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Chapter 10 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, thoug_'m not a fine young lady traveling on the continent. When I lost sight o_ather's dear old face, I felt a trifle blue, and might have shed a briny dro_r 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 ove_he seat every time they opened their mouths to roar.
  • >
  • > Soon the sun came out, and taking it as a good omen, I cleared up likewis_nd enjoyed my journey with all my heart.
  • >
  • > Mrs. Kirke welcomed me so kindly I felt at home at once, even in that bi_ouse 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 si_ere and write whenever I like. A fine view and a church tower opposite aton_or 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 privat_arlor, 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 _hall make a model governess.
  • >
  • > 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 _amily, but a great anxiety will be off my mind if I know the children ar_afe with you. My rooms are always open to you, and your own shall be a_omfortable as I can make it. There are some pleasant people in the house i_ou feel sociable, and your evenings are always free. Come to me if anythin_oes wrong, and be as happy as you can. There's the tea bell, I must run an_hange my cap." And off she bustled, leaving me to settle myself in my ne_est.
  • >
  • > As I went downstairs soon after, I saw something I liked. The flights ar_ery long in this tall house, and as I stood waiting at the head of the thir_ne for a little servant girl to lumber up, I saw a gentleman come alon_ehind her, take the heavy hod of coal out of her hand, carry it all the wa_p, put it down at a door near by, and walk away, saying, with a kind nod an_ foreign accent, "It goes better so. The little back is too young to haf suc_eaviness."
  • >
  • > Wasn't it good of him? I like such things, for as Father says, trifles sho_haracter. When I mentioned it to Mrs. K., that evening, she laughed, an_aid, "That must have been Professor Bhaer, he's always doing things of tha_ort."
  • >
  • > Mrs. K. told me he was from Berlin, very learned and good, but poor as _hurch mouse, and gives lessons to support himself and two little orpha_ephews whom he is educating here, according to the wishes of his sister, wh_arried an American. Not a very romantic story, but it interested me, and _as 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.
  • >
  • > After tea and a go-to-bed romp with the little girls, I attacked the bi_orkbasket, and had a quiet evening chatting with my new friend. I shall kee_ journal-letter, and send it once a week, so goodnight, and more tomorrow.
  • >
  • > Tuesday Eve
  • >
  • > Had a lively time in my seminary this morning, for the children acted lik_ancho, and at one time I really thought I should shake them all round. Som_ood angel inspired me to try gymnastics, and I kept it up till they were gla_o sit down and keep still. After luncheon, the girl took them out for a walk, and I went to my needlework like little Mabel 'with a willing mind'. I wa_hanking my stars that I'd learned to make nice buttonholes, when the parlo_oor opened and shut, and someone began to hum, Kennst Du Das Land, like a bi_umblebee. It was dreadfully improper, I know, but I couldn't resist th_emptation, and lifting one end of the curtain before the glass door, I peepe_n. Professor Bhaer was there, and while he arranged his books, I took a goo_ook at him. A regular German—rather stout, with brown hair tumbled all ove_is head, a bushy beard, good nose, the kindest eyes I ever saw, and _plendid big voice that does one's ears good, after our sharp or slipsho_merican gabble. His clothes were rusty, his hands were large, and he hadn't _eally handsome feature in his face, except his beautiful teeth, yet I like_im, for he had a fine head, his linen was very nice, and he looked like _entleman, though two buttons were off his coat and there was a patch on on_hoe. He looked sober in spite of his humming, till he went to the window t_urn the hyacinth bulbs toward the sun, and stroke the cat, who received hi_ike an old friend. Then he smiled, and when a tap came at the door, calle_ut in a loud, brisk tone, "Herein!"
  • >
  • > I was just going to run, when I caught sight of a morsel of a child carryin_ big book, and stopped, to see what was going on.
  • >
  • > "Me wants me Bhaer," said the mite, slamming down her book and running t_eet him.
  • >
  • > "Thou shalt haf thy Bhaer. Come, then, and take a goot hug from him, m_ina," said the Professor, catching her up with a laugh, and holding her s_igh over his head that she had to stoop her little face to kiss him.
  • >
  • > "Now me mus tuddy my lessin," went on the funny little thing. So he put he_p at the table, opened the great dictionary she had brought, and gave her _aper and pencil, and she scribbled away, turning a leaf now and then, an_assing her little fat finger down the page, as if finding a word, so soberl_hat I nearly betrayed myself by a laugh, while Mr. Bhaer stood stroking he_retty hair with a fatherly look that made me think she must be his own, though she looked more French than German.
  • >
  • > Another knock and the appearance of two young ladies sent me back to m_ork, and there I virtuously remained through all the noise and gabbling tha_ent on next door. One of the girls kept laughing affectedly, and saying, "No_rofessor," in a coquettish tone, and the other pronounced her German with a_ccent that must have made it hard for him to keep sober.
  • >
  • > Both seemed to try his patience sorely, for more than once I heard him sa_mphatically, "No, no, it is not so, you haf not attend to what I say," an_nce there was a loud rap, as if he struck the table with his book, followe_y the despairing exclamation, "Prut! It all goes bad this day."
  • >
  • > Poor man, I pitied him, and when the girls were gone, took just one mor_eep to see if he survived it. He seemed to have thrown himself back in hi_hair, tired out, and sat there with his eyes shut till the clock struck two, when he jumped up, put his books in his pocket, as if ready for anothe_esson, and taking little Tina who had fallen asleep on the sofa in his arms, he carried her quietly away. I fancy he has a hard life of it. Mrs. Kirk_sked me if I wouldn't go down to the five o'clock dinner, and feeling _ittle bit homesick, I thought I would, just to see what sort of people ar_nder the same roof with me. So I made myself respectable and tried to slip i_ehind Mrs. Kirke, but as she is short and I'm tall, my efforts at concealmen_ere rather a failure. She gave me a seat by her, and after my face coole_ff, I plucked up courage and looked about me. The long table was full, an_very one intent on getting their dinner, the gentlemen especially, who seeme_o be eating on time, for they bolted in every sense of the word, vanishing a_oon as they were done. There was the usual assortment of young men absorbe_n themselves, young couples absorbed in each other, married ladies in thei_abies, and old gentlemen in politics. I don't think I shall care to have muc_o do with any of them, except one sweetfaced maiden lady, who looks as if sh_ad something in her.
  • >
  • > Cast away at the very bottom of the table was the Professor, shoutin_nswers to the questions of a very inquisitive, deaf old gentleman on on_ide, and talking philosophy with a Frenchman on the other. If Amy had bee_ere, she'd have turned her back on him forever because, sad to relate, he ha_ great appetite, and shoveled in his dinner in a manner which would hav_orrified 'her ladyship'. I didn't mind, for I like 'to see folks eat with _elish', as Hannah says, and the poor man must have needed a deal of foo_fter teaching idiots all day.
  • >
  • > As I went upstairs after dinner, two of the young men were settling thei_ats before the hall mirror, and I heard one say low to the other, "Who's th_ew party?"
  • >
  • > "Governess, or something of that sort."
  • >
  • > "What the deuce is she at our table for?"
  • >
  • > "Friend of the old lady's."
  • >
  • > "Handsome head, but no style."
  • >
  • > "Not a bit of it. Give us a light and come on."
  • >
  • > I felt angry at first, and then I didn't care, for a governess is as good a_ clerk, and I've got sense, if I haven't style, which is more than som_eople have, judging from the remarks of the elegant beings who clattere_way, smoking like bad chimneys. I hate ordinary people!
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • > Thursday
  • >
  • > Yesterday was a quiet day spent in teaching, sewing, and writing in m_ittle room, which is very cozy, with a light and fire. I picked up a few bit_f news and was introduced to the Professor. It seems that Tina is the chil_f the Frenchwoman who does the fine ironing in the laundry here. The littl_hing has lost her heart to Mr. Bhaer, and follows him about the house like _og whenever he is at home, which delights him, as he is very fond o_hildren, though a 'bacheldore'. Kitty and Minnie Kirke likewise regard hi_ith affection, and tell all sorts of stories about the plays he invents, th_resents he brings, and the splendid tales he tells. The younger men quiz him, it seems, call him Old Fritz, Lager Beer, Ursa Major, and make all manner o_okes on his name. But he enjoys it like a boy, Mrs. Kirke says, and takes i_o good-naturedly that they all like him in spite of his foreign ways.
  • >
  • > The maiden lady is a Miss Norton, rich, cultivated, and kind. She spoke t_e at dinner today (for I went to table again, it's such fun to watch people), and asked me to come and see her at her room. She has fine books and pictures, knows interesting persons, and seems friendly, so I shall make mysel_greeable, for I do want to get into good society, only it isn't the same sor_hat Amy likes.
  • >
  • > I was in our parlor last evening when Mr. Bhaer came in with some newspaper_or Mrs. Kirke. She wasn't there, but Minnie, who is a little old woman, introduced me very prettily. "This is Mamma's friend, Miss March."
  • >
  • > "Yes, and she's jolly and we like her lots," added Kitty, who is an 'enfan_errible'.
  • >
  • > We both bowed, and then we laughed, for the prim introduction and the blun_ddition were rather a comical contrast.
  • >
  • > "Ah, yes, I hear these naughty ones go to vex you, Mees Marsch. If so again, call at me and I come," he said, with a threatening frown that delighted th_ittle wretches.
  • >
  • > I promised I would, and he departed, but it seems as if I was doomed to se_ good deal of him, for today as I passed his door on my way out, by acciden_ knocked against it with my umbrella. It flew open, and there he stood in hi_ressing gown, with a big blue sock on one hand and a darning needle in th_ther. He didn't seem at all ashamed of it, for when I explained and hurrie_n, he waved his hand, sock and all, saying in his loud, cheerful way…
  • >
  • > "You haf a fine day to make your walk. Bon voyage, Mademoiselle."
  • >
  • > I laughed all the way downstairs, but it was a little pathetic, also t_hink of the poor man having to mend his own clothes. The German gentleme_mbroider, I know, but darning hose is another thing and not so pretty.
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • > Saturday
  • >
  • > Nothing has happened to write about, except a call on Miss Norton, who has _oom full of pretty things, and who was very charming, for she showed me al_er treasures, and asked me if I would sometimes go with her to lectures an_oncerts, as her escort, if I enjoyed them. She put it as a favor, but I'_ure Mrs. Kirke has told her about us, and she does it out of kindness to me.
  • I'm as proud as Lucifer, but such favors from such people don't burden me, an_ accepted gratefully.
  • >
  • > When I got back to the nursery there was such an uproar in the parlor that _ooked in, and there was Mr. Bhaer down on his hands and knees, with Tina o_is back, Kitty leading him with a jump rope, and Minnie feeding two smal_oys with seedcakes, as they roared and ramped in cages built of chairs.
  • >
  • > "We are playing nargerie," explained Kitty.
  • >
  • > "Dis is mine effalunt!" added Tina, holding on by the Professor's hair.
  • >
  • > "Mamma always allows us to do what we like Saturday afternoon, when Fran_nd Emil come, doesn't she, Mr. Bhaer?" said Minnie.
  • >
  • > The 'effalunt' sat up, looking as much in earnest as any of them, and sai_oberly to me, "I gif you my wort it is so, if we make too large a noise yo_hall say Hush! to us, and we go more softly."
  • >
  • > I promised to do so, but left the door open and enjoyed the fun as much a_hey did, for a more glorious frolic I never witnessed. They played tag an_oldiers, danced and sang, and when it began to grow dark they all piled ont_he sofa about the Professor, while he told charming fairy stories of th_torks on the chimney tops, and the little 'koblods', who ride the snowflake_s they fall. I wish Americans were as simple and natural as Germans, don'_ou?
  • >
  • > I'm so fond of writing, I should go spinning on forever if motives o_conomy didn't stop me, for though I've used thin paper and written fine, _remble to think of the stamps this long letter will need. Pray forward Amy'_s soon as you can spare them. My small news will sound very flat after he_plendors, but you will like them, I know. Is Teddy studying so hard that h_an't find time to write to his friends? Take good care of him for me, Beth, and tell me all about the babies, and give heaps of love to everyone. Fro_our faithful Jo.
  • >
  • > P.S. On reading over my letter, it strikes me as rather Bhaery, but I a_lways interested in odd people, and I really had nothing else to write about.
  • Bless you!
  • >
  • > DECEMBER
  • >
  • > My Precious Betsey,
  • >
  • > As this is to be a scribble-scrabble letter, I direct it to you, for it ma_muse you, and give you some idea of my goings on, for though quiet, they ar_ather amusing, for which, oh, be joyful! After what Amy would cal_erculaneum efforts, in the way of mental and moral agriculture, my youn_deas begin to shoot and my little twigs to bend as I could wish. They are no_o interesting to me as Tina and the boys, but I do my duty by them, and the_re fond of me. Franz and Emil are jolly little lads, quite after my ow_eart, for the mixture of German and American spirit in them produces _onstant state of effervescence. Saturday afternoons are riotous times, whether spent in the house or out, for on pleasant days they all go to walk, like a seminary, with the Professor and myself to keep order, and then suc_un!
  • >
  • > We are very good friends now, and I've begun to take lessons. I reall_ouldn't help it, and it all came about in such a droll way that I must tel_ou. To begin at the beginning, Mrs. Kirke called to me one day as I passe_r. Bhaer's room where she was rummaging.
  • >
  • > "Did you ever see such a den, my dear? Just come and help me put these book_o rights, for I've turned everything upside down, trying to discover what h_as done with the six new handkerchiefs I gave him not long ago."
  • >
  • > I went in, and while we worked I looked about me, for it was 'a den' to b_ure. Books and papers everywhere, a broken meerschaum, and an old flute ove_he mantlepiece as if done with, a ragged bird without any tail chirped on on_indow seat, and a box of white mice adorned the other. Half-finished boat_nd bits of string lay among the manuscripts. Dirty little boots stood dryin_efore the fire, and traces of the dearly beloved boys, for whom he makes _lave of himself, were to be seen all over the room. After a grand rummag_hree of the missing articles were found, one over the bird cage, one covere_ith ink, and a third burned brown, having been used as a holder.
  • >
  • > "Such a man!" laughed good-natured Mrs. K., as she put the relics in the ra_ay. "I suppose the others are torn up to rig ships, bandage cut fingers, o_ake kite tails. It's dreadful, but I can't scold him. He's so absent-minde_nd goodnatured, he lets those boys ride over him roughshod. I agreed to d_is washing and mending, but he forgets to give out his things and I forget t_ook them over, so he comes to a sad pass sometimes."
  • >
  • > "Let me mend them," said I. "I don't mind it, and he needn't know. I'd lik_o, he's so kind to me about bringing my letters and lending books."
  • >
  • > So I have got his things in order, and knit heels into two pairs of th_ocks, for they were boggled out of shape with his queer darns. Nothing wa_aid, and I hoped he wouldn't find it out, but one day last week he caught m_t it. Hearing the lessons he gives to others has interested and amused me s_uch that I took a fancy to learn, for Tina runs in and out, leaving the doo_pen, and I can hear. I had been sitting near this door, finishing off th_ast sock, and trying to understand what he said to a new scholar, who is a_tupid as I am. The girl had gone, and I thought he had also, it was so still, and I was busily gabbling over a verb, and rocking to and fro in a most absur_ay, when a little crow made me look up, and there was Mr. Bhaer looking an_aughing quietly, while he made signs to Tina not to betray him.
  • >
  • > "So!" he said, as I stopped and stared like a goose, "you peep at me, I pee_t you, and this is not bad, but see, I am not pleasanting when I say, haf yo_ wish for German?"
  • >
  • > "Yes, but you are too busy. I am too stupid to learn," I blundered out, a_ed as a peony.
  • >
  • > "Prut! We will make the time, and we fail not to find the sense. At efenin_ shall gif a little lesson with much gladness, for look you, Mees Marsch, _af this debt to pay." And he pointed to my work 'Yes,' they say to on_nother, these so kind ladies, 'he is a stupid old fellow, he will see no_hat we do, he will never observe that his sock heels go not in holes an_ore, he will think his buttons grow out new when they fall, and believe tha_trings make theirselves.' "Ah! But I haf an eye, and I see much. I haf _eart, and I feel thanks for this. Come, a little lesson then and now, or—n_ore good fairy works for me and mine."
  • >
  • > Of course I couldn't say anything after that, and as it really is a splendi_pportunity, I made the bargain, and we began. I took four lessons, and then _tuck fast in a grammatical bog. The Professor was very patient with me, bu_t must have been torment to him, and now and then he'd look at me with suc_n expression of mild despair that it was a toss-up with me whether to laug_r cry. I tried both ways, and when it came to a sniff or utter mortificatio_nd woe, he just threw the grammar on to the floor and marched out of th_oom. I felt myself disgraced and deserted forever, but didn't blame him _article, and was scrambling my papers together, meaning to rush upstairs an_hake myself hard, when in he came, as brisk and beaming as if I'd covere_yself in glory.
  • >
  • > "Now we shall try a new way. You and I will read these pleasant littl_marchen_  together, and dig no more in that dry book, that goes in the corne_or making us trouble."
  • >
  • > He spoke so kindly, and opened Hans Andersons's fairy tales so invitingl_efore me, that I was more ashamed than ever, and went at my lesson in a neck- or-nothing style that seemed to amuse him immensely. I forgot my bashfulness, and pegged away (no other word will express it) with all my might, tumblin_ver long words, pronouncing according to inspiration of the minute, and doin_y very best. When I finished reading my first page, and stopped for breath, he clapped his hands and cried out in his hearty way, "Das ist gut! Now we g_ell! My turn. I do him in German, gif me your ear." And away he went, rumbling out the words with his strong voice and a relish which was good t_ee as well as hear. Fortunately the story was  _The Constant Tin Soldier_ , which is droll, you know, so I could laugh, and I did, though I didn'_nderstand half he read, for I couldn't help it, he was so earnest, I s_xcited, and the whole thing so comical.
  • >
  • > After that we got on better, and now I read my lessons pretty well, for thi_ay of studying suits me, and I can see that the grammar gets tucked into th_ales and poetry as one gives pills in jelly. I like it very much, and h_oesn't seem tired of it yet, which is very good of him, isn't it? I mean t_ive him something on Christmas, for I dare not offer money. Tell me somethin_ice, Marmee.
  • >
  • > I'm glad Laurie seems so happy and busy, that he has given up smoking an_ets his hair grow. You see Beth manages him better than I did. I'm no_ealous, dear, do your best, only don't make a saint of him. I'm afraid _ouldn't like him without a spice of human naughtiness. Read him bits of m_etters. I haven't time to write much, and that will do just as well. Than_eaven Beth continues so comfortable.
  • >
  • > JANUARY
  • >
  • > A Happy New Year to you all, my dearest family, which of course includes Mr.
  • L. and a young man by the name of Teddy. I can't tell you how much I enjoye_our Christmas bundle, for I didn't get it till night and had given up hoping.
  • Your letter came in the morning, but you said nothing about a parcel, meanin_t for a surprise, so I was disappointed, for I'd had a 'kind of feeling' tha_ou wouldn't forget me. I felt a little low in my mind as I sat up in my roo_fter tea, and when the big, muddy, battered-looking bundle was brought to me, I just hugged it and pranced. It was so homey and refreshing that I sat dow_n the floor and read and looked and ate and laughed and cried, in my usua_bsurd way. The things were just what I wanted, and all the better for bein_ade instead of bought. Beth's new 'ink bib' was capital, and Hannah's box o_ard gingerbread will be a treasure. I'll be sure and wear the nice flannel_ou sent, Marmee, and read carefully the books Father has marked. Thank yo_ll, heaps and heaps!
  • >
  • > Speaking of books reminds me that I'm getting rich in that line, for on Ne_ear's Day Mr. Bhaer gave me a fine Shakespeare. It is one he values much, an_'ve often admired it, set up in the place of honor with his German Bible, Plato, Homer, and Milton, so you may imagine how I felt when he brought i_own, without its cover, and showed me my own name in it, "from my frien_riedrich Bhaer".
  • >
  • > "You say often you wish a library. Here I gif you one, for between thes_ids (he meant covers) is many books in one. Read him well, and he will hel_ou much, for the study of character in this book will help you to read it i_he world and paint it with your pen."
  • >
  • > I thanked him as well as I could, and talk now about 'my library', as if _ad a hundred books. I never knew how much there was in Shakespeare before, but then I never had a Bhaer to explain it to me. Now don't laugh at hi_orrid name. It isn't pronounced either Bear or Beer, as people will say it, but something between the two, as only Germans can give it. I'm glad you bot_ike what I tell you about him, and hope you will know him some day. Mothe_ould admire his warm heart, Father his wise head. I admire both, and fee_ich in my new 'friend Friedrich Bhaer'.
  • >
  • > Not having much money, or knowing what he'd like, I got several littl_hings, and put them about the room, where he would find them unexpectedly.
  • They were useful, pretty, or funny, a new standish on his table, a little vas_or his flower, he always has one, or a bit of green in a glass, to keep hi_resh, he says, and a holder for his blower, so that he needn't burn up wha_my calls 'mouchoirs'. I made it like those Beth invented, a big butterfl_ith a fat body, and black and yellow wings, worsted feelers, and bead eyes.
  • It took his fancy immensely, and he put it on his mantlepiece as an article o_irtue, so it was rather a failure after all. Poor as he is, he didn't forge_ servant or a child in the house, and not a soul here, from the Frenc_aundrywoman to Miss Norton forgot him. I was so glad of that.
  • >
  • > They got up a masquerade, and had a gay time New Year's Eve. I didn't mea_o go down, having no dress. But at the last minute, Mrs. Kirke remembere_ome old brocades, and Miss Norton lent me lace and feathers. So I dressed u_s Mrs. Malaprop, and sailed in with a mask on. No one knew me, for _isguised my voice, and no one dreamed of the silent, haughty Miss March (fo_hey think I am very stiff and cool, most of them, and so I am t_hippersnappers) could dance and dress, and burst out into a 'nice derangemen_f epitaphs, like an allegory on the banks of the Nile'. I enjoyed it ver_uch, and when we unmasked it was fun to see them stare at me. I heard one o_he young men tell another that he knew I'd been an actress, in fact, h_hought he remembered seeing me at one of the minor theaters. Meg will relis_hat joke. Mr. Bhaer was Nick Bottom, and Tina was Titania, a perfect littl_airy in his arms. To see them dance was 'quite a landscape', to use _eddyism.
  • >
  • > I had a very happy New Year, after all, and when I thought it over in m_oom, I felt as if I was getting on a little in spite of my many failures, fo_'m cheerful all the time now, work with a will, and take more interest i_ther people than I used to, which is satisfactory. Bless you all! Ever you_oving… Jo