As he has to deliver long speeches when he is judging, one would have thought he might have liked a little rest and light conversation when he came out to lunch, especially as every man likes to talk to Octavia and me; but not a bit of it, he continued to lay down the law in a didactic way so that no one else could speak. He did not even pretend to be interested in us. What he said was all quite clever and splendidly put, but having to show politeness and listen with one’s fork suspended in the air, lets the food get cold, and as it was excellent, all sorts of lovely American dishes, at last I just attended to that, and did not hear some of his speeches.
The band suddenly stopped and Octavia’s voice saying, “Indeed” (all she could get in) rang out like the man on the Lusitania shouting orders down the megaphone; and when we got outside we all felt deaf and had sore throats.
The intense relief to come here out of all noise or hustle, to Valerie Latour’s for Sunday! But I am so tired now I will finish this to-morrow.
Your affectionate daughter,
LATOUR COURT, LONG ISLAND,
DEAREST MAMMA,—I am resting, so I can put another letter in with the one I wrote last night. We came here, as I said, after the down town luncheon, and it is so quaint going over on the ferry; we just sat in the motor we have hired while we are in New York, and it rolled on to a broad place on a huge flat steamer, with all the rest of the traffic, and the boat quietly steamed across the water, and when it touched the other side we drove off again. And presently as one gets past the station it looks like going into the wilds, but along the edges of the roads are small villas made of boards with shingle roofs; here the clerks (they pronounce it just as it is spelt) and small business people live, their little bits of land a few feet round each house not railed or hedged off, but simply mown grass marking them from public property.
Most of them are spruce and painted, and they can be moved if necessary. We met one coming down the road, the lace curtains in the windows and a cat looking out and brushing its whiskers. The house was set on rollers and being pulled along. Isn’t it a splendid idea, Mamma? Fancy if I could have the east wing of Valmond, that was added in eighteen hundred, cut off and just trotted round to the north courtyard, where it would not show so much, how nice that would be; but everything is so dreadfully stable and solid with us, and here everything is transitory and can come and go in a night. All the country we came through looks the wilds, uncultivated, almost as if bears could live in the woods. Farms have been there, but now the land is too valuable and is only sold for building purposes. But the effect of wild is intense and makes the contrast of the over-cultivated avenue borders greater. Once inside the gates, the winding avenue begins, covered like all the avenues we have seen with fine granite gravel. But even in the wildest wild it is lit with electric light, and here and there a neat villa. This is typical of America, the contrivances of the brain of man forced upon primitive nature.