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The Letters of Miss Jerusha Abbott to Mr. Daddy-Long-Legs Smith

215 FERGUSSEN HALL 24th September

Dear Kind-Trustee-Who-Sends-Orphans-to-College,

Here I am! I travelled yesterday for four hours in a train. It's a funny sensation, isn't it? I never rode in one before.

College is the biggest, most bewildering place--I get lost whenever I leave my room. I will write you a description later when I'm feeling less muddled; also I will tell you about my lessons. Classes don't begin until Monday morning, and this is Saturday night. But I wanted to write a letter first just to get acquainted.

It seems queer to be writing letters to somebody you don't know. It seems queer for me to be writing letters at all--I've never written more than three or four in my life, so please overlook it if these are not a model kind.

Before leaving yesterday morning, Mrs. Lippett and I had a very serious talk. She told me how to behave all the rest of my life, and especially how to behave towards the kind gentleman who is doing so much for me. I must take care to be Very Respectful.

But how can one be very respectful to a person who wishes to be called John Smith? Why couldn't you have picked out a name with a little personality? I might as well write letters to Dear Hitching-Post or Dear Clothes-Prop.

I have been thinking about you a great deal this summer; having somebody take an interest in me after all these years makes me feel as though I had found a sort of family. It seems as though I belonged to somebody now, and it's a very comfortable sensation. I must say, however, that when I think about you, my imagination has very little to work upon. There are just three things that I know:

I. You are tall.

II. You are rich.

III. You hate girls.

I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's rather insulting to me. Or Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting to you, as though money were the only important thing about you. Besides, being rich is such a very external quality. Maybe you won't stay rich all your life; lots of very clever men get smashed up in Wall Street. But at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you won't mind. It's just a private pet name we won't tell Mrs. Lippett.

The ten o'clock bell is going to ring in two minutes. Our day is divided into sections by bells. We eat and sleep and study by bells. It's very enlivening; I feel like a fire horse all of the time. There it goes! Lights out. Good night.

Observe with what precision I obey rules--due to my training in the John Grier Home. Yours most respectfully, Jerusha Abbott To Mr. Daddy-Long-Legs Smith

1st October Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

I love college and I love you for sending me--I'm very, very happy, and so excited every moment of the time that I can scarcely sleep. You can't imagine how different it is from the John Grier Home. I never dreamed there was such a place in the world. I'm feeling sorry for everybody who isn't a girl and who can't come here; I am sure the college you attended when you were a boy couldn't have been so nice.

My room is up in a tower that used to be the contagious ward before they built the new infirmary. There are three other girls on the same floor of the tower--a Senior who wears spectacles and is always asking us please to be a little more quiet, and two Freshmen named Sallie McBride and Julia Rutledge Pendleton. Sallie has red hair and a turn-up nose and is quite friendly; Julia comes from one of the first families in New York and hasn't noticed me yet. They room together and the Senior and I have singles. Usually Freshmen can't get singles; they are very scarce, but I got one without even asking. I suppose the registrar didn't think it would be right to ask a properly brought-up girl to room with a foundling. You see there are advantages!

My room is on the north-west corner with two windows and a view. After you've lived in a ward for eighteen years with twenty room-mates, it is restful to be alone. This is the first chance I've ever had to get acquainted with Jerusha Abbott. I think I'm going to like her.

Do you think you are?

Tuesday

They are organizing the Freshman basket-ball team and there's just a chance that I shall get in it. I'm little of course, but terribly quick and wiry and tough. While the others are hopping about in the air, I can dodge under their feet and grab the ball. It's loads of fun practising--out in the athletic field in the afternoon with the trees all red and yellow and the air full of the smell of burning leaves, and everybody laughing and shouting. These are the happiest girls I ever saw--and I am the happiest of all!

I meant to write a long letter and tell you all the things I'm learning (Mrs. Lippett said you wanted to know), but 7th hour has just rung, and in ten minutes I'm due at the athletic field in gymnasium clothes. Don't you hope I'll get in the team?

Yours always, Jerusha Abbott

PS. (9 o'clock.)

Sallie McBride just poked her head in at my door. This is what she said:

'I'm so homesick that I simply can't stand it. Do you feel that way?'

I smiled a little and said no; I thought I could pull through. At least homesickness is one disease that I've escaped! I never heard of anybody being asylum-sick, did you?

10th October Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Did you ever hear of Michael Angelo?

He was a famous artist who lived in Italy in the Middle Ages. Everybody in English Literature seemed to know about him, and the whole class laughed because I thought he was an archangel. He sounds like an archangel, doesn't he? The trouble with college is that you are expected to know such a lot of things you've never learned. It's very embarrassing at times. But now, when the girls talk about things that I never heard of, I just keep still and look them up in the encyclopedia.

I made an awful mistake the first day. Somebody mentioned Maurice Maeterlinck, and I asked if she was a Freshman. That joke has gone all over college. But anyway, I'm just as bright in class as any of the others--and brighter than some of them!

Do you care to know how I've furnished my room? It's a symphony in brown and yellow. The wall was tinted buff, and I've bought yellow denim curtains and cushions and a mahogany desk (second hand for three dollars) and a rattan chair and a brown rug with an ink spot in the middle. I stand the chair over the spot.

The windows are up high; you can't look out from an ordinary seat. But I unscrewed the looking-glass from the back of the bureau, upholstered the top and moved it up against the window. It's just the right height for a window seat. You pull out the drawers like steps and walk up. Very comfortable!

Sallie McBride helped me choose the things at the Senior auction. She has lived in a house all her life and knows about furnishing. You can't imagine what fun it is to shop and pay with a real five-dollar bill and get some change--when you've never had more than a few cents in your life. I assure you, Daddy dear, I do appreciate that allowance.

Sallie is the most entertaining person in the world--and Julia Rutledge Pendleton the least so. It's queer what a mixture the registrar can make in the matter of room-mates. Sallie thinks everything is funny--even flunking--and Julia is bored at everything. She never makes the slightest effort to be amiable. She believes that if you are a Pendleton, that fact alone admits you to heaven without any further examination. Julia and I were born to be enemies.

And now I suppose you've been waiting very impatiently to hear what I am learning?

I. Latin: Second Punic war. Hannibal and his forces pitched camp at Lake Trasimenus last night. They prepared an ambuscade for the Romans, and a battle took place at the fourth watch this morning. Romans in retreat.

II. French: 24 pages of the Three Musketeers and third conjugation, irregular verbs.

III. Geometry: Finished cylinders; now doing cones.

IV. English: Studying exposition. My style improves daily in clearness and brevity.

V. Physiology: Reached the digestive system. Bile and the pancreas next time. Yours, on the way to being educated, Jerusha Abbott

PS. I hope you never touch alcohol, Daddy? It does dreadful things to your liver.

Wednesday

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

I've changed my name.

I'm still 'Jerusha' in the catalogue, but I'm 'Judy' everywhere else. It's really too bad, isn't it, to have to give yourself the only pet name you ever had? I didn't quite make up the Judy though. That's what Freddy Perkins used to call me before he could talk plainly.

I wish Mrs. Lippett would use a little more ingenuity about choosing babies' names. She gets the last names out of the telephone book-- you'll find Abbott on the first page--and she picks the Christian names up anywhere; she got Jerusha from a tombstone. I've always hated it; but I rather like Judy. It's such a silly name. It belongs to the kind of girl I'm not--a sweet little blue-eyed thing, petted and spoiled by all the family, who romps her way through life without any cares. Wouldn't it be nice to be like that? Whatever faults I may have, no one can ever accuse me of having been spoiled by my family! But it's great fun to pretend I've been. In the future please always address me as Judy.

Do you want to know something? I have three pairs of kid gloves. I've had kid mittens before from the Christmas tree, but never real kid gloves with five fingers. I take them out and try them on every little while. It's all I can do not to wear them to classes.

(Dinner bell. Goodbye.)

Friday

What do you think, Daddy? The English instructor said that my last paper shows an unusual amount of originality. She did, truly. Those were her words. It doesn't seem possible, does it, considering the eighteen years of training that I've had? The aim of the John Grier Home (as you doubtless know and heartily approve of) is to turn the ninety-seven orphans into ninety-seven twins.

The unusual artistic ability which I exhibit was developed at an early age through drawing chalk pictures of Mrs. Lippett on the woodshed door.

I hope that I don't hurt your feelings when I criticize the home of my youth? But you have the upper hand, you know, for if I become too impertinent, you can always stop payment of your cheques. That isn't a very polite thing to say--but you can't expect me to have any manners; a foundling asylum isn't a young ladies' finishing school.

You know, Daddy, it isn't the work that is going to be hard in college. It's the play. Half the time I don't know what the girls are talking about; their jokes seem to relate to a past that every one but me has shared. I'm a foreigner in the world and I don't understand the language. It's a miserable feeling. I've had it all my life. At the high school the girls would stand in groups and just look at me. I was queer and different and everybody knew it. I could FEEL 'John Grier Home' written on my face. And then a few charitable ones would make a point of coming up and saying something polite. I HATED EVERY ONE OF THEM--the charitable ones most of all.

Nobody here knows that I was brought up in an asylum. I told Sallie McBride that my mother and father were dead, and that a kind old gentleman was sending me to college which is entirely true so far as it goes. I don't want you to think I am a coward, but I do want to be like the other girls, and that Dreadful Home looming over my childhood is the one great big difference. If I can turn my back on that and shut out the remembrance, I think, I might be just as desirable as any other girl. I don't believe there's any real, underneath difference, do you?

Anyway, Sallie McBride likes me! Yours ever, Judy Abbott (Nee Jerusha.)

Saturday morning

I've just been reading this letter over and it sounds pretty un-cheerful. But can't you guess that I have a special topic due Monday morning and a review in geometry and a very sneezy cold?

Sunday

I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will add an indignant postscript. We had a bishop this morning, and WHAT DO YOU THINK HE SAID?

'The most beneficent promise made us in the Bible is this, "The poor ye have always with you." They were put here in order to keep us charitable.'

The poor, please observe, being a sort of useful domestic animal. If I hadn't grown into such a perfect lady, I should have gone up after service and told him what I thought.

25th October Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

I'm in the basket-ball team and you ought to see the bruise on my left shoulder. It's blue and mahogany with little streaks of orange. Julia Pendleton tried for the team, but she didn't get in. Hooray!

You see what a mean disposition I have.

College gets nicer and nicer. I like the girls and the teachers and the classes and the campus and the things to eat. We have ice-cream twice a week and we never have corn-meal mush.

You only wanted to hear from me once a month, didn't you? And I've been peppering you with letters every few days! But I've been so excited about all these new adventures that I MUST talk to somebody; and you're the only one I know. Please excuse my exuberance; I'll settle pretty soon. If my letters bore you, you can always toss them into the wastebasket. I promise not to write another till the middle of November. Yours most loquaciously, Judy Abbott

15th November

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

Listen to what I've learned to-day.

The area of the convex surface of the frustum of a regular pyramid is half the product of the sum of the perimeters of its bases by the altitude of either of its trapezoids.

It doesn't sound true, but it is--I can prove it!

You've never heard about my clothes, have you, Daddy? Six dresses, all new and beautiful and bought for me--not handed down from somebody bigger. Perhaps you don't realize what a climax that marks in the career of an orphan? You gave them to me, and I am very, very, VERY much obliged. It's a fine thing to be educated--but nothing compared to the dizzying experience of owning six new dresses. Miss Pritchard, who is on the visiting committee, picked them out-- not Mrs. Lippett, thank goodness. I have an evening dress, pink mull over silk (I'm perfectly beautiful in that), and a blue church dress, and a dinner dress of red veiling with Oriental trimming (makes me look like a Gipsy), and another of rose-coloured challis, and a grey street suit, and an every-day dress for classes. That wouldn't be an awfully big wardrobe for Julia Rutledge Pendleton, perhaps, but for Jerusha Abbott--Oh, my!

I suppose you're thinking now what a frivolous, shallow little beast she is, and what a waste of money to educate a girl?

But, Daddy, if you'd been dressed in checked ginghams all your life, you'd appreciate how I feel. And when I started to the high school, I entered upon another period even worse than the checked ginghams.

The poor box.

You can't know how I dreaded appearing in school in those miserable poor-box dresses. I was perfectly sure to be put down in class next to the girl who first owned my dress, and she would whisper and giggle and point it out to the others. The bitterness of wearing your enemies' cast-off clothes eats into your soul. If I wore silk stockings for the rest of my life, I don't believe I could obliterate the scar.

LATEST WAR BULLETIN!

News from the Scene of Action.

At the fourth watch on Thursday the 13th of November, Hannibal routed the advance guard of the Romans and led the Carthaginian forces over the mountains into the plains of Casilinum. A cohort of light armed Numidians engaged the infantry of Quintus Fabius Maximus. Two battles and light skirmishing. Romans repulsed with heavy losses. I have the honour of being, Your special correspondent from the front, J. Abbott

PS. I know I'm not to expect any letters in return, and I've been warned not to bother you with questions, but tell me, Daddy, just this once--are you awfully old or just a little old? And are you perfectly bald or just a little bald? It is very difficult thinking about you in the abstract like a theorem in geometry.

Given a tall rich man who hates girls, but is very generous to one quite impertinent girl, what does he look like?

R.S.V.P.

19th December Dear Daddy-Long-Legs,

You never answered my question and it was very important.

ARE YOU BALD?

I have it planned exactly what you look like--very satisfactorily-- until I reach the top of your head, and then I AM stuck. I can't decide whether you have white hair or black hair or sort of sprinkly grey hair or maybe none at all.

Here is your portrait:

But the problem is, shall I add some hair?

Would you like to know what colour your eyes are? They're grey, and your eyebrows stick out like a porch roof (beetling, they're called in novels), and your mouth is a straight line with a tendency to turn down at the corners. Oh, you see, I know! You're a snappy old thing with a temper. (Chapel bell.) 9.45 p.m.

I have a new unbreakable rule: never, never to study at night no matter how many written reviews are coming in the morning. Instead, I read just plain books--I have to, you know, because there are eighteen blank years behind me. You wouldn't believe, Daddy, what an abyss of ignorance my mind is; I am just realizing the depths myself. The things that most girls with a properly assorted family and a home and friends and a library know by absorption, I have never heard of. For example:

I never read Mother Goose or David Copperfield or Ivanhoe or Cinderella or Blue Beard or Robinson Crusoe or Jane Eyre or Alice in Wonderland or a word of Rudyard Kipling. I didn't know that Henry the Eighth was married more than once or that Shelley was a poet. I didn't know that people used to be monkeys and that the Garden of Eden was a beautiful myth. I didn't know that R. L. S. stood for Robert Louis Stevenson or that George Eliot was a lady. I had never seen a picture of the 'Mona Lisa' and (it's true but you won't believe it) I had never heard of Sherlock Holmes.

Now, I know all of these things and a lot of others besides, but you can see how much I need to catch up. And oh, but it's fun! I look forward all day to evening, and then I put an 'engaged' on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all the cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow, and read and read and read one book isn't enough. I have four going at once. Just now, they're Tennyson's poems and Vanity Fair and Kipling's Plain Tales and--don't laugh--Little Women. I find that I am the only girl in college who wasn't brought up on Little Women. I haven't told anybody though (that WOULD stamp me as queer). I just quietly went and bought it with $1.12 of my last month's allowance; and the next time somebody mentions pickled limes, I'll know what she is talking about!

(Ten o'clock bell. This is a very interrupted letter.)

Saturday Sir,

I have the honour to report fresh explorations in the field of geometry. On Friday last we abandoned our former works in parallelopipeds and proceeded to truncated prisms. We are finding the road rough and very uphill.

Sunday

The Christmas holidays begin next week and the trunks are up. The corridors are so filled up that you can hardly get through, and everybody is so bubbling over with excitement that studying is getting left out. I'm going to have a beautiful time in vacation; there's another Freshman who lives in Texas staying behind, and we are planning to take long walks and if there's any ice-- learn to skate. Then there is still the whole library to be read-- and three empty weeks to do it in!

Goodbye, Daddy, I hope that you are feeling as happy as am. Yours ever, Judy

PS. Don't forget to answer my question. If you don't want the trouble of writing, have your secretary telegraph. He can

just say: Mr. Smith is quite bald,

or

Mr. Smith is not bald,

or

Mr. Smith has white hair.

And you can deduct the twenty-five cents out of my allowance.

Goodbye till January--and a merry Christmas!

乔若莎•艾伯特小姐给长腿史密斯先生的信

亲爱的送孤儿上大学的好心理事:

我终于到了!昨天搭了4个钟头的火车。心中充满了新奇感,不是吗?我还从来没有坐过火车呢。

校园真是好大,是很容易把人搞糊涂的地方——我只要一离开房间就会迷路。等我对周围环境熟悉了一些再对您描绘我的校园,并汇报我的功课。

现在是星期六晚上,要到下星期一早上才开课。不过我还是想先写封信让我们彼此认识一下。

写信给陌生人是件挺奇怪的事。对我来说,写信本来就够奇怪的……我这辈子到现在就写过3封信,要是写得不规范,请您多多原谅。

不过昨天早上出发前,李皮太太和我作了一次严肃的谈话。她告诫我今后一辈子如何为人处世,尤其对有恩于我的好心先生更要注意自己的言行。我一定记得对您要非常的“尊敬”。

不过,对一个叫约翰•史密斯的人,怎么尊敬得起来呢?您为什么不挑个有点个性的名字呢?我好比在给亲爱的拴马桩或衣服架写信。

整个夏天我想了很多关于您的事。这么多年来突然有人关心我,让我觉得好像找到家一样,觉得有了归属感,这是一种令人陶醉的感觉。但不论如何,我必须承认,当我想到您的时候,我的脑子总是空荡荡的。我只知道三件事:

一、您长得很高。

二、您很有钱。

三、您讨厌女孩子。

我想我可以称您为“亲爱的恨女人先生”,不过这有伤我的自尊。或许我可以称您为“亲爱的有钱人”,不过这样又侮辱您的人格,好像您惟一值得提的就是钱。此外,“富有”是一种很肤浅的特征。您也许不会——辈子都有钱,有很多聪明人也都在华尔街惨遭滑铁卢。不过您的身高是改变不了的,所以我决定称您为亲爱的长腿叔叔。希望您别介意。这只是个私底下的称呼,不必要告诉李皮太太。

再有两分钟,10点的钟声就要响了。我们的——天被钟声分成好几段。我们吃饭、睡觉和上课都照着钟声来。这让我生气十足,我随时都像匹野马。

该熄灯了。晚安。

瞧!我多守规矩——全亏约翰•格利尔孤儿院的训练。

尊敬您的乔若莎•艾伯特
9月24日于弗高森楼215室

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

我喜欢大学,也喜欢送我来这的您——我真的非常非常快乐,时时刻刻都兴奋得快睡不着了。您无法想像这里跟约翰•格利尔孤儿院是多么得不同。我从不知道世上还有这样的好地方。我深深地为那些不是女孩,不能来上大学的人感到难过。我相信您以前读的大学一定没有这么好。

我的房间在新医务室盖好前,被用来当做传染病房的大楼里。这层楼还有另外3个女孩子——一个戴眼镜的高年级女生,老是要人家安静一点,还有两个新生,莎莉•麦克白与茱莉亚•平莱顿。莎莉有一头红发和一个翘鼻子,人很和气。茱莉亚出身纽约名门,还没注意到我。她们俩同屋,那高年级女生跟我住单人房。单间很少,新生一般不能住,我甚至没提要求就得到了一间。我猜是注册处的人觉得让有教养的女孩跟孤儿住在一起不太妥当。您瞧,还有优越性呢!

我的房间在西北角,有两扇窗,窗外景色宜人。在跟20个人在一个宿舍住了18年,如今独处一室,感到很轻松。我想这是让我认识乔若莎•艾伯特的良机。

我想我会喜欢她的。

您呢?

她们正在招募新生篮球队,我要去争取这个机会。没错,我是长得很瘦小,不过我反应很敏捷,身体强壮,当其他人跳到半空中时,我可以从她们的脚底下抢到球。

练球很有意思。下午,操场前满树红叶、黄叶,空气中充满了燃烧落叶的气味,大家又叫又笑的。这是我所见到的最快乐的女孩们了,而我是其中最快乐的一个。

本来打算写封长信跟您谈谈我的功课(李皮太太说过您想知道的)。不过第7堂课刚结束,再过10分种我就要换好运动服在空地上集合了。您希望我会入选吧?

您永远的乔若莎•艾伯特

星期二

又及:

莎莉•麦克白刚才探头进来说:“我想家想得快受不了了,你呢?”

我笑了笑说:“才不呢。”我想我能挺得过去。至少思乡病是我绝不会染上的疾病,没听说过有人想孤儿院的,是吗?

(晚9时)

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

您听说过米开朗琪罗吗?

他是中世纪意大利著名画家,上英国文学课的人好像都知道他。我说他是个天使,惹得全班哄堂大笑。可那名字听上去很像天使,您说是吗?糟糕的是在大学里,大家都认为你应该懂得一些你根本没学过的东西。有时真的让人很尴尬,不过现在只要女孩们提到我不懂的事,我就闭口不言,而是回去查查字典。

上学第一天我闹了一个大笑话,有人提到麦特林克,而我就问她是不是个大一新生。这个笑话传遍了整所大学。还好,我在课堂上表现得比谁都不笨,甚至比一些人还要好。

您想知道我的房间布置吗?它是一曲棕黄相间的交响乐。淡黄色的墙壁,配上我买来的黄色粗布窗帘和靠垫,一张3美元的旧红木书桌,一把藤椅,一条正中有墨水迹的棕色地毯,我把椅子放在有墨迹的地方。

窗户很高,坐在椅子上望不到窗外。我把镜台上的镜子拆掉,铺上桌布,随后移到窗前,坐在上面看窗外高矮正合适。我把抽屉开成阶梯式,上来下去,真够舒服的。

这些东西是莎莉•麦可白帮我在高年级学生办的拍卖会上挑的。她从小到大都在家里住,对于家具摆饰颇有经验。如果您这辈子从没拿超过5毛钱,您是很难体会那种购物的乐趣。用一张真的5元钞票去买东西,还能找些零头回来!我向您保证,亲爱的叔叔,我对您给的零用钱真的心存感激。

莎莉算是全世界最好的人了,而茱莉亚•平莱顿则相反。注册处的人将这么一对安排在一起,可真够古怪的。莎莉觉得每件事,甚至连考试不及格都很有趣。而茱莉亚则不然,事事都让她不开心,对人从未有过亲切的表示。也许她相信,只要是平莱顿家族的,无庸置疑一定可以上天堂的——茱莉亚跟我是天生的冤家。

现在您一定急于知道我的功课情况吧?

一、拉丁文:第二次布匿战争。昨晚,汉尼拔和他的部队在特拉西美诺湖安营扎寨。他们在罗马人周围埋下伏兵,凌晨四点打了一仗,罗马人在退却。

二、法文:读了24页《三剑客》,学了第三组不规则动词的变位。

三、几何学:学完圆柱体,在学圆锥体。

四、英文:学习表达能力。我的风格日益清晰、简练。

五、生理学:进行到消化系统,下节课学胆和胰。

您的正在受教育的

乔若莎•艾伯特

10月10日

又及:

我希望您滴酒不沾,长腿叔叔。酒能伤肝。

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

我改名字了。

在学校花名册上我仍叫乔若莎,不过在其他场合我就叫茱蒂了。要自己为自己取一个小名实在很悲哀,不是吗?不过茱蒂也不是我凭空捏造的。弗莱迪•珀金斯牙牙学语前,都是这样叫我的。

我希望李皮太太以后在给小宝宝取名字时能多动一点点脑筋。她从电话簿上取我们的姓氏——您要是翻开第一页就会看到艾伯特了。而名字则都是信手拈来的,乔若莎是她从一块墓碑上看到的。我一直都很讨厌这名字,不过我挺喜欢茱蒂的。这是一个傻呼呼的名字,应该是一个与我完全不同的女孩子,一个有一双蓝眼睛,甜甜的,娇生惯养,什么都不用烦恼地过一辈子的女孩子。那样该有多好啊!不管我犯了什么错,都没人可以说是我的家人把我惯坏的。不过假装一下也挺好玩的。以后就请叫我茱蒂。

您想知道吗?我有3副羊皮手套了。从前,在挂在圣诞树上的礼物中我得到过羊皮无指手套,但从来没有分开手指的那种真的羊皮手套。我不时拿出来戴在手上,好容易才忍住没有戴到教室去。

午饭铃响了,再见!

星期三

叔叔,您猜怎么着?英文老师夸奖我上一篇作文别出心裁。她真的这么说!她就是这么讲的。想想我这18年来受的训练,这似乎不太可能,不是吗?约翰•格利尔孤儿院的目的,就是要把97个小孤儿变成97个相貌、言行举止都一样的人。

我不寻常的艺术天分,倒是在很小时就在门板上画李皮太太培养出来的。

我对小时候的家说长道短,希望您不要不高兴。不过您大权在握,如果我冒犯了您,您随时可以停止您的资助。这样说是不够礼貌,不过您不能期望我有什么教养,孤儿院毕竟不是淑女训练学校。

叔叔,您知道的,大学里难的不是功课,而是娱乐。很多时候,我都不懂女孩们在谈些什么,她们的玩笑似乎都与她们的过去联系在一起。这个过去人人有份,却与我无缘。我在她们的世界里就像是一个外国人,听不懂她们的语言。我很沮丧,我这一生浸透了沮丧。高中时,女孩们一群一伙的,冷眼相看。我很奇怪,与众不同,人人都知道这一点。我似乎感觉“约翰•格利尔孤儿院”就写在我脸上。然后会有一些好人走来安慰我。我恨他们每一个人——尤其是那些好人。

这里没有人知道我是孤儿院长大的。我告诉莎莉•麦克白我父母双亡,是一位好心的老先生送我上大学的——到目前为止,这都是事实。我不希望您觉得我很蠢,不过我真的希望跟其他女孩子一样,而那可怕的孤儿院的阴影却笼罩着我的童年,把我和大家隔绝开来。若能忘怀此事,把它逐出脑海,我想我应可以变得跟其他女孩一样可爱。我不认为自己和她们有什么真的区别。您说是吗?

无论如何,莎莉•麦克白喜欢我!

您永远的茱蒂•艾伯特

(原名乔若莎)

星期五

我刚才又把信重读了一遍,调子似乎很低沉。但是,您可能猜不到,我星期一早上要交一篇特殊的作文,还要复习几何学,而且还得了感冒,不停地打喷嚏。

星期六上午

昨天忘了发信,今天再发点牢骚。早上来了个主教,您猜他都说了些什么?

“圣经给我们的最佳许诺是‘常有穷人和你们同在’,他们可使我们永远以慈悲为怀。”

您瞧,穷人成了有用的家畜,要不是我已经成了一位有教养的小姐,我本来会在礼拜结束后跑去告诉他我的想法。

星期日

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

我已经入选篮球队了,您真该看看我左肩上的“成绩”,又青又紫的,绕着一圈紫色的边。茱莉亚•平莱顿也报了名,不过没入眩真棒!

您瞧,我心胸多狭窄。

大学越来越有趣了。我喜欢这些女孩们,喜欢老师,喜欢上课,喜欢校园,喜欢那些好吃的食物——每周吃两次的冰淇淋,从不吃孤儿院的玉米粥。

您只要我一个月写一封信,不是吗?我却每隔几天就寄一封给您!我对这些新奇的经历是这么的兴奋,我一定要找个人倾诉,您是我惟一认识的人。请原谅我的兴奋吧,我很快就会安定下来的。如果嫌烦,就把它们丢到废纸篓里。我保证11月中旬以前不再写信就是了。

您太长舌的朋友

茱蒂•艾伯特

10月25日

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

请看我今天的学习内容。

正棱锥形体平截头凸面的面积等于底边总长和梯形一边的高度乘积的一半。

听起来似乎不对,实际非常正确,我还验算过呢!

您还没听说过我的衣服,是吗?我有6件漂亮的新衣服——是专为我买的而不是什么人穿了嫌大嫌小的衣服。也许您无法理解这在一个孤儿的生命中意味着什么。这些都是您给我的,我非常非常的感激您。可以受教育固然不错,不过没有什么事比拥有6件新衣服更让人快乐的了。这些衣服都是参访团的普查德小姐替我挑的,感谢上帝幸好不是李皮太太。一件是缀着石竹花的丝绸晚礼服(我穿上很美),一件蓝色礼拜服,两件餐服:一件是红色面料,上面镶着东方花边(我穿上后像个吉卜赛人);另一件是玫瑰红印花布料的;一套日常穿的灰色套服;还有一件是平时上课穿的。这些服装对菜莉亚•平莱顿来说算不得什么,可是对菜蒂•艾伯特来说——天呀,委实了不起。

我猜您现在一定这样想——她是如此轻浮浅薄,多么愚蠢的女孩子啊!让这样一个女孩子受教育真是浪费钱!

不过叔叔,要是您—辈子除了花格布,没穿过别的,您会明白我的感受的。我上高中以后,穿的比花格布还不如呢。

您无法想像我多么害怕穿那些可怕的救济服出现在学校里,我担心邻座的姑娘原本就是衣服的主人,而她会偷偷将这事告诉别的姑娘,又讲又笑并对我指指点点。想到也许穿着自己讨厌的人扔掉的衣服,真是心如刀绞。即使我今后一辈子都能穿上长统丝袜,也无法抹去心头的伤痕。

最新战报

战场消息

11月13日星期四四更时分,汉尼拔击败了罗马人的先头部队,带领迦太基部队翻山越岭进入卡西利浓平原。一队带着轻便武器的努米底亚人与马克西马斯的步兵接战。两场战役,还有几次小冲突。罗马人被击退了,他们损失惨重。

很荣幸做您的战地特派记者。

您虚荣的朋友

J•艾伯特

又及:

我知道我不该奢求得到回信,而我也被告诫过不要拿问题来打扰您。不过,长腿叔叔,就此一次,下不为例——您是老态龙钟呢,还是半老?头发全部脱落了呢,还是刚刚有些秃顶?从没见过您而要来想像,真是有点困难。

一个身材高高的,厌恶女孩子却又对一个卤莽无礼的女孩子慷慨相助的人,该是长得什么样子呢?

盼复。

11月15日

亲爱的长腿叔叔:

您对我的问题置之不理,但对我来说那是非常重要的。

您秃顶了吗?

我画着您的长像——一切都很顺利——直到您的头顶,我卡壳了。我无法确定您的头发是白的、黑的或灰的,或者干脆秃顶。

这是您的画像。

问题是,我该不该加点头发上去?

您想知道您的眼睛是什么颜色吗?灰色的,眉毛突出像廊檐(小说中称为悬崖)。嘴像两角下垂的一条直线。对啦,您瞧,我晓得!您肯定是—个精神饱满、脾气暴躁的老家伙。

(做礼拜的钟声响了!)

11月19日

晚上9:45

我给自己订了一条雷打不动严格的规定:绝不……绝不在晚上学习,只看小说,不管隔天有多少测验——我不得不这样,您知道的,我已经白白地浪费了18年。您无法想像,叔叔,我是多么无知。我才刚开始知道自己的浅保一个正常的有家庭、有朋友、有图书馆陪伴的女孩子自然而然知道的事情,对我而言却是闻所未闻的。

例如:

我从没听过《鹅妈妈》或《蓝胡子》或《劫后英雄传》或《灰姑娘》或《罗宾逊》或《简•爱》或是《爱丽丝漫游记》,或者吉卜林的片言只语,我不知道亨利八世曾经再婚,雪莱是诗人,人的祖先是猴子,也没有听说过伊甸园是个美丽的神话。我不知道R.L.S是罗伯特•路易斯•史蒂文生的缩写,更不知乔治•艾略特是女性。我从未看过一幅叫《蒙娜丽莎的微笑》的画,也从未听说过什么福尔摩斯。

现在,这些东西我都知道了,还知道了一大堆其他的东西,您瞧!我还必须奋发努力跟上进度。喔!不过这是件有趣的事:我盼望黄昏早些降临,好在门口挂上“读书中”的牌子,然后穿上我舒服的红睡袍和皮拖鞋,把枕头堆在椅背上,打开手边的台灯,然后埋头读碍…读啊,一直读下去。

一本书赚不够,我常常找来4本书同时进行。现在,我正在读的是丁尼生的《名利撤和吉卜林的《平凡的故事》。另外,请不要笑话我,还有《小妇人》。我发现自己是大学里惟一没有受到《小妇人》熏陶的姑娘。不过我没告诉任何人,我只是悄悄地溜出去,用上个月剩的1.12块零用钱买了它。如果再有人提起腌酸橙,我就知道他们在讲些什么了。

(10点钟声响了,这封信被打断了多次。)

先生:

我十分高兴地告诉您我在几何学方面取得的成绩。上周五我们放弃了平行六面体的功课,转而学习截头棱柱体。学习的道路艰难坎坷。

星期六

下个星期圣诞假期就要到了。 过道里全是行李箱,满得难以通行,大家兴高采烈,把学业全都抛到脑外。我也要好好享受自己的假期了,一个德州的新生也准备留下来,我们计划要远行,如果有冰的话,我们还要学溜冰。还有一整座图书馆的书可读——有整整3个星期可以在里面读!

晚安,叔叔,我希望您跟我一样快乐。

您永远的茱蒂

又及:别忘了答复我的问题。您若无法提笔,也可请秘书代劳。只消说:史密斯先生很秃或史密斯先生不秃或史密斯满头白发。

您可以在我的零用钱里扣去2角5分。

明年—月再见。祝您圣诞快乐