|Title:||O'Donnell, Annie to Phelan, James, 1902|
|Collection||Your Fondest Annie_Letters from Annie O'Donnel to James P.Phelan [A. O'Donnell]|
|Sender Occupation||children's maid|
|Origin||Pittsburgh, Penn., USA|
|Destination||Indianapolis, Indiana, USA|
|Genre||travelling, Xmas, prospects, friends|
Feb. 2nd, 1902
My dear Jim,
I am alone today and having a few moments at my disposal. I
thought I would drop you a few lines being the only chance I may
have for doing so before going South.
All arrangements are made for leaving here on Saturday night,
the 8th. The trip will be long and a rather dreary one. It was so
when we had only two little Mellons, and I suppose it will be more
so now with the third. But still we have each other and in that way,
things become much lighter than otherwise. We relieve the
monotony by a cup of tea at intervals prepared on our own little
lamp which we have to carry with us everywhere to prepare the
baby's food. I am not much of a tea drinker, but in travelling, I
assure you, it is always welcome.
Well, I have a joke that I think too good to keep, so you must
come in for your part. At Xmas, the custom in this house is to have
a Santa Claus for the little ones. A suit of Mrs. Mellon stuffed
represents the good old fellow. Then a good natured-looking face of Santa's with a brown hood comprises the whole thing. Then he
takes his place by his tree till the night on which he is supposed to
take the whole business away.
Well, this was the night I had the joke on one, or in fact all the
girls, in the house. Then the family heard the laughing and of
course had to be told the cause. I took the old fellow (not very easily
carried) downstairs and seated him in the dining room, then called
on each of the girls in turn, and maybe there was't some tall laughing
going on. That part went very well till the night following when
secretly I went upstairs to the girls' room and put Santa's face in
one of the beds. I told no one. In fact, it passed entirely off my
mind till Ellen and I were having a little chat by the nursery fire just
before going to bed, and of course on hearing those merry peals of
laughter from above, guessed the cause.
It scared her at first, but then she saw the funny side of it and
blamed me right away for doing it. For days after it had been the
general topic. So one day she turned the joke on me, and in my
absence came into my room and took your picture (which she must
have thought was my greatest prize then on exhibition) and kept it
till just a few days ago. Now it is in the same old place till someone
else comes and tries to run off with it. Well Jim, taking the serious
side of it, we are all very happy. The girls are all very nice.
Perhaps, Jim, it would be just as well if you didn't try for the fire
department, if you can see any other way for improving yourself.
You have a nice education, and I don't think it would be very hard
for you to push yourself through. Of course you know best, and
you can see where your chances lie. There is nothing like having
ambition and determination. Those are two qualities that I am
sorry to say I lack in to a certain extent.
But now I have plucked up courage enough to say I will try
to become a hospital nurse. One of the best doctors in Pittsburgh
has a deep interest in me and thinks I will have no difficulty in getting through. Wouldn't you be glad if I were so fortunate?
About that little scene in Philadelphia, I don't think I will ever
forget it, for I cannot tell why that gentleman's generosity was so
bountiful that night, first giving me a quarter and then having a bag
of All Sorts filled for me. I have told that tale over and over, and
people told me I was doing 'first rate in America', but, Jim, I have
to tell you it was the only money I handled for many a day after
Loyalty was something I always honoured and my first thought
when I get rested here, was to write a few lines to some dear friends
in Galway, and, of course, that was not quite right in my friends'
eyes, but I am genuine to the core if I once say, I am your friend',
then I am one, staunch and true to the last, come what may. So few
people understand my nature. Ellen is the only one outside Ireland's
few that understands me thoroughly, and she would do anything on
earth for me. Is it then any wonder that I like her so?
Do you mind poor Jim from Mayo? I often wonder what has
become of him and his mother, poor old lady. Do you remember
the night we were on the train? She thought it was so good to be
able to talk to her in her native language. If I had that time to live
over again, I would have been much better to her as I know a good
deal more now than I did then.
Well, it is pretty near time that I should bring my newspaper to
a close. I had no intention of writing so much when I started. You
will address your letters here till you hear from me again. I hope to
hear from you before I leave, but if not it will be all the more
welcome when we will be 'lone' 'all alone' in the crowded hotel.
as ever Annie