1 Shaktimuro

Jerusha Abbott Essay Format

Daddy Long Legs is a stage musical with a book by John Caird, and music and lyrics by Paul Gordon. It is based on the 1912 novel of the same name by Jean Webster. It was Set in turn-of-the-century New England, the musical tells the story of orphan Jerusha Abbott of the John Grier Home and her mysterious benefactor who agrees to send her to college, who she dubs "Daddy Long Legs" after seeing his elongated shadow. Under the conditions of her benefactor, Jerusha sends him a letter once a month, describing her new-found experiences with life outside the orphanage.

The musical was developed as part of the Ann Deal/Fashion Forms Plays-in-Progress Series at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura County, California in 2007. After premiering at the Rubicon in 2009 and several regional productions in the United States, the musical premiered in London's West End at the St. James Theatre in 2012, and Off-Broadway at the Davenport Theatre in 2015. The musical opened in Tokyo in 2012 and Canada in 2013.

Productions[edit]

World premiere[edit]

Workshop readings for the musical were done at the Rubicon Theatre Company as early as 2008, with Leslie Henstock as Jerusha and Robert Adelman Hancock as Jervis.[1][2] The production premiered at the Rubicon Theatre on October 17, 2009, with direction by John Caird, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, musical direction by Laura Bergquist, scenic and costume design by David Farley, lighting design by Paul Toben, and sound design by Jonathan Burke.[3]Megan McGinnis starred as Jerusha Abbott and Hancock starred as Jervis Pendleton.

West End[edit]

The production opened in London's West End at the St. James Theatre on October 31, 2012 and ran until December 08.[4] McGinnis and Hancock returned to their roles as Jerusha Abbott and Jervis Pendleton.

Off-Broadway[edit]

Producer Ken Davenport presented a private New York industry reading of the musical on January 24, 2014, with McGinnis and Hancock reprising their roles.[5] The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Davenport Theatre on September 28, 2015, with an open-ended run.[6][7] McGinnis reprised her role again, with Paul Alexander Nolan joining her as Jervis Pendleton. In addition to the original creative team, the production has sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, lighting adaptation by Cory Pattak, and musical direction, arrangements, and orchestration by Brad Haak. The role of Jervis was temporarily played by understudy Will Reynolds from October 29 to November 19, after Nolan's departure to join the company of Bright Star.[8] Adam Halpin, McGinnis' real-life husband, then assumed the role on November 20.[9] On November 29, it was announced that the production would be streamed live online on December 10, 2015, becoming the first Broadway or Off-Broadway production to do so.[10] According to the provided statistics, the livestream was watched by 150,055 people from 135 countries.[11] The Off-Broadway production celebrated its 200th performance on March 22, 2016.[12] The production played its final performance on June 6, 2016.[13]

US regional productions[edit]

After the premiere at the Rubicon Theatre, other productions of the musical were staged at US regional theatres, as part of what was called as a "rolling world premiere," due to the various changes done to the show on the road. Theatres where the production was staged included the Theatreworks' Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Palo Alto, California from January 20 until February 14, 2010;[14] the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park from March 13 until April 10, 2010;[15] the Northlight Theatre in Illinois from September 16 until October 24, 2010;[16] the Cleveland Play House's Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square from October 21 until November 13, 2011; the Gem Theatre in Detroit, Michigan from October 12 until November 20, 2011;[17] the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Massachusetts from February 9 until March 4, 2012;[18] the Skylight Music Theatre's Cabot Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from March 9 to April 1, 2012; and Florida Studio Theatre's Gompertz Theatre from February 5 until April 5, 2014.[19] McGinnis and Hancock returned to play the roles of Jerusha and Jervis in some of the stagings. Several stagings featured Ephie Aardema, Christy Altomare and Penny McNamee as Jerusha and Kevin Earley as Jervis.[20]

International productions[edit]

The Japanese premiere of the production opened at the Theatre Creation in Tokyo from September 2–19, 2012, and toured to theatres in Niigata, Oita, Osaka and Fukuoka where it closed on October 3, 2012. The production returned to the Theatre Creation on January 5–9, 2013.[21] Caird's book and Gordon's lyrics were translated into Japanese by Maoko Imai. The Japanese productions starred Sakamoto Maaya as Jerusha and Inoue Yoshio as Jervis.

The Korean premiere of the production opened at the Daemyung Culture Factory in Seoul from July 19, 2016 and closed on October 3, 2016. Caird's book and Gordon's lyrics were translated into Korean by Lee Heejun and directed by Nell Balaban. The Korean productions are multi-cast, with 2 Jerushas and 3 Jervises. It starred Lee Jisook and Yuria as Jerusha and Shin Sungrok, Song Wongeun, and Kang Dongho as Jervis.

The Canadian premiere of the production, starring McGinnis and Hancock, opened at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Mainstage in Winnipeg, from March 14 until April 6, 2013.[22][23]

Music Theatre International (MTI) currently holds the worldwide licensing rights to the musical.[24] The university premiere of the show was at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on December 2nd and 3rd, 2017. [25]

Plot Synopsis[edit]

Note: While relatively retaining elements from Webster's book, some details have been changed, added, or removed (e.g.: In the book, Jerusha changes her name to Judy, whereas in the stage musical, she does not). The current synopsis reflects the current Off-Broadway production.

Act One[edit]

In an orphanage called the John Grier Home, Jerusha Abbott calls the first Monday of every month a "perfectly awful day" due to orphanage's trustees' monthly visit and how she bears the load of the preparations. After the visit, Mrs. Lippett, the home's matron, calls for Jerusha in her office. On her way there, she glimpses one of the Trustee's long, spindly, and spidery shadow cast by the headlights of his awaiting car ("The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home"). Mrs. Lippett hands her a letter from the Trustee she just saw leaving the home. Impressed by her amusing satirical essays about life at the orphanage, he devised a nine-point plan for her further education. The Trustee will be sending her to a local college with all expenses paid, with the intention that she educate herself to become a writer. The only condition is that Jerusha must write to him reporting her progress and impressions of the college, and that he will remain anonymous, only to be addressed as "Mr. Smith". Her letters will never be answered, nor take the slightest attention to them ("Who Is This Man?"). Jerusha arrives at the college, and begins to pen her first letter. She complains regarding her benefactor's alias: "Why couldn't you have picked out a name with a little personality?" After musing over what she'll call her mysterious benefactor, she finally decides on "Daddy Long Legs" due to his tall figure and she imagining him to be old and gray ("Mr. Girl Hater"). In his study in Manhattan, young philanthropist Jervis Pendleton, Jerusha's benefactor, is amused and puzzled over her first letter ("She Thinks I'm Old").

Jerusha writes about her lessons from her freshman year classes ("Freshman Year Studies"), and describes her anxiety over trying to fit in with the other girls at her college due to her upbringing in an orphanage ("Like Other Girls"). She then writes about her embarrassment at her lack of education and her excitement about learning ("Things I Didn't Know"). During the Christmas vacation, Jerusha stays behind in the college to catch up on her reading, and sends her love to Daddy Long Legs in her loneliness. The shy and awkward Jervis finds her affection-filled letters disconcerting ("What Does She Mean By Love?"). Jerusha flunks two of her first exams and is mortified. She becomes ill and writes angrily to Daddy Long Legs, accusing him of not caring for her and simply supporting her merely out of charity. Moved by this, Jervis sends her a bouquet of flowers, and Jerusha is penitent ("I'm A Beast").

Enthralled by her letters, Jervis arranges to meet his young beneficiary, under the pretence that he is meeting his niece Julia, who happens to be Jerusha's least favorite friend ("When Shall We Meet?"). After meeting Jervis, Jerusha is immediately drawn to him: "He's a real human being, not a Pendleton after all ... he looked at me as if he really knew me, almost better than I know myself." Despite this, Jerusha become more and more curious regarding her old and gray Daddy Long Legs ("The Color of Your Eyes").

The summer arrives, and Jerusha begs Daddy Long Legs not to send her back to the John Grier Home, as she has nowhere to go to. Jervis, adopting another guise as a "secretary" to Mr. Smith, sends her to Lock Willow Farm, where she explores her talent as a writer. Jerusha then proclaims that she finally knows what the secret of happiness is, and that is to live in the now ("The Secret of Happiness"). She also stumbles upon a connection between Jervis Pendleton and Lock Willow Farm, yet doesn't connect this information to her Daddy Long Legs. Jerusha expresses her longing to finally see her Daddy Long Legs, while Jervis becomes increasingly frustrated on whether he should reveal himself as her benefactor or not, realizing he is falling in love with her ("The Color of Your Eyes (Reprise)").

Act Two[edit]

Upon returning to the college for her sophomore year, Jerusha continues her studies and her writing, as well as become socially involved with the family of her friend Sallie McBride ("Sophomore Year Studies"). Jervis, upon reading that Jerusha's attachment of Sallie's attractive brother Jimmy, realizes that he is already falling for her. He then invite Jerusha, Julia, and Sallie for a long cultural weekend ("My Manhattan"). The summer arrives again, and Jerusha asks for permission to spend her vacation at the McBrides' country home on the Adirondacks. Jervis, through his secretarial alias, insists that she spend the summer at Lock Willow Farm instead. Feeling alone and trapped, Jerusha writes an angry letter in response to his domineering nature and finds it hard to forgive Mr. Smith ("I Couldn't Know Someone Less").

Jervis struggles to finally reveal himself to Jerusha as her Daddy Long Legs and subsequently confess his feelings. He thinks that Jerusha will never forgive him if he comes clean regarding his true identity ("The Man I'll Never Be"). Jervis visits Jerusha in Lock Willow, the farm where he grew up as a boy. The couple enjoy the countryside together and find themselves growing more and more attached to one another ("The Secret of Happiness (Reprise)"). Jerusha receives an invitation from Sallie to join her family at Camp McBride, and another from Jervis to meet him at Lock Willow. Despite Mr. Smith's warnings, Jerusha proceeds to Camp McBride due to some negative remarks she received from Jervis when he found out she turned down an invitation to Paris from Julia, to work as a teacher in French and Algebra to support herself. Jervis then contemplates on his controlling nature, both as Jervis and as Mr. Smith ("Humble Pie"). After four years, Jerusha completes her studies and invites Mr. Smith to her graduation ceremony to finally meet him. Jervis does attend the ceremony as Julia's guest, but does not reveal himself to the bitterly disappointed Jerusha ("Graduation Day"). Back in his Manhattan study, Jervis reflected on the concept of charity and its effects on both the benefactor and the beneficiary, and how Jerusha became a recurring character in his life ("Charity").

In Lock Willow, Jerusha writes to Mr. Smith that she will never think of him again after his no-show at her graduation ceremony ("I Have Torn You From My Heart"). After a few months, she writes that her first novel has been accepted by a publisher, and enclosed a check of $1000 as a first installment of her repayment of her college fees. She then tells that she will continue to repay her debt to him, and all future loyalties will proceed to the John Grier Home, making her a trustee and therefore, meeting him at last. Jervis is overwhelmed by this gesture and overjoyed over her success as a writer ("My Manhattan (Reprise)").

Jervis visits Jerusha in Lock Willow to ask her hand in marriage. Unable to tell him of her origins, she turns him down, thinking that he and his family might feel indifferent towards her when she does tell him. In her final letter, Jerusha declares her love for Jervis, and appeals for a personal meeting with Mr. Smith. Jervis, writing as Mr. Smith, agrees to meet her.

Jerusha finally arrives at their meeting place, and is surprised to see Jervis, whom she initially and skeptically assumes to be Mr. Smith's secretary. Jervis finally reveals to her that he is Mr. Smith or Daddy Long Legs. Distressed over this revelation, as well as realising that he has read her private letters about him, Jerusha accuses him of playing with her feelings and the mere fact that he didn't even write back over the course of four years, which Jervis acquiesces to ("I'm A Beast (Reprise)"). At last, he declares his love for Jerusha, which she reciprocates. Jerusha finally understands the grand scheme of things that led her to where she is now ("All This Time").

Characters[edit]

  • Jerusha Abbott - The "Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home". She is selected by Jervis Pendleton, under the alias "John Smith", to be educated in a local women's college under the instruction that she must send him a letter once a month, which he will never answer. She gives Pendleton the nickname "Daddy Long Legs" due to his tall shadow.
  • Jervis Pendleton - A shy and socially awkward philanthropist. Under the guise of Mr. John Smith (nicknamed "Daddy Long Legs" by Jerusha), he provides for her college education due to her promising writing skills.

Musical numbers[edit]

Act 1 [26]
  • "The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home" - Jerusha
  • "Who Is This Man?" - Jerusha
  • "Mr. Girl Hater" - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "She Thinks I'm Old" - Jervis
  • "Like Other Girls" - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "Freshman Year Studies" - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "Things I Didn't Know" - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "What Does She Mean By Love?" - Jervis
  • "I'm a Beast" - Jerusha
  • "When Shall We Meet?" - Jervis
  • "The Color of Your Eyes" - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "The Secret of Happiness" - Jerusha
  • "The Color of Your Eyes" (Reprise) - Jerusha, Jervis
Act 2 [26]
  • "Sophomore Year Studies"* - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "My Manhattan"# - Jervis
  • "I Couldn't Know Someone Less" - Jerusha
  • "The Man I'll Never Be" - Jervis
  • "The Secret of Happiness (Reprise)" - Jervis, Jerusha
  • "Humble Pie" - Jervis
  • "Graduation Day"# - Jerusha, Jervis
  • "Charity" - Jervis
  • "I Have Torn You From My Heart" - Jerusha
  • "My Manhattan (Reprise)"* - Jervis
  • "I'm A Beast (Reprise)" - Jervis
  • "All This Time" - Jerusha, Jervis

*Not present in any of the recordings

#Present in any of the recordings but in a different form (different medley and/or lyrics)

  • In the Original Cast and Japanese recordings, "Girl in the Window Display" was a duet by Jerusha and Jervis and was the predecessor to "My Manhattan"

Casts[edit]

CharacterWorld Premiere
Rubicon Theatre Company, 2009
Original West End Cast
St. James Theatre, 2012
Original Off-Broadway Cast
Davenport Theatre, 2015
Live Streamed / Closing Off-Broadway Cast
Jerusha AbbottMegan McGinnis
Jervis PendletonRobert Adelman HancockPaul Alexander NolanAdam Halpin

Off-Broadway understudies

  • Jerusha Abbott - Hannah Corneau, Ephie Aardema[27]
  • Jervis Pendleton - Will Reynolds[27]

Reviews[edit]

The show received positive reviews. According to the aggregator Show-Score, the show received a score of 81%, combining both scores from professional critics and audience reviews. The performers, especially McGinnis, received praise for their performances. However, critics are divided on the show itself, most faulting the epistolary approach to the libretto.[28]

Alexis Soloski, reviewing the Off-Broadway production for The New York Times, found that Gordon's music and lyrics "have a charm and ease, though the songs can blur into one another in ways that are sometimes purposeful and sometimes not" and Caird's book "appealing" and direction "nimble." She wrote of McGinnis having a "bright spirit, a mass of curly hair and a dulcet soprano" and of Nolan being "softly debonair" and possesses a "tender tenor that nicely encircles Ms. McGinnis's voice in their duets."[29]

Steven Suskin, reviewing the Off-Broadway production for The Huffington Post, found that the "letter-by-letter format inevitably leads to too many similar sections," yet found the musical "imaginative" and Caird's two-actor scheme "economical," in contrast with his "ponderously overdone" work for Jane Eyre (another collaboration between him and Gordon). He wrote of McGinnis to be charming, despite the "baldly expository opening number ('The Oldest Orphan in the John Grier Home')" and of Nolan to be "sweetly sympathetic here as he was harshly disruptive in Zhivago."[30]

Recordings[edit]

The original cast recording, featuring McGinnis and Hancock, was released by Paul Gordon Music on February 1, 2010.[31] The Japanese cast recording, featuring Sakamoto and Inoue, was released on June 18, 2014 by Toho Music and included 26 tracks in the Japanese language, translated by Maoko Imai.[32][33] The original Off-Broadway cast recording, featuring McGinnis and Nolan, was released by Ghostlight Records on November 13 (US digital release), November 20 (international digital release), and December 18, 2015 (CD release).[34][35][36]

Demo recordings of the songs from the musical were recorded in 2004 and 2005, with Jayne Paterson and Paul Gordon performing.[37][38]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^"resume - Leslie Henstock". Leslie Henstock. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  2. ^Strini, Tom (2012-03-12). "The Skylight's "Daddy Long Legs"". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  3. ^"John Caird Directs Rubicon Theatre Co's DADDY LONG LEGS, Opens 10/17". www.broadwayworld.com. Wisdom Digital Media. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  4. ^"Daddy Long Legs - St James Theatre". St James Theatre. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  5. ^Hetrick, Adam (2014-01-16). "Daddy Long Legs Musical, With Megan McGinnis and Robert Adelman Hancock, Will Have NYC Industry Presentation". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  6. ^Clement, Olivia (2015-05-19). "New Musical Daddy Long Legs Sets Off-Broadway Opening Dates". Playbill. Playbill, Inc. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  7. ^"DADDY LONG LEGS Will Now Play Open-Ended Run Off-Broadway". BroadwayWorld.com. Wisdom Digital Media, Inc. 2015-09-01. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  8. ^Lloyd Webber, Imogen (2015-11-09). "Paul Alexander Nolan Departs Daddy Long Legs; Will Reynolds Then Adam Halpin Replace Him". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  9. ^Rickwald, Bethany (2015-11-09). "Adam Halpin Joins Wife Megan McGinnis in Daddy Long Legs". TheaterMania.com. TheatreMania.com, Inc. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  10. ^Chow, Andrew (2015-11-29). "Musical 'Daddy Long Legs' Will Stream Live Online". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  11. ^Davenport, Ken (2015-12-22). "How many people watched the Daddy Long Legs livestream? Full statistics revealed!". www.theproducersperspective.com. Retrieved 2015-12-27. 
  12. ^"DADDY LONG LEGS to Play 200th Performance Off-Broadway Tonight". BroadwayWorld.com. 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  13. ^Clement, Olivia (2016-05-12). "Don't Miss Bittersweet Farewell Video for Closing Daddy Long Legs". Playbill. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  14. ^Hetrick, Adam (2010-01-20). "Gordon and Caird's Daddy Long Legs Struts Into TheatreWorks Jan. 20". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  15. ^Hetrick, Adam (2010-03-13). "Daddy Long Legs Begins Cincinnati Run March 13". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  16. ^"Daddy Long Legs - Northlight Theatre". www.northlight.org. Archived from the original on 2016-03-29. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  17. ^Kohn, Martin (2011-09-19). "Review: 'Daddy Long Legs' strides into The Gem Theatre". Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  18. ^"ANNOUNCING THE 2011–2012 SEASON". Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog. 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  19. ^"Daddy Long Legs". Florida Studio Theatre. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  20. ^"Daddy Long Legs Press Release". www.pcpa.org. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  21. ^"Daddy Long Legs". www.johncaird.com. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  22. ^"Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presents Daddy Long Legs | Members' Events | Creative Manitoba". www.creativemanitoba.ca. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  23. ^"Daddy Long Legs premières at RMTC". www.winnipegfreepress.com. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  24. ^Cocovinis, Jason (2015-12-08). "Music Theatre International Secures Worldwide Licensing Rights to Daddy Long Legs | Music Theatre International". www.mtishows.com. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  25. ^"MTC Small Fall Musical - Daddy Long Legs". www.facebook.com. 2017-12-02. Retrieved 2017-12-19. 
  26. ^ ab"Daddy Long Legs - Playbill"(PDF). www.daddylonglegsmusical.com. 
  27. ^ ab"Cast & Creative Team - Daddy Long Legs". Daddy Long Legs. Retrieved 2016-05-01. 
  28. ^Sheward, David (2015-09-30). "Review Roundup: 'Daddy Long Legs' Off-Broadway". NewYork.com. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  29. ^Soloski, Alexis (2015-09-29). "Review: In 'Daddy Long Legs,' an Orphan With a Mysterious Benefactor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  30. ^Suskin, Steven (2015-09-29). "Aisle View: Her Heart Belongs to Daddy". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  31. ^Jones, Kenneth (2009-11-09). "Daddy Long Legs Cast Album". Playbill. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  32. ^"CD DADDY LONG LEGS - Original Japan Cast 2013, EUR 45,95 -->". Soundofmusic Shop (in Japanese). Retrieved 2016-01-23. 
  33. ^"ダディ・ロング・レッグズ~足ながおじさんより~ - 2014 Japanese Cast". castalbums.org. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  34. ^"New Off-Broadway Musical DADDY LONG LEGS to Receive Cast Recording". BroadwayWorld.com. Wisdom Digital Media. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  35. ^"Daddy Long Legs [Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording] - Daddy Long Legs Cast,Megan McGinnis,Paul Alexander Nolan | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  36. ^"Off-Broadway's DADDY LONG LEGS Cast Album Out Digitally Today". broadwayworld.com. Wisdom Digital Media. 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  37. ^"Daddy Long-Legs - 2004 Demo". castalbums.org. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  38. ^"Daddy Long-Legs - 2005 Demo". castalbums.org. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  39. ^"Ovation Awards nominations announced for 2009–10 season". LA Times Blogs - Culture Monster. 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  40. ^"2009/2010 Ovation Award Winners ‹ @ This Stage". thisstage.la. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  41. ^"She Loves Me, American Psycho, and Bright Star Lead 2016 Drama Desk Award Nominations". TheaterMania.com. 2016-04-28. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  42. ^"UPDATE: Responding to Public Outcry, Drama Desk Adds 'Best Book of a Musical' Category". BroadwayWorld.com. 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  43. ^"UPDATING LIVE! The Winners of the 2016 Drama Desk Awards!". BroadwayWorld.com. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-06-06. 
  44. ^"American Psycho & She Loves Me Top List of 2016 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations". Broadway.com. 2016-04-19. Retrieved 2016-04-19. 
  45. ^"Cynthia Erivo, Steve Martin Win 2016 OCC Awards". outercritics.org. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  46. ^"THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM, DEAR EVAN HANSEN & More Score 2016 Off Broadway Alliance Award Nominations - Full List!". BroadwayWorld.com. 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  47. ^Rickwald, Bethany. "Off Broadway Alliance Announces 2016 Award Winners". TheatreMania.com. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

DADDY-LONG-LEGS


"BLUE WEDNESDAY"

The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day—a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste. Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bed without a wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say, "Yes, sir," "No, sir," whenever a Trustee spoke.

It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close. Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from four to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and started them in an orderly and willing line towards the dining-room to engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune pudding.

Then she dropped down on the window seat and leaned throbbing temples against the cool glass. She had been on her feet since five that morning, doing everybody's bidding, scolded and hurried by a nervous matron. Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that calm and pompous dignity with which she faced an audience of Trustees and lady visitors. Jerusha gazed out across a broad stretch of frozen lawn, beyond the tall iron paling that marked the confines of the asylum, down undulating ridges sprinkled with country estates, to the spires of the village rising from the midst of bare trees.

The day was ended—quite successfully, so far as she knew. The Trustees and the visiting committee had made their rounds, and read their reports, and drunk their tea, and now were hurrying home to their own cheerful firesides, to forget their bothersome little charges for another month. Jerusha leaned forward watching with curiosity—and a touch of wistfulness—the stream of carriages and automobiles that rolled out of the asylum gates. In imagination she followed first one equipage then another to the big houses dotted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring "Home" to the driver. But on the door-sill of her home the picture grew blurred.

Jerusha had an imagination—an imagination, Mrs. Lippett told her, that would get her into trouble if she didn't take care—but keen as it was, it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would enter. Poor, eager, adventurous little Jerusha, in all her seventeen years, had never stepped inside an ordinary house; she could not picture the daily routine of those other human beings who carried on their lives undiscommoded by orphans.

Tommy Dillon  who had joined the choir, came singing up the stairs and down the corridor, his chant growing louder as he approached room F. Jerusha wrenched herself from the window and refaced the troubles of life.

"Who wants me?" she cut into Tommy's chant with a note of sharp anxiety.

Tommy piously intoned, but his accent was not entirely malicious. Even the most hardened little orphan felt sympathy for an erring sister who was summoned to the office to face an annoyed matron; and Tommy liked Jerusha even if she did sometimes jerk him by the arm and nearly scrub his nose off.

Jerusha went without comment, but with two parallel lines on her brow. What could have gone wrong, she wondered. Were the sandwiches not thin enough? Were there shells in the nut cakes? Had a lady visitor seen the hole in Susie Hawthorn's stocking? Had—O horrors!—one of the cherubic little babes in her own room F "sassed" a Trustee?

The long lower hall had not been lighted, and as she came downstairs, a last Trustee stood, on the point of departure, in the open door that led to the porte-cochère. Jerusha caught only a fleeting impression of the man—and the impression consisted entirely of tallness. He was waving his arm towards an automobile waiting in the curved drive. As it sprang into motion and approached, head on for an instant, the glaring headlights threw his shadow sharply against the wall inside. The shadow pictured grotesquely elongated legs and arms that ran along the floor and up the wall of the corridor. It looked, for all the world, like a huge, wavering daddy-long-legs.

Jerusha's anxious frown gave place to quick laughter. She was by nature a sunny soul, and had always snatched the tiniest excuse to be amused. If one could derive any sort of entertainment out of the oppressive fact of a Trustee, it was something unexpected to the good. She advanced to the office quite cheered by the tiny episode, and presented a smiling face to Mrs. Lippett. To her surprise the matron was also, if not exactly smiling, at least appreciably affable; she wore an expression almost as pleasant as the one she donned for visitors.

"Sit down, Jerusha, I have something to say to you."

Jerusha dropped into the nearest chair and waited with a touch of breathlessness. An automobile flashed past the window; Mrs. Lippett glanced after it.

"Did you notice the gentleman who has just gone?"

"I saw his back."

"He is one of our most affluential Trustees, and has given large sums of money towards the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown."

Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of Trustees with the matron.

"This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through college by Mr.—er—this Trustee, and both have repaid with hard work and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment the gentleman does not wish. Heretofore his philanthropies have been directed solely towards the boys; I have never been able to interest him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no matter how deserving. He does not, I may tell you, care for girls."

"No, ma'am," Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected at this point.

"To-day at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought up."

Mrs. Lippett allowed a moment of silence to fall, then resumed in a slow, placid manner extremely trying to her hearer's suddenly tightened nerves.

"Usually, as you know, the children are not kept after they are sixteen, but an exception was made in your case. You had finished our school at fourteen, and having done so well in your studies—not always, I must say, in your conduct—it was determined to let you go on in the village high school. Now you are finishing that, and of course the asylum cannot be responsible any longer for your support. As it is, you have had two years more than most."

Mrs. Lippett overlooked the fact that Jerusha had worked hard for her board during those two years, that the convenience of the asylum had come first and her education second; that on days like the present she was kept at home to scrub.

"As I say, the question of your future was brought up and your record was discussed—thoroughly discussed."

Mrs. Lippett brought accusing eyes to bear upon the prisoner in the dock, and the prisoner looked guilty because it seemed to be expected—not because she could remember any strikingly black pages in her record.

"Of course the usual disposition of one in your place would be to put you in a position where you could begin to work, but you have done well in school in certain branches; it seems that your work in English has even been brilliant. Miss Pritchard who is on our visiting committee is also on the school board; she has been talking with your rhetoric teacher, and made a speech in your favour. She also read aloud an essay that you had written entitled, 'Blue Wednesday.'"

Jerusha's guilty expression this time was not assumed.

"It seemed to me that you showed little gratitude in holding up to ridicule the institution that has done so much for you. Had you not managed to be funny I doubt if you would have been forgiven. But fortunately for you, Mr. ——, that is, the gentleman who has just gone—appears to have an immoderate sense of humor. On the strength of that impertinent paper, he has offered to send you to college."

"To college?" Jerusha's eyes grew big.

Mrs. Lippett nodded.

"He waited to discuss the terms with me. They are unusual. The gentleman, I may say, is erratic. He believes that you have originality, and he is planning to educate you to become a writer."

"A writer?" Jerusha's mind was numbed. She could only repeat Mrs. Lippett's words.

"That is his wish. Whether anything will come of it, the future will show. He is giving you a very liberal allowance, almost, for a girl who has never had any experience in taking care of money, too liberal. But he planned the matter in detail, and I did not feel free to make any suggestions. You are to remain here through the summer, and Miss Pritchard has kindly offered to superintend your outfit. Your board and tuition will be paid directly to the college, and you will receive in addition during the four years you are there, an allowance of thirty-five dollars a month. This will enable you to enter on the same standing as the other students. The money will be sent to you by the gentleman's private secretary once a month, and in return, you will write a letter of acknowledgment once a month. That is—you are not to thank him for the money; he doesn't care to have that mentioned, but you are to write a letter telling of the progress in your studies and the details of your daily life. Just such a letter as you would write to your parents if they were living.

"These letters will be addressed to Mr. John Smith and will be sent in care of the secretary. The gentleman's name is not John Smith, but he prefers to remain unknown. To you he will never be anything but John Smith. His reason in requiring the letters is that he thinks nothing so fosters facility in literary expression as letter-writing. Since you have no family with whom to correspond, he desires you to write in this way; also, he wishes to keep track of your progress. He will never answer your letters, nor in the slightest particular take any notice of them. He detests letter-writing, and does not wish you to become a burden. If any point should ever arise where an answer would seem to be imperative—such as in the event of your being expelled, which I trust will not occur—you may correspond with Mr. Griggs, his secretary. These monthly letters are absolutely obligatory on your part; they are the only payment that Mr. Smith requires, so you must be as punctilious in sending them as though it were a bill that you were paying. I hope that they will always be respectful in tone and will reflect credit on your training. You must remember that you are writing to a Trustee of the John Grier Home."

Jerusha's eyes longingly sought the door. Her head was in a whirl of excitement, and she wished only to escape from Mrs. Lippett's platitudes, and think. She rose and took a tentative step backwards. Mrs. Lippett detained her with a gesture; it was an oratorical opportunity not to be slighted.

"I trust that you are properly grateful for this very rare good fortune that has befallen you? Not many girls in your position ever have such an opportunity to rise in the world. You must always remember—"

"I—yes, ma'am, thank you. I think, if that's all, I must go and sew a patch on Freddie Perkins's trousers."

The door closed behind her, and Mrs. Lippett watched it with dropped jaw, her peroration in mid-air.

Je-ru-sha Ab-bott
You are wan-ted
In the of-fice,
And I think you'd
Better hurry up!

Mrs. Lippett in the office,
And I think she's mad.
⁠Ah-a-men!

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