I have been away from home now nearly a year, and hear of my darling only through letters from Sibyl’s mother and sister. But her sweet presence seems to abide with me, though the rivers run and the mountains and Great Lakes intervene between us. “A little Child shall lead them.” [Isiah 11:6]
I sometimes send her a little gift, of wild flowers or some dainty little silk dud [?] found in a Japanese store in this city. Sibyl was 4 years old the 29th of last February and as this was her first birthday as we called it, she had a party. Some of the children were invited to a sleighride, and afterward had a little supper, and were then taken home. I am told it was quite an enjoyable affair. Sibyl was having a sleighride and away out on the Pacific Coast I was gathering wild flowers for her which she got a few days after.
Just here I want to record a conversation she and I had one day before I left home when she was about 3 years and 2 months old. She was naughty about something one day and quite positive reproof was necessary. Then we went for our usual stroll when the day was fine. I wheeling her in her cab, went down town, across the river, up through the lumber yards to the foot of the lake. Saw the waters pouring over the dam, and other objects in which the Baby always took an interest, and after an hour or two of sauntering, she sometimes walking and pushing the cab till she was tired. I finally put her in her cab and headed home. As we came in sight of the house on the long stretch of sidewalk between our house and the river, she called out to me, “Papa.” I stopped the Cab and went round in front of her and asked her what she wanted.
“What is the use of spanking me?”, she asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Unless because you are naughty sometimes and momma don’t know what else to do.”
“But what use of it?” she repeated.
“Oh, Mamma wants you to be a better girl, I guess,” was all the solution I could give.
“But what use of it?” she persisted in demanding. “You know it breaks your heart to have me spanked and I don’t like to be spanked. And what use of it anyhow?”
Poor little Tot. The great problem of punishment was already presented to her for solution.
* * * * *
About this same time we were down in the lot one day a good ways from the house, and as I had left a big fire in the back yard, I was desirous of getting back to watch it. So I said to Sibyl, “We must go now,” and I started.
She was slow to start, and I called to her again to come along.
She did not seem to pay much attention to me and as the wind was rising I became anxious. “Sibyl,” I said, “if you don’t come I’ll paddle you.”
“I’m coming, Papa.” she said. “I’m coming, but I’m slow.”
Bless her little heart.
J.C. [James Croly]
The entire contents of “The Record of Little Sibyl” can be seen in these posts:
- The Record of Little Sibyl (part 1)
- Christian Temperance Union Delegate (part 2)
- Eats with a Fork (part 3)
- Sibyl Runs Away (part 4)
- Handsomest Baby (part 5)
- Ball, Moon, TicTac (part 6)
- Dream Girl & Chocolate Man (part 7)
- Sibyl Evades Death (part 8)
- From Sister Mary (part 9)
- From Aunt Nellie (part 10)
- What is the Use of Spanking Me? (part 11)
- First Written Word (part 12)
- Sibyl’s First Poem (part 13)
- Sibyl Graduates High School (part 14)
- Final Words (part 15)
Marie, I’m loving this! Reading the installments to the grandchildren, and they love it too. One question: Why was James Croly away from home for so long? Big hugs to all the cousins, from Sue Hanchett
So glad you are enjoying. It gives me great pleasure to know that other family are able to enjoy these documents!
As for James Croly being away from home … I don’t know! It’s one of the many mysteries yet to be solved.
I do know that they moved to Placer, California, sometime between late 1892 and early 1894. Possibly he was out scoping it out, getting property and preparing for the arrival of the family? There are lots of resources for research. I just haven’t gotten to that question … yet.