Mr. Salteena's Plan (The Young Visiters)

Here is a Valentine's gift for everyone: The Young Visiters or Mr. Salteena's Plan by Daisy Ashford. You can read this delightful book online at google books.

This is the story of a love triangle between Mr. Alfred Salteena, "an elderly man of 42" with "a small portion" of noble blood flowing in his veins, and his young visiters [sic], Miss Ethel Monticue and Bernard Clarke.

It was written by Daisy Ashford, aged about 9, in 1890. It is transcribed from her exercise books, with spelling and grammar intact (hence the title spelling).

It is full of odd twists of language and beautiful details. Mr. Salteena, very old and unloved by Ethel, comforts himself while "imbibing his tea beneath a pink silken quilt". Cows "flash past the windows" of the train as it speeds through the country. There is also this stirring passage (with spelling intact from the original) which is both tender and very funny:

They arrived at Windsor very hot from the jorney and Bernard at once hired a boat to row his beloved up the river. Ethel could not row but she much enjoyed seeing the tough sunburnt arms of Bernard tugging at the oars as she lay among the rich cushons of the dainty boat. She had a rather lazy nature but Bernard did not know of this. However he soon got dog tired and suggested lunch by the mossy bank.
Oh yes said Ethel quickly opening the sparkling champagne.
Don't spill any cried Bernard as he carved some chicken.
They eat and drank deeply of the charming viands ending up with merangs and chocolates.
Let us now bask under the spreading trees said Bernard in a passiunate tone.
Oh yes lets said Ethel and she opened her dainty parasol and sank down upon the long green grass. She closed her eyes but she was far from asleep. Bernard sat beside her in profound silence gazing at her pink face and long wavy eyelashes.

Really, this book cannot be recommended highly enough. The preface, by J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan) is also pretty great.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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