August 13, 2017

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We are writing this catch-as-catch can...but I wanted to share with you something Steve found, which, he says, almost certainly I wrote when I was 14 years old. He had been at home for the harvest, and we had spent time together. I, being in love with him, wrote a story which consisted of a very broad hint as to our future :-). He knew it, of course. But he could not very well court a 14-year-old girl, and so pretended to be innocent of my intentions, and to treat me as a special friend. It was wise he did so--my father had retained his marquis' sword, and he knew how to use it!

I don't know whether any of you reading this have read my earliest story, signed with my initials, "A.P.," about the little Irish girl, "Mary Mahony." This was written about the same time, and in much the same vein. I am expressing my idealism--as a young lady raised Catholic, with a particular love of the saints (including the female saints), and of the ideals that they represented. I also had been taught esoteric and occult truths--we have talked about that, before. But I saw no real conflict. The saints were mystics; so what was the difficulty? I saw none.

(Here we will have to break off, as Steve begins his caretaking duties, and we will pick up the story later on.)

Okay, back briefly...

Steve has some ideas as to how this story came to be printed in an 1830 New York paper, but they aren't relevant, here. Suffice it to say he was substitute editor, and when he arrived, and he was in charge of the editorial page, he published it for me in the leading slot, as a surprise. I was thrilled (though I pretended to protest of course), and he was forgiven for whatever it was we had fought about when he left. That's all.

Oh, these little love games--you see, we cherish them, here. There are foolishnesses galore that cause us to grimace when we remember them, which were done during our careers on earth...but the love games, these we remember most fondly.

Because, the games are over once we reach here. We know each others' hearts, and soul-mates are in each other's hearts. But those little games we played, hoping to win each other, getting miffed, making up, and risking all to reach out and bare our hearts to each other--these are in the past. And there is a poignancy, a sweetness about them. Thus, do we look forward to the day when we reincarnate again, and once again find each other, as we have so many times, before. The same story of love, told with so many variations...

That is all, really, I want to say. Just remember who is writing this story--a deeply idealistic, spiritual, innocent 14-year-old girl, who has her heart set already on the man she wishes to marry, eschewing all others. And the life she imagines for them...which never came to fruition, for us. Instead of the idyllic life you see that I envisioned for "Mary," we expressed our idealism against the societal forces of ignorance, and were shunned and crushed for our trouble. We lost two young children, and then I died of consumption and a broken heart, two weeks after the death of my second child. Steve is beginning to understand how that happened, i.e., the death of our daughter, Sarah--but I would not have him speculate, here. There is a sense, in both deaths, of having trusted someone else, who should have been trustworthy but who let us down--such that I blamed myself for ever giving my children into the care of anyone else. Steve has experienced that pattern in his current life. It is a helpless feeling, and one in which guilt gnaws and nags at one. But he only has the feelings, no facts, and so we will leave it at that.

Here, at age 14, we see the life that I thought I would have with Mathew. You can see I knew little of the world. Nonetheless, we will have this future, together. It has only been somewhat delayed.

Love to each and all,
Abby

 

MARY OF THE VALLEY.

In a charming vale in the State of New Jersey, a few years since, dwelt a more charming being, in the person of Mary Mayflower, familiarly called Mary of the Valley. So gentle was she, so modest, so utterly without guile, that this familiar appellation was conferred upon her rather as an affectionate mark of distinction, than as a nick-name of reproach, or thoughtless levity--and was equivalent to saying, of all the inhabitants of the Valley, Mary was the loveliest.

It was not wealth that gave her distinction, for she was in humble circumstances. It was not beauty, for she had not that fascinating charm to boast. It was not wit, for she never hazarded the use of that dangerous weapon. It was not learning, for she had no more than the ordinary attainments of a common village school. Neither was it gaiety of dress or vivacity of manners, for she was plain in the one, and retiring in the other. What was it then that made her emphatically the Mary of the Valley--the entertained of all hearts--of the rich and the poor, the proud and the humble, the sinner and the saint? It was nothing else but the winning sweetness of her disposition, the conquering kindness of her heart.

Mary Mayflower was not beautiful, but she was lovely, not striking at first sight, but taking the heart by degrees, and winning the affections, if I may so speak, inch by inch; never losing the hold which she had once gained, and daily adding something to every one's stock of esteem and love. And all this without the least effort, purely by acting out herself, and appearing what gentle nature, a judicious bringing up, and good moral culture had made her.

Authors of fiction are fond if regulating the temper and disposition of their heroes by the color of their eyes; and with the mild and gentle disposition, they have agreed to associate the blue eye. But in real life it may be otherwise, and nature may take it into her head to connect the gentlest disposition with the most sparkling eye. But in relation to Mary of the Valley, an admirer of hers told me, that after several years' acquaintance, he positively could not pronounce with certainty whether her eyes were blue, black or hazel. Indeed, said he, one must have been dead to their expression, who could cooly bethink himself of ascertaining their color. But the color, if known, might easily fade from the recollection--the expression, never.

With so much goodness, Mary of the Valley could not fail to be esteemed; for goodness will attract esteem, not only among the good, but even among those who have not the virtue to practise what they esteem. With so much gentleness, she could not live and not be loved; for gentleness is sure to win the affections, even of those who are destitute of that amiable quality.

Mary had many suitors--not becaue she was desirous of many, but because the invariable sweetness of her temper, the guileless sincerity of her heart, and the simple, the native attraction of her manners, irresistibly won the affections of many. With the general esteem and love of her acquaintance she could not fail to be gratified; but the marked attentions of so many sighing swains were to her rather painful than pleading. To meet the especial love of one, was her joy, her pride; to give her own in return, was her happiness. She had none of the cruel vanity of the coquette, who is fond of gracing her triumph with a display of broken hearts; and it was her wish to secure a friend, where she was compelled to refuse a lover.

But though Mary's unsuccessful suitors could do no less than acquiesce in their rejection, there was one thing with which they generally took the liberty of being dissatisfied--and that was, the nature of her choice, which, to their great mortification, fell upon one, whom, from his silent attentions and unassuming manners, they had scarcely considered in the light of a rival. To have the prize carried off without noise or bustle, was hardly to be endured.

James Columbine, usually called among his more forward acquaintance, Diffident Jim, led to the altar the boast of the Valley. And wherefore this success? He had no means of competing with his rivals on their own ground. Their circumstances were affluent, his were humble. Their apparel was costly and gay, his was cheap and plain. Their equipage was showy and expensive, his--alas! he had none. They drove a gig and tandem, he walked on foot. Their manners were forward and fashionable, his were modest and retiring. They pushed their suit by offers of balls, parties of pleasure, and public attentions; he only by the silent language of the countenance and by noiseless assiduities. In few words, Diffident Jim, as they called him, had little else to boast than industry, honesty, good sense and a feeling heart. But these were every thing to Mary of the Valley, and she did not hesitate between the sterling value of gold in a plain box, and the worthlessness of tinsel in a gilded casket.

Such being the case, need I say, Diffident Jim and Mary of the Valley were made one? Need I trace their footsteps to the scenes of domestic life? Need I speak of the children, which grew like olive plants around their table? Need I say they resembled their parents--that every daughter grew up to be in her turn, a Mary of the Valley--and every son a virtuous and industrious, if not a Diffident, Jim? Need I say that the affection of the happy couple continued unimpaired to the last gasp? that they passed pleasantly the uphill and the downhill of life? that Diffident Jim was for many years the principal man of the town, esteemed and reverenced by all his acquaintance; and that Mary of the Valley was the revered and beloved pattern of all good wives and mothers, as she had formerly been of excellent daughters?

Having passed the downhill of life, they were scarcely separated at the foot. Within a few months they both passed the irremeable barrier. They were wept and remembered; and the unsophisticated inhabitant of the Valley, still pointing to two humble stones in the village church-yard, hastily brushes a tear from his eye, while he informs the traveller they are placed to mark the graves of Diffident Jim and Mary of the Valley.