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Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

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Please excuse its tears.

Do you believe in free will? I do--unreservedly. I don't agree
at all with the philosophers who think that every action is the
absolutely inevitable and automatic resultant of an aggregation
of remote causes. That's the most immoral doctrine I ever heard--
nobody would be to blame for anything. If a man believed in fatalism,
he would naturally just sit down and say, `The Lord's will be done,'
and continue to sit until he fell over dead.

I believe absolutely in my own free will and my own power to accomplish--
and that is the belief that moves mountains. You watch me become
a great author! I have four chapters of my new book finished
and five more drafted.

This is a very abstruse letter--does your head ache, Daddy?
I think we'll stop now and make some fudge. I'm sorry I can't
send you a piece; it will be unusually good, for we're going
to make it with real cream and three butter balls.
Yours affectionately,

PS. We're having fancy dancing in gymnasium class. You can see
by the accompanying picture how much we look like a real ballet.
The one at the end accomplishing a graceful pirouette is me--I mean

26th December
My Dear, Dear, Daddy,

Haven't you any sense? Don't you KNOW that you mustn't give one girl
seventeen Christmas presents? I'm a Socialist, please remember;
do you wish to turn me into a Plutocrat?

Think how embarrassing it would be if we should ever quarrel!
I should have to engage a moving-van to return your gifts.

I am sorry that the necktie I sent was so wobbly; I knit it with my
own hands (as you doubtless discovered from internal evidence).
You will have to wear it on cold days and keep your coat buttoned
up tight.

Thank you, Daddy, a thousand times. I think you're the sweetest
man that ever lived--and the foolishest!

Here's a four-leaf clover from Camp McBride to bring you good luck
for the New Year.

9th January

Do you wish to do something, Daddy, that will ensure your
eternal salvation? There is a family here who are in awfully
desperate straits. A mother and father and four visible children--
the two older boys have disappeared into the world to make their
fortune and have not sent any of it back. The father worked in a
glass factory and got consumption--it's awfully unhealthy work--
and now has been sent away to a hospital. That took all their savings,
and the support of the family falls upon the oldest daughter,
who is twenty-four. She dressmakes for $1.50 a day (when she can
get it) and embroiders centrepieces in the evening. The mother
isn't very strong and is extremely ineffectual and pious.
She sits with her hands folded, a picture of patient resignation,
while the daughter kills herself with overwork and responsibility
and worry; she doesn't see how they are going to get through the
rest of the winter--and I don't either. One hundred dollars would
buy some coal and some shoes for three children so that they could
go to school, and give a little margin so that she needn't worry
herself to death when a few days pass and she doesn't get work.

You are the richest man I know. Don't you suppose you could spare
one hundred dollars? That girl deserves help a lot more than I
ever did. I wouldn't ask it except for the girl; I don't care
much what happens to the mother--she is such a jelly-fish.

The way people are for ever rolling their eyes to heaven and saying,
`Perhaps it's all for the best,' when they are perfectly dead sure
it's not, makes me enraged. Humility or resignation or whatever
you choose to call it, is simply impotent inertia. I'm for a more
militant religion!

We are getting the most dreadful lessons in philosophy--all of
Schopenhauer for tomorrow. The professor doesn't seem to realize
that we are taking any other subject. He's a queer old duck;
he goes about with his head in the clouds and blinks dazedly
when occasionally he strikes solid earth. He tries to lighten
his lectures with an occasional witticism--and we do our best
to smile, but I assure you his jokes are no laughing matter.
He spends his entire time between classes in trying to figure
out whether matter really exists or whether he only thinks it exists.

I'm sure my sewing girl hasn't any doubt but that it exists!

Where do you think my new novel is? In the waste-basket. I can
see myself that it's no good on earth, and when a loving author
realizes that, what WOULD be the judgment of a critical public?


I address you, Daddy, from a bed of pain. For two days I've
been laid up with swollen tonsils; I can just swallow hot milk,
and that is all. `What were your parents thinking of not to have
those tonsils out when you were a baby?' the doctor wished to know.
I'm sure I haven't an idea, but I doubt if they were thinking much
about me.
J. A.

Next morning

I just read this over before sealing it. I don't know WHY I cast
such a misty atmosphere over life. I hasten to assure you that I
am young and happy and exuberant; and I trust you are the same.
Youth has nothing to do with birthdays, only with ALIVEDNESS of spirit,
so even if your hair is grey, Daddy, you can still be a boy.

12th Jan.
Dear Mr. Philanthropist,

Your cheque for my family came yesterday. Thank you so much!
I cut gymnasium and took it down to them right after luncheon,
and you should have seen the girl's face! She was so surprised
and happy and relieved that she looked almost young; and she's only
twenty-four. Isn't it pitiful?

Anyway, she feels now as though all the good things were coming together.
She has steady work ahead for two months--someone's getting married,
and there's a trousseau to make.

`Thank the good Lord!' cried the mother, when she grasped the fact
that that small piece of paper was one hundred dollars.

`It wasn't the good Lord at all,' said I, `it was Daddy-Long-Legs.'
(Mr. Smith, I called you.)

`But it was the good Lord who put it in his mind,' said she.

`Not at all! I put it in his mind myself,' said I.

But anyway, Daddy, I trust the good Lord will reward you suitably.
You deserve ten thousand years out of purgatory.
Yours most gratefully,
Judy Abbott

15th Feb.
May it please Your Most Excellent Majesty:

This morning I did eat my breakfast upon a cold turkey pie
and a goose, and I did send for a cup of tee (a china drink)
of which I had never drank before.

Don't be nervous, Daddy--I haven't lost my mind; I'm merely quoting
Sam'l Pepys. We're reading him in connection with English History,
original sources. Sallie and Julia and I converse now in the language
of 1660. Listen to this:

`I went to Charing Cross to see Major Harrison hanged,
drawn and quartered: he looking as cheerful as any man could
do in that condition.' And this: `Dined with my lady who is
in handsome mourning for her brother who died yesterday of spotted fever.'

Seems a little early to commence entertaining, doesn't it? A friend
of Pepys devised a very cunning manner whereby the king might pay
his debts out of the sale to poor people of old decayed provisions.
What do you, a reformer, think of that? I don't believe we're so bad
today as the newspapers make out.

Samuel was as excited about his clothes as any girl; he spent
five times as much on dress as his wife--that appears to have
been the Golden Age of husbands. Isn't this a touching entry?
You see he really was honest. `Today came home my fine Camlett
cloak with gold buttons, which cost me much money, and I pray God
to make me able to pay for it.'

Excuse me for being so full of Pepys; I'm writing a special topic
on him.

What do you think, Daddy? The Self-Government Association has
abolished the ten o'clock rule. We can keep our lights all night
if we choose, the only requirement being that we do not disturb others--
we are not supposed to entertain on a large scale. The result is a
beautiful commentary on human nature. Now that we may stay up as long
as we choose, we no longer choose. Our heads begin to nod at nine
o'clock, and by nine-thirty the pen drops from our nerveless grasp.
It's nine-thirty now. Good night.


Just back from church--preacher from Georgia. We must take care, he says,
not to develop our intellects at the expense of our emotional natures--
but methought it was a poor, dry sermon (Pepys again). It doesn't
matter what part of the United States or Canada they come from,
or what denomination they are, we always get the same sermon.
Why on earth don't they go to men's colleges and urge the students
not to allow their manly natures to be crushed out by too much
mental application?

It's a beautiful day--frozen and icy and clear. As soon as dinner
is over, Sallie and Julia and Marty Keene and Eleanor Pratt (friends
of mine, but you don't know them) and I are going to put on short
skirts and walk 'cross country to Crystal Spring Farm and have a fried
chicken and waffle supper, and then have Mr. Crystal Spring drive
us home in his buckboard. We are supposed to be inside the campus
at seven, but we are going to stretch a point tonight and make it eight.

Farewell, kind Sir.
I have the honour of subscribing myself,
Your most loyall, dutifull, faithfull and obedient
J. Abbott

March Fifth
Dear Mr. Trustee,

Tomorrow is the first Wednesday in the month--a weary day for the
John Grier Home. How relieved they'll be when five o'clock comes
and you pat them on the head and take yourselves off! Did you
(individually) ever pat me on the head, Daddy? I don't believe so--
my memory seems to be concerned only with fat Trustees.

Give the Home my love, please--my TRULY love. I have quite a feeling
of tenderness for it as I look back through a haze of four years.
When I first came to college I felt quite resentful because I'd
been robbed of the normal kind of childhood that the other girls
had had; but now, I don't feel that way in the least. I regard it
as a very unusual adventure. It gives me a sort of vantage point
from which to stand aside and look at life. Emerging full grown,
I get a perspective on the world, that other people who have been
brought up in the thick of things entirely lack.

I know lots of girls (Julia, for instance) who never know that they
are happy. They are so accustomed to the feeling that their senses
are deadened to it; but as for me--I am perfectly sure every moment
of my life that I am happy. And I'm going to keep on being,
no matter what unpleasant things turn up. I'm going to regard them
(even toothaches) as interesting experiences, and be glad to know what
they feel like. `Whatever sky's above me, I've a heart for any fate.'

However, Daddy, don't take this new affection for the J.G.H.
too literally. If I have five children, like Rousseau, I shan't
leave them on the steps of a foundling asylum in order to insure
their being brought up simply.

Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Lippett (that, I think, is truthful;
love would be a little strong) and don't forget to tell her what a
beautiful nature I've developed.

4th April
Dear Daddy,

Do you observe the postmark? Sallie and I are embellishing
Lock Willow with our presence during the Easter Vacation.
We decided that the best thing we could do with our ten days
was to come where it is quiet. Our nerves had got to the point
where they wouldn't stand another meal in Fergussen. Dining in
a room with four hundred girls is an ordeal when you are tired.
There is so much noise that you can't hear the girls across the table
speak unless they make their hands into a megaphone and shout.
That is the truth.

We are tramping over the hills and reading and writing, and having
a nice, restful time. We climbed to the top of `Sky Hill'
this morning where Master Jervie and I once cooked supper--
it doesn't seem possible that it was nearly two years ago. I could
still see the place where the smoke of our fire blackened the rock.
It is funny how certain places get connected with certain people,
and you never go back without thinking of them. I was quite lonely
without him--for two minutes.

What do you think is my latest activity, Daddy? You will begin
to believe that I am incorrigible--I am writing a book. I started it
three weeks ago and am eating it up in chunks. I've caught the secret.
Master Jervie and that editor man were right; you are most convincing
when you write about the things you know. And this time it is about
something that I do know--exhaustively. Guess where it's laid?
In the John Grier Home! And it's good, Daddy, I actually believe
it is--just about the tiny little things that happened every day.
I'm a realist now. I've abandoned romanticism; I shall go back to it
later though, when my own adventurous future begins.

This new book is going to get itself finished--and published!
You see if it doesn't. If you just want a thing hard enough and keep
on trying, you do get it in the end. I've been trying for four years
to get a letter from you--and I haven't given up hope yet.

Goodbye, Daddy dear,

(I like to call you Daddy dear; it's so alliterative.)

PS. I forgot to tell you the farm news, but it's very distressing.
Skip this postscript if you don't want your sensibilities all
wrought up.

Poor old Grove is dead. He got so that he couldn't chew and they
had to shoot him.

Nine chickens were killed by a weasel or a skunk or a rat last week.

One of the cows is sick, and we had to have the veterinary surgeon
out from Bonnyrigg Four Corners. Amasai stayed up all night to
give her linseed oil and whisky. But we have an awful suspicion
that the poor sick cow got nothing but linseed oil.

Sentimental Tommy (the tortoise-shell cat) has disappeared;
we are afraid he has been caught in a trap.

There are lots of troubles in the world!

17th May
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

This is going to be extremely short because my shoulder aches at the
sight of a pen. Lecture notes all day, immortal novel all evening,
make too much writing.

Commencement three weeks from next Wednesday. I think you might come
and make my acquaintance--I shall hate you if you don't! Julia's
inviting Master Jervie, he being her family, and Sallie's inviting
Jimmie McB., he being her family, but who is there for me to invite?
Just you and Lippett, and I don't want her. Please come.

Yours, with love and writer's cramp.

19th June
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

I'm educated! My diploma is in the bottom bureau drawer with my
two best dresses. Commencement was as usual, with a few showers
at vital moments. Thank you for your rosebuds. They were lovely.
Master Jervie and Master Jimmie both gave me roses, too, but I left
theirs in the bath tub and carried yours in the class procession.

Here I am at Lock Willow for the summer--for ever maybe. The board
is cheap; the surroundings quiet and conducive to a literary life.
What more does a struggling author wish? I am mad about my book.
I think of it every waking moment, and dream of it at night. All I
want is peace and quiet and lots of time to work (interspersed with
nourishing meals).

Master Jervie is coming up for a week or so in August, and Jimmie
McBride is going to drop in sometime through the summer.
He's connected with a bond house now, and goes about the country
selling bonds to banks. He's going to combine the `Farmers' National'
at the Corners and me on the same trip.

You see that Lock Willow isn't entirely lacking in society.
I'd be expecting to have you come motoring through--only I know now
that that is hopeless. When you wouldn't come to my commencement,
I tore you from my heart and buried you for ever.
Judy Abbott, A.B.

24th July
Dearest Daddy-Long-Legs,

Isn't it fun to work--or don't you ever do it? It's especially
fun when your kind of work is the thing you'd rather do more than
anything else in the world. I've been writing as fast as my pen
would go every day this summer, and my only quarrel with life
is that the days aren't long enough to write all the beautiful
and valuable and entertaining thoughts I'm thinking.

I've finished the second draft of my book and am going to begin
the third tomorrow morning at half-past seven. It's the sweetest
book you ever saw--it is, truly. I think of nothing else.
I can barely wait in the morning to dress and eat before beginning;
then I write and write and write till suddenly I'm so tired that I'm
limp all over. Then I go out with Colin (the new sheep dog) and romp
through the fields and get a fresh supply of ideas for the next day.
It's the most beautiful book you ever saw--Oh, pardon--I said
that before.

You don't think me conceited, do you, Daddy dear?

I'm not, really, only just now I'm in the enthusiastic stage.
Maybe later on I'll get cold and critical and sniffy. No, I'm sure
I won't! This time I've written a real book. Just wait till you
see it.

I'll try for a minute to talk about something else. I never told you,
did I, that Amasai and Carrie got married last May? They are still
working here, but so far as I can see it has spoiled them both.
She used to laugh when he tramped in mud or dropped ashes on the floor,
but now--you should hear her scold! And she doesn't curl her hair
any longer. Amasai, who used to be so obliging about beating
rugs and carrying wood, grumbles if you suggest such a thing.
Also his neckties are quite dingy--black and brown, where they
used to be scarlet and purple. I've determined never to marry.
It's a deteriorating process, evidently.

There isn't much of any farm news. The animals are all in the best
of health. The pigs are unusually fat, the cows seem contented
and the hens are laying well. Are you interested in poultry?
If so, let me recommend that invaluable little work, 200 Eggs per
Hen per Year. I am thinking of starting an incubator next spring
and raising broilers. You see I'm settled at Lock Willow permanently.
I have decided to stay until I've written 114 novels like Anthony
Trollope's mother. Then I shall have completed my life work and can
retire and travel.

Mr. James McBride spent last Sunday with us. Fried chicken and ice-cream
for dinner, both of which he appeared to appreciate. I was awfully
glad to see him; he brought a momentary reminder that the world at
large exists. Poor Jimmie is having a hard time peddling his bonds.
The `Farmers' National' at the Corners wouldn't have anything
to do with them in spite of the fact that they pay six per cent.
interest and sometimes seven. I think he'll end up by going home
to Worcester and taking a job in his father's factory. He's too open
and confiding and kind-hearted ever to make a successful financier.
But to be the manager of a flourishing overall factory is a very
desirable position, don't you think? Just now he turns up his nose
at overalls, but he'll come to them.

I hope you appreciate the fact that this is a long letter from
a person with writer's cramp. But I still love you, Daddy dear,
and I'm very happy. With beautiful scenery all about, and lots
to eat and a comfortable four-post bed and a ream of blank paper
and a pint of ink--what more does one want in the world?
Yours as always,

PS. The postman arrives with some more news. We are to expect
Master Jervie on Friday next to spend a week. That's a very
pleasant prospect--only I am afraid my poor book will suffer.
Master Jervie is very demanding.

27th August
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Where are you, I wonder?

I never know what part of the world you are in, but I hope you're
not in New York during this awful weather. I hope you're on a
mountain peak (but not in Switzerland; somewhere nearer) looking at
the snow and thinking about me. Please be thinking about me.
I'm quite lonely and I want to be thought about. Oh, Daddy, I wish
I knew you! Then when we were unhappy we could cheer each other up.

I don't think I can stand much more of Lock Willow. I'm thinking
of moving. Sallie is going to do settlement work in Boston
next winter. Don't you think it would be nice for me to go with her,
then we could have a studio together? I would write while she
SETTLED and we could be together in the evenings. Evenings are
very long when there's no one but the Semples and Carrie and Amasai
to talk to. I know in advance that you won't like my studio idea.
I can read your secretary's letter now:

`Miss Jerusha Abbott.

`Mr. Smith prefers that you remain at Lock Willow.
`Yours truly,

I hate your secretary. I am certain that a man named Elmer H.
Griggs must be horrid. But truly, Daddy, I think I shall have to go
to Boston. I can't stay here. If something doesn't happen soon,
I shall throw myself into the silo pit out of sheer desperation.

Mercy! but it's hot. All the grass is burnt up and the brooks are
dry and the roads are dusty. It hasn't rained for weeks and weeks.

This letter sounds as though I had hydrophobia, but I haven't. I
just want some family.

Goodbye, my dearest Daddy.
I wish I knew you.

19th September
Dear Daddy,

Something has happened and I need advice. I need it from you,
and from nobody else in the world. Wouldn't it be possible for me
to see you? It's so much easier to talk than to write; and I'm
afraid your secretary might open the letter.

PS. I'm very unhappy.

3rd October
Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Your note written in your own hand--and a pretty wobbly hand!--
came this morning. I am so sorry that you have been ill; I wouldn't
have bothered you with my affairs if I had known. Yes, I will tell you
the trouble, but it's sort of complicated to write, and VERY PRIVATE.
Please don't keep this letter, but burn it.

Before I begin--here's a cheque for one thousand dollars.
It seems funny, doesn't it, for me to be sending a cheque to you?
Where do you think I got it?

I've sold my story, Daddy. It's going to be published serially
in seven parts, and then in a book! You might think I'd be wild
with joy, but I'm not. I'm entirely apathetic. Of course I'm glad
to begin paying you--I owe you over two thousand more. It's coming
in instalments. Now don't be horrid, please, about taking it,
because it makes me happy to return it. I owe you a great deal
more than the mere money, and the rest I will continue to pay all
my life in gratitude and affection.

And now, Daddy, about the other thing; please give me your most
worldly advice, whether you think I'll like it or not.

You know that I've always had a very special feeling towards you;
you sort of represented my whole family; but you won't mind, will you,
if I tell you that I have a very much more special feeling for
another man? You can probably guess without much trouble who he is.
I suspect that my letters have been very full of Master Jervie for a
very long time.

I wish I could make you understand what he is like and how entirely
companionable we are. We think the same about everything--
I am afraid I have a tendency to make over my ideas to match his!
But he is almost always right; he ought to be, you know,
for he has fourteen years' start of me. In other ways, though,
he's just an overgrown boy, and he does need looking after--
he hasn't any sense about wearing rubbers when it rains. He and I
always think the same things are funny, and that is such a lot;
it's dreadful when two people's senses of humour are antagonistic.
I don't believe there's any bridging that gulf!

And he is--Oh, well! He is just himself, and I miss him, and miss him,
and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the
moonlight because it's beautiful and he isn't here to see it with me.
But maybe you've loved somebody, too, and you know? If you have,
I don't need to explain; if you haven't, I can't explain.

Anyway, that's the way I feel--and I've refused to marry him.

I didn't tell him why; I was just dumb and miserable. I couldn't
think of anything to say. And now he has gone away imagining
that I want to marry Jimmie McBride--I don't in the least,
I wouldn't think of marrying Jimmie; he isn't grown up enough.
But Master Jervie and I got into a dreadful muddle of misunderstanding
and we both hurt each other's feelings. The reason I sent him
away was not because I didn't care for him, but because I cared
for him so much. I was afraid he would regret it in the future--
and I couldn't stand that! It didn't seem right for a person
of my lack of antecedents to marry into any such family as his.
I never told him about the orphan asylum, and I hated to explain
that I didn't know who I was. I may be DREADFUL, you know.
And his family are proud--and I'm proud, too!

Also, I felt sort of bound to you. After having been educated
to be a writer, I must at least try to be one; it would scarcely
be fair to accept your education and then go off and not use it.
But now that I am going to be able to pay back the money, I feel
that I have partially discharged that debt--besides, I suppose I could
keep on being a writer even if I did marry. The two professions
are not necessarily exclusive.

I've been thinking very hard about it. Of course he is a Socialist,
and he has unconventional ideas; maybe he wouldn't mind marrying into
the proletariat so much as some men might. Perhaps when two people are
exactly in accord, and always happy when together and lonely when apart,
they ought not to let anything in the world stand between them.
Of course I WANT to believe that! But I'd like to get your
unemotional opinion. You probably belong to a Family also, and will
look at it from a worldly point of view and not just a sympathetic,
human point of view--so you see how brave I am to lay it before you.

Suppose I go to him and explain that the trouble isn't Jimmie,
but is the John Grier Home--would that be a dreadful thing for me
to do? It would take a great deal of courage. I'd almost rather
be miserable for the rest of my life.

This happened nearly two months ago; I haven't heard a word from him
since he was here. I was just getting sort of acclimated to the
feeling of a broken heart, when a letter came from Julia that stirred
me all up again. She said--very casually--that `Uncle Jervis'
had been caught out all night in a storm when he was hunting in Canada,
and had been ill ever since with pneumonia. And I never knew it.
I was feeling hurt because he had just disappeared into blankness
without a word. I think he's pretty unhappy, and I know I am!

What seems to you the right thing for me to do?

6th October
Dearest Daddy-Long-Legs,

Yes, certainly I'll come--at half-past four next Wednesday afternoon.
Of COURSE I can find the way. I've been in New York three times and am
not quite a baby. I can't believe that I am really going to see you--
I've been just THINKING you so long that it hardly seems as though
you are a tangible flesh-and-blood person.

You are awfully good, Daddy, to bother yourself with me, when you're
not strong. Take care and don't catch cold. These fall rains
are very damp.

PS. I've just had an awful thought. Have you a butler? I'm afraid
of butlers, and if one opens the door I shall faint upon the step.
What can I say to him? You didn't tell me your name. Shall I ask
for Mr. Smith?

Thursday Morning
My Very Dearest Master-Jervie-Daddy-Long-Legs Pendleton-Smith,

Did you sleep last night? I didn't. Not a single wink. I was
too amazed and excited and bewildered and happy. I don't believe
I ever shall sleep again--or eat either. But I hope you slept;
you must, you know, because then you will get well faster and can
come to me.

Dear Man, I can't bear to think how ill you've been--and all the
time I never knew it. When the doctor came down yesterday to put
me in the cab, he told me that for three days they gave you up.
Oh, dearest, if that had happened, the light would have gone out
of the world for me. I suppose that some day in the far future--
one of us must leave the other; but at least we shall have had
our happiness and there will be memories to live with.

I meant to cheer you up--and instead I have to cheer myself.
For in spite of being happier than I ever dreamed I could be,
I'm also soberer. The fear that something may happen rests like
a shadow on my heart. Always before I could be frivolous and
care-free and unconcerned, because I had nothing precious to lose.
But now--I shall have a Great Big Worry all the rest of my life.
Whenever you are away from me I shall be thinking of all the automobiles
that can run over you, or the sign-boards that can fall on your head,
or the dreadful, squirmy germs that you may be swallowing. My peace
of mind is gone for ever--but anyway, I never cared much for just
plain peace.

Please get well--fast--fast--fast. I want to have you close
by where I can touch you and make sure you are tangible. Such a
little half hour we had together! I'm afraid maybe I dreamed it.
If I were only a member of your family (a very distant fourth cousin)
then I could come and visit you every day, and read aloud and plump up
your pillow and smooth out those two little wrinkles in your forehead
and make the corners of your mouth turn up in a nice cheerful smile.
But you are cheerful again, aren't you? You were yesterday before
I left. The doctor said I must be a good nurse, that you looked
ten years younger. I hope that being in love doesn't make every
one ten years younger. Will you still care for me, darling, if I
turn out to be only eleven?

Yesterday was the most wonderful day that could ever happen.
If I live to be ninety-nine I shall never forget the tiniest detail.
The girl that left Lock Willow at dawn was a very different person from
the one who came back at night. Mrs. Semple called me at half-past four.
I started wide awake in the darkness and the first thought that
popped into my head was, `I am going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!' I ate
breakfast in the kitchen by candle-light, and then drove the five
miles to the station through the most glorious October colouring.
The sun came up on the way, and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed
crimson and orange and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled
with hoar frost; the air was keen and clear and full of promise.
I knew something was going to happen. All the way in the train
the rails kept singing, `You're going to see Daddy-Long-Legs.'
It made me feel secure. I had such faith in Daddy's ability to set
things right. And I knew that somewhere another man--dearer than Daddy--
was wanting to see me, and somehow I had a feeling that before the
journey ended I should meet him, too. And you see!

When I came to the house on Madison Avenue it looked so big and brown
and forbidding that I didn't dare go in, so I walked around the
block to get up my courage. But I needn't have been a bit afraid;
your butler is such a nice, fatherly old man that he made me
feel at home at once. `Is this Miss Abbott?' he said to me,
and I said, `Yes,' so I didn't have to ask for Mr. Smith after all.
He told me to wait in the drawing-room. It was a very sombre,
magnificent, man's sort of room. I sat down on the edge of a big
upholstered chair and kept saying to myself:

`I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs! I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!'

Then presently the man came back and asked me please to step up
to the library. I was so excited that really and truly my feet
would hardly take me up. Outside the door he turned and whispered,
`He's been very ill, Miss. This is the first day he's been
allowed to sit up. You'll not stay long enough to excite him?'
I knew from the way he said it that he loved you--an I think he's
an old dear!

Then he knocked and said, `Miss Abbott,' and I went in and the door
closed behind me.

It was so dim coming in from the brightly lighted hall that for a
moment I could scarcely make out anything; then I saw a big easy
chair before the fire and a shining tea table with a smaller chair
beside it. And I realized that a man was sitting in the big chair
propped up by pillows with a rug over his knees. Before I could
stop him he rose--rather shakily--and steadied himself by the back
of the chair and just looked at me without a word. And then--
and then--I saw it was you! But even with that I didn't understand.
I thought Daddy had had you come there to meet me or a surprise.

Then you laughed and held out your hand and said, `Dear little Judy,
couldn't you guess that I was Daddy-Long-Legs?'

In an instant it flashed over me. Oh, but I have been stupid!
A hundred little things might have told me, if I had had any wits.
I wouldn't make a very good detective, would I, Daddy? Jervie?
What must I call you? Just plain Jervie sounds disrespectful, and I
can't be disrespectful to you!

It was a very sweet half hour before your doctor came and sent me away.
I was so dazed when I got to the station that I almost took a train
for St Louis. And you were pretty dazed, too. You forgot to give
me any tea. But we're both very, very happy, aren't we? I drove
back to Lock Willow in the dark but oh, how the stars were shining!
And this morning I've been out with Colin visiting all the places
that you and I went to together, and remembering what you said and
how you looked. The woods today are burnished bronze and the air
is full of frost. It's CLIMBING weather. I wish you were here to
climb the hills with me. I am missing you dreadfully, Jervie dear,
but it's a happy kind of missing; we'll be together soon. We belong
to each other now really and truly, no make-believe. Doesn't it
seem queer for me to belong to someone at last? It seems very,
very sweet.

And I shall never let you be sorry for a single instant.

Yours, for ever and ever,

PS. This is the first love-letter I ever wrote. Isn't it funny
that I know how?

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