This vignette was originally written as part of the
blog tour for Northern Rain. It is a series of love letters, penned back and forth between John and Margaret in the early months of their marriage. The vignette was first published on Sophie’s blog, Laughing With Lizzie.
The same vignette can also be found in the Goodreads Creative Writing section. It is republished in celebration of the recent release of the audiobook narrated by Stevie Zimmerman. I have one Audible code left to give away, so be sure to comment for a chance to win!
My Dearest Love,
Would that it were my arms you found on your pillow for your comfort tonight, rather than this simple note. How I shall miss you, my darling! I had promised myself that we should never spend a day apart, but I suppose that was a selfish notion. I much prefer to know that you are safe at home, my love, and resting as you should be. I have commissioned both Mother and Dixon to ensure that you do, in fact, rest a little!
My Margaret, I scarcely know how I shall face these few days apart from you. You have brought so much wonder to my life, Love, that I cannot comprehend how I survived so long in my cold, colorless world. I am loath to return to it, but now I have the assurance that very soon, I shall come again to your loving embrace and your delicious kisses. I shall sleep well tonight, Love, knowing that this brief sojourn will only serve to sweeten the reunion when I take you in my arms again on Saturday.
All of my heart,
As I write this, you are even now making your preparations for your trip. Should you find any smudges on the paper, you may be assured that they are not tears of sorrow, but of deepest joy. That is what I shall tell myself! It was not so very long ago that I had begun to think I would never know the contentment of love, or the pride that I feel in you. My husband, you have taught me the truest meaning of the word, for it is not in any merit of my own, but in my fine, loving husband and his affections that I boast.
I am so proud of you, my darling; of your devotion, your honor, your cleverness, and the sacrifice you make in leaving us for these interminable few days. I understand the value of your efforts, and I feel the full measure of your faithfulness to the mill and to us. I think there is no more blessed wife in the kingdom than I! I quite rival your mother now in her pride for you. I shall try to conduct myself in a worthy manner while I wait for you to return to me, but I cannot quite promise that I shall bear up as bravely as I should like. I fear that I am not always myself of late!
I must close this now, for I hear you coming up the stairs to kiss me goodbye before your train. I am privately wondering how long it will take you to find this note which I secrete in your bag, so do be certain to write tomorrow and tell me.
I remain entirely yours,
My Dearest Margaret,
I was still at the rail office when I began searching for the note you so cleverly tucked into my bag. I treasured it for the duration of the ride to London, and it kept me company in the small hours of the night. Did you rest well, Love?
I expect you will have passed two nights by the time you receive this. I am immeasurably grateful to your cousin for her hospitality. Not only am I assured that you already have the address, and I may soon expect the comfort of word from you, but her library is more than adequate. I spent a good many hours in it last night, so you may be certain that I know that of which I speak.
Mrs Lennox is faring quite well, but I expect that her confinement draws very near, if I may speak so indelicately. I look with some jealous sympathy on the Captain as he hovers over his wife, and I almost wish that I had stayed elsewhere at such a momentous time for their family. Your cousin, however, would not hear any objections. She received me very warmly on your account, and questioned me for a long while last night- and such plain questions she had for me! I think I was quite blushing when her husband at last drew her away.
It is nearing dawn now, my love, and I am reminded of that first morning I awoke in your arms. I believe I know now why a woman’s hair is said to be her crowning glory. It is because the man blessed to hold such a laurel close to his heart may rightly feel himself a king. I still think myself quite unworthy of such a gift as your love, and wonder at heaven’s mercy in imparting your heart to me, but I shall never cease to grateful. It is because of you that I can look boldly to the future and laugh at what troubles may come our way.
I must now put down my pen, Love. I dislike doing so, for in writing you, it seems we are not so far apart. However, if I am to make myself at all useful when I meet with Mr Colthurst and his associates today, it would behoove me to seek out a cup or three of hot coffee.
I would ask how you passed your first night in Edith’s home, but I expect I know the answer- despite your first note’s assurances to the contrary. I fared little better, I am afraid. It seems that I had come to lean against you a great deal as I slept, and being deprived of your support, I found your pillow wholly inadequate to my wants. It seems that I can no longer balance myself in my sleep, and the babe protested quite violently no matter what I tried!
John, I am so longing to see our child! Are we to expect a boy or a girl? Will I look down into the eyes of my husband, and see that spark of his that I adore shining anew in our child? I now begin to understand your mother a little better, for in anticipating our babe, the fiercest thoughts come to my mind! I never thought myself capable of such feelings, but I would turn over the world, John, to spare our son- or daughter- the faintest measure of grief. I know that is a foolish notion, and a vain one, for life has shaped you into the man I love, and it will do no less for our children.
Dr Donaldson came by this evening to discuss some hospital business, and told me that new medicines and supplies are arriving daily. I am glad of that. If it is all I can do to improve my own little corner of the world, I shall continue to aid his efforts. It may seem small, but I do hope some good will come of it. I feel I owe our children- yes, I hope for more!- a better world than the one we found. I thank you for your indulgence and understanding in allowing me to spend much of my time so employed. I blame your influence entirely, John, for your ambitions have rubbed off on me.
I do hope your meetings with Mr Colthurst are productive. I know you felt yourself undeserving of the honour to be chosen as Milton’s representative in these affairs, but I do not. None understand the legislation, or its impacts on the industry, better than you do, my husband. I have every confidence that you will carry out your duty faithfully and with distinction, and that at the end of it you will return to find me
P.S. I think I ought to inquire which of the staff has the keys to my room and my writing desk. Someone has been gaining access when I am away. I discovered the pilfering because each day, they are carelessly leaving a rose behind with my ink jars. I am determined to solve the mystery! -M
My precious wife,
Have I mentioned lately how delicious that word tastes when I speak it? It looks just as well on paper. I, a married man! A year ago, I never could have dreamt that I might call you my own. Before I met you, my Margaret, I am convinced that the desire was not even in me. Whether you planted it there, or merely awakened what I had long forgotten, I shall not trouble myself to determine. I know only that our marriage has brought a richness to my life that I had never dared believe in for myself.
I am sorry to read of your troubles in sleeping comfortably. You may be assured that I will hurry back to your arms as quickly as possible. I cannot have the mother of my child in distress! Ah, there was another word I had failed to appreciate until just now. The entire phrase sounds purely exquisite! There is such a sense of belonging, of oneness with the woman I love, to think that even now she carries our future within her. I have not the words to express my heart, but to simply say that it is nothing short of miraculous. I, too, wonder if I shall see my love’s likeness as our child grows. I hope, my Margaret, that if we should be blessed with a daughter, she will look just like her beautiful mother. I would count it a privilege to watch you grow up all over again before my very eyes.
It would be unfair of me not to report the progress we have made here, for I know that you are curious. Mr Colthurst has proven an agreeable, intelligent fellow. I believe he may be reasoned with, and has shown himself willing to consider new perspectives. I have great hopes that our efforts may result in a more thoughtful draught of the bill at hand, which will mutually benefit all.
Henry Lennox was here to dinner last evening, and we two spent a long while over drinks in the study. I cannot fathom why you did not marry him, Margaret, for he is quite an inoffensive chap. It seems you have missed your opportunity, for he has recently made the acquaintance of the daughter of one of his law partners. He spoke very little out of sensitivity for the lady, but it sounds a promising attachment. I am afraid you shall have to continue to make do with your humble manufacturer!
I expect that this is the last letter I shall be writing on this trip, for on the day after tomorrow I intend to board a train bound for the north, and home. The words I would wish to express on paper, I shall preserve in my heart to whisper into your ear. You will be glad to know, however, that I am at last comfortably installed in my room and finding it much to my liking. I believe it was just after your cousin informed me that it had once been yours that I discovered what an agreeable room it truly was. I shall again rest my head on your old pillow tonight, and think on my sweet Margaret who dreamt her girlhood dreams as she lay under that very coverlet. On second thought, perhaps sleep may be more difficult than ever now!
Your sleepless and fervently devoted husband,
P.S. We have never yet had a dishonest housemaid. Are you certain that you are seeing correctly, Love? I should hate to unjustly accuse any of the staff. Perhaps your lack of rest has made you delusional. -J
I do hope this letter reaches you before you leave London. Should you board a train before receiving this, however, I do not think I shall complain.
Father has been nearly insufferable of late. He does not confess as much, but I think he misses you, John. He comes out of his rooms, sits by the fire but a few moments, and then returns. He offers no excuse for his strange behavior, only making some comments that he had thought of something of a sudden, and that it will keep for another time. It is amusing, I think, but your mother finds it all most disturbing!
She bears up rather the best of us in your absence. John, I really rather like your mother. Fancy that! She has been a great deal more conversant of late. I know she only tries to comfort me while you are away, for it is not at all her nature, but only this morning she suggested that we ask Nicholas and Mary to tea! I nearly dropped my pretty rose pot in shock!
Please do hurry home to us, my love. I miss the way you tease me when I try to be serious, and the way you clasp my hand under the table when you think no one is watching. I miss hearing you snore when you have had a particularly taxing day, and how silently you try to rise in the morning, thinking that I am still asleep as you dress. I miss the look in your eyes when you come to me, and how during those exquisite moments, all the world vanishes and there is only you. I am aching to kiss you and to drink in every delicious, unique detail which makes you my John. Can you really marvel that I chose you over Henry Lennox? I must take care to whisper in your ear all of the reasons why when you return to me.
p.s. Just as I was sealing this letter, the door to my room opened very silently. I believed for a moment that I had caught my burglar! Alas, it was only your mother, claiming she had mislaid something. How very odd, that she would not show me what was in her far hand.
If my instructions have been carried out, you are just now sitting down to your vanity to arrange your beautiful hair. There should be a bower of roses blocking the view of your mirror, and this sealed little missive should have been nestled in the blossoms. Perhaps by now, you will have discovered the identity of my accomplice!
Today, I come home to you, my darling. I write this several days before you read it, and so the ache of missing you has yet to grow to its fullest measure. I have no doubt that this week will have been torment for me of the most glorious sort, such as that of a starving man who only waits to return home to a feast. Do keep these letters, my love, as I do not anticipate having many opportunities to write more.
I trust you have nothing important planned for a few days, for I intend to entirely monopolize your schedule. I do hope you have all of the locks secured again.
Your impatient and immeasurably blessed husband,