The Diary of Delia (Part 2)

2 Mar. 1907
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The Diary of Delia (Part 2)


The Diary of Delia

Being a Veracious Chronicle of the Kitchen with Some Side Lights on the Parlor
Two weeks later. Awoke, aroze, washed, dressed, made me bed. Spint the bitter part of a our or more trying to make that dummed stove burn. Its a wild wilderniss of a place is this and its hard, indade, for a pure, loansum, innercent female to bare the silence of the atmustfear. Whin Miss Claire spoke of the cuntry I had thort of Ausbry Park or Coney Island and sooch like sinsible places; but, indade, theres no bordwalk here at all at all, and the only kinds of bands and orkistrys is in the trees. Wirra, wirra, wirra! The kitchen’s in the bastement and the dining room a flure above. I shuk me hed over this contribance whin I first seen it, but Miss Claire ses very swately:
“Now doant you be arfter wurrying about that,” ses she, “fur theres a dumm wayter in the bootler’s pantry.”
Wid that she showed me a contrapshon in the wall, and wint to work pulling at the ropes.
“Dumm!” ses I, shouting wid me rarth. “Is it dumm you call the dumm thing. Miss,” ses I, “its noysy enuff to waken the deff.”
“Nonsinse!” ses she. “And down steers,” ses she, “there do be anuther nice little dyning room, Delia, which you can have all for yoursilf. Think of it!” ses she. “How many pure girls in New York has a privit sitting room and dining room all to thimselves?” ses she.
“Am I to set alone in that privit room?” ses I.
“Of coorse,” ses she, “and, by and by,” she adds consoalingly, “ye’ll git aquainted in the naybyhood, and who knows but a Nite will come your way! Hay ho!” ses she.
“Nites enuff,” ses I, me milincoly hivvy on me chist. “It’ll be all nites now for me, Miss Claire.”
“You Goose!” ses she, “I dont meen that kind of Nite, but—but—you know—a grate, handsome fellar.”
“Is it a bow ye’re maning?” I arsks sarcarskullully.
“Yes, Delia dear.”
“And sorrer a Nite of that kind will I get, Miss,” ses I moanfully. She opened her blue eyes big.
“Its in the country they abownd,” ses she.
“And lit them cum abownding,” ses I, snorting. “Its a foine, gintlemanly sort” ses I “wud abound into the prisince of a loidy. If it’s oanly the bounding kind yere haveing here, Miss Claire, theyd bitter kape their distunce.”
A few days later. Awoke—aroze—washed—dressed—made me bed—imtied me slops.
I tuk a bit of paper from Mr. John’s desk, and I pinned the follering warning in plane litters and langwidge:
This I taxed artiskully upon the dining room dure — facing all eyes. Mr. John — ating his loan cup of hot water, looks up. Hes a gintle spaking gintleman in contrarst to his bruther James. The rayson of this, Mr. Wolley explayned to me wanse was that Mr. John is an eeditor, wile Mr. James is a bawld voiced orthor, spaking, ses Mr. Wolley, wid the orful tung of the mookraker. Well, Mr. John looks up gintly and fidgets his paper and ses mildly:
“Well?” ses I, fite in me toans.
“Another cup of hot water, if you plase,” ses he. He hild up the cup befure his eyes suspishussly. “—er Delia,” ses he, making an effet to mollyfy me timper. “How do you like it here?” ses he.
“Like it! Its a loan wilderniss of a place, sor,” ses I.
“Shaw!” ses he. “Why, theer’s forty-two families on the Poynt.”
“The Poynt?”
“Yes. They call this neck of land the Poynt.” ses he. “I suppose becorse its just a poynt of land running into the Sound.”
“Its a bloont poynt,” ses I.
“It is,” ses he. “But down at the ind of it, there is a very fine poynt of land. Me brother waggushly corls it ‘Rogues Poynt” ses he.
“And why sor?”
“Haw! haw!” ses he, larfing into his napkin Mr. James cum sonterin’ in joost thin in tinnis pants. He tramped acrost me imacklate floor, banged out a chare and joomped into it.
“My brekfust in a hurry, Delia,” ses he. “Whats the joke, Johnny?” ses he to his larfing brother.
“I was telling Delia the name ye’ve given the Poynt—Rogues Poynt.”
“Hum!” ses Mr. James, ating amorosly on a grape froot. “Its like this, Delia,” ses he, guving me a seeriess look. “The 2 show places on the ind of the Poynt are occipied respictably by an Oil magnut and a Insurince Prissydint.”
“And be they rogues?” asks I innercently.
“Raskils!” ses Mr. James sollemly.
Another day. Aroze. Got up. Dressed. Made me bed.
“I want you all to lissen to me” ses Miss Claire, adrissing the assimbelled family in the dining room, and I overhird thim. “We cant afford but wan girl and the work’s altogether too heavy for Delia alone and she’ll be laving us if —”
“Sh!” says her mother, “spake lower. She’s in the bootler’s pantry, making the salad.”
“Nonsinse” ses Mr. James, “shes at the keyhole lissening.”
“Well, but do lissen all,” airges Miss Claire. “Iverybody,” ses she, “has got to do his indivijool share of work. The lons must be cut. A garden must be planted. Frish vigitables are absolootely nicissiry. James,” ses she swately, you can cut the Ions.”
“Lons!” cryes he in thoondering toans. I cut lons! Why, me deer sister, its aginst me most artistick instink,” ses he. “Its wan of me firm and uncontradictible opinyons that lons shud remane uncut. Why annyone can have cut lons.”
“Nonsinse,” ses Miss Claire.
Here Mr. John tuk up the coodgills for his sister.
Thin I heard the contemshus russel of Mr. John’s paper.
“Do be sinsible, Jimmy,” ses Mrs. Wolley. “Claire is quite right. The lons must be cut. If we dont cut them nobody’ll call on us. We’ll be marked and shunned in this community.”
Both Mr. James and John assayed to spake at wunse, the latter aisily being drowned out by the thoonder toans of the hedstrung orthor.
“Mother!” ses he, “I’m ashamed of you. Can I beleeve me eers? Do you achooly mane that you are inspired wid a dred that these essenshilly vulger, fatheaded, raskilly rich nayburs of ours may not call on us? What!” ses he, drowning the interrupting voyce of Mr. John. “Do you desire there acquaytinse?”
Mr. Wolley put in a word here edgewise. “It seems to me James,” ses he, “that you are wilfully departing from the mooted subjeck. I belave in dyagression—to a limited extint—and whin by gintle degrees it permits us to cum back to the subjeck under discushion—”
“Yes,” ses Miss Claire, “we must get back to the lons. Its settled. James you will cut them at leest wance a week.”
“Once a week! Sufferin’ cats!” grones Mr. James. “I’ll be a fissicle reck befure the summer wanes.”
“Next,” ses Miss Claire, “Johnny you must take care of the horse.”
I thort Mr. John must be tareing up his paper, from the noyse of its russeling. I pressed up closer to the dure.
“Claire, my deer,” ses he, “I beg you think befure you spake. I’ve never handled a horse in me life. If you contimplate the purchase of a baste, you will have to hire a man to care for it. I draw,” ses he, “the lines at stable work.”
“Very well” ses she, you can go walk the mile or 2 to the village after the mail.”
“We’ll tak turn about,” ses Mr. John.
“You’re all joost horrid,” ses Miss Claire and she pushed back her chare. “Very well then, I wash my hands of the hole affare.”
“James,” ses Mr. Wolley in sturn commanding toans, “You will cut the Ions as intercated by your sister. John,” ses he, “I will expect you to rayse addecut vigitables for the table.”
“Daddy,” ses Miss Claire, you‘ll go to the Post Office wont you like an angel?”
“Certainly my deer,” ses he. “It will give me grate pleshure.” A silence followed here, and the auld gintleman must have bethort him of his hasty promise, for ses he:
“We will kape a horse,” ses he, “at a neerby livery stable.”
Mr. James bust out larfing.
Mrs. Wolley coffed unaisily.
“And now you, miss,” shouts Mr. James, “what have you left for yourself to do?”
“Theres a thousand and wan things, but as my cheef and spechul jooty outside of the hivvy housekaping wid the constant tack and diplomassy it intales to kape our unsertin Delia, I will undertake to —er— rayse flowrs.”
“Call that work!” larfs Mr. James.
“You inappreeshitive duffer,” ses Mr. John in his gintlest voyce. “I vote that we adjoin.”
“One moment,” ses Mr. James. “What of Billy? Is he to be the sole mimber of this innergitick family to live in aise and lazy cumfut?”
“No, indeedy,” ses Miss Claire. “Never! Tho but 6 yeers of age, he‘s old enuff to ern his daily bred. Willy,” ses she, “shall be our yoonversul 14 caddy. His will be the tax of carrying water to the hungry-thoorsty wans who toyle.”
The next day. I was up to me eers in work—it being wash day. As I carried the clothes out to be hung I noted the following: Mr. John was walking up and down, taking triminjus long stips back and forth over the back Ion. Wid the tales of his coat flying out behind him and his spickticles hanging by a string from his eer he looked so like a loonytick that I drapped me baskit of clothes.
“Mr. John,” I exclamed involuntarararily, “are you sun struck? Whets the trubble?” ses I, and I grabbed him by his cote tales. He turned about, looks at me wid wild eyes and ses horsely:
“Twinty-two and a harf —twinty-two and a— Bother the girl!” ses he interrupting himsilf. “Are you crazy? Let go me cote tales.”
I releesed him. Ses he irrytibly, “Can’t you see I’m bizzy? I’m meshuring off me vigitible garden,” and wid that he starts marching over the same line agin.
“Mr. John!” ses I, “are you using your ligs for a meshure?”
But he herd me not. I toar me horryfied eyes away frum the madman, and joost thin I seen Mr. James. He was standing also on the Ion, neerer the frunt of the house. He‘s laning on the Ion mower, and if ever I seen dispare in yuman eyes it was in those orbs of Mr. James. I wint to him wid me hart full of sympathy for the lad.
“Whats ailing you, Mr. James?” I arsks.
“The lons!” ses he. “You will observe, Delia, that I’m commincing me tax at the beginning of the week, for I am firmly convinsed no yuman arm cood cut those lons in les than sivin days.”
“Why dont you get a dago, Mr. James?” ses I.
“Sh!” ses Mr. James, guving me arm a shuv. “Spake lowly. Obsarve!” He poynted acrost the lons.
There aginst the finse which divides our place from a grate estate was Miss Claire hersilf digging. She had a little, red gingum aprun over her dress and the slaves was rolled oop to the ilbos. On her hed was the strangest looking site of a hat. I reckynised it wid horrer. It wus a Spanish monsterosity Mr. James brot back wid him that time he wint to Pannyma to expose the Prissydint. Now she woar it on her hed!
“What be you doing, Miss Claire?” arsks I, going over to her, and looking wid suspisshon at the hole she’s after diggin. “It looks like a grave.”
“Why,” ses she, “I’m sitting out a flouring hidge. I’m folloering the rules of the bist orthorities on hortyculcheer. See!” and she poynted to her pockits which were boolging out wid books.
“But miss,” ses I, “ye’ll nade a gardiner for the tax.”
“Never! Why I‘ve been setting up nites studying me subjeck. I expect to devoat—” just thin she guv a little joomp and her cheeks turned pink wid excitement.
“My goodness, Delia!” ses she wispering, “th-theres a man,” ses she.
“Whare?” ses I, glaring about me, riddy for war upon anny dirty tramps trispessing upon our place.
“The other side the finse,” ses she, wispering.
I looked over, but seen no wan.
“Are you quite sure? asks she, trimbling a bit.
“I am,” ses I. She turned pale, and saysed hold of me arm.
“Delia!” ses she, whispering, “d-d-d-do you remimber that—that—young man who —”
“Is it your future hoosband ye’re maning?”
“Nonsinse,” ses she blushing, “but—but I mane him anyhow. Well—well—do you know—I—I —I’m afrade he’s honting me,” ses she.
“Miss,” ses I, “do you think he’s a banshee?”
“No, no, Delia—but—but well,” ses she, “the fack is I’m always thinking about him, and now — now ackshully I thort I sor him—over there,” ses she.
“Suppose,” ses I, “you tak a look agin Miss Claire.”
“I cant,” ses she, shrinking aginst me, “and besides the finse is so high. Its—its—much taller than I am,” ses she.
“Ah, come on,” ses I, and pulled her to the finse. “Here miss, I‘ll lift you up,” and wid that I grabbed her by the waste and hawled her up. She scramed. I dropped her wid a boomp, for there looking over, rubbing his hed where Miss Clare had boomped aginst it, is the Madison Avenoo dood.
Miss Claire tuk to her feet and wint flying tord the house, her books drapping out of her pockits as she run.
Next day. Larst nite Miss Claire cum into me bedroom. She looked like a bit of a girl in her little frilled nitedress and her pretty hare hanging down her back in 2 curly brades. “Are you awake?” ses she turning on the lite. “Dont be angry please, Delia deer,” ses she. “I wanted to talk to somewan.”
She coodled oop aginst me, thin she laned over and wispered:
“Delia, till me the trooth, d-d-d-did you see him — k-kiss me?” ses she flushing all over.
“The yung spaleen!” ses I, and thin she hid her face in her hand.
“Oh Delia, I’m—I’m—so—ashamed I d-dont know what to do.”
“Do!” ses I. “Why, tell your brothers darlint. They’ll swape the airth wid the impidint yung spaleen.”
“No, no, no! We must never breethe a word,” ses she. “Promise me you wont, Delia;” and she sarched me face.
“Darlint,” ses I, “all the torchures of the dummed cud not unlock me lips. Your sacred swatehart is secure in me bussum.”
Wid that she guv me a kiss, and wint steeling out agin.
“Mr. John,” ses I, this marning, while hes ating his loan brekfust (a cup of biling water) “I‘m looking for sartin infamation.”
“Well fire away, Delia” ses he, still absorbed in his paper.
“If a lady,” ses I, “was to kiss a gintleman wid hoom she was not acquinted, wud the gintleman be insoolted?”
He put down his paper, tuk off his glasses and looked at me sollemly.
“Has some wan kissed you, Delia?” ses he.
“No sir,” ses I, “but I‘m studying the respectful sects.”
He retired behind his paper agin, and Mr. James cum wistling into the room. He‘s very cheerful these days, is Mr. Jimmy. He gets ap, he ses, at 5 A.M in the marning to cut the lons. The tax he ses at that wiching our is anchanting. Ivery marning when we get up we see a porshon of the Ion cut. At 8 Mr. James sonters in fresh from his after-cutting-Ion bath as he calls it. “Sum day,” ses Mr. John, who has his trubbles digging up the airth where the vigitibles are to go, “I‘ll try your skeem.”
“Don’t,” ses Mr. James anxshissly. “What applies to lons may not do for gardins.”
Well, this marning, Mr. John repeets me quistion to his brother.
“Delia,” ses he, “wants to know how a man wud feel if suddintly assolted and amberaced by a yung and pretty lady — of coorse, she is yung and pretty, Delia, eh?” ses he.
“What wud he do?” ses Mr. James. “What wud he do? Why he’d—he‘d pursoo her like a cave man till she guv anuther kiss.”
“Hivins!” ses I, drapping the dishes in me hand, “and wimmen is jest alike.”
I wint down to me kitchen, whare I guv a peece of me mind to the grocer’s man. Shure he do be after charging the Wolleys the most oonherd-of prices for the food, and whin I’m after making a complaint in the madam’s name, the raskill oop and offers me a boniss.
“And what is that?” ses I.
“Tin per sint,” ses he. “Its the custum on the Poynt amang the cooks to accipt a boniss fram the tradesmen. We tak it out of the peeple thimsilves,” ses he. “Eyther in wate or price,” ses he.
“Is it a thafe ye’d mak me?” ses I, faulding me arms over me chist. “Thin ye may thank yere stars,” ses I, “that Miss Claire is too angaged to be interroopted at the prisint moment, for its she hersilf wud be showing you the dure. As it is I take the tax upon mesilf.”
Wid that I saysed hauld of the broom, and drove the craychure out. I seen Miss Claire joomp oop from whare shes digging at her floury hidge, and, as the thafe wint flying down the parth, wid me at his heels, both she and the dood busts out larfing, she thrying her bist to kape a strate face.
A week later. “Ortermobiles,” ses Mr. Wolley, tying his horse up feercely to the veranda post, “is a meniss to our prisint civilysashun. Nowadays,” ses he, “it‘s impossible for a gintleman to drive in quite peece in aven the most seclooded porshun of the woods. The gratest avil which these damnubul veeicles have brort” ses he, “is its maleevilint effect upon the conshunse and disposition of modun peeble. Peeble who own these infernul evil smelling noysy cursed cars are like the victims of some orful drug—devoyd of dacinsy—of rispict—of consideration and proper mercy tord there feller beings. There shud be a lor passed making it a criminal offinse punishible by the pinnytensherry to ride the masheens on the public hyways at all.” Wid that he mops his brow, and sets down widout looking on the shteps.
I was swaping down the verandahs wid a pale of water, and had driven the family at the Poynt of me broom to the lons below. Whin the auld gintleman found himself sated in a pool of the water he shoots up wid a yell. Miss Claire runs forward and trys to squaze the water out from his cote tales—larfing as her father swares.
“Poor old daddy!” ses she. “I‘m afrade if I let you go arfter the male much longer you’ll be a pray to nerviss prosperation.”
“Do you imagine,” ses the auld gintleman feercely, “that I‘m to be robbed of me daily drive by a parcel of hairbrained —”
“Papa,” ses little Billy, bringing over his pale from his sandpile, I loves the oretermobiles!”
“Why bless me hart!” ses the auld man, melting. “And what do you know of them, you raskill?” ses he.
“I had a ride in one yistiday,” ses Billy.
“What!” ses the hole family at wance.
“Yes,” ses Billy, nodding his little hed. “There‘s a grate big wan in that place there,” ses he poynting, “and yistiday when Claire was digging her old flours there cum a yung man who luked over the fince, and he sed — he sed —”
Miss Claire wint first red, thin wite. Thin red agin.
“Billy, deerie,” ses she, “cum and let me swing you in the hammick.”
“Go on, Billy,” airges Mr. James, guving his sister a quare look.
“He sed good morning to Claire, and she was very rood and jest wint on wid her digging, and then he sed he was sorry and he cudent help himself becoz he herd what she sed about honting her, and then he seen me and said ‘hello yung wan, come over here,’ and then I went, and he reeched down and lifted me up and tuk me over to his place. And he guv me a ride in his notermobile and on a donkey’s back, didn‘t he, Claire?”
She sed, widout looking up, “I suppose he did, Billy, but I” ses she “was too bizzy. I-I d-didnt look,” ses she.
Mr. James bounces up. “Claire,” ses he, “that hidge of yours is taking a jolly long time to dig.”
Mrs. Wolley looked turribly alarmed. “He was probably sum gardiner or groom,” ses she. “Did you spake to him, Claire deer?”
No! ses Miss Claire wid emfasis.
“Yet you let him take little Billy?” ses Mr. James.
“Am I me brother’s kaper?” ses she, flushing round on thim all.
“I won’t have Claire badgered” ses the auld gintleman. “Is she rayspunsible for the silly thricks of the yung ass in there? He’s the very one who whin I refoosed to move out of the rode to let his infernal masheen go by drove it rite under me horse‘s nose, almost upsetting me. Billy,” ses he, “if I heer of your taking any more rides or spaking to the man over there I’ll whip you. You understand, sir?”
“Yessir,” wimpered the preshus lamb and flew to me arms for comfut.
Another day. “Are you bizzy, Delia?” arsks Mr. John, cumming into me kitchen wid a barskit.
“I‘m oop to me eers sor,” ses I. I wuz setting on the ice crame freezer, thrying to cool aff, after making the crame for loonch.
“Wud you like to make sum munney?” ses he.
“Shure, darlint,” ses I.
“I’m tired of this gardin bisiness,” ses he. “Now these are seeds.” He set the barskit down befure me. “Theyve joost arrived. Heres a book giving fool instruckshuns how to plant thim. You go ahed,” ses he, “and plant thim whin you git a chance. I’d suggest,” ses he, “that you do it in the airly marning, but me brother James cuts the lons at those unairthly ours and wud see you. So do it whenever the feeld is cleer. And here’s a dollar.”
“Thank you, sor,” ses I.
I set to wark at wance imtying the seeds from there respictible packages into me bred pan. Then I give them all a good mixup togither. The book I shoved aside wid scorn.
“Anny wan I’m thinking but a dumm eediot cud plant seeds in the ground,” ses I to mesilf, “and what wud I be arfter needing instroockshuns for?”
Joost thin Miss Claire cum in to guv me the orders as I tuk it for the day. Shes a bit flustered and oopset.
“O, Delia!” ses she. “What do you think? A cupple of pap’s frinds have cum up from town, and we’ll have to kape thim for loonch. What have we got?”
“See for yersilf!” ses I, biling over wid rage. Company indade on Winsdy, wid the tale ind of the irining to finish, and seeds to be planted in the gardin.
“O deer!” ses she, “there isn‘t a thing hardly. What will we do? I’m sure none of those tradespeeple will deliver in time. What did you plan to give us to-day, Delia?”
“Its hash ye’ll get and be thankful!” ses I.
“But theres no cold meet aven,” ses she in disthress.
“I’ll attind to that” ses I.
“But —”
“Its no time I have for argying wid me hands boorsting wid wark this marning. Will you be going or shull I?”
“O Delia!” ses Miss Claire, “be nice or I dont see how I’ll dare to ask a speshul favor of you.”
“Favor is it?” ses I toorning upon her. She roon ap to me, and befure I can shpake anuther word, shes got her arms about me.
“Now lissen, deer” ses she. “I’ve finished me floury hidge and this afternoon I must shtart on the beds. You do the digging for me like an angel,” ses she.
“Digging is it? Do you tak me for —”
“Pleese, pleese!” ses she.
“It depinds intirely on how the loonch goes,” ses I gruffly. “Now raymimber not wan ward of crittersickem will I be heering to.”
“Not wan word,” ses she.
After she had gone I dishcuvvered that there wasn’t a speck of tea in the house and 3 coffee beens oanley. I wint upshstairs spishully to infarm Miss Claire. “Be careful now,” ses I “to ignoar the subject.”
Orl wint well for loonch, till Mr. James, soospecting the thruth, oondertook to refer to me hash as “patty de 4 grass a la Delia”“a dish” ses he “of our Delia’s own invinshun.” I guv wan look at Miss Claire, and she changed the subject. Thin Mrs. Wolley asked the lady which she wud have—coffee or tee, and before the unforchnit craychore cud answer I spoke up at wance:
“Ye’ll get neyther,” ses I.
Miss Claire at wance requisted me to bring on sum more “snow hash.” Wid that me last bit of paychunce wint, for there wuz not another speck of the stuff to be had.
“Do ye think,” ses I “that wan can of potted ham will feed a large family to more than wan sarve apeece?”
“Potted ham?” ses Mr. James, forgitting himself and the company.
“Potted ham!” ses I, “for its no meet in the house at all we’re after having, and shure the potted stuff is good enuff for you.”
Wid that I wint into the pantry and got the can and tuk it into the dining room and showed it to the silent family.
“Is it misdoubting me word ye are?” ses I. “Then see for yersilves.” And I showed them the can wid its pretty ligind: Guvvymint inspeckshun.
Mr. James got up and left the room. Mr. Wolley, groonting followed.
“Excuse me!” ses I, and walked out also.
Feeling a bit sorry for the unforchnit family I got riddy a foine dinner, and was after rolling me pie paste when Miss Claire cum in and coxed me into going wid her to the garding. She put me to work digging a hole in the cinter of the illygunt Ion, frish cut by Mr. James. “The boys have gone bathing,” ses she, “papa’s out driving and mama’s aslape. Now’s our chance. O, Delia! how forchnit it is our gests didn’t stay for dinner too.”
Thin she left me, and wint over to her floury hidge, whare she neels down and looks at the airth. All of a sudden she guv a little cry:
“Cum quick, Delia!” ses she. “Cum quick!”
I rooshed over wid me ho, thinking theres a snake or tode in the grass.
“Look!” ses Miss Claire, trimbling wid excistement.
“What! Where is the craychure.”
“There! See, its me hedge!” ses she. “O, Delia, its the first showing. In a little wile it’ll grow bigger and bigger, and, by and by, there’ll be flours—beuties. And I,” ses she, “did it all mesilf —wid these hands. Don’t you see it? That little speck of green?”
“Sorrer a bit do I see, darlint,” ses I.
“Why, Delia! Its there, oonless me eyes desave me!”
“They don’t,” ses a bold voice, and, wid that, the dood nixt door lanes over the fince and stares sintimintully at the spot where Miss Claire is poynting. She guv a little start and blushed. Then she arsks sarcarskully:
“May I arsk if you can see it at that distunce?”
“Certinly,” ses he at wunce, “but I belave I cud see it better if I cam a little nearer.” Wid that he joomps over the fince and walks to whare Miss Claire is neeling. Together they look at the airth.
“Bully for you!” ses he, offering to shake the hand which she holds back timidly. “Why,” ses he, “its—its a—a rose, isn’t it?” ses he.
“No,” ses Miss Claire, withdroring the hand she had joost surrindered. “Its a hullyhock,” ses she.
“Well, its fine anyhow,” ses he, looking at her wid both his eyes popping out of his hed. “You’re quite a hortyculchurist,” ses he.
“O no, indade,” ses she, “its me first attimp. Do you,” ses she, “know anything about it?”
“Well,” ses he “I kin tell a vylet from a rose and a dandylion from a daisy.”
“Then,” ses she, “you wont be intrested in my little gardin.”
“Wont I?” ses he so vylently she drops her eyes. “Why I’m ackshully captifated by that little speck of green,” ses he. “Aren’t you its creator?”
“Wate till it begins to bloom,” ses she enthoosicully.
Joost thin she seen her bruthers coming in wid the bote oars on their shoulders. She started away from the dood, and wint narvissly to meet her bruther. The dood hisitated a moment, and then followed. He hild out his hand.
“I‘m your next dure naybor,” ses he, “and I drapped over to make a corl.”
“How do?” ses Mr. James, giving him a corjul shake. “Pretty good bathing here,” ses he. “Ever go out?”
“O, yes,” ses the dood. “We have a little privit beech of our own. Your welcom to use it any time.”
Mr. James frowned. “The public beech is good enuff” ses he shortly,
But Mr. John ses at wance: “Thank you, I’ll thry your place sum day.”
Another day. “James,” ses Mr. Wolley coming into brekfust at an oonexpected airly our, “you’re a frord and raskill, sir,” ses he.
The family all looked startled.
“Yes, sir,” ses his father sturnly, “ye’ve been desaving your sister shamefully. You have been practising a frord. I happened,” ses he, turning to the rist of the family, “to awaken airly this marning and going to the window to pull down the shade I saw a man ingaged in cutting the lons. Congrachulating mesilf on the possession of such an industryiss and paynestaking sun, I corled to the fellow, who thereupon looked up. He was a swarthy faced working man—an Italyun. There Claire,” ses he, “is the sacret of your bruthers well cut lons.”
“Jimmy!” ses Miss Claire reproatchfully.
He puts his hands into his pants pockets and trys to look indiffrunt.
“I ordered the feller off the grounds,” continued her father “for I was detarmined that no sun of mine shud shirk his respunsibilities in that shameliss fashun. Sir,” ses he, turning upon Mr. James, “you’ll be good enuff to resoom the cutting of the lons after brekfust.”
For wance Mr. James was silent. He et his brekfust widout opening his mouth wance.
Another day. A little widder who lives across the rode cum today to call upon the family. She brung along wid her a yung thing swate enuff to ate. They cum driving up behind a pare of spanking horses and drov up under the port coshare. Mr. James was cutting his milincoly Ion, and he niver looked up at all.
The younger one called to him swately: “Will you hold the horses, plase?”
Mr. James pushed back his hat and glared like he wad bite her.
“I beg your pardin,” ses she, and the widder begins to larf and closed up her parrysol. Joost then Mr. John cum round from the back of the house. He lucks very straynge and funny, being in overalls, his spicticles poysed on the tip of his nose, his hair standing oop where his fingers have been running through it. Its a turrible tax the poor gintleman has been doing. Shure hes been orl day digging up the seeds which I keerfully mixed and planted.
(Continued on Page 30) 30 The Diary of Delia (Continued from Page 15)
The ladies in the carriage try to stop larfing and the yunger one joomps out.
“Is Mrs. Wolley at home?” ses she.
Miss Claire laves her floury hidge and dood, and wint running forward, wid her little muddy hands hild out.
“I’m Miss Wolley,” ses she; “you find us orl ingaged at our respictuf toyles. My brother James cuts the grass, John’s the vigitable gardiner, and I rayse swate flours—”
“What fun!” ses the widder, clasping her hands. “How perfeckly deliteful! It must be just like playing, isn’t it?”
“Will ye walk inside?” ses I, brakeing in here. “Mrs. Wolley will be down in a moment. She’s not well.”
“O lets sit out here!” ses the widder. “You were talking of your gardin?” ses she, turning to Mr. John wid a smile.
“Er — yes,” ses he. “But I‘m a mere noviss. Do you understand anything about the art?”
“Do I?” ses she, sitting in the saftest veranda chare. “Why I’ve a reppytashun in the Poynt for me vigitibles. Haven’t I, Una?” and she appealed to her frind.
“Yes,” ses Miss Una, nodding her pretty hed. “Why,” ses she, “theres a sertin kind of turnip nown to fame as The Widdy Jane.”
“Una!” ses the widder, larfing. “But relly,” ses she, turning back to Mr. John agin, “I manage my own little farm all mesilf.”
I let Mrs. Wolley out thru the fly dure and thin the auld gintleman followed, wid his face red and shining from the quick shave he’s given it. They all torked and larfed and thin finally got up to go. Thin Miss Claire asks carelessly, “And hoo are our naybors on this side?” and she intercated the dood‘s place.
“Haven‘t they called on you yet?” asks the widder.
Mrs. Wolley frowned a bit, but Miss Claire ses swately, “Oh yes one of the suns corled.”
“One of the suns!” ses the widder. “Why Harry‘s the only child. Una here,” ses she, smiling, “can tell you all about him.”
“I?” ses Miss Una, opening her brown eyes wide. “O yes,” ses she, “Harry and I yused to be sweet on aich other senturies ago. Hes a deer boy,” ses she, “and you’ll meet his mother soon I suppose, and old S. Judd Dudley.”
Mr. Wolley and Mr. James both bounced up in there seets. The auld gintleman conthrolled himsilf.
“Pardon me, my deer,” ses he, “but did I oonderstand you to say our naybor’s name was Dudley?—S. Judd Dudley?”
“Yes,” ses she, “the famiss S. Judd. Youve herd of him, of coorse.”
“I have,” ses Mr. Wolley slowly, and the hole family looked at aich uther strayngely.
Next day. “The curse of true love,” ses Miss Claire mornfully, “never did run smoothly. O Delia,” ses she, “I wish I were ded!”
“Whats the thrubble, darlint?” ses I, stopping me wark for a moment.
“Dont you know?” she arsks.
“Why no, darlint. Do you think I‘m at the kayhole all the time?”
She larfed a bit throo her teers. Then she set down, and put her chin on her little hand.
“Delia,” ses she, “do you know I havent spoken to Mr. Dudley for a week.”
“My Hivins, miss!” ses I. “Are you cutting the lad?”
She nods her hed sadly.
“The pure lad!” ses I. “And he do be wayting for you ivery day at the floury hidge.”
“Papa wont let me go neer it,” ses she wid a sob.
“Thin why dussent the yung spaleen cum to the house thin?” ses I indigantly.
“He did,” ses she, “twice. And—and James insoolted him. O, Delia!” ses she, and hides her face in her hands.
I drors her into me arms, and pets her like a babby, while she poars out into me sympatetic eers her thrubbles.
“You know, Delia,” ses she, “papa yused to be professor of mathymatucks at Logun Yoonyversity. Well, last winter, James began that orful muckrake riting. It seems Mr. Dudley had given a grate many chares to Logun Yoonyversity.”
“Chares, darlint? For the lads to set upon?”
“No, Delia—but it dussent matter. Anyhow, he was a grate power in papa’s colluge. James began exposing millynairs in the magazines and, by and by, rote a powerfill artuckle on tainted munney. He sed orful things of Mr. Dudley who wint clane crazy about it. You see he loved to pose as a bennyfactory to his cuntry, and James had shown him as he was. It wassent papa’s folt, but Mr. Dudley revinged himself on papa. He got the thrustees to ask for papa’s assignashun and now papa joins with James in thinking him the gratest rarscal of the time. So you can see, Delia,” ses she, her lips trimbling “that nachully they hafnt much yuse for Harry, and—and they’ve forbidden me to speek to him again.”
“You pure lamb,” ses I. “But shure, if I was Mr. Harry, I’d find a way to say you if I had to sneek into the kitchen itself to do it.”
“Delia!” ses she, clutching me arm excitedly, “what an idear! O, Delia!” ses she. “Why not?”
Another day. I rote a letter today to me frind Minnie Carnavan asking her advise. It were as follows:
Deer Minnie:
I hope you are well as this laves me at prisint. Its a long time since I seen yer swate face, but wid the wark of a family of six to do, besides hilping Mr. James to cut the Ions, Mr. John to plant the gardin, witewashing of the chicken coop for Mrs. Wolley, I’m clane doon up whin nite cums. But there anuther kind of wark I’m lately doing, and being its what might be called mind wark me nerves are beginning to thrubble me and whin annyone spakes to me at all I shstart oop like a thafe cort at a crime. Its manny a day since I wint to confesshun and me mind is dapely thrubbled wid the thort that the praste will refuse me absilooshun.
The thruth of the matter be that I’m hilping a dorter decave her luving parents. Its 2 weeks now since I begun to let Mr. Harry in at the back dure. Me foine privit dining room which Miss Claire had told me was for me to sit in alone is occupyed in the avening excloosively by Miss Claire and her bow. To add to me manny kares the child requires me to chappyrong her as shes after calling it. And so ivry nite there I sits in me kitchen drapping aslape sometimes wid me hed on the table.
Its hard on a poor sole, and on me Thirsdays and Soondays out the yung crachures do be bigging me to stay at home, she wid her coaxing words, and he wid his everlasting munney. Shure its ritch I‘m getting wid the five dollars here and the tin dollars there.
Now, Minnie deer, rite me a swate letter at wunse and tell me what to do.
The family do be soospecting nuthing, for Mr. Wolley seems to have sum sacred thrubble of his own. After Mrs. Wolley gets to bed at ate (she being a sufferer from insomnear) ivery nite I seen Mr. Wolley sneeking out of the house, like he was going out for some meeness, and she his lorful wife innersint and unsoospecting and he an auld man wid four grown luvly children.
The widder across the rode do be rooning after Mr. John and ivery nite hes off to talk wid her about her preshus vigitibles, and wud ye belave it, Minnie darlint? she do be sinding over messes ivery day from her gardin, ‘samples’ she calls thim ‘of me own raysing.’
Mr. James do be crazy wid luv for Miss Una Robbins, but the pure lad do be making himsilf that oonhappy a body dare not spake to him at all at all. You see the girl do be a magnut’s dorter and Mr. James is that set against orl magnuts hes beside himsilf wid rage.
Ah, Minnie, this do be a straynge bit of coontry wid ivery body in luv wid aich uther. Over at the Dudley house there be two bold lads. Wan is very fine and ijjicated. He’s Frinch—a expert charfer, as he ses. Its the hite of his ambition, so he told me a few days sinse whin I be hanging out me clothes, to own a small coontry shop for ortermobiles. ‘Boot’ ses he, ‘it taks money to buy aven a modust little place’ 32 and asks me keerlessly whether I be of the saving kind of girl. ‘Why, musser’ ses I, ‘its $700 I‘ve poot away in the bank for me auld age’ ‘Mon joor!’ ses he, gaping at me, and it was just thin I made the acquintunce of the other lad. He’s a grat rude spaleen, and hes after being in charge of the Dudley stables, so he tells me, ilbowing the perlite Frinchman aside.
‘Good marning!’ ses he. ‘I see yure new round these parts, or you wouldnt be after spaking wid the Frinchy.’
I confiss, Minnie, I was thruly ashamed of the manner of the auld cuntry when I seen the diffrunce betwane the axshuns of museer and the other wan. I toorned a face of scorn upon the latter, picked up me baskit and marched aff in dudgin.
I’ll be closing me letter now, hoping your hilth is good as this laves me at prisint.
Two days later. Larst nite whin the intoyre family had retired for there hard airned slape there cum a wild ringing at the dure bell. I herd it first in me slape, and yells in frite, thinking of bounding Nites and burglars. I opened me dure, and stuck me hed out. The hole family were assimbled in the lower hall in their nite gowns. Mr. John called up.
“Delia!” ses he, “wud ye plase ansser the bell.”
“I will not,” ses I. “Do you tak me for a gump!”
“Thers somewan at the dure,” see Miss Clare swately. “The boys arent drissed and nayther am I. Run along, Delia.”
“I’m dummed if I do,” ses I wid indigation.
“Oh shaw!” ses Mr. James, “What fools we mortals be. Whare’s me revolver?” ses he. “I’ll go,” and, wisseling, down he desinds. We heer his voyce shouting at the closed door:
“Who’s there?”
“Whats that?”
“A tillygram!”
“One minute.” And he opened the dure.
“Who’s it for?” asks the intire family at wanse.
“Delia!” ses he, and the family, larfing, went to there rooms.
“Put it on the bottom stip, darlint,” ses I. “And get out of site if you plaze.”
I wint down and got the paper. It was as follows:
Coming at wanse. The saints protick you, darlint, in the manewhile.
This marning, whin I clared off the brekfust dishes, I fownd a letter oonder Mr. Wolley’s chare, which dishthressed me badly. It were as follows:
Deer Sir:
Do not fale to cum tonite airly as Miss Flyte needs attinshun.
I intinded to hand the dummed thing back to Mr. Wolley, spaking, at the same time, me humble but contemshus opinyon of an auld sinner like himself wid a luvly, lorful wife and 4 preshus children of his own. But, after brekfust, Mr. Wolley wint out, and I sor him not agin till nite. At tin Minnie arrived. She was all exsitement.
“Now tell me widout words,” ses she, “what divilmint the family has been oop to.”
“Devilment?” ses I, brideling. “Shure its a swate family they be. Its ashamed I am to heer you spaking langwidge aginst an innersint and luvly family like the Wolleys.”
“Ah go wan!” ses Minnie. “What’s the auld spaleen been up to larst?”
“If ye mane Mr. Wolley,” ses I coldly, “then its a soar subjeck yeve tooched. O, Minnie,” ses I, “the auld gintleman is a baste.”
Minnie like to ate me oop wid hunger for some more words upon the subject.
I tuk out the letter and handed it to her widout further words. She red it throo widout spaking, but I seen her mouth and eyes popping wid exsitemint.
Joost thin Mrs. Wolley walks innersintly into me kitchin. She has sum fine lace in her hand. “Lind me your ironing bord, Delia. I’m doing these oop mesilf,” ses she. Joost thin she seen Minnie, and smiles swately — “Ah, is this a frind of yours, Delia?” ses she.
Minnie got oop. I seen her studying the pure crachure for a moment, and then suddintly she walked oop to her and hild out the letter.
“I belave, mam” ses she, “that this will intrust you.”
I seen Mrs. Wolley reed it, and aven thin she had not grasped the maning of the avil minded crachure‘s words, till Minnie spoke oop agin:
“Are you a dummy?” asks Minnie. “Dont you see what yere auld man is after being oop to? Delia here,” ses she, “innersintly remarked about his sneeking out to mate anuther female. The paper there revales the auld man’s inamoreeta.”
I thort the auld lady wud surely faynt. But widout condisinding a ward to eyther Minnie or mesilf she wint out the kitchen.
“Miss Carnavan,” ses I, biling over wid rage, “there’s a trane laving widin tin minits. Yell have plinty of time to catch it.”
“Delia, darlint,” ses she, “did you think I’d be after thravelling sixty miles to visit you for harf an our? No, darlint,” ses she, “I’ve brot me bag along, and I’ll be wid you for a fortnite yet.”
“That you wont,” ses I, “for its your bag will be oot in the cinter of the strate and yersilf will follow in a sicond.”
Minnie fixed me wid a look.
“Delia Omally,” ses she, “the day you toorn your bist frind out into the strate,” ses she, “will be your last. Trate me,” ses she, “in anny way save as a perfeck lady and I’ll publish yere letter on the housetops.”
It cum upon me then that, like the foolish loonytick I be, I’d poot mesilf in Minnie’s power.
“O, wirrah, wirrah, wirrah!” I cryed.
“Dont be after making a fool of yersilf,” ses Minnie. “Have sinse, Delia mavourneen. Here I am, and here I stay.”
At loonch Mr. James and John et there meel alone. Mrs. Wolley and Miss Claire were locked up in the bed room. During the meel the gintlemen spake not at all, save wanse; thin Mr. John sed:
“Tak sum loonch oopstares to mother and Claire, Delia,” ses he, and thin, after a moment: “Get that woman out of the house,” ses he, “as quickly as possible.”
“And, Delia,” puts in Mr. James, conthrolling his nachelly loud voyse, “kape your mouth shut.”
Mr. Wolley did not turn up again aven for dinner. Miss Claire she cum downstairs after the meel and wispers in me eer: “Here’s a note for Mr. Dudley when he cums. I—I wont be home tonite, Delia,” ses she. “I‘m going to look for father. Delia,” ses she, “I’m afrade sumething dredful is about to happen.”
“Let me go wid you, darlint,” ses I.
“But—the letter?” ses she. “Somewan must give it to Mr. Dudley.”
“I’ll be plazed to do it,” spoke up Minnie at wanse. She looked at Minnie misdoutfully. Thin she wint up to her and quitely guv her the note.
About sivin in the avening the hole family, including mesilf, set out from the house for 17 Arch Strate, which is the number on the letter paper.
At last we cum to the place. The family walked boldly in widout nocking. A little greesy fellow in overalls cum sontering up to Mr. John.
“What can I do for you?” ses he.
“Is Mr. Wolley here?” ses Mr. James.
“Shure,” ses the man, “he’s over there wid Miss Flyte,” ses he.
Mrs. Wolley stipped forward, her eyes popping out wid anger.
We wint across the barn, but seen nothing but wan of thim red tooring cars. We’ve cum close to the ortermobile whin Mr. James makes a discuvery. There’s sumwan lying undernathe the masheen. Mrs. Wolley nelt down and looked under the masheen. Then she guv a scrame.
“Charles!” ses she and almost faints. Mr. Wolley cum crorling frum undernathe.
He guv a look about him, seen us all, and drapped his mouth open wid astonishment. Then Mr. James burst out larfing.
“Whares Miss Flyte?” asks Mr. John.
The auld fellow looked sheepish, and he guv a look back at the ortermobile.
“Will, ye may as well no the thruth,” ses he, “I’ve made a good invistmint. I’ve bort Miss Flyte. She’s a ginooine bargin, better than anny Frinch imported car, and at quarter the price. lve been coming avenings to lern how to run and understand her. Isn’t she a booty?”
Mrs. Wolley guv a little sob, then she run tord him jest like a child, and he guv her a kiss, and then helped her clime into the masheen.
“There’s room for six,” ses he. “All aboord. We’ll tak Miss Flyte home.”


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People Mentioned

Winnifred Eaton

  • Born: August 21, 1875
  • Died: April 08, 1954
See the Biographical Timeline for biographical information on Winnifred Eaton.

Pseudonym used in this text

Joey Takeda

Joey Takeda is the Technical Director of The Winnifred Eaton Archive and a Developer at Simon Fraser University’s Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL). He is a graduate of the M.A. program in English at the University of British Columbia where he specialized in Indigenous and diasporic literature, science and technology studies, and the digital humanities.

Samantha Bowen

Samantha Bowen completed an Honours English student at the University of British Columbia and was a research assistant for The Winnifred Eaton Archive.
Samantha Bowen is an Honours English student at the University of British Columbia and was a research assistant for The Winnifred Eaton Archive.
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