the family vault.

But Betsy, I found, had dashed home to greet a visiting
grandparent, and Percy was playing bridge in the village. It's
seldom the young thing gets out of an evening, and I'm glad for
him to have a little cheerful diversion.

So it ended in the doctor's and my dining tete-a-tete on a
hastily improvised dinner,--it was then close upon eight, and our
normal dinner hour is 6:30,--but it was such an improvised dinner
as I am sure Mrs. McGurk never served him. Sallie, wishing to
impress me with her invaluableness, did her absolutely Southern
best. And after dinner we had coffee before the fire in my
comfortable blue library, while the wind howled outside and the
shutters banged.

We passed a most cordial and intimate evening. For the first
time since our acquaintance I struck a new note in the man.
There really is something attractive about him when you once come
to know him. But the process of knowing him requires time and
tact. He's no' very gleg at the uptak. I've never seen such a
tantalizing inexplicable person. All the time I'm talking to him
I feel as though behind his straight line of a mouth and his
half-shut eyes there were banked fires smoldering inside. Are
you sure he hasn't committed a crime? He does manage to convey
the delicious feeling that he has.

And I must add that Sandy's not so bad a talker when he lets
himself go. He has the entire volume of Scotch literature at his
tongue's end.

"Little kens the auld wife as she sits by the fire what the
wind is doing on Hurly-Burly-Swire," he observed as a specially
fierce blast drove the rain against the window. That sounds pat,
doesn't it? I haven't, though, the remotest idea what it means.
And listen to this: between cups of coffee (he drinks far too
much coffee for a sensible medical man) he casually let fall the
news that his family knew the R. L. S. family personally, and
used to take supper at 17 Heriot Row! I tended him assiduously
for the rest of the evening in a
Did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you?
frame of mind.

When I started this letter, I had no intention of filling it
with a description of the recently excavated charms of Robin
MacRae; it's just by way of remorseful apology. He was so nice
and companionable last night that I have been going about today
feeling conscience-smitten at the thought of how mercilessly I
made fun of him to you and Jervis. I really didn't mean quite
all of the impolite things that I said. About once a month the
man is sweet and tractable and engaging.

Punch has just been paying a social call, and during the
course of it he lost three little toadlings an inch long. Sadie
Kate recovered one of them from under the bookcase, but the other
two hopped away; and I'm so afraid they've taken sanctuary in my
bed! I do wish that mice and snakes and toads and angleworms
were not so portable. You never know what is going on in a
perfectly respectable-looking child's pocket.

I had a beautiful visit in Casa Pendleton. Don't forget your
promise to return it soon.

Yours as ever,

SALLIE.

P.S. I left a pair of pale-blue bedroom slippers under the bed.
Will you please have Mary wrap them up and mail them to me? And
hold her hand while she writes the address. She spelt my name on
the place cards "Mackbird."

 

Tuesday.
Dear Enemy:

As I told you, I left an application for an accomplished nurse
with the employment bureau of New York.

 

Wanted! A nurse maid with an ample lap suitable for the
accommodation of seventeen babies at once.

 

She came this afternoon, and this is the fine figure of a
woman that I drew!

We couldn't keep a baby from sliding off her lap unless we
fastened him firmly with safety pins.

Please give Sadie Kate the magazine. I'll read it tonight
and return it tomorrow.

Was there ever a more docile and obedient pupil than

S. McBRIDE?

 

Thursday.
My dear Judy:

I've been spending the last three days busily getting under way
all those latest innovations that we planned in New York. Your
word is law. A public cooky jar has been established.

Also, the eighty play boxes have been ordered. It is a
wonderful idea, having a private box for each child, where he can
store up his treasures. The ownership of a little personal
property will help develop them into responsible citizens. I
ought to have thought of it myself, but for some reason the idea
didn't come. Poor Judy! You have inside knowledge of the
longings of their little hearts that I shall never be able to
achieve, not with all the sympathy I can muster.

We are doing our best to run this institution with as few
discommoding rules as possible, but in regard to those play boxes
there is one point on which I shall have to be firm. The
children may not keep in them mice or toads or angleworms.

I can't tell you how pleased I am that Betsy's salary is to
be raised, and that we are to keep her permanently. But the Hon.
Cy Wykoff deprecates the step. He has been making inquiries, and
he finds that her people are perfectly able to take care of her
without any salary.

"You don't furnish legal advice for nothing," say I to him.
"Why should she furnish her trained services for nothing?"

"This is charitable work."

"Then work which is undertaken for your own good should be
paid, but work which is undertaken for the public good should not
be paid?"

"Fiddlesticks!" says he. "She's a woman, and her family
ought to support her."

This opened up vistas of argument which I did not care to
enter with the Hon. Cy, so I asked him whether he thought it
would be nicer to have a real lawn or hay on the slope that leads
to the gate. He likes to be consulted, and I pamper him as much
as possible in all unessential details. You see, I am following
Sandy's canny advice: "Trustees are like fiddlestrings; they
maunna be screwed ower tight. Humor the mon, but gang your ain
gait." Oh, the tact that this asylum is teaching me! I should
make a wonderful politician's wife.

Thursday night.

 

You will be interested to hear that I have temporarily placed
out Punch with two charming spinsters who have long been
tottering on the brink of a child. They finally came last week,
and said they would like to try one for a month to see what the
sensation felt like.

They wanted, of course, a pretty ornament, dressed in pink
and white and descended from the Mayflower. I told them that any
one could bring up a daughter of the Mayflower to be an ornament
to society, but the real feat was to bring up a son of an Italian
organ-grinder and an Irish washerwoman. And I offered Punch.
That Neapolitan heredity of his, artistically speaking, may turn
out a glorious mixture, if the right environment comes along to
choke out all the weeds.

I put it up to them as a sporting proposition, and they were
game. They have agreed to take him for one month and concentrate
upon his remaking all their years of conserved force, to the end
that he may be fit for adoption in some moral family. They both
have a sense of humor and ACCOMPLISHING characters, or I should
never have dared to propose it. And really I believe it's going
to be the one way of taming our young fire-eater. They will
furnish the affection and caresses and attention that in his
whole abused little life he has never had.

They live in a fascinating old house with an Italian garden,
and furnishings selected from the whole round world. It does
seem like sacrilege to turn that destructive child loose in such
a collection of treasures. But he hasn't broken anything here
for more than a month, and I believe that the Italian in him will
respond to all that beauty.

I warned them that they must not shrink from any profanity
that might issue from his pretty baby lips.

He departed last night in a very fancy automobile, and maybe
I wasn't glad to say good-by to our disreputable young man! He
has absorbed just about half of my energy.

 

Friday.

 

The pendant arrived this morning. Many thanks! But you
really ought not to have given me another; a hostess cannot be
held accountable for all the things that careless guests lose in
her house. It is far too pretty for my chain. I am thinking of
having my nose pierced, Cingalese fashion, and wearing my new
jewel where it will really show.

I must tell you that our Percy is putting some good
constructive work into this asylum. He has founded the John
Grier Bank, and has worked out all the details in a very
professional and businesslike fashion, entirely incomprehensible
to my non-mathematical mind. All of the older children possess
properly printed checkbooks, and they are each to be paid five
dollars a week for their services, such as going to school and
accomplishing housework. They are then to pay the institution
(by check) for their board and clothes, which will consume their
five dollars. It looks like a vicious circle, but it's really
very educative; they will comprehend the value of money before we
dump them into a mercenary world. Those who are particularly
good in lessons or work will receive an extra recompense. My
head aches at the thought of the bookkeeping, but Percy
waves that aside as a mere bagatelle. It is to be accomplished
by our prize arithmeticians, and will train them for positions of
trust. If Jervis hears of any opening for bank officials, let me
know; I shall have a well-trained president, cashier, and paying
teller ready to be placed by this time next year.

 

Saturday.

 

Our doctor doesn't like to be called "Enemy." It hurts his
feelings or his dignity or something of the sort. But since I
will persist, despite his expostulations, he has finally
retaliated with a nickname for me. He calls me "Miss Sally
Lunn," and is in a glow of pride at having achieved such an
imaginative flight.

He and I have invented a new pastime: he talks Scotch, and I
answer in Irish. Our conversations run like this:

"Good afthernoon to ye, docther. An' how's yer health the
day?"

"Verra weel, verra weel. And how gas it wi' a' the bairns?"

"Shure, they're all av thim doin' foin."

"I'm gey glad to hear it. This saft weather is hard on folk.
There's muckle sickness aboot the kintra."

"Hiven be praised it has not lighted here! But sit down,
docther, an' make yersilf at home. Will ye be afther havin' a
cup o' tay?"

"Hoot, woman! I would na hae you fash yoursel', but a wee
drap tea winna coom amiss."

"Whist! It's no thruble at all."

You may not think this a very dizzying excursion into
frivolity; but I assure you, for one of Sandy's dignity, it's
positively riotous. The man has been in a heavenly temper ever
since I came back; not a single cross word. I am beginning to
think I may reform him as well as Punch.

This letter must be about long enough even for you. I've
been writing it bit by bit for three days, whenever I happened to
pass my desk.

Yours as ever,

SALLIE.

P.S. I don't think much of your vaunted prescription for hair
tonic. Either the druggist didn't mix it right, or Jane didn't
apply it with discretion. I stuck to the pillow this morning.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
Saturday.
Dear Gordon:

Your letter of Thursday is at hand, and extremely silly I
consider it. Of course I am not trying to let you down easy;
that isn't my way. If I let you down at all, it will be suddenly
and with an awful bump. But I honestly didn't realize that it
had been three weeks since I wrote. Please excuse!

Also, my dear sir, I have to bring you to account. You were
in New York last week, and you never ran up to see us. You
thought we wouldn't find it out, but we heard--and are insulted.

Would you like an outline of my day's activities? Wrote
monthly report for trustees' meeting. Audited accounts.
Entertained agent of State Charities Aid Association for
luncheon. Supervised children's menus for next ten days.
Dictated five letters to families who have our children. Visited
our little feeble-minded Loretta Higgins (pardon the reference; I
know you don't like me to mention the feeble-minded), who is
being boarded out in a nice comfortable family, where she is
learning to work. Came back to tea and a conference with the
doctor about sending a child with tubercular glands to a
sanatorium. Read an article on cottage VERSUS congregate system
for housing dependent children. (We do need cottages! I wish
you'd send us a few for a Christmas present.) And now at nine
o'clock I'm sleepily beginning a letter to you. Do you know many
young society girls who can point to such a useful day as that?

Oh, I forgot to say that I stole ten minutes from my accounts
this morning to install a new cook. Our Sallie Washington-
Johnston, who cooked fit for the angels had a dreadful, dreadful
temper and terrorized poor Noah, our super-excellent furnace man,
to the point of giving notice. We couldn't spare Noah. He's
more useful to the institution than its superintendent, and so
Sallie Washington-Johnston is no more.

When I asked the new cook her name, she replied, "Ma name is
Suzanne Estelle, but ma friends call me Pet." Pet cooked the
dinner tonight, but I must say that she lacks Sallie's delicate
touch. I am awfully disappointed that you didn't visit us while
Sallie was still here. You would have taken away an exalted
opinion of my housekeeping.

 

Drowsiness overcame me at that point, and it's now two days
later.

Poor neglected Gordon! It has just occurred to me that you
never got thanked for the modeling clay which came two weeks ago,
and it was such an unusually intelligent present that I should
have telegraphed my appreciation. When I opened the box and saw
all that nice messy putty stuff, I sat down on the spot and
created a statue of Singapore. The children love it; and it is
very good to have the handicraft side of their training
encouraged.

After a careful study of American history, I have
determined that nothing is so valuable to a future president
as an early obligatory unescapable performance of CHORES.

Therefore I have divided the daily work of this institution
into a hundred parcels, and the children rotate weekly through a
succession of unaccustomed tasks. Of course they do everything
badly, for just as they learn how, they progress to something
new. It would be infinitely easier for us to follow Mrs.
Lippett's immoral custom of keeping each child sentenced for life
to a well-learned routine; but when the temptation assails me, I
recall the dreary picture of Florence Henty, who polished the
brass doorknobs of this institution for seven years--and I
sternly shove the children on.

I get angry every time I think of Mrs Lippett. She had
exactly the point of view of a Tammany politician--no slightest
sense of service to society. Her only interest in the John Grier
Home was to get a living out of it.

 

Wednesday.

 

What new branch of learning do you think I have introduced
into my asylum? Table manners!

I never had any idea that it was such a lot of trouble to
teach children how to eat and drink. Their favorite method is to
put their mouths down to their mugs and lap their milk like
kittens. Good manners are not merely snobbish ornaments, as Mrs.
Lippett's regime appeared to believe. They mean self-discipline
and thought for others, and my children have got to learn them.

That woman never allowed them to talk at their meals, and I
am having the most dreadful time getting any conversation out of
them above a frightened whisper. So I have instituted the custom
of the entire staff, myself included, sitting with them at the
table, and directing the talk along cheerful and improving lines.

Also I have established a small, very strict training table,
where the little dears, in relays, undergo a week of steady
badgering. Our uplifting table conversations run like this:

"Yes, Tom, Napoleon Bonaparte was a very great man--elbows
off the table. He possessed a tremendous power of concentrating
his mind on whatever he wanted to have; and that is the way to
accomplish--don't snatch, Susan; ask politely for the bread, and
Carrie will pass it to you.--But he was an example of the fact
that selfish thought just for oneself, without considering the
lives of others, will come to disaster in the--Tom! Keep your
mouth shut when you chew--and after the battle of Waterloo--let
Sadie's cooky alone--his fall was all the greater because--Sadie
Kate, you may leave the table. It makes no difference what he
did. Under no provocation does a lady slap a gentleman."

 

Two more days have passed; this is the same kind of
meandering letter I write to Judy. At least, my dear man, you
can't complain that I haven't been thinking about you this week!
I know you hate to be told all about the asylum, but I can't help
it, for it's all I know. I don't have five minutes a day to read
the papers. The big outside world has dropped away. My
interests all lie on the inside of this little iron inclosure.

I am at present,

S. McBRIDE,

Superintendent of the

John Grier Home.

 

Thursday.
Dear Enemy:

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." Hasn't that a very
philosophical, detached, Lord of the Universe sound? It comes
from Thoreau, whom I am assiduously reading at present. As you
see, I have revolted against your literature and taken to my own
again. The last two evenings have been devoted to "Walden," a
book as far removed as possible from the problems of the
dependent child.

Did you ever read old Henry David Thoreau? You really ought.
I think you'd find him a congenial soul. Listen to this:
"Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals,
not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. It
would be better if there were but one habitation to a square
mile, as where I live." A pleasant, expansive, neebor-like man
he must have been! He minds me in some ways o' Sandy.

This is to tell you that we have a placing-out agent visiting
us. She is about to dispose of four chicks, one of them Thomas
Kehoe. What do you think? Ought we to risk it? The place she
has in mind for him is a farm in a no-license portion of
Connecticut, where he will work hard for his board, and live in
the farmer's family. It sounds exactly the right thing, and we
can't keep him here forever; he'll have to be turned out some day
into a world full of whisky.

I'm sorry to tear you away from that cheerful work on
"Dementia Precox," but I'd be most obliged if you'd drop in here
toward eight o'clock for a conference with the agent.

I am, as usual,

S. McBRIDE.

 

June 17.
My dear Judy:

Betsy has perpetrated a most unconscionable trick upon a pair of
adopting parents. They have traveled East from Ohio in their
touring car for the dual purpose of seeing the country and
picking up a daughter. They appear to be the leading citizens of
their town, whose name at the moment escapes me; but it's a very
important town. It has electric lights and gas, and Mr. Leading
Citizen owns the controlling interest in both plants. With a
wave of his hand he could plunge that entire town into darkness;
but fortunately he's a kind man, and won't do anything so harsh,
not even if they fail to reelect him mayor. He lives in a brick
house with a slate roof and two towers, and has a deer and
fountain and lots of nice shade trees in the yard. (He carries
its photograph in his pocket.) They are good-natured, generous,
kind-hearted, smiling people, and a little fat; you can see what
desirable parents they would make.

Well, we had exactly the daughter of their dreams, only, as
they came without giving us notice, she was dressed in a
flannellet nightgown, and her face was dirty. They looked
Caroline over, and were not impressed; but they thanked us
politely, and said they would bear her in mind. They wanted to
visit the New York Orphanage before deciding. We knew well that,
if they saw that superior assemblage of children, our poor little
Caroline would never have a chance.

Then Betsy rose to the emergency. She graciously invited
them to motor over to her house for tea that afternoon and
inspect one of our little wards who would be visiting her baby
niece. Mr. and Mrs. Leading Citizen do not know many people in
the East, and they haven't been receiving the invitations
that they feel are their due; so they were quite innocently
pleased at the prospect of a little social diversion. The moment
they had retired to the hotel for luncheon, Betsy called up her
car, and rushed baby Caroline over to her house. She stuffed her
into baby niece's best pink-and-white embroidered frock, borrowed
a hat of Irish lace, some pink socks and white slippers, and set
her picturesquely upon the green lawn under a spreading beech
tree. A white-aproned nurse (borrowed also from baby niece)
plied her with bread and milk and gaily colored toys. By the
time prospective parents arrived, our Caroline, full of food and
contentment, greeted them with cooes of delight. From the moment
their eyes fell upon her they were ravished with desire. Not a
suspicion crossed their unobservant minds that this sweet little
rosebud was the child of the morning. And so, a few formalities
having been complied with, it really looks as though baby
Caroline would live in the Towers and grow into a leading
citizen.

I must really get to work, without any further delay, upon
the burning question of new clothes for our girls.

With the highest esteem, I am,
D'r Ma'am,
Y'r most ob'd't and h'mble serv't,

SAL. McBRIDE.

 

June 19th.
My dearest Judy:

Listen to the grandest innovation of all, and one that will
delight your heart.

NO MORE BLUE GINGHAM!

 

Feeling that this aristocratic neighborhood of country
estates might contain valuable food for our asylum, I have of
late been moving in the village social circles, and at a luncheon
yesterday I dug out a beautiful and charming widow who wears
delectable, flowing gowns that she designs herself. She confided
to me that she would have loved to have been a dressmaker, if she
had only been born with a needle in her mouth instead of a golden
spoon. She says she never sees a pretty girl badly dressed but
she longs to take her in hand and make her over. Did you ever
hear anything so apropos? From the moment she opened her lips
she was a marked man.

"I can show you fifty-nine badly dressed girls," said I to
her, and you have got to come back with me and plan their new
clothes and make them beautiful."

She expostulated; but in vain. I led her out to her
automobile, shoved her in, and murmured, "John Grier Home" to the
chauffeur. The first inmate our eyes fell upon was Sadie Kate,
just fresh, I judge, from hugging the molasses barrel; and a
shocking spectacle she was for any esthetically minded person.
In addition to the stickiness, one stocking was coming down, her
pinafore was buttoned crookedly, and she had lost a hair-ribbon.
But--as always--completely at ease, she welcomed us with a cheery
grin, and offered the lady a sticky paw.

"Now," said I, in triumph, "you see how much we need you.
What can you do to make Sadie Kate beautiful?"

"Wash her," said Mrs. Livermore.

Sadie Kate was marched to my bathroom. When the scrubbing
was finished and the hair strained back and the stocking restored
to seemly heights, I returned her for a second inspection--a
perfectly normal little orphan. Mrs. Livermore turned her from
side to side, and studied her long and earnestly.

Sadie Kate by nature is a beauty, a wild, dark, Gypsyish
little colleen. She looks fresh from the wind-swept moors of
Connemara. But, oh, we have managed to rob her of her
birthright with this awful institution uniform!

After five minutes' silent contemplation, Mrs. Livermore
raised her eyes to mine.

"Yes, my dear, you need me."

And then and there we formed our plans. She is to head the
committee on C L O T H E S. She is to choose three friends to
help her. And they, with the two dozen best sewers among the
girls and our sewing-teacher and five sewing machines, are going
to make over the looks of this institution. And the charity is
all on our side. We are supplying Mrs. Livermore with the
profession that Providence robbed her of. Wasn't it clever of me
to find her? I woke this morning at dawn and crowed!

Lots more news,--I could run into a second volume,--but I am
going to send this letter to town by Mr. Witherspoon, who, in a
very high collar and the blackest of evening clothes, is on the
point of departure for a barn dance at the country club. I
told him to pick out the nicest girls he danced with to come and
tell stories to my children.

It is dreadful, the scheming person I am getting to be. All
the time I am talking to any one, I am silently thinking, "What
use can you be to my asylum?"

There is grave danger that this present superintendent will
become so interested in her job that she will never want to
leave. I sometimes picture her a white-haired old lady,
propelled about the building in a wheeled chair, but still
tenaciously superintending her fourth generation of orphans.

PLEASE discharge her before that day!

Yours,

SALLIE.

 

Friday.
Dear Judy:

Yesterday morning, without the slightest warning, a station hack
drove up to the door and disgorged upon the steps two men, two
little boys, a baby girl, a rocking horse, and a Teddy bear, and
then drove off!

The men were artists, and the little ones were children of
another artist, dead three weeks ago. They had brought the mites
to us because they thought "John Grier" sounded solid and
respectable, and not like a public institution. It had never
entered their unbusinesslike heads that any formality is
necessary about placing a child in an asylum.

I explained that we were full, but they seemed so stranded
and aghast, that I told them to sit down while I advised them
what to do. So the chicks were sent to the nursery, with a
recommendation of bread and milk, while I listened to their
history. Those artists had a fatally literary touch, or maybe it
was just the sound of the baby girl's laugh, but, anyway, before
they had finished, the babes were ours.

Never have I seen a sunnier creature than the little Allegra
(we don't often get such fancy names or such fancy children).
She is three years old, is lisping funny baby talk and bubbling
with laughter. The tragedy she has just emerged from has never
touched her. But Don and Clifford, sturdy little lads of five
and seven, are already solemn-eyed and frightened at the hardness
of life.

Their mother was a kindergarten teacher who married an artist
on a capital of enthusiasm and a few tubes of paint. His friends
say that he had talent, but of course he had to throw it away to
pay the milkman. They lived in a haphazard fashion in a rickety
old studio, cooking behind screens, the babies sleeping on
shelves.

But there seems to have been a very happy side to it--a great
deal of love and many friends, all more or less poor, but
artistic and congenial and high-thinking. The little lads, in
their gentleness and fineness, show that phase of their
upbringing. They have an air which many of my children, despite
all the good manners I can pour into them, will forever lack.

The mother died in the hospital a few days after Allegra's
birth, and the father struggled on for two years, caring for his
brood and painting like mad--advertisements, anything--to keep a
roof over their heads.

He died in St. Vincent's three weeks ago,--overwork, worry,
pneumonia. His friends rallied about the babies, sold such of
the studio fittings as had escaped pawning, paid off the debts,
and looked about for the best asylum they could find. And,
Heaven save them! they hit upon us!

Well, I kept the two artists for luncheon,--nice creatures
in soft hats and Windsor ties, and looking pretty frayed
themselves,--and then started them back to New York with the
promise that I would give the little family my most parental
attention.

So here they are, one little mite in the nursery, two in the
kindergarten room, four big packing cases full of canvases in the
cellar, and a trunk in the store room with the letters of their
father and mother. And a look in their faces, an intangible
spiritual SOMETHING, that is their heritage.

I can't get them out of my mind. All night long I was
planning their future. The boys are easy. They have already
been graduated from college, Mr. Pendleton assisting, and are
pursuing honorable business careers. But Allegra I don't know
about; I can't think what to wish for the child. Of course the
normal thing to wish for any sweet little girl is that two kind
foster parents will come along to take the place of the real
parents that Fate has robbed her of. But in this case it would
be cruel to steal her away from her brothers. Their love for the
baby is pitiful. You see, they have brought her up. The only
time I ever hear them laugh is when she has done something funny.

The poor little fellows miss their father horribly. I found Don,
the five-year-old one, sobbing in his crib last night because he
couldn't say good night to "daddy."

But Allegra is true to her name, the happiest young miss of
three I have ever seen. The poor father managed well by her, and
she, little ingrate, has already forgotten that she has lost him.

Whatever can I do with these little ones? I think and think
and think about them. I can't place them out, and it does seem
too awful to bring them up here; for as good as we are going to
be when we get ourselves made over, still, after all, we are an
institution, and our inmates are just little incubator chicks.
They don't get the individual, fussy care that only an old hen
can give.

There is a lot of interesting news that I might have been
telling you, but my new little family has driven everything out
of my mind.

Bairns are certain joy, but nae sma' care.

Yours ever,

SALLIE.
P.S. Don't forget that you are coming to visit me next week.

P.S. II. The doctor, who is ordinarily so scientific and
unsentimental, has fallen in love with Allegra. He didn't so
much as glance at her tonsils; he simply picked her up in his
arms and hugged her. Oh, she is a little witch! Whatever is to
become of her?

 

 

June 22.
My dear Judy:

I may report that you need no longer worry as to our inadequate
fire protection. The doctor and Mr. Witherspoon have been giving
the matter their gravest attention, and no game yet devised has
proved so entertaining and destructive as our fire drill.

The children all retire to their beds and plunge into alert
slumber. Fire alarm sounds. They spring up and into their
shoes, snatch the top blanket from their beds, wrap it around
their imaginary nightclothes, fall into line, and trot to the
hall and stairs.

Our seventeen little tots in the nursery are each in charge
of an Indian, and are bundled out, shrieking with delight. The
remaining Indians, so long as there is no danger of the roof
falling, devote themselves to salvage. On the occasion of our
first drill, Percy in command, the contents of a dozen clothes
lockers were dumped into sheets and hurled out of the windows. I
usurped dictatorship just in time to keep the pillows and
mattresses from following. We spent hours resorting those
clothes, while Percy and the doctor, having lost all interest
strolled up to the camp with their pipes.

Our future drills are to be a touch less realistic. However,
I am pleased to tell you that, under the able direction of Fire
Chief Witherspoon, we emptied the building in six minutes and
twenty-eight seconds.

That baby Allegra has fairy blood in her veins. Never did
this institution harbor such a child, barring one that Jervis and
I know of. She has completely subjugated the doctor. Instead of
going about his visits like a sober medical man, he comes down to
my library hand in hand with Allegra, and for half an hour at a
time crawls about on a rug, pretending he's a horse, while the
bonnie wee lassie sits on his back and kicks. You know, I am
thinking of putting a card in the paper:

Characters neatly remodeled.
S. McBride.

 

Sandy dropped in two nights ago to have a bit of conversation
with Betsy and me, and he was FRIVOLOUS. He made three jokes,
and he sat down at the piano and sang some old Scotch, "My luve's
like a red, red rose," and "Come under my plaidie," and "Wha's at
the window? Wha? Wha?" not in the least educational, and then
danced a few steps of the strathspey!

I sat and beamed upon my handiwork, for it's true, I've done
it all through my frivolous example and the books I've given him
and the introducing of such lightsome companions as Jimmie and
Percy and Gordon Hallock. If I have a few more months in which
to work, I shall get the man human. He has given up purple ties,
and at my tactful suggestion has adopted a suit of gray.
You have no idea how it sets him off. He will be quite
distinguished looking as soon as I can make him stop carrying
bulgy things in his pockets.

Good-by; and remember that we're expecting you on Friday.

SALLIE.

P.S. Here is a picture of Allegra, taken by Mr. Witherspoon.
Isn't she a love? Her present clothes do not enhance her beauty,
but in the course of a few weeks she will move into a pink
smocked frock.

Wednesday, June 24, 10 A.M.
MRS. JERVIS PENDLETON.

Madam:

Your letter is at hand, stating that you cannot visit me on
Friday per promise, because your husband has business that keeps
him in town. What clishmaclaver is this! Has it come to such a
pass that you can't leave him for two days?

I did not let 113 babies interfere with my visit to you, and
I see no reason why you should let one husband interfere with
your visit to me. I shall meet the Berkshire express on Friday
as agreed.
S. McBRIDE.

 

June 30.
My dear Judy:

That was a very flying visit you paid us; but for all small
favors we are grateful. I am awfully pleased that you were so
delighted with the way things are going, and I can't wait for
Jervis and the architect to get up here and really begin a
fundamental ripping-up.

You know, I had the queerest feeling all the time that you
were here. I can't make it seem true that you, my dear,
wonderful Judy, were actually brought up in this institution, and
know from the bitter inside what these little tots need.
Sometimes the tragedy of your childhood fills me with an anger
that makes me want to roll up my sleeves and fight the whole
world and force it into making itself over into a place more fit
for children to live in. That Scotch-Irish ancestry of mine
seems to have deposited a tremendous amount of FIGHT in my
character.

If you had started me with a modern asylum, equipped with
nice, clean, hygienic cottages and everything in running order, I
couldn't have stood the monotony of its perfect clockwork. It's
the sight of so many things crying to be done that makes it
possible for me to stay. Sometimes, I must confess, I wake up in
the morning and listen to these institution noises, and sniff
this institution air, and long for the happy, carefree life that
by rights is mine.

You my dear witch, cast a spell over me, and I came. But
often in the night watches your spell wears thin, and I start the
day with the burning decision to run away from the John Grier
Home. But I postpone starting until after breakfast. And as I
issue into the corridor, one of these pathetic tots runs to meet
me, and shyly slips a warm, crumpled little fist into my hand,
and looks up with wide baby eyes, mutely asking for a little
petting, and I snatch him up and hug him. And then, as I look
over his shoulder at the other forlorn little mites, I long to
take all 113 into my arms and love them into happiness. There is
something hypnotic about this working with children. Struggle as
you may, it gets you in the end.

Your visit seems to have left me in a broadly philosophical
frame of mind; but I really have one or two bits of news that I
might convey. The new frocks are marching along, and, oh, but
they are going to be sweet! Mrs. Livermore was entranced
with those parti-colored bales of cotton cloth you sent,--you
should see our workroom, with it all scattered about,--and when I
think of sixty little girls, attired in pink and blue and yellow
and lavender, romping upon our lawn of a sunny day, I feel that
we should have a supply of smoked eye glasses to offer visitors.
Of course you know that some of those brilliant fabrics are going
to be very fadeable and impractical. But Mrs. Livermore is as
bad as you--she doesn't give a hang. She'll make a second and a
third set if necessary. DOWN WITH CHECKED GINGHAM!

I am glad you liked our doctor. Of course we reserve the
right to say anything about him we choose, but our feelings would
be awfully hurt if anybody else should make fun of him.

He and I are still superintending each other's reading. Last
week he appeared with Herbert Spencer's "System of Synthetic
Philosophy" for me to glance at. I gratefully accepted it, and
gave him in return the "Diary of Marie Bashkirtseff." Do you
remember in college how we used to enrich our daily speech with
quotations from Marie? Well, Sandy took her home and read her
painstakingly and thoughtfully.

"Yes," he acknowledged today when he came to report, "it is a
truthful record of a certain kind of morbid, egotistical
personality that unfortunately does exist. But I can't
understand why you care to read it; for, thank God! Sally Lunn,
you and Bash haven't anything in common."

That's the nearest to a compliment he ever came, and I feel
extremely flattered. As to poor Marie, he refers to her as
"Bash" because he can't pronounce her name, and is too disdainful
to try.

We have a child here, the daughter of a chorus girl, and she
is a conceited, selfish, vain, posing, morbid, lying little minx,
but she has eyelashes! Sandy has taken the most violent dislike
to that child. And since reading poor Marie's diary, he has
found a new comprehensive adjective for summing up all of
her distressing qualities. He calls her BASHY, and dismisses
her.

Good-by and come again.

SALLIE.

P.S. My children show a distressing tendency to draw out their
entire bank accounts to buy candy.

 

 

Tuesday night.
My dear Judy:

What do you think Sandy has done now? He has gone off on a
pleasure trip to that psychopathic institution whose head
alienist visited us a month or so ago. Did you ever know
anything like the man? He is fascinated by insane people, and
can't let them alone.

When I asked for some parting medical instructions, he
replied:

"Feed a cowld and hunger a colic and put nae faith in
doctors."

With that advice, and a few bottles of cod-liver oil we are
left to our own devices. I feel very free and adventurous.
Perhaps you had better run up here again, as there's no telling
what joyous upheaval I may accomplish when out from under Sandy's
dampening influence.

S.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Friday.
Dear Enemy:

Here I stay lashed to the mast, while you run about the country
disporting yourself with insane people. And just as I was
thinking that I had nicely cured you of this morbid predilection
for psychopathic institutions! It's very disappointing. You had
seemed almost human of late.

May I ask how long you are intending to stay? You had
permission to go for two days, and you've already been away four.

Charlie Martin fell out of a cherry tree yesterday and cut his
head open, and we were driven to calling in a foreign doctor.
Five stitches. Patient doing well. But we don't like to depend
on strangers. I wouldn't say a word if you were away on
legitimate business, but you know very well that, after
associating with melancholics for a week, you will come back home
in a dreadful state of gloom, dead sure that humanity is going to
the dogs; and upon me will fall the burden of getting you
decently cheerful again.

Do leave those insane people to their delusions, and come
back to the John Grier Home, which needs you.

I am most fervent'
Your friend and servant,
S. McB.

P.S. Don't you admire that poetical ending? It was borrowed
from Robert Burns, whose works I am reading assiduously as a
compliment to a Scotch friend.

 

July 6.
Dear Judy:

That doctor man is still away. No word; just disappeared into
space. I don't know whether he is ever coming back or not, but
we seem to be running very happily without him.

I lunched yesterday CHEZ the two kind ladies who have taken
our Punch to their hearts. The young man seems to be very much
at home. He took me by the hand, and did the honors of the
garden, presenting me with the bluebell of my choice. At
luncheon the English butler lifted him into his chair and tied on
his bib with as much manner as though he were serving a prince of
the blood. The butler has lately come from the household of the
Earl of Durham, Punch from a cellar in Houston Street. It was a
very uplifting spectacle.

My hostesses entertained me afterward with excerpts from
their table conversations of the last two weeks. (I wonder the
butler hasn't given notice; he looked like a respectable man.)
If nothing more comes of it, at least Punch has furnished them
with funny stories for the rest of their lives. One of them is
even thinking of writing a book. "At least," says she, wiping
hysterical tears from her eyes, "we have lived!"

The Hon. Cy dropped in at 6:30 last night, and found me in an
evening gown, starting for a dinner at Mrs. Livermore's house.
He mildly observed that Mrs. Lippett did not aspire to be a
society leader, but saved her energy for her work. You know I'm
not vindictive, but I never look at that man without wishing he
were at the bottom of the duck pond, securely anchored to a rock.

Otherwise he'd pop up and float.

Singapore respectfully salutes you, and is very glad that you
can't see him as he now appears. A shocking calamity has
befallen his good looks. Some bad child--and I don't think she's
a boy--has clipped that poor beastie in spots, until he looks
like a mangy, moth-eaten checkerboard. No one can imagine who
did it. Sadie Kate is very handy with the scissors, but she is
also handy with an alibi! During the time when the clipping
presumably occurred, she was occupying a stool in the corner of
the schoolroom with her face to the wall, as twenty-eight
children can testify. However, it has become Sadie Kate's daily
duty to treat those spots with your hair tonic.

I am, as usual,

SALLIE.

P.S. This is a recent portrait of the Hon. Cy drawn from life.
The man, in some respects, is a fascinating talker; he makes
gestures with his nose.

 

Thursday evening.
Dear Judy:

Sandy is back after a ten-days' absence,--no explanations,--and
plunged deep into gloom. He resents our amiable efforts to cheer
him up, and will have nothing to do with any of us except baby
Allegra. He took her to his house for supper tonight and never
brought her back until half-past seven, a scandalous hour for a
young miss of three. I don't know what to make of our doctor; he
grows more incomprehensible every day.

But Percy, now, is an open-minded, confiding young man. He
has just been making a dinner call (he is very punctilious
in all social matters), and our entire conversation was devoted
to the girl in Detroit. He is lonely and likes to talk about
her; and the wonderful things he says! I hope that Miss Detroit
is worthy of all this fine affection, but I'm afraid. He fetched
out a leather case from the innermost recesses of his waistcoat
and, reverently unwrapping two layers of tissue-paper, showed me
the photograph of a silly little thing, all eyes and earrings and
fuzzy hair. I did my best to appear congratulatory, but my heart
shut up out of pity for the poor boy's future.

Isn't it funny how the nicest men often choose the worst
wives, and the nicest women the worst husbands? Their very
niceness, I suppose, makes them blind and unsuspicious.

You know, the most interesting pursuit in the world is
studying character. I believe I was meant to be a novelist;
people fascinate me--until I know them thoroughly. Percy and the
doctor form a most engaging contrast. You always know at any
moment what that nice young man is thinking about; he is written
like a primer in big type and one-syllable words. But the
doctor! He might as well be written in Chinese so far as
legibility goes. You have heard of people with a dual nature;
well, Sandy possesses a triple one. Usually he's scientific and
as hard as granite, but occasionally I suspect him of being quite
a sentimental person underneath his official casing. For days at
a time he will be patient and kind and helpful, and I begin to
like him; then without any warning an untamed wild man swells up
from the innermost depths, and--oh, dear! the creature's
impossible.

I always suspect that sometime in the past he has suffered a
terrible hurt, and that he is still brooding over the memory of
it. All the time he is talking you have the uncomfortable
feeling that in the far back corners of his mind he is thinking
something else. But this may be merely my romantic
interpretation of an uncommonly bad temper. In any case, he's
baffling.

We have been waiting for a week for a fine windy afternoon,
and this is it. My children are enjoying "kite-day," a leaf
taken from Japan. All of the big-enough boys and most of the
girls are spread over "Knowltop" (that high, rocky sheep pasture
which joins us on the east) flying kites made by themselves.

I had a dreadful time coaxing the crusty old gentleman who
owns the estate into granting permission. He doesn't like
orphans, he says, and if he once lets them get a start in his
grounds, the place will be infested with them forever. You would
think, to hear him talk, that orphans were a pernicious kind of
beetle.

But after half an hour's persuasive talking on my part, he
grudgingly made us free of his sheep pasture for two hours,
provided we didn't step foot into the cow pasture over the lane,
and came home promptly when our time was up. To insure the
sanctity of his cow pasture, Mr. Knowltop has sent his gardener
and chauffeur and two grooms to patrol its boundaries while the
flying is on. The children are still at it, and are having a
wonderful adventure racing over that windy height and getting
tangled up in one another's strings. When they come panting back
they are to have a surprise in the shape of ginger cookies and
lemonade.

These pitiful little youngsters with their old faces! It's a
difficult task to make them young, but I believe I'm
accomplishing it. And it really is fun to feel you're doing
something positive for the good of the world. If I don't fight
hard against it, you'll be accomplishing your purpose of turning
me into a useful person. The social excitements of Worcester
almost seem tame before the engrossing interest of 113 live,
warm, wriggling little orphans.

Yours with love,

SALLIE.

P.S. I believe, to be accurate, that it's 107 children I possess
this afternoon.

 

Dear Judy:

This being Sunday and a beautiful blossoming day, with a warm
wind blowing, I sat at my window with the "Hygiene of the Nervous
System" (Sandy's latest contribution to my mental needs) open in
my lap, and my eyes on the prospect without. "Thank Heaven!"
thought I, "that this institution was so commandingly placed that
at least we can look out over the cast-iron wall which shuts us
in."

I was feeling very cooped-up and imprisoned and like an
orphan myself; so I decided that my own nervous system required
fresh air and exercise and adventure. Straight before me ran
that white ribbon of road that dips into the valley and up over
the hills on the other side. Ever since I came I have longed to
follow it to the top and find out what lies beyond those hills.
Poor Judy! I dare say that very same longing enveloped your
childhood. If any one of my little chicks ever stands by the
window and looks across the valley to the hills and asks, "What's
over there?" I shall telephone for a motor car.

But today my chicks were all piously engaged with their
little souls, I the only wanderer at heart. I changed my silken
Sunday gown for homespun, planning meanwhile a means to get to
the top of those hills.

Then I went to the telephone and brazenly called up 505.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. McGurk," said I, very sweet. "May I be
speaking with Dr. MacRae?"

"Howld the wire," said she, very short.

"Afternoon, Doctor," said I to him. "Have ye, by chance, any
dying patients who live on the top o' the hills beyant?"

"I have not, thank the Lord!"

"'Tis a pity," said I, disappointed. "And what are ye afther
doin' with yerself the day?"

"I am reading the `Origin of Species.'"

"Shut it up; it's not fit for Sunday. And tell me now, is
yer motor car iled and ready to go?"

"It is at your disposal. Are you wanting me to take some
orphans for a ride?"

"Just one who's sufferin' from a nervous system. She's taken
a fixed idea that she must get to the top o' the hills."

"My car is a grand climber. In fifteen minutes--"

"Wait!" said I. "Bring with ye a frying pan that's a decent
size for two. There's nothing in my kitchen smaller than a cart
wheel. And ask Mrs. McGurk can ye stay out for supper."

So I packed in a basket a jar of bacon and some eggs and
muffins and ginger cookies, with hot coffee in the thermos
bottle, and was waiting on the steps when Sandy chugged up with
his automobile and frying pan.

We really had a beautiful adventure, and he enjoyed the
sensation of running away exactly as much as I. Not once did I
let him mention insanity. I made him look at the wide stretches
of meadow and the lines of pollard willows backed by billowing
hills, and sniff the air, and listen to the cawing crows and the
tinkle of cowbells and the gurgling of the river. And we
talked--oh, about a million things far removed from our asylum.
I made him throw away the idea that he is a scientist, and
pretend to be a boy. You will scarcely credit the assertion, but
he succeeded--more or less. He did pull off one or two really
boyish pranks. Sandy is not yet out of his thirties and, mercy!
that is too early to be grown up.

We camped on a bluff overlooking our view, gathered some
driftwood, built a fire, and cooked the NICEST supper--a
sprinkling of burnt stick in our fried eggs, but charcoal's
healthy. Then, when Sandy had finished his pipe and "the sun
was setting in its wonted west," we packed up and coasted
back home.

He says it was the nicest afternoon he has had in years, and,
poor deluded man of science, I actually believe it's true. His
olive green home is so uncomfortable and dreary and uninspiring
that I don't wonder he drowns his troubles in books. Just as
soon as I can find a nice comfortable house mother to put in
charge, I am going to plot for the dismissal of Maggie McGurk,
though I foresee that she will be even harder than Sterry to pry
from her moorings.

Please don't draw the conclusion that I am becoming unduly
interested in our bad-tempered doctor, for I'm not. It's just
that he leads such a comfortless life that I sometimes long to
pat him on the head and tell him to cheer up; the world's full of
sunshine, and some of it's for him--just as I long to comfort my
hundred and seven orphans; so much and no more.

I am sure that I had some real news to tell you, but it has
completely gone out of my head. The rush of fresh air has made
me sleepy. It's half-past nine, and I bid you good night.

S.

P.S. Gordon Hallock has evaporated into thin air. Not a word
for three weeks; no candy or stuffed animals or tokimentoes of
any description. What on earth do you suppose has become of that
attentive young man?

 

July 13.
Dearest Judy:

Hark to the glad tidings!

This being the thirty-first day of Punch's month, I
telephoned to his two patronesses, as nominated in the bond, to
arrange for his return. I was met by an indignant refusal. Give
up their sweet little volcano just as they are getting it trained
not to belch forth fire? They are outraged that I can make such
an ungrateful request. Punch has accepted their invitation to
spend the summer.

The dressmaking is still going on. You should hear the
machines whir and the tongues clatter in the sewing room. Our
most cowed, apathetic, spiritless little orphan cheers up and
takes an interest in life when she hears that she is to possess
three perfectly private dresses of her own, and each a different
color, chosen by herself. And you should see how it encourages
their sewing ability. Even the little ten-year-olds are bursting
into seamstresses. I wish I could devise an equally effective
way to make them take an interest in cooking. But our kitchen is
extremely uneducative. You know how hampering it is to one's
enthusiasm to have to prepare a bushel of potatoes at
once.

I think you've heard me mention the fact that I should like
to divide up my kiddies into ten nice little families, with a
nice comfortable house mother over each? If we just had ten
picturesque cottages to put them in, with flowers in the front
yard and rabbits and kittens and puppies and chickens in the
back, we should be a perfectly presentable institution, and
wouldn't be ashamed to have these charity experts come visiting
us.

 

Thursday.

 

I started this letter three days ago, was interrupted to talk
to a potential philanthropist (fifty tickets to the circus), and
have not had time to pick up my pen since. Betsy has been in
Philadelphia for three days, being a bridesmaid for a miserable
cousin. I hope that no more of her family are thinking of
getting married, for it's most upsetting to the J. G. H.

While there, she investigated a family who had applied for a
child. Of course we haven't a proper investigating plant, but
once in a while, when a family drops right into our arms, we do
like to put the business through. As a usual thing, we work with
the State Charities' Aid Association. They have a lot of trained
agents traveling about the State, keeping in touch with families
who are willing to take children, and with asylums that have them
to give. Since they are willing to work for us, there is no
slightest use in our going to the expense of peddling our own
babies. And I do want to place out as many as are available, for
I firmly believe that a private home is the best thing for the
child, provided, of course, that we are very fussy about the
character of the homes we choose. I don't require rich foster
parents, but I do require kind, loving, intelligent parents.
This time I think Betsy has landed a gem of a family. The child
is not yet delivered or the papers signed, and of course there is
always danger that they may give a sudden flop, and splash back
into the water.

Ask Jervis if he ever heard of J. F. Bretland of
Philadelphia. He seems to move in financial circles. The first
I ever heard of him was a letter addressed to the "Supt. John
Grier Home, Dear Sir,"--a curt, typewritten, businesslike letter,
from an AWFULLY businesslike lawyer, saying that his wife had
determined to adopt a baby girl of attractive appearance and good
health between the ages of two and three years. The child
must be an orphan of American stock, with unimpeachable
heredity, and no relatives to interfere. Could I furnish one as
required and oblige, yours truly, J. F. Bretland?

By way of reference he mentioned "Bradstreets." Did you ever
hear of anything so funny? You would think he was opening a
charge account at a nursery, and inclosing an order from our seed
catalogue.

We began our usual investigation by mailing a reference blank
to a clergyman in Germantown, where the J. F. B.'s reside.

Does he own any property?

Does he pay his bills?

Is he kind to animals?

Does he attend church?

Does he quarrel with his wife? And a dozen other impertinent
questions.

We evidently picked a clergyman with a sense of humor.
Instead of answering in laborious detail, he wrote up and down
and across the sheet, "I wish they'd adopt me!"

This looked promising, so B. Kindred obligingly dashed out to
Germantown as soon as the wedding breakfast was over. She is
developing the most phenomenal detective instinct. In the course
of a social call she can absorb from the chairs and tables a
family's entire moral history.

She returned from Germantown bursting with enthusiastic
details.

Mr. J. F. Bretland is a wealthy and influential citizen,
cordially loved by his friends and deeply hated by his enemies
(discharged employees, who do not hesitate to say that he is a
HAR-RD man). He is a little shaky in his attendance at church,
but his wife seems regular, and he gives money.

She is a charming, kindly, cultivated gentlewoman, just out
of a sanatorium after a year of nervous prostration. The
doctor says that what she needs is some strong interest in
life, and advises adopting a child. She has always longed to do
it, but her hard husband has stubbornly refused. But finally, as
always, it is the gentle, persistent wife who has triumphed, and
hard husband has been forced to give in. Waiving his own natural
preference for a boy, he wrote, as above, the usual request for a
blue-eyed girl.

Mrs. Bretland, with the firm intention of taking a child, has
been reading up for years, and there is no detail of infant
dietetics that she does not know. She has a sunny nursery, with
a southwestern exposure, all ready. And a closet full of
surreptitiously gathered dolls! She has made the clothes for
them herself,--she showed them to Betsy with the greatest
pride,--so you can understand the necessity for a girl.

She has just heard of an excellent English trained nurse that
she can secure, but she isn't sure but that it would be better to
start with a French nurse, so that the child can learn the
language before her vocal cords are set. Also, she was extremely
interested when she heard that Betsy was a college woman. She
couldn't make up her mind whether to send the baby to college or
not. What was Betsy's honest opinion? If the child were Betsy's
own daughter, would Betsy send her to college?

All this would be funny if it weren't so pathetic; but really
I can't get away from the picture of that poor lonely woman
sewing those doll clothes for the little unknown girl that she
wasn't sure she could have. She lost her own two babies years
ago, or, rather, she never had them; they were never alive.

You can see what a good home it's going to be. There's lots
of love waiting for the little mite, and that is better than all
the wealth which, in this case, goes along.

But the problem now is to find the child, and that isn't
easy. The J. F. Bretlands are so abominably explicit in their
requirements. I have just the baby boy to give them; but with
that closetful of dolls, he is impossible. Little Florence
won't do--one tenacious parent living. I've a wide variety of
foreigners with liquid brown eyes--won't do at all. Mrs.
Bretland is a blonde, and daughter must resemble her. I have
several sweet little mites with unspeakable heredity, but the
Bretlands want six generations of church-attending grandparents,
with a colonial governor at the top. Also I have a darling
little curly-headed girl (and curls are getting rarer and rarer),
but illegitimate. And that seems to be an unsurmountable barrier
in the eyes of adopting parents, though, as a matter of fact, it
makes no slightest difference in the child. However, she won't
do. The Bretlands hold out sternly for a marriage certificate.

There remains just one child out of all these one hundred and
seven that appears available. Our little Sophie's father and
mother were killed in a railroad accident, and the only reason
she wasn't killed was because they had just left her in a
hospital to get an abscess cut out of her throat. She comes from
good common American stock, irreproachable and uninteresting in
every way. She's a washed-out, spiritless, whiney little thing.
The doctor has been pouring her full of his favorite cod-liver
oil and spinach, but he can't get any cheerfulness into her.

However, individual love and care does accomplish wonders in
institution children, and she may bloom into something rare and
beautiful after a few months' transplanting. So I yesterday
wrote a glowing account of her immaculate family history to
J. F. Bretland, offering to deliver her in Germantown.

This morning I received a telegram from J. F. B. Not at all!
He does not purpose to buy any daughter sight unseen. He will
come and inspect the child in person at three o'clock on
Wednesday next.

Oh dear, if he shouldn't like her! We are now bending all
our energies toward enhancing that child's beauty-like a pup
bound for the dog show. Do you think it would be awfully
immoral if I rouged her cheeks a suspicion? She is too young to
pick up the habit.

Heavens! what a letter! A million pages written without a
break. You can see where my heart is. I'm as excited over
little Sophie's settling in life as though she were my own
darling daughter.

Respectful regards to the president.

SAL. McB.

 

Dear Gordon:

That was an obnoxious, beastly, low-down trick not to send me a
cheering line for four weeks just because, in a period of
abnormal stress I once let you go for three. I had really begun
to be worried for fear you'd tumbled into the Potomac. My chicks
would miss you dreadfully; they love their uncle Gordon. Please
remember that you promised to send them a donkey.

Please also remember that I'm a busier person than you. it's
a lot harder to run the John Grier Home than the House of
Representatives. Besides, you have more efficient people to
help.

This isn't a letter; it's an indignant remonstrance. I'll
write tomorrow--or the next day.

S.

P.S. On reading your letter over again I am slightly mollified,
but dinna think I believe a' your saft words. I ken weel ye only
flatter when ye speak sae fair.

 

July 17.
Dear Judy:

I have a history to recount.

This, please remember, is Wednesday next. So at half-past
two o'clock our little Sophie was bathed and brushed and clothed
in fine linen, and put in charge of a trusty orphan, with anxious
instructions to keep her clean.

At three-thirty to the minute--never have I known a human
being so disconcertingly businesslike as J. F. Bretland--an
automobile of expensive foreign design rolled up to the steps of
this imposing chateau. A square-shouldered, square-jawed
personage, with a chopped-off mustache and a manner that inclines
one to hurry, presented himself three minutes later at my library
door. He greeted me briskly as "Miss McKosh." I gently
corrected him, and he changed to "Miss McKim." I indicated my
most soothing armchair, and invited him to take some light
refreshment after his journey. He accepted a glass of water (I
admire a temperate parent), and evinced an impatient desire to be
done with the business. So I rang the bell and ordered the
little Sophie to be brought down.

"Hold on, Miss McGee!" said he to me. "I'd rather see her in
her own environment. I will go with you to the playroom or
corral or wherever you keep your youngsters."

So I led him to the nursery, where thirteen or fourteen mites
in gingham rompers were tumbling about on mattresses on the
floor. Sophie, alone in the glory of feminine petticoats, was
ensconced in the blue-ginghamed arms of a very bored orphan. She
was squirming and fighting to get down, and her feminine
petticoats were tightly wound about her neck. I took her in my
arms, smoothed her clothes, wiped her nose, and invited her to
look at the gentleman.

That child's whole future hung upon five minutes of
sunniness, and instead of a single smile, she WHINED!

Mr. Bretland shook her hand in a very gingerly fashion and
chirruped to her as you might to a pup. Sophie took not the
slightest notice of him, but turned her back, and buried her face
in my neck. He shrugged his shoulders, supposed that they could
take her on trial. She might suit his wife; he himself didn't
want one, anyway. And we turned to go out.

Then who should come toddling straight across his path but
that little sunbeam Allegra! Exactly in front of him she
staggered, threw her arms about like a windmill, and plumped down
on all fours. He hopped aside with great agility to avoid
stepping on her, and then picked her up and set her on her feet.
She clasped her arms about his leg, and looked up at him with a
gurgling laugh.

"Daddy! Frow baby up!"

He is the first man, barring the doctor, whom the child has
seen for weeks, and evidently he resembles somewhat her almost
forgotten father.

J. F. Bretland picked her up and tossed her in the air as
handily as though it were a daily occurrence, while she
ecstatically shrieked her delight. Then when he showed signs of
lowering her, she grasped him by an ear and a nose, and drummed a
tattoo on his stomach with both feet. No one could ever accuse
Allegra of lacking vitality!

J. F. disentangled himself from her endearments, and emerged,
rumpled as to hair, but with a firm-set jaw. He set her on her
feet, but retained her little doubled-up fist.

"This is the kid for me," he said. "I don't believe I need
to look any further."

I explained that we couldn't separate little Allegra from
her brothers; but the more I objected, the stubborner his
jaw became. We went back to the library, and argued about it for
half an hour.

He liked her heredity, he liked her looks, he liked her
spirit, he liked HER. If he was going to have a daughter foisted
on him, he wanted one with some ginger. He'd be hanged if he'd
take that other whimpering little thing. It wasn't natural. But
if I gave him Allegra, he would bring her up as his own child,
and see that she was provided for for the rest of her life. Did
I have any right to cut her out from all that just for a lot of
sentimental nonsense? The family was already broken up; the best
I could do for them now was to provide for them individually.
"Take all three," said I, quite brazenly.

But, no, he couldn't consider that; his wife was an invalid,
and one child was all that she could manage.

Well, I was in a dreadful quandary. It seemed such a chance
for the child, and yet it did seem so cruel to separate her from
those two adoring little brothers. I knew that if the Bretlands
adopted her legally, they would do their best to break all ties
with the past, and the child was still so tiny she would forget
her brothers as quickly as she had her father.

Then I thought about you, Judy, and of how bitter you have
always been because, when that family wanted to adopt you, the
asylum wouldn't let you go. You have always said that you might
have had a home, too, like other children, but that Mrs. Lippett
stole it away from you. Was I perhaps stealing little Allegra's
home from her? With the two boys it would be different; they
could be educated and turned out to shift for themselves. But to
a girl a home like this would mean everything. Ever since baby
Allegra came to us, she has seemed to me just such another child
as baby Judy must have been. She has ability and spirit. We
must somehow furnish her with opportunity. She, too, deserves
her share of the world's beauty and good--as much as nature has
fitted her to appreciate. And could any asylum ever give
her that? I stood and thought and thought while Mr. Bretland
impatiently paced the floor.

"You have those boys down and let me talk to them," Mr.
Bretland insisted. "If they have a spark of generosity, they'll
be glad to let her go."

I sent for them, but my heart was a solid lump of lead. They
were still missing their father; it seemed merciless to snatch
away that darling baby sister, too.

They came hand in hand, sturdy, fine little chaps, and stood
solemnly at attention, with big, wondering eyes fixed on the
strange gentleman.

"Come here, boys. I want to talk to you." He took each by a
hand. "In the house I live in we haven't any little baby, so my
wife and I decided to come here, where there are so many babies
without fathers and mothers, and take one home to be ours. She
will have a beautiful house to live in, and lots of toys to play
with, and she will be happy all her life--much happier than she
could ever be here. I know that you will be very glad to hear
that I have chosen your little sister."

"And won't we ever see her any more?" asked Clifford.

"Oh, yes, sometimes."

Clifford looked from me to Mr. Bretland, and two big tears
began rolling down his cheeks. He jerked his hand away and came
and hurled himself into my arms.

"Don't let him have her! Please! Please! Send him away!"

"Take them all!" I begged.

But he's a hard man.

"I didn't come for an entire asylum," said he, shortly.

By this time Don was sobbing on the other side. And then who
should inject himself into the hubbub but Dr. MacRae, with baby
Allegra in his arms!

I introduced them, and explained. Mr. Bretland reached for
the baby, and Sandy held her tight.

"Quite impossible," said Sandy, shortly. "Miss McBride
will tell you that it's one of the rules of this institution
never to separate a family."

"Miss McBride has already decided," said J. F. B., stiffly.
"We have fully discussed the question."

"You must be mistaken," said Sandy, becoming his Scotchest,
and turning to me. "You surely had no intention of performing
any such cruelty as this?"

Here was the decision of Solomon all over again, with two of
the stubbornest men that the good Lord ever made wresting poor
little Allegra limb from limb.

I despatched the three chicks back to the nursery and
returned to the fray. We argued loud and hotly, until finally J.
F. B. echoed my own frequent query of the last five months: "Who
is the head of this asylum, the superintendent or the visiting
physician?"

I was furious with the doctor for placing me in such a
position before that man, but I couldn't quarrel with him in
public; so I had ultimately to tell Mr. Bretland with finality
and flatness, that Allegra was out of the question. Would he not
reconsider Sophie?

No, he'd be darned if he'd reconsider Sophie. Allegra or
nobody. He hoped that I realized that I had weakly allowed the
child's entire future to be ruined. And with that parting shot
he backed to the door. "Miss MacRae, Dr. McBride, good
afternoon." He achieved two formal bows and withdrew.

And the moment the door closed Sandy and I fought it out. He
said that any person who claimed to have any modern, humane views
on the subject of child-care ought to be ashamed to have
considered for even a moment the question of breaking up such a
family. And I accused him of keeping her for the purely selfish
reason that he was fond of the child and didn't wish to lose her.

(And that, I believe, is the truth.) Oh, we had the battle of
our career, and he finally took himself off with a stiffness and
politeness that excelled J. F. B.'s.

Between the two of them I feel as limp as though I'd been run
through our new mangling machine. And then Betsy came home, and
reviled me for throwing away the choicest family we have ever
discovered!

So this is the end of our week of feverish activity; and both
Sophie and Allegra are, after all, to be institution children.
Oh dear! oh dear! Please remove Sandy from the staff, and send
me, instead, a German, a Frenchman, a Chinaman, if you choose--
anything but a Scotchman.

Yours wearily,

SALLIE.

 

P.S. I dare say that Sandy is also passing a busy evening in
writing to have me removed. I won't object if you wish to do it.
I am tired of institutions.

 

Dear Gordon:

You are a captious, caviling, carping, crabbed, contentious,
cantankerous chap. Hoot mon! an' why shouldna I drap into Scotch
gin I choose? An' I with a Mac in my name.

Of course the John Grier will be delighted to welcome you on
Thursday next, not only for the donkey, but for your sweet sunny
presence as well. I was planning to write you a mile-long letter
to make up for past deficiencies, but wha's the use? I'll be
seeing you the morn's morn, an' unco gude will be the sight o'
you for sair een.

Dinna fash yoursel, Laddie, because o'my language. My
forebears were from the Hielands.

McBRIDE.

 

Dear Judy:

All's well with the John Grier--except for a broken tooth, a
sprained wrist, a badly scratched knee, and one case of pinkeye.
Betsy and I are being polite, but cool, toward the doctor. The
annoying thing is that he is rather cool, too. And he seems to
be under the impression that the drop in temperature is all on
his side. He goes about his business in a scientific, impersonal
way, entirely courteous, but somewhat detached.

However, the doctor is not disturbing us very extensively at
present. We are about to receive a visit from a far more
fascinating person than Sandy. The House of Representatives
again rests from its labors, and Gordon enjoys a vacation, two
days of which he is planning to spend at the Brantwood Inn.

I am delighted to hear that you have had enough seaside, and
are considering our neighborhood for the rest of the summer.
There are several spacious estates to be had within a few miles
of the John Grier, and it will be a nice change for Jervis to
come home only at week ends. After a pleasantly occupied
absence, you will each have some new ideas to add to the common
stock.

I can't add any further philosophy just now on the subject of
married life, having to refresh my memory on the Monroe Doctrine
and one or two other political topics.

I am looking eagerly forward to August and three months with
you.

As ever,

SALLIE.

 

Friday.
Dear Enemy:

It's very forgiving of me to invite you to dinner after that
volcanic explosion of last week. However, please come. You
remember our philanthropic friend, Mr. Hallock, who sent us the
peanuts and goldfish and other indigestible trifles? He will be
with us tonight, so this is your chance to turn the stream of his
benevolence into more hygienic channels.

We dine at seven.

As ever,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

 

Dear Enemy:

You should have lived in the days when each man inhabited a
separate cave on a separate mountain.

S. McBRIDE.

 

Friday, 6:30.
Dear Judy:

Gordon is here, and a reformed man so far as his attitude toward
my asylum goes. He has discovered the world-old truth that the
way to a mother's heart is through praise of her children, and he
had nothing but praise for all 107 of mine. Even in the case of
Loretta Higgins he found something pleasant to say. He thinks it
nice that she isn't cross-eyed.

He went shopping with me in the village this afternoon, and
was very helpful about picking out hair-ribbons for a couple of
dozen little girls. He begged to choose Sadie Kate's himself,
and after many hesitations he hit upon orange satin for one braid
and emerald green for the other.

While we were immersed in this business I became aware of a
neighboring customer, ostensibly engaged with hooks and eyes, but
straining every ear to listen to our nonsense.

She was so dressed up in a picture hat, a spotted veil, a
feather boa, and a NOUVEAU ART parasol that I never dreamed she
was any acquaintance of mine till I happened to catch her eye
with a familiar malicious gleam in it. She bowed stiffly, and
disapprovingly; and I nodded back. Mrs. Maggie McGurk in her
company clothes!

That is a pleasanter expression than she really has. Her
smile is due to a slip of the pen.

Poor Mrs. McGurk can't understand any possible intellectual
interest in a man. She suspects me of wanting to marry every
single one that I meet. At first she thought I wanted to snatch
away her doctor; but now, after seeing me with Gordon, she
considers me a bigamous monster who wants them both.

Good-by; some guests approach.

 

11:30 P.M.

 

I have just been giving a dinner for Gordon, with Betsy and
Mrs. Livermore and Mr. Witherspoon as guests. I graciously
included the doctor, but he curtly declined on the ground that he
wasn't in a social mood. Our Sandy does not let politeness
interfere with truth!

There is no doubt about it, Gordon is the most presentable
man that ever breathed. He is so good looking and easy and
gracious and witty, and his manners are so impeccable--Oh, he
would make a wonderfully decorative husband! But after all, I
suppose you do live with a husband. You don't just show him off
at dinners and teas.

He was exceptionally nice tonight. Betsy and Mrs. Livermore
both fell in love with him--and I just a trifle. He entertained
us with a speech in his best public manner, apropos of Java's
welfare. We have been having a dreadful time finding a sleeping
place for that monkey, and Gordon proved with incontestable logic
that, since he was presented to us by Jimmie, and Jimmie is
Percy's friend, he should sleep with Percy. Gordon is a natural
talker, and an audience affects him like champagne. He can argue
with us much emotional earnestness on the subject of a monkey as
on the greatest hero that ever bled for his country.

I felt tears coming to my eyes when he described Java's
loneliness as he watched out the night in our furnace cellar, and
pictured his brothers at play in the far-off tropical jungle.

A man who can talk like that has a future before him. I
haven't a doubt but that I shall be voting for him for President
in another twenty years.

We all had a beautiful time, and entirely forgot--for a space
of three hours--that 107 orphans slumbered about us. Much as I
love the little dears, it is pleasant to get away from them once
in a while.

My guests left at ten, and it must be midnight by now. (This
is the eighth day, and my clock has stopped again; Jane forgets
to wind it as regularly as Friday comes around.) However, I know
it's late; and as a woman, it's my duty to try for beauty sleep,
especially with an eligible young suitor at hand.

I'll finish tomorrow. Good night.

 

Saturday.

 

Gordon spent this morning playing with my asylum and planning
some intelligent presents to be sent later. He thinks that three
neatly painted totem poles would add to the attractiveness of our
Indian camps. He is also going to make us a present of three
dozen pink rompers for the babies. Pink is a color that is very
popular with the superintendent of this asylum, who is deadly
tired of blue! Our generous friend is likewise amusing himself
with the idea of a couple of donkeys and saddles and a little red
cart. Isn't it nice that Gordon's father provided for him so
amply, and that he is such a charitably inclined young man? He
is at present lunching with Percy at the hotel, and, I trust,
imbibing fresh ideas in the field of philanthropy.

Perhaps you think I haven't enjoyed this interruption to the
monotony of institution life! You can say all you please, my
dear Mrs. Pendleton, about how well I am managing your asylum,
but, just the same, it isn't natural for me to be so stationary.
I very frequently need a change. That is why Gordon, with his
bubbling optimism and boyish spirits, is so exhilarating
especially as a contrast to too much doctor.

 

Sunday morning.

 

I must tell you the end of Gordon's visit. His intention had
been to leave at four, but in an evil moment I begged him to stay
over till 9:30, and yesterday afternoon he and Singapore and I
took a long 'cross-country walk, far out of sight of the towers
of this asylum, and stopped at a pretty little roadside inn,
where we had a satisfying supper of ham and eggs and
cabbage. Sing stuffed so disgracefully that he has been languid
ever since.

The walk and all was fun, and a very grateful change from
this monotonous life I lead. It would have kept me pleasant and
contented for weeks if something most unpleasant hadn't happened
later. We had a beautiful, sunny, carefree afternoon, and I'm
sorry to have had it spoiled. We came back very unromantically
in the trolley car, and reached the J. G. H. before nine, just in
good time for him to run on to the station and catch his train.
So I didn't ask him to come in, but politely wished him a
pleasant journey at the porte-cochere.

A car was standing at the side of the drive, in the shadow of
the house. I recognized it, and thought the doctor was inside
with Mr. Witherspoon. (They frequently spend their evenings
together in the laboratory.) Well, Gordon, at the moment of
parting, was seized with an unfortunate impulse to ask me to
abandon the management of this asylum, and take over the
management of a private house instead.

Did you ever know anything like the man? He had the whole
afternoon and miles of empty meadow in which to discuss the
question, but instead he must choose our door mat!

I don't know just what I did say. I tried to turn it off
lightly and hurry him to his train. But he refused to be turned
off lightly. He braced himself against a post and insisted upon
arguing it out. I knew that he was missing his train, and that
every window in this institution was open. A man never has the
slightest thought of possible overhearers. It is always the
woman who thinks of convention.

Being in a nervous twitter to get rid of him, I suppose I was
pretty abrupt and tactless. He began to get angry, and then by
some unlucky chance his eye fell on that car. He recognized it,
too, and, being in a savage mood, he began making fun of the
doctor. "Old Goggle-eyes" he called him, and "Scatchy," and oh,
the awfullest lot of unmannerly, silly things!

I was assuring him with convincing earnestness that I didn't
care a rap about the doctor, that I thought he was just as funny
and impossible as he could be, when suddenly the doctor rose out
of his car and walked up to us.

I could have evaporated from the earth very comfortably at
that moment!

Sandy was quite clearly angry, as well he might be, after the
things he'd heard, but he was entirely cold and collected.
Gordon was hot, and bursting with imaginary wrongs. I was aghast
at this perfectly foolish and unnecessary muddle that had
suddenly arisen out of nothing. Sandy apologized to me with
unimpeachable politeness for inadvertently overhearing, and then
turned to Gordon and stiffly invited him to get into his car and
ride to the station.

I begged him not to go. I didn't wish to be the cause of any
silly quarrel between them. But without paying the slightest
attention to me, they climbed into the car, and whirled away,
leaving me placidly standing on the door mat.

I came in and went to bed, and lay awake for hours, expecting
to hear--I don't know what kind of explosion. It is now eleven
o'clock, and the doctor hasn't appeared. I don't know how on
earth I shall meet him when he does. I fancy I shall hide in the
clothes closet.

Did you ever know anything as unnecessary and stupid as this
whole situation? I suppose now I've quarreled with Gordon,--and
I positively don't know over what,--and of course my relations
with the doctor are going to be terribly awkward. I said horrid
things about him,--you know the silly way I talk,--things I
didn't mean in the least.

I wish it were yesterday at this time. I would make Gordon
go at four.

SALLIE.

 

 

Sunday afternoon.
Dear Dr. MacRae:

That was a horrid, stupid, silly business last night. But by
this time you must know me well enough to realize that I never
mean the foolish things I say. My tongue has no slightest
connection with my brain; it just runs along by itself. I must
seem to you very ungrateful for all the help you have given me in
this unaccustomed work and for the patience you have
(occasionally) shown.

I do appreciate the fact that I could never have run this
asylum by myself without your responsible presence in the
background. And though once in a while, as you yourself must
acknowledge, you have been pretty impatient and bad tempered and
difficult, still I have never held it up against you, and I
really didn't mean any of the ill-mannered things I said last
night. Please forgive me for being rude. I should hate very
much to lose your friendship. And we are friends, are we not? I
like to think so.

S. McB.

 

Dear Judy:

I am sure I haven't an idea whether or not the doctor and I have
made up our differences. I sent him a polite note of apology,
which he received in abysmal silence. He didn't come near us
until this afternoon, and he hasn't by the blink of an eyelash
referred to our unfortunate contretemps. We talked exclusively
about an ichthyol salve that will remove eczema from a baby's
scalp; then, Sadie Kate being present, the conversation turned to
cats. It seems that the doctor's Maltese cat has four
kittens, and Sadie Kate will not be silenced until she has seen
them. Before I knew what was happening I found myself making an
engagement to take her to see those miserable kittens at four
o'clock tomorrow afternoon.

Whereupon the doctor, with an indifferently polite bow, took
himself off. And that apparently is the end.

Your Sunday note arrives, and I am delighted to hear that you
have taken the house. It will be beautiful having you for a
neighbor for so long. Our improvements ought to march along,
with you and the president at our elbow. But it does seem as
though, you ought to get out here before August 7. Are you sure
that city air is good for you just now? I have never known so
devoted a wife.

My respects to the president.

S. McB.

 

July 22.
Dear Judy:

Please listen to this!

At four o'clock I took Sadie Kate to the doctor's house to
look at those cats. But Freddy Howland just twenty minutes
before had fallen downstairs, so the doctor was at the Howland
house occupying himself with Freddy's collarbone. He had left
word for us to sit down and wait, that he would be back shortly.

Mrs. McGurk ushered us into the library; and then, not to
leave us alone, came in herself on a pretense of polishing the
brass. I don't know what she thought we'd do! Run off with the
pelican perhaps.

I settled down to an article about the Chinese situation in
the Century, and Sadie Kate roamed about at large examining
everything she found, like a curious little mongoose.

She commenced with his stuffed flamingo and wanted to know
what made it so tall and what made it so red. Did it always eat
frogs, and had it hurt its other foot? She ticks off questions
with the steady persistency of an eight-day clock.

I buried myself in my article and left Mrs. McGurk to deal
with Sadie. Finally, after she had worked half-way around the
room, she came to a portrait of a little girl occupying a leather
frame in the center of the doctor's writing desk--a child with a
queer elf-like beauty, resembling very strangely our little
Allegra. This photograph might have been a portrait of Allegra
grown five years older. I had noticed the picture the night we
took supper with the doctor, and had meant to ask which of his
little patients she was. Happily I didn't!

"Who's that?" said Sadie Kate, pouncing upon it.

"It's the docthor's little gurrl."

"Where is she?"

"Shure, she's far away wit' her gran'ma."

"Where'd he get her?"

"His wife give her to him."

I emerged from my book with electric suddenness.

"His wife!" I cried.

The next instant I was furious with myself for having spoken,
but I was so completely taken off my guard. Mrs. McGurk
straightened up and became volubly conversational at once.

"And didn't he never tell you about his wife? She went
insane six years ago. It got so it weren't safe to keep her in
the house, and he had to put her away. It near killed him. I
never seen a lady more beautiful than her. I guess he didn't so
much as smile for a year. It's funny he never told you nothing,
and you such a friend!"

"Naturally it's not a subject he cares to talk about," said I
dryly, and I asked her what kind of brass polish she used.

Sadie Kate and I went out to the garage and hunted up the
kittens ourselves; and we mercifully got away before the doctor
came back.

But will you tell me what this means? Didn't Jervis know he
was married? It's the queerest thing I ever heard. I do think,
as the McGurk suggests, that Sandy might casually have dropped
the information that he had a wife in an insane asylum.

But of course it must be a terrible tragedy and I suppose he
can't bring himself to talk about it. I see now why he's so
morbid over the question of heredity--I dare say he fears for the
little girl. When I think of all the jokes I've made on the
subject, I'm aghast at how I must have hurt him, and angry with
myself and angry with him.

I feel as though I never wanted to see the man again. Mercy!
did you ever know such a muddle as we are getting ourselves into?

Yours,
SALLIE.

P.S. Tom McCoomb has pushed Mamie Prout into the box of mortar
that the masons use. She's parboiled. I've sent for the doctor.

 

July 24.
My dear Madam:

I have a shocking scandal to report about the superintendent of
the John Grier Home. Don't let it get into the newspapers,
please. I can picture the spicy details of the investigation
prior to her removal by the "Cruelty."

I was sitting in the sunshine by my open window this morning
reading a sweet book on the Froebel theory of child
culture--never lose your temper, always speak kindly to the
little ones. Though they may appear bad, they are not so in
reality. It is either that they are not feeling well or have
nothing interesting to do. Never punish; simply deflect their
attention. I was entertaining a very loving, uplifted attitude
toward all this young life about me when my attention was
attracted by a group of little boys beneath the window.

"Aw--John--don't hurt it!"

"Let it go!"

"Kill it quick!"

And above their remonstrances rose the agonized squealing of
some animal in pain. I dropped Froebel and, running downstairs,
burst upon them from the side door. They saw me coming, and
scattered right and left, revealing Johnnie Cobden engaged in
torturing a mouse. I will spare you the grisly details. I
called to one of the boys to come and drown the creature quick!
John I seized by the collar; and dragged him squirming and
kicking in at the kitchen door. He is a big, hulking boy of
thirteen, and he fought like a little tiger, holding on to posts
and doorjambs as we passed. Ordinarily I doubt if I could have
handled him, but that one sixteenth Irish that I possess was all
on top, and I was fighting mad. We burst into the kitchen, and I
hastily looked about for a means of chastisement. The pancake
turner was the first utensil that met my eyes. I seized it and
beat that child with all my strength, until I had reduced him to
a cowering, whimpering mendicant for mercy, instead of the
fighting little bully he had been four minutes before.

And then who should suddenly burst into the midst of this
explosion but Dr. MacRae! His face was blank with astonishment.
He strode over and took the pancake turner out of my hand and set
the boy on his feet. Johnnie got behind him and clung! I was so
angry that I really couldn't talk. It was all I could do not to
cry.

"Come, we will take him up to the office," was all the doctor
said. And we marched out, Johnnie keeping as far from me as
possible and limping conspicuously. We left him in the outer
office, and went into my library and shut the door.

"What in the world has the child done?" he asked.

At that I simply laid my head down on the table and began to
cry! I was utterly exhausted both emotionally and physically.
It had taken all the strength I possessed to make the pancake
turner effective.

I sobbed out all the bloody details, and he told me not to
think about it; the mouse was dead now. Then he got me some
water to drink, and told me to keep on crying till I was tired;
it would do me good. I am not sure that he didn't pat me on the
head! Anyway, it was his best professional manner. I have
watched him administer the same treatment a dozen times to
hysterical orphans. And this was the first time in a week that
we had spoken beyond the formality of "good morning"!

Well, as soon as I had got to the stage where I could sit up
and laugh, intermittently dabbing my eyes with a wad of
handkerchief, we began a review of Johnnie's case. The boy has a
morbid heredity, and may be slightly defective, says Sandy. We
must deal with the fact as we would with any other disease. Even
normal boys are often cruel. A child's moral sense is
undeveloped at thirteen.

Then he suggested that I bathe my eyes with hot water and
resume my dignity. Which I did. And we had Johnnie in. He
stood--by preference--through the entire interview. The doctor
talked to him, oh, so sensibly and kindly and humanely! John put
up the plea that the mouse was a pest and ought to be killed.
The doctor replied that the welfare of the human race demanded
the sacrifice of many animals for its own good, not for revenge,
but that the sacrifice must be carried out with the least
possible hurt to the animal. He explained about the mouse's
nervous system, and how the poor little creature hadno means
of defense. It was a cowardly thing to hurt it wantonly. He
told John to try to develop imagination enough to look at things
from the other person's point of view, even if the other person
was only a mouse. Then he went to the bookcase and took down my
copy of Burns, and told the boy what a great poet he was, and how
all Scotchmen loved his memory.

"And this is what he wrote about a mouse," said Sandy,
turning to the "Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, timorous beastie," which
he read and explained to the lad as only a Scotchman could.

Johnnie departed penitent, and Sandy redirected his
professional attention to me. He said I was tired and in need of
a change. Why not go to the Adirondacks for a week? He and
Betsy and Mr. Witherspoon would make themselves into a committee
to run the asylum.

You know, that's exactly what I was longing to do! I need a
shifting of ideas and some pine-scented air. My family opened
the camp last week, and think I'm awful not to join them. They
won't understand that when you accept a position like this you
can't casually toss it aside whenever you feel like it. But for
a few days I can easily manage. My asylum is wound up like an
eight-day clock, and will run until a week from next Monday at 4
P.M., when my train will return me. Then I shall be comfortably
settled again before you arrive, and with no errant fancies in my
brain.

Meanwhile Master John is in a happily chastened frame of mind
and body. And I rather suspect that Sandy's moralizing had the
more force because it was preceded by my pancake turner! But one
thing I know--Suzanne Estelle is terrified whenever I step into
her kitchen. I casually picked up the potato-masher this morning
while I was commenting upon last night's over-salty soup, and she
ran to cover behind the woodshed door.

Tomorrow at nine I set out on my travels, after preparing the
way with five telegrams. And, oh! you can't imagine how I'm
looking forward to being a gay, carefree young thing again--to
canoeing on the lake and tramping in the woods and dancing at the
clubhouse. I was in a state of delirium all night long at the
prospect. Really, I hadn't realized how mortally tired I had
become of all this asylum scenery.

"What you need," said Sandy to me, "is to get away for a
little and sow some wild oats."

That diagnosis was positively clairvoyant. I can't think of
anything in the world I'd rather do than sow a few wild oats.
I'll come back with fresh energy, ready to welcome you and a busy
summer.

As ever,

SALLIE.

P.S. Jimmie and Gordon are both going to be up there. How I
wish you could join us! A husband is very discommoding.

 

CAMP McBRIDE,

July 29.
Dear Judy:

This is to tell you that the mountains are higher than usual, the
woods greener, and the lake bluer.

People seem late about coming up this year. The Harrimans'
camp is the only other one at our end of the lake that is open.
The clubhouse is very scantily supplied with dancing men, but we
have as house guest an obliging young politician who likes to
dance, so I am not discommoded by the general scarcity.

The affairs of the nation and the rearing of orphans are
alike delegated to the background while we paddle about among the
lily pads of this delectable lake. I look forward with
reluctance to 7:56 next Monday morning, when I turn my back on
the mountains. The awful thing about a vacation is that the
moment it begins your happiness is already clouded by its
approaching end.

I hear a voice on the veranda asking if Sallie is to be found
within or without.

 

ADDIO!

S.

 

August 3.
Dear Judy:

Back at the John Grier, reshouldering the burdens of the coming
generation. What should meet my eyes upon entering these grounds
but John Cobden, of pancake turner memory, wearing a badge upon
his sleeve. I turned it to me and read "S. P. C. A." in letters
of gold! The doctor, during my absence, has formed a local
branch of the Cruelty to Animals, and made Johnnie its president.

I hear that yesterday he stopped the workmen on the
foundation for the new farm cottage and scolded them severely for
whipping their horses up the incline! None of all this strikes
any one but me as funny.

There's a lot of news, but with you due in four days, why
bother to write? Just one delicious bit I am saving for the end.

So hold your breath. You are going to receive a thrill on page
4. You should hear Sadie Kate squeal! Jane is cutting her hair.

Instead of wearing it in two tight braids like this-- our
little colleen will in the future look like this--

 

"Them pigtails got on my nerves," says Jane.

You can see how much more stylish and becoming the present
coiffure is. I think somebody will be wanting to adopt her.
Only Sadie Kate is such an independent, manly little creature;
she is eminently fitted by nature to shift for herself. I must
save adopting parents for the helpless ones.

You should see our new clothes! I can't wait for this
assemblage of rosebuds to burst upon you. And you should have
seen those blue ginghamed eyes brighten when the new frocks were
actually given out--three for each girl, all different
colors, and all perfectly private personal property, with
the owner's indelible name inside the collar. Mrs. Lippett's
lazy system of having each child draw from the wash a promiscuous
dress each week, was an insult to feminine nature.

Sadie Kate is squealing like a baby pig. I must go to see if
Jane has by mistake clipped off an ear.

 

Jane hasn't. Sadie's excellent ears are still intact. She
is just squealing on principle; the way one does in a dentist's
chair, under the belief that it is going to hurt the next
instant.

I really can't think of anything else to write except my
news,--so here it is,--and I hope you'll like it.

I am engaged to be married.

My love to you both.

S. McB.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

November 15.
Dear Judy:

 

Betsy and I are just back from a GIRO in our new motor car. It
undoubtedly does add to the pleasure of institution life. The
car of its own accord turned up Long Ridge Road, and stopped
before the gates of Shadywell. The chains were up, and the
shutters battened down, and the place looked closed and gloomy
and rain-soaked. It wore a sort of fall of the House of Usher
air, and didn't in the least resemble the cheerful house that
used to greet me hospitably of an afternoon.

I hate to have our nice summer ended. It seems as though a
section of my life was shut away behind me, and the unknown
future was pressing awfully close. Positively, I'd like to
postpone that wedding another six months, but I'm afraid poor
Gordon would make too dreadful a fuss. Don't think I'm getting
wobbly, for I'm not. It's just that somehow I need more time to
think about it, and March is getting nearer every day. I know
absolutely that I'm doing the most sensible thing. Everybody,
man or woman, is the better for being nicely and appropriately
and cheerfully married. But oh dear! oh dear! I do hate
upheavals, and this is going to be such a world-without-end
upheaval! Sometimes when the day's work is over, and I'm tired,
I haven't the spirit to rise and meet it.

And now especially since you've bought Shadywell, and are
going to be here every summer, I resent having to leave. Next
year, when I'm far away, I'll be consumed with homesickness,
thinking of all the busy, happy times at the John Grier, with you
and Betsy and Percy and our grumbly Scotchman working away
cheerfully without me. How can anything ever make up to a mother
for the loss of 107 children?

I trust that Judy, junior, stood the journey into town
without upsetting her usual poise. I am sending her a bit
giftie, made partly by myself and chiefly by Jane. But two rows,
I must inform you, were done by the doctor. One only gradually
plumbs the depths of Sandy's nature. After a ten-months'
acquaintance with the man, I discover that he knows how to knit,
an accomplishment he picked up in his boyhood from an old
shepherd on the Scotch moors.

He dropped in three days ago and stayed for tea, really in
almost his old friendly mood. But he has since stiffened up
again to the same man of granite we knew all summer. I've given
up trying to make him out. I suppose, however, that any one
might be expected to be a bit down with a wife in an insane
asylum. I wish he'd talk about it once. It's awful having such
a shadow hovering in the background of your thoughts and never
coming out into plain sight.

I know that this letter doesn't contain a word of the kind of
news that you like to hear. But it's that beastly twilight hour
of a damp November day, and I'm in a beastly uncheerful mood.
I'm awfully afraid that I am developing into a temperamental
person, and Heaven knows Gordon can supply all the temperament
that one family needs! I don't know where we'll land if I don't
preserve my sensibly stolid, cheerful nature.

Have you really decided to go South with Jervis? I
appreciate your feeling (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 young a daughter to the tropics.

The children are playing blind man's buff in the lower
corridor. I think I'll have a romp with them, and try to be in a
more affable mood before resuming my pen.

A BIENTOT!

SALLIE.

P.S. These November nights are pretty cold, and we are getting
ready to move the camps indoors. Our Indians are very pampered
young savages at present, with a double supply of blankets and
hot-water bottles. I shall hate to see the camps go; they have
done a lot for us. Our lads will be as tough as Canadian
trappers when they come in.

 

November 20.
Dear Judy:

Your motherly solicitude is sweet, but I didn't mean what I said.

Of course it's perfectly safe to convey Judy, junior, to the
temperately tropical lands that are washed by the Caribbean.
She'll thrive as long as you don't set her absolutely on top of
the equator. And your bungalow, shaded by palms and fanned
by sea breezes, with an ice machine in the back yard and an
English doctor across the bay, sounds made for the rearing of
babies.

My objections were all due to the selfish fact that I and the
John Grier are going to be lonely without you this winter. I
really think it's entrancing to have a husband who engages in
such picturesque pursuits as financing tropical railroads and
developing asphalt lakes and rubber groves and mahogany forests.
I wish that Gordon would take to life in those picturesque
countries; I'd be more thrilled by the romantic possibilities of
the future. Washington seems awfully commonplace compared with
Honduras and Nicaragua and the islands of the Caribbean.

I'll be down to wave good-by.

ADDIO!

SALLIE.

 

 

November 24.
Dear Gordon:

Judy has gone back to town, and is sailing next week for Jamaica,
where she is to make her headquarters while Jervis cruises about
adjacent waters on these entertaining new ventures of his.
Couldn't you engage in traffic in the South Seas? I think I'd
feel pleasanter about leaving my asylum if you had something
romantic and adventurous to offer instead. And think how
beautiful you'd be in those white linen clothes! I really
believe I might be able to stay in love with a man quite
permanently if he always dressed in white.

You can't imagine how I miss Judy. Her absence leaves a
dreadful hole in my afternoons. Can't you run up for a week
end soon? I think the sight of you would be very cheering, and
I'm feeling awfully down of late. You know, my dear Gordon, I
like you much better when you're right here before my eyes than
when I merely think about you from a distance. I believe you
must have a sort of hypnotic influence. Occasionally, after
you've been away a long time, your spell wears a little thin.
But when I see you, it all comes back. You've been away now a
long, long time; so, please come fast and bewitch me over again!

S.

 

December 2.
Dear Judy:

Do you remember in college, when you and I used to plan our
favorite futures, how we were forever turning our faces
southward? And now to think it has really come true, and you are
there, coasting around those tropical isles! Did you ever have
such a thrill in the whole of your life, barring one or two
connected with Jervis, as when you came up on deck in the early
dawn and found yourself riding at anchor in the harbor of
Kingston, with the water so blue and the palms so green and the
beach so white?

I remember when I first woke in that harbor. I felt like a
heroine of grand opera surrounded by untruly beautiful painted
scenery. Nothing in my four trips to Europe ever thrilled me
like the queer sights and tastes and smells of those three warm
weeks seven years ago. And ever since, I've panted to get back.
When I stop to think about it, I can hardly bring myself to
swallow our unexciting meals; I wish to be dining on curries and
tamales and mangos. Isn't it funny? You'd think I must have a
dash of Creole or Spanish or some warm blood in me
somewhere, but I'm nothing on earth but a chilly mixture of
English and Irish and Scotch. Perhaps that is why I hear the
South calling. "The palm dreams of the pine, and the pine of the
palm."

After seeing you off, I turned back to New York with an awful
wander-thirst gnawing at my vitals. I, too, wanted to be
starting off on my travels in a new blue hat and a new blue suit
with a big bunch of violets in my hand. For five minutes I would
cheerfully have said good-by forever to poor dear Gordon in
return for the wide world to wander in. I suppose you are
thinking they are not entirely incompatible--Gordon and the wide
world--but I don't seem able to get your point of view about
husbands. I see marriage as a man must, a good, sensible
workaday institution; but awfully curbing to one's liberty.
Somehow, after you're married forever, life has lost its feeling
of adventure. There aren't any romantic possibilities waiting to
surprise you around each corner.

The disgraceful truth is that one man doesn't seem quite
enough for me. I like the variety of sensation that you get only
from a variety of men. I'm afraid I've spent too flirtatious a
youth, and it isn't easy for me to settle.

I seem to have a very wandering pen. To return: I saw you
off, and took the ferry back to New York with a horribly empty
feeling. After our intimate, gossipy three months together, it
seems a terrible task to tell you my troubles in tones that will
reach to the bottom of the continent. My ferry slid right under
the nose of your steamer, and I could see you and Jervis plainly
leaning on the rail. I waved frantically, but you never blinked
an eyelash. Your gaze was fixed in homesick contemplation upon
the top of the Woolworth Building.

Back in New York, I took myself to a department store to
accomplish a few trifles in the way of shopping. As I was
entering through their revolving doors, who should be revolving
in the other direction but Helen Brooks! We had a terrible
time meeting, as I tried to go back out, and she tried to come
back in; I thought we should revolve eternally. But we finally
got together and shook hands, and she obligingly helped me choose
fifteen dozen pairs of stockings and fifty caps and sweaters and
two hundred union suits, and then we gossiped all the way up to
Fifty-second Street, where we had luncheon at the Women's
University Club.

I always liked Helen. She's not spectacular, but steady and
dependable. Will you ever forget the way she took hold of that
senior pageant committee and whipped it into shape after Mildred
had made such a mess of it? How would she do here as a successor
to me? I am filled with jealousy at the thought of a successor,
but I suppose I must face it.

"When did you last see Judy Abbott?" was Helen's first
question.

"Fifteen minutes ago," said I. "She has just set sail for
the Spanish main with a husband and daughter and nurse and maid
and valet and dog."

"Has she a nice husband?"

"None better."

"And does she still like him?"

"Never saw a happier marriage."

It struck me that Helen looked a trifle bleak, and I suddenly
remembered all that gossip that Marty Keene told us last summer;
so I hastily changed the conversation to a perfectly safe subject
like orphans.

But later she told me the whole story herself in as detached
and impersonal a way as though she were discussing the characters
in a book. She has been living alone in the city, hardly seeing
any one, and she seemed low in spirits and glad to talk. Poor
Helen appears to have made an awful mess of her life. I don't
know any one who has covered so much ground in such a short
space of time. Since her graduation she has been married, has
had a baby and lost him, divorced her husband, quarreled with her
family, and come to the city to earn her own living. She is
reading manuscript for a publishing house.

There seems to have been no reason for her divorce from the
ordinary point of view; the marriage just simply didn't work.
They weren't friends. If he had been a woman, she wouldn't have
wasted half an hour talking with him. If she had been a man, he
would have said: "Glad to see you. How are you?" and gone on.
And yet they MARRIED. Isn't it dreadful how blind this sex
business can make people?

She was brought up on the theory that a woman's only
legitimate profession is homemaking. When she finished college,
she was naturally eager to start on her career, and Henry
presented himself. Her family scanned him closely, and found him
perfect in every respect--good family, good morals, good
financial position, good looking. Helen was in love with him.
She had a big wedding and lots of new clothes and dozens of
embroidered towels. Everything looked propitious.

But as they began to get acquainted, they didn't like the
same books or jokes or people or amusements. He was expansive
and social and hilarious, and she wasn't. First they bored, and
then they irritated, each other. Her orderliness made him
impatient, and his disorderliness drove her wild. She would
spend a day getting closets and bureau drawers in order, and in
five minutes he would stir them into chaos. He would leave his
clothes about for her to pick up, and his towels in a messy heap
on the bathroom floor, and he never scrubbed out the tub. And
she, on her side, was awfully unresponsive and irritating,--she
realized it fully,--she got to the point where she wouldn't laugh
at his jokes.

I suppose most old-fashioned, orthodox people would think it
awful to break up a marriage on such innocent grounds. It seemed
so to me at first; but as she went on piling up detail on
detail each trivial in itself, but making a mountainous total, I
agreed with Helen that it was awful to keep it going. It wasn't
really a marriage; it was a mistake.

So one morning at breakfast, when the subject of what they
should do for the summer came up, she said quite casually that
she thought she would go West and get a residence in some State
where you could get a divorce for a respectable cause; and for
the first time in months he agreed with her.

You can imagine the outraged feelings of her Victorian
family. In all the seven generations of their sojourn in America
they have never had anything like this to record in the family
Bible. It all comes from sending her to college and letting her
read such dreadful modern people as Ellen Key and Bernard Shaw.

"If he had only got drunk and dragged me about by the hair,"
Helen wailed, "it would have been legitimate; but because we
didn't actually throw things at each other, no one could see any
reason for a divorce."

The pathetic part of the whole business is that both she and
Henry were admirably fitted to make some one else happy. They
just simply didn't match each other; and when two people don't
match, all the ceremonies in the world can't marry them.

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. Isn'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 isn'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

and

SALLIE.

 

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 a boat of your own that chugs about those
entertaining seas! Have you worn all of your eighteen white
dresses yet? And aren't you glad now that I made you wait about
buying a Panama hat till you reached Kingston?

We are running along here very much as usual without anything
exciting to chronicle. You remember little Maybelle Fuller,
don't you--the chorus girl's daughter whom our doctor doesn't
like? We have placed her out. I tried to make the woman take
Hattie Heaphy instead,--the quiet little one who stole the
communion cup,--but no, indeed! Maybelle's eyelashes won the
day. After all, as poor Marie says, the chief thing is to be
pretty. All else in life depends on that.

When I got home last week, after my dash to New York, I made
a brief speech to the children. I told them that I had just been
seeing Aunt Judy off on a big ship, and I am embarrassed to have
to report that the interest--at least on the part of the boys--
immediately abandoned Aunt Judy and centered upon the ship. How
many tons of coal did she burn a day? Was she long enough to
reach from the carriage house to the Indian camp? Were there any
guns aboard, and if a privateer should attack her, could she hold
her own? In case of a mutiny, could the captain shoot down
anybody he chose, and wouldn't he be hanged when he got to shore?

I had ignominiously to call upon Sandy to finish my speech. I
realize that the best-equipped feminine mind in the world
can't cope with the peculiar class of questions that originate in
a thirteen-year boy's brain.

As a result of their seafaring interest, the doctor conceived
the idea of inviting seven of the oldest and most alert lads to
spend the day with him in New York and see with their own eyes an
oceanliner. They rose at five yesterday morning, caught the 7:30
train, and had the most wonderful adventure that has happened in
all their seven lives. They visited one of the big liners (Sandy
knows the Scotch engineer), and were conducted from the bottom of
the hold to the top of the crow's-nest, and then had luncheon on
board. And after luncheon they visited the aquarium and the top
of the Singer Building, and took the subway uptown to spend an
hour with the birds of America in their habitats. Sandy with
great difficulty pried them away from the Natural History Museum
in time to catch the 6:15 train. Dinner in the dining-car. They
inquired with great particularity how much it was costing, and
when they heard that it was the same, no matter how much you ate,
they drew deep breaths and settled quietly and steadily to the
task of not allowing their host to be cheated. The railroad made
nothing on that party, and all the tables around stopped eating
to stare. One traveler asked the doctor if it was a boarding
school he had in charge; so you can see how the manners and
bearing of our lads have picked up. I don't wish to boast, but
no one would ever have asked such a question concerning seven of
Mrs. Lippett's youngsters. "Are they bound for a reformatory?"
would have been the natural question after observing the table
manners of her offspring.

My little band tumbled in toward ten o'clock, excitedly
babbling a mess of statistics about reciprocating compound
engines and watertight bulkheads, devil-fish and sky-scrapers and
birds of paradise. I thought I should never get them to bed.
And, oh, but they had had a glorious day! I do wish I could
manage breaks in the routine oftener. It gives them a new
outlook on life and makes them more like normal children. Wasn't
it really nice of Sandy? But you should have seen that man's
behavior when I tried to thank him. He waved me aside in the
middle of a sentence, and growlingly asked Miss Snaith if she
couldn't economize a little on carbolic acid. The house smelt
like a hospital.

I must tell you that Punch is back with us again, entirely
renovated as to manners. I am looking for a family to adopt him.

I had hoped those two intelligent spinsters would see their way
to keeping him forever, but they want to travel, and they feel
he's too consuming of their liberty. I inclose a sketch in
colored chalk of your steamer, which he has just completed.
There is some doubt as to the direction in which it is going; it
looks as though it might progress backward and end in Brooklyn.
Owing to the loss of my blue pencil, our flag has had to adopt
the Italian colors.

The three figures on the bridge are you and Jervis and the
baby. I am pained to note that you carry your daughter by the
back of her neck, as if she were a kitten. That is not the way
we handle babies in the J. G. H. nursery. Please also note that
the artist has given Jervis his full due in the matter of legs.
When I asked Punch what had become of the captain, he said that
the captain was inside, putting coal on the fire. Punch was
terribly impressed, as well he might be, when he heard that your
steamer burned three hundred wagonloads a day, and he naturally
supposed that all hands had been piped to the stokehole.

BOW! WOW!

That's a bark from Sing. I told him I was writing to you,
and he responded instantly.

We both send love.

Yours,

SALLIE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Saturday.
Dear Enemy:

You were so terribly gruff last night when I tried to thank you
for giving my boys such a wonderful day that I didn't have a
chance to express half of the appreciation I felt.

What on earth is the matter with you, Sandy? You used to be
a tolerably nice man--in spots, but these last three or four
months you have only been nice to other people, never to me. We
have had from the first a long series of misunderstandings
and foolish contretemps, but after each one we seemed to reach a
solider basis of understanding, until I had thought our
friendship was on a pretty firm foundation, capable of
withstanding any reasonable shock.

And then came that unfortunate evening last June when you
overheard some foolish impolitenesses, which I did not in the
slightest degree mean; and from then on you faded into the
distance. Really, I have felt terribly bad about it, and have
wanted to apologize, but your manner has not been inviting of
confidence. It isn't that I have any excuse or explanation to
offer; I haven't. You know how foolish and silly I am on
occasions, but you will just have to realize that though I'm
flippant and foolish and trivial on top, I am pretty solid
inside; and you've got to forgive the silly part. The Pendletons
knew that long ago, or they wouldn't have sent me up here. I
have tried hard to pull off an honest job, partly because I
wanted to justify their judgment, partly because I was really
interested in giving the poor little kiddies their share of
happiness, but mostly, I actually believe, because I wanted to
show you that your first derogatory opinion of me was ill
founded. Won't you please expunge that unfortunate fifteen
minutes at the porte-cochere last June, and remember instead the
fifteen hours I spent reading the Kallikak Family?

I would like to feel that we're friends again.

SALLIE McBRIDE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Sunday.

Dear Dr. MacRae:

I am in receipt of your calling card with an eleven-word answer
to my letter on the back. I didn't mean to annoy you by my
attentions. What you think and how you behave are really matters
of extreme indifference to me. Be just as impolite as you
choose.

S. McB.

 

December 14.
Dear Judy:

PLEASE pepper your letters with stamps, inside and out. I have
thirty collectors in the family. Since you have taken to travel,
every day about post time an eager group gathers at the gate,
waiting to snatch any letters of foreign design, and by the time
the letters reach me they are almost in shreds through the
tenacity of rival snatchers. Tell Jervis to send us some more of
those purple pine trees from Honduras; likewise some green
parrots from Guatemala. I could use a pint of them!

Isn't it wonderful to have got these apathetic little things
so enthusiastic? My children are getting to be almost like real
children. B dormitory started a pillow fight last night of its
own accord; and though it was very wearing to our scant supply of
linen, I stood by and beamed, and even tossed a pillow
myself.

Last Saturday those two desirable friends of Percy's spent
the whole afternoon playing with my boys. They brought up three
rifles, and each man took the lead of a camp of Indians, and
passed the afternoon in a bottle shooting contest, with a prize
for the winning camp. They brought the prize with them--an
atrocious head of an Indian painted on leather. Dreadful taste;
but the men thought it lovely, so I admired it with all the ardor
I could assume.

When they had finished, I warmed them up with cookies and hot
chocolate, and I really think the men enjoyed it as much as the
boys; they undoubtedly enjoyed it more than I did. I couldn't
help being in a feminine twitter all the time the firing was
going on for fear somebody would shoot somebody else. But I know
that I can't keep twenty-four Indians tied to my apron strings,
and I never could find in the whole wide world three nicer men to
take an interest in them.

Just think of all that healthy, exuberant volunteer service
going to waste under the asylum's nose! I suppose the
neighborhood is full of plenty more of it, and I am going to make
it my business to dig it out.

What I want most are about eight nice, pretty, sensible young
women to come up here one night a week, and sit before the fire
and tell stories while the chicks pop corn. I do so want to
contrive a little individual petting for my babies. You see,
Judy, I am remembering your own childhood, and am trying hard to
fill in the gaps.

The trustees' meeting last week went beautifully. The new
women are most helpful, and only the nice men came. I am happy
to announce that the Hon. Cy Wykoff is visiting his married
daughter in Scranton. I wish she would invite father to live
with her permanently.

 

Wednesday.

 

I am in the most childish temper with the doctor, and for no
very definite reason. He keeps along his even, unemotional way
without paying the slightest attention to anything or anybody. I
have swallowed more slights during these last few months than in
the whole of my life before, and I'm developing the most
shockingly revengeful nature. I spend all my spare time planning
situations in which he will be terribly hurt and in need of my
help, and in which 1, with the utmost callousness, will
shrug my shoulders and turn away. I am growing into a person
entirely foreign to the sweet, sunny young thing you used to
know.

 

Evening.

 

Do you realize that I am an authority on the care of
dependent children? Tomorrow I and other authorities visit
officially the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society's Orphan Asylum
at Pleasantville. (All that's its name!) It's a terribly
difficult and roundabout journey from this point, involving a
daybreak start and two trains and an automobile. But if I'm to
be an authority, I must live up to the title. I'm keen about
looking over other institutions and gleaning as many ideas as
possible against our own alterations next year. And this
Pleasantville asylum is an architectural model.

I acknowledge now, upon sober reflection, that we were wise
to postpone extensive building operations until next summer. Of
course I was disappointed, because it meant that I won't be the
center of the ripping-up, and I do so love to be the center of
ripping-ups! But, anyway, you'll take my advice, even though I'm
no longer an official head? The two building details we did
accomplish are very promising. Our new laundry grows better and
better; it has removed from us that steamy smell so dear to
asylums. The farmer's cottage will finally be ready for
occupancy next week. All it now lacks is a coat of paint and
some doorknobs.

But, oh dear! oh dear! another bubble has burst! Mrs
Turnfelt, for all her comfortable figure and sunny smile, hates
to have children messing about. They make her nervous. And as
for Turnfelt himself, though industrious and methodical and an
excellent gardener, still, his mental processes are not quite
what I had hoped for. When he first came, I made him free of the
library. He began at the case nearest the door, which
contains thirty-seven volumes of Pansy's works. Finally,
after he had spent four months on Pansy, I suggested a change,
and sent him home with "Huckleberry Finn." But he brought it
back in a few days, and shook his head. He says that after
reading Pansy, anything else seems tame. I am afraid I shall
have to look about for some one a little more up-and-coming. But
at least, compared with Sterry, Turnfelt is a scholard!

And speaking of Sterry, he paid us a social call a few days
ago, in quite a chastened frame of mind. It seems that the "rich
city feller" whose estate he has been managing no longer needs
his services; and Sterry has graciously consented to return to us
and let the children have gardens if they wish. I kindly, but
convincingly, declined his offer.

 

Friday.

 

I came back from Pleasantville last night with a heart full
of envy. Please, Mr. President, I want some gray stucco
cottages, with Luca della Robbia figures baked into the front.
They have nearly 700 children there, and all sizable youngsters.
Of course that makes a very different problem from my hundred and
seven, ranging from babyhood up. But I borrowed from their
superintendent several very fancy ideas. I'm dividing my chicks
into big and little sisters and brothers, each big one to have a
little one to love and help and fight for. Big sister Sadie Kate
has to see that little sister Gladiola always has her hair neatly
combed and her stockings pulled up and knows her lessons and gets
a touch of petting and her share of candy--very pleasant for
Gladiola, but especially developing for Sadie Kate.

Also I am going to start among our older children a limited
form of self-government such as we had in college. That will
help fit them to go out into the world and govern themselves when
they get there. This shoving children into the world at the
age of sixteen seems terribly merciless. Five of my children are
ready to be shoved, but I can't bring myself to do it. I keep
remembering my own irresponsible silly young self, and wondering
what would have happened to me had I been turned out to work at
the age of sixteen!

I must leave you now to write an interesting letter to my
politician in Washington, and it's hard work. What have I to say
that will interest a politician? I can't do anything any more
but babble about babies, and he wouldn't care if every baby was
swept from the face of the earth. Oh, yes, he would, too! I'm
afraid I'm slandering him. Babies--at least boy babies--grow
into voters.

Good-by,

SALLIE.

 

Dearest Judy:

If you expect a cheerful letter from me the day, don't read this.

The life of man is a wintry road. Fog, snow, rain, slush,
drizzle, cold--such weather! such weather! And you in dear
Jamaica with the sunshine and the orange blossoms!

We've got whooping cough, and you can hear us whoop when you
get off the train two miles away. We don't know how we got it--
just one of the pleasures of institution life. Cook has left,--
in the night,--what the Scotch call a "moonlight flitting." I
don't know how she got her trunk away, but it's gone. The
kitchen fire went with her. The pipes are frozen. The plumbers
are here, and the kitchen floor is all ripped up. One of our
horses has the spavin. And, to crown all, our cheery,
resourceful Percy is down, down, down in the depths of despair.
We have not been quite certain for three days past whether
we could keep him from suicide. The girl in Detroit,--I knew she
was a heartless little minx,--without so much as going through
the formality of sending back his ring, has gone and married
herself to a man and a couple of automobiles and a yacht. It is
the best thing that could ever have happened to Percy, but it
will be a long, long time before he realizes it.

We have our twenty-four Indians back in the house with us. I
was sorry to have to bring them in, but the shacks were scarcely
planned for winter quarters. I have stowed them away very
comfortably, however, thanks to the spacious iron verandas
surrounding our new fire-escape. It was a happy idea of Jervis's
having them glassed in for sleeping porches. The babies' sun
parlor is a wonderful addition to our nursery. We can fairly see
the little tots bloom under the influence of that extra air and
sunshine.

With the return of the Indians to civilized life, Percy's
occupation was ended, and he was supposed to remove himself to
the hotel. But he didn't want to remove himself. He has got
used to orphans, he says, and he would miss not seeing them
about. I think the truth is that he is feeling so miserable over
his wrecked engagement that he is afraid to be alone. He needs
something to occupy every waking moment out of banking hours.
And goodness knows we're glad enough to keep him! He has been
wonderful with those youngsters, and they need a man's influence.

But what on earth to do with the man? As you discovered last
summer, this spacious chateau does not contain a superabundance
of guest rooms. He has finally fitted himself into the doctor's
laboratory, and the medicines have moved themselves to a closet
down the hall. He and the doctor fixed it up between them, and
if they are willing to be mutually inconvenienced, I have no
fault to find.

Mercy! I've just looked at the calendar, and it's the
eighteenth, with Christmas only a week away. However shall we
finish all our plans in a week? The chicks are making
presents for one another, and something like a thousand
secrets have been whispered in my ear.

Snow last night. The boys have spent the morning in the
woods, gathering evergreens and drawing them home on sleds; and
twenty girls are spending the afternoon in the laundry, winding
wreaths for the windows. I don't know how we are going to do our
washing this week. We were planning to keep the Christmas tree a
secret, but fully fifty children have been boosted up to the
carriage house window to take a peep at it, and I am afraid the
news has spread among the remaining fifty.

At your insistence, we have sedulously fostered the Santa
Claus myth, but it doesn't meet with much credence. "Why didn't
he ever come before?" was Sadie Kate's skeptical question. But
Santa Claus is undoubtedly coming this time. I asked the doctor,
out of politeness, to play the chief role at our Christmas tree;
and being certain ahead of time that he was going to refuse, I
had already engaged Percy as an understudy. But there is no
counting on a Scotchman. Sandy accepted with unprecedented
graciousness, and I had privately to unengage Percy!

 

Tuesday.

 

Isn't it funny, the way some inconsequential people have of
pouring out whatever happens to be churning about in their minds
at the moment? They seem to have no residue of small talk, and
are never able to dismiss a crisis in order to discuss the
weather.

This is apropos of a call I received today. A woman had come
to deliver her sister's child--sister in a sanatorium for
tuberculosis; we to keep the child until the mother is cured,
though I fear, from what I hear, that will never be. But,
anyway, all the arrangements had been made, and the woman
had merely to hand in the little girl and retire. But having a
couple of hours between trains, she intimated a desire to look
about, so I showed her the kindergarten rooms and the little crib
that Lily will occupy, and our yellow dining room, with its
frieze of bunnies, in order that she might report as many
cheerful details as possible to the poor mother. After this, as
she seemed tired, I socially asked her to walk into my parlor and
have a cup of tea. Doctor MacRae, being at hand and in a hungry
mood (a rare state for him; he now condescends to a cup of tea
with the officers of this institution about twice a month), came,
too, and we had a little party.

The woman seemed to feel that the burden of entertainment
rested upon her, and by way of making conversation, she told us
that her husband had fallen in love with the girl who sold
tickets at a moving picture show (a painted, yellow-haired thing
who chewed gum like a cow, was her description of the
enchantress), and he spent all of his money on the girl, and
never came home except when he was drunk. Then he smashed the
furniture something awful. An easel, with her mother's picture
on it, that she had had since before she was married, he had
thrown down just for the pleasure of hearing it crash. And
finally she had just got too tired to live, so she drank a bottle
of swamp root because somebody had told her it was poison if you
took it all at once. But it didn't kill her; it only made her
sick. And he came back, and said he would choke her if she ever
tried that on him again; so she guessed he must still care
something for her. All this quite casually while she stirred her
tea.

I tried to think of something to say, but it was a social
exigency that left me dumb. But Sandy rose to the occasion like
a gentleman. He talked to her beautifully and sanely, and sent
her away actually uplifted. Our Sandy, when he tries, can
be exceptionally nice, particularly to people who have no claim
upon him. I suppose it is a matter of professional etiquette--
part of a doctor's business to heal the spirit as well as the
body. Most spirits appear to need it in this world. My caller
has left me needing it. I have been wondering ever since what I
should do if I married a man who deserted me for a chewing gum
girl, and who came home and smashed the bric-a-brac. I suppose,
judging from the theaters this winter, that it is a thing that
might happen to any one, particularly in the best society.

You ought to be thankful you've got Jervis. There is
something awfully certain about a man like him. The longer I
live, the surer I am that character is the only thing that
counts. But how on earth can you ever tell? Men are so good at
talking! Good-by, and a merry Christmas to Jervis and both
Judies.

S. McB.

P.S. It would be a pleasant attention if you would answer my
letters a little more promptly.

 

JOHN GRIER HOME,

December 29.
Dear Judy:

Sadie Kate has spent the week composing a Christmas letter to
you, and it leaves nothing for me to tell. Oh, we've had a
wonderful time! Besides all the presents and games and fancy
things to eat, we have had hayrides and skating parties and candy
pulls. I don't know whether these pampered little orphans will
ever settle down again into normal children.

Many thanks for my six gifts. I like them all, particularly
the picture of Judy, junior; the tooth adds a pleasant touch
to her smile.

You'll be glad to hear that I've placed out Hattie Heaphy in
a minister's family, and a dear family they are. They never
blinked an eyelash when I told them about the communion cup.
They've given her to themselves for a Christmas present, and she
went off so happily, clinging to her new father's hand!

I won't write more now, because fifty children are writing
thank-you letters, and poor Aunt Judy will be buried beneath her
mail when this week's steamer gets in.

My love to the Pendletons.

S. McB.

P.S. Singapore ends his love to Togo, and is sorry he bit him on
the ear.

 

JOHN GRIER HOME,

December 30.

O DEAR, Gordon, I have been reading the most upsetting book!

I tried to talk some French the other day, and not making out
very well, decided that I had better take my French in hand if I
didn't want to lose it entirely. That Scotch doctor of ours has
mercifully abandoned my scientific education, so I have a little
time at my own disposal. By some unlucky chance I began with
"Numa Roumestan," by Daudet. It is a terribly disturbing book
for a girl to read who is engaged to a politician. Read it,
Gordon dear, and assiduously train your character away from
Numa's. It's the story of a politician who is disquietingly
fascinating (like you). Who is adored by all who know him (like
you). Who has a most persuasive way of talking and makes
wonderful speeches (again like you). He is worshiped by
everybody, and they all say to his wife, "What a happy life you
must lead, knowing so intimately that wonderful man!"

But he wasn't very wonderful when he came home to her--only
when he had an audience and applause. He would drink with every
casual acquaintance, and be gay and bubbling and expansive; and
then return morose and sullen and down. "Joie de rue, douleur de
maison," is the burden of the book.

I read it till twelve last night, and honestly I didn't sleep
for being scared. I know you'll be angry, but really and truly,
Gordon dear, there's just a touch too much truth in it for my
entire amusement. I didn't mean ever to refer again to that
unhappy matter of August 20,--we talked it all out at the time,--
but you know perfectly that you need a bit of watching. And I
don't like the idea. I want to have a feeling of absolute
confidence and stability about the man I marry. I never could
live in a state of anxious waiting for him to come home.

Read "Numa" for yourself, and you'll see the woman's point of
view. I'm not patient or meek or long-suffering in any way, and
I'm a little afraid of what I'm capable of doing if I have the
provocation. My heart has to be in a thing in order to make it
work, and, oh, I do so want our marriage to work!

Please forgive me for writing all this. I don't mean that I
really think you'll be a "joy of the street, and sorrow of the
home." It's just that I didn't sleep last night, and I feel sort
of hollow behind the eyes.

May the year that's coming bring good counsel and happiness
and tranquillity to both of us!

As ever,

S.

January 1.
Dear Judy:

Something terribly sort of queer has happened, and positively I
don't know whether it did happen or whether I dreamed it. I'll
tell you from the beginning, and I think it might be as well if
you burned this letter; it's not quite proper for Jervis's eyes.

You remember my telling you the case of Thomas Kehoe, whom we
placed out last June? He had an alcoholic heredity on both
sides, and as a baby seems to have been fattened on beer instead
of milk. He entered the John Grier at the age of nine, and
twice, according to his record in the Doomsday Book, he managed
to get himself intoxicated, once on beer stolen from some
workmen, and once (and thoroughly) on cooking brandy. You can
see with what misgivings we placed him out. But we warned the
family (hard-working temperate farming people) and hoped for the
best.

Yesterday the family telegraphed that they could keep him no
longer. Would I please meet him on the six o'clock train?
Turnfelt met the six o'clock train. No boy. I sent a night
message telling of his non-arrival and asking for particulars.

I stayed up later than usual last night putting my desk in
order and--sort of making up my mind to face the New Year.
Toward twelve I suddenly realized that the hour was late and that
I was very tired. I had begun getting ready for bed when I was
startled by a banging on the front door. I stuck my head out of
the window and demanded who was there.

"Tommy Kehoe," said a very shaky voice.

I went down and opened the door, and that lad, sixteen years
old, tumbled in, dead drunk. Thank Heaven! Percy
Witherspoon was within call, and not away off in the Indian camp.

I roused him, and together we conveyed Thomas to our guest room,
the only decently isolated spot in the building. Then I
telephoned for the doctor, who, I am afraid, had already had a
long day. He came, and we put in a pretty terrible night. It
developed afterward that the boy had brought along with his
luggage a bottle of liniment belonging to his employer. It was
made half of alcohol and half of witch hazel; and Thomas had
refreshed his journey with this!

He was in such shape that positively I didn't think we'd pull
him through--and I hoped we wouldn't. If I were a physician, I'd
let such cases gently slip away for the good of society; but you
should have seen Sandy work! That terrible lifesaving instinct
of his was aroused, and he fought with every inch of energy he
possessed.

I made black coffee, and helped all I could, but the details
were pretty messy, and I left the two men to deal with him alone
and went back to my room. But I didn't attempt to go to bed; I
was afraid they might be wanting me again. Toward four o'clock
Sandy came to my library with word that the boy was asleep and
that Percy had moved up a cot and would sleep in his room the
rest of the night. Poor Sandy looked sort of ashen and haggard
and done with life. As I looked at him, I thought about how
desperately he worked to save others, and never saved himself,
and about that dismal home of his, with never a touch of cheer,
and the horrible tragedy in the background of his life. All the
rancor I've been saving up seemed to vanish, and a wave of
sympathy swept over me. I stretched my hand out to him; he
stretched his out to me. And suddenly--I don't know--something
electric happened. In another moment we were in each other's
arms. He loosened my hands, and put me down in the big armchair.

"My God! Sallie, do you think I'm made of iron?" he said and
walked out. I went to sleep in the chair, and when I woke the
sun was shining in my eyes and Jane was standing over me in
amazed consternation.

This morning at eleven he came back, looked me coldly in the
eye without so much as the flicker of an eyelash, and told me
that Thomas was to have hot milk every two hours and that the
spots in Maggie Peters's throat must be watched.

Here we are back on our old standing, and positively I don't
know but what I dreamed that one minute in the night!

But it would be a piquant situation, wouldn't it, if Sandy
and I should discover that we were falling in love with each
other, he with a perfectly good wife in the insane asylum and I
with an outraged fiance in Washington? I don't know but what the
wisest thing for me to do is to resign at once and take myself
home, where I can placidly settle down to a few months of
embroidering "S McB" on table-cloths, like any other respectable
engaged girl.

I repeat very firmly that this letter isn't for Jervis's
consumption. Tear it into little pieces and scatter them in the
Caribbean.

S.

 

 

January 3.
Dear Gordon:

You are right to be annoyed. I know I'm not a satisfactory love
letter writer. I have only to glance at the published
correspondence of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning to
realize that the warmth of my style is not up to standard. But
you know already--you have known a long time--that I am not a
very emotional person. I suppose I might write a lot of such
things as: "Every waking moment you are in my thoughts."
"My dear boy, I only live when you are near." But it wouldn't be
absolutely true. You don't fill all my thoughts; 107 orphans do
that. And I really am quite comfortably alive whether you are
here or not. I have to be natural. You surely don't want me to
pretend more desolation than I feel. But I do love to see you,--
you know that perfectly,--and I am disappointed when you can't
come. I fully appreciate all your charming qualities, but, my
dear boy, I CAN'T be sentimental on paper. I am always thinking
about the hotel chambermaid who reads the letters you casually
leave on your bureau. You needn't expostulate that you carry
them next your heart, for I know perfectly well that you don't.

Forgive me for that last letter if it hurt your feelings.
Since I came to this asylum I am extremely touchy on the subject
of drink. You would be, too, if you had seen what I have seen.
Several of my chicks are the sad result of alcoholic parents, and
they are never going to have a fair chance all their lives. You
can't look about a place like this without "aye keeping up a
terrible thinking."

You are right, I am afraid, about its being a woman's trick
to make a great show of forgiving a man, and then never letting
him hear the end of it. Well, Gordon, I positively don't know
what the word "forgiving" means. It can't include "forgetting,"
for that is a physiological process, and does not result from an
act of the will. We all have a collection of memories that we
would happily lose, but somehow those are just the ones that
insist upon sticking. If "forgiving" means promising never to
speak of a thing again, I can doubtless manage that. But it
isn't always the wisest way to shut an unpleasant memory inside
you. It grows and grows, and runs all through you like a poison.

Oh dear! I really didn't mean to be saying all this. I try
to be the cheerful, carefree (and somewhat light-headed) Sallie
you like best; but I've come in touch with a great deal of
REALNESS during this last year, and I'm afraid I've grown into a
very different person from the girl you fell in love with. I'm
no longer a gay young thing playing with life. I know it pretty
thoroughly now, and that means that I can't be always laughing.

I know this is another beastly uncheerful letter,--as bad as
the last, and maybe worse,--but if you knew what we've just been
through! A boy--sixteen--of unspeakable heredity has nearly
poisoned himself with a disgusting mixture of alcohol and witch
hazel. We have been working three days over him, and are just
sure now that he is going to recuperate sufficiently to do it
again! "It's a gude warld, but they're ill that's in 't."

Please excuse that Scotch--it slipped out. Please excuse
everything.

SALLIE.

 

January 11.
Dear Judy:

I hope my two cablegrams didn't give you too terrible a shock. I
would have waited to let the first news come by letter, with a
chance for details, but I was so afraid you might hear it in some
indirect way. The whole thing is dreadful enough, but no lives
were lost, and only one serious accident. We can't help
shuddering at the thought of how much worse it might have been,
with over a hundred sleeping children in this firetrap of a
building. That new fire escape was absolutely useless. The wind
was blowing toward it, and the flames simply enveloped it. We
saved them all by the center stairs--but I'll begin at the
beginning, and tell the whole story.

It had rained all day Friday, thanks to a merciful
Providence, and the roofs were thoroughly soaked. Toward
night it began to freeze, and the rain turned to sleet. By ten
o'clock, when I went to bed the wind was blowing a terrible gale
from the northwest, and everything loose about the building was
banging and rattling. About two o'clock I suddenly started wide
awake, with a bright light in my eyes. I jumped out of bed and
ran to the window. The carriage house was a mass of flames, and
a shower of sparks was sweeping over our eastern wing. I ran to
the bathroom and leaned out of the window. I could see that the
roof over the nursery was already blazing in half a dozen
places.

Well, my dear, my heart just simply didn't beat for as much
as a minute. I thought of those seventeen babies up under that
roof, and I couldn't swallow. I finally managed to get my
shaking knees to work again, and I dashed back to the hall,
grabbing my automobile coat as I ran.

I drummed on Betsy's and Miss Matthews' and Miss Snaith's
doors, just as Mr. Witherspoon, who had also been wakened by the
light, came tumbling upstairs three steps at a time, struggling
into an overcoat as he ran.

"Get all the children down to the dining room, babies first,"
I gasped. "I'll turn in the alarm."

He dashed on up to the third floor while I ran to the
telephone--and oh, I thought I'd never get Central! She was
sound asleep.

"The John Grier Home is burning! Turn in the fire alarm and
rouse the village. Give me 505," I said.

In one second I had the doctor. Maybe I wasn't glad to hear
his cool, unexcited voice!

"We're on fire!" I cried. "Come quick, and bring all the men
you can!"

"I'll be there in fifteen minutes. Fill the bathtubs with
water and put in blankets." And he hung up.

I dashed back to the hall. Betsy was ringing our fire bell,
and Percy had already routed out his Indian tribes in dormitories
B and C.

Our first thought was not to stop the fire, but to get the
children to a place of safety. We began in G, and went from crib
to crib, snatching a baby and a blanket, and rushing them to the
door, and handing them out to the Indians, who lugged them
downstairs. Both G and F were full of smoke, and the children so
dead asleep that we couldn't rouse them to a walking state.

Many times during the next hour did I thank Providence--and
Percy Witherspoon--for those vociferous fire drills we have
suffered weekly. The twenty-four oldest boys, under his
direction, never lost their heads for a second. They divided
into four tribes, and sprang to their posts like little soldiers.

Two tribes helped in the work of clearing the dormitories and
keeping the terrified children in order. One tribe worked the
hose from the cupola tank until the firemen came, and the rest
devoted themselves to salvage. They spread sheets on the floor,
dumped the contents of lockers and bureau drawers into them, and
bundled them down the stairs. All of the extra clothes were
saved except those the children had actually been wearing the day
before, and most of the staff's things. But clothes, bedding--
everything belonging to G and F went. The rooms were too full of
smoke to make it safe to enter after we had got out the last
child.

By the time the doctor arrived with Luellen and two neighbors
he had picked up, we were marching the last dormitory down to the
kitchen, the most remote corner from the fire. The poor chicks
were mainly barefooted and wrapped in blankets. We told them to
bring their clothes when we wakened them, but in their fright
they thought only of getting out.

By this time the halls were so full of smoke we could
scarcely breathe. It looked as though the whole building would
go, though the wind was blowing away from my west wing.

Another automobile full of retainers from Knowltop came up
almost immediately, and they all fell to fighting the fire. The
regular fire department didn't come for ten minutes after that.
You see, they have only horses, and we are three miles out, and
the roads pretty bad. It was a dreadful night, cold and sleety,
and such a wind blowing that you could scarcely stand up. The
men climbed out on the roof, and worked in their stocking feet to
keep from slipping off. They beat out the sparks with wet
blankets, and chopped, and squirted that tankful of water, and
behaved like heroes.

The doctor meanwhile took charge of the children. Our
first thought was to get them away to a place of safety, for if
the whole building should go, we couldn't march them out of doors
into that awful wind, with only their night clothes and blankets
for protection. By this time several more automobiles full of
men had come, and we requisitioned the cars.

Knowltop had providentially been opened for the week end in
order to entertain a house party in honor of the old gentleman's
sixty-seventh birthday. He was one of the first to arrive, and
he put his entire place at our disposal. It was the nearest
refuge, and we accepted it instantaneously. We bundled our
twenty littlest tots into cars, and ran them down to the house.
The guests, who were excitedly dressing in order to come to the
fire, received the chicks and tucked them away into their own
beds. This pretty well filled up all the available house room,
but Mr. Reimer (Mr. Knowltop's family name) has just built a big
new stucco barn, with a garage hitched to it, all nicely heated,
and ready for us.

After the babies were disposed of in the house, those helpful
guests got to work and fixed the barn to receive the next older
kiddies. They covered the floor with hay, and spread blankets
and carriage robes over it, and bedded down thirty of the
children in rows like little calves. Miss Matthews and a nurse
went with them, administered hot milk all around, and within half
an hour the tots were sleeping as peacefully as in their little
cribs.

But meanwhile we at the house were having sensations. The
doctor's first question upon arrival had been:

"You've counted the children? You know they're all here?"

"We've made certain that every dormitory was empty before we
left it," I replied.

You see, they couldn't be counted in that confusion. Twenty
or so of the boys were still in the dormitories, working under
Percy Witherspoon to save clothing and furniture, and the older
girls were sorting over bushels of shoes and trying to fit
them to the little ones, who were running about underfoot and
wailing dismally.

Well, after we had loaded and despatched about seven car
loads of children, the doctor suddenly called out:

"Where's Allegra?"

There was a horrified silence. No one had seen her. And
then Miss Snaith stood up and SHRIEKED. Betsy took her by the
shoulders, and shook her into coherence.

It seems that she had thought Allegra was coming down with a
cough, and in order to get her out of the cold, had moved her
crib from the fresh air nursery into the store room--and then
forgotten it.

Well, my dear, you know where the store room is! We simply
stared at one another with white faces. By this time the whole
east wing was gutted and the third-floor stairs in flames. There
didn't seem a chance that the child was still alive. The doctor
was the first to move. He snatched up a wet blanket that was
lying in a soppy pile on the floor of the hall and sprang for the
stairs. We yelled to him to come back. It simply looked like
suicide; but he kept on, and disappeared into the smoke. I
dashed outside and shouted to the firemen on the roof. The store
room window was too little for a man to go through, and they
hadn't opened it for fear of creating a draft.

I can't describe what happened in the next agonizing ten
minutes. The third-floor stairs fell in with a crash and a burst
of flame about five seconds after the doctor passed over them.
We had given him up for lost when a shout went up from the crowd
on the lawn, and he appeared for an instant at one of those
dormer windows in the attic, and called for the firemen to put up
a ladder. Then he disappeared, and it seemed to us that they'd
never get that ladder in place; but they finally did, and two men
went up. The opening of the window had created a draft, and they
were almost overpowered by the volume of smoke that burst out at
the top. After an eternity the doctor appeared again with a
white bundle in his arms. He passed it out to the men, and then
he staggered back and dropped out of sight!

I don't know what happened for the next few minutes; I turned
away and shut my eyes. Somehow or other they got him out and
halfway down the ladder, and then they let him slip. You see, he
was unconscious from all the smoke he'd swallowed, and the ladder
was slippery with ice and terribly wobbly. Anyway, when I looked
again he was lying in a heap on the ground, with the crowd all
running, and somebody yelling to give him air. They thought at
first he was dead. But Dr. Metcalf from the village examined
him, and said his leg was broken, and two ribs, and that aside
from that he seemed whole. He was still unconscious when they
put him on two of the baby mattresses that had been thrown out of
the windows and laid him in the wagon that brought the ladders
and started him home.

And the rest of us, left behind, kept right on with the work
as though nothing had happened. The queer thing about a calamity
like this is that there is so much to be done on every side that
you don't have a moment to think, and you don't get any of your
values straightened out until afterward. The doctor, without a
moment's hesitation, had risked his life to save Allegra. It was
the bravest thing I ever saw, and yet the whole business occupied
only fifteen minutes out of that dreadful night. At the time, it
was just an incident.

And he saved Allegra. She came out of that blanket with
rumpled hair and a look of pleased surprise at the new game of
peek-a-boo. She was smiling! The child's escape was little
short of a miracle. The fire had started within three feet of
her wall, but owing to the direction of the wind, it had worked
away from her. If Miss Snaith had believed a little more in
fresh air and had left the window open, the fire would have eaten
back. But fortunately Miss Snaith does not believe in fresh
air, and no such thing happened. If Allegra had gone, I never
should have forgiven myself for not letting the Bretlands take
her, and I know that Sandy wouldn't.

Despite all the loss, I can't be anything but happy when I
think of the two horrible tragedies that have been averted. For
seven minutes, while the doctor was penned in that blazing third
floor, I lived through the agony of believing them both gone, and
I start awake in the night trembling with horror.

But I'll try to tell you the rest. The firemen and the
volunteers--particularly the chauffeur and stablemen from
Knowltop--worked all night in an absolute frenzy. Our newest
negro cook, who is a heroine in her own right, went out and
started the laundry fire and made up a boilerful of coffee. It
was her own idea. The non-combatants served it to the firemen
when they relieved one another for a few minutes' rest, and it
helped.

We got the remainder of the children off to various
hospitable houses, except the older boys, who worked all night as
well as any one. It was absolutely inspiring to see the way this
entire township turned out and helped. People who haven't
appeared to know that the asylum existed came in the middle of
the night and put their whole houses at our disposal. They took
the children in, gave them hot baths and hot soup, and tucked
them into bed. And so far as I can make out, not one of my one
hundred and seven chicks is any the worse for hopping about on
drenched floors in their bare feet, not even the whooping cough
cases.

It was broad daylight before the fire was sufficiently under
control to let us know just what we had saved. I will report
that my wing is entirely intact, though a little smoky, and the
main corridor is pretty nearly all right up to the center
staircase; after that everything is charred and drenched. The
east wing is a blackened, roofless shell. Your hated Ward F,
dear Judy, is gone forever. I wish that you could obliterate it
from your mind as absolutely as it is obliterated from the
earth. Both in substance and in spirit the old John Grier
is done for.

I must tell you something funny. I never saw so many funny
things in my life as happened through that night. When everybody
there was in extreme negligee, most of the men in pajamas and
ulsters, and all of them without collars, the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff
put in a tardy appearance, arrayed as for an afternoon tea. He
wore a pearl scarf pin and white spats! But he really was
extremely helpful. He put his entire house at our disposal, and
I turned over to him Miss Snaith in a state of hysterics; and her
nerves so fully occupied him that he didn't get in our way the
whole night through.

I can't write any more details now; I've never been so rushed
in the whole of my life. I'll just assure you that there's no
slightest reason for you to cut your trip short. Five trustees
were on the spot early Saturday morning, and we are all working
like mad to get affairs into some semblance of order. Our asylum
at the present moment is scattered over the entire township; but
don't be unduly anxious. We know where all the children are.
None of them is permanently mislaid. I didn't know that perfect
strangers could be so kind. My opinion of the human race has
gone up.

I haven't seen the doctor. They telegraphed to New York for
a surgeon, who set his leg. The break was pretty bad, and will
take time. They don't think there are any internal injuries,
though he is awfully battered up. As soon as we are allowed to
see him I will send more detailed particulars. I really must
stop if I am to catch tomorrow's steamer.

Good-by. Don't worry. There are a dozen silver linings to
this cloud that I'll write about tomorrow.

SALLIE.

 

Good heavens! here comes an automobile with J. F. Bretland in
it!

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

January 14.
Dear Judy:

Listen to this! J. F. Bretland read about our fire in a New York
paper (I will say that the metropolitan press made the most of
details), and he posted up here in a twitter of anxiety. His
first question as he tumbled across our blackened threshold was,

"Is Allegra safe?"

"Yes," said I.

"Thank God!" he cried, and dropped into a chair. "This is no
place for children," he said severely, "and I have come to take
her home. I want the boys, too," he added hastily before I had a
chance to speak. "My wife and I have talked it over, and we have
decided that since we are going to the trouble of starting a
nursery, we might as well run it for three as for one."

I led him up to my library, where our little family has been
domiciled since the fire, and ten minutes later, when I was
called down to confer with the trustees, I left J. F. Bretland
with his new daughter on his knee and a son leaning against each
arm, the proudest father in the United States.

So, you see, our fire has accomplished one thing: those three
children are settled for life. It is almost worth the loss.

But I don't believe I told you how the fire started. There
are so many things I haven't told you that my arm aches at the
thought of writing them all. Sterry, we have since discovered,
was spending the week end as our guest. After a bibulous evening
passed at "Jack's Place," he returned to our carriage house,
climbed in through a window, lighted a candle, made himself
comfortable, and dropped asleep. He must have forgotten to put
out the candle; anyway, the fire happened, and Sterry just
escaped with his life. He is now in the town hospital, bathed in
sweet oil, and painfully regretting his share in our troubles.

I am pleased to learn that our insurance was pretty adequate,
so the money loss won't be so tremendous, after all. As for
other kinds of loss, there aren't any! Actually, nothing but
gain so far as I can make out, barring, of course, our poor
smashed-up doctor. Everybody has been wonderful; I didn't know
that so much charity and kindness existed in the human race. Did
I ever say anything against trustees? I take it back. Four of
them posted up from New York the morning after the fire, and all
of the local people have been wonderful. Even the Hon. Cy has
been so occupied in remaking the morals of the five orphans
quartered upon him that he hasn't caused any trouble at all.

The fire occurred early Saturday morning, and Sunday the
ministers in all the churches called for volunteers to accept in
their houses one or two children as guests for three weeks, until
the asylum could get its plant into working order again.

It was inspiring to see the response. Every child was
disposed of within half an hour. And consider what that means
for the future: every one of those families is going to take a
personal interest in this asylum from now on. Also, consider
what it means for the children. They are finding out how a real
family lives, and this is the first time that dozens of them have
ever crossed the threshold of a private house.

As for more permanent plans to take us through the winter,
listen to all this. The country club has a caddies' clubhouse
which they don't use in winter and which they have politely put
at our disposal. It joins our land on the back, and we are
fitting it up for fourteen children, with Miss Matthews in
charge. Our dining room and kitchen still being intact,
they will come here for meals and school, returning home at
night all the better for half a mile walk. "The Pavilion on the
Links" we are calling it.

Then that nice motherly Mrs. Wilson, next door to the
doctor's,--she who has been so efficient with our little
Loretta,--has agreed to take in five more at four dollars a week
each. I am leaving with her some of the most promising older
girls who have shown housekeeping instincts, and would like to
learn cooking on a decently small scale. Mrs. Wilson and her
husband are such a wonderful couple, thrifty and industrious and
simple and loving, I think it would do the girls good to observe
them. A training class in wifehood!

I told you about the Knowltop people on the east of us, who
took in forty-seven youngsters the night of the fire, and how
their entire house party turned themselves into emergency
nursemaids? We relieved them of thirty-six the next day, but
they still have eleven. Did I ever call Mr. Knowltop a crusty
old curmudgeon? I take it back. I beg his pardon. He's a sweet
lamb. Now, in the time of our need, what do you think that
blessed man has done? He has fitted up an empty tenant house on
the estate for our babies, has himself engaged an English trained
baby nurse to take charge, and furnishes them with the superior
milk from his own model dairy. He says he has been wondering for
years what to do with that milk. He can't afford to sell it,
because he loses four cents on every quart!

The twelve older girls from dormitory A I am putting into the
farmer's new cottage. The poor Turnfelts, who had occupied it
just two days, are being shoved on into the village. But they
wouldn't be any good in looking after the children, and I need
their room. Three or four of these girls have been returned from
foster homes as intractable, and they require pretty efficient
supervision. So what do you think I've done? Telegraphed to
Helen Brooks to chuck the publishers and take charge of my girls
instead. You know she will be wonderful with them. She
accepted provisionally. Poor Helen has had enough of this
irrevocable contract business; she wants everything in life to be
on trial!

For the older boys something particularly nice has happened;
we have received a gift of gratitude from J. F. Bretland. He
went down to thank the doctor for Allegra. They had a long talk
about the needs of the institution, and J. F. B. came back and
gave me a check for $3000 to build the Indian camps on a
substantial scale. He and Percy and the village architect have
drawn up plans, and in two weeks, we hope, the tribes will move
into winter quarters.

What does it matter if my one hundred and seven children have
been burned out, since they live in such a kind-hearted world as
this?

Friday.

 

I suppose you are wondering why I don't vouchsafe some
details about the doctor's condition. I can't give any first-
hand information, since he won't see me. However, he has seen
everybody except me--Betsy, Allegra, Mrs. Livermore, Mr.
Bretland, Percy, various trustees. They all report that he is
progressing as comfortably as could be expected with two broken
ribs and a fractured fibula. That, I believe, is the
professional name of the particular leg bone he broke. He
doesn't like to have a fuss made over him, and he won't pose
gracefully as a hero. I myself, as grateful head of this
institution, called on several different occasions to present my
official thanks, but I was invariably met at the door with word
that he was sleeping and did not wish to be disturbed. The first
two times I believed Mrs. McGurk; after that--well, I know our
doctor! So when it came time to send our little maid to prattle
her unconscious good-bys to the man who had saved her life, I
despatched her in charge of Betsy.

I haven't an idea what is the matter with the man. He was
friendly enough last week, but now, if I want an opinion from
him, I have to send Percy to extract it. I do think that he
might see me as the superintendent of the asylum, even if he
doesn't wish our acquaintance to be on a personal basis. There
is no doubt about it, our Sandy is Scotch!

 

LATER.

 

It is going to require a fortune in stamps to get this letter
to Jamaica, but I do want you to know all the news, and we have
never had so many exhilarating things happen since 1876, when we
were founded. This fire has given us such a shock that we are
going to be more alive for years to come. I believe that every
institution ought to be burned to the ground every twenty-five
years in order to get rid of old-fashioned equipment and obsolete
ideas. I am superlatively glad now that we didn't spend Jervis's
money last summer; it would have been intensively tragic to have
had that burn. I don't mind so much about John Grier's, since he
made it in a patent medicine which, I hear, contained opium.

As to the remnant of us that the fire left behind, it is
already boarded up and covered with tar-paper, and we are living
along quite comfortably in our portion of a house. It affords
sufficient room for the staff and the children's dining room and
kitchen, and more permanent plans can be made later.

Do you perceive what has happened to us? The good Lord has
heard my prayer, and the John Grier Home is a cottage
institution!

 

I am,

The busiest person north of the equator,

S. McBRIDE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

January 16.
Dear Gordon:

Please, please behave yourself, and don't make things harder than
they are. It's absolutely out of the question for me to give up
the asylum this instant. You ought to realize that I can't
abandon my chicks just when they are so terribly in need of me.
Neither am I ready to drop this blasted philanthropy. (You can
see how your language looks in my handwriting!)

You have no cause to worry. I am not overworking. I am
enjoying it; never was so busy and happy in my life. The papers
made the fire out much more lurid than it really was. That
picture of me leaping from the roof with a baby under each arm
was overdrawn. One or two of the children have sore throats, and
our poor doctor is in a plaster cast. But we're all alive, thank
Heaven! and are going to pull through without permanent scars.

I can't write details now; I'm simply rushed to death. And
don't come--please! Later, when things have settled just a
little, you and I must have a talk about you and me, but I want
time to think about it first.

S.

 

January 21.
Dear Judy:

Helen Brooks is taking hold of those fourteen fractious girls in
a most masterly fashion. The job is quite the toughest I had to
offer, and she likes it. I think she is going to be a valuable
addition to our staff.

And I forgot to tell you about Punch. When the fire
occurred, those two nice women who kept him all summer were on
the point of catching a train for California--and they simply
tucked him under their arms, along with their luggage, and
carried him off. So Punch spends the winter in Pasadena and I
rather fancy he is theirs for good. Do you wonder that I am in
an exalted mood over all these happenings?

LATER.

 

Poor bereaved Percy has just been spending the evening with
me, because I am supposed to understand his troubles. Why must I
be supposed to understand everybody's troubles? It's awfully
wearing to be pouring out sympathy from an empty heart. The poor
boy at present is pretty low, but I rather suspect--with Betsy's
aid--that he will pull through. He is just on the edge of
falling in love with Betsy, but he doesn't know it. He's in the
stage now where he's sort of enjoying his troubles. He feels
himself a tragic hero, a man who has suffered deeply. But I
notice that when Betsy is about, he offers cheerful assistance in
whatever work is toward.

Gordon telegraphed today that he is coming tomorrow. I am
dreading the interview, for I know we are going to have an
altercation. He wrote the day after the fire and begged me
to "chuck the asylum" and get married immediately, and now he's
coming to argue it out. I can't make him understand that a job
involving the happiness of one hundred or so children can't be
chucked with such charming insouciance. I tried my best to keep
him away, but, like the rest of his sex, he's stubborn. Oh dear,
I don't know what's ahead of us! I wish I could glance into next
year for a moment.

The doctor is still in his plaster cast, but I hear is doing
well, after a grumbly fashion. He is able to sit up a little
every day and to receive a carefully selected list of visitors.
Mrs. McGurk sorts them out at the door, and repudiates the ones
she doesn't like.

Good-by. I'd write some more, but I'm so sleepy that my eyes
are shutting on me. (The idiom is Sadie Kate's.) I must go to
bed and get some sleep against the one hundred and seven troubles
of tomorrow.

With love to the Pendletons,

S. McB.

 

January 22.
Dear Judy:

This letter has nothing to do with the John Grier Home. It's
merely from Sallie McBride.

Do you remember when we read Huxley's letters our senior
year? That book contained a phrase which has stuck in my memory
ever since: "There is always a Cape Horn in one's life that one
either weathers or wrecks oneself on." It's terribly true; and
the trouble is that you can't always recognize your Cape Horn
when you see it. The sailing is sometimes pretty foggy, and
you're wrecked before you know it.

I've been realizing of late that I have reached the Cape
Horn of my own life. I entered upon my engagement to Gordon
honestly and hopefully, but little by little I've grown doubtful
of the outcome. The girl he loves is not the ME I want to be.
It's the ME I've been trying to grow away from all this last
year. I'm not sure she ever really existed. Gordon just
imagined she did. Anyway, she doesn't exist any more, and the
only fair course both to him and to myself was to end it.

We no longer have any interests in common; we are not
friends. He doesn't comprehend it; he thinks that I am making it
up, that all I have to do is to take an interest in his life, and
everything will turn out happily. Of course I do take an
interest when he's with me. I talk about the things he wants to
talk about, and he doesn't know that there's a whole part of me--
the biggest part of me--that simply doesn't meet him at any
point. I pretend when I am with him. I am not myself, and if we
were to live together in constant daily intercourse, I'd have to
keep on pretending all my life. He wants me to watch his face
and smile when he smiles and frown when he frowns. He can't
realize that I'm an individual just as much as he is.

I have social accomplishments. I dress well, I'm
spectacular, I would be an ideal hostess in a politician's
household--and that's why he likes me.

Anyway, I suddenly saw with awful distinctness that if I kept
on I'd be in a few years where Helen Brooks is. She's a far
better model of married life for me to contemplate just this
moment than you, dear Judy. I think that such a spectacle as you
and Jervis is a menace to society. You look so happy and
peaceful and companionable that you induce a defenseless onlooker
to rush off and snap up the first man she meets--and he's always
the wrong man.

Anyway, Gordon and I have quarreled definitely and finally.
I should rather have ended without a quarrel, but considering his
temperament,--and mine, too, I must confess,--we had to go off in
a big smoky explosion. He came yesterday afternoon, after
I'd written him not to come, and we went walking over Knowltop.
For three and a half hours we paced back and forth over that
windy moor and discussed ourselves to the bottommost recesses of
our beings. No one can ever say the break came through
misunderstanding each other!

It ended by Gordon's going, never to return. As I stood
there at the end and watched him drop out of sight over the brow
of the hill, and realized that I was free and alone and my own
master well, Judy, such a sense of joyous relief, of freedom,
swept over me! I can't tell you; I don't believe any happily
married person could ever realize how wonderfully, beautifully
ALONE I felt. I wanted to throw my arms out and embrace the
whole waiting world that belonged suddenly to me. Oh, it is such
a relief to have it settled! I faced the truth the night of the
fire when I saw the old John Grier go, and realized that a new
John Grier would be built in its place and that I wouldn't be
here to do it. A horrible jealousy clutched at my heart. I
couldn't give it up, and during those agonizing moments while I
thought we had lost our doctor, I realized what his life meant,
and how much more significant than Gordon's. And I knew then
that I couldn't desert him. I had to go on and carry out all of
the plans we made together.

I don't seem to be telling you anything but a mess of words,
I am so full of such a mess of crowding emotions. I want to talk
and talk and talk myself into coherence. But, anyway, I stood
alone in the winter twilight, and I took a deep breath of clear
cold air, and I felt beautifully, wonderfully, electrically free.

And then I ran and leaped and skipped down the hill and across
the pastures toward our iron confines, and I sang to myself. Oh,
it was a scandalous proceeding, when, according to all precedent,
I should have gone trailing home with a broken wing. I never
gave one thought to poor Gordon, who was carrying a broken,
bruised, betrayed heart to the railroad station.

As I entered the house I was greeted by the joyous clatter of
the children trooping to their supper. They were suddenly MINE,
and lately, as my doom became more and more imminent, they had
seemed fading away into little strangers. I seized the three
nearest and hugged them hard. I have suddenly found such new
life and exuberance, I feel as though I had been released from
prison and were free. I feel,--oh, I'll stop,--I just want you
to know the truth. Don't show Jervis this letter, but tell him
what's in it in a decently subdued and mournful fashion.

It's midnight now, and I'm going to try to go to sleep. It's
wonderful not to be going to marry some one you don't want to
marry. I'm glad of all these children's needs, I'm glad of Helen
Brooks, and, yes, of the fire, and everything that has made me
see clearly. There's never been a divorce in my family, and they
would have hated it.

I know I'm horribly egotistical and selfish; I ought to be
thinking of poor Gordon's broken heart. But really it would just
be a pose if I pretended to be very sorrowful. He'll find some
one else with just as conspicuous hair as mine, who will make
just as effective a hostess, and who won't be bothered by any of
these damned modern ideas about public service and woman's
mission and all the rest of the tomfoolery the modern generation
of women is addicted to. (I paraphrase, and soften our young
man's heartbroken utterances.)

Good-by, dear people. How I wish I could stand with you on
your beach and look across the blue, blue sea! I salute the
Spanish main.

ADDIO!

SALLIE.

 

January 27.
Dear Dr. MacRae:

I wonder if this note will be so fortunate as to find you awake?
Perhaps you are not aware that I have called four times to offer
thanks and consolation in my best bed-side manner? I am touched
by the news that Mrs. McGurk's time is entirely occupied in
taking in flowers and jelly and chicken broth, donated by the
adoring ladies of the parish to the ungracious hero in a plaster
cast. I know that you find a cap of homespun more comfortable
than a halo, but I really do think that you might have regarded
me in a different light from the hysterical ladies in question.
You and I used to be friends (intermittently), and though there
are one or two details in our past intercourse that might better
be expunged, still I don't see why we should let them upset our
entire relationship. Can't we be sensible and expunge them?

The fire has brought out such a lot of unexpected kindliness
and charity, I wish it might bring out a little from you. You
see, Sandy, I know you well. You may pose to the world as being
gruff and curt and ungracious and scientific and inhuman and
S C O T C H, but you can't fool me. My newly trained
psychological eye has been upon you for ten months, and I have
applied the Binet test. You are really kind and sympathetic and
wise and forgiving and big, so please be at home the next time I
come to see you, and we will perform a surgical operation upon
Time and amputate five months.

Do you remember the Sunday afternoon we ran away, and what a
nice time we had? It is now the day after that.

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. If I condescend to call upon you again, please condescend
to see me, for I assure you I won't try more than once! Also, I
assure you that I won't drip tears on your counterpane or try to
kiss your hand, as I hear one admiring lady did.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
Thursday.
Dear Enemy:

You see, I'm feeling very friendly toward you this moment. When
I call you "MacRae" I don't like you, and when I call you "Enemy"
I do.

Sadie Kate delivered your note (as an afterthought). And
it's a very creditable production for a left-handed man; I
thought at first glance it was from Punch.

You may expect me tomorrow at four, and mind you're awake!
I'm glad that you think we're friends. Really, I feel that I've
got back something quite precious which I had carelessly mislaid.

S. McB.

P.S. Java caught cold the night of the fire and he has the
toothache. He sits and holds his cheek like a poor little
kiddie.

 

Thursday, January 29.
Dear Judy:

Those must have been ten terribly incoherent pages I dashed off
to you last week. Did you respect my command to destroy that
letter? I should not care to have it appear in my collected
correspondence. I know that my state of mind is disgraceful,
shocking, scandalous, but one really can't help the way one
feels. It is usually considered a pleasant sensation to be
engaged, but, oh, it is nothing compared with the wonderful
untrammeled, joyous, free sensation of being unengaged! I have
had a terribly unstable feeling these last few months, and now at
last I am settled. No one ever looked forward to spinsterhood
more thankfully than I.

Our fire, I have come to believe, was providential. It was
sent from heaven to clear the way for a new John Grier. We are
already deep in plans for cottages. I favor gray stucco, Betsy
leans to brick, and Percy, half-timber. I don't know what our
poor doctor would prefer; olive green with a mansard roof appears
to be his taste.

With ten different kitchens to practice in, won't our
children learn how to cook! I am already looking about for ten
loving house mothers to put in charge. I think, in fact, I'll
search for eleven, in order to have one for Sandy. He's as
pathetically in need of a little mothering as any, of the chicks.

It must be pretty dispiriting to come home every night to the
ministrations of Mrs. McGur-rk.

How I do not like that woman! She has with complacent
firmness told me four different times that the dochther was
ashleep and not wantin' to be disturbed. I haven't set eyes on
him yet, and I have just about finished being polite.
However, I waive judgment until tomorrow at four, when I am
to pay a short, unexciting call of half an hour. He made the
appointment himself, and if she tells me again that he is
ashleep, I shall give her a gentle push and tip her over (she's
very fat and unstable) and, planting a foot firmly on her
stomach, pursue my way tranquilly in and up. Luellen, formerly
chauffeur, chambermaid, and gardener, is now also trained nurse.
I am eager to see how he looks in a white cap and apron.

The mail has just come, with a letter from Mrs. Bretland,
telling how happy they are to have the children. She inclosed
their first photograph--all packed in a governess cart, with
Clifford proudly holding the reins, and a groom at the pony's
head. How is that for three late inmates of the John Grier Home?

It's all very inspiring when I think of their futures, but a
trifle sad when I remember their poor father, and how he worked
himself to death for those three chicks who are going to forget
him. The Bretlands will do their best to accomplish that. They
are jealous of any outside influence and want to make the babies
wholly theirs. After all, I think the natural way is best--for
each family to produce its own children, and keep them.

Friday.

 

I saw the doctor today. He's a pathetic sight, consisting
mostly of bandages. Somehow or other we got our
misunderstandings all made up. Isn't it dreadful the way two
human beings, both endowed with fair powers of speech, can manage
to convey nothing of their psychological processes to each other?

I haven't understood his mental attitude from the first, and he
even yet doesn't understand mine. This grim reticence that we
Northern people struggle so hard to maintain! I don't know after
all but that the excitable Southern safety valve method is the
best.

But, Judy, such a dreadful thing--do you remember last year
when he visited that psychopathic institution, and stayed ten
days, and I made such a silly fuss about it? Oh, my dear, the
impossible things I do! He went to attend his wife's funeral.
She died there in the institution. Mrs. McGurk knew it all the
time, and might have added it to the rest of her news, but she
didn't.

He told me all about her, very sweetly. The poor man for
years and years has undergone a terrible strain, and I fancy her
death is a blessed relief. He confesses that he knew at the time
of his marriage that he ought not to marry her, he knew all about
her nervous instability; but he thought, being a doctor, that he
could overcome it, and she was beautiful! He gave up his city
practice and came to the country on her account. And then after
the little girl's birth she went all to pieces, and he had to
"put her away," to use Mrs. McGurk's phrase. The child is six
now, a sweet, lovely little thing to look at, but, I judge from
what he said, quite abnormal. He has a trained nurse with her
always. Just think of all that tragedy looming over our poor
patient good doctor, for he is patient, despite being the most
impatient man that ever lived!

Thank Jervis for his letter. He's a dear man, and I'm glad
to see him getting his deserts. What fun we are going to have
when you get back to Shadywell, and we lay our plans for a new
John Grier! I feel as though I had spent this past year
learning, and am now just ready to begin. We'll turn this into
the nicest orphan asylum that ever lived. I'm so absurdly happy
at the prospect that I start in the morning with a spring, and go
about my various businesses singing inside.

The John Grier Home sends its blessing to the two best
friends it ever had!

ADDIO!

SALLIE.

 

THE JOHN GRIER HOME,

Saturday at half-past six in the morning!

My dearest Enemy:

"Some day soon something nice is going to happen."

Weren't you surprised when you woke up this morning and
remembered the truth? I was! I couldn't think for about two
minutes what made me so happy.

It's not light yet, but I'm wide awake and excited and having
to write to you. I shall despatch this note by the first to-be-
trusted little orphan who appears, and it will go up on your
breakfast tray along with your oatmeal.

I shall follow VERY PROMPTLY at four o'clock this afternoon.
Do you think Mrs. McGurk will ever countenance the scandal if I
stay two hours, and no orphan for a chaperon?

It was in all good faith, Sandy, that I promised not to kiss
your hand or drip tears on the counterpane, but I'm afraid I did
both--or worse! Positively, I didn't suspect how much I cared
for you till I crossed the threshold and saw you propped up
against the pillows, all covered with bandages, and your hair
singed off. You are a sight! If I love you now, when fully one
third of you is plaster of Paris and surgical dressing, you can
imagine how I'm going to love you when it's all you!

But my dear, dear Robin, what a foolish man you are! How
should I ever have dreamed all those months that you were caring
for me when you acted so abominably S C O T C H? With most men,
behavior like yours would not be considered a mark of affection.
I wish you had just given me a glimmering of an idea of the
truth, and maybe you would have saved us both a few heartaches.

But we mustn't be looking back; we must look forward and be
grateful. The two happiest things in life are going to be ours,
a FRIENDLY marriage and work that we love.

Yesterday, after leaving you, I walked back to the asylum
sort of dazed. I wanted to get by myself and THINK, but instead
of being by myself, I had to have Betsy and Percy and Mrs.
Livermore for dinner (already invited) and then go down and talk
to the children. Friday night-social evening. They had a lot of
new records for the victrola, given by Mrs. Livermore, and I had
to sit politely and listen to them. And, my dear--you'll think
this funny--the last thing they played was "John Anderson, my jo
John," and suddenly I found myself crying! I had to snatch up
the earnest orphan and hug her hard, with my head buried in her
shoulder, to keep them all from seeing.

John Anderson, my jo John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

I wonder, when we are old and bent and tottery, can you and I
look back, with no regrets, on monie a canty day we've had wi'
ane anither? It's nice to look forward to, isn't it--a life of
work and play and little daily adventures side by side with
somebody you love? I'm not afraid of the future any more. I
don't mind growing old with you, Sandy. "Time is but the stream
I go a-fishing in."

The reason I've grown to love these orphans is because they
need me so, and that's the reason--at least one of the reasons--
I've grown to love you. You're a pathetic figure of a man, my
dear, and since you won't make yourself comfortable, you must be
MADE comfortable.

We'll build a house on the hillside just beyond the asylum--
how does a yellow Italian villa strike you, or preferably a pink
one? Anyway, it won't be green. And it won't have a mansard
roof. And we'll have a big cheerful living room, all fireplace
and windows and view, and no McGURK. Poor old thing! won't she
be in a temper and cook you a dreadful dinner when she hears the
news! But we won't tell her for a long, long time--or anybody
else. It's too scandalous a proceeding right on top of my own
broken engagement. I wrote to Judy last night, and with
unprecedented self-control I never let fall so much as a hint.
I'm growing Scotch mysel'!

Perhaps I didn't tell you the exact truth, Sandy, when I said
I hadn't known how much I cared. I think it came to me the night
the John Grier burned. When you were up under that blazing roof,
and for the half hour that followed, when we didn't know whether
or not you would live, I can't tell you what agonies I went
through. It seemed to me, if you did go, that I would never get
over it all my life; that somehow to have let the best friend I
ever had pass away with a dreadful chasm of misunderstanding
between us--well--I couldn't wait for the moment when I should be
allowed to see you and talk out all that I have been shutting
inside me for five months. And then--you know that you gave
strict orders to keep me out; and it hurt me dreadfully. How
should I suspect that you really wanted to see me more than any
of the others, and that it was just that terrible Scotch moral
sense that was holding you back? You are a very good actor,
Sandy. But, my dear, if ever in our lives again we have the
tiniest little cloud of a misunderstanding, let's promise not to
shut it up inside ourselves, but to TALK.

Last night, after they all got off,--early, I am pleased to
say, since the chicks no longer live at home,--I came upstairs
and finished my letter to Judy, and then I looked at the
telephone and struggled with temptation. I wanted to call up 505
and say good night to you. But I didn't dare. I'm still quite
respectably bashful! So, as the next best thing to talking with
you, I got out Burns and read him for an hour. I dropped asleep
with all those Scotch love songs running in my head, and here I
am at daybreak writing them to you.

Good-by, Robin lad, I lo'e you weel.

SALLIE.

 

[end]

This website is owned and maintained by John Stevenson. Copyright ©1998 - ©2012 All rights reserved - (page issue 01April2012)