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Daddy-long-legs(Chapter19)

2006-09-08 20:56

  March 5th March

  Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

  There is a March wind blowing, and the sky is filled with heavy, black moving clouds. The crows in the pine trees are making such a clamour! It's an intoxicating, exhilarating, CALLING noise. You want to close your books and be off over the hills to race with the wind.

  We had a paper chase last Saturday over five miles of squashy 'cross country. The fox (composed of three girls and a bushel or so of confetti) started half an hour before the twenty-seven hunters. I was one of the twenty-seven; eight dropped by the wayside; we ended nineteen. The trail led over a hill, through a cornfield, and into a swamp where we had to leap lightly from hummock to hummock. of course half of us went in ankle deep. We kept losing the trail, and we wasted twenty-five minutes over that swamp. Then up a hill through some woods and in at a barn window! The barn doors were all locked and the window was up high and pretty small. I don't call that fair, do you?

  But we didn't go through; we circumnavigated the barn and picked up the trail where it issued by way of a low shed roof on to the top of a fence. The fox thought he had us there, but we fooled him. Then straight away over two miles of rolling meadow, and awfully hard to follow, for the confetti was getting sparse. The rule is that it must be at the most six feet apart, but they were the longest six feet I ever saw. Finally, after two hours of steady trotting, we tracked Monsieur Fox into the kitchen of Crystal Spring (that's a farm where the girls go in bob sleighs and hay wagons for chicken and waffle suppers) and we found the three foxes placidly eating milk and honey and biscuits. They hadn't thought we would get that far; they were expecting us to stick in the barn window.

  Both sides insist that they won. I think we did, don't you? Because we caught them before they got back to the campus. Anyway, all nineteen of us settled like locusts over the furniture and clamoured for honey. There wasn't enough to go round, but Mrs. Crystal Spring (that's our pet name for her; she's by rights a Johnson) brought up a jar of strawberry jam and a can of maple syrup—— just made last week——and three loaves of brown bread.

  We didn't get back to college till half-past six——half an hour late for dinner——and we went straight in without dressing, and with perfectly unimpaired appetites! Then we all cut evening chapel, the state of our boots being enough of an excuse.

  I never told you about examinations. I passed everything with the utmost ease——I know the secret now, and am never going to fail again. I shan't be able to graduate with honours though, because of that beastly Latin prose and geometry Freshman year. But I don't care. Wot's the hodds so long as you're 'appy? (That's a quotation. I've been reading the English classics.)

  Speaking of classics, have you ever read Hamlet? If you haven't, do it right off. It's PERFECTLY CORKING. I've been hearing about Shakespeare all my life, but I had no idea he really wrote so well; I always suspected him of going largely on his reputation.

  I have a beautiful play that I invented a long time ago when I first learned to read. I put myself to sleep every night by pretending I'm the person (the most important person) in the book I'm reading at the moment.

  At present I'm Ophelia——and such a sensible Ophelia! I keep Hamlet amused all the time, and pet him and scold him and make him wrap up his throat when he has a cold. I've entirely cured him of being melancholy. The King and Queen are both dead——an accident at sea; no funeral necessary——so Hamlet and I are ruling in Denmark without any bother. We have the kingdom working beautifully. He takes care of the governing, and I look after the charities. I have just founded some first-class orphan asylums. If you or any of the other Trustees would like to visit them, I shall be pleased to show you through. I think you might find a great many helpful suggestions.

  I remain, sir,Yours most graciously,OPHELIA,Queen of Denmark. 24th March, Maybe the 25th

  Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

  I don't believe I can be going to Heaven——I am getting such a lot of good things here; it wouldn't be fair to get them hereafter too. Listen to what has happened.

  Jerusha Abbott has won the short-story contest (a twenty-five dollar prize) that the Monthly holds every year. And she's a Sophomore! The contestants are mostly Seniors. When I saw my name posted, I couldn't quite believe it was true. Maybe I am going to be an author after all. I wish Mrs. Lippett hadn't given me such a silly name—— it sounds like an author-ess, doesn't it?

  Also I have been chosen for the spring dramatics——As You Like It out of doors. I am going to be Celia, own cousin to Rosalind.

  And lastly: Julia and Sallie and I are going to New York next Friday to do some spring shopping and stay all night and go to the theatre the next day with 'Master Jervie.' He invited us. Julia is going to stay at home with her family, but Sallie and I are going to stop at the Martha Washington Hotel. Did you ever hear of anything so exciting? I've never been in a hotel in my life, nor in a theatre; except once when the Catholic Church had a festival and invited the orphans, but that wasn't a real play and it doesn't count.

  And what do you think we're going to see? Hamlet. Think of that! We studied it for four weeks in Shakespeare class and I know it by heart.

  I am so excited over all these prospects that I can scarcely sleep.

  Goodbye, Daddy.

  This is a very entertaining world. Yours ever,Judy

  PS. I've just looked at the calendar. It's the 28th.

  Another postscript.

  I saw a street car conductor today with one brown eye and one blue. Wouldn't he make a nice villain for a detective story?

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