To Bertha from Cora Hendricks (Mother) – September 28, 1908
[Note: Bertha is 18 years old. She is has recently begun her studies at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. Until recently, she had lived in Fort Niobrara in northwest Nebraska.]
Fort Magara, New York
My dear little girl,
It is possible that I lectured you in two letters? Indeed I did not mean to do that. Perhaps I was too severe, dearie, but if so you must blame me only, for Reba [Note: Her sister] had not written one word to call down any censure on you. What you write in the letter I have just received, is the first I have heard of any lack of interest since you got there. I don’t want to be severe with you, Bertha, and I don’t at all believe that at heart you unappreciative of your opportunities. But sometimes your manner would lead one to think so. I also understand perfectly how much you dreaded going away from home and to a strange place again. I know it was much harder for you there for Reba, and I, believe I can appreciate your feelings and difficulties better than almost anyone else can for in your reserve, pride and super sensitiveness, you reflect my own nature so much that is like looking in a mirror. Those qualities are a handicap to you in some ways, a protection in others. I know they have been both to me, but it makes going among strangers rather hard.
I am sorry you were sick when you got there. Are you quite well now? Don’t be unjust to yourself, dear, even if you to feel that I have been unjust to you. We are all selfish, you are not more so than other people, quite the contrary, I think, and you are certainly not a fool, but an uncommonly bright girl. You think Reba is bright, so she is, and can no doubt excel you in some things, moreover, she has three years the advantage of you, but not only your father and myself, but many other recognize you as being the real superior. Your marks at school have always shown you to be well up and I have noticed that whenever you really set yourself to do anything, it is well and thoroughly done.
Now, girlie, don’t think everybody is slamming at you. Reba felt nearly as badly as you did because I scolded you, and I did not want to hurt you only to show you how you sometimes made yourself appear.
I do want you to be interested in your work not merely as a duty, but because it really does interest you, and I hope you will have a pleasant time too and not all grind. I want you to enjoy your college life and be able to look back to it with pleasure when it is over. As I said before, I do not intend to ask you to for another year, but I hope that you will want to do so.
I sent you a check a few days ago, not forty but thirty dollars as I was sure you had included what had already been paid. I hope you have gotten the notebooks but you have not gotten the pictures for they are not yet mailed although I wrapped some of them up a week ago. I will hunt up Reba’s book and mail them all this afternoon if I can. It is raining now for the first time in weeks and I may not get to the post office.
Clara is likely to be away another week and I find I am quite busy, and really have not felt very well lately. I think it has been more the weather than anything else. I will be alright again very soon, I dare say. Now, cheer up, girlie, and don’t think I was so very unjust to you.
Your loving mother,