Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

Dear Enemy

subjects: Children's Fiction: General Fiction

Description

In Dear Enemy (sequel to Daddy Long Legs), Sallie McBride, the dear friend of Judy Abbot (heroine of Daddy Long-Legs), accepts an appointment as superintendent of an orphanage and promptly embarks on a program of much needed reform. The book, while touching on serious social issues, does so in a delightfully written and entertaining manner.

Excerpt

Dear Judy,

Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement. Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money? Me–I, Sallie McBride, the head of an orphan asylum! My poor people, have you lost your senses, or have you become addicted to the use of opium, and is this the raving of two fevered imaginations? I am exactly as well fitted to take care of one hundred children as to become the curator of a zoo.

And you offer as bait an interesting Scotch doctor? My dear Judy,–likewise my dear Jervis,–I see through you! I know exactly the kind of family conference that has been held about the Pendleton fireside.

“Isn’t it a pity that Sallie hasn’t amounted to more since she left college? She ought to be doing something useful instead of frittering her time away in the petty social life of Worcester. Also [Jervis speaks] she is getting interested in that confounded young Hallock, too good-looking and fascinating and erratic; I never did like politicians. We must deflect her mind with some uplifting and absorbing occupation until the danger is past. Ha! I have it! We will put her in charge of the John Grier Home.” Oh, I can hear him as clearly as if I were there! On the occasion of my last visit in your delectable household Jervis and I had a very solemn conversation in regard to (1) marriage, (2) the low ideals of politicians, (3) the frivolous, useless lives that society women lead.

Please tell your moral husband that I took his words deeply to heart, and that ever since my return to Worcester I have been spending one afternoon a week reading poetry with the inmates of the Female Inebriate Asylum. My life is not so purposeless as it appears.

Also let me assure you that the politician is not dangerously imminent; and that, anyway, he is a very desirable politician, even though his views on tariff and single tax and trade-unionism do not exactly coincide with Jervis’s.

Your desire to dedicate my life to the public good is very sweet, but you should look at it from the asylum’s point of view.

Have you no pity for those poor defenseless little orphan children?

I have, if you haven’t, and I respectfully decline the position which you offer.

I shall be charmed, however, to accept your invitation to visit you in New York, though I must acknowledge that I am not very excited over the list of gaieties you have planned.

Please substitute for the New York Orphanage and the Foundling Hospital a few theaters and operas and a dinner or so. I have two new evening gowns and a blue and gold coat with a white fur collar.

I dash to pack them; so telegraph fast if you don’t wish to see me for myself alone, but only as a successor to Mrs. Lippett. Yours as ever,

Entirely frivolous,

And intending to remain so,

SALLIE McBRIDE.

P.S. Your invitation is especially seasonable. A charming young politician named Gordon Hallock is to be in New York next week. I am sure you will like him when you know him better. P.S. 2. Sallie taking her afternoon walk as Judy would like to see her:

I ask you again, have you both gone mad?