The Story Girl HTML version

A Compound Letter
Once Peter was out of danger he recovered rapidly, but he found his convalescence rather
tedious; and Aunt Olivia suggested to us one day that we write a "compound letter" to
amuse him, until he could come to the window and talk to us from a safe distance. The
idea appealed to us; and, the day being Saturday and the apples all picked, we betook
ourselves to the orchard to compose our epistles, Cecily having first sent word by a
convenient caller to Sara Ray, that she, too, might have a letter ready. Later, I, having at
that time a mania for preserving all documents relating to our life in Carlisle, copied
those letters in the blank pages at the back of my dream book. Hence I can reproduce
them verbatim, with the bouquet they have retained through all the long years since they
were penned in that autumnal orchard on the hill, with its fading leaves and frosted
grasses, and the "mild, delightsome melancholy" of the late October day enfolding.
"DEAR PETER:--I am so very glad and thankful that you are going to get better. We
were so afraid you would not last Tuesday, and we felt dreadful, even Felicity. We all
prayed for you. I think the others have stopped now, but I keep it up every night still, for
fear you might have a relaps. (I don't know if that is spelled right. I haven't the dixonary
handy, and if I ask the others Felicity will laugh at me, though she cannot spell lots of
words herself.) I am saving some of the Honourable Mr. Whalen's pears for you. I've got
them hid where nobody can find them. There's only a dozen because Dan et all the rest,
but I guess you will like them. We have got all the apples picked, and are all ready to take
the measles now, if we have to, but I hope we won't. If we have to, though, I'd rather
catch them from you than from any one else, because we are acquainted with you. If I do
take the measles and anything happens to me Felicity is to have my cherry vase. I'd rather
give it to the Story Girl, but Dan says it ought to be kept in the family, even if Felicity is
a crank. I haven't anything else valuable, since I gave Sara Ray my forget-me-not jug, but
if you would like anything I've got let me know and I'll leave instructions for you to have
it. The Story Girl has told us some splendid stories lately. I wish I was clever like her. Ma
says it doesn't matter if you're not clever as long as you are good, but I am not even very
"I think this is all my news, except that I want to tell you how much we all think of you,
Peter. When we heard you were sick we all said nice things about you, but we were afraid
it was too late, and I said if you got better I'd tell you. It is easier to write it than to tell it
out to your face. We think you are smart and polite and obliging and a great worker and a
"Your true friend, "CECILY KING.
"P.S. If you answer my letter don't say anything about the pears, because I don't want
Dan to find out there's any left. C. K."