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   Chapter 14 A LETTER AND ITS ANSWER.

Vacation with the Tucker Twins By Nell Speed Characters: 10575

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Miss Sue Lee, Congressional Library, Washington, D. C., from Page Allison.

Dearest Cousin Sue: I can hardly believe that July is more than half over and I have not written you. I have thought about you a lot, my dear cousin, and often wished for you. We have had just about the best time girls ever did have and more things have happened! I have learned to swim; we have been upset in a cat boat called the Goop, right out in the middle of Chesapeake Bay; our chaperone, Miss Cox, has become engaged and expects to be married in a few weeks; and last and most exciting of all (at least most exciting to me), I have had a proposal; I, little, freckled-nosed, countrified Page Allison! It was the greatest shock of my life, as I wasn't expecting anything like that ever to happen to me, at least not for years and years.

You see, it was this way: We went to a hop last night, the very first hop of my life, and we naturally dressed up for it in our best white muslins, low necks, short sleeves, silk stockings, tucked-up hair and all, and we looked quite grown-up. All of us are sixteen, except Mary Flannagan, who is just fifteen. We went with a goodly number of escorts: Harvie Price and Shorty Hawkins, who are staying in the house with us; Mr. Tucker and Mr. Gordon, who is Miss Cox's lover; and four boys from a camp near us who have been very nice to us since we have been at Willoughby.

One of these boys, Stephen White (Wink for short), is studying medicine at the University. He is very good looking and has lots of sense. He and I have had a great many very pleasant times together, but it never entered my head that he thought of me as anything but a kid. In fact, I thought he was in love with a girl in Charlottesville; Mabel Binks, his cousin, told me he was. I also thought that Dee was his favourite among all of us girls. I know Dee likes him a lot. You see, Dee is so interested in sick kittens and babies and physiology that she just naturally takes to medical students. But last night Wink gave me what might be termed a rush. He broke in dances and claimed dances and did all kinds of things that were rather astonishing. He is not a very good dancer and as Mr. Tucker (I call him Zebedee now) is a splendid one I did not relish Wink's constantly taking me away from him nor did Zebedee seem overjoyed to lose me. I thought all the time Wink was doing it to tease Mabel Binks, who just naturally despises me and of course would not like to see her good looking cousin paying me too much attention. He asked me to sit out a dance with him and as he is a much better talker than dancer I was glad to do it, although I must confess I could not keep my feet still all the time he was talking to me. He took me to a nice corner of the porch looking out over the water and began. I hope you don't think it is wrong of me to tell you this, Cousin Sue. You see I would bite out my tongue before I would tell any of the other girls, but I feel as though I would simply have to tell some one or-well, bust! He started this way:

"What do you think of long engagements?" and I said:

"I don't think at all; but I heard one of Father's old maid cousins say once when someone was discussing long engagements, 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.'"

And then Wink went on telling me of his prospects and his ambitions. He seems to have little prospects and big ambitions, which after all is the best thing for a young man, I believe. He asked me if I thought it was too much to ask a girl to wait, say, five years. I thought of course he was talking about the Charlottesville girl, who turns out to be a myth, and I said that I did not suppose true love would set any limit on waiting. He said he was almost twenty and had one more year at the University and expected to have a year in a New York hospital, and then his ambition was to become a first class up-to-date country doctor.

He loves the country and says he has never yet seen a good country doctor who was not overworked. I agreed with him there and said that my father was certainly overworked. I also told him that I had in a measure suggested him to my father as a possible assistant. That pleased him so much that he impulsively seized my hand. I thought of course he was still thinking of the Charlottesville girl and wondered if she would be a pleasant addition to our neighbourhood, when Wink began to pour forth such an impassioned appeal that I could no longer think he was talking about the Charlottesville girl but was actually addressing me. I felt mighty bad and very foolish. When I told him he had known me but a little over two weeks he said that made no difference, that there was such a thing as "love at first sight."

"But," I said, "you did not love me at first sight."

"Yes I did, but I did not realize it until tonight when I saw you for the first time with your hair tucked up, and dressed in an evening dress."

"Well, when I let it down tomorrow and get back into a middy you will find out what a mistake you have made."

"Oh, Page, please don't tease me! It makes no difference now what you wear or how you do your hair, I am going to love you forever and forever. Don't you love me just a little?" And a spirit of mischief still prompting me, I answered:

"I can't

tell until I see you with a moustache." And then, Cousin Sue, I realized that I was not being my true self but was doing something that I had never expected to do in my whole life: flirting outrageously. So I up and told Wink that I did not care for him except as a friend (I came mighty near saying "brother," but it sounded too bromidic). I said I was nothing but a kid and had no business thinking about lovers for years to come. I said a lot of things that sound too silly to write and he said a lot of things, or rather he said the same thing over and over.

I never saw such a long dance. I thought the music would never stop. Wink wanted to hold my hand all the time he was talking, but I just shook hands with him and thought that was enough. It seemed to me to be too sudden to be very serious. Of course in books people do that way, Romeo and Juliet, for instance, but in real life my idea of falling in love is first to know someone very well, well enough to be able to talk to him without any restraint at all and then gradually to feel that that person is the one of all others for you. The idea of knowing a girl two weeks and then seeing her with her hair done up like a grown-up and deciding between dances that life could not be lived without her! Of course Wink thinks he is in dead earnest and it hurts just as bad for a while as though he were, but it won't last much longer than it did for him to make up his mind. He will be like a man who has had a nightmare: very trying while it lasts but not so bad but that he can eat a good breakfast the next morning and forget all about it, only wondering what made him have such a bad dream and what was it all about, anyhow!

Goodness, I was glad to see Zebedee when he came around the corner of the porch looking for me to dance a particular one-step that he and I had evolved together. I believe Zebedee (Mr. Tucker) knew what had been going on, because Wink was looking so sullen and I, I don't know how I was looking, but I was certainly feeling very foolish. He tucked my arm in his and looked at me rather sadly just as he had at Dum last winter when Mr. Reginald Kent, the young artist from New York, asked her for a lock of her hair. I know Zebedee hates for any of us to grow up, me as well as the twins. I wanted awfully to tell him it was all right but I did not know how to do it without giving Wink away, so I just said nothing. I did not see Wink again last night and the boys tell me he has gone over to Newport News today with Mabel Binks to call on their relatives.

I have written a terribly long letter and still have not told you that Cousin Park Garnett is stopping at the hotel here in Willoughby. She is the same Cousin Park, only a little more tightly upholstered, if possible. I wish I could like her better, but she always makes me feel all mouth and freckles.

Good-bye, Cousin Sue, and if I should not have told you all of this nonsense about Wink and me, please forgive me. Lots of girls would tell other girls if they got a proposal, but I would never do that; but you have been so like my mother to me that somehow I do not feel it is indelicate to tell you.

With best love,

Page.

From Miss Sue Lee, Washington, D. C., to Page Allison.

My Dearest Little Page: I was overjoyed to get your very interesting letter and I hasten to answer it and to tell you that you must always feel at perfect liberty to tell me anything and everything that comes up in your life. I am a little sorry for Wink, but you were right not to encourage him. Do not be too sure, however, that he will get over this malady as quickly as he took it. Shakespeare was a very wise and true artist and you may be sure that when he made Romeo fall in love with Juliet as he did without a moment's warning,-and already in love with someone else, as Romeo thought he was,-such a thing can come to pass. We find as much truth in fiction as in fact, everlasting truths. But then, I am a sentimental old maid and you must not take me too seriously.

I want to know your friends, the Tuckers, very much indeed. I hope to spend August at Bracken and perhaps I can meet them then. Washington is very hot and I am quite tired out and will be glad of the quiet and peace of Bracken as well as the sane, delightful talks with your dear father. I hope Cousin Park will not choose the same time to make her visit. If she makes you feel all mouth and freckles, she makes me feel all nose and wrinkles. She told me once that she was confident my nose was the cause of my spinsterhood. As my nose is a perfectly good Lee nose, and as spinsterhood is as much a mark of my family as my nose, I shouldn't mind her remark, but somehow I do.

I am sending you a pair of blue silk stockings and a tie to match, to wear with white duck skirts and lingerie waists. No doubt you will be so captivating in this colour that proposals will come pouring in. Please tell me about them if they do. Don't grow up yet, little Cousin Page! There is time enough for lovers and such like, and sixteen is o'er young for taking things very seriously. I am glad indeed that you sent poor Wink about his business and hope he will grow a moustache and a flowing beard before he addresses you again.

With much love,

Cousin Sue.

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