March 31st 1915
Dearest Auntie --
Saturday, Bessie and I held converse. She came to the front door and I sat in the phaeton in the middle of the road and we got on much more satisfactorily than we did over the phone.
From all sides I have been hearing how harsh she was to Mother the last two weeks Mother was here. Elvira (Miss Hartwigh) took to preparing Mother's meals over the little alcohol stove -- so Mother would not need to be subjected to Bessies lack of understanding. [page 2]
I could break my heart over it but I try to keep it firmly in my mind that whatever did or did not hurt Mother is over and is not hurting her now. And Mother did not write me a word of it. And since Friday, I have not let anyone tell me a single thing more. I just say that I don't want to talk about it <and they see I mean it & follow my lead when I change the conversation>
<I mean it but> as a matter of fact I do want to talk about it. Just as you <one> are <is> often drawn to the one thing you don't want to see. And it takes more down right will power for me to keep off this one subject [page 3] than I have had to exercise over anything for a long time. But I have stuck to my resolve. For it won't help Mother if I get to feeling bitter toward Bessie and it would be very bad for both Bessie and for me. And having promised myself that I would not discuss it, I would [lose] my own self respect if I did.
But when I saw Bessie Saturday, it was harder than I can tell you, to inform my voice with only kindness and business. And when I found Bessie and Monie (who has the small-pox) [page 4] had been going in and out of my part of the house "to water Mother's flowers <the plants> for me" truly, I almost lost my temper. But I didn't. I only said "Please don't do it any more Bessie <for goodness sake>. I'd rather let the flowers die."
She answered "Well, I thought you'd want to fumigate anyway so [it] wouldn't make any difference."
I saw she had meant to be gracious and since she had meant it that way and it was done, I took it that way.
She said she and [page 5] Louis (that's her husband) thought I might want them to stay, "and I knew there wasn't anything they wouldn't do for me." And that they'd had a good offer to rent their own home. Isn't that a delicious mixture.
I said "Well Bessie, I want you to do whatever you feel is best for you. It's quite alright with me either way. I am used to you so it will be pleasant to have you stay. But I won't have any trouble getting [someone] to stay nights with me if you feel it is better for [page 6] you to go." So she said she & Louis would talk it over and let me know.
You can't imagine what a lax state the town is in as to [quarantine]. The small-pox is an epidemic and I really don't know how many houses have a yellow sign on them. Monie gave it to her seat-mate and her seat-mate is a Christian Scientist or her parents are and said she didn't have it. I met her on the street broken out. Everybody in town was talking, talking, talking -- but doing nothing -- so I just got my dander up and [page 7] went to the mayor. He said the doctors had to report the cases. So I told him a few quiet plain truths with the result that the Richardsons are [quarantined] and I guess they are pretty mad.
But meanwhile the youngster <had> given it to her teacher, who came down with it on Monday and within the last twenty-four hours, five new cases have developed and five more houses are [quarantined]. But not the cats and dogs of the people who have it. I am afraid Mr. Sauer and I are going to have to [page 8] have another tête-à-tête.
I hate to handle the money these days and don't see any point in Mary's coming and exposing herself to this epidemic until it at least begins to wane.
Everybody talks small-pox, small-pox, small-pox, from morning until night, on the street, in the bank, "wherever two or three are gathered together." Who are the latest victims, how many [pustules] he or she has on his face (they apparently run from only four or three <five> to a hundred & fifty) -- who lets them [page 9] alone & who has to have his or her hands tied. I am sick of it!!! And partly amused and partly touched in the queerest fashion by the way the town <everyone>, on the whole, enjoys the sense of excitement pervading it Girard.
I take Monie a new colored, plated fashion book every couple of days and throw it, all rolled up into the yard and Bessie gets it and Monie has great fun cutting out the figures.
If Bessie & Martha don't take the small-pox from Monie <"It" as Bessie calls & everyone else calls it the small pox> [page 10] "It" as Bessie and every one else calls it. the [quarantine] will be lifted the [twelfth] <of April from our house> the day Mary says she will start. So you see everything is working out alright.
You can't know what your letters mean to me. I suppose you've gotten as many from people as I have -- but I guess there must have been an Associated Press item -- for nearly a half of the letters I get begin "I saw in the Pasadena paper" -- or "I saw in the Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Douglas, etc. paper" etc. [page 11] and they are so full of concern & <love & sense of personal loss>. I have written exactly 57 <72> personal answers <replies (mostly on correspondence cards)>, up today -- and have on a file here -- 36 written to Mother herself before her death <[illegible] to be answered>. And haven't answered one written to me by any of my <own> friends -- and every mail keeps bringing more. I guess this week will about round them up though. I hope so. Though of course they do comfort and help some. Because I believe that <verse of Whitman's> about the song coming back to the singer & love to the one who loves -- and knowing [page 12] how many people Mother loved and how much outgoing love there was in her life makes me realize how much of happiness and joy there was in it. And many of the letters <from Mothers life long friends for years> do just grip ones <my> very heart <soul>.
I love you --
I [thought] you might like to see this little note from Miss Wald & one from Mary Belle Harris, <[with?] 4 more since then still 2 more>