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I will draw some better pictures next time.
My dear Noël,
What a shocking thing! I have not got you any Christmas cards! I remembered them this afternoon when I was in a bath chair but there was such a crowd at the shops I thought we might run over somebody. I daresay you would rather have a letter.
Here is another account of a seaside holiday, somewhat more sophisticated in style and content because Noel was six years older at that time. Potter knew how to calibrate her prose for an intended age group, an essential skill for an author of children's books. In this case, she understood that a boy at his age might like to learn about ocean liners and the technicalities of recovering a lightship cast adrift. She apologized for her pictures, but they were no longer quite so necessary for reading comprehension, and they include two comic sketches perfectly suited for his sense of humor. No doubt he relished the idea of a man-eating, twenty-foot conger eel, but that is a fish story. Even the most formidable specimens do not grow larger than ten feet long.
Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Autograph letter signed, St. Leonards on Sea, to Noel Moore, December 23, 1898
Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959; MA 2009.11