The Queen of Hearts
4. Our Grand Project
AT the end of the fifth week of our guest's stay, among the letters which the morning's
post brought to The Glen Tower there was one for me, from my son George, in the
The effect which this letter produced in our little circle renders it necessary that I should
present it here, to speak for itself.
This is what I read alone in my own room:
"MY DEAREST FATHER--After the great public news of the fall of Sebastopol, have
you any ears left for small items of private intelligence from insignificant subaltern
officers? Prepare, if you have, for a sudden and a startling announcement. How shall I
write the words? How shall I tell you that I am really coming home?
"I have a private opportunity of sending this letter, and only a short time to write it in; so
I must put many things, if I can, into few words. The doctor has reported me fit to travel
at last, and I leave, thanks to the privilege of a wounded man, by the next ship. The name
of the vessel and the time of starting are on the list which I inclose. I have made all my
calculations, and, allowing for every possible delay, I find that I shall be with you, at the
latest, on the first of November--perhaps some days earlier.
"I am far too full of my return, and of something else connected with it which is equally
dear to me, to say anything about public affairs, more especially as I know that the
newspapers must, by this time, have given you plenty of information. Let me fill the rest
of this paper with a subject which is very near to my heart--nearer, I am almost ashamed
to say, than the great triumph of my countrymen, in which my disabled condition has
prevented me from taking any share.
"I gathered from your last letter that Miss Yelverton was to pay you a visit this autumn,
in your capacity of her guardian. If she is already with you, pray move heaven and earth
to keep her at The Glen Tower till I come back. Do you anticipate my confession from
this entreaty? My dear, dear father, all my hopes rest on that one darling treasure which
you are guarding perhaps, at this moment, under your own roof--all my happiness
depends on making Jessie Yelverton my wife.
"If I did not sincerely believe that you will heartily approve of my choice, I should hardly
have ventured on this abrupt confession. Now that I have made it, let me go on and tell
you why I have kept my attachment up to this time a secret from every one--even from
Jessie herself. (You see I call her by her Christian name already!)
"I should have risked everything, father, and have laid my whole heart open before her
more than a year ago, but for the order which sent our regiment out to take its share in
this great struggle of the Russian war. No ordinary change in my life would have silenced