“January 20, 19—.
“Thank you, dear Richard, for your brotherly letter. I make no protestations, for I know your invitation would not be given if you felt my presence would in any way be a drawback or impose care on any member of your household, and the four little hearts that Barbara drew, with her own, Evan’s, and the boys’ initials in them, are seals upon the invitation.
“Do not deplore, however, the lack of nearness of my haunts in Astor and Lenox libraries. Times are changed, and the new order condemns me to sit here if I read, there if I take out pencil and pad to copy—the red tape distracts me. The old Historical Society alone remains in comfortable confusion, and that is soon to move upward half a day’s walk.
“But, as it chances, you have collected many of the volumes that are necessary to me, and I will use them freely, for some day, friend of mine, my books will be joined to yours, and also feel the touch of little Richard’s and Ian’s fingers, and of their sons, also, I hope.
“I declare, I’m growing childishly expectant and impatient for spring, like Barbara with her packages of flower seeds.
“You ask if I ever remember meeting one Lavinia Dorman. I think I used to see her with a bevy of girls from Miss Black’s school, who used sometimes to attend lectures at the Historical Society rooms, and had an unlimited appetite for the chocolate and sandwiches that were served below in the ‘tombs’ afterward, which appetite I may have helped to appease, for you know father was always a sort of mine host at those functions.
“The girls must have all been eight or ten years my junior, and you know how a fellow of twenty-three or four regards giggling schoolgirls—they seem quite like kittens to him.
“Stop, was she one of the older girls, the special friend of—Barbara’s mother? If so, I remember her face, though she did not walk in the school procession with the other ‘convicts,’ as the boys called them; but I was never presented.
“I’m sending a small birthday token to the boys—a little printing-press. Richard showed no small skill in setting the letters of my rubber stamp. It is some days late, but that will separate it from the glut of the Christmas market. Ask Evan to notify me if he and Barbara go to town.
WHEN BARBARA GOES TO TOWN
March 4. I like to go to a plain people’s play, where the spectators groan and hiss the villain. It is a wholesome sort of clearing house where one may be freed from pent-up emotion under cover of other people’s tears and smiles; the smiles triumphing at the end, which always winds up with a sudden recoil, leaving the nerves in a healthy thrill. I believe that I can only comprehend the primal emotions and what is called in intellectual jargon mental dissipation, and the problem play, in its many phases, appeals to me even less than crude physical dissipation.