Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruthe HTML version
Jena, Nov. 6th.
Dear Roger,--This is only to tell you that I love you, supposing you should have forgotten it by the time you get to
London. The letter will follow you by the train after the one you left by, and you will have it with your breakfast the day
after to-morrow. Then you will be eating the marmalade Jena could not produce, and you'll say, 'What a very indiscreet
young woman to write first.' But look at the Dear Roger, and you'll see I'm not so indiscreet after all. What could be
more sober? And you've no idea of all the nice things I could have put instead of that, only I wouldn't. It is a most
extraordinary thing that this time yesterday we were on the polite-conversation footing, you, in your beautiful new
German, carefully calling me _gnädiges Fräulein_ at every second breath, and I making appropriate answers to the Mr.
Anstruther who in one bewildering hour turned for me into Dear Roger. Did you always like me so much?--I mean, love
me so much? My spirit is rather unbendable as yet to the softness’s of these strange words, stiff for want of use, so
forgive a tendency to go round them. Don't you think it is very wonderful that you should have been here a whole year,
living with us, seeing me every day, practising your German on me--oh, wasn't I patient?--and never have shown the
least sign, that I could see, of thinking of me or of caring for me at all except as a dim sort of young lady who assisted her
step-mother in the work of properly mending and feeding you? And then an hour ago, just one hour by that absurd
cuckoo-clock here in this room where we said good-by, you suddenly turned into something marvellous, splendid, soul-
thrilling--well, into Dear Roger. It is so funny that I've been laughing, and so sweet that I've been crying. I'm so happy
that I can't help writing, though I do think it rather gushing--loathsome word--to write first. But then you strictly charged
me not to tell a soul yet, and how can I keep altogether quiet? You, then, my poor Roger, must be the one to listen. Do
you know what Jena looks like to-night? It is the most dazzling place in the world, radiant with promise, shi ning and
dancing with all sorts of little lovely lights that I know are only the lamps being lit in people's rooms down the street, but
that look to me extraordinarily like stars of hope come out, in defiance of nature and fog, to give me a glorious welcome.
You see, I'm new, and they know it. I'm not the Rose-Marie they've twinkled down on from the day I was born till to-
night. She was a dull person: a mere ordinary, dull person, climbing doggedly up the rows of hours each day set before
her, doggedly doing certain things she was told were her daily duties, equally doggedly circumventing certain others,
and actually supposing she was happy. Happy? She was not. She was most wretched. She was blind and deaf. She was
asleep. She was only half a woman. What is the good or the beauty of anything, alive or dead, in the world, that has not
fulfilled its destiny? And I never saw that before. I never saw a great many things before. I am amazed at the
suddenness of my awaking. Love passed through this house today, this house that othe r people think is just the same
dull place it was yesterday, and behold--well, I won't grow magnificent, and it is what you do if you begin a sentence
with Behold. But really there's a splendor--oh well. And as for this room where you—where I--where we--well, I won't
grow sentimental either, though now I know, I who always scoffed at it, how fatally easy a thing it is to be. That is,
supposing one has had great provocation; and haven't I? Oh, haven't I?
I had got as far as that when your beloved Professor Martens came in, very much agitated because he had missed you at
the station, where he had been to give you a send-off. And what do you think he said? He said, why did I sit in this
dreary hole without a lamp, and why didn't I draw the curtains, and shut out the fog and drizzle. Fog and drizzle? It
really seemed too funny. Why, the whole sky is shining. And as for the dreary hole--gracious heavens, is it possible that
just being old made him not able to feel how the air of the room was still quivering with all you said to me, with all the
sweet, wonderful, precious things you said to me? The place was full of you. And there was your darling coffee-cup still
where you had put it down, and the very rug we stood on still all ruffled up.
'I think it's a glorious hole,' I couldn't help saying.
'_De gustibus_' said he indulgently; and he stretched himself in the easy-chair--the one you used to sit in--and said he
should miss young Anstruther.
'Shall you?' said I.
'Fräulein Rose-Marie,' said he solemnly, 'he was a most intelligent young man. Quite the most intelligent young man I
have ever had here.'
'Really?' said I, smiling all over my silly face.
And so of course you were, or how would you ever have found out that I--well, that I'm not wholly unlovable?
Yours quite, quite truly,