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Jo's Journal
New York, November
Dear Marmee and Beth,
I'm going to write you a regular volume, for I've got heaps to tell, though I'm not a fine
young lady traveling on the continent. When I lost sight of Father's dear old face, I felt a
trifle blue, and might have shed a briny drop or two, if an Irish lady with four small
children, all crying more or less, hadn't diverted my mind, for I amused myself by
dropping gingerbread nuts over the seat every time they opened their mouths to roar.
Soon the sun came out, and taking it as a good omen, I cleared up likewise and enjoyed
my journey with all my heart.
Mrs. Kirke welcomed me so kindly I felt at home at once, even in that big house full of
strangers. She gave me a funny little sky parlor--all she had, but there is a stove in it, and
a nice table in a sunny window, so I can sit here and write whenever I like. A fine view
and a church tower opposite atone for the many stairs, and I took a fancy to my den on
the spot. The nursery, where I am to teach and sew, is a pleasant room next Mrs. Kirke's
private parlor, and the two little girls are pretty children, rather spoiled, I fancy, but they
took to me after telling them The Seven Bad Pigs, and I've no doubt I shall make a model
I am to have my meals with the children, if I prefer it to the great table, and for the
present I do, for I am bashful, though no one will believe it.
"Now, my dear, make yourself at home," said Mrs. K. in her motherly way, "I'm on the
drive from morning to night, as you may suppose with such a family, but a great anxiety
will be off my mind if I know the children are safe with you. My rooms are always open
to you, and your own shall be as comfortable as I can make it. There are some pleasant
people in the house if you feel sociable, and your evenings are always free. Come to me
if anything goes wrong, and be as happy as you can. There's the tea bell, I must run and
change my cap." And off she bustled, leaving me to settle myself in my new nest.
As I went downstairs soon after, I saw something I liked. The flights are very long in this
tall house, and as I stood waiting at the head of the third one for a little servant girl to
lumber up, I saw a gentleman come along behind her, take the heavy hod of coal out of
her hand, carry it all the way up, put it down at a door near by, and walk away, saying,
with a kind nod and a foreign accent, "It goes better so. The little back is too young to haf
such heaviness."
Wasn't it good of him? I like such things, for as Father says, trifles show character. When
I mentioned it to Mrs. K., that evening, she laughed, and said, "That must have been
Professor Bhaer, he's always doing things of that sort."
Mrs. K. told me he was from Berlin, very learned and good, but poor as a church mouse,
and gives lessons to support himself and two little orphan nephews whom he is educating
here, according to the wishes of his sister, who married an American. Not a very romantic
story, but it interested me, and I was glad to hear that Mrs. K. lends him her parlor for
some of his scholars. There is a glass door between it and the nursery, and I mean to peep
at him, and then I'll tell you how he looks. He's almost forty, so it's no harm, Marmee.