Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Daddy-Long-Legs (Looking Glass Library) Hardcover – January 25, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
JEAN WEBSTER (1876-1916) was a grandniece of Mark Twain and a champion of women's rights and social reform. Daddy-Long-Legs (1912) brought her critical acclaim and financial success and was adapted into a play in 1914. She died giving birth to a daughter at the age of 40.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste. Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bed without a wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say, "Yes, sir," "No, sir," whenever a Trustee spoke.
It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close. Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from four to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and started them in an orderly and willing line toward the dining-room to engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune pudding.
Then she dropped down on the window seat and leaned throbbing temples against the cool glass. She had been on her feet since five that morning, doing everybody's bidding, scolded and hurried by a nervous matron. Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that calm and pompous dignity with which she faced an audience of Trustees and lady visitors. Jerusha gazed out across a broad stretch of frozen lawn, beyond the tall iron paling that marked the confines of the asylum, down undulating ridges sprinkled with country estates, to the spires of the village rising from the midst of bare trees.
The day was ended--quite successfully, so far as she knew. The Trustees and the visiting committee had made their rounds, and read their reports, and drunk their tea, and now were hurrying home to their own cheerful firesides, to forget their bothersome little charges for another month. Jerusha leaned forward watching with curiosity--and a touch of wistfulness--the stream of carriages and automobiles that rolled out of the asylum gates. In imagination she followed first one equipage, then another, to the big houses dotted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring "Home" to the driver. But on the door-sill of her home the picture grew blurred.
Jerusha had an imagination--an imagination, Mrs. Lippett told her, that would get her into trouble if she didn't take care--but keen as it was, it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would enter. Poor, eager, adventurous little Jerusha, in all her seventeen years, had never stepped inside an ordinary house; she could not picture the daily routine of those other human beings who carried on their lives undiscommoded by orphans.
Je-ru-sha Ab-bott You are wan-ted In the of-fice, And I think you'd Better hurry up!
Tommy Dillon, who had joined the choir, came singing up the stairs and down the corridor, his chant growing louder as he approached room F. Jerusha wrenched herself from the window and refaced the troubles of life.
"Who wants me?" she cut into Tommy's chant with a note of sharp anxiety.
Mrs. Lippett in the office, And I think she's mad. Ah-a-men!
Tommy piously intoned, but his accent was not entirely malicious. Even the most hardened little orphan felt sympathy for an erring sister who was summoned to the office to face an annoyed matron; and Tommy liked Jerusha even if she did sometimes jerk him by the arm and nearly scrub his nose off.
Jerusha went without comment, but with two parallel lines on her brow. What could have gone wrong, she wondered. Were the sandwiches not thin enough? Were there shells in the nut cakes? Had a lady visitor seen the hole in Susie Hawthorn's stocking? Had--O horrors!--one of the cherubic little babes in her own room F "sassed" a Trustee?
The long lower hall had not been lighted, and as she came downstairs, a last Trustee stood, on the point of departure, in the open door that led to the porte-cochere. Jerusha caught only a fleeting impression of the man--and the impression consisted entirely of tallness. He was waving his arm toward an automobile waiting in the curved drive. As it sprang into motion and approached, head on for an instant, the glaring headlights threw his shadow sharply against the wall inside. The shadow pictured grotesquely elongated legs and arms that ran along the floor and up the wall of the corridor. It looked, for all the world, like a huge, wavering daddy-long-legs.
Jerusha's anxious frown gave place to quick laughter. She was by nature a sunny soul, and had always snatched the tiniest excuse to be amused. If one could derive any sort of entertainment out of the oppressive fact of a Trustee, it was something unexpected to the good. She advanced to the office quite cheered by the tiny episode, and presented a smiling face to Mrs. Lippett. To her surprise the matron was also, if not exactly smiling, at least appreciably affable; she wore an expression almost as pleasant as the one she donned for visitors.
"Sit down, Jerusha, I have something to say to you."
Jerusha dropped into the nearest chair and waited with a touch of breathlessness. An automobile flashed past the window; Mrs. Lippett glanced after it.
"Did you notice the gentleman who has just gone?"
"I saw his back."
"He is one of our most affluential Trustees, and has given large sums of money toward the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown."
Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of Trustees with the matron.
"This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through college by Mr.--er--this Trustee, and both have repaid with hard work and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment the gentleman does not wish. Heretofore his philanthropies have been directed solely toward the boys; I have never been able to interest him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no matter how deserving. He does not, I may tell you, care for girls."
"No, ma'am," Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected at this point.
"To-day at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought up."
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
And in fact, there was one, which I will discuss later in the review. But the story itself? Still captivating. The characters, all seen through the eyes of the narrator, Judy Abbott, are both amusing and quite human. She -- Judy/Jean Webster -- has an eye for human silliness, but a forgiving one. It's a humane book that made me smile and gave me some warm fuzzies when I needed them.
It's the story of an orphan who is sent to college by an anonymous benefactor on the condition that she writes him one letter a month to let him see how she's progressing. But Judy, who has been an orphan since babyhood, and was raised in an orphanage, is hungry for some kind of familial contact, so she creates a kind of grandfather/father/uncle figure in her mind, and addresses her benefactor as "Daddy Long-Legs," since all she knows about his is that he's tall and wealthy.
Her letters are warm, rich, and amusing, and it's easy to fall in love with a girl who is in the process of falling in love with the whole world, a world she couldn't even imagine growing up as she did. I could read Judy's adventures all day, and recommend this book as a balm to treat weltschmerz. Five stars for the story.
Alas, three stars for the Open Road Media Young Readers version. The original is filled with charming drawings, but Open Road didn't include any of them. Or rather, they included exactly ONE. Why they chose to do that is beyond me. It's either weird or it's sloppy, but that one illustration really irritated me. I wasn't happy that all the rest were gone, but had there been some consistency I'd have shrugged and thought "Oh well." But including one of them meant that including them all wouldn't have been a problem, and they just decided not to bother.
So I'm happy to have the text, but I would recommend a different digital version.
I fell in love with Jerusha. She's remarkable independent, especially considering the time period the book was written in. She has a keen eye for people and the ability to make the reader see them, too. Her letters are clever, amusing, and yet filled with insight. I loved watching her grow up.
If you enjoy well-written books, this should interest you. Be aware there are illustrations that matter to the book, so be sure the version you get has those illustrations.
Most recent customer reviews
Judy is very very bright, brave and lovely girl.