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Old 08-27-2016, 08:05 AM   #1
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Webster, Jean: Jerry Junior. v1. 27 Aug 2016

JERRY JUNIOR By Jean Webster (1876–1916)

First published in 1907. This book is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+99” or less, and in the USA. Due to copyright restrictions, the illustrations have been omitted.

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Jean Webster (pseudonym for Alice Jane Chandler Webster) was an American author and playwright. Her best-known books feature lively and likeable young female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally, and socially; with enough humor, snappy dialogue, and gently biting social commentary to make her books enjoyable to modern readers.
* * *
A young American bachelor, bored with waiting in a small Italian town for his family to join him, comes upon an American family staying in a neighboring villa. Conny, the beautiful young daughter, prevails upon the hotel’s headwaiter to hire a “picturesque” guide/donkey-driver to accompany the family on mountain-climbing excursions. Of course, the reader sees what comes next – the author makes it perfectly plain. What may not be expected is Conny’s swift realization of the situation, which fact she keeps to herself. A battle of wits ensues in this charmingly farcical romantic comedy, with some interesting twists to add a bit of spice.


EXCERPT:
Spoiler:
“Well, Gustavo,” she added in a business-like tone, “I will tell you why we called. The doctor says the Signor Papa is getting too fat – I don’t think he’s too fat, do you? He seems to me just comfortably chubby; but anyway, the doctor says he needs exercise, so we’re going to begin climbing mountains with nails in our shoes like the Germans. And we’re going to begin tomorrow because we’ve got two English people at the villa who adore mountains. Do you think you can find us a guide and some donkeys? We want a nice, gentle, lady-like donkey for my aunt, and another for the English lady and a third to carry the things – and maybe me, if I get tired. Then we want a man who will twist their tails and make them go; and I am very particular about the man. I want him to be picturesque – there’s no use being in Italy if you can’t have things picturesque, is there, Gustavo?”

“Si signorina,” he bowed and resumed his attitude of strained attention.

“He must have curly hair and black eyes and white teeth and a nice smile; I should like him to wear a red sash and earrings. He must be obliging and cheerful and deferential and speak good Italian – I won’t have a man who speaks only dialect. He must play the mandolin and sing Santa Lucia – I believe that’s all.”

“And I suppose since he is to act as guide he must know the region?” her father mildly suggested.

“Oh, no, that’s immaterial; we can always ask our way.”

Mr. Wilder grunted, but offered no further suggestion.

“We pay four lire a day and furnish his meals,” she added munificently. “And we shall begin with the castle on Monte Baldo; then when we get very proficient we’ll climb Monte Maggiore. Do you understand?”

“Ze signorina desires tree donkeys and a driver at seven o’clock tomorrow morning to climb Monte Baldo?”

“In brief, yes, but please remember the earrings.”
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Text was obtained from gutenberg.org. Embedded fonts for titling and small caps. Punctuation, italics and diacritics formatted; some spelling and punctuation standardized; chapter heads cross-linked to Table of Contents.

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Imagine this as one of those wonderful old silly romantic comedies of the 1940’s or ’50’s, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart. Bellisima!
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