I meant to write to you from the city, Daddy, but New York is an engrossing place.
I had an interesting — and illuminating — time, but I'm glad I don't belong to such a family! I should truly rather have the John Grier Home for a background. Whatever the drawbacks of my bringing up, there was at least no pretence about it. I know now what people mean when they say they are weighed down by Things. The material atmosphere of that house was crushing; I didn't draw a deep breath until I was on an express train coming back. All the furniture was carved and upholstered and gorgeous; the people I met were beautifully dressed and low-voiced and well-bred, but it's the truth, Daddy, I never heard one word of real talk from the time we arrived until we left. I don't think an idea ever entered the front door.
Mrs. Pendleton never thinks of anything but jewels and dressmakers and social engagements. She did seem a different kind of mother from Mrs. McBride! If I ever marry and have a family, I'm going to make them as exactly like the McBrides as I can. Not for all the money in the world would I ever let any children of mine develop into Pendletons. Maybe it isn't polite to criticize people you've been visiting? If it isn't, please excuse. This is very confidential, between you and me.
I only saw Master Jervie once when he called at tea time, and then I didn't have a chance to speak to him alone. It was really disappointing after our nice time last summer. I don't think he cares much for his relatives — and I am sure they don't care much for him! Julia's mother says he's unbalanced. He's a Socialist — except, thank Heaven, he doesn't let his hair grow and wear red ties. She can't imagine where he picked up his queer ideas; the family have been Church of England for generations. He throws away his money on every sort of crazy reform, instead of spending it on such sensible things as yachts and automobiles and polo ponies. He does buy candy with it though! He sent Julia and me each a box for Christmas.
You know, I think I'll be a Socialist, too. You wouldn't mind, would you, Daddy? They're quite different from Anarchists; they don't believe in blowing people up. Probably I am one by rights; I belong to the proletariat. I haven't determined yet just which kind I am going to be. I will look into the subject over Sunday, and declare my principles in my next.
I've seen loads of theatres and hotels and beautiful houses. My mind is a confused jumble of onyx and gilding and mosaic floors and palms. I'm still pretty breathless but I am glad to get back to college and my books — I believe that I really am a student; this atmosphere of academic calm I find more bracing than New York. College is a very satisfying sort of life; the books and study and regular classes keep you alive mentally, and then when your mind gets tired, you have the gymnasium and outdoor athletics, and always plenty of congenial friends who are thinking about the same things you are. We spend a whole evening in nothing but talk — talk — talk — and go to bed with a very uplifted feeling, as though we had settled permanently some pressing world problems. And filling in every crevice, there is always such a lot of nonsense — just silly jokes about the little things that come up but very satisfying. We do appreciate our own witticisms!
It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones — I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant. It's like farming. You can have extensive farming and intensive farming; well, I am going to have intensive living after this. I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm going to know I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it. Most people don't live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose all sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn't make any difference whether they've reached the goal or not. I've decided to sit down by the way and pile up a lot of little happinesses, even if I never become a Great Author. Did you ever know such a philosopheress as I am developing into?
PS. It's raining cats and dogs tonight. Two puppies and a kitten have just landed on the window-sill.
Hooray! I'm a Fabian.
That's a Socialist who's willing to wait. We don't want the social revolution to come tomorrow morning; it would be too upsetting. We want it to come very gradually in the distant future, when we shall all be prepared and able to sustain the shock.
In the meantime, we must be getting ready, by instituting industrial, educational and orphan asylum reforms.
Yours, with fraternal love,
Monday, 3rd hour
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