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Jena, April 9th.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—No, I do not in the least mind your writing to me. Do, whenever you feel you want to talk to a friend. It is pleasant to be told that my letters remind you of so many nice things. I expect your year in Jena seems much more agreeable, now that you have had time to forget the uncomfortable parts of it, than it really was. But I don't think you would have been able to endure it if you had not been working so hard. I am sorry you do not like your father. You say so straight out, so I see no reason for round-aboutness. I expect he will be calmer when you are married. Why do you not gratify him, and have a short engagement? Yes, I do understand what you feel about the mercifulness of being often left alone, though I have never been worried in quite the same way as you seem to be; when I am driven it is to places like the kitchen, and your complaint is that you are driven to what most people would call enjoying yourself. Really I think my sort of driving is best. There is so much satisfaction about work, about any work. But just to amuse oneself, and to be, besides, in a perpetual hurry over it because there is so much of it and the day can't be made to stretch, must be a sorry business. I wonder why you do it. You say your father insists on your going everywhere with the Cheritons, and the Cheritons will not miss a thing; but, after all isn't it rather weak to let yourself be led round by the nose if your nose doesn't like it? It is as though instead of a dog wagging its tail the tail should wag the dog. And all Nature surely would stand aghast before such an improper spectacle.
The wind is icy, and the snow patches are actually still here, but in the nearest garden I can get to I saw violets yesterday in flower, and crocuses and scillas, and one yellow pansy staring up at the sun astonished and reproachful because it had bits of frozen snow stuck to its little cheeks. Dear me, it is a wonderful feeling, this resurrection every year. Does one ever grow too old, I wonder, to thrill over it? I know the blackbirds are whistling in the orchards if I could only get to them, and my father says the larks have been out in the bare places for these last four weeks. On days like this, when one's immortality is racing along one's blood, how impossible it is to think of death as the end of everything. And as for being grudging and disagreeable, the thing's not to be done. Peevishness and an April morning? Why, even my step-mother opened her window today and stood for a long time in the sun watching how
proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
The first part of the month with us is generally bustling and busy, a great clatter and hustling while the shrieking winter is got away out of sight over the hills, a sweeping of the world clear for the marsh-marigolds and daffodils, a diligent making of room for the divine calms of May. I always loved this first wild frolic of cold winds and catkins and hurriedly crimsoning pollards, of bleakness and promise, of roughness and sweetness—a blow on one cheek and a kiss on the other—before the spring has learned good manners, before it has left off being anything but a boisterous, naughty, charming Backfisch; but this year after having been ill so long it is more than love, it is passion. Only people who have been buried in beds for weeks getting used to listening for Death's step on the stairs, know what it is to go out into the stinging freshness of the young year and meet the first scilla, and hear a chaffinch calling out, and feel the sun burn red patches of life on their silly, sick white faces.
My parents send you kind remembrances. They were extremely interested to hear, through Professor Martens, of your engagement to Miss Cheriton. They both think it a most excellent thing.
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