Dear Mrs. Brown,
My daddy John Arthur Rowe says Thank you very much but I may not come we will not be beholden in any way, he says to say that he is better, he is not. I will come to school agin another time may be Ethel will come too and Garnie, after the thaw, the Rolettes will drive us as before, they have a wagon you know. So we will walk down to Home Creek sometimes and come with them.
So please do not let Mister Brown try to come up here it is not a good idea atall, even Victor says, do not come.
No Granny Rowe is not here right now, she has had to go back over on Dimond Fork to get Tenessee who will run after men if you leave her alone so Granny Rowe has to watch her, she cant keep her hands off the men. These are Daddys aunts is who they are.
To anser your questin, Yes I will be so happy to play with your nice when she comes to visit I will be so happy to do so.
Victor is going over to Bone Valley now where Babe works for the Frank Ritter Lumber Company, Victor hopes to find work ther too, he will send us money, he will come back to plant in the spring. So we will be fine. Do not worry please, and here is your book, do not let Mister Brown come here please as Daddy says he has not got no use for him or his prayers. To anser your questin, my momma sits out in the snow and crys, she says shes a fool for love. What is the name of your nice? We thank you for your kindness we are fine. I do not know wether you will recive this letter or not thogh I remane forever your devoted,
Dear Mister Castle,
You do not know me, I am your grand-daghter, Ivy Rowe. The daghter of your girl Maude who left Rich Valley to come to Blue Star Mountain with my daddy John Arthur Rowe. My daddy is sick now Momma is not pretty no more but crys all the time now I thoght you migt want to know this I thoght you migt want to help out some iffen you knowed it and send some money to us at the P.O. at Majestic, Va., you can send it to me, Ivy Rowe. I am hopen you will send us some money. I am hopen you will get this letter I will send it to you at Rich Valley, Va. by Curtis Bostick he comes up here courting Beulah who has not been bleeding for a while now, we do not know iffen she will marry Curtis Bostick or not his momma is pitching a fit agin it so they say. It is one more thing to contend with, Momma says. Beulah says she wuldnt have him on a stick but she wuld I bet, nevermind what she says. We have not got hardly a thing up here now but meal and taters and shucky beans, Danny has a rising like a pone on the side of his neck and Daddy breths awful. Please if you are alive now send us money, tell no one I am writting you this letter they wuld kill me for axing but I know you are a rich man I will bet you are a good man too. I remane your devoted granddaghter,
My dear Hanneke,
I hate you, you do not write back nor be my Pen Friend I think you are the Ice Queen insted. I do not have a Pen Friend or any friend in the world, I have only Silvaney who laghs and laghs and Beulah who is mad now all the time and Ethel who calls a spade a spade. I know you are so rich with all your lace and those fine big cows. I know you have plenty to eat. I know I am evil and I wish evil for you too. Mister Brown told us one time that God is good, but He is not good or bad ether one, I think it is that He does not care. I hope that the sea will come in the hole in the dike and flood you out and you will drown. I will not send this letter as I remane your hateful,
Dear Mrs. Brown,
I am writing to thank you for the meal and the flour and coffee and the beans you have sent us, Green Patterson come up here with them, he says Mister Brown has payed to send them from Stoney Branhams store. We are so thankful to have them. Things is better up here now as I will relate.
To anser your questin, yes we did have Christmas it is different we do not have a tree here nor have ever seed one. Oakley Fox said you and Mister Brown have made a tree and hanged it with play-prettys I wuld admire to see it so. On December 25 they is not a thing happening as a rule but on Old Christmas Eve that is Janury 5 this is when Gaynelle and Virgie Cline comes over and tells storys all nigt with Daddy as they did it when Daddy was young, this is Christmas to us.
So to anser your questin, on December 25 they was not a thing happening up here on Sugar Fork nor even down at Home Creek but that folks drinks likker and shoots off ther guns, I do not mean us we have got no likker here now but Ethel and me shot the gun. It was fun you culd hear them bang like thunder up and down the Fork and clear down on Home Creek. Ethel and me was out in the snow I was wearing Daddys coat and his old black hat, Momma says he will never wear them agin.
It had froze all the previous nigt so when I walked out ther Mrs. Brown, it was so pretty that it like to have took my breth away. Ice just shining on each and evry limb of evry tree and isickles thick as your arm hanging down offen the house. It was like I looked out on the whole world and I culd see for miles, off down the mountain here, but it was new. The whole world was new, and it was like I was the onliest person that had ever looked upon it, and it was mine. It belonged to me.
Now it is new for me to feel this as I have not had hardly ever a thing of my own, it is handmedowns and pitching in and sharing everything up here on Sugar Fork, they is so many of us up here as you know. But I looked out over all them hills, and the land was sloped so diffrent, from the snow. And every tree was glittering, and Sugar Fork black and singing along mostly under the ice. The snow come plum up to my knees. Nobody else had got up yet and I reckon I was the onliest one in the world. My breth hung like clouds in the air and the sun come up then, it liked to have blinded me. Well now this is the time I know Mrs. Brown when you pray, but to anser your questin if I pray, I can not. So I know I am evil but I do not feel evil.
And this is what happend next.
I heerd them guns popping all threw the hills and then I knowed it was Christmas wich I had clean forgot. All the rest of them was sleeping in the house. ETHEL I hollered, and direckly she come, wearing Daddys dead mommas old coat, she looked so funny I liked to of died. Get the gun I hollered, and whilst she was doing it I layed rigt down in the snow and made angels, I must of made a thousand angels but I never got wet, that snow was as dry as powder. Lord it was a pretty pretty day. Then I stands up and brushes off Daddys coat real good and drawed in my breth real good, it was like I was brething champane.
And I says, I am the Ice Queen, rigt out loud. I felt so good.
Then Ethel come running out with the guns and we fired them, I love that blue smoke and the way they smell. Well this woken everbody up a course and they flung open the door and all come running out hollering even Beulah who is big now and little Danny he is sick was laghing and crying at once.
And then do you know what happend next?
Our Momma tied back her hair and smiled and popped popcorn on the fire, did you ever hear the like of popping corn for breakfast? It beat all. So now that was what happend on the morning of Dec. 25, and next I will tell you of what follered which is so strange I cannot credit it yet at all.
It was along about evening and Ethel and Garnie and me was all gathered up close around the fire trying to get dryed out, we had done gone all the way down to Home Creek and slid on the ice with the neghbor people, the Conaways and the Rolettes and the Foxes, they was all out there sliding, and Delphi Rolette he was playing the fool, he brung a little old rocky chair out there and took to pushing all the littluns on the ice. One time his old woman Reva Rolette come out from there crying and twisting her hands and says oh Delphi come on back to the house, you know you are crazy drunk you are going to hell for sartin. But Mister Delphi Rolette he laghs a great big lagh and pushes little old Dreama Fox, the leastest one of them Foxes, around on the ice. I have heerd tell how Mister Delphi Rolette is so bad to drink, but you cannot tell it, I think he is nice but his old woman is touched for sure. She is crazy religios too, Oakley Fox says she talks out of her head and will swaller her tonge iffen the rest of them does not hold her down and grab it. She is a big large fleshy woman and real religios so they say. And Oakley Fox is telling me all of this. Then he says, come up to the house now, my momma says to bring you all up there afore you set off for home. Now Oakleys momma Edith Fox is real sligt and ashy-pale, her hair is as ligt as Silvaneys. Oh honey, she says to me, how are you keeping? Shes not as big as a minit, Edith Fox. And then she just up and kisses me, which set me off crying, I cant say for why thogh. It is like Oakleys momma is little and soft and sweet but my momma is hard as a rocky-clift, and her eyes burns out in her head.
Looky here younguns, Oakleys momma says, and she given us a hunk of apple stack-cake apiece it was the bestest thing I have put in my mouth so far. And Oakley and Dreama and Ray get stack-cake whenever they want it I reckon, ther daddy lives in a camp at Coeburn he has got a big job in the lumber mills ther and dont come home of a week. Ethel and me says no thank you mam after one hunk but that little old Garnie just eats and eats, I dont reckon hes ever had such as that before. Dreama and Ray is spoilt I think but Oakley is real nice in fact he is TOO nice, I gess I am like Daddy and hate to be beholden for ary a thing. Oakley has freckles and a big smile like his mommas I cannot smile back, insted I want to hit him, I can not tell why.
So we make our manners and clumb up Sugar Fork, it was coming on for dark then and all the shadders was blue. We cross Sugar Fork one, two times on the crackly ice, and then we come walking up the lastest rise, me and Ethel pulling Garnie by the hands atwixt us, and him just fussing, and then we can see the house sticking up there outen the snow with smoke rising from the chimbly and snow on the roofshakes and isickles hanging down offen the roof. The cedars looks so diffrent all bowed down with snow, and blue shadders underneath coming creepen up towards the house. Law, it looked like a picture book!
This here is Christmas, I says to Garnie and Ethel, now you all mark it.
And when we come in, my hands was too froze to work good. Did you all have a good time? Momma axed us and we said, Yesm. Her and Beulah was carding wool by the fire and Daddy was sound asleep on his pallet rigt there. You could hear his breth all around it is like a rattle way down inside him. Silvaney was looking out the winder she can look for hours and hours at the snow it is like she has never seed any such thing, she takes on so about the snow. So I go over and look out with her.
It was coming on for dark real fast then, everthing was blue and gray and white and silver, it did not look like Sugar Fork no more it looked like Fairyland out ther as nigt come on. Then the air growed as thick and as dark as the waters of that big swimming hole down on the Levisa River where Daddy taken us oncet, and when we looked out the winder it was like looking down in that swimming hole where we culd see the forms of the silver troutfish go flashing by way down so deep in the water that you culdnt exackly see them, you just thoght you culd. Well looking out the winder was like that, I thoght I culd almost see things or the shapes of things, moving behind the dark behind the cold thick air. Silvaney and me held hands.