The food was exquisite and we had terrapin and canvas back ducks; and they are both the best things you ever tasted, only when you cut the duck you have to look the other way, and take the first bite with your eyes shut, because it has only run through the kitchen. And one would prefer to have the terrapin alone in one’s room, because of the bones—a greater test in nice eating than the bunch of grapes which were given to the young diplomat in the story book.
But to begin with, I have not told you of the cocktail! I had to have one. You are handed it before anything else, while you are waiting for the soup, and it tastes like ipecacuanha wine mixed with brandy and something bitter and a touch of orange; but you have not swallowed it five minutes when you feel you have not a care in the world and nothing matters. You can’t think, Mamma, how insidious and delightful—but of course I could not possibly have drunk anything after it, and I was so surprised to see everyone else swallowing champagne all through dinner; so I suppose it is a thing one gets accustomed to.
Now I am very sleepy, so good-night, dear Mamma.
Kisses to my angels.
Your affectionate daughter,
Up the Hudson.
Dearest Mamma,—A whole week since we landed! and we are terribly amused ("terribly” is American for “much"); and do you know that describes almost everything in comparison to at home. Everything is “colossalised”—events, fortunes, accidents, climate, conversation, ambitions—everything is in the extreme—all en-gros, not en-detail. They can’t even have a tram run off a line, which in England or France might kill one or two people, without its making a holocaust of half a street full. Even in their hospitality they are twice the size of other nations, simply too kind and generous for words. They have loaded us with invitations; we have been out morning, noon and night.
The thing which surprises me is they should still employ animals of normal size; one would expect to see elephants and mammoths drawing the hansoms and carts!
Now we are staying in a country palace with the family we met on the boat, whom the Americans we know in England would not speak to; in fact, I am sure they are rather hurt at our coming here; but Octavia says she prefers to see something we do not see in England. The Van Verdens, and Courtfields and Latours are almost like us, only they are richer and have better French furniture. So she says she wants to see the others, the American Americans we don’t meet at home. If people are nice in themselves how can it matter who they are or if “fashionable” or not. The whole thing is nonsense and if you belong to a country where the longest tradition is sixteen hundred and something, and your ancestor got there then through being a middle class puritan, or a ne’er-do-weel