An Englishwoman's Love-Letters by Anonymous


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Page 2

It is you who make me think so much about myself, trying to find myself
out. I used to be most self-possessed, and regarded it as the crowning
virtue: and now--your possession of me sweeps it away, and I stand crying
to be let into a secret that is no longer mine. Shall I ever know _why_
you love me? It is my religious difficulty; but it never rises into a
doubt. You _do_ love me, I know. _Why_, I don't think I ever can know.

You ask me the same question about yourself, and it becomes absurd,
because I altogether belong to you. If I hold my breath for a moment
wickedly (for I can't do it breathing), and try to look at the world
with you out of it, I seem to have fallen over a precipice; or rather,
the solid earth has slipped from under my feet, and I am off into
vacuum. Then, as I take breath again for fear, my star swims up and
clasps me, and shows me your face. O happy star this that I was born
under, that moved with me and winked quiet prophecies at me all through
my childhood, I not knowing what it meant:--the dear radiant thing
naming to me my lover!

As a child, now and then, and for no reason, I used to be sublimely
happy: real wings took hold of me. Sometimes a field became fairyland
as I walked through it; or a tree poured out a scent that its blossoms
never had before or after. I think now that those must have been moments
when you too were in like contact with earth,--had your feet in grass
which felt a faint ripple of wind, or stood under a lilac in a drench of
fragrance that had grown double after rain.

When I asked you about the places of your youth, I had some fear of
finding that we might once have met, and that I had not remembered it as
the summing up of my happiness in being young. Far off I see something
undiscovered waiting us, something I could not have guessed at
before--the happiness of being old. Will it not be something like the
evening before last when we were sitting together, your hand in mine,
and one by one, as the twilight drew about us, the stars came and took
up their stations overhead? They seemed to me then to be following out
some quiet train of thought in the universal mind: the heavens were
remembering the stars back into their places:--the Ancient of Days
drawing upon the infinite treasures of memory in his great lifetime.
Will not Love's old age be the same to us both--a starry place of
memories?

Your dear letter is with me while I write: how shortly you are able to
say everything! To-morrow you will come. What more do I want--except
to-morrow itself, with more promises of the same thing?

You are at my heart, dearest: nothing in the world can be nearer to me
than you!




LETTER III.


Dearest and rightly Beloved: You cannot tell how your gift has pleased me;
or rather you _can_, for it shows you have a long memory back to our first
meeting: though at the time I was the one who thought most of it.

It is quite true; you have the most beautifully shaped memory in
Christendom: these are the very books in the very edition I have long
wanted, and have been too humble to afford myself. And now I cannot stop
to read one, for joy of looking at them all in a row. I will kiss you
for them all, and for more besides: indeed it is the "besides" which
brings you my kisses at all.

Now that you have chosen so perfectly to my mind, I may proffer a
request which, before, I was shy of making. It seems now beneficently
anticipated. It is that you will not ever let your gifts take the form
of jewelry, not after the ring which you are bringing me: _that_, you
know, I both welcome and wish for. But, as to the rest, the world has
supplied me with a feeling against jewelry as a love-symbol. Look
abroad and you will see: it is too possessive, too much like "chains of
office"--the fair one is to wear her radiant harness before the world,
that other women may be envious and the desire of her master's eye be
satisfied! Ah, no!

I am yours, dear, utterly; and nothing you give me would have that sense:
I know you too well to think it. But in the face of the present fashion
(and to flout it), which expects the lover to give in this sort, and the
beloved to show herself a dazzling captive, let me cherish my ritual of
opposition which would have no meaning if we were in a world of our own,
and no place in my thoughts, dearest;--as it has not now, so far as you
are concerned. But I am conscious I shall be looked at as your chosen; and
I would choose my own way of how to look back most proudly.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 13:34