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Galgenberg, Oct. 9th.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—I am very sorry indeed to hear that your engagement is broken off. I feared something of the sort was going to happen because of all the things you nearly said and didn't in your letters lately. Are you very much troubled and worried? Please let me turn into the elder sister for a little again and give you the small relief of having an attentive listener. It seems to have been rather an unsatisfactory time for you all along. I don't really quite know what to say. I am anyhow most sincerely sorry, but I find it extraordinarily difficult to talk about Miss Cheriton. It is of course lamentable that our writing to each other should have been, as you say it was, so often the cause of quarrels. You never told me so, or I would at once have stopped. You fill several pages with surprise that a girl of twenty-two can be so different from what she appears, that so soft and tender an outside can have beneath it such unfathomable depths of hardness. I think you have probably gone to the other extreme now, and because you admired so much are all the more violently critical. It is probable that Miss Cheriton is all that you first thought her, unusually charming and sympathetic and lovable, and your characters simply didn't suit each other. Don't think too unkindly in your first anger. I am so very sorry; sorry for you, who must feel as if your life had been convulsed by an earthquake, and all its familiar features disarranged; sorry for your father's disappointment; sorry for Miss Cheriton, who must have been wretched. But how infinitely wiser to draw back in time and not, for want of courage, drift on into that supreme catastrophe, marriage. You mustn't suppose me cynical in calling it a catastrophe—perhaps I mean it only in its harmless sense of dťnouement; and if I don't I can't see that it is cynical to recognize a spade when you see it as certainly a spade. But do not let yourself go to bitterness, and so turn into a cynic yourself. You say Miss Cheriton apparently prefers a duke, and are very angry. But why if, as you declare, you have not really loved her for months past, are you angry? Why should she not prefer a duke? Perhaps he is quite a nice one, and you may be certain she felt at once, the very instant, when you left off caring for her. About such things it is as difficult for a woman to be mistaken as it is for a barometer to be hoodwinked in matters meteorologic. It was that, and never the duke, that first influenced her. I am as sure of it as if I could see into her heart. Of course she loved you. But no girl with a spark of decency would cling on to a reluctant lover. What an exceedingly poor thing in girls she would be who did. I can't tell you how much ashamed I am of that sort of girl, the girl who clings, who follows, who laments,—as if the world, the splendid, amazing world, were empty of everything but one single man, and there were no sun shining, no birds singing, no winds blowing, no hills to climb, no trees to sit under, no books to read, no friends to be with, no work to do, no heaven to go to. I feel now for the first time that I would like to know Miss Cheriton. But it is really almost impossibly difficult to write this letter; each thing I say seems something I had better not have said. Write to me about your troubles as often as you feel it helps you, and believe that I do most heartily sympathize with you both, but don't mind, and forgive me, if my answers are not satisfactory. I am unpracticed and ill at ease, clumsy, limited, in this matter of frank writing about feelings, a matter in which you so far surpass me. But I am always most sincerely your friend,
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