« PreviousContinue »
FROM AN AUTHOR'S MAIL BAG
“A strange volume of real life in the daily packet
of the postman."—Douglas Jerrold
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following extracts are gathered from a collection of informal reminiscences of Kate Douglas Wiggin, presently to be edited and published in book form by her sister, Nora Archibald Smith.
AN asked to set down his likes and
N eminent British author, when
Chehallis County, dislikes in one of those biographical
Washington Territory, booklets too often presented to literary
March 31, 18lights by their admirers, alleged his KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN, favorite occupation to be "Serendip- Dear Sister: ity". The novel and tantalizing term I see by the papers that you have immediately caught the attention published a song-book for the little of those curious in words, and was ones, called “Kindergarten Chimes”. found to have been coined by Horace Will you send me a copy for use in Walpole, who used it concerning the my Sunday School work, and wait for adventures of a certain Prince of your pay till the Great Judgment Serendib.
Day? This oriental potentate, so it is
Yours in the faith, related, conducted a worldwide search for a lost treasure, and although he never found the particular object he desired, he yet came upon so many other valuable things in his travels that MRS. KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN, he considered his life well spent.
Dear Madam: Haec fabula docet: This fable teaches In an old file of “Ladies' Home that even a successful author's morn- Journals”, lent me by a friend, I ing mail, bulky as it may be with bills, discovered a picture of you clad in a advertisements, begging letters, letters gown of old Venetian brocade which I seeking the origin of quotations and well remember helping to make when the verification of statements, queries I was an assistant in Miss as to the disposition of manuscripts, dressmaking establishment in pleas for opinions on verse that this Street, London. high heaped material may yet contain I was allowed by Miss
to some rare gem that sparkles among the work upon the bodice of the gown, - my rubbish, "like a rich jewel in an first important task, -- and I well Ethiope's ear".
remember that it was trimmed with In the pursuit of Serendipity, then, the customer's own Venetian lace. I the following gems were discovered was greatly interested in my work by my sister and laid away in a special
1 I need not say that the proposal was case for the delight of other connois
considered too unique to be disregarded. seurs. - N. A. S.
- N. A. S.
because all the girls in the establish- cake herself for the Baby, and if Brown ment knew about you and your writ- would send her 2 lbs raisins, and one ings, and I was very proud when it pound of butter, she would bake a was completed to your satisfaction. nice fruit cake. As was the custom in Miss — -'s Brown sent the butter and raisins. establishment, each assistant kept a Mrs. Jones, a friend also of Browns, book in which she pasted a sample of and a next door neighbor to Mrs. each gown she worked on, and a sample Smith said she wanted to furnish a
your Venetian brocade was a feature cake, all said in the most friendly of mine. When I left Miss 's, terms. I took my book with me and made a On the afternoon of the 19th inst, tea-cosy from the various pieces, Brown sent a servant for the cakes. which I carried with me as a nurse in They all came together, those of Mrs. the Boer War.
Smith, Mrs. Jones, and those the When the war was over, I came to Chinaman furnished, along with nuAmerica to live, still attended by the merous boquets of flowers. tea-cosy; and now I am here on a farm The baptism took place that evening, in Pennsylvania with little to do but present, only God Father and God remember the past.
Mother. The following morning (the Hoping that this long letter has not 20th inst) the Browns, so happy wearied you, I am
knowing their son was a Christian, Yours respectfully,
concluded as there was a great abundance of cake they would send it around among their friends, to enjoy, also the baptismal cake.
Among others to the Smiths and September 26th, 1889. Joneses. MRS. KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN,
Gathering together the dishes of SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.
Smith and Jones and writing a polite Much Esteemed Madam:
note stating the cakes were all very Will you be kind enough to give us fine and much enjoyed, they sent them, your opinion regarding the following. enclosing also to each, Mrs. Smith, and
The Browns, Smiths and Jones are Jones, the usual baptismal cards, three foreign families living here in custom of the country. Mexico. The Browns' child was to Mrs. Smith and Jones sent the cake be baptized, and they had thought of all back without one word of explanation. inviting a number of friends, but In sending the cake Mrs. Brown sent owing to unfriendly feeling among the two pieces of each cake furnished by different families, could not well ar- Smiths, Jones and Chinaman. range the company.
Now someone has been guilty of Brown explains the matter to them commiting a breach of Etiquette; who all, then he asks Mrs. Smith if she, as
was it? an intimate friend, would do him the The Browns are very much hurt as favor to ask and arrange with a they meant no harm. certain Chinaman Hotel Keeper, to The Smiths and Jones Family are bake a few fine cakes. She most hurt that they should have their own cheerfully complied, and also informed baking returned for them to eat. Brown that she wanted to make a Please excuse all of us for our molesting you, but your answer and decision tice. The day that you visited us I we greatly wish; it will settle all difficul- happened to be punished for a small ties for us in our colony.
offence. The biggest disgrace of our Trusting you will not feel annoyed school is to be put under the clock in by our intrusion, we are all truly your the Normal School's main corridor. friends, the Browns, Smiths and Jones's My teacher put me under the clock and all the rest.
for the whole day. Very truly and respectfully yours, By the way the students were rush(Signed) EULOGIO N. CAMPBELL M. D. ing around, I knew something unusual San Ysidro
was to happen. Afterwards I heard Estado de Sinaloa,
the elevator lady tell the janitor that Mexico,
Mrs. Wiggin was reading to the girls. I nearly fell off my chair, I was so surprised. Really, Mrs. Wiggin, I
don't believe I have ever been so dis6 Chestnut Street,
appointed in my life before, when I
heard that you were there and that I ; Georgia,
was not to hear you. March 6, 1913. Dear Mrs. Wiggin:
Of course the reading must have
been splendid but there was another Seeing a short sketch of you in “The House-Wife", I am encouraged
reason that I wished to hear an author
read. My greatest ambition is to be to write you, on an important subject.
an author myself. I love to tell and My daughter, off at College, will
write stories and I always get “Excelgraduate from the College Classical
lent" in compositions
compositions in school. Course, in May, the subject of her
Poetry to me is beautiful and I write oration is Sources of Power in the
some; of course no one ever sees it but World. Will you please be kind to
I love to write poems. send me some thoughts on said sub
I dearly love Rebecca and many ject? I will pay you whatever you
times have I transformed her into a charge.
real little girl and have played and Anxiously awaiting your reply, I
talked to her for hours. I read the remain,
book and then Rebecca steps out and Obligingly,
a lovely time together. Yours,
“Patsy”, another one of your books, JULIET E. MOSES.
is splendid. It is so sad, though, that I always cry when I read it.
I saw “Mother Carey's Chickens”
Saturday and it was lovely. I can 4208 Woodland Ave., imagine just how proud you must feel
May 5, 1917. to see your book being played. I was My dear Mrs. Wiggin:
telling the friend that was with me that The School of Practice and the if I do become an author and write Normal School of Philadelphia had lovely things, that if it is ever dramathe honor of having you come and tized I shall buy a seat in the top give us a reading from “Rebecca of gallery and more or less disguise mySunnybrook Farm”.
self. Then I shall study the people's I am a pupil of the School of Prac- faces, they are so interesting up there and I would like to see the effect my anything killed, or any melodrama, or book has on them. I do so hope that to see any animals trained, or broken, I shall write. I am going to try very or for any hunting, or fishing excurhard.
sion, or for any Wild West Show, or I have at least been a little consoled for any horses show. This is what I by seeing you. I saw you when you call, the 1st Style of Dress. were coming down from reading; Also, if you, or your friends, should maybe you saw me but I doubt it. ever do, or see, any real fights, or I was sitting in the corridor "under tragedies, please dress for that, and as the clock”, just across from the stairs follows. Wear veils, if it is possible, and near the elevator.
turn down collars, turn back cuffs, I hope with all my heart that I and undressed kid gloves, either outshall meet you some day.
side, or inside, of the sleeves. This Respectfully,
also, is what I call, the 2nd Style of ISABEL HARTSHORN.
Dress. (14 yrs.)
Mrs. Wiggin, if you, and your friends, would do all this for me, it would oblige me very much. I have asked you, and your friends, to do this for
me, because, I think so much of having Monday, May 1812, 194,
ladies, and girls, thoroughly dressed, Number 941 Linden Street, at such times, either to do such things
Oakland, California. themselves, or to see them done. Mrs. Wiggin:
Mrs. Wiggin, you know me, you I am Mr. Jordan, Will Jordan. I remember me, and Your Mother and am the same one that you used to see Sister, and I and My Mother, used to at Mrs. Blake's House, in San Fran- meet you at Mrs. Blake's House in cisco. I would like to remind you of San Francisco? some things, and also, ask some favors I will say again, that if you, & your of you, and also, of all of your lady, friends, would all do this for me, it and girl friends, through you, and would oblige me, very much, for the when I say all of your friends, I mean reason I have given. When a woman, all of them, and everywhere. Will or a girl, is dressed in either of these you, and your friends, please dress for ways, she is to me, at least as well the halloweens and for all of them, & dressed, and as thoroughly dressed as follows? While you are in the for such things, as she would be if house, wear standing collars, and turn she was dressed in the usual way. I back cuffs, or, turn down collars, and enclose a stamp for reply. inside cuffs, but, if you go out on the
W. H. JORDAN. street, wear also, either thread gloves, or dressed kid gloves, either outside, Mrs. Wiggin, please don't return this or inside, of the sleeves. Also, this letter, or please don't write and tell me same style of dress, would be equally that you don't wish to do all this, suitable, for seeing, or doing, any of the because I want you to do it. You following things. For any circus, or know me, and remember me, therefore, any real fire, or any race, or any tourna- I want to ask these favors of you, and ment, or any disaster, or any sham fight, or any killing contest, or to see
(Signed) w. H. JORDAN.
Office of the Wild Rose Balm. sale, and what were the royalties paid
Mass. MRS. KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN,
There are so many characters left Dear Madam:
at the post, as it were, in this book; Our Mr. Hendricks was among your
that I believe I can make even a more hearers last evening and he remarked interesting story than Rebecca, and that as you stepped upon the stage not do violence to the Authors descripyou shed abroad an atmosphere of tion of their characteristics. such elegance and refinement as An early reply will be very much showed you to be a person accessible appreciated by, to beauty in any form.
Yours very truly, Those who have read your moving
HENRY A. WHITE. little tales (and who has not?) know you to be entirely above the use of cosmetics, but it would be both laudable and legitimate if you should use
Manchester, N. H. some simple emollient and thereby
Nov. 10, 1889. preserve those charms with which
TO KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN, Nature has endowed you so lavishly. Dear Madam:
We send you herewith 6 bots of the Please find enclosed 25c, for the W. R. B. If you should feel you could New York Kindergarten Association. give us a testimonial we should be It gives me great pleasure to comply deeply grateful but in any event dear with your request, for I was very Madam we shall be glad to have served thankful for your autograph. How you.
much nicer and ladylike it makes you Yours respec'y & admiringly, appear to grant such request. I feel
THE W. R. B. CO., better acquainted with you, and feel per HENDRICKS. more like reading your books. Now
2 is different. She is quite hogish and refuses all requests.
I don't feel like reading her books.
(Signed) IDA I. CAMDEN, MESSERS. HOUGHTON, MIFLIN AND CO.,
Age 13. PUBLISHERS, Gentlemen: I would like to write a sequel to
FROM A "QUILLCOTE", NEIGHBOR “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" published by you; Provided of course no
(In answer to an offer for her property) other has written one, and also pro
N. H., 8/10, '01 vided I could arrange with you to MR. H. P. K. publish it for me.
Dear Sir: Will you kindly tell me if you would In reply to your letter I must say undertake this if in your Judgement that Mr. Johnson's offer is not the the sequel was every whit as good as Rebecca and it was about the same 2 Name of celebrated lady omitted.
The name of K. D. Wi's summer home sized body and binding? Could you
in Maine. tell me if Rebecca, met with a good
- N. A. S.