Wednesday, May 17
JIM DEAR: I hated for you to go away in such a rage yesterday, but your asking me to marry you was such a surprise that I don’t think I was very clear as to why I couldn’t. You know I’m terribly fond of you, more than of anybody else, and I want to try to explain to you so you won’t go on feeling the way you acted yesterday.
In the first place, the fact that a man broke his engagement to me when I was twenty certainly hasn’t given me a complex, as you call it, and most positively couldn’t influence my decisions when I’m thirty-five. That’s silly, and I think you knew it when you said it. Now try to understand what I’m going to say. For the last twelve years I have supported myself, except for the practically invisible insurance mother left me, and I’ve not only been getting along without a man but enjoying it. This little house I live in I bought myself— everything in every room I selected and put there. Every flower in the garden, even the hinges on the gate. I made my life, and I like it.
I like the people here and the things I do. I’m not stagnating in a little Ontario town—I’m living in it. I don’t want to give it up. You are an important part of it, and I hope you won’t disappear or anything. We had such fun. I had no idea you’d go romantic on me.
Do you realize that you came here and talked and sat around and took me places, and never once in two whole years did you ever tell me I was pretty, or say anything at all that would lead me to believe you even dreamed of our being in love? And then last night you just calmly asked me to marry you, as if we had intended to all along but you had just got around to mentioning it.
Be nice to me, Jim, and come to see me and tell me you understand how I feel.
Ever so affectionately,
Sunday, May 21
You know I love you, and you’ve known it all the time or else you’re extremely unobservant. Why did you think I was hanging around you night and day? If you don’t care for me, I think you ought to say so, and if you do care for me, I think you ought to marry me.
I understand how you feel, but I know you’re wrong. And I want to get in a few arguments on paper where I won’t be interrupted. Please give me your full attention.
If we enjoy being together and doing things together, why would it be so bad to keep on doing them? Why would it be such a terrible wrench to tear yourself away from Pineville? You could always go back when you wanted to. There’s quite a bit of territory outside of Pineville, you know, that you might like to explore.
I’ve tried to be calm and casual because that’s what you seem to like, but I can’t keep it up for ever and I’m not going to. I’ve not whispered sweet nothings in your ear, because you always gave the impression that they’d be no end unwelcome. You’ve never seemed to care a hang what you looked like. You’d be beautiful if it made any difference to you. Why don’t you buy yourself a bright red dress with jiggers on it, and quit wearing those tweedy-looking things?
I know you’re not selfish, and I don’t think you’re quite as self-sufficient as you think you are. The trouble is that you’re a slave of a monotony, a routine of unimportant things. And because you made the routine yourself, you think it’s fine and just what you want. I’ll be back in a few days, and in the meantime try to think about it rationally— you’re so nuts about being rational.
I love you, Jim.
Wednesday, May 24.
Eleanor, my love: I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to Pineville when I had expected to, but I’ll have to go on from here to Chicago to see a man. I’ll be there in a week, I think.
In the meantime I’ve bought you a present. He ought to arrive shortly after this letter. He’s a wire-haired wiggly little devil. He invited me in from the window of a pet store, and I couldn’t resist him. I think that black circle around his left eye is particularly fetching. If you don’t like him I’ll take him off your hands when I get back. My address in Chicago will be the Drake Hotel.
I still love you, Jim.
Friday, May 26.
Dear Jim: The puppy came this morning. Why on earth did you send me an animal like this? It was nice of you to think of it, but you know very well I simply can’t keep a dog. They’re too much trouble and require too much care. I’ll try to put up with him till you get back, but you’ll have, to take him then.
I never saw such a dog. He jumps about every minute. He’s not even house-broken. He tried to dig under the fence and gnawed the corner off one of the pickets. Lydia says she can’t stand it and threatens to leave me, and I’ve had her for ten years. I never could find another maid like Lydia.
He chewed up one of my bedroom slippers. He’s terrible. Please come and get him. I hate to seem ungrateful, Jim, but have you ever owned a wire-haired?
Sunday, May 28.
How long will you be in Chicago? I don’t think I can hold out much longer. The first night we had the pup he howled dreadfully. I had put him in a box in the yard. Then after a very long while he stopped howling, and the next morning I discovered that Lydia hadn’t been able to stand it and had taken him to bed with her.
And he’ll eat anything. I had to go over the whole place, inch by inch, and pick up everything small enough for him to swallow. He swallowed a button this morning. He chewed the insides out of one of the sofa pillows, and was just starting on a leg of the piano when I caught him.
I had to bring his box in last night and put it by my bed, and all night I had to sleep with my arm hanging down so he could lick it every once in a while when he woke up in the night. If I didn’t pat him or say a kind word he’d howl. I had a most uncomfortably stiff shoulder this morning, and was sleepy all day because he kept me awake so long.
What shall I feed him? I don’t know anything about dogs. I’ve been giving him bread and milk and bones and things.
I hope you are enjoying your stay in Chicago, and also that you’ll soon come back again.
Thursday, June 1.
I’m sending you a dog book that will tell you all about him. Feed him raw meat chopped fine, or hamburger, and milk and spinach or some fresh vegetable. The book will probably recommend some kind of dog biscuit.
I’m sorry he’s so much of a bother, but I think you’ll enjoy him in time. Why don’t you take him to one of those club meetings? He ought to liven things up a bit. Be sure and take him for walks; he needs plenty of exercise.
I think I’ll be back in a few days. It’s hard to tell how long it will be before I’ve finished up. If I must take the pup back, I hope he hasn’t grown too fond of you. I’d hate to have a dog that liked someone else better.
What have you named him? It ought to be something snappy, as he doesn’t seem to have a very phlegmatic nature.
Have you decided to marry me yet? I love you more than you can possibly imagine, dearest one. I’ll tell you all about it in person. I know you’ll be so touched you’ll change your mind.
Be sure and keep me posted about the puppy.
I love you,
Monday, June 5.
You couldn’t possibly love me and inflict anything like this dog on me. He’s a combination of goat, monkey and kangaroo, with all the more active and original features of each. Don’t worry about my not keeping you posted about him. I have so much to complain about I can’t keep it to myself.
I’ve been feeding him as you suggested, but I think he’d prefer a diet of shoes, preferably new ones. I took him to walk yesterday, as he seemed to need at least a county to roam around in, and the first thing he did was to attack a large police dog that wasn’t polite to him. It took me and three assorted men to keep him from being torn to small pieces. He thinks he’s a lion. One of the men was quite good-looking and almost too friendly. I managed to convince him that it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to walk home with me in case the puppy got into any more trouble.
But if he—the puppy—keeps on at this rate you needn’t be surprised to find you have a rival that I’ve picked up in some strange place, and it will be all the fault of the present you gave me.
I was exhausted when we got home, much too tired to write. But he wasn’t.
Oh, no! He went right out into the garden and buried a bone, first digging up one of my best rose bushes. He may have thought it would make good fertilizer, but he forgot to replace the rose bush.
Last night I let him sleep on the foot of my bed. It was easier than getting a stiff shoulder. When I woke up he was lying with his head on my pillow. What I want to know is, when are you coming back? I believe you’re staying away deliberately.
Thanks ever so much for the present, but when are you coming to get it?
Thursday, June 8.
When we’re married I hope you won’t let the puppy sleep on your pillow. It might be a little crowded.
I’m glad to hear the pup wasn’t too tired to write when he got home. That should be an example to you. Persevere in spite of everything, and so forth. Aren’t you ever going to name the brute?
I’m still tied up here, but hope to get away some time this week. Try to bear up. I’m sending you a harness and leash for him so you can control him when you take him for walks. It’s hard enough without any rivals. I think it’s a good idea for him to take you into strange places. Don’t you find it broadens your outlook? Don’t be too broad-minded, though. I’d hate to have to clean out any strange men parked on your doorstep when I get back.
When we’re married we’ll have a big house out in the country somewhere, with extensive grounds all fenced in. And I’ll commute. It will be so healthful for the children, living in the country. I think September is a swell month for a wedding.
Are you sure you don’t love me?
Monday, June 12.
The more I see of this animal the less I love you. And you needn’t make indelicate remarks about when we’re married, because we’re not going to be.
After threatening Lydia almost at the point of a gun, I persuaded her to take the menace for a walk today, while I finished the story I’ve been trying to write ever since you upset everything. She came back so tired I let her rest, and cooked my own solitary dinner.
I guess she didn’t hook the leash very well, because he got away in the market where she was buying groceries, and ran behind the meat counter. The next thing she knew he was running about with a large bone, and she had to pay for it as the bone had a very good cut of meat on it. She says she chased him through the vegetables four times before she caught him. I suppose it was rather funny, but Lydia didn’t think so.
He carried the bone all the way home, and it was almost as big as he is. He’s out in the yard now, gnawing. I think I’ll provide him with countless bones. It’s the first time he’s been quiet since I’ve had him.
I’ve missed two club meetings, done almost no work, and have had practically no sleep at all since he came. I don’t know how long I can keep this up, so you’d better come and get him.
Saturday, June 17.
Dear Jim: Why send me a wire to tell me you’re delayed again? I think you’re afraid to come and claim your pet. You’d better hurry up. He's upsetting more things every day. I've guarded against everything he’s already done, and just when I think he’s exhausted his repertoire and will begin to repeat, he thinks of something new and gets away with it.
Lydia doesn’t seem to mind taking him to walk so much lately, but when she does she never gets her work done, and when I take him I don’t get mine done. And that’s not all.
When he wants to go to bed he wants me to go, too, and whines and runs around and jumps up and down till I take him. He won’t stay on the bed and sleep unless I’m there, too. And in the morning when he wants to get up he licks my face and puts his paws in my mouth until I get up and give him his breakfast. He never will wait till Lydia comes down to fix it for him.
She seems to be rather fond of him, and hasn’t threatened to leave for the last two days. He has learned a cute trick. Whenever we cross a street he jumps up into my arms and rides across with a self-satisfied expression on his face. He has a sassy face, anyway. One of his ears cocks up all the time. Aren’t the tips of their ears supposed to turn over? Anyway, one of his doesn’t, and it gives him the appearance of being slightly intoxicated. Very appropriate.
When are you coming back? I’d like you to see the way he jumps up when we cross a street. I'd like to see you. I haven’t been on a picnic to the lake since you left. I think the puppy would enjoy running around our island, and that would be one place he couldn’t run away from. A horrible thought are wire-haireds fond of swimming?
You must be having a marvellous time in Chicago.
Monday, June 19.
I hope we’ll be able to have one of our picnics very soon. And I’m not having a marvellous time in Chicago. There’s just one more man I have to see, and I think I ’ll be able to dig him out pretty soon. In the meantime, keep calm and decide what date you want for the wedding. You’d best be getting busy on your trousseau.
Do you think we ought to let the pooch come to the wedding? You’re spoiling him so you'll probably want me to have him for best man. You seem to be giving him a good deal of time. Funny what a little dog like that can do, deal isn’t it?
I hadn’t noticed his ear, but you don’t want him to be just like ail his brothers. That dog has personality. But he needs more space.
Please don’t lose sight of the fact that I love you very much. It’s no end important. It’s going to make me very harsh with this last man if he doesn’t put an end to this business and let me leave Chicago.
I adore you,
Saturday, June 24.
So they’ve sent you to New York, have they? Well, you’d better not come back ! It’s that dog again. I’ve found out why Lydia doesn’t mind taking him out any more.
She’s been meeting a man ! She went out the other night and didn’t come back till after twelve, and I heard a man’s voice telling her good night. I asked her about it, and she said that one day last week when they were walking the dog jerked suddenly and got the leash away from her, and ran into a house. A moment later he came sailing out, with a big shoe he was carrying bumping along beside him. The owner of the shoe was pursuing him in one shoe and a stockinged foot. She said she was terribly embarrassed, but that the man was very nice about it and thought it was funny. They talked a while, and his name is Mike O’Donnell. He had just come to town and didn’t know anyone, but he seemed to be a nice enough man and she didn’t think there was any harm in going out with him. He’s been meeting her and going to walk with her and the puppy, too.
I’m not going to interfere in her private affairs, but I have a foreboding that she’ll do something silly and maybe even marry the creature. I feel quite depressed about it, and it’s all the fault of this thousand-horsepower dog you gave me.
I don’t believe you’re ever coming back to get him. Do you know any firm that makes good dog-proof furniture?
Tuesday, June 27.
My dear girl :
You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Just because you don’t approve of marriage-- but you’ll come around--you want to prevent your maid from having a home and little ones and what not. All she does is wait on you, with Thursday nights off, and jam yesterday. I don’t blame her.
But aren’t you worrying a little ahead of time? If the gentleman takes her out at night he can’t be a night watchman, and if he goes for walks with her in the daytime he evidently hasn’t a job. So maybe there’ll be difficulties in the way. Unless, of course, he has a good racket of some kind.
Don’t worry about your furniture. I’ll buy new furniture as soon as we’re married. We’ll select it together and try to get some kind the dog doesn’t like the taste of. I wonder how much you want me to come back? If I said I wouldn’t come unless you’d marry me, could you bear it? I’m afraid to risk it.
I love you very thoroughly,
Saturday, July 1.
I’m so worried about the puppy. He hasn’t eaten anything for two days, and his little nose has the sniffles. He runs around hardly at all. It’s so quiet. He won’t chew his bone or anything else, not even my new slippers.
I’ve read the dog book, but all the symptoms are so much alike that I don’t know whether he has indigestion or worms or distemper, and I’m afraid of dosing him up on the wrong thing. If he isn’t better tomorrow I’m going to take him to the city and see what a good veterinarian can do for him.
I don’t know what I’d say if you said you weren’t coming back. Please don’t do it. I mean please don’t say it, not please don’t come back. I’d probably sue you for damages, loss of time from my work, and general nervous shock. You can’t tell.
I’ll let you know about the puppy.
Monday, July 3.
I’m here in the city on account of the puppy. I have about an hour before I get a report on him. I didn’t feel like shopping, so I took a room here at a hotel. I haven’t had much sleep lately, and thought maybe I could rest a little, but I’m too fidgety. The doctor said he had a very high temperature and it might be distemper. I’m worried. I don’t feel like writing any more.
Thursday, July 6.
I’m just as worried about the puppy as you are. Don’t forget to send me all the dope on him. Are you sure you’ve got hold of a good doctor? Distemper is a dangerous disease, and he ought to have everything you can do for him. I wish I could come down there. If he doesn’t get better soon, I will anyway.
I honestly had no idea he’d cause so much grief when I gave him to you. I knew he’d be mischievous, but I guess I didn’t think about his getting sick. Tell the poor little fellow I hope he’ll hurry up and get well. And don’t forget to send me bulletins.
Don’t forget, either, that I love you more than anything. I love you so much it’s too big to think about, but I do it all the time.
Monday, July 10.
Lydia forwarded your letter. I’ve been here for a week now, while the puppy was in the hospital. It wasn’t distemper, and I’m so relieved. I’m taking him home this afternoon. The doctor says he misses me so much it’s keeping him from getting well, but that he thinks the pup will be all right if I take him home and follow directions about nursing.
He’s lying here in my room, looking so pathetic and sad, while I write this. I know you want to hear about him. so I’m mailing this before I leave. His little insides were all stirred up. The doctor says he probably ate something when I wasn’t looking.
You can’t imagine what a weight has been lifted from me. When I heard this morning that I could take him home this afternoon I was so happy I rushed out and bought a red dress and dozens of other things. I just went on a shopping spree.
He was so glad when I took him away with me. I never dreamed he’d miss me so much. Do come home. I want you to see him.
Thursday, July 13.
When are you going to stop signing letters “affectionately” and such? Why don’t you say “with all my love” or something appropriate like that?
I can’t say how glad I am that the little devil is regaining his health. Maybe from now on he’ll have better sense than to go out and eat garbage, or whatever it was, but I wouldn’t bet on it! You’d better watch him. I ought to be there to help you with him.
I saw a beautiful emerald in a jewellery store today. I like them better than diamonds, don’t you? Or what do you like? This would be a good time to set me straight on the subject, before I go and buy the wrong thing.
I rode round on top of a bus all evening. It was cool—a great relief from this intolerable summer heat. I sat there and thought of you, and how we wouldn’t live in New York.
I love you—oh, how I love you !
Monday, July 17.
The puppy is completely well now, and about to drive me crazy. I haven’t done but one story since I’ve had him, and it doesn’t look as though I’ll ever work again.
Today was Lydia’s day off, and she was going out with that man tonight. She had bought a new blouse to wear. She showed it to me with blushes, and was practically coy when she asked me if I thought it was becoming. I’m afraid that affair is getting serious. She had too much leisure while I was away.
Anyway, she put it in a drawer of her dressing table, and inadvertently left the end of a sleeve hanging out. So what does that little devil do but go and chew on it, and pull and pull till he has the whole thing out, of the drawer and simply chewed it to pieces ! So there were tears and denunciations of the fiend, and I had to stay them with the gift of my own new blouse that I bought in the city and hadn’t even worn. Curse the little creature !
I’ve finally named him. He is Boojum from now on. I’ve always wondered what a Boojum was like, and now I know. There’s positively no other name that will fit him. And if you ever come home you’ll have to answer for all the things he’s done to me.
All varieties of recriminations,
Thursday, July 20.
I’m glad you finally named him, and nice work, too. I thought maybe the little angel would earn himself a label, given a little time. Give him my regards for deserving such a good one.
Sorry about the blouse, but don’t worry about it. As your husband I’ll be glad to replace garments gnawed by Boojum. What is a blouse exactly?
You wouldn’t say where you stood on the ring question, so I’ve bought an emerald, but it’s not too late to exchange it if you’re quick.
I can’t see that Boojum has done anything so terrible to you. You’re probably fond of him and won’t admit it. When do you want me to come and get him? When do you want me to come and get you?
I saw a whole window full of wire-haireds today, but none of them put his front paws up on the glass and wriggled for me to come and take him away, the way Boojum did the day I bought him. I think we’ll probably get along fine together after I’ve had him a while. Of course I’d like to have you along with him, as he’ll undoubtedly miss you.
I love you,
Saturday, July 29.
I give up. I can’t stand it any longer. Lydia is going to marry that man. I’ve never seen anyone so happy. She’s simply goofy. She goes around in a daze. Somehow I never really thought she’d do it. Her fiancé finally got a job. and it seems that was all they were waiting for. He was living in his house here because his sister left it to him, and he didn’t have any money. Now he has decided he likes the town, and they are going to live here. My whole household has collapsed.
And Boojum has not been idle. He got in a fight with two cats, and I’ve had to put patches all over him. I simply can’t manage him any longer. You’ll have to take him over. On the other hand, I find I love the little thing too much to part with him. so you’d better come home and marry me right away. And don’t tell me about any more men you have to see, Either. Let somebody else see ’em.
Lydia said she was going to furnish her house exactly like mine, so I gave her every piece of furniture in it, draperies and all— that is, everything Boojum didn’t get at. If I’m going to be snatched from my native soil you may as well take roots and all. So if you don’t hurry I’ll be sleeping on the floor.
I love you and love you, dearest one. I knew it all the time, but I wouldn’t believe myself. I think maybe Boojum was what made me change my point of view, but you have no idea how completely changed it is.
With all my love (as requested, but it sounds rather weak),
P.S. Lydia says they want to buy a wirehaired, but there aren’t any here. Why don’t you give them one for a wedding present?
New York, July 31.
MISS ELEANOR SWAN, PINEVILLE, ONT.
WHOOPS DARLING SOME DOG LOVE I THOUGHT HE MIGHT BE A MONKEY WRENCH LOVE BRINGING HIM NEW PAIR TASTY LEATHER SLIPPERS LOVE FLYING HOME IMMEDIATELY LOVE ARRIVE PINEVILLE NOON TOMORROW LOVE HAVE MINISTER AND LICENSE READY LOVE WEAR RED DRESS WITH JIGGERS LOVE PROVIDE BOOJUM PORTERHOUSE STEAK TO KEEP HIM BUSY DURING CEREMONY LOVE BRINGING DOG FOR LYDIA LOVE LOVE