我打算定期给你们写些长信，我有许多事要告诉你们，尽管我不是在欧洲旅行的年轻漂亮的小姐。那天当我看不见爸爸那张熟悉可爱的面孔时，我感到有点儿 难过。要不是一位带着四个孩子的爱尔兰女士转移了我的注意力，我也可能会滴几滴泪的。那几个孩子大哭小叫，每当他们张嘴嚎哭，我便把姜饼隔座位丢给他们， 以此自娱。
柯克太太那么亲切地迎接我，我立刻便感到像在家里一样，虽说那个大房子里住的尽是陌生人。她让我住在一间有趣的小阁楼上--她只有这么一间了，不过 里面有一个炉子，明亮的窗户边摆着一张很好的桌子，我高兴时可以坐在那里写作。在这里能看见美丽的景色和对面的教堂塔楼，弥补了要爬许多层楼梯的不足。我 当时就喜欢上了我的卧室。我将在育儿室教书，做针线活，那是间令人愉快的屋子，就在柯克太太的起居室隔壁。两个小女孩很漂亮--我想，有点娇生惯养。但 是，我给她们讲了"七头坏猪"的故事后，她们便喜欢上我了。我敢肯定我会成为一个模范的家庭女教师。
过了一会儿我下楼时，看到了一件我喜欢的事。这座房子很高，楼梯很长，我站在第三个台阶口等候一个小女仆过去，她扛着重重的一筐煤艰难地往上爬，我 看见她后面一位先生也往上走，他从她手中接过煤，一直扛到顶层，把煤放在近旁的一个小屋门口，然后和气地对小女仆点点头，带着外国腔说：“这样才比较合 适，小小的背经不起这样的重量。“他那样做，不错吧？我喜欢这种行为。就像爸爸说的那样，小事见气质。我向柯克太太提起了这件事，她笑着说：“那肯定是巴 尔教授，他总是干那种事。“柯克太太告诉我，他从柏林来，很有学问，为人很好，可是一贫如洗。他授课养活自己和他的两个孤儿侄子。他的姐姐嫁了个美国人， 遵照姐姐的遗愿，他在这里教他的侄儿们。
今天早上的课上得很愉快。孩子们表现得像塞万提斯笔下的桑丘。有一会儿，我真以为我把她们吓得浑身发抖。神使鬼差地，我突然来了灵感，要教她们体 育，我一直教到她们乐意坐下来并保持安静。午饭后，女仆带她们出去散步，我去做针线活，像小梅布尔那样"心甘情愿地"。我觉得很幸运，学会了锁漂亮的扣 眼。正在这时，起居室的门开了，随后又关上了，有人开始哼着歌：“ＫｅｎｎｓｔｄｕｄａｓＬａｎｄ，“声音像大黄蜂，我知道偷看不合适，可又抵抗不了诱 惑。
他在整理书本。我趁机仔细观察了他，他是一个地道的德国人--相当健壮，有着一头乱蓬蓬的棕色头发，胡须浓密，鼻子端正，目光很亲切。听惯了美国人 说话时要么刺耳、要么含混的腔调，巴尔教授的声音听起来洪亮悦耳。他衣着破旧，手很大，除了漂亮的牙齿，脸上的五官真没有好看的。可是，我还是喜欢他。他 头脑聪明，亚麻布衬衫很挺括。虽然他的外套掉了两个钮扣，一只鞋上有块补钉，但他看上去仍有绅士风度。他嘴里哼着调，神情却很严肃。他走向窗子，把风信子 球移到向阳处，然后抚弄着小猫，小猫像对待老朋友一样任他抚摸。他笑了。他听到敲门声，迅即高声叫道：“Ｈｅｒｅｉｎ！“我正要跑开，突然瞥见一个拿着一 本大书的可爱的小不点，便停步看看是怎么回事。
“我现在学课课了，“那有趣的小东西接着说。于是巴尔将她放在桌边，打开了她带来的大字典，又给她一张纸和一支铅笔。小东西便乱画起来，不时翻过去 一页，胖胖的小手指顺着书页往下指着，好像在找一个字。她神态那么严肃，我不由笑了起来，差点儿被发觉了。巴尔站在她身边，带着父亲般的神情抚弄着她美丽 的头发。我想她肯定是他的女儿，尽管她看上去更像法国人而不像德国人。
两位小姐似乎都在严厉地考验着教授的忍耐力，因为，不止一次我听见他强调说：“不，不，不是这样的，你没有听我说。“一次，又听见很响的敲击声，好 像是他用书敲桌子，然后沮丧地感叹：“唉！今天一切都乱了套。“可怜的人，我同情他。小姐们走后，我又偷看了一下，看他可经受得住这些。他似乎精疲力尽， 靠在椅子里，闭着眼睛，直到钟敲两点，他才一跃而起，将书本放进口袋，仿佛准备再去上课。他抱起在沙发上睡着了的蒂娜，轻轻地离开了。我想他的日子过得不 轻松。柯克太太问我五点钟开晚饭时愿不愿意下楼去吃。我有点儿想家，也就愿意下去吃了，我只是想看看和我住在同一屋顶下的是些什么人。于是，我故作大方， 想跟在柯克太太身后溜进去。可是她个子矮，我个子高，想让她遮住我的企图失败了。她让我坐在她身旁。待到我发烧的脸冷却下来，我鼓起勇气朝四下打量，长桌 子边坐满了人，每个人都在专心致志地吃饭--尤其是先生们，他们吃饭似乎是指定时间的。因为从任何一种意义上说，他们都是在狼吞虎咽，而且饭一吃完人便无 影无踪了。这里有通常那种高谈阔论的年轻人，有情意绵绵的年轻夫妇，也有满脑子想着自己孩子的已婚女士，以及热衷政治的老先生们。我想，我不喜欢和他们中 任何人打交道，除了那个面容姣好的未婚女士，她看上去有点头脑。
教授给扔在了桌子的末端，他大声回答着身边一个老先生的问题。这老先生耳朵聋，好奇心倒很强。同时，他又和另一边的一个法国人谈论着哲学。假如艾美 在这里，她会永远不再理睬他了，因为，很遗憾，他的胃口板大，那风卷残云般的吃相会吓坏了"小姐"。可我不在乎，我喜欢"看人们吃得有滋有味"，像罕娜说 的那样。那可怜的人一整天都教那帮傻瓜们，肯定需要吃很多食物。
吃完饭我上楼时，两上年轻人在大厅镜子前整理帽子。我听见一个对另一个低语：“新来的那人是谁？““家庭教师，或者那一类的什么人吧。““她到底为 什么和我们同桌吃饭？““她是老太太的朋友。““头脑机敏，但是没有风度。““一点也没有。借个火，我们走吧。“开始我感到气愤。后来我不在乎了。因为家 庭教师事实上等于职员。根据这两个优雅人士的判断，即便是我没有风度，可我有理智，这就比一些人要强。那两个人叽叽喳喳说笑着走了，他们抽着烟像两座讨人 厌的烟囱。我恨那些缺乏教养的人。
那个未婚女士是一个叫诺顿的小姐--富有，有教养，和善。今天吃饭时她和我说话了（我又去大桌子吃饭了，观察人是多么有趣）。她要我到她屋子里去看 她。她有很多好书、画片，她懂得哪些人是属于有趣味的，她似乎很友好。所以，我也将表现得令人满意。因为，我真的想进入上流社会，只是和艾美喜欢的那种社 会不同。
我答应有事会叫他的。他离开了，但是看起来好像我注定老要见到他。今天，我出门时经过他门口，不小心雨伞碰到了他的房门，门给碰开了。他穿着晨衣， 站在那里，一只手拿着一只蓝色短袜，另一只手拿着根缝衣针。他似乎一点儿也不感到难为情，因为当我向他解释后，匆匆走开时，他手持短袜与针，向我挥动着， 还愉快地大声说道--“今天出门天气不错。Ｂｏｎｖｏｙａｇｅ，ｍａｄｅｍｏｉｓｅｌｌｅ。“我一路笑着下了楼，同时想到那可怜的人得自己补衣服，有点感 伤。德国先生的刺绣我知道，可是缝补短袜却是另一回事了，不那么潇洒。
没什么事可写了，只是我去拜访了诺顿小姐。她的屋子里满是漂亮的东西，诺顿小姐非常可爱，她给我看了她所有的宝贝，还问我愿不愿陪伴她去听讲座，听 音乐会--假如我喜欢的话。她是以一种好意提出来的，但是我确信柯克太太把我们的情况告诉了她。她出于好心才这么做的。我非常高傲，但是受这样的人提供这 样的恩惠，我不感到负担，所以我感激地接受了。
“星期六下午弗朗兹和埃米尔来了，妈妈总是随我们怎么玩，是不是这样，巴尔先生？““大象"直起身来，神情和其他人一样认真，他一本正经地对我说： “我向你保证是这样的。要是我们弄出的声音太大了，你就嘘一声，我们就会把声音放低点的。“我答应这样做，但是我让门开着，和他们一样享受着乐趣--因为 我从来没见过比这更好玩的嬉戏了。他们捉迷藏，扮演士兵，唱歌，跳舞。天黑下来时，他们便挤到沙发上围在教授身边听他讲动人的童话故事，什么烟囱顶上的白 鹤啦，什么帮做家务的小"精灵们"踏着雪降临啦，等等。我希望美国人像德国人那样纯洁自然，你们说呢？
我的学生们不像蒂娜和男孩子们那样有趣。可是我对他们尽了责任，他们喜欢我。弗朗兹和埃米尔是两个活泼的小伙子，相当合我意。他们身上混和着德国人 和美国人的性情，所以总是处于兴奋状态。不管是在屋里还是在窗外，星期六下午总是闹嚷嚷的。天气好，他们都去散步，好像这是一个固定课程。我和教授维持秩 序，多好玩！
“亲爱的，你可见过这样的一个窝？过来帮我把这些书放放好，我把东西翻得乱七八糟了，我想看看他把我前不久给他的六条新手帕用来做什么了。“我进了 屋，一边忙着一边四下打量。没错，这真是"一个窝"。到处是书籍纸张；壁炉架上放着一个坏了的海泡石烟斗和一支旧笛子，好像已经不能用了；一只没有尾巴的 羽毛蓬乱的鸟在窗台上啁啾着，另一个窗口上放着一盒子白鼠；做了一半的小船、一段段绳头和手稿混放在一边；肮脏的小靴子放在火前烤着；屋子里到处可见那些 可爱的男孩们的痕迹，教授为他们忙忙碌碌。一阵大搜寻，找出了失踪的三条手帕--一条在鸟笼上，一条上面全是墨水迹，一条被用作风箱的夹具给烧焦了。
“竟有这种人！“脾气好的柯克太太笑着把这些脏兮兮的手帕放进垃圾袋。“我猜其他几条手帕被撕开用作了船索，包扎受伤的指头，或者做风筝尾巴了。真 是可怕，可我不能责骂他。他那么心不在焉，脾气温和，由着那些男孩们对他恣意妄为。我答应为他缝补浆洗，可是他记不得把东西拿出来，我又忘了查看，所以他 有时弄得很狼狈。““我来为他缝补衣服，“我说，“我不在乎，他也不需要知道。我愿意--他待我这么客气，为我取信，借书给我。“于是，我把他的东西收拾 整齐，为他的两双短袜织了后跟--因为他那古怪的缝法把袜子弄得不成形了。什么也没说，我希望他不会发觉这些。可是上星期的一天，我正干着给他当场捉住 了。听他给别人上课，我感到非常有趣、好玩，我也想跟着学。上课时，蒂娜跑进跑出，把门开着，所以我能听见。我一直坐在靠近那扇门的地方。最后一只短袜就 快完工了。我努力想听懂他为一个新生讲的课，这个学生和我一样笨。后来女学生走了，我想他也走了，屋子里那么安静。
“嗯，让我们来安排时间。我们能安排妥当的。晚上我会很乐意给你上点课，因为，你瞧，马奇小姐，我得还你的债。“他指着我手里的活计。“'是的'， 那些模样和善的女士们议论着，'他是个老笨蛋，我们做什么他都看不见，他根本注意不到他的袜跟不再有洞了，他以为他的纽扣掉了会重新长出来，针线自己会 缝。'噢！可是，我长着眼睛，我看到了许多。
我长着心，对这一切我存有感激之情。好了，我会不时给你上点课，要不，就别再给我干这些童话般的事了。“当然，这一来我便无话可说了。这也确实是个 非常好的机会，我和他就这样订了约，开始实行。我听了四堂课，然后就陷进了语法沼泽。教授对我非常耐心，不过，那对他肯定是一种折磨。他不时地带着一种颇 为失望的表情看着我，弄得我不知该哭还是该笑。我哭过，也笑过。当情况变得糟糕透顶、令人窘迫不堪时，他就把语法书往地上一扔，脚步沉重地走出屋子。我感 到耻辱，感到被永远地遗弃了。我匆匆收拾起我的纸，打算冲到楼上大哭一场，就在这时，他又进来了，欢快地微笑着，好像我的学业取得了辉煌的胜利。
“现在，我们来试一种新方法，我和你一起读这些有趣的小ＭｏAｒｃｈｅｎ，不再去钻那本枯燥无味的书了。那本书给我们添了麻烦，让它去角落里呆着 吧。“他那样亲切地说着，在我面前打开了汉斯·安徒生引人入胜的童话，我感到更惭愧了。我拼命地学功课，这似乎使他非常高兴。我忘掉了害羞，尽全力努力 （没别的字可以描述它）学着。长单词绊住了我，我凭当时的灵感发音，我尽了最大的努力。读完第一页，我停下来喘气，他拍着手，热诚地叫道： “Ｄａｓｉｓｔｇｕｔ！我们学得不错。轮到我了。我用德语读，听我读。“他读开了，那大嗓门咕噜噜读出一个个单词，津津有味的神情十分滑稽，和他的声音听 起来一样可笑。幸运的是，这个故事是《坚定的锡兵》，很好笑，你知道的，所以我尽可以笑--我确实笑了--虽然他读的我一半都不懂。我忍不住笑，他那样认 真，我那样激动。整个事情那样可笑。
很高兴劳里似乎那么幸福，那么忙碌。很高兴他戒了烟，开始蓄发。你看，贝思，你比我更能调教好他。亲爱的，我不忌妒。尽你的力吧，只是别把他变成一 个圣人。若是他没有一点儿人类的顽皮淘气劲，恐怕我就不能喜欢他了。给他读一些我的信。我没有时间多写，那样也就可以了。感谢上帝，贝思能一直保持身心愉 快。
你们的信是早上到的，可是你们没提及包裹，是打算给我一个惊喜。所以开始时我失望了。我有"一种感觉"，你们不会忘记我的，吃完下午茶后，我坐在屋 里，情绪有点低落。正在这时，那个磨损了的泥色大包裹给送来了。我抱着它欢跳起来。它那么亲切，那么与众不同，我坐在地板上以我那种可笑的方式读着、看 着、吃着、笑着、哭着。东西正是我想要的，是你们做的而不是买来的更好。贝思做的新"擦墨水围裙"好极了，罕娜嬷嬷做的那盒硬姜饼我会当做宝贝。妈咪，我 一定会穿上你寄来的法兰绒衣服。我会仔细阅读爸爸做了记号的书。感谢大家，非常、非常感谢！
说到书提醒了我，告诉你们，在这方面我富起来了，因为元旦那天，巴尔先生送给我一本精致的莎士比亚。那是他非常心爱的书，和他的德语圣经、柏拉图、 荷马、弥尔顿放在一起。我常为它赞叹。所以你们可以想象得出他把书拿给我时我的心情。书没有封皮，他指给我看书上写着的我的名字：“我的朋友弗里德里克· 巴尔赠。““你常说你想拥有藏书，我送你一本。这些盖子（他是指封皮）之间有许多本，这是其中一本。好好读书，它会给你很大的帮助。研究这书中的人物将会 帮助你读懂现实生活中的人们，用你的笔描绘他们。“我万般地感谢他。现在谈起"我的藏书"，好像我已经拥有一百本书了。以前，我根本不知道莎士比亚作品里 有多少内涵，那时也根本没有一个巴尔为我解释。别笑话他那可怕的名字，发音既不是贝尔（熊），也不是比尔（啤酒），人们常常那样发音。介乎两者之间，只有 德国人才能发准。很高兴你们俩都喜欢听我谈论他的事。希望有一天你们能认识他。
我没有多少钱，也不知道他喜欢什么。我便准备了一些小东西，放在他屋子里的四处，他会出乎意料地在那里发现它的。这些东西有用处，可爱，或者引人发 笑--桌子上的新笔座，插花用的小花瓶--他总用玻璃杯插一支鲜花，要么插点绿草，他说那样使他充满活力--还有一个风箱的夹具，这样他就不必烧掉艾美称 作的"ｍｏｕｃｈｏｉｒｓ"了。我把它做得像贝思创造的那些东西--一个身体肥胖的大蝴蝶，黑黄相间的翅膀，绒线的触须，玻璃球的眼睛。这非常合他的意， 他把它作为一件艺术品放在壁炉架上，尽管我做得不太理想。他虽然穷，但他忘不了公寓里的每一个仆人，每一个孩子。这里所有的人，从法国洗衣妇到诺顿小姐， 也都忘不了他。我对此非常高兴。
元旦前夕，他们举行了假面舞会，玩得很快乐。我原本不打算去的，因为我没有服装。但是在最后一刻，柯克太太记起有件旧花缎裙，诺顿小姐借给我丝带和 饰羽。于是我装扮成马勒齐罗普太太，带着面具步态优美地走进舞常没有人认出我，因为我改变了说话腔调。大家做梦也没想到沉默、高傲的马奇小姐会跳舞，会打 扮，会突然出现加入这个"可爱的纪念死者狂欢会，就像是尼罗河岸的一幅讽喻画"（他们中的大多数人都认为我很呆板、沉静，所以我无足轻重）。我玩得非常开 心。当我们卸下面具时，看到他们盯着我看真好笑。我听见一个年轻人对另一个说，他知道我曾经当过演员，事实上，他想他记得在一个小剧院看见过我。梅格会对 这个玩笑感兴趣的。巴尔先生装成尼克·包特姆，蒂娜是仙后泰坦尼娅--拥在他臂弯里的一个完美的小仙女。看他们这一对跳舞真是"权当一道风景"，用特迪的 话说。
New York, November
Dear Marmee and Beth,
I'm going to write you a regular volume, for I've got heapsto tell, though I'm not a fine young lady traveling on the continent.When I lost sight of Father's dear old face, I felt atrifle blue, and might have shed a briny drop or two, if anIrish lady with four small children, all crying more or less,hadn't diverted my mind, for I amused myself by dropping gingerbreadnuts over the seat every time they opened their mouths to roar.
Soon the sun came out, and taking it as a good omen, Icleared up likewise and enjoyed my journey with all my heart.
Mrs. Kirke welcomed me so kindly I felt at home at once,even in that big house full of strangers. She gave me a funnylittle sky parlor--all she had, but there is a stove in it, and anice table in a sunny window, so I can sit here and write wheneverI like. A fine view and a church tower opposite atone forthe many stairs, and I took a fancy to my den on the spot.The nursery, where I am to teach and sew, is a pleasant room nextMrs. Kirke's private parlor, and the two little girls are prettychildren, rather spoiled, I fancy, but they took to me aftertelling them The Seven Bad Pigs, and I've no doubt I shall makea model governess.
I am to have my meals with the children, if I prefer it tothe great table, and for the present I do, for I am bashful,though no one will believe it.
"Now, my dear, make yourself at home," said Mrs. K. in hermotherly way, "I'm on the drive from morning to night, as youmay suppose with such a family, but a great anxiety will be offmy mind if I know the children are safe with you. My rooms arealways open to you, and your own shall be as comfortable as Ican make it. There are some pleasant people in the house if youfeel sociable, and your evenings are always free. Come to meif anything goes wrong, and be as happy as you can. There's thetea bell, I must run and change my cap." And off she bustled,leaving me to settle myself in my new nest.
As I went downstairs soon after, I saw something I liked.The flights are very long in this tall house, and as I stoodwaiting at the head of the third one for a little servant girlto lumber up, I saw a gentleman come along behind her, take theheavy hod of coal out of her hand, carry it all the way up, putit down at a door near by, and walk away, saying, with a kindnod and a foreign accent, "It goes better so. The little backis too young to haf such heaviness."
Wasn't it good of him? I like such things, for as Fathersays, trifles show character. When I mentioned it to Mrs. K.,that evening, she laughed, and said, "That must have beenProfessor Bhaer, he's always doing things of that sort."
Mrs. K. told me he was from Berlin, very learned and good,but poor as a church mouse, and gives lessons to support himselfand two little orphan nephews whom he is educating here, accordingto the wishes of his sister, who married an American. Nota very romantic story, but it interested me, and I was glad tohear that Mrs. K. lends him her parlor for some of his scholars.There is a glass door between it and the nursery, and I mean topeep at him, and then I'll tell you how he looks. He's almostforty, so it's no harm, Marmee.
After tea and a go-to-bed romp with the little girls, Iattacked the big workbasket, and had a quiet evening chattingwith my new friend. I shall keep a journal-letter, and send itonce a week, so goodnight, and more tomorrow.
Had a lively time in my seminary this morning, for thechildren acted like Sancho, and at one time I really thought Ishould shake them all round. Some good angel inspired me totry gymnastics, and I kept it up till they were glad to sit downand keep still. After luncheon, the girl took them out for awalk, and I went to my needlework like little Mabel `with awilling mind'. I was thanking my stars that I'd learned tomake nice buttonholes, when the parlor door opened and shut,and someone began to hum, Kennst Du Das Land, like a big bumblebee.It was dreadfully improper, I know, but I couldn'tresist the temptation, and lifting one end of the curtainbefore the glass door, I peeped in. Professor Bhaer was there,and while he arranged his books, I took a good look at him. Aregular German--rather stout, with brown hair tumbled all overhis head, a bushy beard, good nose, the kindest eyes I eversaw, and a splendid big voice that does one's ears good, afterour sharp or slipshod American gabble. His clothes were rusty,his hands were large, and he hadn't a really handsome featurein his face, except his beautiful teeth, yet I liked him, forhe had a fine head, his linen was very nice, and he lookedlike a gentleman, though two buttons were off his coat andthere was a patch on one shoe. He looked sober in spite ofhis humming, till he went to the window to turn the hyacinthbulbs toward the sun, and stroke the cat, who received himlike an old friend. Then he smiled, and when a tap came atthe door, called out in a loud, brisk tone, "Herein!"
I was just going to run, when I caught sight of a morsel ofa child carrying a big book, and stopped, to see what was goingon.
"Me wants me Bhaer," said the mite, slamming down her bookand running to meet him.
"Thou shalt haf thy Bhaer. Come, then, and take a goothug from him, my Tina," said the Professor, catching her upwith a laugh, and holding her so high over his head that shehad to stoop her little face to kiss him.
"Now me mus tuddy my lessin," went on the funny littlething. So he put her up at the table, opened the great dictionaryshe had brought, and gave her a paper and pencil, andshe scribbled away, turning a leaf now and then, and passingher little fat finger down the page, as if finding a word,so soberly that I nearly betrayed myself by a laugh, whileMr. Bhaer stood stroking her pretty hair with a fatherly lookthat made me think she must be his own, though she looked moreFrench than German.
Another knock and the appearance of two young ladies sentme back to my work, and there I virtuously remained through allthe noise and gabbling that went on next door. One of the girlskept laughing affectedly, and saying, "Now Professor," in acoquettish tone, and the other pronounced her German with anaccent that must have made it hard for him to keep sober.
Both seemed to try his patience sorely, for more than onceI heard him say emphatically, "No, no, it is not so, you hafnot attend to what I say," and once there was a loud rap, asif he struck the table with his book, followed by the despairingexclamation, "Prut! It all goes bad this day."
Poor man, I pitied him, and when the girls were gone, tookjust one more peep to see if he survived it. He seemed to havethrown himself back in his chair, tired out, and sat there withhis eyes shut till the clock struck two, when he jumped up, puthis books in his pocket, as if ready for another lesson, andtaking little Tina who had fallen asleep on the sofa in hisarms, he carried her quietly away. I fancy he has a hard lifeof it. Mrs. Kirke asked me if I wouldn't go down to the fiveo'clock dinner, and feeling a little bit homesick, I thoughtI would, just to see what sort of people are under the sameroof with me. So I made myself respectable and tried to slipin behind Mrs. Kirke, but as she is short and I'm tall, myefforts at concealment were rather a failure. She gave me aseat by her, and after my face cooled off, I plucked up courageand looked about me. The long table was full, and every--one intent on getting their dinner, the gentlemen especially,who seemed to be eating on time, for they bolted in everysense of the word, vanishing as soon as they were done. Therewas the usual assortment of young men absorbed in themselves,young couples absorbed in each other, married ladies in theirbabies, and old gentlemen in politics. I don't think I shallcare to have much to do with any of them, except one sweetfacedmaiden lady, who looks as if she had something in her.
Cast away at the very bottom of the table was the Professor,shouting answers to the questions of a very inquisitive,deaf old gentleman on one side, and talking philosophy witha Frenchman on the other. If Amy had been here, she'd haveturned her back on him forever because, sad to relate, he hada great appetite, and shoveled in his dinner in a manner whichwould have horrified `her ladyship'. I didn't mind, for I like`to see folks eat with a relish', as Hannah says, and the poorman must have needed a deal of food after teaching idiots all day.
As I went upstairs after dinner, two of the young menwere settling their hats before the hall mirror, and I heardone say low to the other, "Who's the new party?"
"Governess, or something of that sort."
"What the deuce is she at our table for?"
"Friend of the old lady's."
"Handsome head, but no style."
"Not a bit of it. Give us a light and come on."
I felt angry at first, and then I didn't care, for a governessis as good as a clerk, and I've got sense, if I haven'tstyle, which is more than some people have, judging from theremarks of the elegant beings who clattered away, smoking likebad chimneys. I hate ordinary people!
Yesterday was a quiet day spent in teaching, sewing, andwriting in my little room, which is very cozy, with a light andfire. I picked up a few bits of news and was introduced to theProfessor. It seems that Tina is the child of the Frenchwomanwho does the fine ironing in the laundry here. The little thinghas lost her heart to Mr. Bhaer, and follows him about the houselike a dog whenever he is at home, which delights him, as he isvery fond of children, though a `bacheldore'. Kitty and MinnieKirk likewise regard him with affection, and tell all sorts ofstories about the plays he invents, the presents he brings, andthe splendid tales he tells. The younger men quiz him, it seems,call him Old Fritz, Lager Beer, Ursa Major, and make all mannerof jokes on his name. But he enjoys it like a boy, Mrs. Kirkesays, and takes it so good-naturedly that they all like him inspite of his foreign ways.
The maiden lady is a Miss Norton, rich, cultivated, andkind. She spoke to me at dinner today (for I went to tableagain, it's such fun to watch people), and asked me to comeand see her at her room. She has fine books and pictures,knows interesting persons, and seems friendly, so I shall makemyself agreeable, for I do want to get into good society, onlyit isn't the same sort that Amy likes.
I was in our parlor last evening when Mr. Bhaer came inwith some newspapers for Mrs. Kirke. She wasn't there, butMinnie, who is a little old woman, introduced me very prettily."This is Mamma's friend, Miss March."
"Yes, and she's jolly and we like her lots," added Kitty,who is and `enfant terrible'.
We both bowed, and then we laughed, for the prim introductionand the blunt addition were rather a comical contrast.
"Ah, yes, I hear these naughty ones go to vex you, MeesMarsch. If so again, call at me and I come," he said, with athreatening frown that delighted the little wretches.
I promised I would, and he departed, but it seems as if Iwas doomed to see a good deal of him, for today as I passedhis door on my way out, by accident I knocked against it withmy umbrella. It flew open, and there he stood in his dressinggown, with a big blue sock on one hand and a darning needlein the other. He didn't seem at all ashamed of it, for whenI explained and hurried on, he waved his hand, sock and all,saying in his loud, cheerful way...
"You haf a fine day to make your walk. Bon voyage, Mademoiselle."
I laughed all the way downstairs, but it was a little pathetic,also to think of the poor man having to mend his own clothes.The German gentlemen embroider, I know, but darning hose isanother thing and not so pretty.
Nothing has happened to write about, except a call on MissNorton, who has a room full of pretty things, and who was verycharming, for she showed me all her treasures, and asked me ifI would sometimes go with her to lectures and concerts, as herescort, if I enjoyed them. She put it as a favor, but I'm sureMrs. Kirke has told her about us, and she does it out of kindnessto me. I'm as proud as Lucifer, but such favors from suchpeople don't burden me, and I accepted gratefully.When I got back to the nursery there was such an uproarin the parlor that I looked in, and there was Mr. Bhaer downon his hands and knees, with Tina on his back, Kitty leadinghim with a jump rope, and Minnie feeding two small boys withseedcakes, as they roared and ramped in cages built of chairs.
"We are playing nargerie," explained Kitty.
"Dis is mine effalunt!" added Tina, holding on by theProfessor's hair.
"Mamma always allows us to do what we like Saturday afternoon,when Franz and Emil come, doesn't she, Mr. Bhaer?"said Minnie.
The `effalunt' sat up, looking as much in earnest as anyof them, and said soberly to me, "I gif you my wort it is so,if we make too large a noise you shall say Hush! to us, and wego more softly."
I promised to do so, but left the door open and enjoyed thefun as much as they did, for a more glorious frolic I neverwitnessed. They played tag and soldiers, danced and sang,and when it began to grow dark they all piled onto the sofa aboutthe Professor, while he told charming fairy stories of the storkson the chimney tops, and the little `koblods', who ride thesnowflakes as they fall. I wish Americans were as simple andnatural as Germans, don't you?
I'm so fond of writing, I should go spinning on forever ifmotives of economy didn't stop me, for though I've used thinpaper and written fine, I tremble to think of the stamps thislong letter will need. Pray forward Amy's as soon as you canspare them. My small news will sound very flat after hersplendors, but you will like them, I know. Is Teddy studyingso hard that he can't find time to write to his friends? Takegood care of him for me, Beth, and tell me all about the babies,and give heaps of love to everyone. From your faithful Jo.
P.S. On reading over my letter, it strikes me as ratherBhaery, but I am always interested in odd people, and I reallyhad nothing else to write about. Bless you!
My Precious Betsey,
As this is to be a scribble-scrabble letter, I direct it toyou, for it may amuse you, and give you some idea of my goingson, for though quiet, they are rather amusing, for which, oh,be joyful! After what Amy would call Herculaneum efforts, inthe way of mental and moral agriculture, my young ideas beginto shoot and my little twigs to bend as I could wish. They arenot so interesting tome as Tina and the boys, but I do my dutyby them, and they are fond of me. Franz and Emil are jollylittle lads, quite after my own heart, for the mixture ofGerman and American spirit in the produces a constant state ofeffervescence. Saturday afternoons are riotous times, whetherspent in the house or out, for on pleasant days they all go towalk, like a seminary, with the Professor and myself to keeporder, and then such fun!
We are very good friends now, and I've begun to takelessons. I really couldn't help it, and it all came about insuch a droll way that I must tell you. To begin at the beginning,Mrs. Kirke called to me one day as I passed Mr. Bhaer's roomwhere she was rummaging.
"Did you ever see such a den, my dear? Just come andhelp me put these books to rights, for I've turned everythingupside down, trying to discover what he has done with the sixnew handkerchiefs I gave him not long ago."
I went in, and while we worked I looked about me, for itwas `a den' to be sure. Books and papers everywhere, a brokenmeerschaum, and an old flute over the mantlepiece as if donewith, a ragged bird without any tail chirped on one windowseat, and a box of white mice adorned the other. Half-finishedboats and bits of string lay among the manuscripts. Dirtylittle boots stood drying before the fire, and traces of thedearly beloved boys, for whom he makes a slave of himself,were to be seen all over the room. After a grand rummagethree of the missing articles were found, one over the birdcage, one covered with ink, and a third burned brown, havingbeen used as a holder.
"Such a man!" laughed good-natured Mrs. K., as she put therelics in the rag bay. "I suppose the others are torn up torig ships, bandage cut fingers, or make kite tails. It's dreadful,but I can't scold him. He's so absent-minded and goodnatured,he lets those boys ride over him roughshod. I agreed to dohis washing and mending, but he forgets to give out his thingsand I forget to look them over, so he comes to a sad pass sometimes."
"Let me mend them," said I. "I don't mind it, and he needn'tknow. I'd like to, he's so kind to me about bringing my lettersand lending books."
So I have got his things in order, and knit heels into twopairs of the socks, for they were boggled out of shape with hisqueer darns. Nothing was said, and I hoped he wouldn't find itout, but one day last week he caught me at it. Hearing thelessons he gives to others has interested and amused me so muchthat I took a fancy to lear, for Tina runs in and out, leavingthe door open, and I can hear. I had been sitting near thisdoor, finishing off the last sock, and trying to understand whathe said to a new scholar, who is as stupid as I am. The girlhad gone, and I thought he had also, it was so still, and I wasbusily gabbling over a verb, and rocking to and fro in a mostabsurd way, when a little crow made me look up, and there wasMr. Bhaer looking and laughing quietly, while he made signs toTina not to betray him.
"So!" he said, as I stopped and stared like a goose, "youpeep at me, I peep at you, and this is not bad, but see, I amnot pleasanting when I say, haf you a wish for German?"
"Yes, but you are too busy. I am too stupid to learn," Iblundered out, as red as a peony.
"Prut! We will make the time, and we fail not to find thesense. At efening I shall gif a little lesson with much gladness,for look you, Mees Marsch, I haf this debt to pay." Andhe pointed to my work `Yes, ' they say to one another, these sokind ladies, `he is a stupid old fellow, he will see not what wedo, he will never observe that his sock heels go not in holesany more, he will think his buttons grow out new when they fall,and believe that strings make theirselves.' "Ah! But I haf aneye, and I see much. I haf a heart, and I feel thanks for this.Come, a little lesson then and now, or no more good fairy worksfor me and mine."
Of course I couldn't say anything after that, and as itreally is a splendid opportunity, I made the bargain, and webegan. I took four lessons, and then I stuck fast in a grammaticalbog. The Professor was very patient with me, but it musthave been torment to him, and now and then he'd look at mewith such an expression of mild despair that it was a toss-upwith me whether to laugh or cry. I tried both ways, and whenit came to a sniff or utter mortification and woe, he justthrew the grammar on to the floor and marched out of the room.I felt myself disgraced and deserted forever, but didn't blamehim a particle, and was scrambling my papers together, meaningto rush upstairs and shake myself hard, when in he came, asbrisk and beaming as if I'd covered myself in glory.
"Now we shall try a new way. You and I will read thesepleasant little MARCHEN together, and dig no more in that drybook, that goes in the corner for making us trouble."
He spoke so kindly, and opened Hans Andersons's fairytales so invitingly before me, that I was more ashamed thanever, and went at my lesson in a neck-or-nothing style thatseemed to amuse him immensely. I forgot my bashfulness, andpegged away (no other word will express it) with all my might,tumbling over long words, pronouncing according to inspirationof the minute, and doing my very best. When I finished readingmy first page, and stopped for breath, he clapped his hands andcried out in his hearty way, "Das ist gut!' Now we go well! Myturn. I do him in German, gif me your ear." And away he went,rumbling out the words with his strong voice and a relish whichwas good to see as well as hear. Fortunately the story was theCONSTANT TIN SOLDIER, which is droll, you know, so I could laugh,and I did, though I didn't understand half he read, for I couldn'thelp it, he was so earnest, I so excited, and the whole thing socomical.
After that we got on better, and now I read my lessonspretty well, for this way of studying suits me, and I can seethat the grammar gets tucked into the tales and poetry as onegives pills in jelly. I like it very much, and he doesn't seemtired of it yet, which is very good of him, isn't it? I meanto give him something on Christmas, for I dare not offer money.Tell me something nice, Marmee.
I'm glad Laurie seems so happy and busy, that he has givenup smoking and lets his hair grow. You see Beth manages himbetter than I did. I'm not jealous, dear, do your best, onlydon't make a saint of him. I'm afraid I couldn't like himwithout a spice of human naughtiness. Read him bits of myletters. I haven't time to write much, and that will do justas well. Thank Heaven Beth continues so comfortable.
A Happy New Year to you all, my dearest family, which ofcourse includes Mr. L. and a young man by the name of Teddy.I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your Christmas bundle,for i didn't get it till night and had given up hoping. Yourletter came in the morning, but you said nothing about aparcel, meaning it for a surprise, so I was disappointed,for I'd had a `kind of feeling' that you wouldn't forget me.I felt a little low in my mind as I sat up in my room aftertea, and when the big, muddy, battered-looking bundle wasbrought to me, I just hugged it and pranced. It was sohomey and refreshing that I sat down on the floor and readand looked and ate and laughed and cried, in my usual absurdway. The things were just what I wanted, and all the betterfor being made instead of bought. Beth's new `ink bib' wascapital, and Hannah's box of hard gingerbread will be atreasure. I'll be sure and wear the nice flannels you sent,Marmee, and read carefully the books Father has marked. Thankyou all, heaps and heaps!
Speaking of books reminds me that I'm getting rich in thatline, for on New Year's Day Mr. Bhaer gave me a fine Shakespeare.It is one he values much, and I've often admired it,set up in the place of honor with his German Bible, Plato,Homer, and Milton, so you may imagine how I felt when he broughtit down, without its cover, and showed me my own name in it,"from my friend Friedrich Bhaer".
"You say often you wish a library. Here I gif you one, forbetween these lids (he meant covers) is many books in one. Readhim well, and he will help you much, for the study of characterin this book will help you to read it in the world and paint itwith your pen."
I thanked him as well as I could, and talk now about `mylibrary', as if I had a hundred books. I never knew how muchthere was in Shakespeare before, but then I never had a Bhaerto explain it to me. Now don't laugh at his horrid name. Itisn't pronounced either Bear or Beer, as people will say it,but something between the two, as only Germans can give it.I'm glad you both like what I tell you about him, and hope youwill know him some day. Mother would admire his warm heart,Father his wise head. I admire both, and feel rich in my new`friend Friedrich Bhaer'.
Not having much money, or knowing what he'd like, I gotseveral little things, and put them about the room, where hewould find them unexpectedly. They were useful, pretty, orfunny, a new standish on his table, a little vase for hisflower, he always has one, or a bit of green in a glass, tokeep him fresh, he says, and a holder for his blower, sothat he needn't burn up what Amy calls `mouchoirs'. I madeit like those Beth invented, a big butterfly with a fat body,and black and yellow wings, worsted feelers, and bead eyes.It took his fancy immensely, and he put it on his mantlepieceas an article of virtue, so it was rather a failure after all.Poor as he is, he didn't forget a servant or a child in thehouse, and not a soul here, from the French laundrywoman toMiss Norton forgot him. I was so glad of that.
They got up a masquerade, and had a gay time New Year'sEve. I didn't mean to go down, having no dress. But at thelast minute, Mrs. Kirke remembered some old brocades, and MissNorton lent me lace and feathers. So I dressed up as Mrs.Malaprop, and sailed in with a mask on. No one knew me, for Idisguised my voice, and no one dreamed of the silent, haughtyMiss March (for they think I am very stiff and cool, most ofthem, and so I am to whippersnappers) could dance and dress,and burst out into a `nice derangement of epitaphs, like anallegory on the banks of the Nile'. I enjoyed it very much,and when we unmasked it was fun to see them stare at me. Iheard one of the young men tell another that he knew I'd beenan actress, in fact, he thought he remembered seeing me atone of the minor theaters. Meg will relish that joke. Mr.Bhaer was Nick Bottom, and Tina was Titania, a perfect littlefairy in his arms. To see them dance was `quite a landscape',to use a Teddyism.
I had a very happy New Year, after all, and when I thoughtit over in my room, I felt as if I was getting on a little inspite of my many failures, for I'm cheerful all the time now,work with a will, and take more interest in other people thanI used to, which is satisfactory. Bless you all! Ever yourloving... Jo.