Page images



John Grier Home, January 14. make out, barring, of course, our poor Dear Judy:

smashed-up doctor. Everybody has been Listen to this! J. F. Bretland read wonderful; I did n't know that so much about our fire in a New York paper (I charity and kindness existed in the human will say that the metropolitan press made

Did I ever say anything against the most of details), and he posted up trustees? I take it back. Four of them here in a twitter of anxiety. His first

His first posted up from New York the morning question as he tumbled across our black- after the fire, and all of the local people ened threshold was, “Is Allegra safe?" have been wonderful. Even the Hon. Cy "Yes," said I.

has been so occupied in remaking the mor"Thank God!” he cried, and dropped als of the five orphans quartered upon him into a chair. ' "This is no place for chil- that he has n't caused any trouble at all. dren,” he said severely, “and I have come The fire occurred early Saturday mornto take her home. I want the boys, too,” ing, and Sunday the ministers in all the he added hastily before I had a chance to churches called for volunteers to accept speak. "My wife and I have talked it in their houses one or two children as over, and we have decided that since we guests for three weeks, until the asylum are going to the trouble of starting a could get its plant into working order nursery, we might as well run it for

again. three as for one."

It was inspiring to see the response. I led him up to my library, where our Every child was disposed of within half little family has been domiciled since the an hour. And consider what that means fire, and ten minutes later, when I was for the future: every one of those famicalled down to confer with the trustees, lies is going to take a personal interest in I left J. F. Bretland with his new daugh- this asylum from now on. Also, consider ter on his knee and a son leaning against what it means for the children. They are each arm, the proudest father in the finding out how a real family lives, and United States.

this is the first time that dozens of them So, you see, our fire has accomplished have ever crossed the threshold of a prione thing: those three children are set- vate house. tled for life. It is almost worth the loss. As for more permanent plans to take us

But I don't believe I told you how the through the winter, listen to all this. The fire started. There are so many things I country club has a caddies' club-house have n't told you that my arm aches at which they don't use in winter and which the thought of writing them all. Sterry, they have politely put at our disposal. It we have since discovered, was spending joins our land on the back, and we are the week-end as our guest. After a bibu- fitting it up for fourteen children, with lous evening passed at "Jack's Place," he Miss Matthews in charge. Our diningreturned to our carriage-house, climbed in room and kitchen still being intact, they through a window, lighted a candle, made will come here for meals and school, rehimself comfortable, and dropped asleep. turning home at night all the better for He must have forgotten to put out the half a mile walk. “The Pavilion on the candle; anyway, the fire happened, and Links” we are calling it. Sterry just escaped with his life. He is Then that nice motherly Mrs. Wilson, now in the town hospital, bathed in sweet- next door to the doctor's, -she who has oil, and painfully regretting his share in been so efficient with our little Loretta, our troubles.

has agreed to take in five more at four I am pleased to learn that our insur- dollars a week each. I am leaving with ance was pretty adequate, so the money her some of the most promising older girls loss won't be so tremendous, after all. As who have shown housekeeping instincts, for other kinds of loss, there are n't any. and would like learn cooking on a deActually, nothing but gain so far as I can cently small scale. Mrs. Wilson and

her husband are such a wonderful couple, scale. He and Percy and the village archithrifty and industrious and simple and tect have drawn up plans, and in two loving, I think it would do the girls good weeks, we hope, the tribes will move into to observe them. A training class in wife

winter quarters. hood!

What does it matter if my one hundred I told you about the Knowltop peo- and seven children have been burned out, ple on the east of us, who took in forty- since they live in such a kind-hearted seven youngsters the night of the fire, and world as this? how their entire house-party turned them

Friday. selves into emergency nurse-maids? We relieved them of thirty-six the next day,

I suppose you are wondering why I but they still have eleven.

Did I ever

don't vouchsafe some details about the call Mr. Knowltop a crusty old cur

doctor's condition. I can't give any firstmudgeon? I take it back. I beg his par

hand information, since he won't see me.

However, he has seen everybody except don. He 's a sweet lamb. Now, in the time of our need, what do you think that

me-Betsy, Allegra, Mrs. Livermore,

Mr. Bretland, Percy, various trustees; blessed man has done? He has fitted up

they all report that he is progressing as an empty tenant house on the estate for our babies, has himself engaged an Eng

comfortably as could be expected with lish trained baby-nurse to take charge,

two broken ribs and a fractured fibula. and furnishes them with the superior milk

That, I believe, is the professional name from his own model dairy. He says he

of the particular leg bone he broke. He

does n't like to have a fuss made over him, has been wondering for years what to do with that milk. He can't afford to sell

and he won't pose gracefully as a hero. it, because he loses four cents on every

I myself, as grateful head of this instituquart!

tion, called on several different occasions The twelve older girls from dormitory

to present my official thanks, but I was

invariably met at the door with word A I am putting into the farmer's new cottage; the poor Turnfelts, who had occu

that he was sleeping and did not wish to

be disturbed. The first two times I bepied it just two days, are being shoved on

lieved Mrs. McGurk; after that-well, I into the village. But they would n't be

know our doctor! So when it came time any good in looking after the children, and I need their room. Three or four of

to send our little maid to prattle her unthese girls have been returned from fos

conscious good-by's to the man who had ter-homes as intractable, and they require

saved her life, I despatched her in charge

of Betsy. pretty efficient supervision. So what do

I have n't an idea what is the matter you think I 've done? Telegraphed to

with the man. Helen Brooks to chuck the publishers and

He was friendly enough take charge of my girls instead. You

last week, but now, if I want an opinion

from him, I have to send Percy to extract know she will be wonderful with them.

it. I do think that he might see me as She accepted provisionally. Poor Helen has had enough of this irrevocable con

the superintendent of the asylum, even if

he does n't wish our acquaintance to be tract business; she wants everything in life to be on trial!

on a personal basis. There is no doubt For the older boys something particu

about it, our Sandy is Scotch! larly nice has happened; we have received a gift of gratitude from J. F. Bretland. LATER. He went down to thank the doctor for It is going to require a fortune in stamps Allegra; they had a long talk about the to get this letter to Jamaica, but I do needs of the institution, and J. F. B. came want you to know all the news, and we back and gave me a check for $3000 to have never had so many exhilarating build the Indian camps on a substantial things happen since 1876, when we were founded. This fire has given us such a I can't write details now; I 'm simply shock that we are going to be more alive rushed to death. And don't comefor years to come. I believe that every

please! Later, when things have settled institution ought to be burned to the just a little, you and I must have a talk ground every twenty-five years in order about you and me, but I want time to to get rid of old-fashioned equipment and think about it first. obsolete ideas. I am superlatively glad

S. now that we did n't spend Jervis's money last summer; it would have been inten

January 21. sively tragic to have had that burn. I

Dear Judy: don't mind so much about John Grier's,

Helen Brooks is taking hold of those since he made it in a patent medicine

fourteen fractious girls in a most maswhich, I hear, contained opium.

terly fashion. The job is quite the toughAs to the remnant of us that the fire

est I had to offer, and she likes it. I left behind, it is already boarded up and

think she is going to be a valuable addicovered with tar-paper, and we are living

tion to our staff. along quite comfortably in our portion

And I forgot to tell you about Punch. of a house. It affords sufficient room for

When the fire occurred, those two nice the staff and the children's dining-room and kitchen, and more permanent plans

women who kept him all summer were

on the point of catching a train for Calican be made later.

fornia, and they simply tucked him unDo you perceive what has happened to

der their arms, along with their luggage, us? The good Lord has heard my prayer,

and carried him off. So Punch spends the and the John Grier Home is a cottage in

winter in Pasadena, and I rather fancy stitution !

he is theirs for good. Do you wonder The busiest person north of the equator, that I am in an exalted mood over all

S. McBRIDE. these happenings?

I am,

John Grier Home, January 16. LATER. Dear Gordon:

Poor bereaved Percy has just been Please, please behave yourself, and

and spending the evening with me, because I don't make things harder than they are. am supposed to understand his troubles. It 's absolutely out of the question for me Why must I be supposed to understand to give up the asylum this instant. You everybody's troubles? It 's awfully wearought to realize that I can't abandon my ing to be pouring out sympathy from an chicks just when they are so terribly in empty heart. The poor boy at present is need of me. Neither am I ready to drop pretty low, but I rather suspect-with this blasted philanthropy. (You can see Betsy's aid- that he will pull through. how your language looks in my hand- He is just on the edge of falling in love writing!)

with Betsy, but he does n't know it. He 's You have no cause to worry. I am not in the stage now where he sort of enoverworking. I am enjoying it; never joying his troubles; he feels himself a was so busy and happy in my life. The tragic hero, a man who has suffered papers made the fire out much more lurid deeply. But I notice that when Betsy is than it really was. That picture of me about, he offers cheerful assistance in leaping from the roof with a baby under whatever work is toward. each arm was overdrawn. One or two Gordon telegraphed to-day that he is of the children have sore throats, and our coming to-morrow. I am dreading the poor doctor is in a plaster cast; but we 're interview, for I know we are going to all alive, thank Heaven! and are going to have an altercation. He wrote the day pull through without permanent scars.

after the fire and begged me to "chuck the

on me.

asylum" and get married immediately, she does n't exist any more, and the only and now he 's coming to argue it out. I fair course both to him and to myself was can't make him understand that a job in- to end it. volving the happiness of one hundred or We no longer have any interests in so children can't be chucked with such common; we are not friends. He does charming insouciance. I tried my best to n't comprehend it; he thinks that I am keep him away, but, like the rest of his making it up, that all I have to do is to sex, he 's stubborn. Oh dear, I don't .

take an interest in his life, and everything know what 's ahead of us! I wish I could will turn out happily. Of course I do glance into next year for a moment. take an interest when he 's with me. I

The doctor is still in his plaster cast, talk about the things he wants to talk but I hear is doing well after a grumbly about, and he does n't know that there's fashion. He is able to sit up a little a whole part of me- the biggest part of every day and to receive a carefully se- me—that simply does n't meet him at any lected list of visitors. Mrs. McGurk point. I pretend when I am with him. sorts them ut at the door, and repudiates I am not myself, and if we were to live the ones she does n't like.

together in constant daily intercourse, Good-by. I'd write some more, but I'd have to keep on pretending all my I 'm so sleepy that my eyes are shutting life. He wants me to watch his face and

(The idiom is Sadie Kate's.) I smile when he smiles and frown when he must go to bed and get some sleep against frowns. He can't realize that I 'm an the one hundred and seven troubles of to- individual being just as much as he is. morrow.

I have social accomplishments. I dress With love to the Pendletons,

well, I 'm spectacular, I would be an ideal S. VIcB. hostess in a politician's household-and

that 's why he likes me.

Anyway, I suddenly saw with awful

January 22. Dear Judy:

distinctness that if I kept on I'd be in a This letter has nothing to do with the few years where Helen Brooks is. She 's John Grier Home. It is merely from a far better model of married life for me Sallie McBride.

to contemplate just this moment than you, Do you remember when we read Hux- dear Judy. I think that such a spectacle ley's letters our senior year? That book as you and Jervis are a menace to society. contained a phrase which has stuck in my You look so happy and peaceful and commemory ever since. “There is always a panionable that you induce a defenseless Cape Horn in one's life that one either on-looker to rush off and snap up the weathers or wrecks oneself on.” It 's first man she meets--and he is always the terribly true; and the trouble is that

you wrong man. can't always recognize your Cape Horn Anyway, Gordon and I have quarreled when you see it. The sailing is sometimes definitely and finally. I should rather pretty foggy, and you 're wrecked before have ended without a quarrel, but con

sidering his temperament, -and mine, too, I've been realizing of late that I have I must confess, - we had to go off in a reached the Cape Horn of my own life. big smoky explosion. He came yesterI entered upon my engagement to Gor- day afternoon, after I 'd written him not don honestly and hopefully, but little by to come, and we went walking over little I 've grown doubtful of the out- Knowltop. For three and a half hours

The girl he loves is not the me I we paced back and forth over that windy want to be. It 's the me I 've been trying moor and discussed ourselves to the botto grow away from all this last year. tommost recesses of our beings. No one I'm not sure she ever really existed. can ever say the break came through misGordon just imagined she did. Anyway, understanding each other!

you know it.



It ended by Gordon's going, never to released from prison and were free. I return. As I stood there at the end and feel, -oh, I 'll stop, -I just want you to watched him drop out of sight over the know the truth. Don't show Jervis this brow of the hill, and realized that I was letter, but tell him what 's in it in a free and alone and my own master, well, decently subdued and mournful fashion. Judy, such a sense of joyous relief, of It 's midnight now, and I 'm going to freedom, swept over me! I can't tell you ; try to go to sleep. It 's wonderful not to I don't believe any happily married person be going to marry some one you don't could ever realize how wonderfully, beau- want to marry. I 'm glad of all these tifully alone I felt. I wanted to throw children's needs, I'm glad of Helen my arms out and embrace the whole wait- Brooks, and, yes, of the fire, and everying world that belonged suddenly to me. thing that has made me see clearly. Oh, it is such a relief to have it settled ! There 's never been a divorce in my famI faced the truth the night of the fire ily, and they would have hated it. when I saw the old John Grier go, and I know I 'm horribly egotistical and realized that a new John Grier would be selfish; I ought to be thinking of poor built in its place and that I would n't be Gordon's broken heart. But really it here to do it. A horrible jealousy clutched would just be a pose if I pretended to be at my heart. I could n't give it up, and very sorrowful. He 'll find some one else during those agonizing moments while I with just as conspicuous hair as mine, who thought we had lost our doctor, I realized will make just as effective a hostess, and what his life meant, and how much more who won't be bothered by any of these significant than Gordon's. And I knew damned modern ideas about public serthen that I could n't desert him; I had vice and woman's mission and all the rest to go on and carry out all of the plans of the tomfoolery the modern generation we made together.

of women is addicted to. (I paraphrase, I don't seem to be telling you anything and soften our young man's heartbroken but a mess of words, I am so full of such utterances.) a mess of crowding emotions; I want to Good-by, dear people. How I wish talk and talk and talk myself into co- I could stand with you on your beach and herence. But, anyway, I stood alone in look across the blue, blue sea! I salute the winter twilight, and I took a deep the Spanish main. breath of clear cold air, and I felt beauti

Addio! fully, wonderfully, electrically free; and

Sallie. then I ran and leaped and skipped down the hill and across the pastures toward our iron confines, and I sang to myself.

January 27. Oh, it was a scandalous proceeding, when,

Dear Dr. MacRae: according to all precedent, I should have I wonder if this note will be so forgone trailing home with a broken wing. tunate as to find you awake? Perhaps I never gave one thought to poor Gor- you are not aware that I have called four don, who was carrying a broken, bruised, times to offer thanks and consolation in betrayed heart to the railroad station. my best bedside manner? I am touched

As I entered the house I was greeted by the news that Mrs. McGurk's time is by the joyous clatter of the children troop- entirely occupied in taking in flowers and ing to their supper. They were suddenly jelly and chicken broth, given by the mine, and lately, as my doom became adoring ladies of the parish to the unmore and more imminent, they had seemed gracious hero in a plaster cast. I know fading away into little strangers. I seized that you find a cap of homespun more the three nearest and hugged them hard. comfortable than a halo, but I really do I have suddenly found such new life and think that you might have regarded me in exuberance, I feel as though I had been a different light from the hysterical ladies

« PreviousContinue »