Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-18 transcription
Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 18, Letters from HHJ (then Helen Maria Fiske) to her parents Nathan and Deborah Fiske, 1836, 1840-44
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, June 1996
 DEAR MAMA, AUNT VINAL HAS GIVEEN ME A PROFILE OF YOUR MAMA. WHEN WE WERE GOING TO WESTON WE SAW A PEACOCK AND WHEN PAPA CAME BY HIM HE MADE SUCH A NOISE THAT I THOUGHT PA WA RIDING ON HIM. H[May 1836] WESTON, FRIDAY MORNING.
WE HAD A VERY PLEASANT JOURNEY. I HAD A PRETTY HORSE GIVEN TO ME. WE RPASSED THROUGH SOME PLEASANT TOWNS.
With much ado Helen has made out so much of a letter; but can get on no further on account of her ardor for play with the children. She has been well, & in general has behaved well thus far. Our ride was agreeably warm & healthful to both. I am less fatigued than by riding in the stage. We dined at Ware, & lodged at Leicester. At the latter place, our good landlady was beyond measure fidgetted for want of "help"; but we made out decently well for food. We were put into the best chamber, & Helen was asleep in two minutes; but my pillow was within 15 feet of the sign, which kept up an incessant creak, cr-e-a-k, & I bore it till 10 O'clock & after, & then dressed me & told the landlord I must have a new chamber; & after getting the other side of the house was soon in comfortable rest. -- We reached Framingham just a 12 o'cl. yesterday, & I thought it would be duty to do a little cousining, & so drove on to Saxonville 3 ms towards home, & stopped for baiting at Cousin Charles's, in Framingham. His wife is the sister of Mrs. Gregory; Mrs. Mason's Mother. I found her papering her bed-room, while her husband was gone to Boston. I had a pleasant call, hating that she must make a deal of fuss to get us some dinner. She is a very pious woman, & more intelligent than I had before known. At four O'clock, we left & had a very pleasant ride to this old but venerated spot. Such capering & running & noises as then took place you can scarcely conceive; nor is it easy to say, who was most delighted, Helen, her cousins, or even your peevish husband at the sight of them in their joy. -- I feel better for my journey, & am determined to take things much at my care; for this reason I am glad, although on the way once or twice sorry, that my sermons are all in the drawer over your head in the study. -- Among the feats done last night by all the little folks was that of getting weighed; I was in the party & balanced the mighty weight of #110!!
Maria is well & cheerful. Father is infirm, but busy at work. Sewall reached home last night from N. Ipswich, bringing Aunt Betsey with him, & the news that George with a sister started on Wednesday for Maine.
I partly wish you were with us, & partly I am glad you are not; on the whole I think it was a fortunate change in our views which decided against the plan of your coming now.
I am at a loss what to do about Boston as I do not know where I ought to stay; you did not tell me; I should prefer to spend the sabbath there as I do not intend to preach. I think I shall go to Hancock Stt. I believe it will be viewed by your aunt in the best light for me to do so.
Should Mr. Hooker come in my absence give my love to him, & tell him to look out a good place for some of his kindred; in the east.
Tell me what I am to do as to Aroline, & give me in one form all the messages you wish me to leave at Boston or elsewhere. My love to Jane, & Mary. Papa
Send two kisses for Ann; & here he is as usual in a corner.N.W.F.
Perhaps when I write next time it will be in a neater style. If you need any help about cow or house ec. you will ask Mr. Cooley, & he will be kind.
Boston - 39 Hancock St. Charley brought me with Martha & her two girls to this city this morning. I could not find yr father, & came here, & yr Aunt says I must make it home - so I will. Helen is at W. & is to come with me here next week. She has a slight cold caught yesterday so cold was it. Your cucumbers are I presume next. Aunt & Martha say love & happy to see me, & desire much to see Helen. Yours.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal, Esqr, Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, May 2
[Friday, 1840] Amherst, April May. 1
My dear Mother, I thank you for those little books. This morning all the girls were going Maying as we call it before breakfast I should have gone too but pa did not think it was best because of my sore eye; it is very sore this morning Your lily of the valley is in bud Yesterday we went to ride to get some sand for Mrs. Smith and took Martha Snell with us when we got to the place we all got out and while papa got the sand I found two most splendid white flowers and some winter green berries Martha was delighted
Anne sends her love to you and wants to know why you dont come home This afternoon Miss Spofford let school out at three the because of the Preparatory lecture and she said any of the scholars that pleased might go with her Ann Jane Martha Allen and I went they expected a sermon from Mr. Tyler but were disappointed so they sang and prayed and talked all the time as I was coming home Mrs. Thurston asked me where Sarah would find you she said Sarah was going to Boston and would like to call on you and wanted to know if you would be willing to give her two or three slips from the sweet scented honeysuckle in your garden I told her I presumed so. The mosspink are all out the beds look beautifully. Mrs. Smith has begun to make soap and Sarah is pulling out the nails out of the parlour. Ma, now I do my sowing before I learn my lessons and I don't have time to learned my lessons well and if you are willing I had rather do my sowing after I learn my lessons. I cannot write any more partly on account of my eye and because there has nothing else happened to write about and one cannot write about nothing very easily.
Your aff. daughter
Hellen FiskeMy Dear Mrs. F.
Helen's eye (the right) is indeed much inflamed; I do not know the cause; Ann's eyes have also been sore. I am apprehensive that there is too much light in the school-room. Her (Helen's) reason for quitting the letter at the above point is chiefly I believe because she is in a hurry to play, & the same is the reason for the manner in which the above is executed. She wrote it in a very few minutes. As you will wish to hear tomorrow & Mrs. S. says she cannot stop to write, I have taken hold after work, & if you find the performance "pretty slim", you must nevertheless consider that it is instead of nothing. I have called on Mrs. Bent today; she appeared better than I expected to see her; & had much to say, especially about her two boys not yet provided for. She alluded to your asking her to specify what things it might be agreeable to her to receive from Falmouth (which seems to imply that something more was to be forwarded from there), & she wished me to say to you, that it would perhaps be specially pleasant if some little things were provided as presents for the children by name, as a summer dress for Paulina & any such little articles as might be convenient to send for the two boys or either of them. You will know all about the matter from this statement, it is the substance of what she said on the subject. She thanked you for speaking to her friends. I carried her some prunes - & Mrs. Smith has since carried her some bread.
Our term will close on Tuesday next; on Wednesday there will be a carpet-shaking, &c. My farm is partly put in order, but will require some days' attention.
Perhaps, if you are willing to keep the children under your care a day or two at Weston (& as many days as you shall please elsewhere) perhaps I can bring them down. I have not yet told them that I can do it. As to Helen's teeth, I have no faith at all in the promises of the Dentists; but I shall submit the matter to you, trusting that you will contrive to find ways & means to effect the best ends. Mrs. Smith sends love, & hopes you will excuse her from writing today as she is busy &. She is evidently in a great hurry; but appears to us to be perfectly faithful to her duty to you, as yet. -- If you get this in season to mention in your next (which we expect of course Monday night, unless it comes this week) just tell where you will be next week as Sarah Thurston evidently wishes to call on you. Give my kind & grateful regards to Uncle & Aunt Vinal (I suppose you are now at Charlestown) & tell Martha to get ready for a grand jolting in my old waggon.
Ann just comes & says Pa supper is ready & I set the table -- her message is "Tell her that I sent my love to her, & ask her when she is coming home;" (this is one of your pens made for Helen's use; it is quite common to say something about the pen) - & now good night; nothing can be added to this, since there is a Faculty meeting tonight which will occupy every minute of my time. Very affectionately yours
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of David Vinal Esq, Boston, Postmarked: Amherst, MS, May 9
[Wednesday] Amherst May 6th 1840
My dear Mother,
Ann and I thank you very much for those little book's. I have finished my writing book in the next one I have may I write with out double lines I can write a great deal better. I guess pa is going to carry Ann and I to Boston for Sarah Humphrey told me that the other day my pa was up there in the evening and Dr H asked him he said "I dont know they are desirous the little folks should go and Helen had got to have some operations performed and he guessed he should go"; but you cant tell how much I dread having my teeth out and I it seems to me I had rather endure the sore throats than have tonsils and teeth out too.
The little brown bird has laid three blue eggs and just at the top of each are figures of black I never saw such curious egg's in my life. Mrs Smith has cleaned the sitting room parlour bedroom nursery and part cleaned the study in two day's the great secretary pa keeps his book's in is moved into the study chamber and pa's going to keep it there all the time while I was helping pa carry books I found Peorlebs in search of a wife is it not pretty did you ever read it. Pa has had two evening invitations since you have been gone from Mrs Adams and Mrs Mack both are written Mrs and Mr Fiske nobody knows hardly you are gone he has gone to Mrs Mack's this evening he did not go too Mrs. Adams's.My Dear Wife,
I can hardly keep awake even to write to you, being so weary from working. I suppose Helen has told you all the tales ec. Since your letter, the children have been hourly teazing for the ride to Weston. I think I shall start on Tuesday next so as to reach home by Wednesday night, & I shall be very happy to find you there. Please to give my love to all the friends. You seem to misunderstand the reason why I am so anxious to have Helen under a constant watch when at Weston at Weston [sic]; it is not on account of the trouble she might make to Maria or others, that is nothing; but for a reason of vastly greater moment; a thing which it seems next to impossible for you to understand; anticipation & prevention by avoiding exposure are the only means of safety; instruction & prohibition are but incentives. -- I shall not start of course unless the weather is very fair; & you must not be concerned that I not arrive.
Very sincerely yours N.W.F.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah V. Fiske., To the care of Mr. David Vinal., Boston. Mass. Postmarked Amherst, MS, Jun 1
[Monday, June 1, 1840] Amherst May first [sic]
After we left you we did not stop till night at Hubardstown noon at Sterling and night in Hubardstown in the morning we got up at half past 4 o'clock and rode 2 o clock P M then we got to Amherst Mrs Smith is well and has got along (she says) very well but last night she got frightened My cat has got four kittens in a nest in the chip bin and there is a black and white cat comes in a window in the cellar Sarah stopped the window up with stocks and when the cat tried to get in she knocked the sticks down and Mrs S thought some one was trying to get in at the door and it frightened her Two of the kittens are jet black all over not a speck of white and the other two are speckled black and white they are beautiful a week old and they have not but just got their eyes open. Miss Deborah Harris is at Judge Dickinson's. and Miss Spofford finished her term the day before we got home Sarah Thurston is coming home to keep, next time. Sarah thanks you for her collar Ann sends her love to Ma and want to see her George Smith has been here since Wednesday but is going over to Northampton to night yrs in haste HelenMy Dear Mrs. Fiske
I did not get my letter ready to put into the office as you requested me for I had looked so long for Mr Fiske that I thought would not write until he arived before a letter was commenced. Mrs. Washburn sent me word Sabbath evening after she got home that Mr F and the children would start for home Monday and that you would be at home the last of the weake. I looked for him every moment after Tusday until I received your letter I am sory that you are not coming until the last of this weake for by your not writing me any sooner I have mad my calculations to be married next weake and Martha Reynolds has sent word that she cant come at all to live with you she is at her Sisters I went to see her Saturday afternoon but could not prevail upon her to say that she would come and stay until you could find some won els her excuse is that she dont feel able to do the work I dont expect that you would like her very much hurt. I cant hear of amy won els and she might do better for you than no won perhaps you can find some won where you are and hire them come home with you I wish if you come that you would come this weake with out fail the Sacks that you spake of I said nothing to you about for I mend so many other things, more I thought i must do without them but if it would not be so much for you I wish that you would get me eight or ten yards of Cotton cloth I saw so are most beautiful cloth that Miss Fisher bought in Boston for six cents a yard I thinkes she told me that she bought it at Prats in Hanover Street you ask me to writ you all abought Mrs Humphey sickness I dont know the problem unless only that it is the same difficulty that she has been troubled with before only much wors she was taken sike before they got home last Monday she had to have an operation performed which relived her and which saved her life as Dr Gridley said she could not live 24 hours unless it was done they do not consider her out of danger yeat Mrs Bent is very sike again and Catherin is wrs a little boy caled last night to have me send them a loaf of bread and said their other girl was sike I dont see what wil become of them wont you writ immediately and say when you will come Mr Colton will be ordained a weake from next Tuesday
Hellen and Ann seamed glad to get home and they seam very wel I was glad also to have them come back for is was rather lonesome hear alone
Yours affct F SmithMy Dear Mrs. F. We arrived safely yesterday about 2 O'clock. The ride on Friday was very dusty & uncomfortable. Mrs. Smith appears a little disappointed at your delay & you cannot properly fail to arriv come by next Saturday. Mrs. Washburn came thro' on Saturday & you may safely calculate to be brought from Palmer to Amherst on that day. But you must leave Boston in the train starting at 6 O'clock in the morning. - You can also come on Friday by the same route, for the Palmer & Amherst stage now runs every day. Mrs. Humphrey is getting better; I saw the President yesterday. As to Mrs Bent I only know what Mrs. Smith has mentioned.
I lift my India Rubber Shoes at Mr. Vinal's, & hope you will take them, with the trunk & traps. If you think of it in passing the print shop in Court Street, I should like to have you get the large sheet containing a printed account of Gen. Harrison's life, with engravings all around it; it cost 12 1/2 cents; I intended to take one, but forgot it while in the street. -- I saw some cotton cloth in Hanover Street marked 6 1/4 cents, perhaps the very thing alluded to by Mrs. Smith. -- Give my love to all the friends at B & C. -- In relation to a girl, you see by Mrs. S's statement, what is the prospect. Miss Reynolds will not come; & there is no other to be heard of here; Mrs. Hitchcock has caught a fresh Irish specimen; perhaps you can bring up another to match her. -- Very affectionately yrs.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske. Weston. Mass. To the care of Capt. S. Fiske. Postmarked Amherst, MS, Dec 15
[December 10, 1840] Amherst, Thursday afternoon.
My dear Father,
I wonder if I ever shall love to write letters. Mother put me down with my slate, full half an hour ago, and all I've done is to draw a row of hideous faces, and stare at the fire till it snapped at me for my bad manners. Mother keeps saying,"you try and I'll help you some," but for one word she puts in, she rubs out half a dozen, like the Catholic priest, who at a public contribution for getting souls out of purgatory, put in a penny with one hand, and took out a shilling with the other. What I have here looked like quite a letter, till Mother sifted out what she calls the unnecessary and's (you remember my anders) to's for's &c &c. So the result of my intelectual toil only takes me over this little space. For fear of getting sick while you are gone I shall take a nights rest before I proceed any further.
One of my first salutations this morning was, "Helen now for that letter," and so much of it is done, I take hold of it with pretty good courage, like the traveller who trudges on with a lighter heart for looking back at the distance he has gone over.
Mother has reminded me of some items of news, which I think ought to be headed like some articles in the Post, "all sorts of paragraphs."
Yesterday, Mrs. Lewis gave us what she calls "a raal Irish stew," with so much pepper in it that Mother and I were obliged to eat two large apples to cool our mouths after it. You've had a letter from Mr. Cross at Andover, about the two truths, that man is free yet acts under a necessity. He says you said they were no more inconsistent than the redness and sweetness of an apple, and wants you to explain or repeat what you said, I had patience to read it through, I could but just make out his words it was written so badly.
Judge Dickinson has killed three hogs this week, Mrs. D. sent Mother a plate of liver sweetbread &c.
Monday A.M. Mrs. Hitchcock's Irish girl has left her, out of all patience with Edward and Mary for setting the milk pail right from the barn-yard on her table cloth, and "spotting on her clean stove."
Mother says she feels happy enough to day to shake hands with anybody, because she has just got rid of a terrible toothache.
Mr. Wiley preached yesterday at the village church; Mrs. Lewis says she never saw a man that could rise the minds of the people so; and she was thinking all meeting time how very much the sermon matched Mary Hitchcock.
Yesterday was Mother's birthday, and she celebrated it by holding cold water in her mouth for the tooth ache, she called it a temperance celebration, so I should think.
I was weighed the other day and I weighed 74 pounds; I wonder what proportion of the weight was brains.
I'm really overcome with surprise and joy to find myself at the bottom of the third page.
The very day your letter came Ma had put a letter into the office for you directed to Waltham, and there it is now unless you've gone there for it.
I am very much obliged to you for the presents. Anne says she wishes she could see what kind of a book an Alabama is.
I've copied that piece about the destruction of the stars I feel quite proud of part of a letter from you. We all wish to hear from you very often. It takes so much room to specify all the uncles, aunts, and cousins, to whom I ought to send love, that I'll leave it with you to make the distribution as you please. And I presume the result will be that not a single soul will hear of my love.
Your affectionate daughter, Helen Maria Fiske.Mother has got the policy of insurance of our house and we keep it in the piano drawer where we can catch it quick in case of fire.
Helen has accomplished this letter with great patience and I hope you will get time to send her a good long answer. Yours aff. D.W.V. Fiske.
Addressed: Mr. Nathan W. Fiske by Mr. Dickinson
My dear father
I hope you will enjoy this note for it is half killing me to write it but the sight of some piles of sewing (which Mother has aways [sic] ready for idle hands) looking more formidable than this sheet settles the question in your favor; if favour you call to receive one of my poverty stricken notes. I don't know why but the minute Mother says anything about my writing a letter all my ideas as Mrs Lewis say's go right out of my pate. I suspect it is a trick of my mind to avoid the torture of thinking up thoughts to fill up a letter; and really it is a distressing piece of business I wonder Mother is alive she writes so many more than I do But I believe I've been making much ado about nothing for here I am safe on the third page without having written a single thought on or telling a bit of news; I suspect this is the that grown up people get along the so fast. I've only room to say that we miss you very much indeed I will copy that piece you spoke of, should you like to have me send it to you in a letter? Anne would send love but she is at school
Your aff daughter
HelenAddressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Boston. To the care of Mr. David Vinal. Postmarked: Hadley MASS Oct 1
[September 28, 1841] Hadley Tuesday morning.
My dear Mother,
We started for Hadley at four it was so lonely after you were gone I went up to College with pa when we got here they had done tea but Caroline got tea for us after tea pa went away I watched him till he was out of sight and then went in and sat down Mr Wether something called I dont know his name the teacher of the academy and then their uncle and then a Miss Smith and brother and then a Mr. Hitchcock and staid till nine and I was so sleepy but I could not get out and besides I did not know where to go. Miss Harriet showed me into large room and said "now I shall have a bedfellow." I felt bad enough to cry. she went out and Caroline came all undressed and I thought she was going to sleep there but she went out and Dorothy came and got into bed. I liked Harriet best at first and wanted to sleep with her In the morning when I woke I cast my eye on the window curtains and what do you think they were made of; just exactly like the bedquilt in the nursery I was tickled half to death, but such a bed the sheets scratched my feet and a feather bed. They have moved me into a little mite of a chamber to sleep with Harriet a little lecture stand that I'm writing on and a chair. I shall study an hour on my Latin every morning and sow an hour and a half and study arithmetic geography or grammar and sow as long as in the morning so a journal would be nothing but the same thing over and over. Lewis Fleming is sick of the Typhoid fever I can have written all this morning and would write more but Harriet has just come to tell it is time to sow. I went to get my work and found, a hound sugar kiss thank you it has made me so happy. Wednesday morning Surprise after Surprise last night I opened my board and found pepermints. I've had a splendid time. George Goodrich is here from Ware; he has a bow and arrow's We shot at each other taking good care not to hit till sundown yesterday. this morning it rained so but we went out a little while then came in it stopped a little we went out in the garden and got our hands full of snappers and sat down in the shed to snap them we had a real frolic we pelted each other with the hulls and then picked up the seeds and gave them to Caroline then George went out and picked up ever so many butternuts then we found half of an old tray Mr George Dickinson put it up high on the wood so it would not fall off and George and I got 2 chairs and put the nuts to dry then we went out to the barn to see them scrape the seeds off of the broom corn. We each took some stalks and got the seeds off and then made a little broom then I went in and learnt a good perfect Latin Lesson and now I'm writing to you and tomorrow morning I shall write some more. Lewis is no better. Thursday morning. I can tell you now exactly what I do and shall do all the time I suppose every day In the morning I play with George till nine then I study Latin till 10 then write to you till half past and then sow till 12. in the afternoon I play or read till 2 then sow the most of the afternoon. My bedtime is 8 George Lecsy and Edward go too. in the evening I read Shakespeare and last night we poped corn sometimes I play chequers with George so you see I'm leading a happy life in your letter tell me what you dissaprove. Miss Harriett is not half as strict as pa and I like Latin and arithmetic now dearly. I want you to write me where you put the thread to sow my gingham apron with and my tooth brush and the old pen knife and that tier for Ann's doll pa said he would bring her over Saturday if he had time. There is to be a cattle show next week at Northampton and at another place I dont remember the name I guess I shall be asked to go tell wether it will be proper in your letter yesterday Miss Harriett and went to Miss Kelloggs Edward drove just as we were coming back it rained we got an umbrella and got home safe. I expect I shall grow fat I live like a guen quen I have squash and pumpkin pies every day at dinner and supper meat twice a day always and the most splendid bread butter and cheese I ever eat. I have done a good deal on my collar. I've got something that will make you laugh hard enough at least it did me. There is a man here he lives in the poor house but he works at Mr Smiths the next house and here part of the time he is half fool and half crazy he is perfectly harmless. I was in the shed and he asked me something and I said "Sir" then Lecsy said "dont say sir to him he is a fool." and he said when he was President he'd put her [sic] in prison" He thinks he shall be the next President and sometime ago (Harriet told me) some way drew up a paper and he went round to get folk's to promise in writing to vote for him when he was candidate a good many signed it. And if you asked him his name President Trainer" he'll say with a very proud look he thinks he has died six deaths and he says he shall die again in about a year. Every time anyone goes to Post Office he wants to know if there is some thing for him he a asked told George the other day he wondered President Tyler did not send him letter or paper that he'd been expecting one this long time he used to go to New York every spring to see his sister she is dead One time he set off and for three or four nights he came back again to sleep never thinking but what he was getting on as fast as could be.
There is a kind of barn between Dea. Smith's and Mr Dickinson's Bill Trainer has a part of the loft to keep his things in George and I went up there one day to play battle dores we went and looked at it one corner was all shut up he had put boards all round it in it was three old tattered umbrella's (that could not be of any my dear use for if he held all three of them over him they would not keep off the rain) and a basket full of boards that he had whittled an old knive and ever so many other thing's I dont know what for we heard some one coming up and thought it was Bill but it was one of the men and so we ran away quick enough and went to playing again.
I see I have filled my letter half up with "Bill Trainer" but I began to write and thought of so many things about him I wanted to tell I could not help it. You know I told you about my room it looks much better now. I have a table with a drawer I keep my books on it and my slate, paper, work box, comb box, brush, blacking, money and such sort of things.
I've not felt really home sick but once and that was the first day in the afternoon it rained and I had a hard sum to do and I thought of Anne Pa and you till I cried and then I thought O how I wish I was where Anne is and I could see Pa at least anytime. but then Miss Harriett came and I did not like to tell her I was home sick you know and she asked me if the sum was hard and I told her yes give love to every body.
Write particularly how Uncle Vinal and Aunt and Martha are Love to Ann and tell a letter from her now would be worth its weight in gold. The Miss Dickinson's would send love but they are down stairs.Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass. Postmarked Hadley, MASS, Oct 9
 Hadley Wednesday October 6th
My dear Mother
You would not have been more pleased to get my letter than I was to see yours; thank you for that book. I have not begun a journal because I did not think you would care about it and I should get tired of writing the same thing all the time and I rather think you would get tired of reading it after a while and I want all the room to write something else in, so with your leave I'll not write a journal. The doll's apron and knife I found in the work box. Now I will answer your questions. Sunday I had the tooth ache and so learnt Rehoboam only; as to his address I don't like it at all I think he showed a purely malicious spirit, if I had been one of the people and was pretty near to him I don't think I should have said anything but I should have given him one of my mixed looks. I presume you know what that would be; if I had been in Rehoboam's place I should have said that I should endeavour to do what right that I did not consider my father's law's to severe. I fancy you will not find me when you come home such a "wild witch cat" as I was when you left I am sobered down somehow I'm sure I dont know but you'll decide for your self when you come home. I put my letter in the office Thursday what day did you get it? Pa and Anne came over here Saturday and brought your letter (I want you to send my letters "To Hadley, Care of Deacon Dickinson" and they will come safe; there is a regular office here though in a queer place it is in one corner of "Slacy's Store about half a mile from here and a very pleasant walk; Pa had to go to Northampton on business and left Annie here I gave her a little turnover that Aunt Caroline made for me and went down to the river she was never on the shore to say stay and run about before and was very much delighted then I went up to the store and got her some candy, and then pa came and he had to go right off before I had hardly seen him because he had got to go to Enfield that night. Mrs. Danforth is very sick and her daughter 8 years old. Poor woman. I do pity her Mr Danforth in is not troubled at all he rides around among the people as if nothing was the matter. I do not like him a bit you know he was never a favourite with me and is now less than ever. We attend meeting in the academy. The "poor Hadley academy" is lifting up its head a Mr Wetherell is the teacher now and I believe a very good one. Lewis Fleming is better and came down stairs today, but the doctor says he is very weak yet. I'm going to call the young ladies Aunt instead of Miss Miss sounds so stiff and cold and I love them too well for that.
That white lean pussey is not here nor has not been here since I have so there's an end to all hopes of a cat to play with but I don't care much. George is the son of Dr. Goodrich of Ware who married a sister of Aunt Harriett. He is just such a boy as you (particular as you are) would like; he is about 8 years old. Edward is a boy who does their work he is 12 and pleasant enough I don't like him very well though because he is rather boisterous and rude. Lecsy is neither a boarder a young gentleman or a little boy she is a little colored girl that does chores her name is "Alexina Sherwood Malrey" (we say for shortness Lecsy, quite romantic an is not it? she would do (or rather her name) for a heroine of a novel. Old Mr. Dickinson is no more like Grand pa than nothing at all. I should not think he was as old as he but I don't know. I have not made any acquaintance's I don't think I shall I'm quite as happy as if I had I miss the Saturday afternoon visits some but not much. You probably will not get this until Monday write as soon as you get it. Mrs. Danforth is no better nor the daughter I called on my way to the Office to see how she was and saw the crazy boy he looks dreadfully I was frightened half to death he was tearing his clothes and running round the room singing and realy [sic] yelling like I can't compare it to anything he tore a great slit in his pantaloons which let the whole of his knee be bare and the sleeves of his coat hung in tatters on his arm's I got away as quick as I could for I did not know but he might run at me. I should think his noise would kill Mrs Danforth but she lies in a kind of stupid way half awake and half asleep. perhaps you knew that that baby that used to have fits is dead. Old Mrs. Adams is dead and a Mr. Nash of the South Parish I have written one letter to Pa and one to Rebecca. I don't know as it was quite proper but I wanted to hear so from her I could not help it. Old Mr. Dickinson Uncle George Aunt Harriett Dora and Aunt Caroline are all beautiful singers they all sing at prayers every night. How is Uncle Gideon now? has he got any new fancy in his head? Has uncle Otis got over his hurt yet? I hope Aunt Caroline will write Harriett will write some in this letter. Miss Adams is here sowing now and she is engaged some what with her I hope she will write a little though.
Mother, she will say I am a good girl or not I can't say though I think I have been as good and a little better than I am at home. a good many things have happened rather provoking but (you know of course I should not say anything) for some reason I did not feel at all provoked or cross, for instance Edward and George were playing chequers and burnt entirely up one of my men you know I love to play backgammon dearly and that spoiles the board for that, but I did not feel cross, or provoked. I was sorry of course and another thing Charles and Dwight the working men keep asking me for my board you know their hand's would be dirty and they would not be so carefull as you or I. I lent it to them 2 or 3 nights, and then I must say I felt a little provoked but the next night Aunt Harriet spoke to me about it and I told her 'I did not like to very well, but I did not know how to help it with out offending them' and she said she would take it and I could tell them she had it and send them to her; and I gave it to her and they have not asked me for it since. You cannot have any idea how much I love Aunt Harriett I love her dearly; I love the other young ladies to but not so well perhaps it is because I sleep with her and she comb's my hair and tells me what to wear and all such things and seems just like a mother, you know. Annie said "If you should die Ma I should want Pa to marry Miss Emily Nelson" so I say I should want Pa to marry Aunt Harriett; but I'm writing impossibilities, and so I'll write no more such supositions but I think you would love Aunt Harriett dearly if you know her as well as you do the other young ladies. I have not got quite used to the house yet the front stairs have a wide turn where you walk just as you do any where I have tumbled up them two or three times; and then there is a bell hung up over the back stairs to ring the folks up stairs to dinner when I go down I always announce my approach by a tremendous ringing at the same time bumping my head most awfully and in going about in the dark I get most terrible thumps. My letter will be almost as full as yours at any rate there will be as much in it for this sheet is twice as long as yours, but I make good work writing across the sheet and ought to stop but I've got such a lot to say I don't know how to. I believe I don't do any housework except washing day's Last Monday I washed a little I don't think I helped much I don't know but they had to wash everything after me I hope they did not I did the best I could and that you know is not very well. If the Postmaster should open this letter it would take him till the Millenium to read it. Give love to every body and write so that I shall get a letter Tuesday
P.S. The Miss Dickinsons send love.
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
Helen has brought her full letter for me to superscribe and I am going to crowd in a few words; so that "Uncle Sam" will not get more than his due, I think. - We were very happy to hear from you, that you were enjoying your visit and I trust improving in health, to come back with your outward man greatly recruited by change of scene, and bracing sea breezes. Our Helen is endearing herself to us all very much and I hope she is improving in her lessons.
She is studious during the allotted time and also regular in sewing and perfectly ready to listen to advice and sundry cautions that we from time to time impose. Her health is very good and she seems quite contented & happy do not fear that she will be at all troublesome for she seems uncommonly considerate in that respect for one so young. We are busy with a dress maker to-day or I should trouble you with a little longer chat, but as it is I must close. - I hope we may hear again very soon. Sisters send much love also yr aff. friend. H.N. Dickinson.
Addressed: Rev. N W Fiske, Amherst, Mass and Postmarked Hadley, MASS, Oct 8
 Hadley Thursday October 7
My dear father
I am in such a hurry you must not expect a very good letter I'm so afraid you wont come this week that I don't know what to do. I had a letter and pamthlet a small book from Ma yesterday dated Monday she is well Aunt Rachel is at Aunt Vinals now. Wo'nt you and Annie come Friday so as to take tea come to see Ma's letter if for nothing else Give my love to Annie. I would write more but I've got to go half amile to the Post Office way in the other street and must hurry
Yrs aff Helen. M. FiskeP S perhaps Mr. Snell does not know that Mrs Thomas Snell is at Colonal Porters and stays only this week.[October 15, 1841] Hadley, Friday, My birthday.
My dear Mother,
I have just received your letter I'd been expecting one since Wednesday, and had just been to the Office and was "Wondering with all my might" why I did not have one. When Mary Seymour came in with this they had taken it last night very late, it was as good as a birthday present.
I am very glad Aunt Harriett wrote you that I was good. I did not see what she wrote for she folded and directed it for me; did you know who it was from? The writing I thought would puzzle you.
I hope you will write to Aunt Harriett she would be very much gratified, she is very kind and pleasant to me I should not be so happy if she was not since she helps me a great deal In my lessons I am almost to the history of Joseph in Latin and about through Reduction in Arithmetic. I began each a good ways so as to understand better for it was so long since I had studied Arithmetic I have forgotten a good deal but I get along pretty well. I was quite dissapointed in this letter when I got it turned it over and thought this is a full letter but Alas! and Alas! there were a pitiful supply of news from you but quite a letter from Cousin Ann. Her conundrums are quite amusing. I have not had time to guess them for I am determined to get this letter in the Office to night, so you can have it Monday and am in a hurry, so that must excuse the writing.
Wednesday Pa and Annie were over and we were going to Mr [Sarano] Smith's to tea they went with us but did not stay long. Quite a laughable (laughable only between us) incident occurred you know Mrs. Hester Smith expects to be sick every day Well Aunt Dora did not know it and so said to Maria "I believe I will go and see Mrs. Smith if you don't think she would be busy" (all right before Lewis Fleming), [words missing] hawed and dodged and at last she got out this "It is rather busy time now" Aunt Dora did not take the hint at all and I kept my countenance and that was all at last Maria asked Aunt Dora to walk in the garden and then she told her that "Mrs Smith had sent for her mother and expected to be sick all the time. I pitied Maria very much but she looked so frightened I could but just keep from laughing.
Pa said I had grown fat and Anne has I am sure. I have a great deal more colour than I did and I feel better (If that is possible) than when I first came.
Yesterday I went to a Convention at Northampton. Different gentlemen gave short addresses in behalf of the benevolent Society. Mr Crosby gave a very eloquent one for the Board of foreign Missions when he got through they had a contribution. Mrs Danforth died last night I called there this morning a little girl came to the door Mr Danforth stood there drinking milk with all his might out of a great tin pan I said to the little girl "how is Mrs Danforth?" Mr Danforth spoke up as loud "She's dead" with the utmost indifference "When did she die?" "last night". "How is Adelaide?" "No better and I do'nt think she will live long" in the same tone I don't think he has much feeling do you?
I want in your next letter you should say if you really think I shall go to Boston? and how I shall go? and how long I shall stay? it seems to good to finally be believed, but I am "awful glad" if I am really going and give many thanks to Aunt Vinal for the invitation for with out that I am sure I should not have gone. I suppose I ought to give Cousin Ann the rest of this sheet, and finish your letter another time but I have not got through yet. My drawers (thanks to your good mending) have not given way yet and I am warm enough the hardest thing I have to [words missing] decently clean then is anything [words missing] you know the floor could not be very clean and I should dirty my dress I rather suspect you were speaking ironically when you praised the neatness of my letter for I could not be content with filling it but must need cross it and I believe only it looked os awfully I should have crossed the whole letter
I am very glad Uncle Vinal is almost well How is uncle Gideon? Cousin Mary and Deborah? Well I hope Cousin Ann Scholfieds [sic] neuralgia better How is Cousin Martha? Give love to all I can't stop to write their names but take special care not to forget Uncle Aunt Cousin Martha as for Cousin Ann hers will be in her letter. Give love to Cousin Deborah Vinal (I put the Vinal for I do'nt know how many more cousin Deborah's I've got) and tell her she must write to me, for I should admire a letter from her. Tell Aunt Vinal "it is almost to much to ask but a letter from her I should value very such and of it were not too late in the season I should embalm it in rose leaves even a short note I would thank her very much for. Give my love to uncle and tell him I hope he will be able to ride out soon. What a lot of messages you have to deliver. I hope you will not talk yourself hoarse in doing it there is a whole flock of turkeys out here making the most horrid noise that I dont hardly know what I write. I've got a headache now and must rest before I write to Ann. Write in your next about your self and how you are it will interest me more than anything else and say when you go New Buryport so that and when you are coming home for I want to know
Addressed: Mr. Nathan Fiske. Amherst. Coll., Mass., Postmarked: Hadley, Mass., Oct 26
[October 24, 1841] Hadley Sunday afternoon.
My dear father,
I have just witnessed such a scene as I never before saw and I hope I never shall see again. This fore noon Mr. Smith had just commenced his sermon had just finished this sentence "and the christian for his Redeemer" When alle he began to make the most awful unearthly noise I ever heard; and then he screamed as if in great pain and then fell back several gentlemen rushed to unloose his stock and one brought camphor water and they carried him to the window and then laid him down on the platform he laid strait for a moment as if he was dead and then he twitched and his limbs drew up and his face was contorted distorted and he looked the picture of death. one lady fainted almost away and had to be carried out and 2 or 3 fainted so as to be led out. some men carried Mr Smith and lifted him into a chaise and drove to Captain Smith, he was perfectly helpless two had to carry him and one go behind to keep him from falling back when he got there he was partly crazy they asked him to set down he said "have you got throught through?" and he could not remember what his sermon was about Mr Wetherel the teacher in the academy preached in the afternoon Mr Smith has had one apoplectic fit before this Aunt Dora says they never have but three and always die in the third I hope Mr Smith will not have another to cut him off while he is so young. I was frightened dreadfully We sit in the first pew but one and he lay right before our eyes every now and then giving convulsive twitches Aunt Caroline turned as pale as death Aunt Dora sat with her eyes fixed on him till I was frightened I thought she would faint. Aunt Harriet was not able to go to meeting in the afternoon I had a letter from Ma yesterday she is going to Newburyport tomorrow the storms prevented her going last week she is well, and I dont believe will come home till next spring for the storms she says are keeping her from making hardly any visits.
She wants me to write to grandpapa; and what shall I do? You know I never wrote to anybody but you and her without some one to see to me and I have not a pen fit to use and you know his eyes are not very good and he could not read my writing unless I wrote very well and with the best of pens And to crown the whole I do not really know what to say, and you know of course I could not write to him as I do to you or Ma. I never like to write to anbody [sic] that I am not free to talk with and I never feel free to talk with grandpapa for some reason or other I do not feel as if I could write to him but if you think I ought to I will try I wish very much to have you answer this letter as soon as you get it and answer all the questions I have asked I dont know how many for I have written "without order and without discretion" just what came first exactly as I would talk if you were here. I have written till now without stopping to think what to say but now I must stop for I can hardly find any thing that I think will do Ma said in her letter that "I had plenty to say and said it with so much care that it was plain I was not shut up for four hours to do it" but if she was to look into our little room and see me scowling like a great critic who is about to hear a poem read for the benefit of his criticisms. Now ar't that a queer idea but I always think that a critic must wear a scowl. I don't know but this letter will turn out a composition for since I have no news I must write ideas but I have not got many you know but one thing you must know and that is I like English grammar very well indeed as far as I have been and really love Latin grammar Arithmetic I dont like so well but I think I shall like it better after a while.
You know you said you would carry me over to Amherst if it would be as convenient to you I would like to go over some morning and stay till the next night but you can do as you think best; but there are I don't dare tell you how many girls that I want to see. and one short day would hardly do to see them all.
If you see Rebecca ask her why she has not answered my letter I wrote long ago. perhaps she has not got it yet. I want to see her very much and Mary and Jane Give my love to them if you se them before I come to bring it my self which I hope to do soon.
Did you ever see any one in hysterics? I did not know but I should have them today Aunt Caroline was making a noise like Mr Smith and I almost cried and laughed to for it sounded very much like him and it affected me instantly and Aunt Harriet to. It is a most awful thing I shall never forget it. Now I have written you a good full letter but I shall not expect a full one from you I want to know how Anne is how Mrs Moore is and wether you think I ought to write to grandpapa and how all my friends are and that will take as much of your time as I could reasonably expect. I must write a letter to Anne or she will be disappointed.
Yr affectionate daughter
My dear Anne,
When I saw father drive up alone you cannot think how frightened I was I though you was sick perhaps had the hooping cough but I was delighted to find it was a cold and if you are sick you will have the best of care and Miss Emily is as kind as a Mother to you. This is a "wee wee" letter ar't it. Yr affectionate sister. Helen.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass, Postmarked Hadley, Mass, Oct 26
[October 24, 1841] Hadley. Sunday evening
"Time for young folks to be in bed"
My dear Mother
You will wonder why I am not in bed but the truth is I am afraid to go and you will not wonder when I tell you what I have seen today.
This forenoon Mr Smith had just got this sentence out "The Christian to his Redeemer." When he put his hand to his mouth and began to make the most unearthly noise I ever heard and then screamed and fell back several gentlemen ran to catch him and get camphor and water and then carried him to Captain Smith's where he is now it was an epileptic fit I never saw a person in a fit before and I hope I never shall again. For such a sound; so unearthly it rings in my ear and wherever I look Mr Smith's ghostly face seems to dance before my eyes. Now do you wonder that I am afraid to go to bed. one lady fainted and was carried out another burst into tears and I did nothing I was almost stupified [sic] but in the evening Aunt Harriet and I had a little touch of hysterics.
I have just finished a letter to Pa next week he is going to carry me over to Amherst if Mrs Moore is well (I forgot to tell you she is sick) to stay a day or two; I anticipate a good deal of pleasure in seeing my old friends again after so long an absence. Monday morning.
I laughed very much when I got your letter I was in a famous hurry when I sent my letter and forgot all about the slip of paper till I had got to the Post Office and then it was too late and it will do as well now and here it is I dont know as it is the right answer "Because the best part of him is under ground" I thought for half an hour and gave it up but afterwards I basa was afraid Cousin Ann would guess it first and so I puzzled away till I thought of this I think it is a very good riddle.
Mr Smith is quite comfortable today; he is has sat up a little. In one of your letters you wanted to know how many pieces I had washed a week. I have 1 dress, 1 apron, 1 pair of stockings, 1 pair of pantalets, 1 nightcap, every week and every other week a night gown 1 pair of white pantalets and one pair of white stockings, sometimes an extra apron or such things.
I wish you would begin to think of coming home not that I am home sick no I should be wicked and ungratfull if I were. but you know "there is no place like Home" and I begin to long to see you and the piano now that the novelty of being "Miss Helen or Miss Fiske" as I am generally called has worn off. Sometimes I go out to call with Aunt Harriet and I hear nothing but "how do you do Miss Fiske, When do you leave town Miss Fiske, I should be very happy to have you call on me Miss Fiske." I am utterly sick of it and you cannot think how I want some body that I can talk to as I do to you, but I cannot realize it till you come.
If you purchase Stephens in South America will you not get his travels in Italy; and then we shall the whole course of his travels and it will be so pleasant to read them all together.
I have got to sow now but this afternoon I will come and talk with you.
What is the reason cousin Ann did not write some I expected she would, and was disappointed.
I can read your crossed writing very well but I wish you would take the long sheets and cross them you do not write as much in a letter as I do your sheets are so small, they are about half as large as mine.
I dont know why Aunt Vinal should laugh at my embalming her letter in roses I did not mean as the Egty Egyptians did for if I took out the inside I should lose the best part. I meant to get a lot of leaves and put in a box and lay the letter on them and then take some more and cover it up.
You tell Cousin Ann that I have sent the answer but do'nt tell what it is unless she asks you I want her to guess it.
I can't hardly believe Cousin Ann Scholfield is fleshy I should not know her, I do'nt think.
I should love to see Uncle Isaas [sic] dearly some of his anecdotes would do me good in this dreary land.
I wonder how many forty fifth cousins I have got I suppose I have forty eleven hundredth cousins and as many uncles and aunts.
I remember hearing you say you had no faith in these cough medicines; and here you are the first thing taking tonics and nobody know's what I hope this stuff he has given you won't make you any worse and I know it won't make you any better.
I did not think of going to Boston this winter I don't know but I should be home sick even there after being away from home so long You know I am going to take music lessons and study Latin Arithmetic and Grammar with pa (I study grammar now) and read and sow with you. I anticipate delightful times.
What an awful accident that was! Was Mr Keith brought directly to Aunt Vinals?
I am not glad Sarah has gone home for I very much doubt whether we ever see her again. Pa gave her leave to stay two weeks he was over here last week the day after the day she ought to have come he said he doubted whether we saw her again for he had not seen anything of her and I guess you will find she has carried most of her clothes for you know she always would do what she wanted to if she could and pa said he did not see what she carried. So I am perfectly prepared not to see her in our house again.
I have made one acquaintance whom I like very well indeed she lives in the next house she is fourteen very pleasant something like Sarah Humphrey. There is aa opening left in the fence. I run over there and she runs over here but not so often as I go over there. I am growing quite fat and always have quite a tinge of red on my cheeks and some on my chin that is a queer place is'nt is.
I must hurry for it is rather late and I have to go half a mile to put this in the office and I must carry pa his letter, too
You probably will not get this till Wednesday night the mail only comes from Boston here Monday Wednesday and Friday so if you can put your letter in Saturday I shall get it Tuesday. Love to all.
Yr aff daughter
Addressed: Rev. Nathan. Fiske. Amherst. Mass. Postmarked: Hadley, Mass. Nov 10
 Hadley November 7th
two hours after sunset
My dear father,
I date my letter "after sunset" so that you will not think I write letters on Sunday now Ma is gone.
I had a letter from her yesterday. she says she will begin to get ready to come home week after next. and that will be staying almost 8 weeks she has found herself among so many cousins, aunts, and relatives that she has not had time to visit Aunt Maria yet, but will go Monday and stay till Thursday night she said she was sorry she could not stay longer.
I have been sick the last week. I felt all sorts of ways Monday but did not tell any one; Tuesday, I had the headache and fever Wednesday morning Aunt Harriett sent for Dr. Stacy he gave me pills and I had to take four before they would operate atall then I went to sleep and am quite well now I was afraid you would come. I did not want you to come a bit for I should want to go back with you. When are you coming?
I thought we should be comfortably settled at home but instead of that we shall be scattered at the four ends of the earth. We shall hardly get home to Thanksgiving.
I dont know what has become of Rebecca's letter I have not heard of it.
Would you believe it? They have got the old meeting-house up in the air and in a few weeks they expect to get it into the other street. I think it would be a queer occurrence if next Sunday it should happen to stop right before the Academy.
I have not got over my predujix prejudice against writing letters yet but I like to write to you and Mother right well. I believe there was no positive duty of my writing to night but Aunt Harriett was writing and I thought it would be pleasant to talk with you and so I sat down but Mr Warner came in and in spite of my resolution to make no blunders I made one which you see right in the middle of this page and the second time I believe. I left out a letter but I thought it would be too bad to have two crossed places in the middle of so fair a sheet, but 'what silly stuff am I writing? I sat down without a particle of matter and wrote "sans a care, sans discretion" what came first Now do'nt you wonder where I picked up so much French but I did not read it I assure you I heard Aunt Harriett say the French and asked the meaning and it poped into my head the minute I wanted some motto or proverb and what could be more "apropos" than that Now must I explain how I came by "apropos" I got it "bona fide" certainly for I have heard it used and had "gumtion" enough to find out the meaning "bona fide" I will parse bona is an adjective in the fem. gender declative case and agrees with fide according to rule 350 which is altogether too long to be written here unless I were trying to fill up all the place and get through as I used to write do you remember that letter I wrote to you while you was at Weston? I believe it was full of lamentations till towards the end when I broke out in songs of joy "that I had got the letter done" but now more sorry than glad.
I rather suspect you will not find my English grammar to have had much influence in my expressions in writing, but I sometimes catch my self in writing long words and little things in talking which perhaps may be ascribed to English Grammar. that hated study in anticipation is now a favourite almost better than Latin and not to be compared to Arithmetic I am in Compound Addition now and find it rather dull if Mother protracts her visit at Boston so long I shall be through the History of Joseph and in the fables when she gets home. I have forgotten to tell you something that has created quite a laugh Saturday morning I went down to Mr Twings store to see his oranges and I wanted to see him he is a queer old man a quirk I was obliged to introduce myself as soon as he found that I was the girl that rode past his store the other morning he said Is it possible? and I suppose he wished to give an impression so he said I was very much frightened I thought you would be precipitated to the earth I laughed and told him I was not afraid he said I ought to have a medal for courage and he never saw such courage (do not be afraid I shall be spoiled by flattery) and then took me behind the counter and showed me quinces figs oranges and popped corn raisins and all sort of stuff and asked me if it was not good now I suspect that part of his goodness was because of the silver which he saw through my half closed hand but anyway I did not give him any for I did not see any thing that I wanted. he weighed me I was no I am wrong Lewis just then came in and he weighed me I weigh 76 pounds I was dissapointed I hoped to have weighed at least 80 and found it very hard to come down so low I guess you would not thank me for giving you such a full letter as this to answer when you are so busy unless I gave with it a gracious permission not to answer it as copiously as it is written for this is the first letter I have ventured to try my skill in crossing upon and I succeed better than I expected I thought it would be all crooked but I have kept pretty straight I want to have you write me if you are not coming over this week for I am expecting you or a letter all the time till I get one. Your last letter came most opportunely it was Friday night I got it I had been to the society with Aunt Dorothy and had come home early for I felt real low because you did not come I came home and sat in the rocking chair by the fire and almost cried the folks were at supper in the kitchen and I went out and there sat sat Aunt Harriett with a lap full of papers and from the office and among them a letter for me I snatched it up and half screamed with joy please to come over this week and let me go back with you I want to see Amherst dreadfully I would like to have you answer this letter and tell me the faults in it. Give my love to Ann, bring her when you come Give my love to Rebecca and have her send my letter
Give love to Jane Sarah and all the girls that you see.
P.S. you know what a careless here is an instance of it I wrote on here which should be the outside I am sorry but "what cant be cured must be endured."
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske. Care of Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Postmarked: Hadley, Mass, Nov 10
[November 9, 1841] Hadley, Tuesday morning.
In my study.
My dear Mother,
I received your letter Saturday afternoon. It was wholly unexpected I thought you would be home this week and thought mine would be the last letter. I have headed this "my study" I call it so it is the chamber over the kitchen and is warmed by the pipe passing through I have my studying books on the table with my work; and I sow, study, and write here.
You ask "how much work I have done?" I have finished my collar and cape and made an apron and sundry articles for Anne. I have not done as much as I might if I had given less time to my studies but I am very much interested in all of them and am trying to see how far I can proceed. for when I come home I am afraid I shall have to give up one of them if I attend to music. I have to study from nine to half past ten in the morning and from two till half past three in the afternoon. I must study three hours sow or work four and practice four but I do'nt know when I could practice in the forenoon and then people call so much in the afternoon that I should be constantly interrupted, and not learn much.
My pens gave out long ago and I depend on Aunt Harriett to mend them for me. George Fleming made this and it is a beauty. Lewis is the one that was sick I like him best. You would not like him a bit at first. his voice is gruff and he has a dark complexion and does'nt say much to those he is'nt accquainted with and has a blunt way of saying things I could not bear him at first. I forgot to tell you he is very haughty but I like him the better for it I dont mean proud exactly and he is as noble I do'nt think he would do a mean action for all the world he is rather witty but almost too blunt. One night there was two apples he had one and George one George began to offer each of us a piece while he was doing this Lewis began to eat his apple and said "Well then shan't any body have a bit of mine if they do want it" We all burst out laughing but he sat as composed as ever he is very independent and "real funny" you know how easy I laugh and if there is any thing to laugh I cant help laughing Lewis knows it and try's to make me laugh at table but he can't do it he almost did once He has a very expressive eye when he wishes to have it so it will talk volumes. One morning at breakfast we have buckwheats Mr. George passed them to The Deacon at first he said he would'nt take any but just as they got by him he spoke out "I dont care if I take one to mop up this lassses (he had a lot of "lasses" on his plate) then when I could but just keep from laughing Lewis gave such a look I thought I should have laughed certainly but I did'nt, and one time when we had hasty pudding he said "I'll take a little piece of pudding to clean my plate" it happened Lewis was'nt or I should have laughed. The Deacon is very kind to me but I can't help noticing some things for instance he always prays the same prayer if anyone is sick he never we speaks of it and he always makes the same blessing, and is very cross some times if the water in isnt hot for the pigs he dont speak very pleasantly but he is always pleasant to me and I am very gratefull to him for his kindness but I do'nt love to hear him scold.
I do pity Aunt Caroline because she cant hear the conversation and sometimes though very seldom if she asks Aunt Dora what? she says "nothing much" and don't speak quite kindly to her but for my part if I tell any thing I either tell it so that she can hear or tell it over again to her for I can imagine how I should feel if I were deaf and could not hear what people around me were saying and I feel more for her than I should for anybody else for she is so kind to me the other night after I was in bed she came up to see if I was warm and my feet were rather cold but I had them in my petticoat and she put her hand right into bed and felt of them and declared they were as cold as stones and in spite of all I would do or say she carried the skirt down and warmed it and then put it round my feet and fixed it as nice as could be and she would'nt let me thank her. I have had a little sick turn they got Dr. Stacy and he gave me some physic and kept me in bed all last Tuesday and Wednesday but Thursday I got my lessons as usual. Aunt Caroline did every thing and so did Aunt Harriett if I said a word about trouble or began to thank her I was sure to be hushed in a minute.
Aunt Harriett is president of the Seamans friend's Society it met here the Wednesday that I was sick I am reader and was to read Live and let Live at their meeting but I was not able to go down. Aunt Harriett said a Miss Stacy read and she read bad she read "just so" all the way she could not pronounce common words this is the way she read economical e-ec-ccocconomical and so,on.
I have got me a bottle of the Sponge blacking it is put on with a bit of sponge attached by a wire to the cork; if you would buy 2 or 3 bottles in Boston, you make a bargain; one bottle lasts a year. love to all, Helen.
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Hadley, Mass, Nov 15
Hadley, Nov. 14. 1841.
My dear father,
I received your letter Thursday. I did not know Ma was coming home this week. I had a letter from her a week ago yesterday she said she should begin to get ready to come home week after next which would be this week. I long to see all of you. It is four weeks since I have seen Annie and three since I have seen you it seems like an age.
I have not seen Rebecca's letter yet and should like to have you ask her if she sent it?
I shall be through my latin book this week Saturday I am almost through the fables now; to the 71 f 70 first page in grammar and to Division and Multiplication in Compound numbers in Arithmetic by next Spring I hope to be in Interest unless I am obliged to give up at one of my studies this winter to music I feel more like giving up Arithmetic than any other I cannot give up grammar or Latin possibly I love them both you know. I never liked Arithmetic very well it requires to much appreciation I can learn my Latin or grammar in a hurry by trying but I have to think so long on a sum yesterday I had a real hard one it was this "When it is 12 O'clock at the eastern end of the island of Cuba what o'clock will is be at the western end; the difference in longitude being 11 degrees? the answer is 16 minutes past 11, it took me forever to do it but I guess if you had seen me seated shate slate in hand you would have creto retracted your chosen opinion "that I cannot think." I have written this letter only to get an answer I would like to have you answer this if it is only a line tell me when you heard from Ma and what you heard? and tell me the meaning of this sentence in your letter "keep a quiet mind"?. Mrs. Dr. Porter is dead I wish you would come over and carry me home after the funeral it is Tuesday at two o'clock. give my love to Annie, and to all the girls if you see them tell me in your next if you have taken up my plant? I have written more on this than you did on your's. I do'nt know as you can read this for I've got a most dreadfull pen and the young ladies are all too busy to mend it. I suppose they would if I should aske them but I do'nt want to.
Your affectionate daughter,
Maria Helen F.P.S. you directed my letter "Miss Maria Helen Fiske if you intend that for my name I will gladly take it for I like it better.
Addressed: To Prof. N.W. Fiske, Boston, Prof. Hitchcock
My dear papa,
It seems so lonely now you are gone, to sit down to the table without you, that I should almost think three or four were gone instead of one; and I hardly think of Latin from morning till night. Mr. Underhill I expect, has gone away, as I have not seen him since Exhibition day, but yet somehow I don't find much time for anything. I have got my garden partly made, the moss pinks iris's and polyanthuses are in blossom; Mr. Thurston's peas are full an inch high. I'm going to plant some flower seeds soon, and I should like to have you say, in your next how deep they should be planted.
How did Hetty hold out, on the journey?
I expect the robin is laying her eggs now, she sits in the next all the time.
There is such a dull routine of eating, drinking, and sleeping, all the time, that I can find nothing to tell you, Elizabeth gets along pretty well. I did not envy you your ride in the sun Friday. I was so hot in the sitting room with the windows up, that I could not do anything, and to think of riding was dreadfull. We have got along very well since you went away, the doors are all locked before dark, fires seen to, and I believe it not lawfull to carry a lamp about after dark. So you see there is no danger of the house taking fire, or the thieves breaking in, under the excellent management of the head of affairs, namely D.W.V. Fiske.
I guess you'll consider this an interesting affair, but it is most nine and all my "ideas" have gone to sleep, as you might know by my unusually lively style.
but Mr. Hitchcock goes at two o clock tomorrow morning, and these letters must go over there tonight. Give my love to Grandpapa, Aunt Maria, uncle Sewall, aunt Fiske,and all my cousins, at Weston. also to uncle, and aunt Vinal, Cousin Martha, and Grandpa Vinal. and don't think there is none left for yourself. because I send so much to others. Excuse this writing, for my hand trembles so that I cannot write well.
Yours aff. Helen. M. Fiske.
Whatever this may be Helen wrote it without a word of help. I hope you will be able to find out its meaning. D.W.V.F.
Addressed: Prof. N.W. FiskeMy dear papa tis very long,
Since I have had a vacation.
And now I write a little song,
To move your heart's compassion.
I'm tired to death of Latin,
As you no doubt do know.
I get on slow with practising,
Alas! Alas! how slow!
I think it is but fair;
That I should have some rest.
And tis my fervent prayer,
That you may think it best,
I'm but a child,
And rather wild,
As all the world doth know.
And this is why,
It seems so dry,
For me to study so.
That old brown book,
Has such a look,
It makes one sigh to see it.
And only think how long twill take,
For you to drag one through it.
Now if you'll grant a resting spell,
I think I then shall go on well,
I would write more but my thoughts are fled,
And mother say's "Now go to bed."
I wish you'd answer this in rhyme,
If you can possibly find the time.
Your affectionate daughter,
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Charlestown, MS, Sep 6
Charlestown, Friday, Sept 6th, 1844.
My dear father,
I am still at Aunt Vinals as you see by the date. She has been very sick indeed, and are feared would have a fever but she is now getting better, has not had the doctor for two days, & is to dine down stairs today. She thought I could help Cousin Martha and so I staid but I expect to go to Boston Monday if nothing unforeseen prevents.
I have been very well, with the exception of my tooth which has troubled me considerably. Yesterday I went to see Dr. Adams about it. He thinks it may be eased & will fill it for a dollar, & we have concluded as he charges so much less than Dr. Trecher to try the experiment. I am now having the nerve killed by a slow preparation which causes no pain, but takes three or four days to do it.
I have seen the Miss Scholfields over here twice & have been over there once. Ellen is much better than she has been.
I am very thankful you had such fine weather to travel in it was neither too hot nor too cold.
Aunt Vinal sends a great deal of love to you & wishes you to write particularly how you are situated & how your health is. She also wishes me to say, that my black silk cannot be touched untill we have the cape & she would like to have the things sent down as soon as you can with out incommoding yourself. I am waiting & wishing for my music, & I should like to have you send my work box, as I have nothing to put my work in. My muff, too I shall want, which is hanging up in a bag some where. You will find my cloaks, in a small trunk in the study chamber if I remember right about their location.
Ann is well & would send love but is at school.
Uncle & Aunt Hooker are expected next Monday
Grandpa was here Wed. night & inquired after your health.
I do not think of any thing more interesting to relate unless you would like to know what I have been doing. I have waited on Uncle Aunt or anybody that wanted me & read 4 books of the Course of Time aloud to Aunt, read Stephen's travels in Greece, Italy Russia & Poland, & Autobiography of Heinrich Stilling to myself & worked on a sampler & practiced some.
It makes my head ache to write & I must bid you goodbye
Yr aff daughter Helen.P.S. If any letters come to me by Mr. E. Tyler I should like to have you forward them.
My dear father
I have just returned from school and Jhon Webster has ben in and I had to amuse him so that I have but a few minutes to write. I am Practicing out of Bertinors book, I am making a sampler at school My studies are as usual
Yours affectionately Ann S. Fiske.
You will be happy to hear that aunt is recovering, although she was pretty sick for two or three days after you left, we hope that she will now soon have her usual health. The children are well, Helen has been quite an assistance, and good deal of company for us, she has suffered from tooth ache, but that is now better in her moral character she appears remarkably well, very kind & obedient, and disposed to occupy her time.
We shall hope to hear from you soon
Helen Hunt Jackson
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