Reunion With The 4th Regiment

"Reunion with the 4th Regiment"
A letter from Mary Lawton ("Mrs. Walton") to Annie Fellows Johnston
February 21, 1906.

The Beeches

My dear "Cousin Annie",

I have been deliberating for several weeks as to whether a letter just now would be a help or a hindrance.  Your good letter, always so welcome, reached me yesterday and tipped the balance in my favor, & so the responsibility rests with fate.

Am so pleased you liked this little picture.  Katy came and spent a quiet old fashioned day with me, "took" the girls specially for your Valentine.

We have been trying to live up to the "Monks" principles this winter--special dispensation always being granted in "Cranford" letters to you.

The enclosed invitation came the other day and I thought you might be interested to know that I have chosen to represent one of yours.  A friend sent me such a good post-card of old Camelback, showing also the hole in the rock & Catherine has drawn a very pretty design representing the motto in Warwick Hall --- with a "Little Col" nicely cut out and mounted from one of the corners --- am a little undecided yet which it will be, but certainly one.  If fate will tip me again, I will send a P.S. to this, telling you how I come out.

Sometimes you have wanted a little incident or discussion for your crowd of young people & sometimes - if you can't use what is offered - it suggests possibilities to your fertile brain.  So I am going to tell you of a "good time" some of us had this winter, which you will like to know in any case

The Army & Navy journal informed me, that the 4th Infantry had arrived to take station at Ft. Thomas Ky which you perhaps know is a pretty trolley ride from Newport, Covington & Cincinnati.  It is this regiment, one of them, that went with us on the transport to Manila & served with us there.  They had now just returned from another tour of duty in the P.I. & I could not resist going up to see them all.  It was Frances' debut - She had heretofore only had Pewee, and younger companions.  No one knew we lived so near - gave us royal welcome -  the Col. ordering out the band to give us a special concert - etc - And, oh, the "reminiscences" I enjoyed!  I came home feeling ten years younger.  A few weeks ago two

p5&6

 for instance - I gave one of the young officers , whom the others were teasing a good deal, a little St. Joseph, who is the patron saint for lovers.  This one was blessed by the Abbot of Gethsemane for me, & when the young person's birthday came - during our visit-  I presented this, with a pretty story, in which St. Joseph helps, in a decided manner the fate of heroine & hero.  It was to be read while on Guard Duty & when a crisis arrived in his affairs.  If St Joseph was worn up side down, he is supposed to grant any wish  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ young officers telegraphed that they would come down, if convenient for a couple of days.

Frances asked Anna U~~ to be her guest for that time, & I was the happy chaperone.  We met them in Louisville, lunched at Seelbach's, went to the matinee & a jolly time every moment.  They begged me to bring the girls up to a large dance at the Post the following week - which of course ended in my doing it.  They met us at the train with an orderly to take our bags, sent the girls beautiful flowers, buzzed around like bees, filled~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ another day, gave a theater party, coaxed us into the mess for breakfast, & altogether the girls had a perfectly charming time.  & Frances is seventeen and coming out rapidly.

After dancing till two, the young men chatted till three, then I heard Anna say secretly to one of them -  "Oh yes, I'd love to if we could wake Mrs. Lawton at that hour." (for seven o'clock drill).  I said, "My dear, it will be the old soldier that will waken you if indeed you wish to go." - well the engagement was made & at half past six both girls sleeping the sleep of the just and tired - I put my hand to my mouth like a trumpet and warbled in my sweetest tones "Reveille" - Before they were ready the Beau telephoned to know if they were awake & coming.  They went without breakfast, though.  I had ordered it for them, while I waited for mine, and joined them after. It was then we went with the officers to breakfast.

I enjoyed it as much as the girls and am going to have another house party as soon as they can get leave & come down.

I wish I could talk to you by word of mouth.  There are so many little things that can't well be written, & yet fill in from over it.  But I am forgetting this is not a Ruinous party.  Please do not let it be an interruption - I get so interested in your progress events and every thing and Texas seems so far away.

I wish we could all help you more, & settle! You must give the new house a pretty name.  I am not at all "talked out" but am afraid you are tired out, so goodbye with love to each one.

Always devotedly,
                    Mary C. Lawton

Feb 21st, 1906

 

 

 

Notes:

  • Maybe we're dense, but have no idea what the "Monks principle" is 
  • As far as the enclosed invitation, regrettably that has not survived.  The remainder of the paragraph gives clues, but still leaves a little confusion...
  • The next paragraph, along with many others in this series of letters, reinforces the theory that Mrs. Lawton ("Walton) was constantly engaged in giving Annie Fellows Johnston new ideas for the Little Colonel stories.
  • The incidents with the 4th Regiment recall the Manila years, but also suggest the focus of many of the scenes & descriptions that would be incorporated into the Mary Ware stories.  The girls are growing up....
  • "Give the new house a pretty name"  That would end up being "Penacres"