About this time we got a very characteristic letter from Jim. Here it is:

Dear Hal:—My head buzzes like a swarm of bees. What haven't I done since you left? The Van Arsdels are all packing up and getting ready to move out, and of course I have been up making myself generally useful there. I have been daily call-boy and page to the adorable Alice. Mem:—That girl is a brick! Didn't use to think so, but she's sublime! The way she takes things is so confounded sensible and steady! I respect her—there's not a bit of nonsense about her now—you'd better believe. They are all going up to the old paternal farm to spend the summer with his father, and by Fall there'll be an arrangement to give him an income (Van Arsdel I mean), so that they'll have something to go on. They'll take a house somewhere in New York in the Fall and do fairly; but think what a change to Alice!

Oh, by the by, Hal, the Whang Doodle has made her appearance in our parts again. Yesterday as I sat scratching for dear life, our friend 'Dacia sailed in, cock's feathers and all, large as life. She was after money, as usual, but this time it's her book she insisted on my subscribing for. She informed me that it was destined to regenerate society, and she wanted five dollars for it. The title is:

An Exposition of the Dual Triplicate
Conglomeration of the Infinite.

There, now, is a book for you.

'Dacia was in high spirits, jaunty as ever, and informed me that the millennium was a-coming straight along, and favored me with her views of how they intended to manage things in the good time.

The great mischief at present, she informs me, lies in possessive pronouns, which they intend to abolish. There isn't to be any my or thy. Everybody is to have everything just the minute they happen to want it, and everybody else is to let 'em. Marriage is an old effete institution, a relic of barbarous ages. There is to be no my of husband and wife, and no my of children. The State is to raise all the children as they do turnips in great institutions, and they are to belong to everybody. Love, she informed me, in those delightful days is to be free as air; everybody to do exactly as they've a mind to; a privilege she remarked that she took now as her right. "If I see a man that pleases me," said she, "I shall not ask Priest or Levitt for leave to have him." This was declared with so martial an air that I shrank a little, but she relieved me by saying, "You needn't be frightened. I don't want you. You wouldn't suit me. All I want of you is your money." Whereat she came down to business again.

The book she informed me was every word of it dictated by spirits while she was in the trance state, and was composed conjointly by Socrates, St. Paul, Ching Ling, and Jim Crow, representing different races of the earth and states of progression. From some specimens of the style which she read to me, I was led to hope that we might all live as long as possible, if that sort of thing is what we are coming to after death.

Well, it was all funny and entertaining enough to hear her go on, but when it came to buying the book and planking the V, I flunked. Told 'Dacia I couldn't encourage her in possessive pronouns, that she had no more right to the book than I had, that truth was a universal birthright, and so the truths in that book were mine as much as hers, and as I needed a V more than she did I proposed she should buy the book of me. She didn't see it in that light, and we had high words in consequence, and she poured down on me like a thousand of brick, and so I coolly walked down stairs, telling her when she had done scolding to shut the door.

Isn't she a case? The Domini was up in his den, and I believe she got at him after I left. How he managed her I don't know. He won't talk about her. The Domini is working like a Trojan, and his family are doing finely. The kittens are all over his room with as many capers as the fairies, and I hear him laughing all by himself at the way they go on. We have looked at a dozen houses advertised in the paper, but not one yet is the bargain you want; but we trudge on the quest all our exercise-time daily. It will turn up yet, I'm convinced, the very thing you want.

Height, Hal, you are a lucky dog. I'm like a lean old nag out on a common, looking over a fence and seeing you in clover up to your hat-band. If my kettle only could boil for two I'd risk about the possessive pronouns. To say the truth I am tired of I and my, and would like to say we and our if I dared.

Come home any way and kindle your tent fire, and let a poor tramp warm himself at it.

Your dog and slave,


Bolton's letter was as follows:

Dear Hal:—I promised you a family cat, but I am going to do better by you. There is a pair of my kittens that would bring laughter to the cheeks of a dying anchorite. They are just the craziest specimens of pure jollity that flesh, blood, and fur could be wrought into. Who wants a comic opera at a dollar a night when a family cat will supply eight kittens a year? Nobody seems to have found out what kittens are for. I do believe these two kittens of mine would cure the most obstinate hypochondria of mortal man, and, think of it, I am going to give them to you! Their names are Whisky and Frisky, and their ways are past finding out.

The house in which the golden age pastoral is to be enacted has not yet been found. It is somewhere in fairy land, and will probably suddenly appear to you as things used to, to good knights in enchanted forests.

Jim and I went down to the steamer yesterday to see Miss Van Arsdel and your cousin off for Europe. They are part of a very pleasant party that are going together and seem in high spirits. I find her articles (your cousin's) take well, and there is an immediate call for more. So far, good! Stay your month out, my boy, and get all you can out of it before you come back to the "Dem'd horrid grind" of New York.

Ever yours,


P. S.—While I have been writing, Whisky and Frisky have pitched into a pile of the proof-sheets of your Milky Way story, and performed a ballet dance with them so that they are rather the worse for wear. No fatal harm done however, and I find it reads capitally. I met Hestermann yesterday quite enthusiastic over one of your articles in the Democracy that happened to hit his fancy, and plumed myself to him for having secured you next year for his service. So you see your star is in the ascendant. The Hestermanns are liberal fellows, and the place you have is as sure as the Bank of England. So your pastoral will have a good bit of earthly ground to begin on.


The next was from Alice.

Dear Sister:—I am so tired out with packing, and all the thousand and one things that have to be attended to! You know mamma is not strong, and now you and Ida are gone, I am the eldest daughter, and take everything on my shoulders. Aunt Maria comes here daily, looking like a hearse, and I really think she depresses mamma as much by her lugubrious ways as she helps. She positively is a most provoking person. She assumes with such certainty that mamma is a fool, and that all that has happened out of the way comes by some fault of hers, that when she has been here a day mamma is sure to have a headache. But I have discovered faculties and strength I never knew I possessed. I have taken on myself the whole work of separating the things we are to keep from those which are to be sold, and those which we are to take into the country with us, from those which are to be stored in New York for our return. I don't know what I should have done if Jim Fellows hadn't been the real considerate friend he is. Papa is overwhelmed with settling up business matters, and one wants to save him every care, and Jim has really been like a brother—looking up a place to store the goods, finding just the nicest kind of a man to cart them, and actually coming in and packing for me, till I told him I knew he must be giving us time that he wanted for himself—and all this with so much fun and jollification that we really have had some merry times over it, and quite shocked Aunt Maria, who insists on maintaining a general demeanor as if there were a corpse in the house.

One wicked thing about Jim is that he will take her off; and though I scold him for it, between you and me, Eva, and in the "buzzom of the family," as old Mrs. Knabbs used to say, I must admit that it's a little too funny for anything. He can make himself look and speak exactly like her, and breaks out in that way every once in a while; and if we reprove him, says, "What's the matter? Who are you thinking of? I wasn't thinking of what you were." He is a dreadful rogue, and one can't do anything with him; but what we should have done without him, I'm sure I don't know.

Sophie Elmore called the other day, and told me all about things between her and Sydney. She is sending to Paris for all her things, and Tullegig's is all in commotion. They are to be married early in October and go off for a tour in Europe. You ought to see the gloom on Aunt Maria's visage when the thing is talked about. If it had been anybody but the Elmores I think Aunt Maria could have survived it, but they have been her Mordecai in the gate all this time, and now she sees them triumphant. She speaks familiarly about our being ruined, and finally the other day I told her that I found ruin altogether a more comfortable thing than I expected, whereat she looked at me as if I were an abandoned sinner, sighed deeply, and said nothing. Poor soul! I oughtn't to laugh, but she does provoke me so I am tempted to revenge myself in a little quiet fun at her expense.

The other day Jim was telling me about a house he had been looking at. Aunt Maria listened with a severe gravity and interposed with, "Of course nobody could live on that street. Eva would be crazy to think of it. There isn't a good family within squares of that quarter."

I said you didn't care for fashion, and she gave me one of her looks and said, "I trust I sha'n't see Eva in that street; none but most ordinary people live there." Only think, Eva, what if you should live on a street where ordinary people live? How dreadful!

Well, darling, I can't write more; my hands are dusty with packing and overhauling, and I am writing now on the top of a box waiting for the man to cart away the next load. We are all well, and the girls behave charmingly, and are just as handy and helpful as they can be, and mamma says she never knew the comfort of her children before.

God bless you, dear, and good by,

Your loving


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