Felicity's Valentine

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity and Elizabeth are excited about Valentine's Day. Miss Manderly is having them practice their handwriting skills, and Elizabeth takes the time to write Felicity a poem about how grateful she is for their friendship, to F. M. from E. C. Concerned that Miss Manderly will scold them for not taking their work seriously, the girls hide the note quickly. But when one of the men in town stops by with a delivery, a gust of wind sends papers flying, and the Valentine slips out of Felicity's pocket. To make matters worse, Miss Manderly's first name is Frances (F. M.) and the initials of the man who stopped by are E. C (Everard  Chelton). The next lesson, Miss Manderly asks Felicity and Elizabeth to deliver a letter to Mr. Chelton. The girls notice a folded note in Miss Manderly's pocket labelled "A Valentine from E. C. to F. M."  Miss Manderly thinks the valentine poem Elizabeth wrote was for her, and is now going to embarrass herself by sending her own back to him! Although...they would make a good couple...Felicity and Elizabeth deliver the letter as asked, but first make a point of talking up the many wonderful things about Miss Manderly to Mr. Chelton. Mr. Chelton reads the note, and declines to have Felicity and Elizabeth carry back a reply: he'll do that himself, in person! The girls are pleased with their success playing Cupid. However, there's one more twist: the next time they're at Miss Manderly's, they see the valentine Elizabeth wrote, peeking out from under a rug where it was blown in the first place. Mr. Chelton and Miss Manderly were already sending valentines to each other!

Looking Back

Paper was expensive in Felicity's day, so Valentine cards were especially precious. People took great care to make them by hand, cutting fancy shapes, drawing picture, and writing verses. Valentine cards weren't sold commercially, but people could purchase books of things to write in cards or even publish in newspaper (using code names for both recipient and sender). If people wanted to send Valentines or other mail to people in the same town, they would often send servants to do the errand. Mail going further away went in the care of postmasters, who would deliver the letters to central locations in towns, often taverns. There were no stamps; instead the recipients had to pay to get their mail. Most of the time Valentines between courting men and women were delivered by hand, as they were very private and sometimes even on the level of marriage proposals.


There's a bit of subplot that Annabelle is staying home from lessons because she's convinced she will have throngs of gentlemen callers delivering Valentines. She doesn't, of course.

No comments: