A Temporary Dead-Lock - 1891
by Thomas A. Janvier
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By Thomas A. Janvier

Copyright, 1891, by Harper & Brothers


Mr. John Amesbury, Senior Warden of St. Jude's Church, Minneapolis, to the Rev. Clement Markham:

Vestry of St. Jude's, April 4th.

Dear Mr. Markham,—At a special meeting of the wardens and vestry of St. Jude's Church held this day, it was unanimously decided to grant your request for leave of absence from your duties as rector of this parish from June 1st till September 13th, inclusive, proximo, with permission to go abroad. I am instructed further to state that the wardens and vestry of St. Jude's have much pleasure in granting your request, as they feel that your zealous and very successful administration of the affairs of the parish has abundantly entitled you to a period of relaxation and rest. Your salary for the term of your absence will be paid to you in advance.

In my personal capacity, my dear Markham, permit me to add that I am delighted that you are to have this holiday. You richly deserve it. By-the-way, a good deal of amusement was caused by the rather characteristic error in the date of your formal application for leave. Were you to receive precisely the holiday that you asked for, you would have to turn back the wheels of time, for your letter was dated last year!


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont, Boston:

St. Jude's Rectory, Minneapolis, May 15th.

Dear Aunt Lucy,—We are getting on famously with our preparations for the summer. Dear Clement is full of his visit to England, and I am sure that he will have a delightful time. The bishop has given him a letter of introduction to the Bishop of London, and another to Dean Rumford, of Canterbury, so a very desirable introduction to the best clerical society is assured to him. He expects to sail from New York on the City of Paris June 5th, and to sail from London on the same vessel on September 4th. This will bring him back to New York in plenty of time to get home to preach on the next Sunday, the 14th. He expects to write his sermon on the voyage. It would be delightful to go with him, but this is impossible on account of the children. I have engaged board for the summer at a small but very good hotel in the White Mountains—the Outlook House, Littleton, New Hampshire—and I expect to be very comfortable there. I made a funny mistake in writing for my rooms. I directed my first letter to Littleton, New York. Wasn't it absurd?

Dear Clement expects to get some vestments in London, where they make them so well, you know, and he has promised to bring me from Paris—where he will spend a fortnight—two dozen pairs of gloves and six pairs of black silk stockings. Fancy my having six pairs of black silk stockings at once! I shall feel like a queen. The children are very well.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

On board "City of Paris," June 5th—3:80 p.m.... I stayed with my brother Ronald last night, and he and Van Cortlandt came down to see me off. I barely caught the steamer, for I forgot my watch—left it on the mantel-piece in Ronald's chambers—and did not remember it until we were half-way down town. Ronald said, in his chaffing way, that I left my head somewhere when I was a boy, and that I have been going around without it ever since. I wish that he and Van Cortlandt hadn't such silly notions about my incapacity in the ordinary affairs of life—not that I really mind their nonsense, for you know how well I love them both. I am very glad that you consented to go directly to the mountains instead of coming to New York to see me off. There was a great crowd on the dock, and I much prefer to think of our tender parting.... Be sure to cable me on the 15th—the day that I get to London. The address, you know, is simply, "Clement, London," and I am to arrange with my bankers to have the despatch sent to me. Good-bye, my—Here is the pilot.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

[Cable Despatch.]

London, June 16th. Why have you not cabled?


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

Charing Cross Hotel, London, June 16th.... After I cabled you this morning I remembered that I hadn't arranged with the bankers about my cable despatches. When I had rectified this error of omission I received your despatch of yesterday. It was a very great relief to my mind to have direct news from you, and to know of the safety and health of my loved ones, who are dearer to me....


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

Charing Cross Hotel, London, August 20th.

... I had a delightful fortnight in Paris.... I bought the gloves and the stockings—it was droll, and not quite proper, about buying the stockings. I will tell you all about it when I get home. And I also bought you Something Else that I am sure will be a pleasant surprise to you when you see it....

His lordship, Dr.———, has been kindness itself to me. I dined again at Lambeth Palace yesterday—a farewell dinner. I was a little late, I am sorry to say, for I got into the wrong boat at Westminster Bridge, but his lordship very cordially accepted my excuses. At dinner I was seated next to a very interesting man who has charge of a large parish in the east end of London. Such poverty as there is in that wretched region, and such moral depravity, are sickening to contemplate. Thank Heaven, there is nothing like it in Minneapolis....

I shall sail (D. V.) on the City of Paris two weeks from to-morrow. I think that the best arrangement will be for you to come down to your aunt Lucy's on the 11th, and on the 12th (D. V.) I will join you at her house in Boston, whence we will start for home that evening via the Boston and Albany. I must be in New York for a few hours to see Ronald and to make the final arrangements about the new stained-glass windows. If you prefer to meet me in New York, arrange matters with Ronald, who will meet you at the station and take you to a hotel. As I shall go directly to his office on landing, I will find out at once what you have decided to do.... On referring to your letter of the 10th I perceive that you are afraid that I may have made some mistake about the sizes of the stockings and gloves. Of course I got the right sizes; I had it written down: "No. 61/4, long fingers," and "No. 8 1/2, narrow ankles." Don't fall into Ronald's way of fancying that I always get things wrong. It was about the narrow ankles that—But I had better wait and tell it to you when I get home. It certainly was very droll. I have bought a most satisfactory chasuble, very elegant in material and beautifully made. I should have hesitated to buy so costly a garment for myself; but this is for the Service of the Sanctuary. It will make something of a stir among the congregation, I think, the first time that I wear it in dear St. Jude's.... If, as is probable, I go down into Wales next week, this will be my last letter. My heart is full of joyful thankfulness to think that so very soon I shall see again (D. V.) my own dear Margaret, who....


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont, Boston:

Littleton, August 29th.

Dear Aunt Lucy,—I have just received a long and delightful letter from dear Clement. He had a lovely time in Paris, and he has bought me the gloves and the silk stockings, and also Something Else; but he won't tell me what this other thing is, for he means it to be a surprise. Do you think it could possibly be the silk for a dress? He knows how much I want a new black silk. But I shall not think about it, for I don't want to be disappointed. He has had such delightful dinners with his lordship the Bishop of London at Lambeth Palace. His lordship was "kindness itself," Clement writes. Clement must have made a very favorable impression, of course. And Clement writes that he has bought such a love of a chasuble. It will stir up the whole congregation the first time that he wears it, I am sure.

If it is quite convenient to you, dear Aunt Lucy, I shall come down to you, with the nurse and the children, on the 11th. That is the day that Clement will arrive in New York, and he writes that he will come to Boston the next day—after seeing Ronald, and attending to the final arrangements about our beautiful new chancel windows—and join me at your house.

But if this arrangement is the least bit inconvenient to you, please tell me so frankly, for I can perfectly well meet him in New York, where Ronald will take care of me till he comes—a plan that he also has arranged in case I do not go to you. Dear Clement always is so thoughtful and careful, you know. Please answer soon, so that I may know what to do. The weather is quite chilly here now. The children are brown as little berries and very well. Baby has cut another tooth.


Mrs. Winthrop Tremont to Mrs. Clement Markham,

Littleton, New Hampshire:

No. 19 Mount Vernon Place, August 30th. My dear Margaret,—I write at once because, I am very sorry to say, it will be impossible for me to have you here on the date that you name. I have just completed my arrangements for having the entire house papered and painted. All the furniture is locked up in the dining-room (that was done up, you remember, last summer), and I set out this afternoon on a round of visits that will fill up the time until September 12th, when I am promised that the work will be done. The servants are to have holidays and the painters and paper-hangers are to be in complete possession of the premises. Could I be sure that they would keep their promises and get through by the 12th, I should urge your coming on that day, which still would be in time to meet Clement, instead of on the 11th. But you know how uncertain people of this sort are. Much as I would love to have you and Clement with me, I think that you had better follow out your second plan, and go to Ronald's care in New York.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Ronald Markham, New York:

Littleton, August 31st.

Dear Ronald,—Clement had arranged, in case we could stay at Aunt Lucy's, to meet me in Boston on his return. But I have just received a letter from Aunt Lucy in which she says that her house is torn up, and that we cannot possibly come to her before the 12th. Therefore I must adopt the other plan that dear Clement, with his usual thoughtfulness, has suggested, which is to meet him in New York. He tells me to ask you to engage rooms for me in some quiet hotel, and also to ask you to meet me on my arrival with the children and nurse. I shall leave here on the morning of the 10th by the White Mountain Express (that gets in at Jersey City, I think); and if you will care for me in the way that Clement suggests, I shall be very grateful.

Clement has had a lovely time during his holiday. He has been especially favored by seeing a great deal of the higher clergy. He has dined repeatedly with the Lord Archbishop of London at Lambeth Palace, and I am sure that he must have created a very favorable impression among them, and given them a highly satisfactory idea of the clergymen of the American branch of the Anglican Church. Please answer soon, so that I may know what to do. I forgot to say that Clement expects to arrive on the 11th. He is to sail on the 4th.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

[Cable Despatch.]

Liverpool, September 3d. Sail to-day.


Mr. Ronald Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:


San Antonio, Texas, September 5th.

Here for a week on railroad business. Van Cortlandt will secure you rooms and meet you. Write him at No. 120 Broadway.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, New York:

Littleton, September 5th.

Dear Mr. Van Cortlandt,—By a telegram that I have just received from Ronald, I find that he is in Texas. I had written to him to ask him to secure rooms for me at some quiet hotel, and to meet me at Jersey City on the evening of the 10th, on the arrival of the White Mountain Express. Of course he cannot do this now, and he telegraphs me to ask you to do it all in his place. I feel that I am taking a great liberty in asking so much of you, but I really cannot help myself. I had expected to meet Clement in Boston at my aunt's, but my aunt is out of town; and now Ronald is away from New York. It is very provoking. So, you see, I can only throw myself on your mercy. But I do this with the less hesitation because I know how strong your friendship is for my dear Clement, who will be, as I will be also, very grateful to you.

I am very much puzzled by a cable despatch from Clement that came two days ago. It reads, "Sail to-day," and is dated September third. Clement's passage was engaged on the City of Paris, which I know was advertised to sail on September fourth, and that is the date that he all along has named for his return. Can the date of sailing have been changed? Ought I to come to New York one day earlier? Everything seems to be going wrong of late, and I am both worried and perplexed. If you can think of any comforting explanation that will account for this change, I shall be very much obliged to you. Please give my kindest regards to Mrs. Van Cortlandt.


Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt to Mrs. Clement Markham, Littleton, New Hampshire:

Law Offices of Van Cortlandt, Howard, Warrington & Edgecombe, Equitable Building, 120 Broadway.


New York, September 7th.

My dear Mrs. Markham,—Your favor of the 5th is received. I am very glad indeed that I shall have this opportunity to serve you. You must not consider yourself under any obligation at all. Remember how close Clement is to me, though our ways in life have separated widely, and how true his friendship has been to me through all these years. I am delighted that Ronald is out of town, and that I am to be permitted to serve you in his place.

I regret exceedingly that Mrs. Van Cortlandt is still in the Catskills, and that our house still remains in its condition of summer dismantlement. Were she at home, and the house in order, you would come directly to us, of course. As this cannot be, I have engaged an apartment for you with my old landlady, Mrs. Warden, No. 68 Clinton Place. For a number of years before I was married I occupied rooms in this house, and I am confident that you will be far more comfortable there than you possibly could be at any hotel. Mrs. Warden, who is a motherly old body, and who remembers Clement well, will take the best of care of you, and I have arranged that your meals shall be sent across to you from the Brevoort.

In regard to Clement's cable despatch, I am as much puzzled as you are. One of my young men has just returned from the office of the Inman Line, and reports that the City of Paris sailed on her regular date, the 4th, and is due to arrive here on Wednesday next, the 11th. My young man was assured that no steamer belonging to any of the regular lines left Liverpool for this port on the 3d. The Cunard steamer Samaria did leave Liverpool on the 3d, however, for Boston. It is possible, of course—since your original plan seems to have been that you and Clement should meet in Boston—that he has sailed in the Samaria. But I do not think that this is probable. The Samaria is a much slower boat than the City of Paris, and I think that even Clement would perceive that by sailing in her he would lose time instead of gaining it. Frankly, my dear Mrs. Markham, I think that Clement simply has mixed things up in his despatch by writing "today" when he meant "to-morrow." Bless his dear old heart! he always did have a faculty for getting things wrong, you know. I decidedly advise you, therefore, to come down to New York on the 10th, as you have already arranged.

I observe that you speak of the White Mountain Express as coming in at Jersey City. This is a mistake: it arrives at the Forty-second Street Station. Bear this fact in mind, please; and I advise you to write on a card—which you had better have easily accessible in your pocket-book—Mrs. Warden's address, No. 68 Clinton Place. Then, should I miss you in the crowd at the station, or should any other mischance occur in regard to our meeting, you will know where to tell your driver to take you, and where to send your trunks. Do not fear that any such untoward accident will occur: it is only professional prudence that leads me to provide for every contingency that may arise. As a further precautionary measure (we lawyers are full of precautionary measures, you know), please telegraph me from Littleton on the morning that you leave.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, New York: Littleton, September 9th.

Dear Mr. Van Cortlandt,—Your very kind letter came last evening. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for all your goodness and thoughtfulness. With such explicit directions I cannot possibly go wrong. You must be right, I think, in regard to the cable despatch. Such a mistake would be just what dear Clement would be almost certain to make when in one of his absent-minded moods. I will do all the prudent things which you so thoughtfully advise, and I shall keep your letter to show to dear Clement, so that he may know how much trouble you have taken to make everything about my arrival secure. Of course, the train does not come in at Jersey City: I remember about it now perfectly. I am in the thick of packing to-day, and expect to get off in the morning; but I will telegraph you before I start. I don't want to bother you with this letter at your office, so I send it to your house. I find the address in Clement's address-book. Am I not considerate?


Dr. Atwood Vance to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, New York:


Tannersyille, New York, September 9th. Mrs. Van Cortlandt taken dangerously ill in night, and continues in critical condition. Come at once.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, New York:

[Telegram. Endorsed: "Not delivered. Party out of town."]

Littleton, New Hampshire, September 10th. Will arrive on White Mountain Express this evening.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Clement Markham, No. 19 Mount Vernon Place, Boston:

[Telegram. Endorsed: "Returned to sender. Unknown at this address."]

Breyoort House, New York, September 11th. Arrived this morning. Will be with you (D. V.) to-morrow.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont, No. 19 Mount Vernon Place, Boston:

[Telegram. Endorsed: "Returned to sender. Addressee absent from Boston."]

Breyoort House, New York, September 11th. Is Margaret with you? Please answer at once.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Clerk, Outlook House, Littleton, New Hampshire:


Breyoort House, New York, September 11th. Is Mrs. Markham still at Outlook House? Answer prepaid.


Clerk, Outlook House, to the Rev. Clement Markham, New York:


Littleton, New Hampshire, September 11th. Mrs. Markham left on morning train yesterday for New York.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mr. John Amesbury, Minneapolis:


Breyoort House, New Tore, September 11th. Has Mrs. Markham returned to Minneapolis? Please answer immediately.


Mr. John Amesbury to the Rev. Clement Markham, New York:


Minneapolis, September 11th. Mrs. Markham has not returned. Glad you are back safe.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mr. Ronald Markham, Menger House, San Antonio, Texas:


Breyoort House, New York, September 11th. [Delivered September 12th.]

Did Margaret communicate with you in regard to her intended movements? I cannot find her and am much perturbed. Answer at once.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, No.—Broadway, New York:

No. 68 Clinton Place, September 11th. Dear Mr. Van Cortlandt,—I was so sorry that, after all, we did miss each other in the crowd last night. But I got along very well, thanks to your forethought in telling me just what to do, though I must confess that I had five very dreadful minutes while I was looking for the card on which I had written Mrs. Warden's address. And where do you suppose I found it at last? It was in my pocket-book, just where you told me to put it! Wasn't it absurd? So then we came down here very comfortably, and found the delightful apartment that you had secured for me. As for Mrs. Warden, she is as good as gold. She even had warm milk ready for Teddy, and a delicious cup of tea for me. I never shall be able to thank you enough for all that you have done.

What arrangements have you made about bringing Clement to me? If the dear boy hasn't gone on that slow ship to Boston, and has come, as you think he has, on the City of Paris, he ought to arrive today. I should love to go down to the dock and be the very first to welcome him. But in such a crowd as there will be I ought not to venture, ought I? Please let me know by bearer just what you have done about our meeting, and when I am to expect my dear boy.


Mr. Robert Warrington to Mrs. Clement Markham, No. 68 Clinton Place, New York:

Law Offices of Van Cortlandt, Howard, Warrington & Edgecombe, Equitable Building, No. 120 Broadway.

New York, September 11th. Miss (or Mrs.) Margaret Markham:

Dear Madam,—Replying, in the absence of Mr. Van Cortlandt, to yours of even date, I would say that Mr. Van Cortlandt was called out of town suddenly yesterday by the dangerous illness of his wife. I have no knowledge of the matter concerning which you inquire, and regret, therefore, my inability to supply the information which you ask. I may say, however, that the City of Paris, as I have ascertained by telephone, arrived at her dock about half an hour ago. Should you desire to telegraph Mr. Van Cortlandt, his address is the Bear and Fox Inn, Tannersville, Greene County, New York.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt, Bear and Fox Inn, Tannersville, Greene County, New York:


68 Clinton Place, New York, September 11th. [Delivered September 12th.]

What arrangements did you make for letting Clement know where to find me? If he came on the City of Paris he is here in New York now. I am anxious. So sorry about Mrs. Van Cortlandt.


Mr. Ronald Markham to the Rev. Clement Markham, New York:


San Antonio, Texas, September 12th. Do not know Margaret's plans. Think she arranged matters with Van Cortlandt. See him.


Mr. Hubert Van Cortlandt to Mrs. Clement Markham, New York:


Tannersyille, September 12th. Made no arrangements. Expected to meet Clement at dock. Sorry if I have occasioned you annoyance. You know cause of neglect. Mrs. Van Cortlandt now out of danger.


The Rev. Clement Markham to Mr. Ronald Markham, San Antonio, Texas:

[Telegram.] Breyoort House, New York, September 12th. Van Cortlandt in Catskills with sick wife. Saw his partner, Edgecombe, who can tell me nothing.

I have ascertained that Margaret left Littleton day before yesterday for this city. With her departure from Littleton all trace of her is lost. She has not returned to Minneapolis. I am wellnigh crazed with grief and anxiety. Advise me at once what is best to be done. Shall I advertise? Will it be well to employ the police? For Heaven's sake, answer promptly and fully!


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont, Boston:


68 Clinton Place, New York, September 12th. City of Paris arrived. Mrs. Warden been to dock and got passenger list. Clement's name in it, so he certainly made mistake in his cable despatch. I state facts fully and clearly, so that you may understand why Mr. Van Cortlandt was called suddenly to see sick wife in Catskills, and so, while Clement must be here in New York, perhaps close by me, am unable to find him, and he, of course, does not in the least know where to find me. There are hundreds of hotels here in New York, and he may be at all of them. I don't know what to do, and am almost frantic with anxiety. Telegraph me at once, dear Aunt Lucy, and make telegram perfectly clear, like mine, and long and full and explicit. This is no time to think about what telegraphing costs. Perhaps Clement has gone on to you, or the other ship may have got in sooner. If he is with you, implore him to return to me at once. Would it be well for me to employ the police? That was my first thought, but I was afraid that I might make his disappearance get into the newspapers and be a scandal, and that would not do for a clergyman. And he has not really disappeared; it is only that we neither of us know where we each are. My head is one horrible buzz. Shall I advertise? Had I better offer a reward? Give me your best advice, dear Aunt Lucy, and please answer immediately.


Mr. Ronald Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont,



San Antonio, Texas, September 18th. [Delivered 18th.]

Clement is at Brevoort House, New York. By characteristic blunder has missed Margaret. If you know her address, please telegraph him.


Mrs. Winthrop Tremont to Mr. Ronald Markham, New York (forwarded to San Antonio, Texas):


Boston, September 12th. [Delivered 13 th.]

Margaret is at No. 68 Clinton Place, in great distress because Clement does not come to her. What foolishness has overtaken these innocents now? Please set them right.


Mrs. Winthrop Tremont to Mrs. Clement Markham, No. 68 Clinton Place, New York:


Boston, September 13th. Clement is at the Brevoort House, quite close by you.


Mr. Ronald Markham to the Rev. Clement Markham, Brevoort House, New York:


San Antonio, Texas, September 13th. You will find Margaret at No. 68 Clinton Place, directly across the street from your hotel.


Mrs. Clement Markham to Mrs. Winthrop Tremont,


St. Jude's Rectory, Minneapolis, September 23d.

Dear Aunt Lucy,—We left New York early last Monday, and by Tuesday night we were once more safe and together here in our own dear home. We had no misadventures on our journey, except that we nearly missed our connection at Syracuse (where we left the parlor-car for the sleeper) by getting on the wrong train. Fortunately dear Clement found out his mistake just in time.

I had not the energy to do more than telegraph you from New York that all our troubles were ended. I was too much upset by the agony that I had been through to write. It was a very dreadful two days, dear Aunt Lucy; the most dreadful—especially that second day and the last night—that I have ever known. And dear Clement suffered even more than I did, for I knew at least that he was alive, and he knew absolutely nothing about me at all. It all seems now like a horrible dream, and when I shut my eyes and think about it, I turn giddy and feel sick and faint. You cannot possibly imagine, dear Aunt Lucy, how utterly, utterly dreadful it all was!

If it had not been so very dreadful, it would have been a little absurd, I think; for, you know, all the while that we were in such terrible distress about being unable to find each other, we actually could have opened our windows and talked to each other just across the street! As I found out, when at last dear Clement came to me, his room in the Brevoort House was directly opposite my apartment at No. 68 Clinton Place. Was it not strange? And what was still stranger, dear Aunt Lucy, was that the very morning that our agony ended I happened to look across the street, and there, hanging beside an open window of the hotel, I saw a lovely chasuble that I knew must belong to some clergyman, and it made me think of the chasuble that Clement had written he had bought in London—and it really was that very chasuble, you know, for Clement had hung it there to get the creases out of it—and seeing it set me into a perfect agony of grief, for I thought that I never was to see my dear husband again, and that my children were fatherless, and that I was a widow, and that there was nothing left for me in the world but the blackest despair. And it was while I was crying my very heart out that there was a knock at the door, and then, in a single instant, all my sorrow was ended as I found myself once more in dear Clement's arms.

Yesterday dear Clement preached a beautiful sermon about man's liability to error, and the mysterious ways through which human error providentially is set right. It was a very impressive sermon. In the service he wore his new chasuble. It is exceedingly becoming. Everybody was very much moved by the sermon; and I was moved, of course, most of all. I could not help crying. Dear Clement's voice trembled once or twice, and I saw that there were tears in his eyes. The gloves are perfect, and the stockings really are too good to be true. They are open-work over the ankles, and three of the six pairs are ribbed. I wish that I could tell you what a queer time dear Clement had when he was buying them. He bought them in a French shop in Paris, you know; and when he asked for stockings with narrow ankles, the young woman who was waiting on him—But it will be better to wait until I can tell it to you. It was very funny. And the very best of all, dear Aunt Lucy, is that the surprise that Clement would not write to me about is the silk for a new black silk dress! It is a lovely quality. I do wish that you could have heard Clement's beautiful sermon yesterday, and that you could have seen how handsome he looked in his new chasuble. The weather to-day is very warm. The children are wonderfully well.


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