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Daddy-long-legs(Chapter25)

2006-09-08 20:58

  September 10th September

  Dear Daddy,

  He has gone, and we are missing him! When you get accustomed to people or places or ways of living, and then have them snatched away, it does leave an awfully empty, gnawing sort of sensation. I'm finding Mrs. Semple's conversation pretty unseasoned food.

  College opens in two weeks and I shall be glad to begin work again. I have worked quite a lot this summer though——six short stories and seven poems. Those I sent to the magazines all came back with the most courteous promptitude. But I don't mind. It's good practice. Master Jervie read them——he brought in the post, so I couldn't help his knowing——and he said they were DREADFUL. They showed that I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was talking about. (Master Jervie doesn't let politeness interfere with truth.) But the last one I did——just a little sketch laid in college—— he said wasn't bad; and he had it typewritten, and I sent it to a magazine. They've had it two weeks; maybe they're thinking it over.

  You should see the sky! There's the queerest orange-coloured light over everything. We're going to have a storm.

  It commenced just that moment with tremendously big drops and all the shutters banging. I had to run to close the windows, while Carrie flew to the attic with an armful of milk pans to put under the places where the roof leaks and then, just as I was resuming my pen, I remembered that I'd left a cushion and rug and hat and Matthew Arnold's poems under a tree in the orchard, so I dashed out to get them, all quite soaked. The red cover of the poems had run into the inside; Dover Beach in the future will be washed by pink waves.

  A storm is awfully disturbing in the country. You are always having to think of so many things that are out of doors and getting spoiled.

  Thursday

  Daddy! Daddy! What do you think? The postman has just come with two letters.

  1st. My story is accepted. $50.

  ALORS! I'm an AUTHOR.

  2nd. A letter from the college secretary. I'm to have a scholarship for two years that will cover board and tuition. It was founded for 'marked proficiency in English with general excellency in other lines.' And I've won it! I applied for it before I left, but I didn't have an idea I'd get it, on account of my Freshman bad work in maths and Latin. But it seems I've made it up. I am awfully glad, Daddy, because now I won't be such a burden to you. The monthly allowance will be all I'll need, and maybe I can earn that with writing or tutoring or something.

  I'm LONGING to go back and begin work.

  Yours ever,Jerusha Abbott,

  Author of When the Sophomores Won the Game. For sale at all news stands, price ten cents. 26th September Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

  Back at college again and an upper classman. Our study is better than ever this year——faces the South with two huge windows and oh! so furnished. Julia, with an unlimited allowance, arrived two days early and was attacked with a fever for settling.

  We have new wall paper and oriental rugs and mahogany chairs—— not painted mahogany which made us sufficiently happy last year, but real. It's very gorgeous, but I don't feel as though I belonged in it; I'm nervous all the time for fear I'll get an ink spot in the wrong place.

  And, Daddy, I found your letter waiting for me——pardon——I mean your secretary's.

  Will you kindly convey to me a comprehensible reason why I should not accept that scholarship? I don't understand your objection in the least. But anyway, it won't do the slightest good for you to object, for I've already accepted it and I am not going to change! That sounds a little impertinent, but I don't mean it so.

  I suppose you feel that when you set out to educate me, you'd like to finish the work, and put a neat period, in the shape of a diploma, at the end.

  But look at it just a second from my point of view. I shall owe my education to you just as much as though I let you pay for the whole of it, but I won't be quite so much indebted. I know that you don't want me to return the money, but nevertheless, I am going to want to do it, if I possibly can; and winning this scholarship makes it so much easier. I was expecting to spend the rest of my life in paying my debts, but now I shall only have to spend one-half of the rest of it.

  I hope you understand my position and won't be cross. The allowance I shall still most gratefully accept. It requires an allowance to live up to Julia and her furniture! I wish that she had been reared to simpler tastes, or else that she were not my room-mate.

  This isn't much of a letter; I meant to have written a lot——but I've been hemming four window curtains and three portieres (I'm glad you can't see the length of the stitches), and polishing a brass desk set with tooth powder (very uphill work), and sawing off picture wire with manicure scissors, and unpacking four boxes of books, and putting away two trunkfuls of clothes (it doesn't seem believable that Jerusha Abbott owns two trunks full of clothes, but she does!) and welcoming back fifty dear friends in between.

  Opening day is a joyous occasion!

  Good night, Daddy dear, and don't be annoyed because your chick is wanting to scratch for herself. She's growing up into an awfully energetic little hen——with a very determined cluck and lots of beautiful feathers (all due to you).

  Affectionately,Judy 30th September Dear Daddy,

  Are you still harping on that scholarship? I never knew a man so obstinate, and stubborn and unreasonable, and tenacious, and bull-doggish, and unable-to-see-other-people's-point-of-view, as you.

  You prefer that I should not be accepting favours from strangers.

  Strangers!——And what are you, pray?

  Is there anyone in the world that I know less? I shouldn't recognize you if I met you in the street. Now, you see, if you had been a sane, sensible person and had written nice, cheering fatherly letters to your little Judy, and had come occasionally and patted her on the head, and had said you were glad she was such a good girl——Then, perhaps, she wouldn't have flouted you in your old age, but would have obeyed your slightest wish like the dutiful daughter she was meant to be.

  Strangers indeed! You live in a glass house, Mr. Smith.

  And besides, this isn't a favour; it's like a prize——I earned it by hard work. If nobody had been good enough in English, the committee wouldn't have awarded the scholarship; some years they don't. Also—— But what's the use of arguing with a man? You belong, Mr. Smith, to a sex devoid of a sense of logic. To bring a man into line, there are just two methods: one must either coax or be disagreeable. I scorn to coax men for what I wish. Therefore, I must be disagreeable.

  I refuse, sir, to give up the scholarship; and if you make any more fuss, I won't accept the monthly allowance either, but will wear myself into a nervous wreck tutoring stupid Freshmen.

  That is my ultimatum!

  And listen——I have a further thought. Since you are so afraid that by taking this scholarship I am depriving someone else of an education, I know a way out. You can apply the money that you would have spent for me towards educating some other little girl from the John Grier Home. Don't you think that's a nice idea? Only, Daddy, EDUCATE the new girl as much as you choose, but please don't LIKE her any better than me.

  I trust that your secretary won't be hurt because I pay so little attention to the suggestions offered in his letter, but I can't help it if he is. He's a spoiled child, Daddy. I've meekly given in to his whims heretofore, but this time I intend to be FIRM.

  Yours,With a mind,Completely and Irrevocably and World-without-End Made-up,Jerusha Abbott

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