Elinore P. Stewart’s “Letters of a Woman Homesteader” continued:

December 1, 1911

Dear Mrs. Coney,—

I feel just like visiting to-night, so I am going to “play like” you have come. It is so good to have you to chat with. Please be seated in this low rocker; it is a present to me from the Pattersons and I am very proud of it. I am just back from the Patterson ranch, and they have a dear little boy who came the 20th of November and they call him Robert Lane.

I am sure this room must look familiar to you, for there is so much in it that was once yours. I have two rooms, each fifteen by fifteen, but this one on the south is my “really” room and in it are my treasures. My house faces east and is built up against a side-hill, or should I say hillside? Anyway,they had to excavate quite a lot. I had them dump the dirt right before the house and terrace it smoothly. I have sown my terrace to California poppies, and around my porch, which is six feet wide and thirty long, I have planted wild cucumbers.

Every log in my house is as straight as a pine can grow. Each room has a window and a door on the east side, and the south room has two windows on the south with space between for my heater, which is one of those with a grate front so I can see the fire burn. It is almost as good as a fireplace. The logs are unhewed outside because I like the rough finish, but inside the walls are perfectly square and smooth. The cracks in the walls are snugly filled with “daubing” and then the walls are covered with heavy gray building-paper, which makes the room very warm, and I really like the appearance. I had two rolls of wall-paper with a bold rose pattern. By being very careful I was able to cut out enough of the roses, which are divided in their choice of color as to whether they should be red, yellow, or pink, to make a border about eighteen inches from the ceiling. They brighten up the wall and the gray paper is fine to hang pictures upon. Those you have sent us make our room very attractive. The woodwork is stained a walnut brown, oil finish, and the floor is stained and oiled just like it. In the corners by the stove and before the windows we take our comfort.

From some broken bamboo fishing-rods I made frames for two screens. These I painted black with some paint that was left from the buggy, and Gavotte fixed the screens so they will stay balanced, and put in casters for me. I had a piece of blue curtain calico and with brass-headed tacks I put it on the frame of Jerrine’s screen, then I mixed some paste and let her decorate it to suit herself on the side that should be next her corner. She used the cards you sent her. Some of the people have a suspiciously tottering appearance, perhaps not so very artistic, but they all mean something to a little girl whose small fingers worked patiently to attain satisfactory results. She has a set of shelves on which her treasures of china are arranged. On the floor is a rug made of two goatskins dyed black, a present from Gavotte, who heard her admiring Zebbie’s bearskin. She has a tiny red rocking-chair which she has outgrown, but her rather dilapidated family of dolls use it for an automobile. For a seat for herself she has a small hassock that you gave me, and behind the blue screen is a world apart.

My screen is made just like Jerrine’s except that the cover is cream material with sprays of wild roses over it. In my corner I have a cot made up like a couch. One of my pillows is covered with some checked gingham that “Dawsie” cross-stitched for me. I have a cabinet bookcase made from an old walnut bedstead that was a relic of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. Gavotte made it for me. In it I have my few books, some odds and ends of china, all gifts, and a few fossil curios. For a floor-covering I have a braided rug of blue and white, made from old sheets and Jerrine’s old dresses. In the center of my room is a square table made of pine and stained brown. Over it is a table-cover that you gave me. Against the wall near my bed is my “dresser.” It is a box with shelves and is covered with the same material as my screen. Above it I have a mirror, but it makes ugly faces at me every time I look into it. Upon the wall near by is a match-holder that you gave me. It is the heads of two fisher-folk. The man has lost his nose, but the old lady still thrusts out her tongue. The material on my screen and “dresser” I bought for curtains, then decided to use some white crossbar I had. But I wish I had not, for every time I look at them I think of poor little Mary Ann Parker.

I am going to make you a cup of tea and wonder if you will see anything familiar about the teapot. You should, I think, for it is another of your many gifts to me. Now I feel that you have a fairly good idea of what my house looks like, on the inside anyway. The magazines and Jerrine’s cards and Mother Goose book came long ago, and Jerrine and I were both made happy. I wish I could do nice things for you, but all I can do is to love you.

Your sincere friend,
Elinore Rupert.

NEXT:

15. THE “STOCKING-LEG” DINNER

Previous Letters

  1. The Arrival At Burnt Fork
  2. Filing A Claim
  3. A Busy, Happy Summer
  4. A Charming Adventure And Zebulon Pike
  5. Sedalia And Regalia
  6. A Thanksgiving-Day Wedding
  7. Zebulon Pike Visits His Old Home
  8. A Happy Christmas
  9. A Confession
  10. The Story Of Cora Belle
  11. Zebbie’s Story
  12. A Contented Couple
  13. Proving Up

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