AUGUST 18, 1942
NEW YORK, Monday—I reached New York City yesterday afternoon, and Mrs. Stanley Backman came to tea and brought me a gift which will be a rather large addition to the collection of donkeys on the President's desk. This one was made in Manila by the British War Relief and presented there to Mrs. Backman. She brought it back on an Army transport way across the Pacific and wrote me about it a short time ago, but yesterday was the first opportunity I could find to receive it.
As I walked into my sitting room, Mrs. Backman made a charming picture all dressed in white with fair hair, and holding under her arm this very large, white donkey. He stands up quite well and his head and ears have a jaunty look, even though the legs make him appear a little tipsy.
I was waiting for a friend in the lobby of a hotel last night, when three young people came up to me and launched forth into various questions about the war. One young girl said she had a brother somewhere in the Pacific and a second one also in the service.
The other two young people were at present less closely involved in the war situation, but I felt all of them had come for reassurance. They wanted to know that I believed that this was really their war, because in the future, they would have something to say about the world which would remain.
Last night I finished Elizabeth Goudge's book: "The Castle On The Hill." One reads so much these days in the way of factual reports and books which require concentration to follow the authors' line of thought. Therefore, a novel is something in the nature of deliberately taking a holiday and doing something that has nothing to do with one's obligations.
I like Miss Goudge's writing, and this book puts before one, more vividly perhaps than I have read lately, the changes that are coming about in the mind and hearts of the people of Great Britain. The boy in the book has lived in the traditions of his family. He loves the beauty of his environment and is sensitive to his surroundings, as well as to the qualities of the people with whom he comes in contact.
The hero learns how to reconcile his standards and his world with humanity as a whole, because of his work in the horrors of the London Blitz. The whole change in values touching the hearts of people and making material things so unimportant, is brought out remarkably in this story.
The end seems to me a little weak, as though Miss Goudge had not known how to draw all of her characters together in the picture and had done it in somewhat arbitrary fashion. Still, that is not important, for the charm of the book and its balm will linger after you have forgotten just how the story ends.