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Set in Silver

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Rue Chapeau de Marie Antoinette,


July 4th

Darling Little French Mother: Things have happened. Fire-crackers! Roman candles! rockets! But don't be frightened. They're all in my head. Nevertheless I haven't had such a Fourth of July since I was a small girl in America, and stood on a tin pail with a whole pack of fire-crackers popping away underneath.

Isn't it funny, when you have a lot to tell, it's not half as easy to write a letter as when you've nothing at all to say, and must make up for lack of matter by weaving phrases? Now, when I'm suffering from a determination of too many words to my pen, they all run together in a torrent, and I don't know how to make them dribble singly to a beginning.

I think I'll talk about other things first. That's the way dear Dad used to do when he had exciting news, and loved to dangle it over our heads, "cherry ripe" fashion, harping on the weather or the state of the stock-market until he had us almost dancing with impatience.

Yes, I'll dwell on other things first—but not irrelevant things, for I'll dwell on You—with a capital Y, which is the only proper way to spell You—and You are never irrelevant. You couldn't be, whatever was happening. And just now you're particularly relevant, though you're far off in nice, cool Switzerland; for presently, when I come to the Thing, I'm going to ask your advice.

It's very convenient having a French mother, and I do appreciate dear Dad's Yankee cleverness in securing you in the family. You say sometimes that I seem all American, and that you're glad; which is pretty of you, and loyal to father's country, but I'm not sure whether I shouldn't have preferred to turn out more like my mamma. You're so complete, somehow—as Frenchwomen are, at their best. I often think of you as a kind of pocket combination of Somebody's Hundred Best Books: Romance, Practical Common Sense, Poetry, Wit, Wisdom, Fancy Cookery, etc., etc.

Who but a Frenchwoman could combine all these qualities with the latest thing in hair-dressing and the neatest thing in stays? By the way, can one's stays be a quality? Yes, if one's French—even half French—I believe they can.

If I hadn't just got your letter of day before yesterday, assuring me that you feel strong and fresh—almost as if you'd never been ill—I shouldn't worry you for advice. Only a few weeks ago, if suddenly called upon for it, you'd have shown signs of nervous prostration. I shall never forget my horror when you (quite uncontrollably) threw a spoon at Philomene who came to ask whether we would have soup à croute or potage à la bonne femme for dinner!

Switzerland was an inspiration; mine, I flatter myself. And if, in telling me that you're in robust health again, you're hinting at an intention to sneak back to blazing Paris before the middle of September, you don't know your Spartan daughter. All that's American in me rises to shout "No!" And you needn't think that your child is bored. She may be boiled, but never bored....