The letters? No, Beloved, I could not! Not yet. There you have caught me
where I own I am still shy of you.

A long time hence, when we are a safely wedded pair, you shall turn them
over. It _may_ be a short time; but I will keep them however long. Indeed
I must ever keep them; they talk to me of the dawn of my existence,--the
early light before our sun rose, when my love of you was growing and had
not yet reached its full.

If I disappoint you I will try to make up for it with something I wrote
long before I ever saw you. To-day I was turning over old things my mother
had treasured for me of my childhood--of days spent with her: things of
laughter as well as of tears; such a dear selection, so quaint and sweet,
with moods of her as I dimly remember her to have been. And among them was
this absurdity, written, and I suppose placed in the mouth of my stocking,
the Christmas I stayed with her in France. I remember the time as a great
treat, but nothing of this. "Nilgoes" is "Nicholas," you must understand!
How he must have laughed over me asleep while he read this!

     "Cher père Nilgoes. S'il vous plait voulez vous me donné
     plus de jeux que des oranges des pommes et des pombons parc
     que nous allons faire l'arbre de noel cette anné et les
     jeaux ferait mieux pour l'arbre de Noel. Il ne faut pas dire
     à petite mere s'il vous plait parce que je ne veut pas
     quelle sache sil vous voulez venir ce soir du ceil pour que
     vous pouvez me donner ce que je vous demande Dites bon jour
     á la St. Viearge est à l'enfant Jeuses et à Ste Joseph.
     Adieu cher St. Nilgoes."

I haven't altered the spelling, I love it too well, prophetic of a fault
I still carry about me. How strange that little bit of invocation to the
dear folk above sounds to me now! My mother must have been teaching me
things after her own persuasion; most naturally, poor dear one--though
that too has gone like water off my mind. It was one of the troubles
between her and my father: the compact that I was to be brought up a
Catholic was dissolved after they separated; and I am sorry, thinking it
unjust to her; yet glad, content with being what I am.

I must have been less than five when I penned this: I was always a
letter-writer, it seems.

It is a reproach now from many that I have ceased to be: and to them I
fear it is true. That I have not truly ceased, "witness under my hand
these presents,"--or whatever may be the proper legal terms for an

What were _you_ like, Beloved, as a very small child? Should I have loved
you from the beginning had we toddled to the rencounter; and would my love
have passed safely through the "gallous young hound" period; and could I
love you more now in any case, had I _all_ your days treasured up in my
heart, instead of less than a year of them?

How strangely much have seven miles kept our fates apart! It seems
uncharacteristic for this small world,--where meetings come about so far
above the dreams of average--to have played us such a prank.

This must do for this once, Beloved; for behold me busy to-day: with
_what_, I shall not tell you. I would like to put you to a test, as
ladies did their knights of old, and hardly ever do now--fearing, I
suppose, lest the species should altogether fail them at the pinch. I
would like to see if you could come here and sit with me from beginning
to end, _with your eyes shut_: never once opening them. I am not saying
whether I think curiosity, or affection, would make the attempt too
difficult. But if you were sure you could, you might come here
to-morrow--a day otherwise interdicted. Only know, having come, that if
you open those dear cupboards of vision and set eyes on things not yet
intended to be looked at, there will be confusion of tongues in this
Tower we are building whose top is to reach heaven. Will you come? I
don't _say_ "come"; I only want to know--will you?

To-day my love flies low over the earth like a swallow before rain, and
touching the tops of the flowers has culled you these. Kiss them until
they open: they are full of my thoughts, as the world, to me, is full of
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