Thursday morning

October 17 [Thu], 2013, 4:54
My very dearest Master-Jarvie-Daddy-Long-Legs-Pendleton-Smith,
Did you sleep last night? I didn't. Not a single wink. I was too amazed and excited and bewildered and happy. I don't believe I ever shall sleep again - or eat either. But I hope you slept; you must, you know, because then you will get well faster and can come to me.
Dear man, i can't bear to think how ill you've been - and all the time I never knew it. When the doctor came down yesterday to put me in the cab, he told me that for three days they gave you up. Oh, dearest, if that happened, the light would have gone out of the world for me. I suppose that some day in the far future - one of us must leave the other; but at least we shall have ad our happiness and there will be memories to live with.
I meant to cheer you up - and instead I have to ever dreamed I could be, I'm also soberer. The fear that something may happen to you rests like a shadow on my heart. Always before I could be frivolous and carefree and unconcerned, because I had nothing precious to lose. But now - I shall have a Great Big Worry all the rest of my life. Whenever you are away from me I shall be thinking of all the automobiles that can run over you, or the signboards that can fall on your head, on the dreadful, squirmy germs that you may be swallowing. My peace of mind is gone forever - but anyway, I never cared much for just plain peace.
Please get well - fast - fast - fast. I want to have you close by where I can touch you and make sure you are tangible. Such a little half hour we had together! If I were only a member of your family (a very distant fourth cousin) then I could come and visit you every day, and read aloud and plump up your pillow and smooth out those two lottle wrinkles in your forehead and make the corners of your mouth turn up in a nice cheerful smile. But you are cheerful again, aren't you? You were yesterday before I left. The doctor said I must be a good nurse, that you looked ten years younger. I hope that being in love doesn't make years younger. Will you still care for me, darling, if I turn out to be only eleven?
Yesterday was the most wonderful day that could ever happen. If I live to be ninety-nine I shall never forget the tiniest detail. The girl that left from lock Willow at dawn was a very different person from the one who came back at night. Mrs Semple called me at half-past four. I started wide awake in the darkness and the first thought that popped into my head was "I am going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!" I ate breakfast in the kitchen by candlelight, and then drove the five miles to the station thought the most glorious October coloring. The sun came up on the way. and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed crimson and orange and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled with hoarfrost; the air was keen and clear and full of promise. I knew something was going to happen. All the way in the train the rails kept singing "You are going to see Daddy-Long-Legs." It made me feel secure. I had such faith in Daddy's ability tp set things right. And I knew that somewhere another man - dearer than Daddy - was wanting to see me, and somehow I had a feeling that before the journey ended I should meet him too. And you see!
When I came to the house on Madison Avenue it looked so big and brown and forbidding that I didn't dare go in, so I walked around the block to get up my courage. But I needn't have been a bit afraid; your butler is such a nice, fatherly old man that he made me feel at home at once. "Is this Miss Abbot?" he said to me, and I said, "Yes," so I didn't have to ask for Mr.Smith after all. He told e to wait in the drawing room. It was a very somber, magnificent, man's sort of room. I sat down on the edge of a big upholstered chair and kept saying to myself:
"I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs! I'm going to see Daddy-Long-Legs!"
Then presently the man came back and asked me to step up the library. I was so excited that really and truly my feet would hardly take me up. Outside the door he turned and whispered, "He's been very ill, miss. This is the first day he's been allowed to sit up. You'll not stay long enough to excite him?" I knew from the way e said it that he loved you - and I think he's an old dear!
Then he knocked and said, "Miss Abbot," and I went in and the door closed behind me.
It was so dim coming in from the brightly lighted hall that for a moment I could scarcely make out anything; then I saw a big easy chair befor the fire and a shining tea table with a smaller chair beside it. And I realized that a man was sitting in the big chair propped up by pillows with a rug over his knees. Before I could stop him he rose - sort of shakily - and steadied himself by the back of the chair and just looked at me without a word. And then - and then - I saw it was you! But even with that I didn't understand. I thought Daddy had had you come there to meet me for a surprise.
Then you laughed and held out your hand and said, "Dear little Judy, couldn't you guess that I was Daddy-Long-Legs?"
In an instant it flashed over me. Oh, but I have been stupid! A hundred little things might have told me, if I had had any wits. I wouldn't make a very good detective, would I, Daddy? - Jervie? What must I call you? Just plain Jervie sounds disrespectful and I can't be disrespectful to you!
It was a very sweet half hour before your doctor came and sent me away. I was so dazed when I got to the station that I almost took a train for St.Louis. And you were pretty dazed too. You forgot to give me any tea. But we're both very, very, happy, aren't we? I drove back to Lock Willow in the dark - but, oh, how the stars were shining! And this morning I've been out with Colin visiting all the places that you and I went to together, and remembering what you said and how you looked. The woods today are burnished bronze and the air is full of frost. It's climbing weather. I wish you were here to climb the hills with me. I am missing you dreadfully, Jervie dear, but it's a happy kind of missing; we'll be together soon. We belong to each other now really and truly, no make-believe. Doesn't it seem queer for me to belong to someone at last? It seems very, very sweet.
And I shall never let you be sorry for a single instant.
Yours, forever and ever, Judy
PS. This is the first love letter I ever wrote. Isn't it funny that I know how?

October 6th

October 06 [Sun], 2013, 15:57
Dearest Daddy-Long-Legs, Yes, certainly I'll come - at half-past four next Wednesday afternoon. Of course I can find the way. I've been in New York three times and am not quite a baby. I can't believe that I am really going to see you - I've been just thinking you so long that it hardly seems as though you are a tangible flesh-and-blood person.
You are awfully good, Daddy, to bother yourself with me, when you're not strong. Take care and don't catch a cold. These fall rains are very damp.
Affectionately, Judy

PS. I've just had an awful thought. Have you a butler? I'm afraid of butlers, and if one open the door I shall faint upon the step. What can I say to him? Shall I ask for Mr.Smith?


August 08 [Fri], 2008, 8:08
The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day - a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste. Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bet without wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say "Yes, sir," "No, sir," whenever a trustee spoke.
It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close. Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from for to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and started them in an orderly and willing line toward the dining room to engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune pudding.
Then she dropped down on the window seat and leaned throbbing temples against the cool glass. She had been on her feet since five that morning doing everybody's bidding, scolded and hurried by a nervous matron. Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that calm and pompous dignity with which she faced an audience of trustees and lady visitors. Jerusha gazed out across a broad stretch of frozen lawn, beyond the tall iron paling that marked the confines of the asylum, down undulating ridges sprinkled with country estates, to the spires of the village rising from the midst of bare trees.
The day was ended - quite successfully, so far as she knew. The trustee and the visiting committee had made their rounds, and read their reports, and drunk their tea, and now were hurrying home to their own cheerful firesides, to forget their bothersome little charges for another month. Jerusha leaned forward watching with curiosity - and a touch of wistfulness - the stream of carriages and automobiles that rolled out of the asylum gates. In imagination she followed first one equipage then another to the big houses doted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet had trimmed with feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring "Home" to the driver. But on the doorsill of her home the picture grew blurred.
Jerusha had an imagination - an imagination, Mrs. Lipett told her, that would get her into trouble if she didn't take care - but keen as it was, it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would enter. Poor, eager, adventurous little Jerusha, in all her seventeen years, had never stepped inside an ordinary house; she could not picture the daily routine of those other human beings who carried on their lives undiscommoded by orphans.
Je-ru-sha Ab-bott you are wanted In the of-fice,
And I think you'd Better hurry up!

Tommy Dillon, who had joined the choir, came singing up the stairs and down the corridor, his chant growing louder as he approached room F. Jerusha wrenched herself from the window and refaced the troubles of life.
"Who wants me?" she cut into Tommy's chant with a note of sharp anxiety.
Mrs.Lippett in the office, And I think she's mad.

Tommy piously intoned, but his accent was not entirely malicious. Even the most hardened little orphan felt sympathy for an erring sister who was summoned to the office to face an annoyed matron; and Tommy liked Jerusha even if she did sometimes jerk him by the arm and nealy scrub his nose off.
Jerusha went without comment, but with two parallel lines on her brow. what could have gone wrong? she wondered. Were the sandwiches not thin enough? Were there shells in the nut cakes? Had a lady visitor seen the hole in Susie Hawthron's stocking? Had - oh, horrors! = one of the cherubic little babes in her own room F "sassed" a trustee?
The long lower hall had not been lighted, and as she came downstairs, a last trustee stood, on the point of departure, in the open door that led to the porte-cochere. Jerusha caught only a fleeting impression of the man - and the impression consisted entirely of tallness. He was waving his arm toward an automobile waiting in the curved drive. As it sprang into motion and approached, head on for an instant, the glaring headlights thr his shadow sharply against the wall inside. The shadow pictured grotesquely elongated legs and arms that ran along the floor and up the wall of corridor. It looked, for all the world, like a huge, wavering daddy-long-legs.
Jerusha's anxious frown gave place to quick laughter. She was by nature a sunny soul, and had always snatched the tiniest excuse to be amused. If one could derive any sort of entertainment out of the oppressive fact of trustee, it was something unexpected to the good. She advanced to the office quite cheered by the tiny episode, and presented a smiling face to Mrs. Lippett. To her surprise the matron was also, if not exactly smiling, at least appreciably affable; she wore an expression almost as pleasant as the one she donned for visitors.
"Sit down, Jerusha, I have something to say to you."
Jerusha dropped into the nearest chair and waited with a touch of breathlessness. An automobile flashed past the window; Mrs. Lippett glanced after it.
"Did you notice the gentlemen who has just gone?"
"I saw his back."
"He is one of our most affluential trustees, and has given large sums of money toward the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown."
Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of trustees with the matron.
"This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through College by Mr. - er - this trustee, and both have repaid with hard work and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment the gentleman does not wish.
Heretofore his philanthropies have been directed solely toward the boys; I have never been able to interest him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no matter ow deserving, He does not, I may tell you, care for girls."
"No, ma'am,"Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected at this point.
"Today at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought up."
Mrs. Lippett allowed a moment of silence to fall, then resumed in a slow, placid manner extremely trying to her hearer's suddenly tightened nerves.
"Usually, as you know, the children are not kept after they are sixteen, but an exception was made in your case. You had finished our school at fourteen, and having done so well in your studies - not always, I must say, in your conduct - it was determined to let you go on in the villege high school. Now you are finishing that, and of course the asylum cannot be responsible any longer for your support. As it is, you have had two years more than most."
Mrs. Lippett overlooked the fact that Jerusha had worked hard for her board during those two years, that the convenience of the asylum had come first and her education second; that on days like the present she was kept at home to scrub.
"As I say, the question of your future brought up and your record was discussed - thoroughly discussed."
Mrs. Lippett brought accusing eyes to bear upon the prisoner in the dock, and the prisoner looked guilty because it seemed to be expected - not because she could remember any strikingly black pages in her record.
"Of course the usual disposition of one in your place would be to put you in a position where you could begin to work, but you have dome well in school in certain brances; it seems that your work in English has even been brilliant. Miss Pritchard, who is on our visiting committee, is also on the school board; she has been talking with your rethoric teacher, and made a speech in your favor. She also read aloud an essay that you had written entitled 'Blue Wednesday.'"
Jerysha's guilty expression this time was not assumed.
"It seemed to me that you showed little gratitude in holding up to ridicule the institution that has done so much for you. Had you not managed to be funny I doubt if you would have been forgiven. But fortunately for you, Mr. - that is, the gentleman who has just gone - appears to have an immoderate sense of humor. On the strength of that impertiment paper, he has offered to send you to college."
"To college?" Jerusha's eyes grew big.
Mrs. Lippett nodded.
"He waited to discuss the terms with me. They are unusual. The gentlemen, I may say, is erratic. He believes that you have originality, and he is planning to educate you to become a writer."
"A writer?" Jerusha's mind was numbed. She could only repeat Mrs. Lippett's words.
"That is his wish. Whether anything will come of it, the future will show. He is giving you a very liberal allowance, almost, for a girl who has never had any experience in taking care of money, too liberal. But he planned the matter in detail, and I did not feel free to make any suggestions. You are to remain here through the summer, and Miss Pritchard has kindly offered to superintend your outfit. Your board and tuition will be paid directly to the college, and you will receive in addition during the four years you are there, an allowance of thirty-five dollars a month. This will enable you to enter on the same standing as the other students. Te money will be sent to you by the gentleman's private secretary once a month, and in return, you will write a letter of acknowledgement once a month. That is - you are not to thank him for the money; he doesn't care to have that mentioned, but you are to write a letter telling of the progress in your studies and the details of your daily life. Just such a letter as you would write to your parents if they were living.
"These letters will be addressed to Mr. John Smith and will be sent in care of the secretary. The gentleman's name is not John Smith, but he prefers to remain unknown. To you he will never be anything but John Smith. His reason in requiring the letters is that he thinks nothing so fosters facility in literary expression as letter writing. Since you have no family with whom to correspond, he desires you to write in this way; also, he wishes to keep track of your progress. He will nenver answer your letters, nor in the slightest particular take any notice of them. If any point should ever arise where an answer would seem to be imperative - such as in the event of your being expelled, which I trust will not occur - you may correspond with Mr. Griggs, is secretary. These monthly letters are absolutely obligatory on your part; they are the only payment that Mr. Smith requires, so you must be as punctilious in spending them as though it were a bill that you were paying. I hop that they will always be respectful in tone and will reflect credit on your training. You must remember that you are writing to a trustee of the John Grier Home."
Jerusha's eyes longingly sought the door. Her head was in a whirl of excitement, and she wished only to escape from Mrs. Lippett's platitudes, and think. She rose and took a tentative step backward.
Mrs. Lippett detained her with a gesture; it was an oratorical opportunity not to be slighted.
"I trust that you are properly grateful for this very rare good fortune that has befallen you? Not many girls in your position ever have such an opportunity to rise in the world. You must always remember - "
"I - yes, ma'am, thank you. I think, if that's all, I must go and sew a patch on Freddie Perkins's trousers."
The door closed behind er, and Mrs. Lippett watched it with dropped jaw, her peroration in midair.