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Chapter 50

Galgenberg, Oct. 15th.

Dear Mr. Anstruther,—It's not much use for the absent to send bland advice, to exhort to peace and putting aside of anger, when they have only general principles to go on. You know more about Miss Cheriton than I do, and I am obliged to believe you when you tell me you have every reason to be bitter. But I can make few comments. My mouth is practically shut. Only, as you told me you long ago left off caring for her, the smart you are feeling now must be, it seems to me, simply the smart of wounded vanity, and for that I'm afraid I have no soothing lotion ready. Also I am bound to say that I think she was quite right to give you up once she was sure you no longer loved her. I am all for giving up, for getting rid of things grown rotten before it is too late, and the one less bright spot I see on her otherwise correct conduct is that she did not do it sooner. Don't think me hard, dear friend. If I were your mother I would blindly yearn over my boy. As it is, you must forgive my unfortunate trick of seeing plainly. I wish things would look more adorned to me, less palpably obvious and ungarnished. These tiresome eyes of mine have often made me angry. I would so much like to sympathize wholly with you now, to be able to be indignant with Miss Cheriton, call her a minx, say she is heartless, be ready with all sorts of healing balms and syrups for you, poor boy in the clutches of a cruel annoyance. But I can't. If you could love her again and make it up, that indeed would be a happy thing. As it is—and your letter sets all hopes of the sort aside once and for ever—you have had an escape; for if she had not given you up I don't suppose you would have given her up—I don't suppose that is a thing one often does. You would have married her, and then heaven knows what would have become of your unfortunate soul.

After all, you need not have told me you had left off loving her. I knew it. I knew it at the time, I knew it within a week of when it happened. And I have always hoped—I cannot tell you how sincerely—that it was only a mood, and that you would go back to her again and be happy.

Yours sincerely,


Elizabeth von Arnim