Our best wishes, and profound gratitude to you this Christmas, or, rather this Twelfth Day. "Miss V.C." has given me a full account of the Berlin negotiations, and your handsome letter, signed by the General (and Mr. H., in advance!) So the mortgage is extended, and I shall take the good news up to the "junior college" as soon as American academia awakens itself from its Christmas nap. I am sure that they will be glad enough to have a budget for next year that there will be no problem with discrete archival access.
I honestly still have my doubts that the arrangement. The University's reputation will be as badly damaged as the Engineer's if any details of his father's arrangements emerge, and those details are what Grace expects to find. I know that she wants to tiptoe around this, simply hold it over his head; but we have already been visited by assassins. The Soongs do not play the game like gentlemen! However, with civil war in the offing in China, we cannot spare a weapon.
As I say, Twelfth Night, which I mention because of your telegram of concern, which I have passed on to "Miss V.C.," who has written you a thank you note, which, since it goes by surface mail, will probably reach you with the first swallow of spring. The reason we celebrate the Nativity so late, as you guessed, is that she was caught in the storm that shut the railroads down in the East on the 18th.
I do not know if "Miss V.C." told you, however, but there is more to the story. It was not just the young lady stranded by the road, but a full house for Christmas Eve in Cleveland Central Station.
Very well, the details. The original plan was for her to fly to California, joining her parents in San Francisco for Christmas, and then to visit with us. She would be accompanied by my half-brother, who is in college in Boston, who would take the train up to Montreal and fly back with her. Her parents found the idea of winter flying to be ridiculously dangerous, although, given the state of the trains, an argument could be made either way. So, just to be safe, they asked the young man that Grace likes to refer to as "Lieutenant A." to escort her. As I am sure she told you, she and the young lieutenant are all but formally engaged, though this does not dim my brother's hopeless attraction to her a wit.
The odd thing about this is, even though "Miss V.C." treats my brother with the utmost propriety, and assures all that she has no feelings for him, her parents still seem concerned. A family marriage --even though they are only third cousins!-- is out of the question. An admiral's son is just the sort they are looking for, especially as his career seems to be flourishing in Washington. (Oddly enough, given that Admiral Nimitz detests him, and for good reason, I have to say.)
So, "Miss V.C." the young lieutenant, who was to turn around for Texas as soon as he saw his almost-intended safely to San Francisco, and my brother as third wheel. Put that way, it sounds worse than a storm! But it was at this point in the planning that the Engineer's youngest got involved. As you will have heard, he is a minor Hollywood star, and somewhat at loose ends after leaving the Army, as his studio has not offered him anything but a supporting role in a "comeback" film for one its stars next year. So he conceived a plan to visit the Canadian film board in Montreal, and to earn a little cash by conducting a tour for the 4H-Club at Santa Clara, which I cannot even begin to imagine explaining to you --the salient point being that our former housekeeper is a member, and was one of the teen companions in their late adventures here in California.
Now, I have to admit that I am at a loss to explain all of this. My father has a simple explanation. He has somehow convinced himself that not only does "Miss V.C." carry a secret torch for my brother, but that the lieutenant only keeps up his end because it gives him an excuse to visit with our former housekeeper, who really is the prettiest thing, in that blonde Californian way, but of rather too low a stock for his mother's ambitions. (At least, as long as "Miss V.C." is in play.)
That's the theory. I don't believe a word of it. But the important point is that the Engineer's son may. Grace is convinced that, although he is charming and convivial to the bone, he is repressing some malicious impulses. My father takes this on board, and adds one last flourish to his theory. It is all deliberate. Our B-movie actor friend is trying to throw a wrench in our Chicago relatives' carefully-laid matrimonial plans for their daughter.
I worry about my father. Uncle George has been expecting him to have a breakdown under the press of the war for years now, but he has not needed a rest cure since 1939. Perhaps his next spell is at hand?
It is far too late to say that I will be brief, but I do leave to your imagination a gaggle of young folk celebrating Christmas Eve with what they could find at the Harveys Restaurant in the Central Station.
And that was the Christmas adventure that you sent "Miss V.C." into. If now I were to say that I would be brief, it would be end by saying that you should have no regrets, that all is well that ends well, and that it all makes me wish that I were young again.
Your Humble & Obedient Servant,