Keene Township, Ohio
May 25, 1893
Dear Uncle Theo,
I hope this letter finds you safe and well in the big city. We all miss you, though none so much as Archippos. Mother mutters that he must be a faithful hound indeed to whine and howl at the absence of such a master. She has not forgiven you for taking your journey during the planting season. "Any able-bodied man . . . " she says when Archippos barks, glancing at Father in the corner. "I shall never understand my brother."
I understand, of course. And the young man you hired to take your place on the farm is quite agreeable. Abel speaks politely and works hard, and the crops are coming along quite well with his assistance. Still, you had not been gone a week before Mother turned Abel out of your room and installed a lodger there. Abel nodded and said, "Yes'm," and took his little bundle out to the hayloft. John, though, was furious. You know my brother's temper. He told Mother that if Abel was to sleep outside, that he would, too. Mother simply shrugged. I almost envy the boys out there, with no one shushing them after prayers. Mother would probably let out John's room, too, if she could find a soul desperate enough to live in his musty garret.
I do not trust the lodger, Mr. Schneeman. He leers at Mother with his coal-black eyes and sniffs his sharp nose before every blessed thing he says. I think Mother hoped he'd pity us and help out on the farm, but he does no such thing. He claims to be a traveling salesman, and leaves the homestead with his mysterious painted cart every morning. He must not travel far, though, for he returns to the supper table promptly every evening. When we're washing up, Mother grumbles that Mr. Schneeman eats far more than his share, but she won't say a thing to him. She is afraid to lose his money.
Archippos is howling again. I am sure he does miss you, but I think there is more to his distress. The hens have been acting most peculiarly, and even placid Bossy has been skittish in the milk stall. I think the pixies have gotten in again. Mother won't hear anything about it, though. What shall I do?
Father shakes his head and says that none of this would ever have happened if Mr. Buchanan had not been reelected. But that is what he always says, so no one pays him any mind.
Have you found what you were seeking? I wish I could join you and see the great Columbian Exposition, but I cannot leave Mother now. She would likely rent my little room out to someone even more disagreeable than Mr. Schneeman.
Your faithful niece,
P.S.: Who wants to play the Letter Game?