Colorado College Tutt Library

Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-19 transcription

Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 19, Letters from HHJ (then Helen Maria Fiske) to her great aunt Martha Vinal
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, June 1996

[note - this whole letter is in her mother's handwriting]

Addressed: Mrs. Martha Vinal, Boston


My dear Aunt Vinal

I have made you a little bag as you asked me to, all but the beginnings and putting the strings in. I should wash and iron it but Ma' wants it this morning to put into the bag of sage to have it all ready when Mr. Dickenson calls.

I go to school every day, but not to Miss Mary White; my Ma' keeps school every forenoon and I made your bag in Ma's school and I learn a spelling lesson and read every day.

Yesterday Ma' had company all the forenoon and went to the Sewing Circle in the afternoon so that she could not have any school, and I had a real time running about, I wish company would come every day, for I can learn to sew and read just as well when I get to be a great girl like Cousin Martha; and it tires me dreadfully to sit so still; - Ma' says I am a better girl than she feared I should be. I wish I was teacher and Ma was my scholar, I'd let her play all the time.

I am making a bag now for Cousin Martha, I wish she would come back to Amherst; I told Ma' I'd make one for uncle Vinal too but she said a gentleman would not care about a bag. I shall come and see you one of these days, and when you get to be an old lady and I am a great woman I mean to help take care of you, for Ma says you took care of her when she was a little girl.

Your affectionate niece,
H.M. Fiske

Ma' wrote this for me because I cannot make anything but great o's, when I am grown up I shall write as well as anybody.


Love to Uncle Vinal, Grandpapa and cousin Martha.

Addressed: Mrs. Martha Vinal, Charlestown
[in another handwriting: From Helen Maria Fiske, age 7 yrs, from Amherst]

[1837] Amherst November

My dear Aunt Vinal,

I remember that you said in Ma's letter you had an aching head and a trembling hand; I am very sorry, and I think I ought to write five letters to your one.

I was seven years old last month. Ma has measured me to-day and I am four feet tall lacking half of an inch. We have begun to get ready for Thanksgiving. I helped chop some meat for pies this morning, I dont think they would be very good if I made them alone. I don't think I love to do housework quite so well as I used to, but mother says I must learn to do it well, and be ready to help her when she needs assistance.

I hope you will come and see us next summer. I remember how you used to play with me, and I love a good frolic now as well as I ever did in my life if not better.

Give my love to cousin Martha and uncle Vinal. I would write a longer letter but it is such a great affair for me to write a short one, you must let me stop, for I am as tired as Mrs Smith is when she has done washing

Your affectionate niece

Helen Maria

Addressed: Mrs Martha Vinal, Charlestown

[1842] Amherst, Dec. 30th, Friday forenoon.

My dear Aunt Vinal,

I wish I loved to write letters as well as I love you, but I believe my ideas have a great dread of being sent from home, they scamper off like so many frightened rats, the minute mother opens her desk, and says, "now Helen, that letter is to be finished." Ann is noticing my distress, and says, "Helen, put in procrastination, that is a good long word to fill up with," and mother says, "it is a most lucky suggestion, for the word itself, and the words about it, will land me nicely, at the bottom of the page.

Now for reaching the bottom of this;
Were it only glare ice,
I'd go down in a trice,
On a sled, so nice,
But - I'm stuck in a snow bank,
As tight as a vice,
And I'm growing deranged
From racking my brains,
In search of jingle,
Either double or single,
No matter which
To end this distich. And mother wont catch me, I know, in another such rhyming job, for it is a positive fact, we are all in tears, Anne, from being tired of waiting for me to play with her, mother, from laughing at the pucker I'm in, and looking at my blazing face, and a strange mixture of sympathy, fatigue, and I dont know what, started my tears; the storm is over, we are all composed.

And the first thing that comes into my mind is, how good you, and uncle, and Martha, were to me while I was at your house, more than three months. I shall never forget it, and I want to see you all very much. I remember how every thing looks.

Your house seems just like another home. Give a great deal of love to uncle, and to Martha, and tell uncle I should think he would be glad not to hear my noisy "chat." Please to give my love to aunt Tufts, and her family; also to Grandpapa, and ask him when in the world he is coming to Amherst.

Your affectionate and grateful niece,

Helen Maria Fiske.

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