I'm Jack. I've always been Jack, ever since I can remember at least, though I suppose I must have been called 'Baby' for a bit before Serena came. But she's only a year and a half younger than me, and Maud's only a year and a quarter behind her, so I can scarcely remember even Serena being 'Baby'; and Maud's always been so very grown up for her age that you couldn't fancy her anything but 'Maud.'
My real name isn't John though, as you might fancy. It's a much queerer name, but there's always been one of it in our family ever since some grandfather or other married a German girl, who called her eldest son after her own father. So we're accustomed to it, and it doesn't seem so queer to us as to other people. It's 'Joachim.' 'Jock' seems a better short for it than 'Jack,' doesn't it? and I believe mother once meant to call me 'Jock.' But when Serry and Maud came I had to be Jack, for with Anne and Hebe in front of me, and the two others behind, of course I was 'Jack-in-the-middle.' There's never been any more of us, and even if there had I'd have stayed Jack, once I'd got settled into it, you see.
I'm eleven. I'm writing this in the holidays; and if I don't get it finished before they're done I'll keep adding on to it till I've told all there is to tell.
It's a sort of comfort to me to write about everything, for one way and another I've had a good deal to put up with, all because of—girls. And I have to be good-tempered and nice just because they are girls. And besides that, I'm really very fond of them; and they're not bad. But no one who hasn't tried it knows in the least what it is to be one boy among a lot of girls, 'specially when some of them are rather boy-ey girls, and when you yourself are just a little perhaps—just a very little—the other way.
I don't think I'm a baby. Honestly I don't, and I'm not going to write down anything I don't quite think. But I do like to be quiet, and I like to have things tidy and regular. I like rules, and keeping to them; and I hate racket and mess. Anne, now, drives me nearly wild with her rushy, helter-skelter ways. You wouldn't think it, would you, considering that she's fourteen, and the eldest, and that she's been the eldest all her life?—eldests should be steady and good examples. And her name sounds steady and neat, doesn't it? and yet of all the untidy, unpunctual—no, I mustn't let myself go like that. Besides, it's quite true, as Hebe says, Anne has got a very good heart, and she's very particular in some mind ways; she never says a word that isn't quite true—she doesn't even exaggerate. I have noticed that rather tiresome, careless people often have very good hearts. I wish they could see how much nicer it would be for other people if they'd put some of their good hearts into their tiresome ways.
On the whole, it's Hebe that suits the best with me. She particular—much more particular than Anne, though not quite as particular as I'd like her to be, and then she is really awfully sweet. That makes her a little worrying sometimes, for she will take sides....