February 21, 1897
My Dear Mamma,
My box was lovely. It arrived at half past nine Friday morning just when I expected it. Such fun opening it! That picture of the river is simply lovely and looks quite natural and homelike hanging on my wall. But I don’t just know where it is. I think it is the bend between the island and the rapids. I am not very familiar with that part of the river as we went there only once. Please tell Carrie Woodford that I am very much obliged to her for doing it for me. How did you happen to think of having her do it? Is the picture of Bessie mine or yours? I think it is very pretty picture, but it isn’t so pretty as she is. She looks rather sober to me. Elsie’s little doilies are dear and she is a dear to make them for me. I enclose a crest to partly pay her for them. Tell Carl that those side combs* were just what I needed. I had just broken some teeth out of my last new pair. Thank you ever so much for the Shakespeare too. We had to buy “Anthony & Cleopatra” to use here and I bought it in the Temple Edition thinking I would begin a set of Temples. So now I have one Temple and two Rolfes and can’t decide which to exchange. I think I will wait until I come home – in about a month, think of it – and let you help me decide. I like them both so much and most everyone that I ask to advise me says something different. The eatables were so good! I don’t see why you thought they were worse than usual. Everyone who tasted anything went in raptures over my mother’s cooking. You may judge how much it was appreciated when I tell you that everything is now all gone except one loaf of cake, some dates and the lemons. I wish you had put in some oranges because they were so good and I had only one and a half. Still the cake is also lovely and will keep a long time. But why did you cut those silk pieces so narrow? I am sorry but I can’t possibly use them. I thought I left a sample at home. Three pieces such as you sent would never make a square, even without making allowance for seams and I couldn’t make them all the same size as the small ones as some that I have are covered in writing. I enclose two pieces, one the way I want them, the other one that you sent me. It seems a shame to waste so much of the silk. Perhaps Elsie could use them and make a sofa pillow out of them. Then that pretty handkerchief you made for me. It is so dainty. On the whole ‘twas an exceedingly nice box and I am ever and ever so much obliged for it. Miss Penfield also sent me the prettiest, daintiest little doily. Her original designs – but I suppose Elsie has told you about it.
They have a new system of marking here this year. To quote from regulations, “The College distinguishes two general grades in work which reaches the passing mark, one ‘Passing’, the other, ‘Passing with credit’. In order to be recommended for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, a student must have passed with credit in at least one half of all her college work and in at least one half of the work of the senior year. Notice of failure to pass with credit will in every case be received from the Secretary of the College. Notice of conditions incurred will be sent out by the departments as heretofore.” This week I have received from the Sec. notice that I failed to pass with credit in Mathematics. Scores of these credit notes have been sent out to different students. Very few have escaped without getting at least one. But the worst of it is they are not all out yet and ‘twill probably be several weeks before they all are. This prolongation of suspense is awful. I am pretty sure that I passed with credit in German, Literature, English, Bible and this makes over half my work so I am all right in that respect. I haven’t heard anything from Hygiene yet but I think I passed. I am frightfully pressed with work now and at times feel almost discouraged. I have a theme to write on some character. We have three weeks to write it in so it must be exceptionally good. I don’t know what character to take. I hate character studies because I never can write them well. I have no opinions of my own. They are always second-handed affairs. Then I have a German paper to write which is going to be very hard. In May I have a Bible paper due and I have to be reading up on it already. Before June we must read three books, one each from Thackeray, Dickens and George Eliot, and then write a paper on the results of our reading. We can read any books that we choose and I don’t know which to take. Which do you consider the best work of each of the above writers? Then next week (the same week that my theme is due) I have three written lessons, I think, one in German, one in Physics and one in Literature. I feel downhearted with so much work to do. This work is all extra, you know. I love my regular lessons besides I sometimes feel as if I were just drifting along and not doing any good work and getting generally discouraged. Mrs. Irvine spoke to us in chapel yesterday and she said she knew we all felt tired and discouraged. The girls always did at this time but I have heard other girls say that everybody seemed more tired & discouraged than usual. Still spring’s coming & I must cheer up.
We had our Valentine celebration last Monday as I told you we would. I drew Mary Pierce’s name and gave her some lovely freesia* and wrote her a German poem Elsie may be interested in it so here it is.
I am very happy that Fraulein Mueller drew my name and consequently gave me flowers and a Valentine. Before my plate was a lovely bunch of lily of the valley tied with a green ribbon with this verse:
My first is the winsomest month of the year;
My second from belfrey towers you hear;
My whole, Oh Mabel, tender and true,
My whole is this flower, and sweet You!
For My Valentine
(The German word for Lily of the valley is “Mai glocken”, May bells) Then May Pierce had a bunch of lily of the valley with these words attached: “Give us to her whose name we bear.” So she had to give them to me. Maud Moore had a bunch with these words:
“The May Bells are ringing, ding, dong.
And what do you think is their song?
‘We don’t want to stay with you
But with Mabel sweet and true!”
And she had to give them to me. Then there was another bunch marked:
“To whom it may concern” This was the verse therein:
“Nous cherchons ceque nous est loin
Le moi du mai, quelque chose de belle!
On nous a dit qu’avec soin
Nous trouverons dans cette placelle
Les deux amis dans une de vous
Qui est donc mai et belle aussi?”
Therefore these belonged to me. Wasn’t that a cute idea to scatter the flowers and have them turn up to their owner at last? Fraulein Mueller said that she intended to make each one at table do some but she didn’t have time.
Last night the Barn Swallows gave a little farce, one of the Harvard Stories. It was very cute but not as good as I saw Wednesday night. Some of the Agora girls gave it and it was simply fine. We had a nice time that night, a little party with sherbet and cake. Tonight there are going to be patriotic Vespers in the chapel in honor of the 22 given under the auspices of the Agora. Next Saturday night we give our opera meeting. Last year I went you know and ‘twas a National Nominating Convention of the Republican Party. This year it is to be a Senate Discussion on the Cuban question. I am glad that I do not have to take part as I am already so busy. I think that it will be very good. Tomorrow night is the Annual Glee Club Concert, a swell affair. All the tickets were sold before we had a chance to buy & so I didn’t ask a senior to get one. But I don’t care. I shall dress and go stand in the hall on the stairs or somewhere. There are always crowds who get left so I don’t care. I must write some more letters, so good bye.
*freesia – is a flowering plant
*side comb – a short slightly curved comb: it was usually worn on the side of the head to hold the hair back.
Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.