From Marie Guérin to her sister Jeanne La Néele - February 23, 1891.

From Marie Guérin to her sister Jeanne La Néele - February 23, 1891.

Lisieux 23rd February 91
Dear little Jeanne,
I’ve taken my loveliest paper, my loveliest blotting paper (the one Uncle Martin gave me as a New Year’s gift), my loveliest pen-holder, which was in this blotting paper and which is made of mother of pearl, my loveliest pen, and my loveliest handwriting to wish you a very happy twenty-fourth birthday!!! (Jeanne was 23 and entering her twenty-fourth year)… [1 v°] What can I wish you for your twenty-third birthday?... for it seems I’ve aged you by three hundred and sixty-five days. The wish can’t be long in coming: a pretty little baby Zidor; a big chubby baby!...a future aunt can have no other wish…
Dear little Jeanne, ever since the whole household flew to Caen (Mr. Guérin was staying with his children the La Néeles, along with Léonie and Céline), leaving poor Mama and poor little me all alone, we have both been enjoying ourselves immensely. I’ve tested my culinary skills. My first sauce is a capilotade (literally ‘pulp’), not because it hasn’t turned out well [2 r°] but it bears that name. While making it I wanted to taste it but it was so bad that I didn’t have time to leave it in my mouth. I warned Mama that her reheated turkey would be inedible but what a surprise!... never have you seen such a good sauce. Mère Mataillé can’t do any better. During our dinner we laughed a great deal and talked about you; we have worked out where you are all placed at table: Papa is in front of the fireplace, you, in front of the window, Francis at your side and in front of the door, Céline, opposite the lady whose hands resemble her feet terribly and who feeds [2 v°] her turkeys; Léonie, next to Papa. Have I guessed correctly? Is my calculation right?... Then, at the end of the dinner, Mama proposed a toast to your health and to that of my nephew!... At this word my heart leapt with joy, I was so moved that it was a miracle my glass of wine didn’t spill all over the table.

You can tell the absentees of this house that we aren’t at all bored, on the contrary, and it’s from the bottom of my heart that I say so. Mama joins me and sends you all her wishes; I don’t need to enumerate them, you know what they are, for they are absolutely identical to mine.
Tomorrow Aunt Clémence and Grandmama are coming to keep us company [2 v° tv] all afternoon. I hope it is not because you have pretty little companions that you are going to deprive us of your news; that would be most selfish. As you forgot nobody in your letter today, I will follow your example. Give my love to Papa, Francis, my two big sisters Léonie and Céline, Mrs. Mouton, Mrs. Bryon. Say hello to Angèle and Alphonse (the two servants), give a few strokes to Pandore and Lisette (the horse and mare), and only one to the parrot because he is far from being my favourite.

As for me, dear little Jeanne, I send you all my love and kisses,

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