The Getting of Wisdom, by Henry Handel Richardson

VI.

My Dear Mother

I sent you a postcard did you get it. I told you I got here all right and liked it very much. I could not write a long letter before I had no time and we are only alowed to write letters two evenings a week Tuesday and Friday. When we have done our lessons for next day we say please may I write now and Miss Chapman says have you done everything and if we say we have she says yes and if you sit at Miss Days table Miss Day says it. And sometimes we haven’t but we say so. I sit up by Miss Chapman and she can see everything I do and at tea and dinner and breakfast I sit beside Mrs. Gurley. Another girl in my class sits opposite and one sits beside me and we would rather sit somewhere else. I don’t care for Mrs. Gurley much she is very fat and never smiles and never listens to what you say unless she scolds you and I think Miss Chapman is afraid of her to. Miss Day is not afraid of anybody. I am in the first class. I am in the college and under that is the school. Only very little girls are in the school they go to bed at half past eight and do their lessons in the dining hall. I do mine in the study and go to bed with the big girls. They wear dresses down to the ground. Lilith Gordon is a girl in my class she is in my room to she is only as old as me and she wears stays and has a beautiful figgure. All the girls wear stays. Please send me some I have no waste. A governess sleeps in our room and she has no teeth. She takes them out every night and puts them in water when the light is out. Lilith Gordon and the other girl say goodnight to her after she has taken them off then she cant talk propperly and we want to hear her. I think she knows for she is very cross. I don’t learn Latin yet till I go into the second class my sums are very hard. For supper there is only bread and butter and water if we don’t have cake and jam of our own. Please send me some strawberry jam and another cake. Tell Sarah there are three servants to wait at dinner they have white aprons and a cap on their heads. They say will you take beef miss

I remain

Your loving daughter

Laura.

Dear Pin

I am very busy I will write you a letter. You would not like being here I think you should always stop at home you will never get as far as long division. Mrs. Gurley is an awful old beast all the girls call her that. You would be frightened of her. In the afternoon after school we walk two and two and you ask a girl to walk with you and if you don’t you have to walk with Miss Chapman. Miss Chapman and Miss Day walks behind and they watch to see you don’t laugh at boys. Some girls write letters to them and say they will meet them up behind a tree in the corner of the garden a paling is lose and the boys put letters in. I think boys are silly but Maria Morell says they are tip top that means awfully jolly. She writes a letter to boys every week she takes it to church and drops it coming out and he picks it up and puts an answer through the fence. We put our letters on the mantlepiece in the dining-hall and Mrs. Gurley or Miss Chapman read the adress to see we don’t write to boys. They are shut up she cant read the inside. I hope you don’t cry so much at school no one cries. Now Miss Chapman says it is time to stop

I remain

Your afectionate sister

Laura.

P.S. I took the red lineing out of my hat.

Warrenega

Sunday.

My Dear Laura

We were very glad to get your letters which came this morning. Your postcard written the day after you arrived at the college told us little or nothing. However godmother was good enough to write us an account of your arrival so that we were not quite without news of you. I hope you remembered to thank her for driving in all that way to meet you and take you to school which was very good of her. I am glad to hear you are settling down and feeling happy and I hope you will work hard and distinguish yourself so that I may be proud of you. But there are several things in your letters I do not like. Did you really think I shouldn’t read what you wrote to pin. You are a very foolish girl if you did. Pin the silly child tried to hide it away because she knew it would make me cross but I insisted on her showing it to me and I am ashamed of you for writing such nonsense to her. Maria Morell must be a very vulgar minded girl to use the expressions she does. I hope my little girl will try to only associate with nice minded girls. I didn’t send you to school to get nasty ideas put into your head but to learn your lessons well and get on. If you write such vulgar silly things again I shall complain to Mrs. Gurley or Mr. Strachey about the tone of the college and what goes on behind their backs. I think it is very rude of you too to call Mrs. Gurley names. Also about the poor governess who has to wear false teeth. Wait till all your own teeth are gone and then see how you will like it. I do want you to have nice feelings and not grow rough and rude. There is evidently a very bad tone among some of the girls and you must be careful in choosing your friends. I am sorry to hear you are only in the lowest class. It would have pleased me better if you had got into the second but I always told you you were lazy about your sums — you can do them well enough if you like. You don’t need stays. I have never worn them myself and I don’t intend you to either. Your own muscles are quite strong enough to bear the weight of your back. Bread and water is not much of a supper for you to go to bed on. I will send you another cake soon and some jam and I hope you will share it with the other girls. now try and be sensible and industrious and make nice friends and then I shant have to scold you

Your loving mother

J.T.R.

P.S. Another thing in your letter I don’t like. You say you tell your governess you have finished your lessons when you have not done so. That is telling an untruth and I hope you are not going to be led away by the examples of bad girls. I have always brought you children up to be straightforward and I am astonished at you beginning fibbing as soon as you get away from home. Fibbing soon leads to something worse.

P.P.S. You must have written your letter in a great hurry for your spelling is anything but perfect. You are a very naughty girl to meddle with your hat. Pin has written a letter which I enclose though her spelling is worse than ever.

Dear Laura

Mother says you are a very sily girl to rite such sily letters I think you are sily to I shood be fritened of Mrs. Girly i don’t want to go to skool I wood rather stop with mother and be a cumfert to her I think it is nauty to drop letters in cherch and verry sily to rite to boys boys are so sily sarah sends her luv she says she wood not ware a cap on her hed not for annything she says she wood just as soon ware a ring thrugh her nose.

I remain

Your luving sister Pin.

Dear Mother

Please please don’t write to Mrs. Gurley about the tone in the college or not to Mr. Strachey either. I will never be so silly again. I am sorry my letters were so silly I wont do it again. Please don’t write to them about it. I don’t go much with Maria Morell now I think she she is vulger to. I know two nice girls now in my own class their names are inez and bertha they are very nice and not at all vulger. Maria Morell is fat and has a red face she is much older than me and i don’t care for her now. Please don’t write to Mrs. Gurley I will never call her names again. I had to write my letter quickly because when I have done my lessons it is nearly time for supper. I am sorry my spelling was wrong I will take more pains next time I will learn hard and get on and soon I will be in the second class. I did not mean I said I had done my lessons when I had not done them the other girls say it and I think it is very wrong of them. Please don’t write to Mrs. gurley I will try and be good and sensible and not do it again if you only wont write.

I remain

Your afectionate daughter

Laura.

P.S. I can do my sums better now.

Warrenega

My Dear Laura

My letter evidently gave you a good fright and I am not sorry to hear it for I think you deserved it for being such a foolish girl. I hope you will keep your promise and not do it again. Of course I don’t mean that you are not to tell me everything that happens at school but I want you to only have nice thoughts and feelings and grow into a wise and sensible girl. I am not going to write a long letter today. This is only a line to comfort you and let you know that I shall not write to Mrs. Gurley or Mr. Strachey as long as I see that you are being a good girl and getting on well with your lessons. I do want you to remember that you are a lady though you are poor and must behave in a ladylike way. You don’t tell me what the food at the college is like and whether you have blankets enough on your bed at night. Do try and remember to answer the questions I ask you. Sarah is busy washing today and the children are helping her by sitting with their arms in the tubs. I am to tell you from pin that maggy is moulting badly and has not eaten much since you left which is just three weeks today

Your loving

Mother.

Friday

My Dear Mother

I was so glad to get your letter I am so glad you will not write to Mrs. Gurley this time and I will promise to be very good and try to remember everything you tell me. I am sorry I forgot to answer the questions I have two blankets on my bed and it is enough. The food is very nice for dinner for tea we have to eat a lot of bread and butter I don’t care for bread much. Sometimes we have jam but we are not alowed to eat butter and jam together. A lot of girls get up at six and go down to practice they don’t dress and have their bath they just put on their dressing gowns on top of their night gowns. I don’t go down now till seven I make my own bed. We have prayers in the morning and the evening and prayers again when the day scholers come. I do my sums better now I think I shall soon be in the second class. Pins spelling was dreadfull and she is nearly nine now and is such a baby the girls would laugh at her.

I remain

Your afectionate daughter Laura.

p.s. I parssed a long sentence without any mistakes.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33