List Of Contents | Contents of A Summer in a Canyon, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
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new ones as soon as possible.

We have had a very busy and exciting week since Polly began this
letter, for there have been various interruptions and an unusual
number of visitors.

First, there was our mountain climb to the top of Pico Negro; Phil
says he has written you about that, but I hardly believe he mentioned
that he and the other boys worried us sadly by hanging on to the
tails of our horses as they climbed up the steepest places.  To be
sure they were so awfully tired that I couldn't help pitying them;
but Uncle Doc had tried to persuade them not to walk, so that it was
their own fault after all.  You cannot imagine what a dreadful
feeling it gives one to be climbing a slippery, rocky path, and know
that a great heavy boy is pulling your horse backwards by the tail.
Polly insisted that she heard her mule's tail break loose from its
moorings, and on measuring it when she got back to camp she found it
three inches longer than usual.

The mule acted like original sin all day, and Polly was so completely
worn-out that she went to bed at five o'clock; Jack was a good deal
the worse for wear too, so that they got on beautifully all day.  It
is queer that they irritate each other so, for I am sure that there
is no lack of real friendship between them; but Jack is a confirmed
tease, and he seems to keep all his mischief bottled up for especial
use with Polly.  I have tried to keep him out of trouble, as you
asked me; and although it gives me plenty to do, I am succeeding
tolerably well, except in his dealings with Polly.  I lecture him
continually, but 'every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot in

Polly was under a cloud the first of the week.  Villikins was sick,
and Dr. Winship sent her to Aunt Truth for a bottle of sweet oil.
Aunt Truth was not in sight, so Polly went to the box of stores and
emptied a whole quart bottle of salad oil into a pail, and Villikins
had to take it, WHEEL OR WHOA (Jack's joke!).  Auntie went to make
the salad dressing at dinner-time, and discovered her loss and
Polly's mistake.  It was the last bottle; and as we can't get any
more for a week, the situation was serious, and she was very much
tried.  Poor Polly had a good cry over her carelessness, and came to
the dinner-table in a very sensitive frame of mind.  Then what should
Jack do but tell Dicky to take Villikins a head of lettuce for his
supper, and ask Polly why she didn't change his name from Villikins
to Salad-in!  Polly burst into tears, and left the table, while Dr.
Paul gave Jack a scolding, which I really think he deserved, though
it was a good joke.  The next morning, the young gentleman put on a
pair of old white cotton gloves and his best hat, gathered her a
bouquet of wild flowers, and made her a handsome apology before the
whole party; so she forgave him, and they are friends--until the next

On the night before the play, Laura and Scott Burton arrived on
horseback, and the next morning the rest of the family appeared on
the scene.  We had sent over to see if Laura would play Audrey on so
short notice, and bring over some odds and ends for costumes.  We
actually had an audience of sixteen persons, and we had no idea of
playing before anybody but Aunt Truth and Dicky.

There were three of the Burtons, Pancho, Hop Yet, the people from the
dairy farm, and a university professor from Berkeley, with eight
students.  They were on a walking tour, and were just camping for the
night when Scott and Jack met them, and invited them over to the
performance.  Geoffrey and Phil were acquainted with three of them,
and Uncle Paul knew the professor.

Laura, Anne, and Scott went home the next morning, but came back in
two days for their week's visit.  The boys like Scott very much; he
falls right into the camp ways, and doesn't disturb the even current
of our life; and Anne, who is a sweet little girl of twelve, has
quite taken Dicky under her wing, much to our relief.

With Laura's advent, however, a change came over the spirit of our
dreams, and, to tell the truth, we are not over and above pleased
with it.  By the way, she spent last summer at the hotel, and you
must have seen her, did you not?  Anyway, Mrs. Burton and Aunt Truth
were old school friends, and Bell has known Laura for two years, but
they will never follow in their mothers' footsteps.  Laura is so
different from her mother that I should never think they were
relations; and she has managed to change all our arrangements in some
mysterious way which we can't understand.  I get on very well with
her; she positively showers favours upon me, and I more than half
suspect it is because she thinks I don't amount to much.  As for the
others, she rubs Polly the wrong way, and I believe she is a little
bit jealous of Bell.

You see, she is several months older than the rest of us, and has
spent two winters in San Francisco, where she went out a great deal
to parties and theatres, so that her ideas are entirely different
from ours.

She wants every single bit of attention--one boy to help her over the
brooks, one to cut walking-sticks for her, another to peel her
oranges, and another to read Spanish with her, and so on.  Now, you
know very well that she will never get all this so long as Bell
Winship is in camp, for the boys think that Bell drags up the sun
when she's ready for him in the morning, and pushes him down at night
when she happens to feel sleepy.

We, who have known Bell always, cannot realise that any one can help
loving her, but there is something in Laura which makes it impossible
for her to see the right side of people.  She told me this morning
that she thought Bell had grown so vain and airy and self-conscious
that it was painful to see her.  I could not help being hurt; for you
know what Bell is--brimful of nonsense and sparkle and bright
speeches, but just as open as the day and as warm as the sunshine.
If she could have been spoiled, we should have turned her head long
ago; but she hasn't a bit of silly vanity, and I never met any one
before who didn't see the pretty charm of her brightness and
goodness--did you?

And yet, somehow, Laura sticks needles into her every time she
speaks.  She feels them, too, but it only makes her quiet, for she is
too proud and sensitive to resent it.  I can see that she is
different in her ways, as if she felt she was being criticised.
Polly is quite the reverse.  If anybody hurts her feelings she makes
creation scream, and I admire her courage.

Aunt Truth doesn't know anything about all this, for Laura is a
different girl when she is with her or Dr. Paul; not that she is
deceitful, but that she is honestly anxious for their good opinion.
You remember Aunt Truth's hobby that we should never defend ourselves
by attacking any one else, and none of us would ever complain, if we
were hung, drawn, and quartered.

Laura was miffed at having to play Audrey, but we didn't know that
she could come until the last moment, and we were going to leave that
part out.

'I don't believe you appreciate my generosity in taking this
thankless part,' she said to Bell, when we were rehearsing.  'Nobody
would ever catch you playing second fiddle, my dear.  All leading
parts reserved for Miss Winship, by order of the authors, I suppose.'

'Indeed, Laura,' Bell said, 'if we had known you were coming we would
have offered you the best part, but I only took Rosalind because I
knew the lines, and the girls insisted.'

'You've trained the girls well--hasn't she, Geoffrey?' asked Laura,
with a queer kind of laugh.

But I will leave the unpleasant subject.  I should not have spoken of
it at all except that she has made me so uncomfortable to-day that it
is fresh in my mind.  Bell and Polly and I have talked the matter all
over, and are going to try and make her like us, whether she wants to
or not.  We have agreed to be just as polite and generous as we
possibly can, and see if she won't 'come round,' for she is perfectly
delighted with the camp, and wants to stay a month.

Polly says she is going to sing 'Home Sweet Home' to her every night,
and drop double doses of the homoeopathic cure for home-sickness into
her tea, with a view of creating the disease.

Good-bye, and a hundred kisses from your loving



My darling,--I have a thousand things to tell you, but I cannot
possibly say them in rhyme, merely because the committee insists upon
it.  I send you herewith all the poetry which has been written in
camp since last Monday, and it has been a very prosy week.

I have given them to papa, and he says that the best of my own, which
are all bad enough, is the following hammock-song.

I thought it out while I was swinging Margery, and here it is! -

Dreamily, slow,
Under the trees;
Drowsily sing
The birds and the bees;
Slumber is best,
Wakefulness sad;
Forget how to weep,
Dream and be glad!

Papa says it is all nonsense to say that slumber is best and
wakefulness sad; and that it is possible to tell the truth in poetry.
Perhaps it is, but why don't they do it oftener, then?  And how was
he to know that Polly and Jack had just gone through a terrible
battle of words in which I was peacemaker, and that Dicky had been as
naughty as--Nero--all day?  These two circumstances made me look at
the world through blue glasses, and that is always the time one longs
to write poetry.

I send you also Geoff's verses, written to mamma, and slipped into
the box when we were playing Machine Poetry:-

I know a woman fair and calm,
   Whose shining tender eyes
Make, when I meet their earnest gaze,
   Sweet thoughts within me rise.

And if all silver were her hair,
   Or faded were her face,
She would not look to me less fair,
   Nor lack a single grace.

And if I were a little child,
   With childhood's timid trust,
I think my heart would fly to her,
   And love--because it must!

And if I were an earnest man,
   With empty heart and life,
I think--(but I might change my mind) -
   She'd be my chosen wife!

Isn't that pretty?  Oh, Elsie!  I hope I shall grow old as
beautifully as mamma does, so that people can write poetry to me if
they feel like it!  Here is Jack's, for Polly's birthday; he says he
got the idea from a real poem which is just as silly as his:-

A pollywog from a wayside brook
   Is a goodly gift for thee;
But a milk-white steed, or a venison sheep,
   Will do very well for me.

For you a quivering asphodel
   (Two ducks and a good fat hen),
For me a withering hollyhock
   (For seven and three are ten!).

Rose-red locks and a pug for thee
   (The falling dew is chill),
A dove, a rope, and a rose for me
   (Oh, passionate, pale-blue pill!).

For you a greenery, yallery gown
   (Hath one tomb room for four?),
Dig me a narrow gravelet here
   (Oh, red is the stain of gore!!).

I told Jack I thought it extremely unhitched, but he says that's the
chief beauty of the imitation.

I give you also some verses intended for Polly's birthday, which we
shall celebrate, when the day arrives, by a grand dinner.

You remember how we tease her about her love for tea, which she
cannot conceal, but which she is ashamed of all the same.

Well!  I have printed the poem on a card, and on the other side
Margery has drawn the picture of a cross old maid, surrounded by
seven cats, all frying to get a drink out of her tea-cup.  Then Geoff
is going to get a live cat from the milk ranch near here, and box it
up for me to give to her when she receives her presents at the
dinner-table.  Won't it be fun?


She camps among the untrodden ways
   Forninst the 'Mountain Mill';
A maid whom there are few to praise
   And few to wish her ill.

She lives unknown, and few could know
   What Pauline is to me;
As dear a joy as are to her
   Her frequent cups of tea.

A birthday this dear creature had,
   Full many a year ago;
She says she is but just fifteen,
   Of course she ought to know.

But still this gift I bring to her,
   Appropriate to her age,
Regardless of her stifled scorn,
   Or well conceal-ed rage!

She smiles upon these tender lines,
   As you all plainly see,
But when she meets me all alone,
   How different it will be!

Now comes Geoff's, to be given with a pretty little inkstand:-

There was a young maiden whose thought
Was so airy it couldn't be caught;
   So what do you think?
   We gave her some ink,
And captured her light-winged thought.

Here is Jack's last on Polly:-

There's a pert little poppet called Polly,
Who frequently falls into folly!
   She's a terrible tongue
   For a 'creetur' so young,
But if she were dumb she'd be jolly!

I helped Polly with a reply, and we delivered it five minutes later:-

I'd rather be deaf, Master Jack,
For if only one sense I must lack,
   To be rid of your voice
   I should always rejoice,
Nor mourn if it never came back!

And now good-night and good-bye until I am allowed to write you my
own particular kind of letter.

The girls and boys are singing round the camp-fire, and I must go out
and join them in one song before we go to bed.

Yours with love, now and always,

P. S--Our 'Happy Hexagon' has become a sort of 'Obstreperous
Octagon.'  Laura and Scott Burton are staying with us.  Scott is a
good deal of a bookworm, and uses very long words; his favourite name
for me at present is Calliope; I thought it was a sort of steam-
whistle, but Margery thinks it was some one who was connected with
poetry.  We don't dare ask the boys; will you find out?


CAMP CHAPARRAL, July 13, 188-.

Dear Little Sis,--The enclosed sketches speak for themselves, or at
least I hope they do.  Keep them in your private portfolio, and when
I am famous you can produce them to show the public at what an early
age my genius began to sprout.

At first I thought I'd make them real 'William Henry' pictures, but
concluded to give you a variety.

Can't stop to write another line; and if you missed your regular
letter this week you must not growl, for the sketches took an awful
lot of time, and I'm just rushed to death here anyway.

Love to mother and father.
Your loving brother.  JACK

P.S.--Polly says you need not expect to recognise that deer by his
portrait, should you ever meet him, as no one could expect to get a
STRIKING likeness at a distance of a half-mile.  But, honestly, we
have been closer than that to several deer.


'From the East to western Ind,
No jewel is like Rosalind;
Her worth, being mounted on the wind,
Through all the world bears Rosalind;
All the pictures, fairest lined,
Are but black to Rosalind;
Let no face be kept in mind,
But the fair of Rosalind.'

The grand performance of 'As You Like It' must have a more extended
notice than it has yet received, inasmuch as its double was never
seen on any stage.

The reason of this somewhat ambitious selection lay in the fact that

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