176 Armory Street, New Haven, Connecticut March 7, 1928
I did receive your letter, yesterday afternoon, and I read it (as you may suppose) a good many times before I came to any conclusion or conclusions concerning it. And now that I think that I have, I feel that I must point out two ideas in that letter that seem like ill-concealed weaknesses, and that cannot help but make me suspicious. (1) Because you do not give any clue as to what your answer almost was, and especially because you call attention to the fact that you have given no clue, I am tempted to think that the answer you had in your mind was one that you are now ashamed to reveal. For, had the intended answer been the right one, why all the secrecy about it? (2) Because the question of the divorce was brought up, that seems to me to put all idea of choice out of the picture, and it also seems to betray what was in your mind. For, in the desiring of a divorce from Helen (and I shouldn’t have let her give it to you, anyhow), how is it possible that this answer which “rang clear as a bell” in your mind was the right one?… Read more
I believe now you have now written to me twice, with no letters from me in between, but I have had many other things I really ought to do, that I have had no time to write letters.
Now, as concerning the mysterious key you sent me. I don’t really believe that it did belong to the ogre’s castle. You see, there ought to be a great strong brass key for that a flexible little thing like that wouldn’t cover an eighth of the lock. But I do think it belonged to something very mysterious–perhaps, to one of the many thousands of side-doors to fairyland.
Several days ago Daddy and I started out with our big khaki tent, the canoe on a trailer, and provisions, to scout out the first grounds of a long trip we intended to take later this year. We started out with the idea of putting in with the canoe at Ossipee River, a river flowing out of the lake, a little way. But upon enquiries, we found that we could put in at the Bear Camp River, a medium river flowing from the town of West Ossipee into the same Ossipee Lake that we had intended to put in at before.… Read more
I was very glad to get your letter, the picture of the silver fox, your account of your search for orchids, and what you are going to do at Shawandasee. Then, of course, I was glad to hear about Mr. ‘Coon. I like them very much: they are so pretty with their black masks, their dainty little feet, and their gorgeous tails.
I would like to tell you about an adventure I had this morning with one of our feathered friends. I was over at the Secret Beach–I had been watching the pretty sparkling minnows, the little golden-coloured perch, and the sometimes solitary, sometimes in school, bass. The three kinds of fish sometimes mingle together, the ones at the Secret Beach being about the same size. As I said before, I was over at the Secret Beach watching them all, when a great flapping of might wings reached my ears. I looked up and saw a great bird fly to a tree and alight on one of the limbs. He looked like a great dark splotch, but, as I had seen him alight there, I knew it was he.… Read more
From the Woods [cottage by Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire] July 31, 1924
Dear Mr. Oberg:
Needless to say, I am now in the land which Nature loves so much. It is the land of the lake of beauty unsurpassed, it is the land of the little shy nymphs and fairies, that here one sees all the time. Of course, it is Sunapee! Sunapee, the loveliest land in the world! Now of course, that isn’t saying very much, for I have not seen the whole world. I have not even seen the whole of the New England States. There may be lands which are more beautiful in scenery which is always the outside of a land, but there is no land equal to it when you take it from the inside. Now no one really knows what the inside of a land is, but, even if you don’t know, you can always be sure that it is the inside of a land that counts, not the outside. Also, even if one doesn’t know what the inside of a land is, one can usually tell by magical signs whether the inside of one land is better than the inside of another. But that is not of importance.… Read more
One of Barbara’s earliest letters, written the day after her sixth birthday. From Harold McCurdy’s “Barbara”:
Her first important correspondent was an elderly Swedish gentleman who restored antiques. They met in his shop in Providence when she was four. She was carrying a stuffed toy rabbit who had lost an eye. Mr. Obert took sympathetic notice and paused in his work on two ancient clocks to repair the deficiency in her rabbit. She was impressed. Not long afterwards she composed a story in Mr. Oberg’s honor, and signed it with her full name.
With thanks to Columbia University for the images.