Five Cherry Trees, July 21th
“Dear Mother and Father,
“thank you for the long letter I got from you already a week ago. I am sorry I have not answered earlier, but I have had so much to do. However now I have nothing but time, because — well, I confess. I am commanded to stayin my room and not allowed to go out until tomorrow morning, unless the house would set on fire.
“Please, Mother, do not faint yet. I shall tell everything. Now there is silence in the house, because all that women folk is in the prayer-meeting. Laura said I should be allowed to go there, but Aunt Maggie said I am not a Presbyterian, so I can think of my sins very well in my room. I am glad of it. Usually I like the prayer-meetings, but tonight Amelie Welsh is going to lead the hymns, and when she sings it sounds like the windows would be broken just because of her scream.
“No, I have not done anything very serious. Or — I do not know. Adults sometimes think so oddly. (Sometimes even you, Mother and Father!)
“This week has been a special one. Last weekend we had our Sunday school picnic — I shall tell about it some other time — and every night from Monday there has been some programme in the church. On Monday we had an organ concert, on Tuesday a parson from Glasgow was speaking, and yesterday the choir sang. Tonight a parson from Nova Scotia is there — everybody has been like in fever, because they want to give him everything best.
“All the Sunday school pupils were asked to decorate the church, because the Canadian parson had said he would love to see flowers around him. Everybody was asked to pick up as much flowers as was possible. We had quite a nice time with the girls, when we collected flowers from the garden of Five Cherry Trees, and then we went to the orchard to have some forget-me-nots and wild roses.
“The church was full of children. Mrs Weilson, the wife of our parson, was there looking after ‘that nothing gets broken’, as she said. I like her, and I am a little sorry because she was so sad about what I did.
“I was putting garlands made of spruce branches and bluebells to the railing of the gallery with Geordie Kerr. Geordie was standing on the ladders outside the railing the and I tightening the garland from the gallery.
“At that very moment I saw Muriel Henderson coming down the aisle. Muriel is beautiful, some say, but I do not like her. She was my ‘lady’ during the picnic, and... Well, as I said, I shall tell it another time. Now Muriel had again a new dress, of bright blue silk and pink laces — her parents do have wealth, but not any sense of style.
“Anyway, she had armfull of white roses from her mother’s garden, and now she went to Mrs WeiIson and said with a sugary voice, ‘Oh, could I put these into some vase?’ Mrs WeiIson was delighted and said that she could put them into the garlands, because we needed some white colour among green and blue. And that is how Muriel came up to the gallery.
“She behaved herself for a while, putting roses into the garland, but then she began to bubble about all possible things on the earth — and, which was the worst, not a good word of Five Cherry Trees family! (I do not wonder. Maybe you do not understand all that, but you will, when I write another letter). Geordie is Louisa’s beau — or he thinks he is — so he got angry, and I got angry, because I’m a half-a-Scot and do not want anybody complain about my family.
“We tried to be gentlemen and said nothing. But Muriel spoke and spoke and spoke, like an ever-rolling gramophone, till our brains were aching. We tried to be quickly ready with the garlands, but it did not succeed, because Geordie had to go down in every little while to move the ladders.
“Bubbling, bubbling, bubbling!
“There was a vase on the railing. The bluebells had been there, and it was full of dirty, badsmelling water, because Esther MacGregor had to had pick her flowers up the night before — she had to help her mother today so she had not time.
“Rest of the garland was in Muriel’s arms. She put the roses into it and spoke, spoke, spoke. I took the vase and glanced at Geordie. He grinned. I lifted the vase and went behind Muriel.
“At the next moment a terrible shriek rushed through the church. All the people stopped their work, Rosie Brown dropped all her forget-me-nots, and Mrs Weilson hopped like a hare.
“Muriel flew to and fro on the gallery, trying to make something to that disgusting mess that was flooding along her back under that fancy silk creature. Her ’oh, oh, oh’ was so much like her mother’s, that Geordie almost dropped from the ladders with laughter.
“l would like to forget what happened next. Mrs WeiIson came up and saw what had happened. She was unhappy, the only thing that sticks my coinscidence. I was sent back to Five Cherry Trees, and Aunt Maggie made a good sermon before locking me in. Laura laughed, I saw it, and I know why — last Saturday night she was telling Mrs Henderson what she thinks about Muriel.
“So, that is my sin. I think I have been thinking that enough now, so I can write something nice between.
“I like Five Cherry Trees very much. Laura says I have become as firm as any lad in the village, and really I am not as weak and pale as I used to be. Though the house is full of women, these ones are quite nice — Aunt Maggie, too, who tries to bring us up. I am almost sorry I have only a good month left here, though I miss home, too. And hardly anybody calls me London boy nowadays!
“Now, I hear Laura’s steps on the stairs. I know her steps, they are like a young girl’s, light and happy. I stop before she comes in, I do not think she likes to see me writing a letter when I should be repenting.