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Daddy-long-legs(Chapter20)

2006-09-08 20:57

  April 7th April

  Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

  Mercy! Isn't New York big? Worcester is nothing to it. Do you mean to tell me that you actually live in all that confusion? I don't believe that I shall recover for months from the bewildering effect of two days of it. I can't begin to tell you all the amazing things I've seen; I suppose you know, though, since you live there yourself.

  But aren't the streets entertaining? And the people? And the shops? I never saw such lovely things as there are in the windows. It makes you want to devote your life to wearing clothes.

  Sallie and Julia and I went shopping together Saturday morning. Julia went into the very most gorgeous place I ever saw, white and gold walls and blue carpets and blue silk curtains and gilt chairs. A perfectly beautiful lady with yellow hair and a long black silk trailing gown came to meet us with a welcoming smile. I thought we were paying a social call, and started to shake hands, but it seems we were only buying hats——at least Julia was. She sat down in front of a mirror and tried on a dozen, each lovelier than the last, and bought the two loveliest of all.

  Buying any hat you choose I can't imagine any joy in life greater than sitting down in front of a mirror and buying any hat you choose without having first to consider the price! There's no doubt about it, Daddy; New York would rapidly undermine this fine stoical character which the John Grier Home so patiently built up.

  And after we'd finished our shopping, we met Master Jervie at Sherry's. I suppose you've been in Sherry's? Picture that, then picture the dining-room of the John Grier Home with its oilcloth-covered tables, and white crockery that you CAN'T break, and wooden-handled knives and forks; and fancy the way I felt!

  I ate my fish with the wrong fork, but the waiter very kindly gave me another so that nobody noticed.

  And after luncheon we went to the theatre——it was dazzling, marvellous, unbelievable——I dream about it every night.

  Isn't Shakespeare wonderful?

  Hamlet is so much better on the stage than when we analyze it in class; I appreciated it before, but now, clear me!

  I think, if you don't mind, that I'd rather be an actress than a writer. Wouldn't you like me to leave college and go into a dramatic school? And then I'll send you a box for all my performances, and smile at you across the footlights. Only wear a red rose in your buttonhole, please, so I'll surely smile at the right man. It would be an awfully embarrassing mistake if I picked out the wrong one.

  We came back Saturday night and had our dinner in the train, at little tables with pink lamps and negro waiters. I never heard of meals being served in trains before, and I inadvertently said so.

  'Where on earth were you brought up?' said Julia to me.

  'In a village,' said I meekly, to Julia.

  'But didn't you ever travel?' said she to me.

  'Not till I came to college, and then it was only a hundred and sixty miles and we didn't eat,' said I to her.

  She's getting quite interested in me, because I say such funny things. I try hard not to, but they do pop out when I'm surprised—— and I'm surprised most of the time. It's a dizzying experience, Daddy, to pass eighteen years in the John Grier Home, and then suddenly to be plunged into the WORLD.

  But I'm getting acclimated. I don't make such awful mistakes as I did; and I don't feel uncomfortable any more with the other girls. I used to squirm whenever people looked at me. I felt as though they saw right through my sham new clothes to the checked ginghams underneath. But I'm not letting the ginghams bother me any more. Sufficient unto yesterday is the evil thereof.

  I forgot to tell you about our flowers. Master Jervie gave us each a big bunch of violets and lilies-of-the-valley. Wasn't that sweet of him? I never used to care much for men——judging by Trustees—— but I'm changing my mind.

  Eleven pages——this is a letter! Have courage. I'm going to stop.

  Yours always,Judy 10th April Dear Mr. Rich-Man,

  Here's your cheque for fifty dollars. Thank you very much, but I do not feel that I can keep it. My allowance is sufficient to afford all of the hats that I need. I am sorry that I wrote all that silly stuff about the millinery shop; it's just that I had never seen anything like it before.

  However, I wasn't begging! And I would rather not accept any more charity than I have to.

  Sincerely yours,Jerusha Abbott

  11th April

  Dearest Daddy,

  Will you please forgive me for the letter I wrote you yesterday? After I posted it I was sorry, and tried to get it back, but that beastly mail clerk wouldn't give it back to me.

  It's the middle of the night now; I've been awake for hours thinking what a Worm I am——what a Thousand-legged Worm—— and that's the worst I can say! I've closed the door very softly into the study so as not to wake Julia and Sallie, and am sitting up in bed writing to you on paper torn out of my history note-book.

  I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry I was so impolite about your cheque. I know you meant it kindly, and I think you're an old dear to take so much trouble for such a silly thing as a hat. I ought to have returned it very much more graciously.

  But in any case, I had to return it. It's different with me than with other girls. They can take things naturally from people. They have fathers and brothers and aunts and uncles; but I can't be on any such relations with any one. I like to pretend that you belong to me, just to play with the idea, but of course I know you don't. I'm alone, really——with my back to the wall fighting the world—— and I get sort of gaspy when I think about it. I put it out of my mind, and keep on pretending; but don't you see, Daddy? I can't accept any more money than I have to, because some day I shall be wanting to pay it back, and even as great an author as I intend to be won't be able to face a PERFECTLY TREMENDOUS debt.

  I'd love pretty hats and things, but I mustn't mortgage the future to pay for them.

  You'll forgive me, won't you, for being so rude? I have an awful habit of writing impulsively when I first think things, and then posting the letter beyond recall. But if I sometimes seem thoughtless and ungrateful, I never mean it. In my heart I thank you always for the life and freedom and independence that you have given me. My childhood was just a long, sullen stretch of revolt, and now I am so happy every moment of the day that I can't believe it's true. I feel like a made-up heroine in a story-book.

  It's a quarter past two. I'm going to tiptoe out to post this off now. You'll receive it in the next mail after the other; so you won't have a very long time to think bad of me.

  Good night, Daddy,I love you always,Judy

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