One of the strangest things is that no one is old, never more than sixty and generally younger; the majority from eighteen to thirty-five, and also, something we have remarked everywhere, everyone seems happy. You do not see weary, tired, bored faces, like in Europe, and no one is shabby or dejected, and they are all talking and drinking and laughing with the same intent concentrated force they bring to everything they do, and it is simply splendid.
To-morrow we are going to drive about and see everything. The aristocracy live in fine houses just outside the town, we are told, and the Senator has arranged with Mr. Craik Purdy for us all to go and have lunch with him in his mansion. This is the party he promised us, which would be different to what we had seen before, and we are looking forward to it. And there is one thing I feel sure: even if they are odd, we shall find a generous welcome, original ideas, and kind hearts; and the more I see the more I think these qualities matter most.
Now I must go to bed, dearest Mamma.
You haven’t heard from Harry, I suppose? Because if you have you might let me know.
Your affectionate daughter,
In the train going West.
DEAREST MAMMA,—Forgive this shaky writing, but I had no time before we left, and I feel I must tell you at once about our luncheon at the Purdy Castle, in case anything gets dulled in my memory. It was a unique experience. We spent the morning seeing the town, an immense busy place with colossal blocks of houses, and some really fine architecture, all giving the impression of a mighty prosperous and advancing nation, and quite the best shops one could wish for, not too crowded, and polite assistants—even at the ribbon counter!
Octavia and I made ourselves look as smart as we could in travelling dresses, because there would be no time to change after the lunch; we had to go straight to the train. I always think it is such impertinence imposing your customs upon other nations when you are travelling among them, like the English people who will go to the Paris restaurants without hats, and one Englishwoman we met at a party at Sherry’s in New York in a draggled tweed skirt and coat, when all the other women were in long afternoon dresses. One should do as one’s hosts do, but we could not help it this time and did not look at all bad considering.
However, when we got there we felt we were indeed out of it! But I must begin from the very door-step.