XVI. The Post Bag
 

Letter from Mr. William Harmon, storekeeper at Beulah Corner, to Hon. Lemuel Hamilton, American Consul at Breslau, Germany.

Beulah, June 27th.

Dear Lem: The folks up to your house want to lay out money on it and don't dass for fear you'll turn em out and pocket their improvements. If you haint got any better use for the propety I advise you to hold on to this bunch of tennants as they are O.K. wash goods, all wool, and a yard wide. I woodent like Mrs. Harmon to know how I feel about the lady, who is hansome as a picture and the children are a first class crop and no mistake. They will not lay out much at first as they are short of cash but if ever good luck comes along they will fit up the house like a pallis and your granchildren will reep the proffit. I'll look out for your interest and see they don't do nothing outlandish. They'd have hard work to beat that fool-job your boys did on the old barn, fixin it up so't nobody could keep critters in it, so no more from your old school frend

BILL HARMON.

P.S. We've been having a spell of turrible hot wether in Beulah. How is it with you? I never framed it up jest what kind of a job an American Counsul's was; but I guess he aint never het up with overwork! There was a piece in a Portland paper about a Counsul somewhere being fired because he set in his shirt-sleeves durin office hours. I says to Col. Wheeler if Uncle Sam could keep em all in their shirtsleeves, hustlin for dear life, it wood be all the better for him and us!

BILL.

Letter from Miss Nancy Carey to the Hon. Lemuel Hamilton.

BEULAH, June 27th.

DEAR MR. HAMILTON,--I am Nancy, the oldest of the Carey children, who live in your house. When father was alive, he took us on a driving trip, and we stopped and had luncheon under your big maple and fell in love with your empty house. Father (he was a Captain in the Navy and there was never anybody like him in the world!)--Father leaned over the gate and said if he was only rich he would drive the horse into the barn and buy the place that very day; and mother said it would be a beautiful spot to bring up a family. We children had wriggled under the fence, and were climbing the apple trees by that time, and we wanted to be brought up there that very minute. We all of us look back to that day as the happiest one that we can remember. Mother laughs when I talk of looking back, because I am not sixteen yet, but I think, although we did not know it, God knew that father was going to die and we were going to live in that very spot afterwards. Father asked us what we could do for the place that had been so hospitable to us, and I remembered a box of plants in the carryall, that we had bought at a wayside nursery, for the flower beds in Charlestown. "Plant something!" I said, and father thought it was a good idea and took a little crimson rambler rose bush from the box. Each of us helped make the place for it by taking a turn with the luncheon knives and spoons; then I planted the rose and father took off his hat and said, "Three cheers for the Yellow House!" and mother added, "God bless it, and the children who come to live in it!"--There is surely something strange in that, don't you think so? Then when father died last year we had to find a cheap and quiet place to live, and I remembered the Yellow House in Beulah and told mother my idea. She does not say "Bosh!" like some mothers, but if our ideas sound like anything she tries them; so she sent Gilbert to see if the house was still vacant, and when we found it was, we took it. The rent is sixty dollars a year, as I suppose Bill Harmon told you when he sent you mother's check for fifteen dollars for the first quarter. We think it is very reasonable, and do not wonder you don't like to spend anything on repairs or improvements for us, as you have to pay taxes and insurance. We hope you will have a good deal over for your own use out of our rent, as we shouldn't like to feel under obligation. If we had a million we'd spend it all on the Yellow House, because we are fond of it in the way you are fond of a person; it's not only that we want to paint it and paper it, but we would like to pat it and squeeze it. If you can't live in it yourself, even in the summer, perhaps you will be glad to know we love it so much and want to take good care of it always. What troubles us is the fear that you will take it away or sell it to somebody before Gilbert and I are grown up and have earned money enough to buy it. It was Cousin Ann that put the idea into our heads, but everybody says it is quite likely and sensible. Cousin Ann has made us a splendid present of enough money to bring the water from the well into the kitchen sink and to put a large stove like a furnace into the cellar. We would cut two registers behind the doors in the dining-room and sitting-room floors, and two little round holes in the ceilings to let the heat up into two bedrooms, if you are willing to let us do it. [Mother says that Cousin Ann is a good and generous person. It is true, and it makes us very unhappy that we cannot really love her on account of her being so fault-finding; but you, being an American Consul and travelling all over the world, must have seen somebody like her.]

Mr. Harmon is writing to you, but I thought he wouldn't know so much about us as I do. We have father's pension; that is three hundred and sixty dollars a year; and one hundred dollars a year from the Charlestown house, but that only lasts for four years; and two hundred dollars a year from the interest on father's insurance. That makes six hundred and sixty dollars, which is a great deal if you haven't been used to three thousand, but does not seem to be enough for a family of six. There is the insurance money itself, too, but mother says nothing but a very dreadful need must make us touch that. You see there are four of us children, which with mother makes five, and now there is Julia, which makes six. She is Uncle Allan's only child. Uncle Allan has nervous prostration and all of mother's money. We are not poor at all, just now, on account of having exchanged the grand piano for an old-fashioned square and eating up the extra money. It is great fun, and whenever we have anything very good for supper Kathleen says, "Here goes a piano leg!" and Gilbert says, "Let's have an octave of white notes for Sunday supper, mother!" I send you a little photograph of the family taken together on your side piazza (we call it our piazza, and I hope you don't mind). I am the tallest girl, with the curly hair. Julia is sitting down in front, hemming. She said we should look so idle if somebody didn't do something, but she never really hems; and Kathleen is leaning over mother's shoulder. We all wanted to lean over mother's shoulder, but Kitty got there first. The big boy is Gilbert. He can't go to college now, as father intended, and he is very sad and depressed; but mother says he has a splendid chance to show what father's son can do without any help but his own industry and pluck. Please look carefully at the lady sitting in the chair, for it is our mother. It is only a snap shot, but you can see how beautiful she is. Her hair is very long, and the wave in it is natural. The little boy is Peter. He is the loveliest and the dearest of all of us. The second picture is of me tying up the crimson rambler. I thought you would like to see what a wonderful rose it is. I was standing in a chair, training the long branches and tacking them against the house, when a gentleman drove by with a camera in his wagon. He stopped and took the picture and sent us one, explaining that every one admired it. I happened to be wearing my yellow muslin, and I am sending you the one the gentleman colored, because it is the beautiful crimson of the rose against the yellow house that makes people admire it so. If you come to America please don't forget Beulah, because if you once saw mother you could never bear to disturb her, seeing how brave she is, living without father. Admiral Southwick, who is in China, calls us Mother Carey's chickens. They are stormy petrels, and are supposed to go out over the seas and show good birds the way home. We haven't done anything splendid yet, but we mean to when the chance comes. I haven't told anybody that I am writing this, but I wanted you to know everything about us, as you are our landlord. We could be so happy if Cousin Ann wouldn't always say we are spending money on another person's house and such a silly performance never came to any good.

I enclose you a little picture cut from the wall paper we want to put on the front hall, hoping you will like it. The old paper is hanging in shreds and some of the plaster is loose, but Mr. Popham will make it all right. Mother says she feels as if he had pasted laughter and good nature on all the walls as he papered them. When you open the front door (and we hope you will, sometime, and walk right in!) how lovely it will be to look into yellow hayfields! And isn't the boatful of people coming to the haymaking, nice, with the bright shirts of the men and the women's scarlet aprons? Don't you love the white horse in the haycart, and the jolly party picnicking under the tree? Mother says just think of buying so much joy and color for twenty cents a double roll; and we children think we shall never get tired of sitting on the stairs in cold weather and making believe it is haying time. Gilbert says we are putting another grand piano leg on the walls, but we are not, for we are doing all our own cooking and dishwashing and saving the money that a cook would cost, to do lovely things for the Yellow House. Thank you, dearest Mr. Hamilton, for letting us live in it. We are very proud of the circular steps and very proud of your being an American consul.

Yours affectionately,

NANCY CAREY.

P.S. It is June, and Beulah is so beautiful you feel like eating it with sugar and cream! We do hope that you and your children are living in as sweet a place, so that you will not miss this one so much. We know you have five, older than we are, but if there are any the right size for me to send my love to, please do it. Mother would wish to be remembered to Mrs. Hamilton, but she will never know I am writing to you. It is my first business letter.

N.C.