Part 2 out of 5
Singapore is still living in the carriage house, and receiving a
daily carbolic-scented bath from Tammas Kehoe. I am hoping that
some day, in the distant future, my darling will be fit to
You will be pleased to hear that I have instituted a new
method of spending your money. We are henceforth to buy a part
of our shoes and drygoods and drug store comestibles from local
shops, at not quite such low prices as the wholesale jobbers
give, but still at a discount, and the education that is being
thrown in is worth the difference. The reason is this: I have
made the discovery that half of my children know nothing of money
or its purchasing power. They think that shoes and corn meal and
red-flannel petticoats and mutton stew and gingham shirts just
float down from the blue sky.
Last week I dropped a new green dollar bill out of my purse,
and an eight-year-old urchin picked it up and asked if he could
keep that picture of a bird. (American eagle in the center.)
That child had never seen a bill in his life! I began an
investigation, and discovered that dozens of children in this
asylum have never bought anything or have ever seen anybody buy
anything. And we are planning to turn them out at sixteen into a
world governed entirely by the purchasing power of dollars and
cents! Good heavens! just think of it! They are not to lead
sheltered lives with somebody eternally looking after them; they
have got to know how to get the very most they can out of every
penny they can manage to earn.
I pondered the question all one night, at intervals, and went
to the village at nine o'clock the next morning. I held
conferences with seven storekeepers; found four open-minded and
helpful, two doubtful, and one actively stupid. I have started
with the four--drygoods, groceries, shoes, and stationery. In
return for somewhat large orders from us, they are to turn
themselves and their clerks into teachers for my children, who
are to go to the stores, inspect the stocks, and do their own
purchasing with real money.
For example, Jane needs a spool of blue sewing-silk and a
yard of elastic; so two little girls, intrusted with a silver
quarter, trot hand in hand to Mr. Meeker's. They match the silk
with anxious care, and watch the clerk jealously while he
measures the elastic, to make sure that he doesn't stretch it.
Then they bring back six cents change, receive my thanks and
praise, and retire to the ranks tingling with a sense of
Isn't it pathetic? Ordinary children of ten or twelve
automatically know so many things that our little incubator
chicks have never dreamed of. But I have a variety of plans on
foot. Just give me time, and you will see. One of these days
I'll be turning out some nearly normal youngsters.
I've an empty evening ahead, so I'll settle to some further
gossip with you.
You remember the peanuts that Gordon Hallock sent? Well, I
was so gracious when I thanked him that it incited him to fresh
effort. He apparently went into a toy shop, and placed himself
unreservedly in the hands of an enterprising clerk. Yesterday
two husky expressmen deposited in our front hall a crate full of
expensive furry animals built to be consumed by the children of
the rich. They are not exactly what I should have purchased had
I been the one to disburse such a fortune, but my babies find
them very huggable. The chicks are now taking to bed with them
lions and elephants and bears and giraffes. I don't know what
the psychological effect will be. Do you suppose when they grow
up they will all join the circus?
Oh, dear me, here is Miss Snaith, coming to pay a social
P.S. The prodigal has returned. He sends his respectful
regards, and three wags of the tail.
THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
My dear Judy:
I have just been reading a pamphlet on manual training for girls,
and another on the proper diet for institutions--right
proportions of proteins, fats, starches, etc. In these days of
scientific charity, when every problem has been tabulated, you
can run an institution by chart. I don't see how Mrs. Lippett
could have made all the mistakes she did, assuming, of
course,that she knew how to read. But there is one quite
important branch of institutional work that has not been touched
upon, and I myself am gathering data. Some day I shall issue a
pamphlet on the "Management and Control of Trustees."
I must tell you the joke about my enemy--not the Hon. Cy, but
my first, my original enemy. He has undertaken a new field of
endeavor. He says quite soberly (everything he does is sober; he
has never smiled yet) that he has been watching me closely since
my arrival, and though I am untrained and foolish and flippant
(sic), he doesn't think that I am really so superficial as I at
first appeared. I have an almost masculine ability of grasping
the whole of a question and going straight to the point.
Aren't men funny? When they want to pay you the greatest
compliment in their power, they naively tell you that you have a
masculine mind. There is one compliment, incidentally, that I
shall never be paying him. I cannot honestly say that he has a
quickness of perception almost feminine.
So, though Sandy quite plainly sees my faults, still, he
thinks that some of them may be corrected; and he has determined
to carry on my education from the point where the college dropped
it. A person in my position ought to be well read in physiology,
biology, psychology, sociology, and eugenics; she should know the
hereditary effects of insanity, idiocy, and alcohol; should be
able to administer the Binet test; and should understand the
nervous system of a frog. In pursuance whereof, he has placed at
my disposal his own scientific library of four thousand volumes.
He not only fetches in the books he wants me to read, but comes
and asks questions to make sure I haven't skipped.
We devoted last week to the life and letters of the Jukes
family. Margaret, the mother of criminals, six generations ago,
founded a prolific line, and her progeny, mostly in jail, now
numbers some twelve hundred. Moral: watch the children with
a bad heredity so carefully that none of them can ever have any
excuse for growing up into Jukeses.
So now, as soon as we have finished our tea, Sandy and I get
out the Doomsday Book, and pore over its pages in an anxious
search for alcoholic parents. It's a cheerful little game to
while away the twilight hour after the day's work is done.
QUELLE VIE! Come home fast and take me out of it. I'm
wearying for the sight of you.
J. G. H.,
My dear Pendleton Family:
I have received your letter, and I seize my pen to stop you. I
don't wish to be relieved. I take it back. I change my mind.
The person you are planning to send sounds like an exact twin of
Miss Snaith. How can you ask me to turn over my darling children
to a kind, but ineffectual, middle-aged lady without any chin?
The very thought of it wrings a mother's heart.
Do you imagine that such a woman can carry on this work even
temporarily? No! The manager of an institution like this has
got to be young and husky and energetic and forceful and
efficient and red-haired and sweet-tempered, like me. Of course
I've been discontented,--anybody would be with things in such a
mess,--but it's what you socialists call a holy discontent. And
do you think that I am going to abandon all of the beautiful
reforms I have so painstakingly started? No! I am not to be
moved from this spot until you find a superintendent superior to
That does not mean, though, that I am mortgaging myself
forever. Just for the present, until things get on their
feet. While the face washing, airing, reconstructing period
lasts, I honestly believe you chose the right person when you hit
upon me. I LOVE to plan improvements and order people about.
This is an awfully messy letter, but I'm dashing it off in
three minutes in order to catch you before you definitely engage
that pleasant, inefficient middle-aged person without a chin.
Please, kind lady and gentleman, don't do me out of me job!
Let me stay a few months longer. Just gimme a chance to show
what I'm good for, and I promise you won't never regret it.
J. G. H.,
I've composed a poem--a paean of victory.
It's the truth!
THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
I am gratified to learn that you were gratified to learn that I
am going to stay. I hadn't realized it, but I am really getting
sort of attached to orphans.
It's an awful disappointment that Jervis has business which
will keep you South so much longer. I am bursting with talk, and
it is such a laborious nuisance having to write everything I want
Of course I am glad that we are to have the building
remodeled, and I think all of your ideas good, but I have a few
extra good ones myself. It will be nice to have the new
gymnasium and sleeping-porches, but, oh, my soul does long for
cottages! The more I look into the internal workings of an
orphan asylum, the more I realize that the only type of asylum
that can compete with a private family is one on the cottage
system. So long as the family is the unit of society, children
should be hardened early to family life.
The problem that is keeping me awake at present is, What to
do with the children while we are being made over? It is hard to
live in a house and build it at the same time. How would it be
if I rented a circus tent and pitched it on the lawn?
Also, when we plunge into our alterations, I want a few guest
rooms where our children can come back when ill or out of work.
The great secret of our lasting influence in their lives will be
our watchful care afterward. What a terrible ALONE feeling it
must give a person not to have a family hovering in the
background! With all my dozens of aunts and uncles and mothers
and fathers and cousins and brothers and sisters, I can't
visualize it. I'd be terrified and panting if I didn't have lots
of cover to run to. And for these forlorn little mites, somehow
or other the John Grier Home must supply their need. So, dear
people, send me half a dozen guest rooms, if you please.
Good-by, and I'm glad you didn't put in the other woman. The
very suggestion of somebody else taking over my own beautiful
reforms before they were even started, stirred up all the
opposition in me. I'm afraid I'm like Sandy--I canna think aught
is dune richt except my ain hand is in 't.
Yours, for the present,
THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
I know that I haven't written lately; you have a perfect right to
grumble, but oh dear! oh dear! you can't imagine what a busy
person an orphan asylum superintendent is. And all the writing
energy I possess has to be expended upon that voracious Judy
Abbott Pendleton. If three days go by without a letter she
telegraphs to know if the asylum has burned; whereas, if you--
nice man--go letterless, you simply send us a present to remind
us of your existence. So, you see, it's distinctly to our
advantage to slight you often.
You will probably be annoyed when I tell you that I have
promised to stay on here. They finally did find a woman to take
my place, but she wasn't at all the right type and would have
answered only temporarily. And, my dear Gordon, it's true, when
I faced saying good-by to this feverish planning and activity,
Worcester somehow looked rather colorless. I couldn't bear to
let my asylum go unless I was sure of substituting a life packed
equally full of sensation.
I know the alternative you will suggest, but please don't--
just now. I told you before that I must have a few months longer
to make up my mind. And in the meantime I like the feeling that
I'm of use in the world. There's something constructive and
optimistic about working with children; that is, if you look at
it from my cheerful point of view, and not from our Scotch
doctor's. I've never seen anybody like that man; he's always
pessimistic and morbid and down. It's best not to be too
intelligent about insanity and dipsomania and all the other
hereditary details. I am just about ignorant enough to be light-
hearted and effective in a place like this.
The thought of all of these little lives expanding in every
direction eternally thrills me. There are so many possibilities
in our child garden for every kind of flower. It has been
planted rather promiscuously, to be sure, but though we
undoubtedly shall gather a number of weeds, we are also hoping
for some rare and beautiful blossoms. Am I not growing
sentimental? It is due to hunger--and there goes the dinner-
gong! We are going to have a delicious meal: roast beef and
creamed carrots and beet greens, with rhubarb pie for dessert.
Would you not like to dine with me? I should love to have you.
Most cordially yours,
P.S. You should see the number of poor homeless cats that these
children want to adopt. We had four when I came, and they have
all had kittens since. I haven't taken an exact census, but I
think the institution possesses nineteen.
My dear Judy:
You'd like to make another slight donation to the J. G. H. out of
the excess of last month's allowance? BENE! Will you kindly
have the following inserted in all low-class metropolitan
To Parents Planning to Abandon their Children:
Please do it before they have reached their third year.
I can't think of any action on the part of abandoning parents
that would help us more effectually. This having to root up evil
before you begin planting good is slow, discouraging work.
We have one child here who has almost floored me; but I WILL
NOT acknowledge myself beaten by a child of five. He alternates
between sullen moroseness, when he won't speak a word, and the
most violent outbursts of temper, when he smashes everything
within reach. He has been here only three months, and in that
time he has destroyed nearly every piece of bric-a-brac in the
institution--not, by the way, a great loss to art.
A month or so before I came he pulled the tablecloth from the
officers' table while the girl in charge was in the corridor
sounding the gong. The soup had already been served. You can
imagine the mess! Mrs. Lippett half killed the child on that
occasion, but the killing did nothing to lessen the temper, which
was handed on to me intact.
His father was Italian and his mother Irish; he has red hair
and freckles from County Cork and the most beautiful brown
eyes that ever came out of Naples. After the father was stabbed
in a fight and the mother had died of alcoholism, the poor little
chap by some chance or other got to us. I suspect that he
belongs in the Catholic Protectory. As for his manners--oh dear!
oh dear! They are what you would expect. He kicks and bites and
swears. I have dubbed him Punch.
Yesterday he was brought squirming and howling to my office,
charged with having knocked down a little girl and robbed her of
her doll. Miss Snaith plumped him into a chair behind me, and
left him to grow quiet, while I went on with my writing. I was
suddenly startled by an awful crash. He had pushed that big
green jardiniere off the window-sill and broken it into five
hundred pieces. I jumped with a suddenness that swept the ink-
bottle to the floor, and when Punch saw that second catastrophe,
he stopped roaring with rage and threw back his head and roared
with laughter. The child is DIABOLICAL.
I have determined to try a new method of discipline that I
don't believe in the whole of his forlorn little life he has ever
experienced. I am going to see what praise and encouragement and
love will do. So, instead of scolding him about the jardiniere,
I assumed that it was an accident. I kissed him and told him not
to feel bad; that I didn't mind in the least. It shocked him
into being quiet; he simply held his breath and stared while I
wiped away his tears and sopped up the ink.
The child just now is the biggest problem that the J. G. H.
affords. He needs the most patient, loving, individual care--a
proper mother and father, likewise some brothers and sisters and
a grandmother. But I can't place him in a respectable family
until I make over his language and his propensity to break
things. I separated him from the other children, and kept him in
my room all the morning, Jane having removed to safe heights all
destructible OBJETS D'ART. Fortunately, he loves to draw, and he
sat on a rug for two hours, and occupied himself with colored
pencils. He was so surprised when I showed an interest in a red-
and-green ferryboat, with a yellow flag floating from the mast,
that he became quite profanely affable. Until then I couldn't
get a word out of him.
In the afternoon Dr. MacRae dropped in and admired the
ferryboat, while Punch swelled with the pride of creation. Then,
as a reward for being such a good little boy, the doctor took him
out in his automobile on a visit to a country patient.
Punch was restored to the fold at five o'clock by a sadder
and wiser doctor. At a sedate country estate he had stoned the
chickens, smashed a cold frame, and swung the pet Angora cat by
its tail. Then when the sweet old lady tried to make him be kind
to poor pussy, he told her to go to hell.
I can't bear to consider what some of these children have
seen and experienced. It will take years of sunshine and
happiness and love to eradicate the dreadful memories that they
have stored up in the far-back corners of their little brains.
And there are so many children and so few of us that we can't hug
them enough; we simply haven't arms or laps to go around.
MAIS PARLONS D'AUTRES CHOSES! Those awful questions of
heredity and environment that the doctor broods over so
constantly are getting into my blood, too; and it's a vicious
habit. If a person is to be of any use in a place like this, she
must see nothing but good in the world. Optimism is the only
wear for a social worker.
"'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock"--do you know
where that beautiful line of poetry comes from? "Cristabel," of
English K. Mercy! how I hated that course! You, being an English
shark, liked it; but I never understood a word that was said from
the time I entered the classroom till I left it. However, the
remark with which I opened this paragraph is true. It IS the
middle of night by the mantelpiece clock, so I'll wish you
You doctored the whole house, then stalked past my library with
your nose in the air, while I was waiting tea with a plate of
Scotch scones sitting on the trivet, ordered expressly for you as
If you are really hurt, I will read the Kallikak book; but I
must tell you that you are working me to death. It takes
almost all of my energy to be an effective superintendent, and
this university extension course that you are conducting I find
wearing. You remember how indignant you were one day last week
because I confessed to having stayed up until one o'clock the
night before? Well, my dear man, if I were to accomplish all the
vicarious reading you require, I should sit up until morning
However, bring it in. I usually manage half an hour of
recreation after dinner, and though I had wanted to glance at
Wells's latest novel, I will amuse myself instead with your
Life of late is unco steep.
THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
Thank you for the tulips, likewise the lilies of the valley.
They are most becoming to my blue Persian bowls.
Have you ever heard of the Kallikaks? Get the book and read
them up. They are a two-branch family in New Jersey, I think,
though their real name and origin is artfully concealed. But,
anyway,--and this is true,--six generations ago a young
gentleman, called for convenience Martin Kallikak, got drunk one
night and temporarily eloped with a feeble-minded barmaid, thus
founding a long line of feeble-minded Kallikaks,--drunkards,
gamblers, prostitutes, horse thieves,--a scourge to New Jersey
and surrounding States.
Martin later straightened up, married a normal woman, and
founded a second line of proper Kallikaks,--judges, doctors,
farmers, professors, politicians,--a credit to their country.
And there the two branches still are, flourishing side by side.
You can see what a blessing it would have been to New Jersey
if something drastic had happened to that feeble-minded barmaid
in her infancy.
It seems that feeblemindedness is a very hereditary quality,
and science isn't able to overcome it. No operation has been
discovered for introducing brains into the head of a child who
didn't start with them. And the child grows up with, say, a
nine-year brain in a thirty-year body, and becomes an easy tool
for any criminal he meets. Our prisons are one-third full of
feeble-minded convicts. Society ought to segregate them on
feeble-minded farms, where they can earn their livings in
peaceful menial pursuits, and not have children. Then in a
generation or so we might be able to wipe them out.
Did you know all that? It's very necessary information for a
politician to have. Get the book and read it, please; I'd send
my copy only that it's borrowed.
It's also very necessary information for me to have. There
are eleven of these chicks that I suspect a bit, and I am SURE of
Loretta Higgins. I have been trying for a month to introduce one
or two basic ideas into that child's brain, and now I know what
the trouble is: her head is filled with a sort of soft cheesy
substance instead of brain.
I came up here to make over this asylum in such little
details as fresh air and food and clothes and sunshine, but,
heavens! you can see what problems I am facing. I've got to make
over society first, so that it won't send me sub-normal children
to work with. Excuse all this excited conversation; but I've
just met up with the subject of feeble-mindedness, and it's
appalling--and interesting. It is your business as a legislator
to make laws that will remove it from the world. Please attend
to this immediately,
Sup't John Grier Home.
Dear Man of Science:
You didn't come today. Please don't skip us tomorrow. I have
finished the Kallikak family and I am bursting with talk. Don't
you think we ought to have a psychologist examine these children?
We owe it to adopting parents not to saddle them with feeble-
You know, I'm tempted to ask you to prescribe arsenic for
Loretta's cold. I've diagnosed her case; she's a Kallikak. Is
it right to let her grow up and found a line of 378 feeble-minded
people for society to care for? Oh dear! I do hate to poison
the child, but what can I do?
You aren't interested in feeble-minded people, and you are
shocked because I am? Well, I am equally shocked because you are
not. If you aren't interested in everything of the sort that
there unfortunately is in this world, how can you make wise laws?
However, at your request, I will converse upon a less morbid
subject. I've just bought fifty yards of blue and rose and green
and corn-colored hair-ribbon as an Easter present for my fifty
little daughters. I am also thinking of sending you an
Easter present. How would a nice fluffy little kitten please
you? I can offer any of the following patterns:--
Number 3 comes in any color, gray, black, or yellow. If you
will let me know which you would rather have, I will express it
I would write a respectable letter, but it's teatime, and I
see that a guest approaches.
P.S. Don't you know some one who would like to adopt a desirable
baby boy with seventeen nice new teeth?
My dear Judy:
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns! We've had a Good
Friday present of ten dozen, given by Mrs. De Peyster Lambert, a
high church, stained-glass-window soul whom I met at a tea a few
days ago. (Who says now that teas are a silly waste of time?)
She asked me about my "precious little waifs," and said I was
doing a noble work and would be rewarded. I saw buns in her eye,
and sat down and talked to her for half an hour.
Now I shall go and thank her in person, and tell her with a
great deal of affecting detail how much those buns were
appreciated by my precious little waifs--omitting the account of
how precious little Punch threw his bun at Miss Snaith and
plastered her neatly in the eye. I think, with encouragement,
Mrs. De Peyster Lambert can be developed into a cheerful giver.
Oh, I'm growing into the most shocking beggar! My family
don't dare to visit me, because I demand BAKSHISH in such a
brazen manner. I threatened to remove father from my calling
list unless he shipped immediately sixty-five pairs of overalls
for my prospective gardeners. A notice from the freight office
this morning asks me to remove two packing cases consigned to
them by the J. L. McBride Co. of Worcester; so I take it that
father desires to continue my acquaintance. Jimmie hasn't sent
us anything yet, and he's getting a huge salary. I write him
frequently a pathetic list of our needs.
But Gordon Hallock has learned the way to a mother's heart.
I was so pleasant about the peanuts and menagerie that now he
sends a present of some sort every few days, and I spend my
entire time composing thank-you letters that aren't exact copies
of the ones I've sent before. Last week we received a dozen big
scarlet balls. The nursery is FULL of them; you kick them before
you as you walk. And yesterday there arrived a half-bushel of
frogs and ducks and fishes to float in the bathtubs.
Send, O best of trustees, the tubs in which to float them!
I am, as usual,
My dear Judy:
Spring must be lurking about somewhere; the birds are arriving
from the South. Isn't it time you followed their example?
Society note from the BIRD O' PASSAGE NEWS:
"Mr. and Mrs. First Robin have returned from a trip to
Florida. It is hoped that Mr. and Mrs. Jervis Pendleton will
Even up here in our dilatory Dutchess County the breeze
smells green. It makes you want to be out and away, roaming the
hills, or else down on your knees grubbing in the dirt. Isn't it
funny what farmering instincts the budding spring awakens in even
the most urban souls?
I have spent the morning making plans for little private
gardens for every child over nine. The big potato field is
doomed. That is the only feasible spot for sixty-two private
gardens. It is near enough to be watched from the north windows,
and yet far enough away, so that their messing will not injure
our highly prized landscape lawn. Also the earth is rich, and
they have some chance of success. I don't want the poor little
chicks to scratch all summer, and then not turn up any treasure
in the end. In order to furnish an incentive, I shall announce
that the institution will buy their produce and pay in real
money, though I foresee we shall be buried under a mountain of
I do so want to develop self-reliance and initiative in these
children, two sturdy qualities in which they are conspicuously
lacking (with the exception of Sadie Kate and a few other bad
ones). Children who have spirit enough to be bad I consider very
hopeful. It's those who are good just from inertia that are
The last few days have been spent mainly in charming the
devil out of Punch, an interesting task if I could devote my
whole time to it. But with one hundred and seven other little
devils to charm away, my attention is sorely deflected.
The awful thing about this life is that whatever I am doing,
the other things that I am not doing, but ought to be, keep
tugging at my skirts. There is no doubt but Punch's personal
devil needs the whole attention of a whole person,--preferably
two persons,--so that they could spell each other and get some
Sadie Kate has just flown in from the nursery with news of a
scarlet goldfish (Gordon's gift) swallowed by one of our babies.
Mercy! the number of calamities that can occur in an orphan
My children are in bed, and I've just had a thought.
Wouldn't it be heavenly if the hibernating system prevailed among
the human young? There would be some pleasure in running an
asylum if one could just tuck the little darlings into bed the
first of October and keep them there until the twenty-second of
I'm yours, as ever,
Dear Jervis Pendleton, Esq.:
This is to supplement a night telegram which I sent you ten
minutes ago. Fifty words not being enough to convey any idea of
my emotions, I herewith add a thousand.
As you will know by the time you receive this, I have
discharged the farmer, and he has refused to be discharged.
Being twice the size of me, I can't lug him to the gate and chuck
him out. He wants a notification from the president of the board
of trustees written in vigorous language on official paper in
typewriting. So, dear president of the board of trustees, kindly
supply all of this at your earliest convenience.
Here follows the history of the case:
The winter season still being with us when I arrived and
farming activities at a low ebb, I have heretofore paid little
attention to Robert Sterry except to note on two occasions that
his pigpens needed cleaning; but today I sent for him to come and
consult with me in regard to spring planting.
Sterry came, as requested, and seated himself at ease in my
office with his hat upon his head. I suggested as tactfully as
might be that he remove it, an entirely necessary request, as
little orphan boys were in and out on errands, and "hats off in
the house" is our first rule in masculine deportment.
Sterry complied with my request, and stiffened himself to be
against whatever I might desire.
I proceeded to the subject in hand, namely, that the diet of
the John Grier Home in the year to come is to consist less
exclusively of potatoes. At which our farmer grunted in the
manner of the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff, only it was a less ethereal and
gentlemanly grunt than a trustee permits himself. I enumerated
corn and beans and onions and peas and tomatoes and beets and
carrots and turnips as desirable substitutes.
Sterry observed that if potatoes and cabbages was good enough
for him, he guessed they was good enough for charity children.
I proceeded imperturbably to say that the two-acre potato
field was to be plowed and fertilized, and laid out into sixty
individual gardens, the boys assisting in the work.
At that Sterry exploded. The two-acre field was the most
fertile and valuable piece of earth on the whole place. He
guessed if I was to break that up into play gardens for the
children to mess about in, I'd be hearing about it pretty danged
quick from the board of trustees. That field was fitted for
potatoes, it had always raised potatoes, and it was going to
continue to raise them just as long as he had anything to say
"You have nothing whatever to say about it," I amiably
replied. "I have decided that the two-acre field is the best
plot to use for the children's gardens, and you and the potatoes
will have to give way."
Whereupon he rose in a storm of bucolic wrath, and said he'd
be gol darned if he'd have a lot of these danged city brats
interfering with his work.
I explained--very calmly for a red-haired person with Irish
forebears--that this place was run for the exclusive benefit of
these children; that the children were not here to be exploited
for the benefit of the place, a philosophy which he did not
grasp, though my fancy city language had a slightly dampening
effect. I added that what I required in a farmer was the ability
and patience to instruct the boys in gardening and simple outdoor
work; that I wished a man of large sympathies whose example would
be an inspiring influence to these children of the city streets.
Sterry, pacing about like a caged woodchuck, launched into a
tirade about silly Sunday-school notions, and, by a transition
which I did not grasp, passed to a review of the general subject
of woman's suffrage. I gathered that he is not in favor of the
movement. I let him argue himself quiet, then I handed him a
check for his wages, and told him to vacate the tenant house by
twelve o'clock next Wednesday.
Sterry says he'll be danged if he will. (Excuse so many
DANGEDS. It is the creature's only adjective.) He was engaged
to work for this institution by the president of the board of
trustees, and he will not move from that house until the
president of the board of trustees tells him to go. I don't
think poor Sterry realizes that since his arrival a new president
has come to the throne.
ALORS you have the story. I make no threats, but Sterry or
McBride--take your choice, dear sir.
I am also about to write to the head of the Massachusetts
Agricultural College, at Amherst, asking him to recommend a good,
practical man with a nice, efficient, cheerful wife, who will
take the entire care of our modest domain of seventeen acres, and
who will be a man with the right personality to place over our
If we get the farming end of this institution into running
shape, it ought to furnish not only beans and onions for the
table, but education for our hands and brains.
I remain, sir,
Yours most truly,
Superintendent of the John Grier Home.
P.S. I think that Sterry will probably come back some night and
throw rocks through the windows. Shall I have them insured?
My dear Enemy:
You disappeared so quickly this afternoon that I had no chance to
thank you, but the echoes of that discharge penetrated as far as
my library. Also, I have viewed the debris. What on earth did
you do to poor Sterry? Watching the purposeful set of your
shoulders as you strode toward the carriage house, I was filled
with sudden compunction. I did not want the man murdered, merely
reasoned with. I am afraid you were a little harsh.
However, your technic seems to have been effective. Report
says that he has telephoned for a moving wagon and that Mrs.
Sterry is even now on her hands and knees ripping up the parlor
For this relief much thanks.
Your vigorous telegram was, after all, not needed. Dr. Robin
MacRae, who is a grand PAWKY mon when it comes to a fight,
accomplished the business with beautiful directness. I was so
bubbling with rage that immediately after writing to you I called
up the doctor on the telephone, and rehearsed the whole business
over again. Now, our Sandy, whatever his failings (and he has
them), does have an uncommon supply of common sense. He knows
how useful those gardens are going to be, and how worse than
useless Sterry was. Also says he, "The superintendent's
authority must be upheld." (That, incidentally, is beautiful,
coming from him.) But anyway, those were his words. And he hung
up the receiver, cranked up his car, and flew up here at lawless
speed. He marched straight to Sterry, impelled by a fine Scotch
rage, and he discharged the man with such vigor and precision,
that the carriage house window was shattered to fragments.
Since this morning at eleven, when Sterry's wagonload of
furniture rumbled out of the gates, a sweet peace has reigned
over the J. G. H. A man from the village is helping us out while
we hopefully await the farmer of our dreams.
I am sorry to have troubled you with our troubles. Tell Judy
that she owes me a letter, and won't hear from until she has paid
Your ob'd't servant,
In my letter of yesterday to Jervis I forgotted (Punch's word) to
convey to you our thanks for three tin bathtubs. The skyblue tub
with poppies on the side adds a particularly bright note to the
nursery. I do love presents for the babies that are too big to
You will be pleased to hear that our manual training is well
under way. The carpenter benches are being installed in the old
primary room, and until our schoolhouse gets its new addition,
our primary class is meeting on the front porch, in accordance
with Miss Matthew's able suggestion.
The girls' sewing classes are also in progress. A circle of
benches under the copper beech tree accommodates the hand
sewers, while the big girls take turns at our three machines.
Just as soon as they gain some proficiency we will begin the
glorious work of redressing the institution. I know you think
I'm slow, but it's really a task to accomplish one hundred and
eighty new frocks. And the girls will appreciate them so much
more if they do the work themselves.
I may also report that our hygiene system has risen to a high
level. Dr. MacRae has introduced morning and evening exercises,
and a glass of milk and a game of tag in the middle of school
hours. He has instituted a physiology class, and has separated
the children into small groups, so that they may come to his
house, where he has a manikin that comes apart and shows all its
messy insides. They can now rattle off scientific truths about
their little digestions as fluently as Mother Goose rhymes. We
are really becoming too intelligent for recognition. You would
never guess that we were orphans to hear us talk; we are quite
like Boston children.
O Judy, such a calamity! Do you remember several weeks ago I
told you about placing out a nice little girl in a nice family
home where I hoped she would be adopted? It was a kind Christian
family living in a pleasant country village, the foster-father a
deacon in the church. Hattie was a sweet, obedient, housewifely
little body, and it looked as though we had exactly fitted them
to each other. My dear, she was returned this morning for
STEALING. Scandal piled on scandal: SHE HAD STOLEN A COMMUNION
CUP FROM CHURCH!
Between her sobs and their accusations it took me half an
hour to gather the truth. It seems that the church they attend
is very modern and hygienic, like our doctor, and has introduced
individual communion cups. Poor little Hattie had never heard of
communion in her life. In fact, she wasn't very used to church,
Sunday-school having always sufficed for her simple religious
needs. But in her new home she attended both, and one day, to
her pleased surprise, they served refreshments. But they skipped
her. She made no comment, however; she is used to being skipped.
But as they were starting home she saw that the little silver cup
had been casually left in the seat, and supposing that it was a
souvenir that you could take if you wished, she put it into her
It came to light two days later as the most treasured
ornament of her doll's-house. It seems that Hattie long ago saw
a set of doll's dishes in a toy shop window, and has ever since
dreamed of possessing a set of her own. The communion cup was
not quite the same, but it answered. Now, if our family had only
had a little less religion and a little more sense, they would
have returned the cup, perfectly unharmed, and have marched
Hattie to the nearest toy shop and bought her some dishes. But
instead, they bundled the child and her belongings into the first
train they could catch, and shoved her in at our front door,
proclaiming loudly that she was a thief.
I am pleased to say that I gave that indignant deacon and his
wife such a thorough scolding as I am sure they have never
listened to from the pulpit. I borrowed some vigorous bits from
Sandy's vocabulary, and sent them home quite humbled. As for
poor little Hattie, here she is back again, after going out with
such high hopes. It has an awfully bad moral effect on a child
to be returned to the asylum in disgrace, especially when she
wasn't aware of committing a crime. It gives her a feeling that
the world is full of unknown pitfalls, and makes her afraid to
take a step. I must bend all my energies now toward finding
another set of parents for her, and ones that haven't grown so
old and settled and good that they have entirely forgotten their
I forgot to tell you that our new farmer is here, Turnfelt by
name; and his wife is a love, yellow hair and dimples. If she
were an orphan, I could place her in a minute. We can't let her
go to waste. I have a beautiful plan of building an addition to
the farmer's cottage, and establishing under her comfortable care
a sort of brooding-house where we can place our new little
chicks, to make sure they haven't anything contagious and to
eliminate as much profanity as possible before turning them loose
among our other perfect chicks.
How does that strike you? It is very necessary in an
institution as full of noise and movement and stir as this to
have some isolated spot where we can put cases needing individual
attention. Some of our children have inherited nerves, and a
period of quiet contemplation is indicated. Isn't my vocabulary
professional and scientific? Daily intercourse with Dr. Robin
MacRae is extremely educational.
Since Turnfelt came, you should see our pigs. They are so
clean and pink and unnatural that they don't recognize one
another any more as they pass.
Our potato field is also unrecognizable. It has been divided
with string and pegs into as many squares as a checker-board,
and every child has staked out a claim. Seed catalogues form our
only reading matter.
Noah has just returned from a trip to the village for the
Sunday papers to amuse his leisure. Noah is a very cultivated
person; he not only reads perfectly, but he wears tortoise-shell-
rimmed spectacles while he does it. He also brought from the
post office a letter from you, written Friday night. I am pained
to note that you do not care for "Gosta Berling" and that Jervis
doesn't. The only comment I can make is, "What a shocking lack
of literary taste in the Pendleton family!"
Dr. MacRae has another doctor visiting him, a very melancholy
gentleman who is at the head of a private psychopathic
institution, and thinks there's no good in life. But I suppose
this pessimistic view is natural if you eat three meals a day
with a tableful of melancholics. He goes up and down the world
looking for signs of degeneracy, and finds them everywhere. I
expected, after half an hour's conversation, that he would ask to
look down my throat to see if I had a cleft palate. Sandy's
taste in friends seems to resemble his taste in literature.
Gracious! this is a letter!
Thursday, May 2.
Such a bewildering whirl of events! The J. G. H. is breathless.
Incidentally, I am on the way toward solving my problem of what
to do with the children while the carpenters and plumbers and
masons are here. Or, rather, my precious brother has solved it
This afternoon I went over my linen supply, and made the
shocking discovery that we have only sheets enough to change the
children's beds every two weeks, which, it appears, is our
shiftless custom. While I was still in the midst of my household
gear, with a bunch of keys at my girdle, looking like the
chatelaine of a medieval chateau, who should be ushered in but
Being extremely occupied, I dropped a slanting kiss on his
nose, and sent him off to look over the place in charge of my two
oldest urchins. They collected six friends and organized a
baseball game. Jimmie came back blown, but enthusiastic, and
consented to prolong his visit over the week end, though after
the dinner I gave him he has decided to take his future meals at
the hotel. As we sat with our coffee before the fire, I confided
to him my anxiety as to what should be done with the chicks while
their new brooder is building. You know Jimmie. In one half a
minute his plan was formulated.
"Build an Adirondack camp on that little plateau up by the
wood lot. You can make three open shacks, each holding eight
bunks, and move the twenty-four oldest boys out there for the
summer. It won't cost two cents."
"Yes," I objected, "but it will cost more than two cents to
engage a man to look after them."
"Perfectly easy," said Jimmie, grandly. "I'll find you a
college fellow who'll be glad to come during the vacation for his
board and a mere pittance, only you'll have to set up more
filling board than you gave me tonight."
Dr. MacRae dropped in about nine o'clock, after visiting the
hospital ward. We've got three cases of whooping cough, but all
isolated, and no more coming. How those three got in is a
mystery. It seems there is a little bird that brings whooping
cough to orphan asylums.
Jimmie fell upon him for backing in his camp scheme, and the
doctor gave it enthusiastically. They seized pencil and
paper and drew up plans. And before the evening was over, the
last nail was hammered. Nothing would satisfy those two men but
to go to the telephone at ten o'clock and rouse a poor carpenter
from his sleep. He and some lumber are ordered for eight in the
I finally got rid of them at ten-thirty, still talking
uprights and joists and drainage and roof slants.
The excitement of Jimmie and coffee and all these building
operations induced me to sit down immediately and write a letter
to you; but I think, by your leave, I'll postpone further details
to another time.
Will you be after dining with us at seven tonight? It's a real
dinner party; we're going to have ice-cream.
My brother has discovered a promising young man to take
charge of the boys,--maybe you know him,--Mr. Witherspoon, at the
bank. I wish to introduce him to asylum circles by easy steps,
so PLEASE don't mention insanity or epilepsy or alcoholism or any
of your other favorite topics.
He is a gay young society leader, used to very fancy things
to eat. Do you suppose we can ever make him happy at the John
Yours in evident haste,
Jimmie was back at eight Friday morning, and the doctor at a
quarter past. They and the carpenter and our new farmer and Noah
and our two horses and our eight biggest boys have been working
ever since. Never were building operations set going in faster
time. I wish I had a dozen Jimmies on the place, though I will
say that my brother works faster if you catch him before the
first edge of his enthusiasm wears away. He would not be much
good at chiseling out a medieval cathedral.
He came back Saturday morning aglow with a new idea. He had
met at the hotel the night before a friend who belongs to his
hunting club in Canada, and who is cashier of our First (and
only) National Bank.
"He's a bully good sport," said Jimmie, "and exactly the man
you want to camp out with those kids and lick 'em into shape.
He'll be willing to come for his board and forty dollars a month,
because he's engaged to a girl in Detroit and wants to save. I
told him the food was rotten, but if he kicked enough, you'd
probably get a new cook."
"What's his name?" said I, with guarded interest.
"He's got a peach of a name. It's Percy de Forest
I nearly had hysterics. Imagine a Percy de Forest
Witherspoon in charge of those twenty-four wild little savages!
But you know Jimmie when he has an idea. He had already
invited Mr. Witherspoon to dine with me on Saturday evening, and
had ordered oysters and squabs and ice-cream from the village
caterer to help out my veal. It ended by my giving a very
formal dinner party, with Miss Matthews and Betsy and the doctor
I almost asked the Hon. Cy and Miss Snaith. Ever since I
have known those two, I have felt that there ought to be a
romance between them. Never have I known two people who matched
so perfectly. He's a widower with five children. Don't you
suppose it might be arranged? If he had a wife to take up his
attention, it might deflect him a little from us. I'd be getting
rid of them both at one stroke. It's to be considered among our
Anyway, we had our dinner. And during the course of the
evening my anxiety grew, not as to whether Percy would do for us,
but as to whether we should do for Percy. If I searched the
world over, I never could find a young man more calculated to win
the affection of those boys. You know, just by looking at him,
that he does everything well, at least everything vigorous. His
literary and artistic accomplishments I suspect a bit, but he
rides and shoots and plays golf and football and sails a boat.
He likes to sleep out of doors and he likes boys. He has always
wanted to know some orphans; often read about 'em in books, he
says, but never met any face to face. Percy does seem too good
to be true.
Before they left, Jimmie and the doctor hunted up a lantern,
and in their evening clothes conducted Mr. Witherspoon across a
plowed field to inspect his future dwelling.
And such a Sunday as we passed! I had absolutely to forbid
their carpentering. Those men would have put in a full day,
quite irrespective of the damage done to one hundred and four
little moral natures. As it is, they have just stood and looked
at those shacks and handled their hammers, and thought about
where they would drive the first nail tomorrow morning. The more
I study men, the more I realize that they are nothing in the
world but boys grown too big to be spankable.
I am awfully worried as to how to feed Mr. Witherspoon.
He looks as though he had a frightfully healthy appetite, and
he looks as though he couldn't swallow his dinner unless he had
on evening clothes. I've made Betsy send home for a trunkful of
evening gowns in order to keep up our social standing. One thing
is fortunate: he takes his luncheon at the hotel, and I hear
their luncheons are very filling.
Tell Jervis I am sorry he is not with us to drive a nail for
the camp. Here comes the Hon. Cy up the path. Heaven save us!
Ever your unfortunate,
THE JOHN GRIER HOME,
Our camp is finished, our energetic brother has gone, and our
twenty-four boys have passed two healthful nights in the open.
The three bark-covered shacks add a pleasant rustic touch to the
grounds. They are like those we used to have in the Adirondacks,
closed on three sides and open in the front, and one larger than
the rest to allow a private pavilion for Mr. Percy Witherspoon.
An adjacent hut, less exposed to the weather, affords extremely
adequate bathing facilities, consisting of a faucet in the wall
and three watering-cans. Each camp has a bath master who stands
on a stool and sprinkles each little shiverer as he trots under.
Since our trustees WON'T give us enough bathtubs, we have to use
The three camps have organized into three tribes of Indians,
each with a chief of its own to answer for its conduct, Mr.
Witherspoon high chief of all, and Dr. MacRae the medicine
man. They dedicated their lodges Tuesday evening with
appropriate tribal ceremonies. And though they politely invited
me to attend, I decided that it was a purely masculine affair, so
I declined to go, but sent refreshments, a very popular move.
Betsy and I walked as far as the baseball field in the course of
the evening, and caught a glimpse of the orgies. The braves were
squatting in a circle about a big fire, each decorated with a
blanket from his bed and a rakish band of feathers. (Our
chickens seem very scant as to tail, but I have asked no
unpleasant questions.) The doctor, with a Navajo blanket about
his shoulders, was executing a war dance, while Jimmie and Mr.
Witherspoon beat on war drums--two of our copper kettles, now
permanently dented. Fancy Sandy! It's the first youthful
glimmer I have ever caught in the man.
After ten o'clock, when the braves were safely stowed for the
night, the three men came in and limply dropped into comfortable
chairs in my library, with the air of having made martyrs of
themselves in the great cause of charity. But they did not
deceive me. They originated all that tomfoolery for their own
So far Mr. Percy Witherspoon appears fairly happy. He is
presiding at one end of the officers' table under the special
protection of Betsy, and I am told that he instills considerable
life into that sedate assemblage. I have endeavored to run up
their menu a trifle, and he accepts what is put before him with a
perfectly good appetite, irrespective of the absence of such
accustomed trifles as oysters and quail and soft-shell crabs.
There was no sign of a private sitting room that I could put
at this young man's disposal, but he himself has solved the
difficulty by proposing to occupy our new laboratory. So he
spends his evenings with a book and a pipe, comfortably stretched
in the dentist's chair. There are not many society men who would
be willing to spend their evenings so harmlessly. That girl in
Detroit is a lucky young thing.
Mercy! An automobile full of people has just arrived to look
over the institution, and Betsy, who usually does the honors, not
here. I fly.
My dear Gordon:
This is not a letter,--I don't owe you one,--it's a receipt for
sixty-five pairs of roller skates.
I hear that I missed a call today, but Jane delivered your
message, together with the "Genetic Philosophy of Education."
She says that you will call in a few days for my opinion of the
book. Is it to be a written or an oral examination?
And doesn't it ever occur to you that this education business
is rather one-sided? It often strikes me that Dr. Robin MacRae's
mental attitude would also be the better for some slight
refurbishing. I will promise to read your book, provided you
read one of mine. I am sending herewith the "Dolly Dialogues,"
and shall ask for an opinion in a day or so.
It's uphill work making a Scotch Presbyterian frivolous, but
persistency accomplishes wonders.
My dear, dear Judy:
Talk about floods in Ohio! Right here in Dutchess County we are
the consistency of a wet sponge. Rain for five days, and
everything wrong with this institution.
The babies have had croup, and we have been up o' nights with
them. Cook has given notice, and there's a dead rat in the
walls. Our three camps leaked, and in the early dawn, after the
first cloudburst, twenty-four bedraggled little Indians, wrapped
in damp bedding, came shivering to the door and begged for
admission. Since then every clothesline, every stair-railing has
been covered with wet and smelly blankets that steam, but won't
dry. Mr. Percy de Forest Witherspoon has returned to the hotel
to wait until the sun comes out.
After being cooped up for four days with no exercise to
speak of, the children's badness is breaking out in red spots,
like the measles. Betsy and I have thought of every form of
active and innocent occupation that could be carried on in such a
congested quarter as this: blind man's buff and pillow fights and
hide-and-go-seek, gymnastics in the dining room, and bean-bags in
the school room. (We broke two windows.) The boys played
leapfrog up and down the hall, and jarred all the plaster in the
building. We have cleaned energetically and furiously. All the
woodwork has been washed, and all of the floors polished. But
despite everything, we have a great deal of energy left, and we
are getting to that point of nerves where we want to punch one
Sadie Kate has been acting like a little deil--do they have
feminine deils? If not, Sadie Kate has originated the species.
And this afternoon Loretta Higgins had--well, I don't know
whether it was a sort of fit or just a temper. She lay down on
the floor and howled for a solid hour, and when any one tried to
approach her, she thrashed about like a little windmill and bit
By the time the doctor came she had pretty well worn herself
out. He picked her up, limp and drooping, and carried her to a
cot in the hospital room; and after she was asleep he came down
to my library and asked to look at the archives.
Loretta is thirteen; in the three years she has been here she
has had five of these outbreaks, and has been punished good and
hard for them. The child's ancestral record is simple: "Mother
died of alcoholic dementia, Bloomingdale Asylum. Father
He studied the page long and frowningly and shook his head.
"With a heredity like that, is it right to punish the child
for having a shattered nervous system?"
"It is not," said I, firmly. "We will mend her shattered
"If we can."
"We'll feed her up on cod-liver oil and sunshine, and find a
nice kind foster mother who will take pity on the poor little--"
But then my voice trailed off into nothing as I pictured
Loretta's face, with her hollow eyes and big nose and open mouth
and no chin and stringy hair and sticking-out ears. No foster
mother in the world would love a child who looked like that.
"Why, oh, why," I wailed, "doesn't the good Lord send orphan
children with blue eyes and curly hair and loving dispositions?
I could place a million of that sort in kind homes, but no one
"I'm afraid the good Lord doesn't have anything to do with
bringing our Lorettas into the world. It is the devil who
attends to them."
Poor Sandy! He gets awfully pessimistic about the future of
the universe; but I don't wonder, with such a cheerless life as
he leads. He looked today as though his own nervous system was
shattered. He had been splashing about in the rain since five
this morning, when he was called to a sick baby case. I made him
sit down and have some tea, and we had a nice, cheerful talk on
drunkenness and idiocy and epilepsy and insanity. He dislikes
alcoholic parents, but he ties himself into a knot over insane
Privately, I don't believe there's one thing in heredity,
provided you snatch the babies away before their eyes are opened.
We've got the sunniest youngster here you ever saw; his mother
and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Silas all died insane, but he is as
placid and unexcitable as a cow.
Good-by, my dear. I am sorry this is not a more cheerful
letter, though at this moment nothing unpleasant seems to be
happening. It's eleven o'clock, and I have just stuck my head
into the corridor, and all is quiet except for two banging
shutters and leaking eaves. I promised Jane I would go to
bed at ten.
Good night, and joy be wi' ye baith!
P.S. There is one thing in the midst of all my troubles that I
have to be grateful for: the Hon. Cy has been stricken with a
lingering attack of grippe. In a burst of thankfulness I sent
him a bunch of violets.
P.S. 2. We are having an epidemic of pinkeye.
Good morning, my dear Judy!
Three days of sunshine, and the J. G. H. is smiling.
I am getting my immediate troubles nicely settled. Those
beastly blankets have dried at last, and our camps have been made
livable again. They are floored with wooden slats and roofed
with tar paper. (Mr. Witherspoon calls them chicken coops.) We
are digging a stone-lined ditch to convey any further cloudbursts
from the plateau on which they stand to the cornfield below. The
Indians have resumed savage life, and their chief is back at his
The doctor and I have been giving Loretta Higgins's nerves
our most careful consideration. We think that this barrack life,
with its constant movement and stir, is too exciting, and we have
decided that the best plan will be to board her out in a private
family, where she will receive a great deal of individual
The doctor, with his usual resourcefulness, has produced the
family. They live next door to him and are very nice people; I
have just returned from calling. The husband is foreman of the
casting room at the iron works, and the wife is a comfortable
soul who shakes all over when she laughs. They live mostly
in their kitchen in order to keep the parlor neat; but it is such
a cheerful kitchen that I should like to live in it myself. She
has potted begonias in the window and a nice purry tiger cat
asleep on a braided rug in front of the stove. She bakes on
Saturday--cookies and gingerbread and doughnuts. I am planning
to pay my weekly call upon Loretta every Saturday morning at
eleven o'clock. Apparently I made as favorable an impression on
Mrs. Wilson as she made on me. After I had gone, she confided to
the doctor that she liked me because I was just as common as she
Loretta is to learn housework and have a little garden of her
own, and particularly play out of doors in the sunshine. She is
to go to bed early and be fed up on nice nourishing food, and
they are to pet her and make her happy. All this for three
dollars a week!
Why not find a hundred such families, and board out all the
children? Then this building could be turned into an idiot
asylum, and I, not knowing anything about idiots, could
conscientiously resign and go back home and live happily ever
Really, Judy, I am growing frightened. This asylum will get
me if I stay long enough. I am becoming so interested in it that
I can't think or talk or dream of anything else. You and Jervis
have blasted all my prospects in life.
Suppose I should retire and marry and have a family. As
families go nowadays, I couldn't hope for more than five or six
children at the most, and all with the same heredity. But,
mercy! such a family appears perfectly insignificant and
monotonous. You have institutionalized me.
P.S. We have a child here whose father was lynched. Isn't that
a piquant detail to have in one's history?
What shall we do? Mamie Prout does not like prunes. This
antipathy to a cheap and healthful foodstuff is nothing but
imagination, and ought not to be countenanced among the inmates
of a well-managed institution. Mamie must be made to like
prunes. So says our grammar teacher, who spends the noonday hour
with us and overlooks the morals of our charges. About one
o'clock today she marched Mamie to my office charged with the
offense of refusing, ABSOLUTELY refusing, to open her mouth and
put in a prune. The child was plumped down on a stool to await
punishment from me.
Now, as you know, I do not like bananas, and I should hate
awfully to be forced to swallow them; so, by the same token, why
should I force Mamie Prout to swallow prunes?
While I was pondering a course that would seem to uphold Miss
Keller's authority, but would at the same time leave a loophole
for Mamie, I was called to the telephone.
"Sit there until I come back," I said, and went out and
closed the door.
The message was from a kind lady wishing to motor me to a
committee meeting. I didn't tell you that I am organizing local
interest in our behalf. The idle rich who possess estates in
this neighborhood are beginning to drift out from town, and I am
laying my plans to catch them before they are deflected by too
many garden parties and tennis tournaments. They have never been
of the slightest use to this asylum, and I think it's about time
they woke up to a realization of our presence.
Returning at teatime, I was waylaid in the hall by Dr.
MacRae, who demanded some statistics from my office. I
opened the door, and there sat Mamie Prout exactly where she had
been left four hours before.
"Mamie darling!" I cried in horror. "You haven't been here
all this time?"
"Yes, ma'am," said Mamie; "you told me to wait until you came
That poor patient little thing was fairly swaying with
weariness, but she never uttered a whimper.
I will say for Sandy that he was SWEET. He gathered her up
in his arms and carried her to my library, and petted her and
caressed her back to smiles. Jane brought the sewing table and
spread it before the fire, and while the doctor and I had tea,
Mamie had her supper. I suppose, according to the theory of some
educators, now, when she was thoroughly worn out and hungry,
would have been the psychological moment to ply her with prunes.
But you will be pleased to hear that I did nothing of the sort,
and that the doctor for once upheld my unscientific principles.
Mamie had the most wonderful supper of her life, embellished
with strawberry jam from my private jar and peppermints from
Sandy's pocket. We returned her to her mates happy and
comforted, but still possessing that regrettable distaste for
Did you ever know anything more appalling than this soul-
crushing unreasoning obedience which Mrs. Lippett so insistently
fostered? It's the orphan asylum attitude toward life, and
somehow I must crush it out. Initiative, responsibility,
curiosity, inventiveness, fight--oh dear! I wish the doctor had
a serum for injecting all these useful virtues into an orphan's
I wish you'd come back to New York. I've appointed you press
agent for this institution, and we need some of your floweriest
writing immediately. There are seven tots here crying to be
adopted, and it's your business to advertise them.
Little Gertrude is cross-eyed, but dear and affectionate and
generous. Can't you write her up so persuasively that some
loving family will be willing to take her even if she isn't
beautiful? Her eyes can be operated on when she's older; but if
it were a cross disposition she had, no surgeon in the world
could remove that. The child knows there is something missing,
though she has never seen a live parent in her life. She holds
up her arms persuasively to every person who passes. Put in all
the pathos you are capable of, and see if you can't fetch her a
mother and father.
Maybe you can get one of the New York papers to run a Sunday
feature article about a lot of different children. I'll send
some photographs. You remember what a lot of responses that
"Smiling Joe" picture brought for the Sea Breeze people? I can
furnish equally taking portraits of Laughing Lou and Gurgling
Gertrude and Kicking Karl if you will just add the literary
And do find me some sports who are not afraid of heredity.
This wanting every child to come from one of the first families
of Virginia is getting tiresome.
Yours, as usual,
My dear, dear Judy:
Such an upheaval! I've discharged the cook and the housekeeper,
and in delicate language conveyed the impression to our grammar
teacher that she needn't come back next year. But, oh, if I
could only discharge the Honorable Cy!
I must tell you what happened this morning. Our trustee, who
has had a dangerous illness, is now dangerously well again, and
dropped in to pay a neighborly call. Punch was occupying a rug
on my library floor, virtuously engaged with building blocks. I
am separating him from the other kindergarten children, and
trying the Montessori method of a private rug and no nervous
distraction. I was flattering myself that it was working well;
his vocabulary of late has become almost prudish.
After half an hour's desultory visit, the Hon. Cy rose to go.
As the door closed behind him (I am at least thankful the child
waited for that), Punch raised his appealing brown eyes to mine
and murmured, with a confiding smile:
"Gee! ain't he got de hell of a mug?"
If you know a kind Christian family where I can place out a
sweet little five-year boy, please communicate at once with
Sup't John Grier Home.
I've never known anything like you two snails. You've only just
reached Washington, and I have had my suitcase packed for days,
ready to spend a rejuvenating week end CHEZ VOUS. Please hurry!
I've languished in this asylum atmosphere as long as humanely
possible. I shall gasp and die if I don't get a change.
on the point of suffocation,
P.S. Drop a card to Gordon Hallock, telling him you are there.
He will be charmed to put himself and the Capitol at your
disposal. I know that Jervis doesn't like him, but Jervis ought
to get over his baseless prejudices against politicians. Who
knows? I may be entering politics myself some day.
My dear Judy:
We do receive the most amazing presents from our friends and
benefactors. Listen to this. Last week Mr. Wilton J. Leverett
(I quote from his card) ran over a broken bottle outside our
gate, and came in to visit the institution while his chauffeur
was mending the tire. Betsy showed him about. He took an
intelligent interest in everything he saw, particularly our new
camps. That is an exhibit which appeals to men. He ended
by removing his coat, and playing baseball with two tribes of
Indians. After an hour and a half he suddenly looked at his
watch, begged for a glass of water, and bowed himself off.
We had entirely forgotten the episode until this afternoon,
when the expressman drove up to the door with a present for the
John Grier Home from the chemical laboratories of Wilton J.
Leverett. It was a barrel--well, anyway, a good sized keg--full
of liquid green soap!
Did I tell you that the seeds for our garden came from
Washington? A polite present from Gordon Hallock and the U. S.
Government. As an example of what the past regime did not
accomplish, Martin Schladerwitz, who has spent three years on
this pseudo farm, knew no more than to dig a grave two feet deep
and bury his lettuce seeds!
Oh, you can't imagine the number of fields in which we need
making over; but of course you, of all people, can imagine.
Little by little I am getting my eyes wide open, and things that
just looked funny to me at first, now--oh dear! It's very
disillusionizing. Every funny thing that comes up seems to have
a little tragedy wrapped inside it.
Just at present we are paying anxious attention to our
manners--not orphan asylum manners, but dancing school manners.
There is to be nothing Uriah Heepish about our attitude toward
the world. The little girls make curtseys when they shake hands,
and the boys remove caps and rise when a lady stands, and push in
chairs at the table. (Tommy Woolsey shot Sadie Kate into her
soup yesterday, to the glee of all observers except Sadie, who is
an independent young damsel and doesn't care for these useless
masculine attentions.) At first the boys were inclined to jeer,
but after observing the politeness of their hero, Percy de Forest
Witherspoon, they have come up to the mark like little
Punch is paying a call this morning. For the last half-hour,
while I have been busily scratching away to you, he has been
established in the window seat, quietly and undestructively
engaged with colored pencils. Betsy, EN PASSANT, just dropped a
kiss upon his nose.
"Aw, gwan!" said Punch, blushing quite pink, and wiping off
the caress with a fine show of masculine indifference. But I
notice he has resumed work upon his red-and-green landscape with
heightened ardor and an attempt at whistling. We'll succeed yet
in conquering that young man's temper.
The doctor is in a very grumbly mood today. He called just
as the children were marching in to dinner, whereupon he marched,
too, and sampled their food, and, oh, my dear! the potatoes were
scorched! And such a clishmaclaver as that man made! It is the
first time the potatoes ever have been scorched, and you know
that scorching sometimes happens in the best of families. But
you would think from Sandy's language that the cook had scorched
them on purpose, in accordance with my orders.
As I have told you before, I could do very nicely without
Yesterday being a wonderful sunny day, Betsy and I turned our
backs upon duty and motored to the very fancy home of some
friends of hers, where we had tea in an Italian garden. Punch
and Sadie Kate had been SUCH good children all day that at the
last moment we telephoned for permission to include them, too.
"Yes, indeed, do bring the little dears," was the
But the choice of Punch and Sadie Kate was a mistake. We
ought to have taken Mamie Prout, who has demonstrated her ability
to sit. I shall spare you the details of our visit; the climax
was reached when Punch went goldfishing in the bottom of the
swimming pool. Our host pulled him out by an agitated leg, and
the child returned to the asylum swathed in that gentleman's
What do you think? Dr. Robin MacRae, in a contrite mood for
having been so intensely disagreeable yesterday, has just invited
Betsy and me to take supper in his olive-green house next Sunday
evening at seven o'clock in order to look at some
microscopic slides. The entertainment, I believe, is to consist
of a scarlet-fever culture, some alcoholic tissue, and a
tubercular gland. These social attentions bore him excessively;
but he realizes that if he is to have free scope in applying his
theories to the institution he must be a little polite to its
I have just read this letter over, and I must admit that it
skips lightly from topic to topic. But though it may not contain
news of any great moment, I trust you will realize that its
writing has consumed every vacant minute during the last three
Most fully occupied,
P.S. A blessed woman came this morning and said she would take a
child for the summer--one of the sickest, weakest, neediest
babies I could give her. She had just lost her husband, and
wanted something HARD to do. Isn't that really very touching?
Dear Judy and Jervis:
Brother Jimmie (we are very alliterative!), spurred on by sundry
begging letters from me, has at last sent us a present; but he
picked it out himself.
WE HAVE A MONKEY! His name is Java.
The children no longer hear the school bell ring. On the day the
creature came, this entire institution formed in line and filed
past and shook his paw. Poor Sing's nose is out of joint. I
have to PAY to have him washed.
Sadie Kate is developing into my private secretary. I have
her answer the thank-you letters for the institution, and her
literary style is making a hit among our benefactors. She
invariably calls out a second gift. I had hitherto believed that
the Kilcoyne family sprang from the wild west of Ireland, but I
begin to suspect that their source was nearer Blarney Castle.
You can see from the inclosed copy of the letter she sent to
Jimmie what a persuasive pen the young person has. I trust that
in this case at least, it will not bear the fruit that she
Dear Mr. Jimie
We thank you very much for the lovly monkey you give. We name
him java because that's a warm iland across the ocian where he
was born up in a nest like a bird only big the doctor told us.
The first day he come every boy and girl shook his hand and
said good morning java his hand feels funny he holds so tite. I
was afraid to touch him but now I let him sit on my shoulder and
put his arms around my kneck if he wants to. He makes a funny
noise that sounds like swering and gets mad when his tale is
We love him dearly and we love you two.
The next time you have to give a present, please send an
elifant. Well I guess Ill stop.
SADIE KATE KILCOYNE.
Percy de Forest Witherspoon is still faithful to his little
followers, though I am so afraid he will get tired that I urge
him to take frequent vacations. He has not only been faithful
himself, but has brought in recruits. He has large social
connections in the neighborhood, and last Saturday evening he
introduced two friends, nice men who sat around the campfire and
swapped hunting stories.
One of them was just back from around the world, and told
hair-raising anecdotes of the head hunters of Sarawak, a narrow
pink country on the top of Borneo. My little braves pant to grow
up and get to Sarawak, and go out on the war-path after head
hunters. Every encyclopedia in this institution has been
consulted, and there isn't a boy here who cannot tell you the
history, manners, climate, flora, and fungi of Borneo. I only
wish Mr. Witherspoon would introduce friends who had been head
hunting in England, France, and Germany, countries not quite so
CHIC as Sarawak, but more useful for general culture.
We have a new cook, the fourth since my reign began. I
haven't bothered you with my cooking troubles, but institutions
don't escape any more than families. The last is a negro woman,
a big, fat, smiling, chocolate-colored creature from Souf
Ca'lina. And ever since she came on honey dew we've fed! Her
name is--what do you guess? SALLIE, if you please. I suggested
that she change it.
"Sho, Miss, I's had dat name Sallie longer'n you, an' I
couldn't get used nohow to answerin' up pert-like when you sings
out `Mollie!' Seems like Sallie jest b'longs to me."
So "Sallie" she remains; but at least there is no danger of
our getting our letters mixed, for her last name is nothing so
plebeian as McBride. It's Johnston-Washington, with a hyphen.
Our favorite game of late is finding pet names for Sandy.
His austere presence lends itself to caricature. We have just
originated a new batch. The "Laird o' Cockpen" is Percy's
The Laird o' Cockpen he's proud and he's great;
His mind is ta'en up wi' the things of the state.
Miss Snaith disgustedly calls him "that man," and Betsy refers to
him (in his absence) as "Dr. Cod-Liver." My present favorite is
"Macphairson Clon Glocketty Angus McClan." But for real poetic
feeling, Sadie Kate beats us all. She calls him "Mister Someday
Soon." I don't believe that the doctor ever dropped into verse
but once in his life, but every child in this institution knows
that one poem by heart.
Someday soon something nice is going to happen;
Be a good little girl and take this hint:
Swallow with a smile your cod-liver ile,
And the first thing you know you will have a peppermint.
It's this evening that Betsy and I attend his supper party,
and I confess that we are looking forward to seeing the interior
of his gloomy mansion with gleeful eagerness. He never talks
about himself or his past or anybody connected with himself. He
appears to be an isolated figure standing on a pedestal labeled
S C I E N C E, without a glimmer of any ordinary affections or
emotions or human frailties except temper. Betsy and I are
simply eaten up with curiosity to know what sort of past he came
out of; but just let us get inside his house, and to our
detective senses it will tell its own story. So long as the
portal was guarded by a fierce McGurk, we had despaired of ever
effecting an entrance; but now, behold! The door has opened of
its own accord.
To be continued.
We attended the doctor's supper party last night, Betsy and Mr.
Witherspoon and I. It turned out a passably cheerful occasion,
though I will say that it began under heavy auspices.
His house on the inside is all that the outside promises.
Never in my life have I seen such an interior as that man's
dining room. The walls and carpets and lambrequins are a heavy
dark green. A black marble mantelpiece shelters a few smoking
black coals. The furniture is as nearly black as furniture
comes. The decorations are two steel engravings in shiny black
frames--the "Monarch of the Glen," and the "Stag at Bay."
We tried hard to be light and sparkling, but it was like
eating supper in the family vault. Mrs. McGurk, in black alpaca
with a black silk apron, clumped around the table, passing cold,
heavy things to eat, with a step so firm that she rattled the
silver in the sideboard drawers. Her nose was up, and her mouth
was down. She clearly does not approve of the master's
entertaining, and she wishes to discourage all guests from ever
Sandy sort of dimly knows that there is something the matter
with his house, and in order to brighten it up a bit in honor of
his guests, he had purchased flowers,--dozens of them,--the most
exquisite pink Killarney roses and red and yellow tulips. The
McGurk had wedged them all together as tight as they would fit
into a peacock-blue jardiniere, and plumped it down in the center
of the table. The thing was as big as a bushel-basket.
Betsy and I nearly forgot our manners when we saw that
centerpiece; but the doctor seemed so innocently pleased at
having obtained a bright note in his dining room that we
suppressed our amusement and complimented him warmly upon his
happy color scheme.
The moment supper was over, we hastened with relief to his
own part of the house, where the McGurk's influence does not
penetrate. No one in a cleaning capacity ever enters either his
library or office or laboratory except Llewelyn, a short, wiry,
bow-legged Welshman, who combines to a unique degree the
qualities of chambermaid and chauffeur.
The library, though not the most cheerful room I have ever
seen, still, for a man's house, is not so bad--books all around
from floor to ceiling, with the overflow in piles on floor and
table and mantelpiece; half a dozen abysmal leather chairs and a
rug or so, with another black marble mantelpiece, but this time
containing a crackling wood fire. By way of bric-a-brac, he has
a stuffed pelican and a crane with a frog in its mouth, also a
raccoon sitting on a log, and a varnished tarpon. A faint
suggestion of iodoform floats in the air.
The doctor made the coffee himself in a French machine, and
we dismissed his housekeeper from our spirits. He really did do
his best to be a thoughtful host and I have to report that the
word "insanity" was not once mentioned. It seems that Sandy, in
his moments of relaxation, is a fisherman. He and Percy began
swapping stories of salmon and trout, and he finally got out his
case of fishing flies, and gallantly presented Betsy and me with
a "silver doctor" and a "Jack Scott" out of which to make
hatpins. Then the conversation wandered to sport on the Scotch
moors, and he told about one time when he was lost, and spent the
night out in the heather. There is no doubt about it, Sandy's
heart is in the highlands.
I am afraid that Betsy and I have wronged him. Though
it is hard to relinquish the interesting idea, he may not,
after all, have committed a crime. We are now leaning to the
belief that he was crossed in love.
It's really horrid of me to make fun of poor Sandy, for,
despite his stern bleakness of disposition, he's a pathetic
figure of a man. Think of coming home after an anxious day's
round to eat a solitary dinner in that grim dining room!
Do you suppose it would cheer him up a little if I should
send my company of artists to paint a frieze of rabbits around
With love, as usual,
Aren't you ever coming back to New York? Please hurry! I need a
new hat, and am desirous of shopping for it on Fifth Avenue, not
on Water Street. Mrs. Gruby, our best milliner, does not believe
in slavishly following Paris Fashions; she originates her own
styles. But three years ago, as a great concession to
convention, she did make a tour of the New York shops, and is
still creating models on the uplift of that visit.
Also, besides my own hat, I must buy 113 hats for my
children, to say nothing of shoes and knickerbockers and shirts
and hair-ribbons and stockings and garters. It's quite a task to
keep a little family like mine decently clothed.
Did you get that big letter I wrote you last week? You never
had the grace to mention it in yours of Thursday, and it was
seventeen pages long, and took me DAYS to write.
P.S. Why don't you tell me some news about Gordon? Have you
seen him, and did he mention me? Is he running after any of
those pretty Southern girls that Washington is so full of? You
know that I want to hear. Why must you be so beastly
Tuesday, 4:27 P.M.
Your telegram came two minutes ago by telephone.
Yes, thank you, I shall be delighted to arrive at 5:49 on
Thursday afternoon. And don't make any engagements for that
evening, please, as I intend to sit up until midnight talking
John Grier gossip with you and the president.
Friday and Saturday and Monday I shall have to devote to
shopping. Oh, yes, you're right; I already possess more clothes
than any jailbird needs, but when spring comes, I must have new