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Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

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December 27.
Dear Judy:

Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement.
Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas
present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model
institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money?
Me--I, Sallie McBride, the head of an orphan asylum! My poor
people, have you lost your senses, or have you become addicted to
the use of opium, and is this the raving of two fevered
imaginations? I am exactly as well fitted to take care of one
hundred children as to become the curator of a zoo.

And you offer as bait an interesting Scotch doctor? My dear
Judy,--likewise my dear Jervis,--I see through you! I know
exactly the kind of family conference that has been held about
the Pendleton fireside.

"Isn't it a pity that Sallie hasn't amounted to more since
she left college? She ought to be doing something useful instead
of frittering her time away in the petty social life of
Worcester. Also [Jervis speaks] she is getting interested in
that confounded young Hallock, too good-looking and fascinating
and erratic; I never did like politicians. We must deflect her
mind with some uplifting and absorbing occupation until the
danger is past. Ha! I have it! We will put her in charge of
the John Grier Home." Oh, I can hear him as clearly as if I were
there! On the occasion of my last visit in your delectable
household Jervis and I had a very solemn conversation in regard
to (1) marriage, (2) the low ideals of politicians, (3) the
frivolous, useless lives that society women lead.

Please tell your moral husband that I took his words deeply
to heart, and that ever since my return to Worcester I have been
spending one afternoon a week reading poetry with the inmates of
the Female Inebriate Asylum. My life is not so purposeless as it

Also let me assure you that the politician is not dangerously
imminent; and that, anyway, he is a very desirable politician,
even though his views on tariff and single tax and trade-unionism
do not exactly coincide with Jervis's.

Your desire to dedicate my life to the public good is very
sweet, but you should look at it from the asylum's point of view.

Have you no pity for those poor defenseless little orphan

I have, if you haven't, and I respectfully decline the
position which you offer.

I shall be charmed, however, to accept your invitation to
visit you in New York, though I must acknowledge that I am not
very excited over the list of gaieties you have planned.

Please substitute for the New York Orphanage and the
Foundling Hospital a few theaters and operas and a dinner or so.
I have two new evening gowns and a blue and gold coat with a
white fur collar.

I dash to pack them; so telegraph fast if you don't wish to
see me for myself alone, but only as a successor to Mrs. Lippett.
Yours as ever,

Entirely frivolous,

And intending to remain so,


P.S. Your invitation is especially seasonable. A charming young
politician named Gordon Hallock is to be in New York next week.
I am sure you will like him when you know him better. P.S. 2.
Sallie taking her afternoon walk as Judy would like to see her:

I ask you again, have you both gone mad?


February 15.
Dear Judy:

We arrived in a snowstorm at eleven last night, Singapore and
Jane and I. It does not appear to be customary for
superintendents of orphan asylums to bring with them personal
maids and Chinese chows. The night watchman and housekeeper, who
had waited up to receive me, were thrown into an awful flutter.
They had never seen the like of Sing, and thought that I was
introducing a wolf into the fold. I reassured them as to his
dogginess, and the watchman, after studying his black tongue,
ventured a witticism. He wanted to know if I fed him on
huckleberry pie.

It was difficult to find accommodations for my family, Poor
Sing was dragged off whimpering to a strange woodshed, and given
a piece of burlap. Jane did not fare much better. There was not
an extra bed in the building, barring a five-foot crib in the
hospital room. She, as you know, approaches six. We tucked her
in, and she spent the night folded up like a jackknife. She has
limped about today, looking like a decrepit letter S, openly
deploring this latest escapade on the part of her flighty
mistress, and longing for the time when we shall come to our
senses, and return to the parental fireside in Worcester.

I know that she is going to spoil all my chances of being
popular with the rest of the staff. Having her here is the
silliest idea that was ever conceived, but you know my family. I
fought their objections step by step, but they made their last
stand on Jane. If I brought her along to see that I ate
nourishing food and didn't stay up all night, I might come--
temporarily; but if I refused to bring her--oh, dear me, I am
not sure that I was ever again to cross the threshold of Stone
Gate! So here we are, and neither of us very welcome, I am

I woke by a gong at six this morning, and lay for a time
listening to the racket that twenty-five little girls made in the
lavatory over my head. It appears that they do not get baths,--
just face-washes,--but they make as much splashing as twenty-five
puppies in a pool. I rose and dressed and explored a bit. You
were wise in not having me come to look the place over before I

While my little charges were at breakfast, it seemed a happy
time to introduce myself; so I sought the dining room. Horror
piled on horror--those bare drab walls and oil-cloth-covered
tables with tin cups and plates and wooden benches, and, by way
of decoration, that one illuminated text, "The Lord Will
Provide"! The trustee who added that last touch must possess a
grim sense of humor.

Really, Judy, I never knew there was any spot in the world so
entirely ugly; and when I saw those rows and rows of pale,
listless, blue-uniformed children, the whole dismal business
suddenly struck me with such a shock that I almost collapsed. It
seemed like an unachievable goal for one person to bring sunshine
to one hundred little faces when what they need is a mother

I plunged into this thing lightly enough, partly because you
were too persuasive, and mostly, I honestly think, because that
scurrilous Gordon Hallock laughed so uproariously at the idea of
my being able to manage an asylum. Between you all you
hypnotized me. And then of course, after I began reading up on
the subject and visiting all those seventeen institutions, I got
excited over orphans, and wanted to put my own ideas into
practice. But now I'm aghast at finding myself here; it's such a
stupendous undertaking. The future health and happiness of a
hundred human beings lie in my hands, to say nothing of their
three or four hundred children and thousand grandchildren. The
thing's geometrically progressive. It's awful. Who am I to
undertake this job? Look, oh, look for another superintendent!

Jane says dinner's ready. Having eaten two of your
institution meals, the thought of another doesn't excite me.


The staff had mutton hash and spinach, with tapioca pudding
for dessert. What the children had I hate to consider.

I started to tell you about my first official speech at
breakfast this morning. It dealt with all the wonderful new
changes that are to come to the John Grier Home through the
generosity of Mr. Jervis Pendleton, the president of our board of
trustees, and of Mrs. Pendleton, the dear "Aunt Judy" of every
little boy and girl here.

Please don't object to my featuring the Pendleton family so
prominently. I did it for political reasons. As the entire
working staff of the institution was present, I thought it a good
opportunity to emphasize the fact that all of these upsetting,
innovations come straight from headquarters, and not out of my
excitable brain.

The children stopped eating and stared. The conspicuous
color of my hair and the frivolous tilt of my nose are evidently
new attributes in a superintendent. My colleagues also showed
plainly that they consider me too young and too inexperienced to
be set in authority. I haven't seen Jervis's wonderful Scotch
doctor yet, but I assure you that he will have to be VERY
wonderful to make up for the rest of these people, especially the
kindergarten teacher. Miss Snaith and I clashed early on the
subject of fresh air; but I intend to get rid of this dreadful
institution smell, if I freeze every child into a little ice

This being a sunny, sparkling, snowy afternoon, I ordered
that dungeon of a playroom closed and the children out of doors.

"She's chasin' us out," I heard one small urchin grumbling as
he struggled into a two-years-too-small overcoat.

They simply stood about the yard, all humped in their
clothes, waiting patiently to be allowed to come back in. No
running or shouting or coasting or snowballs. Think of it!
These children don't know how to play.


I have already begun the congenial task of spending your
money. I bought eleven hot-water bottles this afternoon (every
one that the village drug store contained) likewise some woolen
blankets and padded quilts. And the windows are wide open in the
babies' dormitory. Those poor little tots are going to enjoy the
perfectly new sensation of being able to breathe at night.

There are a million things I want to grumble about, but it's
half-past ten, and Jane says I MUST go to bed.

Yours in command,


P.S. Before turning in, I tiptoed through the corridor to make
sure that all was right, and what do you think I found? Miss
Snaith softly closing the windows in the babies' dormitory! Just
as soon as I can find a suitable position for her in an old
ladies' home, I am going to discharge that woman.

Jane takes the pen from my hand.

Good night.


February 20.
Dear Judy:

Dr. Robin MacRae called this afternoon to make the acquaintance
of the new superintendent. Please invite him to dinner upon the
occasion of his next visit to New York, and see for yourself what
your husband has done. Jervis grossly misrepresented the facts
when he led me to believe that one of the chief advantages of my
position would be the daily intercourse with a man of Dr.
MacRae's polish and brilliancy and scholarliness and charm.

He is tall and thinnish, with sandy hair and cold gray eyes.
During the hour he spent in my society (and I was very sprightly)
no shadow of a smile so much as lightened the straight line of
his mouth. Can a shadow lighten? Maybe not; but, anyway, what
IS the matter with the man? Has he committed some remorseful
crime, or is his taciturnity due merely to his natural
Scotchness? He's as companionable as a granite tombstone!

Incidentally, our doctor didn't like me any more than I liked
him. He thinks I'm frivolous and inconsequential, and totally
unfitted for this position of trust. I dare say Jervis has had a
letter from him by now asking to have me removed.

In the matter of conversation we didn't hit it off in the
least. He discussed broadly and philosophically the evils of
institutional care for dependent children, while I lightly
deplored the unbecoming coiffure that prevails among our girls.

To prove my point, I had in Sadie Kate, my special errand
orphan. Her hair is strained back as tightly as though it had
been done with a monkey wrench, and is braided behind into two
wiry little pigtails. Decidedly, orphans' ears need to be
softened. But Dr. Robin MacRae doesn't give a hang whether their
ears are becoming or not; what he cares about is their stomachs.
We also split upon the subject of red petticoats. I don't see
how any little girl can preserve any self-respect when dressed in
a red flannel petticoat an irregular inch longer than her blue
checked gingham dress; but he thinks that red petticoats are
cheerful and warm and hygienic. I foresee a warlike reign for
the new superintendent.

In regard to the doctor, there is just one detail to be
thankful for: he is almost as new as I am, and he cannot instruct
me in the traditions of the asylum. I don't believe I COULD have
worked with the old doctor, who, judging from the specimens of
his art that he left behind, knew as much about babies as a
veterinary surgeon.

In the matter of asylum etiquette, the entire staff has
undertaken my education. Even the cook this morning told me
firmly that the John Grier Home has corn meal mush on Wednesday

Are you searching hard for another superintendent? I'll stay
until she comes, but please find her fast.


With my mind made up,




February 27.
Dear Gordon:

Are you still insulted because I wouldn't take your advice?
Don't you know that a reddish-haired person of Irish forebears,
with a dash of Scotch, can't be driven, but must be gently led?
Had you been less obnoxiously insistent, I should have listened
sweetly, and been saved. As it is, I frankly confess that I have
spent the last five days in repenting our quarrel. You were
right, and I was wrong, and, as you see, I handsomely acknowledge
it. If I ever emerge from this present predicament, I shall in
the future be guided (almost always) by your judgment. Could any
woman make a more sweeping retraction than that?

The romantic glamour which Judy cast over this orphan asylum
exists only in her poetic imagination. The place is AWFUL.
Words can't tell you how dreary and dismal and smelly it is: long
corridors, bare walls; blue-uniformed, dough-faced little inmates
that haven't the slightest resemblance to human children. And
oh, the dreadful institution smell! A mingling of wet scrubbed
floors, unaired rooms, and food for a hundred people always
steaming on the stove.

The asylum not only has to be made over, but every child as
well, and it's too herculean a task for such a selfish,
luxurious, and lazy person as Sallie McBride ever to have
undertaken. I'm resigning the very first moment that Judy can
find a suitable successor, but that, I fear, will not be
immediately. She has gone off South, leaving me stranded, and of
course, after having promised, I can't simply abandon her
asylum. But in the meantime I assure you that I'm homesick.

Write me a cheering letter, and send a flower to brighten my
private drawing room. I inherited it, furnished, from Mrs.
Lippett. The wall is covered with a tapestry paper in brown and
red; the furniture is electric-blue plush, except the center
table, which is gilt. Green predominates in the carpet. If you
presented some pink rosebuds, they would complete the color

I really was obnoxious that last evening, but you are

Remorsefully yours,


P.S. You needn't have been so grumpy about the Scotch doctor.
The man is everything dour that the word "Scotch" implies. I
detest him on sight, and he detests me. Oh, we're going to have
a sweet time working together


February 22.

My dear Gordon:

Your vigorous and expensive message is here. I know that you
have plenty of money, but that is no reason why you should waste
it so frivolously. When you feel so bursting with talk that only
a hundred-word telegram will relieve an explosion, at least turn
it into a night lettergram. My orphans can use the money if you
don't need it.

Also, my dear sir, please use a trifle of common sense. Of
course I can't chuck the asylum in the casual manner you
suggest. It wouldn't be fair to Judy and Jervis. If you
will pardon the statement, they have been my friends for many
more years than you, and I have no intention of letting them go
hang. I came up here in a spirit of--well, say adventure, and I
must see the venture through. You wouldn't like me if I were a
short sport. This doesn't mean, however, that I am sentencing
myself for life; I am in tending to resign just as soon as the
opportunity comes. But really I ought to feel somewhat gratified
that the Pendletons were willing to trust me with such a
responsible post. Though you, my dear sir, do not suspect it, I
possess considerable executive ability, and more common sense
than is visible on the surface. If I chose to put my whole soul
into this enterprise, I could make the rippingest superintendent
that any 111 orphans ever had.

I suppose you think that's funny? It's true. Judy and
Jervis know it, and that's why they asked me to come. So you
see, when they have shown so much confidence in me, I can't throw
them over in quite the unceremonious fashion you suggest. So
long as I am here, I am going to accomplish just as much as it is
given one person to accomplish every twenty-four hours. I am
going to turn the place over to my successor with things moving
fast in the right direction.

But in the meantime please don't wash your hands of me under
the belief that I'm too busy to be homesick; for I'm not. I wake
up every morning and stare at Mrs. Lippett's wallpaper in a sort
of daze, feeling as though it's some bad dream, and I'm not
really here. What on earth was I thinking of to turn my back
upon my nice cheerful own home and the good times that by rights
are mine? I frequently agree with your opinion of my sanity.

But why, may I ask, should you be making such a fuss? You
wouldn't be seeing me in any case. Worcester is quite as far
from Washington as the John Grier Home. And I will add, for your
further comfort, that whereas there is no man in the
neighborhood of this asylum who admires red hair, in Worcester
there are several. Therefore, most difficult of men, please be
appeased. I didn't come entirely to spite you. I wanted an
adventure in life, and, oh dear! oh dear! I'm having it!
PLEASE write soon, and cheer me up.
Yours in sackcloth,



February 24.
Dear Judy:

You tell Jervis that I am not hasty at forming judgments. I have
a sweet, sunny, unsuspicious nature, and I like everybody,
almost. But no one could like that Scotch doctor. He NEVER

He paid me another visit this afternoon. I invited him to
accommodate himself in one of Mrs. Lippett's electric-blue
chairs, and then sat down opposite to enjoy the harmony. He was
dressed in a mustard-colored homespun, with a dash of green and a
glint of yellow in the weave, a "heather mixture" calculated to
add life to a dull Scotch moor. Purple socks and a red tie, with
an amethyst pin, completed the picture. Clearly, your paragon of
a doctor is not going to be of much assistance in pulling up the
esthetic tone of this establishment.

During the fifteen minutes of his call he succinctly outlined
all the changes he wishes to see accomplished in this
institution. HE forsooth! And what, may I ask, are the duties
of a superintendent? Is she merely a figurehead to take
orders from the visiting physician?

It's up wi' the bonnets o' McBride and MacRae!

I am,

Indignantly yours,


Dear Dr. MacRae:

I am sending this note by Sadie Kate, as it seems impossible to
reach you by telephone. Is the person who calls herself Mrs.
McGur-rk and hangs up in the middle of a sentence your
housekeeper? If she answers the telephone often, I don't see how
your patients have any patience left.

As you did not come this morning, per agreement, and the
painters did come, I was fain to choose a cheerful corn color to
be placed upon the walls of your new laboratory room. I trust
there is nothing unhygienic about corn color.

Also, if you can spare a moment this afternoon, kindly motor
yourself to Dr. Brice's on Water Street and look at the dentist's
chair and appurtenances which are to be had at half-price. If
all of the pleasant paraphernalia of his profession were here,--
in a corner of your laboratory,--Dr. Brice could finish his 111
new patients with much more despatch than if we had to transport
them separately to Water Street. Don't you think that's a useful
idea? It came to me in the middle of the night, but as I never
happened to buy a dentist's chair before, I'd appreciate some
professional advice.
Yours truly,



March 1.
Dear Judy:
Do stop sending me telegrams!

Of course I know that you want to know everything that is
happening, and I would send a daily bulletin, but I truly don't
find a minute. I am so tired when night comes that if it weren't
for Jane's strict discipline, I should go to bed with my clothes

Later, when we slip a little more into routine, and I can be
sure that my assistants are all running off their respective
jobs, I shall be the regularest correspondent you ever had.

It was five days ago, wasn't it, that I wrote? Things have
been happening in those five days. The MacRae and I have mapped
out a plan of campaign, and are stirring up this place to its
sluggish depths. I like him less and less, but we have declared
a sort of working truce. And the man IS a worker. I always
thought I had sufficient energy myself, but when an improvement
is to be introduced, I toil along panting in his wake. He is as
stubborn and tenacious and bull-doggish as a Scotchman can be,
but he does understand babies; that is, he understands their
physiological aspects. He hasn't any more feeling for them
personally than for so many frogs that he might happen to be

Do you remember Jervis's holding forth one evening for an
hour or so about our doctor's beautiful humanitarian ideals?
C'EST A RIRE! The man merely regards the J. G. H. as his own
private laboratory, where he can try out scientific experiments
with no loving parents to object. I shouldn't be surprised
anyday to find him introducing scarlet fever cultures into
the babies' porridge in order to test a newly invented serum.

Of the house staff, the only two who strike me as really
efficient are the primary teacher and the furnace-man. You
should see how the children run to meet Miss Matthews and beg for
caresses, and how painstakingly polite they are to the other
teachers. Children are quick to size up character. I shall be
very embarrassed if they are too polite to me.

Just as soon as I get my bearings a little, and know exactly
what we need, I am going to accomplish some widespread
discharging. I should like to begin with Miss Snaith; but I
discover that she is the niece of one of our most generous
trustees, and isn't exactly dischargeable. She's a vague,
chinless, pale-eyed creature, who talks through her nose and
breathes through her mouth. She can't say anything decisively
and then stop; her sentences all trail off into incoherent
murmurings. Every time I see the woman I feel an almost
uncontrollable desire to take her by the shoulders and shake some
decision into her. And Miss Snaith is the one who has had entire
supervision of the seventeen little tots aged from two to five!
But, anyway, even if I can't discharge her, I have reduced her to
a subordinate position without her being aware of the fact.

The doctor has found for me a charming girl who lives a few
miles from here and comes in every day to manage the
kindergarten. She has big, gentle, brown eyes, like a cow's, and
motherly manners (she is just nineteen), and the babies love her.

At the head of the nursery I have placed a jolly, comfortable
middle-aged woman who has reared five of her own and has a hand
with bairns. Our doctor also found her. You see, he is useful.
She is technically under Miss Snaith, but is usurping
dictatorship in a satisfactory fashion. I can now sleep at night
without being afraid that my babies are being inefficiently

You see, our reforms are getting started; and while I
acquiesce with all the intelligence at my command to our
doctor's basic scientific upheavals, still, they sometimes leave
me cold. The problem that keeps churning and churning in my mind
is: How can I ever instil enough love and warmth and sunshine
into those bleak little lives? And I am not sure that the
doctor's science will accomplish that.

One of our most pressing INTELLIGENT needs just now is to get
our records into coherent form. The books have been most
outrageously unkept. Mrs. Lippett had a big black account book
into which she jumbled any facts that happened to drift her way
as to the children's family, their conduct, and their health.
But for weeks at a time she didn't trouble to make an entry. If
any adopting family wants to know a child's parentage, half the
time we can't even tell where we got the child!

"Where did you come from, baby dear?"
"The blue sky opened, and I am here,"

is an exact description of their arrival.

We need a field worker to travel about the country and pick
up all the hereditary statistics she can about our chicks. It
will be an easy matter, as most of them have relatives. What do
you think of Janet Ware for the job? You remember what a shark
she was in economics; she simply battened on tables and charts
and surveys.

I have also to inform you that the John Grier Home is
undergoing a very searching physical examination, and it is the
shocking truth that out of the twenty-eight poor little rats so
far examined only five are up to specification. And the five
have not been here long.

Do you remember the ugly green reception room on the first
floor? I have removed as much of its greenness as possible, and
fitted it up as the doctor's laboratory. It contains scales and
drugs and, most professional touch of all, a dentist's chair and
one of those sweet grinding machines. (Bought them second-
hand from Doctor Brice in the village, who is putting in, for the
gratification of his own patients, white enamel and nickel-
plate.) That drilling machine is looked upon as an infernal
engine, and I as an infernal monster for instituting it. But
every little victim who is discharged FILLED may come to my room
every day for a week and receive two pieces of chocolate. Though
our children are not conspicuously brave, they are, we discover,
fighters. Young Thomas Kehoe nearly bit the doctor's thumb in
two after kicking over a tableful of instruments. It requires
physical strength as well as skill to be dental adviser to the J.
G. H.
. . . . . . . . . .

Interrupted here to show a benevolent lady over the
institution. She asked fifty irrelevant questions, took up an
hour of my time, then finally wiped away a tear and left a dollar
for my "poor little charges."

So far, my poor little charges are not enthusiastic about
these new reforms. They don't care much for the sudden draft of
fresh air that has blown in upon them, or the deluge of water. I
am shoving in two baths a week, and as soon as we collect tubs
enough and a few extra faucets, they are going to get SEVEN.

But at least I have started one most popular reform. Our
daily bill of fare has been increased, a change deplored by the
cook as causing trouble, and deplored by the rest of the staff as
causing an immoral increase in expense. ECONOMY spelt in
capitals has been the guiding principle of this institution for
so many years that it has become a religion. I assure my timid
co-workers twenty times a day that, owing to the generosity of
our president, the endowment has been exactly doubled, and that I
have vast sums besides from Mrs. Pendleton for necessary purposes
like ice cream. But they simply CAN'T get over the feeling that
it is a wicked extravagance to feed these children.

The doctor and I have been studying with care the menus of
the past, and we are filled with amazement at the mind that could
have devised them. Here is one of her frequently recurring


It's a wonder to me that the children are anything more than
one hundred and eleven little lumps of starch.

Looking about this institution, one is moved to misquote
Robert Browning.

"There may be heaven; there must be hell;
Meantime, there is the John Grier--well!"
S. McB.


Dear Judy:

Dr. Robin MacRae and I fought another battle yesterday over a
very trivial matter (in which I was right), and since then I have
adopted for our doctor a special pet name. "Good morning,
Enemy!" was my greeting today, at which he was quite solemnly
annoyed. He says he does not wish to be regarded as an enemy.
He is not in the least antagonistic--so long as I mold my policy
upon his wishes!

We have two new children, Isador Gutschneider and Max Yog,
given to us by the Baptist Ladies' Aid Society. Where on earth
do you suppose those children picked up such a religion? I
didn't want to take them, but the poor ladies were very
persuasive, and they pay the princely sum of four dollars and
fifty cents per week per child. This makes 113, which makes us
verycrowded. I have half a dozen babies to give away. Find
me some kind families who want to adopt.

You know it's very embarrassing not to be able to remember
offhand how large your family is, but mine seems to vary from day
to day, like the stock market. I should like to keep it at about
par. When a woman has more than a hundred children, she can't
give them the individual attention they ought to have.


This letter has been lying two days on my desk, and I haven't
found the time to stick on a stamp. But now I seem to have a
free evening ahead, so I will add a page or two more before
starting it on a pleasant journey to Florida.

I am just beginning to pick out individual faces among the
children. It seemed at first as though I could never learn them,
they looked so hopelessly cut out of one pattern, with those
unspeakably ugly uniforms. Now please don't write back that you
want the children put into new clothes immediately. I know you
do; you've already told me five times. In about a month I shall
be ready to consider the question, but just now their insides are
more important than their outsides.

There is no doubt about it--orphans in the mass do not appeal
to me. I am beginning to be afraid that this famous mother
instinct which we hear so much about was left out of my
character. Children as children are dirty, spitty little things,
and their noses all need wiping. Here and there I pick out a
naughty, mischievous little one that awakens a flicker of
interest; but for the most part they are just a composite blur of
white face and blue check.

With one exception, though. Sadie Kate Kilcoyne emerged from
the mass the first day, and bids fair to stay out for all time.
She is my special little errand girl, and she furnishes me
with all my daily amusement. No piece of mischief has been
launched in this institution for the last eight years that did
not originate in her abnormal brain. This young person has, to
me, a most unusual history, though I understand it's common
enough in foundling circles. She was discovered eleven years ago
on the bottom step of a Thirty-ninth Street house, asleep in a
pasteboard box labeled, "Altman & Co."

"Sadie Kate Kilcoyne, aged five weeks. Be kind to her," was
neatly printed on the cover.

The policeman who picked her up took her to Bellevue where
the foundlings are pronounced, in the order of their arrival,
"Catholic, Protestant, Catholic, Protestant," with perfect
impartiality. Our Sadie Kate, despite her name and blue Irish
eyes, was made a Protestant. And here she is growing Irisher and
Irisher every day, but, true to her christening, protesting
loudly against every detail of life.

Her two little black braids point in opposite directions; her
little monkey face is all screwed up with mischief; she is as
active as a terrier, and you have to keep her busy every moment.
Her record of badnesses occupies pages in the Doomsday Book. The
last item reads:

"For stumping Maggie Geer to get a doorknob into her mouth--
punishment, the afternoon spent in bed, and crackers for supper."

It seems that Maggie Geer, fitted with a mouth of unusual
stretching capacity, got the doorknob in, but couldn't get it
out. The doctor was called, and cannily solved the problem with
a buttered shoe-horn. "Muckle-mouthed Meg," he has dubbed the
patient ever since.

You can understand that my thoughts are anxiously occupied in
filling every crevice of Sadie Kate's existence.

There are a million subjects that I ought to consult with the
president about. I think it was very unkind of you and him to
saddle me with your orphan asylum and run off South to play.
It would serve you right if I did everything wrong. While you
are traveling about in private cars, and strolling in the
moonlight on palm beaches, please think of me in the drizzle of a
New York March, taking care of 113 babies that by rights are
yours--and be grateful.

I remain (for a limited time),


Dear Enemy:

I am sending herewith (under separate cover) Sammy Speir, who got
mislaid when you paid your morning visit. Miss Snaith brought
him to light after you had gone. Please scrutinize his thumb. I
never saw a felon, but I have diagnosed it as such.
Yours truly,


March 6.
Dear Judy:

I don't know yet whether the children are going to love me or
not, but they DO love my dog. No creature so popular as
Singapore ever entered these gates. Every afternoon three boys
who have been perfect in deportment are allowed to brush and comb
him, while three other good boys may serve him with food and
drink. But every Saturday morning the climax of the week is
reached, when three superlatively good boys give him a nice
lathery bath with hot water and flea soap. The privilege of
serving as Singapore's valet is going to be the only incentive I
shall need for maintaining discipline.

But isn't it pathetically unnatural for these youngsters to
be living in the country and never owning a pet? Especially when
they, of all children, do so need something to love. I am going
to manage pets for them somehow, if I have to spend our new
endowment for a menagerie. Couldn't you bring back some baby
alligators and a pelican? Anything alive will be gratefully

This should by rights be my first "Trustees' Day." I am
deeply grateful to Jervis for arranging a simple business meeting
in New York, as we are not yet on dress parade up here; but we
are hoping by the first Wednesday in April to have something
visible to show. If all of the doctor's ideas, and a few of my
own, get themselves materialized, our trustees will open their
eyes a bit when we show them about.

I have just made out a chart for next week's meals, and
posted it in the kitchen in the sight of an aggrieved cook.
Variety is a word hitherto not found in the lexicon of the
J.G.H. You would never dream all of the delightful surprises we
are going to have: brown bread, corn pone, graham muffins, samp,
rice pudding with LOTS of raisins, thick vegetable soup, macaroni
Italian fashion, polenta cakes with molasses, apple dumplings,
gingerbread--oh, an endless list! After our biggest girls have
assisted in the manufacture of such appetizing dainties, they
will almost be capable of keeping future husbands in love with

Oh, dear me! Here I am babbling these silly nothings when I
have some real news up my sleeve. We have a new worker, a gem of
a worker.

Do you remember Betsy Kindred, 1910? She led the glee club
and was president of dramatics. I remember her perfectly; she
always had lovely clothes. Well, if you please, she lives only
twelve miles from here. I ran across her by chance yesterday
morning as she was motoring through the village; or, rather, she
just escaped running across me.

I never spoke to her in my life, but we greeted each other
like the oldest friends. It pays to have conspicuous hair; she
recognized me instantly. I hopped upon the running board of her
car and said:

"Betsy Kindred, 1910, you've got to come back to my orphan
asylum and help me catalogue my orphans."

And it astonished her so that she came. She's to be here
four or five days a week as temporary secretary, and somehow I
must manage to keep her permanently. She's the most useful
person I ever saw. I am hoping that orphans will become such a
habit with her that she won't be able to give them up. I think
she might stay if we pay her a big enough salary. She likes to
be independent of her family, as do all of us in these degenerate

In my growing zeal for cataloguing people, I should like to
get our doctor tabulated. If Jervis knows any gossip about him,
write it to me, please; the worse, the better. He called
yesterday to lance a felon on Sammy Speir's thumb, then
ascended to my electric-blue parlor to give instructions as
to the dressing of thumbs. The duties of a superintendent are

It was just teatime, so I casually asked him to stay, and he
did! Not for the pleasure of my society,--no, indeed,--but
because Jane appeared at the moment with a plate of toasted
muffins. He hadn't had any luncheon, it seems, and dinner was a
long way ahead. Between muffins (he ate the whole plateful) he
saw fit to interrogate me as to my preparedness for this
position. Had I studied biology in college? How far had I gone
in chemistry? What did I know of sociology? Had I visited that
model institution at Hastings?

To all of which I responded affably and openly. Then I
permitted myself a question or two: just what sort of youthful
training had been required to produce such a model of logic,
accuracy, dignity, and common sense as I saw sitting before me?
Through persistent prodding I elicited a few forlorn facts, but
all quite respectable. You'd think, from his reticence, there'd
been a hanging in the family. The MacRae PERE was born in
Scotland, and came to the States to occupy a chair at Johns
Hopkins; son Robin was shipped back to Auld Reekie for his
education. His grandmother was a M'Lachlan of Strathlachan (I am
sure she sounds respectable), and his vacations were spent in the
Hielands a-chasing the deer.

So much could I gather; so much, and no more. Tell me, I
beg, some gossip about my enemy--something scandalous by

Why, if he is such an awfully efficient person does he bury
himself in this remote locality? You would think an up-and-
coming scientific man would want a hospital at one elbow and a
morgue at the other. Are you sure that he didn't commit a crime
and isn't hiding from the law?

I seem to have covered a lot of paper without telling you
Yours as usual,


P.S. I am relieved on one point. Dr. MacRae does not pick out
his own clothes. He leaves all such unessential trifles to his
housekeeper, Mrs. Maggie McGurk.

Again, and irrevocably, good-by!


Dear Gordon:

Your roses and your letter cheered me for an entire morning, and
it's the first time I've approached cheerfulness since the
fourteenth of February, when I waved good-by to Worcester.

Words can't tell you how monotonously oppressive the daily
round of institution life gets to be. The only glimmer in the
whole dull affair is the fact that Betsy Kindred spends four days
a week with us. Betsy and I were in college together, and we do
occasionally find something funny to laugh about.

Yesterday we were having tea in my HIDEOUS parlor when we
suddenly determined to revolt against so much unnecessary
ugliness. We called in six sturdy and destructive orphans, a
step-ladder, and a bucket of hot water, and in two hours had
every vestige of that tapestry paper off those walls. You can't
imagine what fun it is ripping paper off walls.

Two paperhangers are at work this moment hanging the best
that our village affords, while a German upholsterer is on his
knees measuring my chairs for chintz slip covers that will hide
every inch of their plush upholstery.

Please don't get nervous. This doesn't mean that I'm
preparing to spend my life in the asylum. It means only that I'm
preparing a cheerful welcome for my successor. I haven't dared
tell Judy how dismal I find it, because I don't want to cloud
Florida; but when she returns to New York she will find my
official resignation waiting to meet her in the front hall.

I would write you a long letter in grateful payment for seven
pages, but two of my little dears are holding a fight under the
window. I dash to separate them.

Yours as ever,

S. McB.


March 8.

My dear Judy:

I myself have bestowed a little present upon the John Grier
Home--the refurnishing of the superintendent's private parlor. I
saw the first night here that neither I nor any future occupant
could be happy with Mrs. Lippett's electric plush. You see, I am
planning to make my successor contented and willing to stay.

Betsy Kindred assisted in the rehabilitation of the Lippett's
chamber of horrors, and between us we have created a symphony in
dull blue and gold. Really and truly, it's one of the loveliest
rooms you've ever seen. The sight of it will be an artistic
education to any orphan. New paper on the wall, new rugs on the
floor (my own prized Persians expressed from Worcester by an
expostulating family). New casement curtains at my three
windows, revealing a wide and charming view, hitherto hidden by
Nottingham lace. A new big table, some lamps and books and a
picture or so, and a real open fire. She had closed the
fireplace because it let in air.

I never realized what a difference artistic surroundings make
in the peace of one's soul. I sat last night and watched my fire
throw nice highlights on my new old fender, and purred with
contentment. And I assure you it's the first purr that has come
from this cat since she entered the gates of the John Grier Home.

But the refurnishing of the superintendent's parlor is the
slightest of our needs. The children's private apartments demand
so much basic attention that I can't decide where to begin. That
dark north playroom is a shocking scandal, but no more shocking
than our hideous dining room or our unventilated dormitories or
our tubless lavatories.

If the institution is very saving, do you think it can ever
afford to burn down this smelly old original building, and put up
instead some nice, ventilated modern cottages? I cannot
contemplate that wonderful institution at Hastings without being
filled with envy. It would be some fun to run an asylum if you
had a plant like that to work with. But, anyway, when you get
back to New York and are ready to consult the architect about
remodeling, please apply to me for suggestions. Among other
little details I want two hundred feet of sleeping porch running
along the outside of our dormitories.

You see, it's this way: our physical examination reveals the
fact that about half of our children are aenemic--aneamic--
anaemic (Mercy! what a word!), and a lot of them have tubercular
ancestors, and more have alcoholic. Their first need is oxygen
rather than education. And if the sickly ones need it, why
wouldn't it be good for the well ones? I should like to have
every child, winter and summer, sleeping in the open air; but I
know that if I let fall such a bomb on the board of trustees, the
whole body would explode.

Speaking of trustees, I have met up with the Hon. Cyrus
Wykoff, and I really believe that I dislike him more than Dr.
Robin MacRae or the kindergarten teacher or the cook. I seem to
have a genius for discovering enemies!

Mr. Wykoff called on Wednesday last to look over the new

Having lowered himself into my most comfortable armchair, he
proceeded to spend the day. He asked my father's business, and
whether or not he was well-to-do. I told him that my father
manufactured overalls, and that, even in these hard times, the
demand for overalls was pretty steady.

He seemed relieved. He approves of the utilitarian aspect of
overalls. He had been afraid that I had come from the family of
a minister or professor or writer, a lot of high thinking and no
common sense. Cyrus believes in common sense.

And what had been my training for this position?

That, as you know, is a slightly embarrassing question. But
I produced my college education and a few lectures at the School
of Philanthropy, also a short residence in the college settlement
(I didn't tell him that all I had done there was to paint the
back hall and stairs). Then I submitted some social work among
my father's employees and a few friendly visits to the Home for
Female Inebriates.

To all of which he grunted.

I added that I had lately made a study of the care of
dependent children, and casually mentioned my seventeen

He grunted again, and said he didn't take much stock in this
new-fangled scientific charity.

At this point Jane entered with a box of roses from the
florist's. That blessed Gordon Hallock sends me roses twice a
week to brighten the rigors of institution life.

Our trustee began an indignant investigation. He wished to
know where I got those flowers, and was visibly relieved when he
learned that I had not spent the institution's money for them.
He next wished to know who Jane might be. I had foreseen that
question and decided to brazen it out.

"My maid," said I.

"Your what?" he bellowed, quite red in the face.

"My maid."

"What is she doing here?"

I amiably went into details. "She mends my clothes, blacks
my boots, keeps my bureau drawers in order, washes my hair."

I really thought the man would choke, so I charitably added
that I paid her wages out of my own private income, and paid five
dollars and fifty cents a week to the institution for her board;
and that, though she was big, she didn't eat much.

He allowed that I might make use of one of the orphans for
all legitimate service.

I explained--still polite, but growing bored--that Jane had
been in my service for many years, and was indispensable.

He finally took himself off, after telling me that he, for
one, had never found any fault with Mrs. Lippett. She was a
common-sense Christian woman, without many fancy ideas, but with
plenty of good solid work in her. He hoped that I would be wise
enough to model my policy upon hers!

And what, my dear Judy, do you think of that?

The doctor dropped in a few minutes later, and I repeated
the Hon. Cyrus's conversation in detail. For the first time in
the history of our intercourse the doctor and I agreed.

"Mrs. Lippett indeed!" he growled. "The blethering auld
gomerel! May the Lord send him mair sense!"

When our doctor really becomes aroused, he drops into Scotch.
My latest pet name for him (behind his back) is Sandy.

Sadie Kate is sitting on the floor as I write, untangling
sewing-silks and winding them neatly for Jane, who is becoming
quite attached to the little imp.

"I am writing to your Aunt Judy," say I to Sadie Kate. "What
message shall I send from you?"

"I never heard of no Aunt Judy."

"She is the aunt of every good little girl in this school."

"Tell her to come and visit me and bring some candy," says
Sadie Kate.

I say so, too.

My love to the president,


March 13.


Dear Madam:

Your four letters, two telegrams, and three checks are at hand,
and your instructions shall be obeyed just as quickly as this
overworked superintendent can manage it.

I delegated the dining room job to Betsy Kindred. One
hundred dollars did I allow her for the rehabilitation of that
dreary apartment. She accepted the trust, picked out five likely
orphans to assist in the mechanical details, and closed the door.

For three days the children have been eating from the desks in
the schoolroom. I haven't an idea what Betsy is doing; but she
has a lot better taste than I, so there isn't much use in

It is such a heaven-sent relief to be able to leave something
to somebody else, and be sure it will be carried out! With all
due respect to the age and experience of the staff I found here,
they are not very open to new ideas. As the John Grier Home was
planned by its noble founder in 1875, so shall it be run today.

Incidentally, my dear Judy, your idea of a private dining
room for the superintendent, which I, being a social soul, at
first scorned, has been my salvation. When I am dead tired I
dine alone, but in my live intervals I invite an officer to share
the meal; and in the expansive intimacy of the dinnertable I get
in my most effective strokes. When it becomes desirable to plant
the seeds of fresh air in the soul of Miss Snaith, I invite her
to dinner, and tactfully sandwich in a little oxygen between her
slices of pressed veal.

Pressed veal is our cook's idea of an acceptable PIECE DE
RESISTANCE for a dinner party. In another month I am going to
face the subject of suitable nourishment for the executive staff.

Meanwhile there are so many things more important than our own
comfort that we shall have to worry along on veal.

A terrible bumping has just occurred outside my door. One
little cherub seems to be kicking another little cherub
downstairs. But I write on undisturbed. If I am to spend my
days among orphans, I must cultivate a cheerful detachment.

Did you get Leonora Fenton's cards? She's marrying a medical
missionary and going to Siam to live! Did you ever hear of
anything so absurd as Leonora presiding over a missionary's
menage? Do you suppose she will entertain the heathen with skirt

It isn't any absurder, though, than me in an orphan asylum,
or you as a conservative settled matron, or Marty Keene a social
butterfly in Paris. Do you suppose she goes to embassy balls in
riding clothes, and what on earth does she do about hair? It
couldn't have grown so soon; she must wear a wig. Isn't our
class turning out some hilarious surprises?

The mail arrives. Excuse me while I read a nice fat letter
from Washington.

Not so nice; quite impertinent. Gordon can't get over the
idea that it is a joke, S. McB. in conjunction with one hundred
and thirteen orphans. But he wouldn't think it such a joke if he
could try it for a few days. He says he is going to drop off
here on his next trip North and watch the struggle. How would it
be if I left him in charge while I dashed to New York to
accomplish some shopping? Our sheets are all worn out, and we
haven't more than two hundred and eleven blankets in the house.

Singapore, sole puppy of my heart and home, sends his
respectful love.
I also,
S. McB.


My dearest Judy:

You should see what your hundred dollars and Betsy Kindred did to
that dining room!

It's a dazzling dream of yellow paint. Being a north room,
she thought to brighten it; and she has. The walls are
kalsomined buff, with a frieze of little molly cottontails
skurrying around the top. All of the woodwork--tables and
benches included--is a cheerful chrome yellow. Instead of
tablecloths, which we can't afford, we have linen runners, with
stenciled rabbits hopping along their length. Also yellow bowls,
filled at present with pussywillows, but looking forward to
dandelions and cowslips and buttercups. And new dishes, my
dear--white, with yellow jonquils (we think), though they may be
roses; there is no botany expert in the house. Most wonderful
touch of all, we have NAPKINS, the first we have seen in our
whole lives. The children thought they were handkerchiefs and
ecstatically wiped their noses.

To honor the opening of the new room, we had ice-cream and
cake for dessert. It is such a pleasure to see these children
anything but cowed and apathetic, that I am offering prizes for
boisterousness--to every one but Sadie Kate. She drummed on the
table with her knife and fork and sang, "Welcome to dem golden

You remember that illuminated text over the dining-room
door--"The Lord Will Provide." We've painted it out, and covered
the spot with rabbits. It's all very well to teach so easy a
belief to normal children, who have a proper family and roof
behind them; but a person whose only refuge in distress will be a
park bench must learn a more militant creed than that.

"The Lord has given you two hands and a brain and a big world
to use them in. Use them well, and you will be provided for; use
them ill, and you will want," is our motto, and that with

In the sorting process that has been going on I have got rid
of eleven children. That blessed State Charities Aid Association
helped me dispose of three little girls, all placed in very nice
homes, and one to be adopted legally if the family likes her.
And the family will like her; I saw to that. She was the prize
child of the institution, obedient and polite, with curly hair
and affectionate ways, exactly the little girl that every family
needs. When a couple of adopting parents are choosing a
daughter, I stand by with my heart in my mouth, feeling as though
I were assisting in the inscrutable designs of Fate. Such a
little thing turns the balance! The child smiles, and a loving
home is hers for life; she sneezes, and it passes her by forever.

Three of our biggest boys have gone to work on farms, one of
them out West to a RANCH! Report has it that he is to become a
cowboy and Indian fighter and grizzly-bear hunter, though I
believe in reality he is to engage in the pastoral work of
harvesting wheat. He marched off, a hero of romance, followed by
the wistful eyes of twenty-five adventurous lads, who turned back
with a sigh to the safely monotonous life of the J. G. H.

Five other children have been sent to their proper
institutions. One of them is deaf, one an epileptic, and the
other three approaching idiocy. None of them ought ever to have
been accepted here. This as an educational institution, and we
can't waste our valuable plant in caring for defectives.

Orphan asylums have gone out of style. What I am going to
develop is a boarding school for the physical, moral, and mental
growth of children whose parents have not been able to provide
for their care.

"Orphans" is merely my generic term for the children; a good
many of them are not orphans in the least. They have one
troublesome and tenacious parent left who won't sign a surrender,
so I can't place them out for adoption. But those that are
available would be far better off in loving foster-homes than in
the best institution that I can ever make. So I am fitting them
for adoption as quickly as possible, and searching for the homes.

You ought to run across a lot of pleasant families in your
travels; can't you bully some of them into adopting children?
Boys by preference. We've got an awful lot of extra boys, and
nobody wants them. Talk about anti-feminism! It's nothing to
the anti-masculinism that exists in the breasts of adopting
parents. I could place out a thousand dimpled little girls with
yellow hair, but a good live boy from nine to thirteen is a drug
on the market. There seems to be a general feeling that they
track in dirt and scratch up mahogany furniture.

Shouldn't you think that men's clubs might like to adopt
boys, as a sort of mascot? The boy could be boarded in a nice
respectable family, and drawn out by the different members on
Saturday afternoons. They could take him to ball games and
the circus, and then return him when they had had enough, just as
you do with a library book. It would be very valuable training
for the bachelors. People are forever talking about the
desirability of training girls for motherhood. Why not institute
a course of training in fatherhood, and get the best men's clubs
to take it up? Will you please have Jervis agitate the matter at
his various clubs, and I'll have Gordon start the idea in
Washington. They both belong to such a lot of clubs that we
ought to dispose of at least a dozen boys.

I remain,

The ever-distracted mother of 113.

S. McB.


March 18.
Dear Judy:

I have been having a pleasant respite from the 113 cares of

Yesterday who should drop down upon our peaceful village but
Mr. Gordon Hallock, on his way back to Washington to resume the
cares of the nation. At least he said it was on his way, but I
notice from the map in the primary room that it was one hundred
miles out of his way.

And dear, but I was glad to see him! He is the first glimpse
of the outside world I have had since I was incarcerated in this
asylum. And such a lot of entertaining businesses he had to talk
about! He knows the inside of all the outside things you read in
the newspapers; so far as I can make out, he is the social center
about which Washington revolves. I always knew he would get on
in politics, for he has a way with him; there's no doubt about

You can't imagine how exhilarated and set-up I feel, as
though I'd come into my own again after a period of social
ostracism. I must confess that I get lonely for some one who
talks my kind of nonsensical talk. Betsy trots off home every
week end, and the doctor is conversational enough, but, oh, so
horribly logical! Gordon somehow seems to stand for the life I
belong to,--of country clubs and motors and dancing and sport and
politeness,--a poor, foolish, silly life, if you will, but mine
own. And I have missed it. This serving society business is
theoretically admirable and compelling and interesting, but
deadly stupid in its working details. I am afraid I was never
born to set the crooked straight.

I tried to show Gordon about and make him take an interest in
the babies, but he wouldn't glance at them. He thinks I came
just to spite him, which, of course, I did. Your siren call
would never have lured me from the path of frivolity had Gordon
not been so unpleasantly hilarious at the idea of my being able
to manage an orphan asylum. I came here to show him that I
could; and now, when I can show him, the beast refuses to look.

I invited him to dinner, with a warning about the pressed
veal; but he said no, thanks, that I needed a change. So we went
to Brantwood Inn and had broiled lobster. I had positively
forgotten that the creatures were edible.

This morning at seven o'clock I was wakened by the furious
ringing of the telephone bell. It was Gordon at the station,
about to resume his journey to Washington. He was in quite a
contrite mood about the asylum, and apologized largely for
refusing to look at my children. It was not that he didn't like
orphans, he said; it was just that he didn't like them in
juxtaposition to me. And to prove his good intentions, he would
send them a bag of peanuts.

I feel as fresh and revivified after my little fling as
though I'd had a real vacation. There's no doubt about it, an
hour or so of exciting talk is more of a tonic to me than a pint
of iron and strychnine pills.

You owe me two letters, dear Madam. Pay them TOUT DE SUITE,
or I lay down my pen forever.

Yours, as usual,

S. McB.

Tuesday, 5 P.M.
My dear Enemy:

I am told that during my absence this afternoon you paid us a
call and dug up a scandal. You claim that the children under
Miss Snaith are not receiving their due in the matter of cod-
liver oil.

I am sorry if your medicinal orders have not been carried
out, but you must know that it is a difficult matter to introduce
that abominably smelling stuff into the inside of a squirming
child. And poor Miss Snaith is a very much overworked person.
She has ten more children to care for than should rightly fall
into the lot of any single woman, and until we find her another
assistant, she has very little time for the fancy touches you

Also, my dear Enemy, she is very susceptible to abuse. When
you feel in a fighting mood, I wish you would expend your
belligerence upon me. I don't mind it; quite the contrary. But
that poor lady has retired to her room in a state of hysterics,
leaving nine babies to be tucked into bed by whomever it may

If you have any powders that would be settling to her nerves,
please send them back by Sadie Kate.

Yours truly,


Wednesday Morning.
Dear Dr. MacRae:

I am not taking an unintelligent stand in the least; I am simply
asking that you come to me with all complaints, and not stir up
my staff in any such volcanic fashion as that of yesterday.

I endeavor to carry out all of your orders--of a medical
nature--with scrupulous care. In the present case there seems to
have been some negligence; I don't know what did become of those
fourteen unadministered bottles of cod-liver oil that you have
made such a fuss about, but I shall investigate.

And I cannot, for various reasons, pack off Miss Snaith in
the summary fashion you demand. She may be, in certain respects,
inefficient; but she is kind to the children, and with
supervision will answer temporarily.

Yours truly,


Dear Enemy:

SOYEZ TRANQUILLE. I have issued orders, and in the future the
children shall receive all of the cod-liver oil that by rights is
theirs. A wilfu' man maun hae his way.

S. McB.

March 22.
Dear Judy:

Asylum life has looked up a trifle during the past few days--
since the great Cod-Liver Oil War has been raging. The first
skirmish occurred on Tuesday, and I unfortunately missed it,
having accompanied four of my children on a shopping trip to the
village. I returned to find the asylum teeming with hysterics.
Our explosive doctor had paid us a visit.

Sandy has two passions in life: one is for cod-liver oil and the
other for spinach, neither popular in our nursery. Some time
ago--before I came, in fact--he had ordered cod-liver oil for all
of the{ }--Heavens! there's that word again!
--children, and had given instructions as to its application to
Miss Snaith. Yesterday, in his suspicious Scotch fashion, he
began nosing about to find out why the poor little rats weren't
fattening up as fast as he thought they ought, and he un
earthed a hideous scandal. They haven't received a whiff of cod-
liver oil for three whole weeks! At that point he exploded, and
all was joy and excitement and hysterics.

Betsy says that she had to send Sadie Kate to the laundry on
an improvised errand, as his language was not fit for orphan
ears. By the time I got home he had gone, and Miss Snaith had
retired, weeping, to her room, and the whereabouts of fourteen
bottles of cod-liver oil was still unexplained. He had accused
her at the top of his voice of taking them herself. Imagine Miss
Snaith,--she who looks so innocent and chinless and inoffensive--
stealing cod-liver oil from these poor helpless little orphans
and guzzling it in private!

Her defense consisted in hysterical assertions that she loved
the children, and had done her duty as she saw it. She did not
believe in giving medicine to babies; she thought drugs bad for
their poor little stomachs. You can imagine Sandy! Oh, dear!
oh, dear! To think I missed it!

Well, the tempest raged for three days, and Sadie Kate nearly
ran her little legs off carrying peppery messages back and forth
between us and the doctor. It is only under stress that I
communicate with him by telephone, as he has an interfering old
termagant of a housekeeper who "listens in" on the down-stairs
switch. I don't wish the scandalous secrets of the John Grier
spread abroad. The doctor demanded Miss Snaith's instant
dismissal, and I refused. Of course she is a vague, unfocused,
inefficient old thing, but she does love the children, and with
proper supervision is fairly useful.

At least, in the light of her exalted family connections, I
can't pack her off in disgrace like a drunken cook. I am hoping
in time to eliminate her by a process of delicate suggestion;
perhaps I can make her feel that her health requires a winter in
California. And also, no matter what the doctor wants, so
positive and dictatorial is his manner that just out of self-
respect one must take the other side. When he states that the
world is round, I instantly assert it to be triangular.

Finally, after three pleasantly exhilarating days, the whole
business settled itself. An apology (a very dilute one) was
extracted from him for being so unkind to the poor lady, and full
confession, with promises for the future, was drawn from her. It
seems that she couldn't bear to make the little dears take the
stuff, but, for obvious reasons, she couldn't bear to cross Dr.
MacRae, so she hid the last fourteen bottles in a dark corner of
the cellar. Just how she was planning to dispose of her loot I
don't know. Can you pawn cod-liver oil?


Peace negotiations had just ended this afternoon, and Sandy
had made a dignified exit, when the Hon. Cyrus Wykoff was
announced. Two enemies in the course of an hour are really too

The Hon. Cy was awfully impressed with the new dining room,
especially when he heard that Betsy had put on those rabbits with
her own lily-white hands. Stenciling rabbits on walls, he
allows, is a fitting pursuit for a woman, but an executive
position like mine is a trifle out of her sphere. He thinks it
would be far wiser if Mr. Pendleton did not give me such free
scope in the spending of his money.

While we were still contemplating Betsy's mural flight, an
awful crash came from the pantry, and we found Gladiola Murphy
weeping among the ruins of five yellow plates. It is
sufficiently shattering to my nerves to hear these crashes when I
am alone, but it is peculiarly shattering when receiving a call
from an unsympathetic trustee.

I shall cherish that set of dishes to the best of my ability,
but if you wish to see your gift in all its uncracked beauty, I
should advise you to hurry North, and visit the John Grier Home
without delay.

Yours as ever,


March 26.
My dear Judy:

I have just been holding an interview with a woman who wants to
take a baby home to surprise her husband. I had a hard time
convincing her that, since he is to support the child, it might
be a delicate attention to consult him about its adoption. She
argued stubbornly that it was none of his business, seeing that
the onerous work of washing and dressing and training would fall
upon her. I am really beginning to feel sorry for men. Some of
them seem to have very few rights.

Even our pugnacious doctor I suspect of being a victim of
domestic tyranny, and his housekeeper's at that. It is
scandalous the way Maggie McGurk neglects the poor man. I have
had to put him in charge of an orphan. Sadie Kate, with a very
housewifely air, is this moment sitting cross-legged on the
hearth rug sewing buttons on his overcoat while he is upstairs
tending babies.

You would never believe it, but Sandy and I are growing quite
confidential in a dour Scotch fashion. It has become his habit,
when homeward bound after his professional calls, to chug up to
our door about four in the afternoon, and make the rounds of the
house to make sure that we are not developing cholera morbus or
infanticide or anything catching, and then present himself at
four-thirty at my library door to talk over our mutual problems.

Does he come to see me? Oh, no, indeed; he comes to get tea
and toast and marmalade. The man hath a lean and hungry look.
His housekeeper doesn't feed him enough. As soon as I get
the upper hand of him a little more, I am going to urge him on to

Meanwhile he is very grateful for something to eat, but oh,
so funny in his attempts at social grace! At first he would hold
a cup of tea in one hand, a plate of muffins in the other, and
then search blankly for a third hand to eat them with. Now he
has solved the problem. He turns in his toes and brings his
knees together; then he folds his napkin into a long, narrow
wedge that fills the crack between them, thus forming a very
workable pseudo lap; after that he sits with tense muscles until
the tea is drunk. I suppose I ought to provide a table, but the
spectacle of Sandy with his toes turned in is the one gleam of
amusement that my day affords.

The postman is just driving in with, I trust, a letter from
you. Letters make a very interesting break in the monotony of
asylum life. If you wish to keep this superintendent contented,
you'd better write often.

. . . . . . . .

Mail received and contents noted.

Kindly convey my thanks to Jervis for three alligators in a
swamp. He shows rare artistic taste in the selection of his post
cards. Your seven-page illustrated letter from Miami arrives at
the same time. I should have known Jervis from the palm tree
perfectly, even without the label, as the tree has so much the
more hair of the two. Also, I have a polite bread-and-butter
letter from my nice young man in Washington, and a book from him,
likewise a box of candy. The bag of peanuts for the kiddies he
has shipped by express. Did you ever know such assiduity?

Jimmie favors me with the news that he is coming to visit me
as soon as father can spare him from the factory. The poor boy
does hate that factory so! It isn't that he is lazy; he just
simply isn't interested in overalls. But father can't understand
such a lack of taste. Having built up the factory, he of course
has developed a passion for overalls, which should have been
inherited by his eldest son. I find it awfully convenient to
have been born a daughter; I am not asked to like overalls, but
am left free to follow any morbid career I may choose, such as

To return to my mail: There arrives an advertisement from a
wholesale grocer, saying that he has exceptionally economical
brands of oatmeal, rice, flour, prunes, and dried apples that he
packs specially for prisons and charitable institutions. Sounds
nutritious, doesn't it?

I also have letters from a couple of farmers, each of whom
would like to have a strong, husky boy of fourteen who is not
afraid of work, their object being to give him a good home.
These good homes appear with great frequency just as the spring
planting is coming on. When we investigated one of them last
week, the village minister, in answer to our usual question,
"Does he own any property?" replied in a very guarded manner, "I
think he must own a corkscrew."

You would hardly credit some of the homes that we have
investigated. We found a very prosperous country family the
other day, who lived huddled together in three rooms in order to
keep the rest of their handsome house clean. The fourteen-year
girl they wished to adopt, by way of a cheap servant, was to
sleep in the same tiny room with their own three children. Their
kitchen-dining-parlor apartment was more cluttered up and unaired
than any city tenement I ever saw, and the thermometer at eighty-
four. One could scarcely say they were living there; they were
rather COOKING. You may be sure they got no girl from us!

I have made one invariable rule--every other is flexible. No
child is to be placed out unless the proposed family can offer
better advantages than we can give. I mean than we are going to
be able to give in the course of a few months, when we get
ourselves made over into a model institution. I shall have to
confess that at present we are still pretty bad.

But anyway, I am very CHOOSEY in regard to homes, and I
reject three-fourths of those that offer.


Gordon has made honorable amends to my children. His bag of
peanuts is here, made of burlap and three feet high.

Do you remember the dessert of peanuts and maple sugar they
used to give us at college? We turned up our noses, but ate. I
am instituting it here, and I assure you we don't turn up our
noses. It is a pleasure to feed children who have graduated from
a course of Mrs. Lippett; they are pathetically grateful for
small blessings.

You can't complain that this letter is too short.


On the verge of writer's cramp,

S. McB.


Off and on, all day Friday.
Dear Judy:

You will be interested to hear that I have encountered another
enemy--the doctor's housekeeper. I had talked to the creature
several times over the telephone, and had noted that her voice
was not distinguished by the soft, low accents that mark the
caste of "Vere de Vere"; but now I have seen her. This morning,
while returning from the village, I made a slight detour, and
passed our doctor's house. Sandy is evidently the result of
environment--olive green, with a mansard roof and the shades
pulled down. You would think he had just been holding a funeral.

I don't wonder that the amenities of life have somewhat escaped
the poor man. After studying the outside of his house, I was
filled with curiosity to see if the inside matched.

Having sneezed five times before breakfast this morning, I
decided to go in and consult him professionally. To be sure, he
is a children's specialist, but sneezes are common to all ages.
So I boldly marched up the steps and rang the bell.

Hark! What sound is that that breaks upon our revelry? The
Hon. Cy's voice, as I live, approaching up the stairs. I've
letters to write, and I can't be tormented by his blether, so I
am rushing Jane to the door with orders to look him firmly in the
eye and tell him I am out.

. . . . . . . .

On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined. He's gone.

But those eight stars represent eight agonizing minutes spent
in the dark of my library closet. The Hon. Cy received Jane's
communication with the affable statement that he would sit
down and wait. Whereupon he entered and sat. But did Jane leave
me to languish in the closet? No; she enticed him to the nursery
to see the AWFUL thing that Sadie Kate has done. The Hon. Cy
loves to see awful things, particularly when done by Sadie Kate.
I haven't an idea what scandal Jane is about to disclose; but no
matter, he has gone.

Where was I? Oh, yes; I had rung the doctor's bell.

The door was opened by a large, husky person with her sleeves
rolled up. She looked very businesslike, with a hawk's nose and
cold gray eyes.

"Well?" said she, her tone implying that I was a vacuum-
cleaning agent.

"Good morning." I smiled affably, and stepped inside. "Is
this Mrs. McGurk?"

"It is," said she. "An' ye'll be the new young woman in the
orphan asylum?"

"I am that," said I. "Is himself at home?"

"He is not," said she.

"But this is his office hour."

"He don't keep it regular'."

"He ought," said I, sternly. "Kindly tell him that Miss
McBride called to consult him, and ask him to look in at the John
Grier Home this afternoon."

"Ump'!" grunted Mrs. McGurk, and closed the door so promptly
that she shut in the hem of my skirt.

When I told the doctor this afternoon, he shrugged his
shoulders, and observed that that was Maggie's gracious way.

"And why do you put up with Maggie?" said I.

"And where would I find any one better?" said he. "Doing the
work for a lone man who comes as irregularly to meals as a
twenty-four-hour day will permit is no sinecure. She furnishes
little sunshine in the home, but she does manage to produce a hot
dinner at nine o'clock at night."

Just the same, I am willing to wager that her hot dinners
are neither delicious nor well served. She's an inefficient,
lazy old termagant, and I know why she doesn't like me. She
imagines that I want to steal away the doctor and oust her from a
comfortable position, something of a joke, considering. But I am
not undeceiving her; it will do the old thing good to worry a
little. She may cook him better dinners, and fatten him up a
trifle. I understand that fat men are good-natured.


I don't know what silly stuff I have been writing to you off
and on all day, between interruptions. It has got to be night at
last, and I am too tired to do so much as hold up my head. Your
song tells the sad truth, "There is no joy in life but sleep."

I bid you good night.

S. McB.

Isn't the English language absurd? Look at those forty
monosyllables in a row!

J. G. H.,

April 1.
Dear Judy:

I have placed out Isador Gutschneider. His new mother is a
Swedish woman, fat and smiling, with blue eyes and yellow hair.
She chose him out of the whole nurseryful of children because he
was the brunettest baby there. She has always loved brunettes,
but in her most ambitious dreams has never hoped to have one of
her own. His name is going to be changed to Oscar Carlson, after
his new dead uncle.

My first trustees' meeting is to occur next Wednesday. I
confess that I am not looking forward to it with impatience--
especially as an inaugural address by me will be its chief
feature. I wish our president were here to back me up! But at
least I am sure of one thing. I am never going to adopt the
Uriah Heepish attitude toward trustees that characterized Mrs.
Lippett's manners. I shall treat "first Wednesdays" as a
pleasant social diversion, my day at home, when the friends of
the asylum gather for discussion and relaxation; and I shall
endeavor not to let our pleasures discommode the orphans. You
see how I have taken to heart the unhappy experiences of that
little Jerusha.

Your last letter has arrived, and no suggestion in it of
traveling North. Isn't it about time that you were turning your
faces back toward Fifth Avenue? Hame is hame, be 't ever sae
hamely. Don't you marvel at the Scotch that flows so readily
from my pen? Since being acquent' wi' Sandy, I hae gathered a
muckle new vocabulary.
The dinner gong! I leave you, to devote a revivifying half-
hour to mutton hash. We eat to live in the John Grier Home.


The Hon. Cy has been calling again. He drops in with great
frequency, hoping to catch me IN DELICTU. How I do not like that
man! He is a pink, fat, puffy old thing, with a pink, fat, puffy
soul. I was in a very cheery, optimistic frame of mind before
his arrival, but now I shall do nothing but grumble for the rest
of the day.

He deplores all of the useless innovations that I am
endeavoring to introduce, such as a cheerful playroom, prettier
clothes, baths, and better food and fresh air and play and fun
and ice-cream and kisses. He says that I will unfit these
children to occupy the position in life that God has called them
to occupy.

At that my Irish blood came to the surface, and I told him
that if God had planned to make all of these 113 little children
into useless, ignorant, unhappy citizens, I was going to fool
God! That we weren't educating them out of their class in the
least. We were educating them INTO their natural class much more
effectually than is done in the average family. We weren't
trying to force them into college if they hadn't any brains, as
happens with rich men's sons; and we weren't putting them to work
at fourteen if they were naturally ambitious, as happens with
poor men's sons. We were watching them closely and individually
and discovering their level. If our children showed an aptitude
to become farm laborers and nurse-maids, we were going to teach
them to be the best possible farm laborers and nurse-maids; and
if they showed a tendency to become lawyers, we would turn them
into honest, intelligent, open-minded lawyers. (He's a lawyer
himself, but certainly not an open-minded one.)

He grunted when I had finished my remarks, and stirred his
tea vigorously. Whereupon I suggested that perhaps he needed
another lump of sugar, and dropped it in, and left him to absorb

The only way to deal with trustees is with a firm and steady
hand. You have to keep them in their places.

Oh, my dear! that smudge in the corner was caused by
Singapore's black tongue. He is trying to send you an
affectionate kiss. Poor Sing thinks he's a lap dog--isn't it a
tragedy when people mistake their vocations? I myself am not
always certain that I was born an orphan asylum superintendent.

Yours, til deth,

S. McB.



April 4.


Palm Beach, Florida.

Dear Sir and Madam:

I have weathered my first visitors' day, and made the trustees a
beautiful speech. Everybody said it was a beautiful speech--even
my enemies.

Mr. Gordon Hallock's recent visit was exceptionally
opportune; I gleaned from him many suggestions as to how to carry
an audience.

"Be funny."--I told about Sadie Kate and a few other cherubs
that you don't know.

"Keep it concrete and fitted to the intelligence of your
audience."--I watched the Hon. Cy, and never said a thing
that he couldn't understand.

"Flatter your hearers."--I hinted delicately that all of
these new reforms were due to the wisdom and initiative of our
peerless trustees.

"Give it a high moral tone, with a dash of pathos."--I dwelt
upon the parentless condition of these little wards of Society.
And it was very affecting--my enemy wiped away a tear!

Then I fed them up on chocolate and whipped cream and
lemonade and tartar sandwiches, and sent them home, expansive and
beaming, but without any appetite for dinner.

I dwell thus at length upon our triumph, in order to create
in you a happy frame of mind, before passing to the higeous
calamity that so nearly wrecked the occasion.

"Now follows the dim horror of my tale,
And I feel I'm growing gradually pale,
For, even at this day,
Though its smell has passed away,
When I venture to remember it, I quail!"

You never heard of our little Tammas Kehoe, did you? I
simply haven't featured Tammas because he requires so much ink
and time and vocabulary. He's a spirited lad, and he follows his
dad, a mighty hunter of old--that sounds like more Bab Ballads,
but it isn't; I made it up as I went along.

We can't break Tammas of his inherited predatory instincts.
He shoots the chickens with bows and arrows and lassoes the pigs
and plays bull-fight with the cows--and oh, is very destructive!
But his crowning villainy occurred an hour before the trustees'
meeting, when we wanted to be so clean and sweet and engaging.

It seems that he had stolen the rat trap from the oat bin,
and had set it up in the wood lot, and yesterday morning was so
fortunate as to catch a fine big skunk.

Singapore was the first to report the discovery. He returned
to the house and rolled on the rugs in a frenzy of remorse over
his part of the business. While our attention was occupied with
Sing, Tammas was busily skinning his prey in the seclusion of the
woodshed. He buttoned the pelt inside his jacket, conveyed it by
a devious route through the length of this building, and
concealed it under his bed where he thought it wouldn't be found.

Then he went--per schedule--to the basement to help freeze the
ice-cream for our guests. You notice that we omitted ice-cream
from the menu.

In the short time that remained we created all the counter-
irritation that was possible. Noah (negro furnace man) started
smudge fires at intervals about the grounds. Cook waved a
shovelful of burning coffee through the house. Betsy sprinkled
the corridors with ammonia. Miss Snaith daintily treated the
rugs with violet water. I sent an emergency call to the doctor
who came and mixed a gigantic solution of chlorid of lime. But
still, above and beneath and through every other odor, the unlaid
ghost of Tammas's victim cried for vengeance.

The first business that came up at the meeting, was whether
we should dig a hole and bury, not only Tammas, but the whole
main building. You can see with what finesse I carried off the
shocking event, when I tell you that the Hon. Cy went home
chuckling over a funny story, instead of grumbling at the new
superintendent's inability to manage boys.

We've our ain bit weird to dree!

As ever,



Friday, likewise Saturday.
Dear Judy:

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