We had a good time at home, that is all except Albin who felt lonesome, but nevertheless we decided to go to Sheyenne on Sunday as Lillly and Florence wished to see the old crowd again.  It Ws the first time we had been there since our engagement so of course they had to be told.  Lilly met Ed again.  It wasn't exactly a jolly visit for, though it was the same old crowd, our relations had changed. Still, except for the mosquitoes, we enjoyed the ride and were glad that our engagements were known to them all.  But out of it came Will's and my first little estrangement.[1]

[1] Irritation - displeasure - no estrangement whatsoever.


        It couldn't be called a quarrel for we avoided that.  While at Hogelunds, Will and Selma were talking of our engagement and he gave her permission to send the news to the Fargo farm for which she then gathered news.  I did not know of this until the next Friday when the announcement was printed in the Casselton Reporter copied from the Forum.  I didn't like it at all.  In the first place we, at home, never announced our doings in the paper, and moreover I thought I should have been consulted.  Then, though Selma put it in the paper, it read, "Mr. And Mrs. Frank G. Johnson of Casselton announce etc." and they knew nothing about it.  I didn’t' say much but I acted cross instead of looking at it sensibly and Will was hurt.  But we talked it over and all was well.  He says I was sick or it wouldn't have bothered me.

        Will stayed at the farm until the first week of September.  [My school should have commenced the first but harvest was not yet over so for the convenience of the school board and myself it was put off a week.  I was glad of it for not only did it give me more time with Will, but it gave him no opportunity to visit my school.   I didn't want his opinion of me lowered.[1]]  Lillie and Florence were to begin teaching in Wheaton early in September so had to leave.  Will could possibly have stayed a few days longer but his former visit at home had been so short and the girls were anxious to have him  with them as the journey had to be at night so, though he hesitated, I did not urge him to stay.  Moreover we were very busy at home and Dora needed my help in getting ready to go to college.  But I did not like to see him go: I could have cried.  We decided to write two or three times a week though I thought once would be enough.

[1] !!Jenny must have been an excellent teacher.



        In the middle of September Will left Wheaton for Minneapolis on his way back to Cambridge.  He was suffering from stomach trouble and though the doctor whom h consulted in Cambridge had assured him that it was only dyspepsia, he now consulted Dr. Ringnell, an old friend of the family who told him he had appendicitis.  I had been teaching about a week when one evening Dora telephoned that Will was to have an operation for appendicitis the next morning.  I couldn't quite hear what she said at first and was greatly worried.  Still I was glad his trouble was appendicitis and not chronic dyspepsia or appendicitis is at least curable.  A day or two later Dora wrote and asked, at Will's request, if I could not come down to Minneapolis for a few days before he left.  His operation had been successful and he was rapidly recovering.  I didn't know what to do.  I had just taught a week and the term had already been delayed a week before beginning; the folks, though they did not really object, seemed to think it wiser not to go; besides Will was already over the serious part of his illness so I finally decided not to go.  I wrote to him every day and send Dora money with which to buy him flowers and books.  As soon as he was able he wrote me daily and Dora told me that he had my picture stuck up at the foot of his bed where he could see it always.  He gained strength rapidly and was able to leave the hospital and go to Esther's house in a little over a week[1] and in a week more was ready to start for Cambridge.  Dora visited him daily and did all she could for him.  That evening before he started for Cambridge they telephoned again and I talked with both of them for a few minutes.  I was so happy to hear that he was so well.

[1] On the sixth day.



        Then began the first year of separation and letter writing.  Up to that time I supposed I had not written over a dozen readable letters in my life and had never used endearing terms either in letters or out so he soon began to find faults in them.  At first we wrote once a day and later two or three times a week.   Now we did not expect to be married for four years so there was nothing to plan about and school teaching is not an adventurous occupation.  Nor is farm life full of incident so there was little to write about when the first impulse was over.  Moreover I have a feeling that I had to write only of things that would interest him, not realizing that anything which concerned or interested me could interest him.  Every day there were little occurrences I did not think worthy of writing about.  First of all Will wanted me to write "Dear Will".  He wrote "Dearest Jenny" as he said he used to write by himself before we were engaged just to see how it would look.  I wrote "Dear Will" as I always had done and I didn't like "Dearest Will."  There was only one Will and if I wrote him, "Dearest Will" this implied that there was more than one Will.  We of course, thought the whole discussion was absurd, so I well knew, and I soon began to write "Dearest Will", alternating it with other salutations which pleased him as well.  What he desired was simply that I should salute him in a different and dearer term than I used in writing to mere friends.  He didn't make that clear however and hence the discussion.  It seems funny now.

        Then the shortness of my letters was a fruitful source of difference they were often not only short but not affectionate.  This latter I learned in time though the old habit of reticence in love terms is not overcome in a day and expressions of affection were unknown in my home though the affection was there.  The shortness of my letters was due, partly, to lack of incident and partly to lack of time, though both lacks were greatly imaginary.  I should have "just written".  Had I not been so particular both as to subject and quality I could have written much better letters in half the time.  I taught school all day and in the evening I felt I ought to spend some time with the family, playing cards, the piano, etc.  After ten o'clock letter writing is not so easy and it always took me over an hour to write my letter, however short.  Instead of "just writing" I'd sit and dream about him, imagining him near, wondering what he was doing, etc.  Then he complained that I did not seem interested in what he wrote; this because I did not always comment upon it.  Like myself he did not take for granted that whatever concerned him interested me.  Moreover if a letter did not come when he expected it, he worried.   He was not yet quite strong after his operation and that partly accounted for his impatience.  Once I misdirected one of my letters [this was in the spring] and it came back so he received none for over a week.  I had written previously that I had a slight cold.  He couldn't endure the silence and telegraphed home "Is Jenny critically ill?"  I was at school and Anna received the message The thought it so absurd that she did not answer.  They told me about it laughingly when I came home and I probably would have answered but thought a letter written two days before had by that time arrived.  Will says he did not receive the letter until the day after he sent the telegraph and that an answer would have spared him many hours of inability to work and consequent waste of time and money.

        There is one more thing, which no doubt accounts in part for the quality of my letters during the latter half of our first year's separation.  It is this:  I began to think about his former engagement to Miss Bowker.  During the first part of our engagement she did not seem very real to me but thinking made her so.  In my imagination I went through it all and bouts began to come.  If Will had been mistaken once might he not be so again?  If he had loved her, was his love of the fleeting sort?  How could I be sure he would continue to love me?  Was his former infatuation a sign of weakness?  I went over it again and again each time coming to the conclusion that my questionings were absurd.  He had merely been infatuated with a flirt.  He had said he loved me and there was no doubt about it.  Then what was the matter with me?  Didn't I trust him?  Of course.  Didn't I love him?  Of course.  But why then didn't I have a feeling of "oneness" with him.  His letters often made me feel that he was not satisfied with me just as I was.  I was afraid he would be disappointed in me when we were married; I felt he expected so much of me and yet if he hadn't, I wouldn't have loved him half as well.  I knew I didn't have the beauty and social charm of Miss Bowker.  I was not as good a housekeeper or wise as home ruler as his mother.  I was not as brilliant as Florence or as sweet tempered as Lillie or as captivatingly jolly as Dora; if, as it seemed to me, he expected to find in me the best in all of them, he would surely be disappointed.  Twice when I got to this point I gave up in despair and cried.  How I did long for him!  I just wanted him to put his arms around me, as I knew he would, and tell me that he loved me just as I was.  Then I'd decide I was foolish and make up my mind not to think about it but just be the best I could as hard as I knew how and begin immediately.  It wasn't likely that just getting married would change my spots.

        But I will be giving the impression that our letter writing was all unsatisfactory.  That is not true.  For weeks the letters would be good, though at the best, mere letters are poor substitutes to lovers.  We wrote of our doings, of books we read, of study and work, and of our ideas of married life, of children, etc.  But of the good, contended love letters it can be said in part quotation, "Happy are those letters whose annals are brief?"  Will used to send me clippings from papers, copies of letters he wrote, criticisms of books and whenever I had anything of interest I did the same.  He wrote me about his best friends the Wymans, Gene Hofeller, Molly Lerner, and others until I seemed almost to know them.  He  was getting along well with his studies and gradually made up for the time lost while sick and besides this after Christmas was able to earn a good deal by typewriting.  Also after Christmas he did some work for Prof. Beale and by so doing was able to earn enough for an engagement ring.  He told me about the work through not about its object.  He also sent me some Swedish books which we discussed and I sent him "The Ballingtons" of which, after a great deal of delay, I wrote a review.

        With this I will leave the letters except as may have occasion to refer to them in the course of my writing.  We have them all; they speak for themselves.  The second year series were on the whole more satisfactory for there was a growing "oneness" between us, and more understanding, while our approaching marriage lent them both incident and interest.

        Now I shall go back to Will's departure for college.  Before he went we had talked about Miss Bowker again and I thought that there was no reason why, if he wished, they should not be friends and advised him not to avoid her.  He found that she was still ready to charm him back if possible.  Having heard of his operation she sent him flowers and a note and with her mother called on him.  He happened not to be at home but wrote her a courteous note of thanks.  He even invited her to go with him to a football game which she did.  On their return she lingered on the stairs and  by her manner invited caresses but he was now immune.  She invited him to call and he did once or twice but after learning of his engagement to me she ceased her attentions.  He wrote her of our engagement in reply to a solicitous note regarding his health.  He sent me all the notes, which she wrote him after his return as well as copies of his answers thereto.

        WILL:  After her attempt to make me kiss her -- we were not now engaged -- I think I did not call again.  She wrote notes, sent papers, sent a book for my birthday, etc.  I sent the book back and told her rather incisively of my engagement to Jenny.  This letter of mine is interesting.  After this she bothered me no more, but told many lies to my friends to explain matters.  I had already told them!  I have not seen her since to speak to her. 

        Will wished me to visit his folks at Wheaton as soon as possible and Dora and I and Selma Hogelund had planned to go at Thanksgiving.  Florence and Lillie were teaching but Florence became sick and had to give up her school.  She was sick in bed for six weeks and died two days before the Sixth of November when she would have been twenty years old.  Poor little Florence!  She was ready and though we all loved her we could not but know that it was best so.  She had long realized that it would be hard to live a life which must be sadly different from the rest of us.  She knew that marriage and children were not for her and felt that she would always be a burden on someone even though we all planned she should live with us.  Lillie and Mr. Clough planned for her and so did Will and I.  She only wanted to live for Lilly's wedding they had planned it together but it was not to be.  By some mistake Lilly's letter announcing her death was delayed and I did not get it until the day of her funeral so could neither go nor send flowers as I should have wished.  On account of Florence's death we though perhaps it would be better to delay our visit to Wheaton but Lilly still wanted us to come and, as I knew Will wished it, I decided then I would anyway.  But even then I could not go.  The day before Thanksgiving a snow storm set in and though I had my clothes packed and ready the folks, knowing how impassable the roads would be, wouldn't let me start.  Selma had tried to drive to Fargo but was compelled to turn back.  Dora went however by train from Minneapolis although Papa and Mamma assured me she would know better as Rev. Monten said afterwards, they thought she would come because she had no one to advise her.  I was disappointed and so was Will and so were his folks and Dora.