January 31, 1898

Jan. 31, [18] ‘98

Dear Mamma,
Before I got your letter I had thought of finishing the doily* and had begun to work on it. I am glad you’re of the same opinion. You poor Mamma! I hope you liked the present I gave you. Christmas – not counting this doily of course. I will try to make you another one but do not want to make rash promises. I think it is just the thing to send to Grace and know she will appreciate it. I finished the third corner last night and so can easily do the other corner before Friday when I want to send it. Only two other girls in the house had invitations and they have already made arrangements. Gertrude Pearce wanted to send her something all by herself and so her mother is to get something & send it on. Anna Wolfson cannot afford to send much and is going to send her a telegram at the critical moment. Speaking of weddings, the elopement you mentioned is that of Helen Curtiss, the Dean’s niece who did not return to college this year. She was a nice girl, I guess, but not at all popular.
The examinations are now posted. I have only four to take but I have to study a great deal for them all. They begin Friday January 28th and last till Wednesday the 9 of February. I have Philosophy the first Saturday 29. Then nothing till the next Friday Feb. 4 and then on the very last Tuesday I have two, Chemistry in the morning and Literature in the afternoon and tis the Literature I dread the most. Isn’t it horrid for it to come the very last thing so & right after having one in the morning. Then besides studying up for these examinations I must write a Bible paper and I want to finish up a special topic I have to give in Literature soon after the Midyears and I must do a great deal on my brief for I probably can’t do much after Elsie comes. Please tell me really if she isn’t coming for I have preparations to make about accommodating her here to say nothing of making arrangements with Amy & getting tickets for the Glee Club concert, etc. By the way, I shall be able to get good seats for that for Agatha had just been admitted to the Glee Club and so of course can have good chances at getting tickets and she will get mine for me. If I don’t hear anything to the contrary before next week I shall begin my preparations and expect to see her as my birthday present – tis the only one I want, remember! Is Mrs. Alford making her dress? Tell me about it. Had a nice letter from Helen Woodruff saying she was sorry she missed me etc. Don’t forget to send me Phil’s address and some stamps lots of them. I am seven in debt already. I’m intending to read the “Kentuckian” today. Have you read it? I heard John Fox Jr. read here during my freshman year and liked him very much. The “world renowned pianist & composer” Karen Schnuecka is to give a concert here next week. And Blackfield the great artist who has paintings in the new Congressional Library is to give a lecture tomorrow night on art during Renaissance or some such thing illustrated by stereopticon*. Last night the Barn Swallows gave some Gibson living pictures which were perfectly fine. I do wish you could have seen them. You might think more of his pictures if you could have seen them last night. Last night too I visited Fraulein Mueller’s table – where I sat last year remember. It did seem so good to be there again. I hope I can sit there next week. I am going to apply to anyway.
The opera given by Wood Cottage for benefit of Athletic Association to clear office was a howling success. Here is list of characters: Lady Nancy, Lord Lovell, Baron Billy Runstifizzle, First brigand, Second brigand, besides clowns, brigands, courtiers & others. It was so good. It was adapted from the old ballad you know but of course changed wordsmanship. The audience fairly shrieked with laughter at some of the dramatic touches. The words were so very Anglo Saxon. It was perfectly funny. For instance these words were sung to an elaborate tune “For I know that you will cry when you hear that you must die etc.” and when Lady Nancy enters a dark & gloomy mood all alone she sings “My feet are very damp I’m sure I’ll have a cramp. Oh please tell me what to do (looking beseeching at audience, kneeling, clasping her hands imploringly) for I have wet my pretty shoe” etc. The whole thing was simply fine and everybody enjoyed it immensely. The orchestra was good, very good indeed. Alma Tripp on violin & Lucy Plympstone on piano. I wish you all could have seen it. Then Wednesday night the Agora invited guests to hear a lecture by Miss Lucia Ames of Boston – big bug – on “Beautifying of Cities.” Very interesting enjoyed by all. Short reception with tea etc, afterwards. Here is something good “If Mississippi should wear Missouri’s New Jersey what would Delaware?” See the point? Another funny story that happened here shall be told in our next issue. No more time today as I want to write 4 other letters besides reading Kentuckian. Send Amy’s letter back.

Lovingly,
Mabel

Remember that $150 are due at beginning of new semester February 8. Don’t forget it. You might send a little extra too for I want to go to so many operas if they come to Boston first of Feb. as usual. I have just found out that the answer to that geographical question is “Idaho, Alaska” pronounced rapidly.

Dear Papa,
How do you like my latest picture? I admit that it is dreadful of the girls who are beside me. One of my examinations is now over and I think that I passed it without doubt. Twas in Philosophy and it came yesterday afternoon. I know that my work in Bibliography has been all right though we didn’t have to have an examination in that. Wrote a paper for Bible and have no fears but what I passed satisfactorily. I think English is all right though we won’t get back our forensics until next Tuesday. I still have examinations to take in German, Chemistry, & Literature. German comes next Friday and both Chemistry & Lit Tuesday the eighth. I fully expect to pass in Chemistry and hope to in the other two. At any rate I shall try my prettiest.
Aren’t we having beautiful weather? A little lower in temperature, but – the sleeping is superb. Last Thursday on the day of prayer, fourteen of us went sleighriding in the afternoon and was such fun. It tis only good sleighing tomorrow (Mon) night & I guess it will be, the Agora is going to have a sleighing party. We are planning to go to West Newton and have chocolate at Mary Barbour’s – one of our members. Don’t you worry about that I shall dress warm enough. With all the clothing in the house at my disposal – golf cape, sweaters, etc. etc. (for we often borrow wraps of each other on such occasions) I shall be able to withstand it – though the wind do blow. The class of 1900 went sleighriding Wednesday night. Went about a hundred strong to Auburndale and then had hot chocolate in the gym after they got back.
We did have such fun at the Baby Party we had last Monday, but dear me, I couldn’t guess any of them. Out of twelve I only got six right. How’s that for a record? Two girls got them all right and so they had to divide the bunch of violets between them. Only one girl did worse than I. She only got five right, but you know I never was good at analyzing pictures. Everybody made such fun of my picture. It does look so very ferocious you know. It fascinated them though & they all gazed at it with such pleasure. I don’t think many would have recognized it if Agatha had not said something. They were all worrying about it as to who it could be as I said to put them off their track “It took me an awfully long time to decide. It was the last one I got”. For of course I left it till the last before I put down my own name. Then Agatha piped up and said “Haven’t you really had one taken since then?” She didn’t really know but as you see, she made a good guess. Miss Chapin though recognized me right off saying “I could have told those eyes anywhere.” We had lots of fun. I am really enjoying to hear Elsie can actually come. My mind is at rest. Just think in three weeks we will be in Somerville. Of course she must bring her white dress unless you want her to be the only dark robed maiden at the concert. I don’t. If you can’t get along with her bag & one of those suit cases that Papa’s clothes come in, I will express you the big extension case that I have here. She could probably fill it if she brings my green skirt, etc. Has she a cloth shirt waist* yet? If not, have her bring her plaid waist for everyday wear. The worst thing about expressing you a bag is that you would probably have to express it back to me again after she got home as I shall need it when I come home in summer. How would it do to send me some of her collars & cuffs* so that they would be done up nicely for her to wear while she is here. You must however send them so that I could send them to the laundry Monday. Then I would get them Saturday. Don’t forget to have her bring some soap & some quinine pills, not that I need those pills but that I might need them you know. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Then besides I am several in debt as I have taken them to ward off colds so that I haven’t any now. I mean colds as well as quinine. The more I think about it the more I think I want her to come Friday the 18th instead of Sat. for if we spend Sunday in Somerville, it would be dreadful to drag her away from Wellesley just as soon as she got here, as I should have to do if she didn’t get here till Saturday afternoon. I haven’t any invitations Sat. PM so we could got to Amy all the sooner. Remember, no birthday present, except Elsie.
Have already over 80 pictures for my blueprint book.
You must have had fun at the Poverty Party. Tell me more about it. What people wore etc. Don’t you remember when Amy was in Avon they had a Poverty Part at Silver Lake and how Mamma didn’t like the idea of it at all? The invitations were awfully cute. What is to be done with the money & how much did you make?
Sent the doily off to Grace Leonard Friday. Thought I’d never get it done. Twas a beauty though when twas finished. Have you heard from Marnie yet?
Liked the Seminary photos very much. Make it out to be a big place, don’t they? I saw them all though when I was in Sharon last summer. Has Louise been to Simsbury? Jane said she was going soon.
Was surprised & delighted to hear that Carl was to join Gamma Sigma. Is he sure or was he just going to try?
Will you PLEASE SEND ME PHIL’S ADDRESS? It is in the letters he wrote Christmastime. As you have written four times since I asked you, I have almost begun to think you never received my last two letters. I only write letters on Sunday, you know, so PLEASE SEND IT BEFORE NEXT SUNDAY!!!!!!!
Wore my pink waist to concert. Girls admired it profusely, said I never looked better. The great musician X.S. – only hid initials. There is too much excess of name to spell it out – was fine. He played from all the great composers, Leitz , Chopin, Beethoven, Shubert, Lehmann, Mendelsohn, etc. etc. His touch was perfect for such a master of the piano! I only wished that I could have been in bed with my eyes closed. Then would have been supremely blissful. Oh, I told you I would tell you a nice story this week, didn’t I? Well, here goes. Last year at the time of the election, the father of one of the girls who was much interested in the result arranged to send her the news as soon as twas known and if Bryan won he would telegraph “Billy is alive” while if McKinley got it “Billy is dead”. As was supposed, the telegram came in the middle of the night and the people thought twould be so cruel to wake the girls and tell her bad news. Better let her rest peacefully till morning. In morning girl was called to Dean’s office and solemnly asked if her father’s name was “William.” Girl said no, that she knew no one by name of William. Dean looked mystified. Girl finally said, “Oh yes, I have a very distant relative named William.” Dean looked relieved & blurted out “Well, he’s dead.” Girl stared, then began to laugh, she laughed till tears rolled down her cheeks. She tried to explain but couldn’t, so Dean sent for Dr. Sherwood to come to attend to case of hysterics. Finally girl controlled herself to tell about the telegram. Wasn’t that a good story on the Dean?
Have printed several fine pictures today. Have only five in my own camera as yet. So many of the girls have new cameras and go snapping them at everything that I don’t want to waste mine on the very same things as long as I can use their films. I have my room, a picture of new chapel in process of erection, two very pretty snow scenes (I hope) taken last Wednesday, and one of the pung* full of girls as we fourteen went off Thursday P.M.
SEND $150 BEFORE NEXT SUNDAY AT LATEST. BILL DUE FEB. 8 (Tues).
Now Papa, will you please do something for me? Please I have at least chosen the subject for my next forensic. “Would it be to the advantage of the U.S. to establish complete commercial reciprocity between the U.S. & Canada?” Now I want you to tell me all you know or can find out about it and please arrange material thusly: it would be to advantage of U.S. etc. because – putting together all reasons you can think of – and answer each argument in so far as you can to make people believe it would not be of advantage. Then again, put together all reasons why it would not be of advantage to U.S. and refute these arguments in so far as you can. This will be something nice to do in your leisure moments. Bring question up at store & collect information on both sides & arrange it in compact form, stating authorities in so far as you are able. Of course I don’t expect you to make a complete study of the question as I have got to do, but just collect what you can – even the slightest bit will be of use to me. You can do this throughout the week & send your results on next Sunday. The Sunday after would be too late. Now just call it a puzzle & find out all you can & I shall be eternally obliged to you,
This morning heard Miss Dinah Pace colored woman tell about her work among the Negroes in Covington, Ga. She was very interesting, sensible, etc. Funny thing happened to girl in Bible exam the other day. Question was to tell something about authorities in Age of Solomon and although she knew them all & just reviewed them before she went into exam, did not answer the question thinking for the moment that it referred to “Years” of Solomon instead of “time” of. Thanks for the stamps. You sent them in time for I should have been asking for them today if you hadn’t sent them when you did.
I really must stop & write some more letters. Best love to you all.

Affectionately
Mabel

To Elsie S.Y.L

*collars and cuffs – detachable collars and cuffs made it easier for women to change the look of their garment.
*doily – a small decorative mat made of lace.
*pung a sleigh with a box shaped body.
*shirt waist – a woman’s dress with a tailored button down bodice similar to a shirt.
*stereopticon – a slide projector that is designed to make one picture appear as the other picture disappears.

Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.