Dearest Aunt Jane:
For a long while I have known in my heart that I wanted mother's portrait of yourself to be your birthday remembrance from us -- this first year of little Alice's life, and yet you would scarcely believe how many inner communings with myself were necessary before I could finally and joyfully make up my mind.
You see, Auntie, mother treasured it among her dearest possessions -- I should only stumble if I were to try to put into words all she made me realize it had meant to her through the years. But I am positive it would give her the same deep happiness that it gives to Manuel and little Alice and myself to have it become your own.
If it is in good taste, and if [page 2] you hang the picture in H.H, and if you, too, would like it, we think it would be very nice to have made either in the H.H. shop or elsewhere a small metal plate and have on it, in the usual conventional wording that the portrait is from Mother and the date, September 6. 1917.
If you like this idea I will ask Miss Landsberg to attend to that part of it for me. But if you do not, please tell me freely.
Meanwhile, just as soon as you say when and where to send the portrait, we will ship it.
I shall never forget the impressions I had as I stood before it last evening and thought of all you have accomplished, of all the splendid, right attitudes of mind for which you have stood since that picture was painted.
The visions that your eyes seem to see, the profound wistfulness of your face -- the high courage [page 3] and tragedy of the young, fragile woman standing in the midst of darkness, make it, to my mind, very poignant. And it seems to me that never was it more spiritually true of you than at this moment. It is almost a symbolical portrait.
You cannot think, Auntie, how I have felt, and with what a sense of outrage, the treatment the Peoples Council has been obliged to endure. Whether or not one is a pacifist, such undemocratic, unAmerican, unjust doings make ones very blood boil and ones righteous indignation flame.
Manuel says "It's nothing new. Don't take it so personally. The socialist and the I.W.W. records are full of just such episodes. Try to keep a mental attitude and not get so violent about it." [page 4]
He practices what he preaches and proceeds calmly about the [business] of the farm. The second silo will soon be up and he is white-washing the barns, and attending to all sorts of needed little details. He takes Alice with him quite often.
Two weeks ago, Wednesday, that little person decided suddenly she was entirely ready to sit up and absolutely refused to lie flat any longer, holding herself like this [sketch]. She insists even upon sitting up to nurse!!
You simply wouldn't know her. She pulls the electric light on and off in the most sophisticated, certain fashion. Her [coordination] is really very satisfying to her parents. And it is too comical to watch her hit down the keys of the Corona.
Her father does it first and she follows suit immediately [page 5] after with such vigor that the letters actually fly up against the paper, whereupon her sober little face relaxes and she and Manuel both chuckle and laugh highly pleased with themselves and each other.
She also knows what little hood means, now, and even when she is taken into the auto, where she promptly goes to sleep, perfectly serene, even when we speed up to 45 miles an hour. We begin to wonder how we shall ever hope to interest her. But perhaps she may be able to derive a slight thrill from her first air-ship ride or better still from learning to fly one.
You know she was 3 months old the 26th. I do not want her to [develop] too rapidly. I can't abide precocious children. But I think, as a matter of fact, she is [page 6] just an unusually healthy and thoroughly normal youngster.
I'll send you some more Kodaks of her soon. Don't try to keep them. But I want you to feel in close touch with your little [grand-niece].
She tosses you her sweetest kiss, and her great-grandmother, Mary (who wrote you last evening) Manuel and I -- all join her in a heartful of love and the "happiest of birthdays" to you, dearest of Aunties.
September 5th 1917.