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Daddy-long-legs(Chapter17)

2006-09-08 20:56

  January 6.30, Saturday

  Dear Daddy,

  We started to walk to town today, but mercy! how it poured. I like winter to be winter with snow instead of rain.

  Julia's desirable uncle called again this afternoon——and brought a five-pound box of chocolates. There are advantages, you see, about rooming with Julia.

  Our innocent prattle appeared to amuse him and he waited for a later train in order to take tea in the study. We had an awful lot of trouble getting permission. It's hard enough entertaining fathers and grandfathers, but uncles are a step worse; and as for brothers and cousins, they are next to impossible. Julia had to swear that he was her uncle before a notary public and then have the county clerk's certificate attached. (Don't I know a lot of law?) And even then I doubt if we could have had our tea if the Dean had chanced to see how youngish and good-looking Uncle Jervis is.

  Anyway, we had it, with brown bread Swiss cheese sandwiches. He helped make them and then ate four. I told him that I had spent last summer at Lock Willow, and we had a beautiful gossipy time about the Semples, and the horses and cows and chickens. All the horses that he used to know are dead, except Grover, who was a baby colt at the time of his last visit——and poor Grove now is so old he can just limp about the pasture.

  He asked if they still kept doughnuts in a yellow crock with a blue plate over it on the bottom shelf of the pantry——and they do! He wanted to know if there was still a woodchuck's hole under the pile of rocks in the night pasture——and there is! Amasai caught a big, fat, grey one there this summer, the twenty-fifth great-grandson of the one Master Jervis caught when he was a little boy.

  I called him 'Master Jervie' to his face, but he didn't appear to be insulted. Julia says she has never seen him so amiable; he's usually pretty unapproachable. But Julia hasn't a bit of tact; and men, I find, require a great deal. They purr if you rub them the right way and spit if you don't. (That isn't a very elegant metaphor. I mean it figuratively.)

  We're reading Marie Bashkirtseff's journal. Isn't it amazing? Listen to this: 'Last night I was seized by a fit of despair that found utterance in moans, and that finally drove me to throw the dining-room clock into the sea.'

  It makes me almost hope I'm not a genius; they must be very wearing to have about——and awfully destructive to the furniture.

  Mercy! how it keeps Pouring. We shall have to swim to chapel tonight.

  Yours ever,Judy 20th Jan.

  Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

  Did you ever have a sweet baby girl who was stolen from the cradle in infancy?

  Maybe I am she! If we were in a novel, that would be the denouement, wouldn't it?

  It's really awfully queer not to know what one is——sort of exciting and romantic. There are such a lot of possibilities. Maybe I'm not American; lots of people aren't. I may be straight descended from the ancient Romans, or I may be a Viking's daughter, or I may be the child of a Russian exile and belong by rights in a Siberian prison, or maybe I'm a Gipsy——I think perhaps I am. I have a very WANDERING spirit, though I haven't as yet had much chance to develop it.

  Do you know about that one scandalous blot in my career the time I ran away from the asylum because they punished me for stealing cookies? It's down in the books free for any Trustee to read. But really, Daddy, what could you expect? When you put a hungry little nine-year girl in the pantry scouring knives, with the cookie jar at her elbow, and go off and leave her alone; and then suddenly pop in again, wouldn't you expect to find her a bit crumby? And then when you jerk her by the elbow and box her ears, and make her leave the table when the pudding comes, and tell all the other children that it's because she's a thief, wouldn't you expect her to run away?

  I only ran four miles. They caught me and brought me back; and every day for a week I was tied, like a naughty puppy, to a stake in the back yard while the other children were out at recess.

  Oh, dear! There's the chapel bell, and after chapel I have a committee meeting. I'm sorry because I meant to write you a very entertaining letter this time.

  Auf wiedersehen Cher Daddy,Pax tibi!

  Judy

  PS. There's one thing I'm perfectly sure of I'm not a Chinaman.

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