April 23, 1899

Dear Sol,
We are having another
rainy day but we have just
had two clear days. We cannot
complain. On the whole I rather
like rainy days, somehow they
seem to have more time in
them, wet expands them perhaps.
There is a girl practicing on the
piano just across the hall and
the strains of the melody she
is learning comes to me with
the painful duration and reiter-
ation and re reiterations of the much
practiced and much tortured music.
I believe I am getting nervous,
perhaps even beyond the control of my
“strong will.” I wrote you didn’t I
That Mr. Eldridge pronounced me a
“very nervous woman with a strong
will” but not the disagreeable kind
of a “nervous woman” he said. That was
rather nice of him wasn’t it.
Are you reading Jupiter Lights
and does Eve strike you as being
like me? I believe I’m like her,
especially in her characteristics of
wanting to control other people or
rather of wanting them to do and
think and feel just as she wants
them to and also in her pride in
her will and her indifference I don’t know
to people generally. I have been
thinking her very hateful and
disagreeable but since it has occurred
to me that she’s only like me I am
quite attached to her, I think I
would have shot the man just as
she did.
I think the stories in the magazines
have all been rather somber
lately. I wish Stockton would
write something good. Mr. Booth
has been reading Robert Elsmere
and talks about it a good deal.
I never can make up my mind
to read anything after everybody
has been talking about it so much.
I don’t believe I’ll attack Robert. I’m
sick of him already.
We had one vacation but some
how or other I was just as busy
every day as if we had school. I had
left a good many things undone think-
ing I would do them on vacation, so
I didn’t get much actual rest, however
I feel very well.
One day we went to the theater. Don’t
you tell anybody for it doesn’t sound
very well, but I enjoyed it very much.
A Japanese theater, of course. The play began
in the morning at [?] and lasted until
[?] in the evening and that was only
about half of the drama.
But I’ll begin and tell you the story.
About two hundred years ago there occurred
an episode which as far as I know, is
the most dramatic in all Japanese
history. You know Japan used
to have a most perfect feudal organization.
First there was the Tycoon then the Daimios [sp]
each of whom had his retainers called
Saumeri[sp] . The Daimios were very wealthy
and very aristocratic. The Samurais
also were very high minded they always
wore two swords and were very far
above the merchant class. They were
always devoted to their chief and he had
absolute power over them. They could
not be put to death but when they
committed a crime they, of accord, if
they were very brave, or by the order of
their superior if they waited for that,
committed “hair kiri” that is they
stabbed themselves in the abdomen.
Well two of the daimios got in
a quarrel, primarily about the wife
of one of them but ostensibly over a broach
of etiquette in the matter of bowing
which was a grave insult and the
daimio of lesser rank who was the
insulted and aggrieved one, drew his
sword on the other. That was a criminal
offense and he was ordered by the
Tycoon to commit “hari kiri” [sp] which he
did but before he died he adjured
his chief retainer to be revenged on his
enemy the bad daimio. This chief
retainer with 46 others vowed that they
would be revenged. It was no easy
matter for them to get at the old
fellow to kill and years elapsed
and much plotting and disguising
had to be gone through with before
the old fellow was killed the
the 47 conspirators (ronin they are
called I don’t know why) or what
was left some of them having
either been killed or killed themselves
in the struggle, committed harikiri [sp]
as a body. They are all buried
together around their chief in a
burying ground near Mr. Wykoff’s.
I went to see the grave while
I was staying here. You see what
a fine plot this makes for a
play. And the fact that it is
all true history and that the
characters were all of high rank
add greatly to the interest as
this play of the Forty Seven Ronins
is the play of Japan.
The theater, scenery etc. was not
as crude as I expected to find it,
about like the English theaters in
Shakespeare time and a little later
I imagine. The costumes were
gorgeous and the acting very
good. I did enjoy it so much
I wish I could describe it more
at length but it takes to [sp] long to
write it. As I said we only
saw half of the play so did not
get the climax, and not being
able to understand the speech
of course we lost a great deal.
Miss Shimada was with us and
kept us posted as to the general
trend of what was being said.
I did up a lot of calls during
vacation so feel that I have perform-
ed my duties to society. This
letter is rather worldly to balance
it. I will tell you that I try to
attend to [sp] of the prayer meetings of the
girls every week. (We have started
the Society of King’s Daughters I think
I told you) attend a Bible Class
[Thursday?] evenings and a prayer
meeting for Friday evenings both
at the parsonage every week
beside the Sunday services,
Your letter of Mar.17 reached me
on April 1[?]. We have had one
mail since that (it came through
very quickly) but it only brought
me one letter from Magdalene and
Maggie in which they inform
me that you are at home trying
to put a hole in the floor for a pump.
Hope you succeeded. They also
both speak very pathetically
of the trial they have had to
endure from the complaints about
the smell of the new gas stove.
I dare say you did your share
of the grumbling. Now, none of that!
I don’t want you to stay in
Burden, as you know. I don’t
like to be all the time grumbling
and trying to stir you up but it
really seems to me quite shocking.
Do you realize how many years
you have been there and how little,
at least as far as I know, you have
advanced! And do you also
realize how old you are getting? It is
just like our Sol sticking in that
old Metaline business. He spent
seven years of his life there
and he acknowledged himself now
that they were practically thrown away.
You might rather go somewhere
and get less salary if you could and see more
of the world and mingle more
with other people.
To be sure I don’t find people
in the abstract so satisfying
as I expected it and I don’t feel that
I have given it (the seeing of different
people) a fair trial yet, as I don’t
believe the community out here take
[it?] altogether as a fair specimen of
the nicer communities generally,
and at any rate I know that it
is necessary to man’s well being to
mingle largely, with his own kind
and it is also his duty to take in
as much of this worlds (not into
his pocket but into his brain as
he possibly can. I perceive my
eloquence is running away with
me so I will forbear. I put that
comma after “largely” in the grammatical
construction required it but for fear
you might put a rhetorical pause
after “mingle” which would make
rather a unique sentiment of
I think the lines you quote
from “Love’s Unrest” in [March Cen?]
are very good common sense, the
rest of the poem though is but
poor stuff, don’t you think so?
Speaking of people and ideals
did you read “Anne” in April
Harper by Rebecca H. Davis. Miserable
story! Made me renew my old
fear that I will never be able
to feel old. I think it is one
of the most pathetic things to
grow old outwardly and stay young
I think this letter must be about
long enough. Do you have
trouble reading my writing
on this paper? You know I
teach penmanship. I will send
you some specimens of my pupils
work some time. They begin to
write very nicely.
I am,
Very sincerely yours,
Mary Deyo

Transcribed by Susan Stewart
October 17, 2019

Mary's Letters
April 23, 1899