The American Senator
II.7. Mary's Letter
The silent system in regard to Mary was carried on in the attorney's house for a week,
during which her sufferings were very great. From the first she made up her mind to
oppose her stepmother's cruelty by sheer obstinacy. She had been told that she must be
made to marry Mr. Twentyman, and the injustice of that threat had at once made her rebel
against her stepmother's authority. She would never allow her stepmother to make her
marry any one. She put herself into a state of general defiance and said as little as was
said to her. But her father's silence to her nearly broke her heart. On one or two
occasions, as opportunity offered itself to her, she said little soft words to him in privacy.
Then he would partly relent, would kiss her and bid her be a good girl, and would quickly
hurry away from her. She could understand that he suffered as well as herself, and she
perhaps got some consolation from the conviction. At last, on the following Saturday she
watched her opportunity and brought to him when he was alone in his office a letter
which she had written to Larry Twentyman. "Papa," she said, "would you read that?" He
took and read the letter, which was as follows:--
My Dear Mr. Twentyman,
Something was said about two months which are now very nearly over. I think I ought to
save you from the trouble of coming to me again by telling you in a letter that it cannot
be as you would have it. I have thought of it a great deal and have of course been anxious
to do as my friends wish. And I am very grateful to you, and know how good and how
kind you are. And I would do anything for you,-- except this. But it never can be. I should
not write like this unless I were quite certain. I hope you won't be angry with me and
think that I should have spared you the trouble of doubting so long. I know now that I
ought not to have doubted at all; but I was so anxious not to seem to be obstinate that I
became foolish about it when you asked me. What I say now is quite certain.
Dear Mr. Twentyman, I shall always think of you with esteem and regard, because I
know how good you are; and I hope you will come to like somebody a great deal better
than me who will always love you with her whole heart.
Yours very truly,
P.S. I shall show this letter to papa.
Mr. Masters read it as she stood by him,--and then read it again very slowly rubbing one
hand over the other as he did so. He was thinking what he should do;--or rather what he
should say. The idea of stopping the letter never occurred to him.