Dear Merry,—I must tell you how much we like you. We ain’t very rich up here; but I picked berries last summer, and saved up the money, and my father let me have Merry for a year. Some of the girls couldn’t afford it, so I go halves; and when mine comes, we all meet and read it together, and have such fun over it. Some like the stories best, and some the puzzles, and we try to make up rebuses; but we ain’t very bright, and none are good enough to send, we think. We hope “Hollywood” will go on; for we liked “Pearl” ever so much, and wanted to know how the girls got along at school. All our girls send their love to Merry, and so do I.
“Hollywood”: seven-part sequel (1869) to “Little Pearl”. At boarding-school Cassy and Agnes Marsh learn to persevere, to obey, and to make the most of themselves.
“Little Pearl” (in Robert Merry’s Museum; January-November 1868): 11-part story. In this episodic tale, Agnes Marsh, Pearl’s sister, learns from her example to be patient and selfless. The story’s often-humorous episodes precipitated by four lively children take a serious turn that culminates in fragile Pearl’s death.
[From Aunt Sue: ] Agnes G. The Cousin about whom you enquire, went out as assistant surgeon in one of our monitors. He came to see me the night before he sailed. I had only seen him once before, but I had heard much of him from those who knew him well. He was nineteen years old, and just as good as gold. He remarked, “if the vessel goes down, it is all ‘up’ with those on board.” My heart was very tender about those days towards our sailor and soldier boys, and when he bade me good-by, I longed to “kiss him for his mother,” but for various reasons I refrained. When I heard that the vessel and all on board had gone down, I wished I had kissed him good-by. You were right about “the initials.”
the Cousin: Henry A. Danker.
“kiss him for his mother”: John P. Ordway, “Let Me Kiss Him for His Mother” (Boston: John P. Ordway, 1859):
Let me kiss him for his Mother,
Let me kiss his dear youthful brow;
I will love him for his Mother,
And seek her blessing now.
The song describes the death of a young man from Maine among strangers in New Orleans.
[Editor: ] “M. E.” writes to ask, if Tom marries Polly? No; there is no marrying in the story, for the “Old-Fashioned Girl” doesn’t believe in nonsense of that sort for children, and they don’t grow up. “M. E.” does not understand why the story was written, if she thinks it “would be nice to have Polly flirt with Tom;” and we fancy it may do one little reader good if she stops to think, as she turns the pages of what she calls her “dear old Merry.”
An Old-Fashioned Girl: book by Louisa May Alcott serialized in the Museum in 1869 before being published in hardcover (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1870). Sweet Polly earns the admiration of all with her obliging simplicity and her eagerness not to take on the trappings of adulthood just yet; she personified the ideal of unsophisticated childhood that Alcott was not alone in promoting at that time.
Copyright 2000-2016, Pat Pflieger