September 1913 - "The future is bright with glorious hope."
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 2, 1913
My dear Fred,
I was hoping I'd get a letter from you before I wrote, but as I want you to get this on Saturday I can't wait any longer. Dear me! I've been thinking of things for the last three days that I was going to say to you and now I've forgotten most of them.
... Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't find my ring. I had put it on my little finger because my fingers swell up at night, and it had slipped off. I was feeling around for it when I woke dad up. I was sleeping out in the back room and every time I stirred the bed creaked - he came out and wanted to know what was the matter and I said I was hot. I was too, nearly roasted. Then he wanted me to go in the front room but I wouldn't go. ... So after he left I felt around cautiously though rather hopelessly, and judge of my relief when I found it on the edge of my bed.
...Yesterday we spent about the same as Monday a week ago, only I didn’t play tennis - we did fancy-work. I made a peach pie and some biscuits and nobody bossed me either and I baked them myself and they’re all gone now. I made a peach pie and some biscuits and nobody bossed me either and I baked them myself and they're all gone now. Last night dad came home with a lot of honey so we had a pre-retiring lunch of pie and biscuits and honey. It's half-past nine and I have to get supper but I don't want any. Ora was canning plums for herself to-day.
I nearly forgot to tell you that Mr Myer was here Sunday to see Ora. They got stuck again down there for a Domestic Science teacher so she is going back there too. He says he isn’t going away on his holidays again for something always goes wrong.
I can't sign my name till you get one for me.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 3, 1913
My dearest Friend,-
... I have been talking to you all day, but when I came to write to you I find that my remarks, brilliant, humorous or just plain ordinary ones, have all gone to swell my already too large pile of unwritten letters. I wonder if I’ll behave any better to you than to my girl friends. On days when I make up my mind I should write to them I sit down at something else. Then all afternoon I keep thinking I’ll do it, until I say, Oh, I’ve waited so long one day more won’t hurt. Then after many days of procrastination I recoup my fortunes by a brilliant piece of epistolary literature and my friends forgive me.
Oh my dear, my dear, I want you so much tonight. It seems funny for me to read those words, to think that I have written them. The habit of reserve is not easily broken, but I do not want that wall between us any more, and one can't do all the tearing down alone. Next June seems so terribly long, long distance off, and you are so far away from me too. I wish we could put on Hiawatha's magic shoes and that they would cover time as well as space. You know I said I was afraid you'd be grown up. I was judging you from your letters. You don't know how lately I used to read them over and over to see if I couldn't find some personal touch, and occasionally I thought I did, but then it seemed as if you had noticed your slip and had tried to recover your poise. But I was delighted to find you boyish in the way I wanted you to be. You have not lost your enthusiasm. I think I never really had very much, in fact I rather despised it as a sign of lack of poise, or some such fool reason as that. I don't despise it now, I merely smile at it and it does me good. I didn't want you to be blasé, to have been surfeited with experiences so that you looked on life with a supercilious, monocle-wearing air. But thanks be, you're not that. You're all I thought and more too. There's only one thing lacking that you haven't yet learned how to write letters. But, you say, I was cut short in the middle. Yes, my dear, I know, and I'll just make up the rest for my own delectation.
Art [Ritchie] told Ora that he had known for some time that you and he were going to be brothers-in-law, though you were the only one in law, but he realized that he had first choice and had got the biggest and best. Just to pay back I'm going to give him only one sock for Christmas.
This afternoon after a nap I went downstairs in search of a lemon with which to remove some stains from my hands. I wasn’t a pretty object for my hair was hanging down my back. I was barefooted, and to cap it all, I was half asleep. Mother said “Well, you’re not good for much are you? What did Fred want of you? I guess Art was right.” I retorted that I could stay home and can plums and iron for you while you went to weddings. Ora and I ironed this morning and canned plums. Mother and dad went to a wedding at half past eleven. They picked the plums and mother got breakfast too, but that’s about all she did. So I got her that time. ...
I came past my school yesterday and oh wasn't I thankful I wasn't inside. I guess I have become a domesticated animal. I guess I have become a domesticated animal. Once upon a time there was a story in the Journal entitled the Dutch-keep wife. After marriage the woman insisted on retaining her business position and paying her share of the expense. Various things continued to make her sick of her own way but the culmination point was reached when a married friend of her husband got her interested in fancy-work. The conspirator said to her husband when the Dutch-keep wife went home, “she’s done for now. She’s crazy over fancy-work.” so you see Mr. Man, it has its uses as well as its abuses.
Tomorrow afternoon Ora goes to the Falls to teach and Mother goes to Missionary meeting. So I'm going visiting.
It's a week ago that we were in Hamilton. No, I don't realize that you have gone for so long. But there's something bright at the end.
Fred to Evelyn
Canadian Pacific Railway
En Route Edmonton to Calgary,
Sept. 4, 1913
My own dear little sweetheart,-
You can see from the scrawl that it's no easy matter to write. I was going to write you yesterday but on the C.N.R it was utterly impossible . One man was even spilled out of his berth (an upper) so you can imagine what it would be like trying to write.
Had a delightful trip to Port Arthur, beautiful clear weather and the lake with scarcely a ripple. One of Mr Oaten's assistants at Mount Royal College, Miss Bailey, was on the boat. As she and I were the only Calgary people on board we fraternized for company's sake. She is a beautiful singer and on Sunday night we had some music, several other singers joining in with Miss Bailey. Miss Bailey's singing so captivated the captain that he invited a number of us up on the bridge where he entertained us for more than an hour with stories of his own experience on the lakes. Later he took us down to the dining room and gave us tea and light refreshments. Then the following morning he had us up on the bridge again while going from Pt. Arthur to Ft. William. He was entertaining and what's more he's a thorough Christian gentleman.
In Ft. William I had lunch at the house of two newly-weds J.K. [John Kent] Ockley '09 and wife. They have been married only about 2 months. Kent’s sister Laura is visiting them. I think you know her for she was at Vic in your time. I like his wife very much. She seems a very nice "homey" sort of person, but not half as nice as one little girl I know and I told Ockley so too.
In Winnipeg I was very busy, arrived there Tuesday morning about 9:30 and didn't leave until eleven at night. Was on the move all the time and immediately made $150 for the firm. There I also met and had dinner with two more newly weds, Gordon Rutledge and wife. Of course they have been married nearly 2 years but they seemed young in the game to me. ... She does all her own work except washing and I believe she is happier than if she had servants and all kinds of things as at home. They haven't as good furniture as Fritzs', and certainly spend a good deal less money but I believe they're just as happy. I've come to the conclusion that men don't give women of the present day credit for sufficient common sense, and think women want more luxury and fine things than they really do. After all what a man and a woman want are each other. I think I've got the habit of comparing every woman and particularly young married women with you. ... you are your own class and there is none to equal you. I believe it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, the farther I go away from you the most I want you and need you and the most I realize my love for you. I wish I knew some new way to say it but I don't. But dearest I Love You. ... This writing with the jolting of the train is making my head dizzy, so I'll finish this when I get to Calgary. Are due there at 10 o'clock.
Have been expecting all along that there would be a nice letter awaiting me at Calgary. Are you trying me out to see how I like not to get letters? If it will end the trial I’ll tell you right now that I was awfully disappointed. It may be more blessed to give than to receive but it isn’t half so pleasurable when it comes to letter-writing. Surely there’ll be a letter tomorrow.
What have you been doing since I left? Resting, I hope, and making up some of the sleep you lost while I was there. I wish you would apologize to John for me. The night I left Uncle Simeon’s I said good-bye to all but him, expecting to see him the next morning or sometime later when I should be back in the city - but I never did. I meant to telephone him - but I guess he understood. Still if you see him you might apologize for me.
It's good to get the breath of the prairies again and to see the wide open sweep of waving grain and prairie grass. I've been trying to analyze my reasons for liking the West. Looking at the matter coldly and logically there seems no reason why the prairies could compare with the beauty and culture of the East, but they do. In spite of the bareness and newness there's been a delightful feeling of gladness at being back in Alberta once more. Do you remember in the Winning of Barbara Worth Barbara asks the question "Do you like my Desert?" So I ask myself the question "Will my little girl like my prairie?" Somehow I feel you will. Oh, how, how I wish you were here now. With more love than ever before.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear little sweetheart,
Isn't this name good enough for you? I've got lot of names for you in my own mind and I'm just trying to decide which one I'm going to have for my very special private own. I guess there's not much of the new woman in you or you wouldn't want me to change both your names. Anyhow I love you all the better for it and I'll not let your letter be unsigned very long.
Last Friday night I was at Fritz's for dinner and I went out there again today after church and just returned a short time ago. Since he got married Fritz has become quite faithful in the performance of his religious duties and he leads the Men's Own, the afternoon men's meeting at Central Meth. Church every Sunday. I haven't done any church work for about a year and I think I'll get back into it again. I find I must do something or I stagnate and become indifferent. I quit last year because I felt I'd been attempting too much. For a time I was Pres. of the League, taught once a week in the Chinese Mission and occasionally in the Sunday School, besides having a good deal to do with various other activities around the church. Then various things came up that fairly nauseated me and I decided to "cut" the whole business for a while and take my Sundays for rest. It did me good and clarified my vision a little bit, but as I told you when I was home, I have begun to feel I'm losing my grip on religion and the only way I know to get right with God is to make some sacrifices and to do some work for Him. As it is I have been living a fairly selfish life of late.
Oh, my dearest, I'm so glad you're good and true and faithful and loyal to your God. I don't believe I could ever truly love a woman to whom I could not look up and know to be better than myself. Is that a confession of weakness? Well, I'll have to be considered weak then, but I wonder if you can possibly realize what it means to me to look down the vista of the years to be seeing you by my side to cheer and strengthen and uplift and to know that with you our house will be one where God will be honoured and where the sweet and gracious influence of a pure and good woman will mould and influence the lives of those who come within its wall. Never before, as within the past week, have I realized the almost immeasurable power of the wife to make or mar the character of the home.
I’m not speaking now of really bad women or even of merely irreligious women, but I have seen so many cases where the husband was a good man, moral, home-loving and as religious as the ordinary man, marry a wife also a good woman but with no deeply anchored religious convictions. In time the husband has become engrossed in his business and gradually his ideals became dimmer. The wife fell in with his life, and instead of being his inspiration and pointing him to the better and higher things, because socially ambitious, fond of ease and even luxury, and while husband and wife loved each other as dearly as before and had no desire to sink to a material level nor any consciousness that they were doing so, gradually and slowly but surely lost their best selves and live only for themselves and this life.
I know some will say that the responsibility is as much the husband’s as the wife’s. Well, perhaps it is, but if the wife fails how little chance there is for the husband. And I can’t help but think that some of the young married couples whom I’ve seen lately are all too likely to drift upon this shore of Life. The wives are nice, accomplished women, moral, good as the average and devoted to their husbands but I’m afraid the material side of the home and the material comforts and pleasures of life will engross them too much and when the husbands most need to be taken out of themselves and away from their life’s material is their very wives will but drag them further down. ... Letter ends here
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 7, 1913
My dear Fred,
I had just got comfortably seated outdoors with a dish of grapes at my side and a book and some paper in my lap, all ready to write to you, when Wray appeared this afternoon. ...
You are very far away tonight but I don't feel so very lonesome. I wonder if I'd miss you so very much if you weren't. You seem so unreal you know, I have become so accustomed to living in a land of make believe and you seem such a part of that land, that I wonder if you didn't exist if I couldn't just go on pretending that you did. My answer to that is a longing for the sight of your face. There is a blank or another face pokes itself in and I am unsatisfied. Sometimes too I wonder if I really know what I am doing. At such times a deep voice as if it came from a subconscious self assures me that I am on the right path, that I need not fear the future. You must have seen from my letters that I was in a very unsettled state of mind; that I did not know what was right for me to do. But I feel content now that this is what God had planned for me. And I never felt that before.
Tonight father was preaching about facing our mistakes. I cannot but feel a keen regret when I think of one I might have helped much more. But he said the greatest mistake was to have the wrong purpose, and this I know, that my purpose was right, though I may have been far astray in carrying it out. And yet even there I cannot admit that I was wholly to blame.
Daddy married a couple last night. I wanted a letter from you after that. Oh, I wanted it very much. My dear, how can people promise to love and honour each other all their lives? I suppose if their love is based on the right foundations they can be pretty sure that they'll always honour each other. But what an awful lie it would be if there did not exist between them the most exalted feeling of trust and respect. Mother looked over at me once with a look that made me want to cry. No, that made me want to laugh. "Obey" hasn't been in our ceremony for years. It is "keep."
Do you fully realize that I'm not prepared to be a grown up woman and have horrible things called responsibilities? No, I'm not. You must play with me for a while and then after a while I suppose we'll have to grow up. But we won't for a while. You'll have to make up for all the years you haven't "gone with" me. Now all the girls here have their beaux handy. But you, I have had you two or three weeks, and then I'm going to marry you. So you've got to be my fellow for a while. I never had one really before. Because I always had to keep drawing back and refusing to go playing except once in a while. But when you come again I won't refuse once to go playing. ... Ah, if I were this year and knew how a certain man and a little girl wanted it to go, I'd fly so very, very fast that not bands of steel could stay me. I wonder if some people wish its feet were weighted with iron!
Have you seen Elizabeth? And what did she say? You must tell me what your friends said when they saw you return alone and sad of countenance. Oh, I'm so glad you have got young. Isn't it splendid that we both did the same thing? Wray is going with me to a corn roast Tuesday night. He is my right-hand man and talks of buying out your interest in a certain bit of glass I possess. ...
I was playing tennis Friday, from five till seven, and played three sets and six games more. It was a splendid night to play, just a little cool so that we felt like living and like playing hard. I've been figuring out to see if a tennis court couldn't be put in some place on a hundred foot lot. I'm just going to tell you little plans I make and don't think, dear that I'd be disappointed if they don't materialize. I have such a good time making them.
You asked me what kind of house I wanted. I don't know, but when I just dream it's a white plaster house with a pergola at the back. I guess it's that house down at St Catharines that I pointed out to you that has bewitched me. But for a long time I've wanted a flower garden with paths and a walk that leads to a vine covered pergola on a sunny hill. Maybe Calgary is flat. If it's flat, why then we won't have a sunny hill. And you can always look away to the mountains, can't you?
Did I tell you about my pine tree at Beamsville? It was one I could see from an upstairs window, away at the western side of the mountain. It was a lonesome pine for it towered way above the other trees. And at sunset when I used to have a certain half-lonely feeling, that has been so common to me, I used to stand and gaze out at that pine tree. In such moments I never thought, I just felt and dreamed, not real dreams, just airy light emotions. Do you ever have the feeling that you are a disinterested part of your own being and you stand aside and size up yourself? And sometimes you like yourself just as if you were another person: sometimes you hate yourself: and sometimes are horribly sarcastic and mean and attribute wrong, selfish motives to acts that did not spring from such sources at all?
It is after two o'clock, and I am sleepy and I am going to bed. Ora has come downstairs, and is playing 'In the Time of Roses.'
You must write to me very often. Please, please, if you can see any faults you want to correct, don’t take Heber’s cruel way. But you’ll have to write often in order to convince me of your reality.
Here come Mother and dad. Marion used to poke me under the chin and say, "Sleepy baby-doll:" And I used to bristle with indignation. But if she said it tonight I don't think I should.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 9, 1913
My dear Fred,
The letter which I received to-day must have been a long time on the way as it was dated Aug. 4. How can you account for that?
You say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Perhaps. It also makes your letters better. I have no fault to find at all with the last one; it is my duty to emulate it if possible. I have no fault to find at all with the last one; it is my duty to emulate it if possible. ...
As I told you in my previous letter, I am going to a corn-roast tonight. Tomorrow we are all going to Vineland on that early train. Sadie Wismer and her husband and family are home ... I haven't seen Sadie since I helped her get married nine years ago.
So you think Elizabeth and the others are good enough for their respective husbands but that somebody else is better. Don't you see the point. They may be good enough for their men, but they wouldn't do for mine. We're sort of a "mutual admiration society," as Mr Myer used to call us. ...
We have been very busy all week and last week too, canning peaches, pears, plums, and chili sauce. Ora is doing some fruit for herself and she tries to persuade me that I ought to too, but I don't want to move fruit that's a year old. Ora and mother are painting china too, but I'm making that centre piece I got for mother.
Ora has at last decided to have a wedding-dress and that means that Noble and I have to assist. She wanted to know what present I wanted, whether I still want the Robert Louis set or something else. Mother suggested that some comforters or some blankets would prove a very useful present.
I've been coming in for a considerable amount of teasing but it doesn't bother me any. Ora says she told Art how we acted and that he said he was ashamed of you. ...
It's time to go but my gallant hasn't appeared. He's a good sort but I'd want to go much more if a certain other man I know were going along side of me.
As for John, it wouldn't take you more than about ten minutes to write him. Please do, dear. I don't think he'd appreciate an apology from me for you. I haven't seen him since you were here. A little space to tell you how much I want you here.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 10, 1913
To the Dearest One I know,
The bells are just ringing and my eyes are heavy but I can't go to bed without saying good-night to you. We have had such a pleasant day. We all went up to Mrs. Overholt on the early morning train to see Sadie and her family. She left the little baby at home, he is a year old, but she had the other two, aged three and five, with her. And they are the dearest kiddies I've seen since my cousins Lenore and Winston were small.
My, we did laugh a lot to-day. Tonight when we got off the train dad started to run for the car, Ora chased him and I chased her. Mother walked with a stately, dignified tread. It was just the sort of cold, sunshiney day when one feels like accomplishing wonders. ...
Well, Wray [Moyer] and I went to 'that thar' corn-roast and got home at a quarter after three. I can't recall ever having been out so late before. We got started about a quarter to nine and reached our destination about eleven. We went in a hayrack, about twenty-six of us. Well, well. It was an experience. It was a very cold night and some of the girls weren't dressed warmly enough. I happened to be among the wise ones. I was utterly disgusted, per usuam. But really, boys aren't to be blamed too much, when girls actually throw themselves into their arms. One girl used Wray as a prop for a short time going out, but she didn't keep at it very long. I guess she didn't want to offend me. I had him sit on the other side coming home, but she had another one. I asked him if he liked girls falling all over him and he seemed quite disgusted, but said. "But what can you do?..."
I've just had an interruption in the form of a letter from Noble. In reality it was my turn to write. ... He wanted to know when I was coming down so that he could meet me. He certainly has been good to me faithfully whenever he knew I was going down at night, and has even carried an ugly bandbox for me. I'm going to invite him over as his appointment doesn't begin for a week yet and there's no fun hanging around Toronto with nothing to do. I feel a rather maternal interest in him for I have helped to bring him up. He calls me his Sister Confessor. But I really must tear myself away from this fascinating company. ...
I know you were to Edmonton Thursday but I didn’t think on any further. You made a remark about Saturday night, about what you'd be doing then, and that day sort of stuck in my mind. Then too, I was waiting for a letter from you first. I'm very, very sorry you were disappointed the very first thing. If I knew any way to make up for my thoughtlessness, I'd gladly do it.
The dishes are done, the floor is swept, the house is in fair order. I am going to cover the sheet of paper, also another to Noble, and then I am going out to pick some plums and some pears to give to our neighbours. I love to pick fruit, and it will be great to-day for it is one of those still, cloudless sunny days that I love.
I have been re-reading your last letter and I came to a conclusion at which I should have arrived long ago. The two people who have been foolish enough to make love to me never make me happy when they spoke of that; it always made me very unhappy. But from you it doesn’t make me feel at all; I just want to laugh. So I think that the absence of feeling must be real happiness. I don’t think we know we have had a good time till after it has passed. We rarely pause in the midst of gaiety to say “How happy we are” It The pause usually comes afterwards and we say “How happy we were.”
I expect that Ora and I will go up to Beamsville a week from Friday. ... Mother wants me to go, so I guess I may as well go then as any time. I'm not very fond of going away in the winter time unless I go where it's warmer than at home, which place is a difficult one to find. Mother and I are going to St. Catharines Saturday, and we are going down to see your Aunt Carrie and Lina [Moyer]. Mother goes to the Falls on the three car today to go with Ora to see about her suit. I guess we'll all go over to Toronto sometime next week.
The people up at Vineland were asking me what I was going to do, and I said teach if I could any place to do it. I was brave and wore my ring too, but they didn't seem to think it meant anything at all. They were all teasing Ora but they let me off easily, which is quite unusual. ...
Now I must leave you and go for that fruit because mother has called me. She seems to think she has to help me get it picked. This afternoon I have to get my League work in shape. It is a Literary evening and I'm going to take up three Canadian authors, [Stephen] Leacock, [Nellie] McLung(1) and Norman Duncan(2)
. ... I haven't read The Winning of Barbara Worth but you need have no fears about your prairies I know we'll be good friends soon.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear little "True Heart,"
I wonder if you are lonely for me tonight as I am for you. Perhaps at this hour you are fast asleep, but I have a fond fancy that even in slumber you are thinking of me. It must be so. If there is any compelling force in love my heart must hear an answering echo to its beat in your heart tonight. Oh, my dear, dear girlie, I think I never knew the meaning of homesickness until today. The preacher in the pulpit this morning, the flowers and trees this afternoon, the flickering light of the grate fire, the friends with whom I have been talking, the moon and the stars and all the wonderful stillness of a Western night have been insistently and lovingly talking of You.
I went out at Fritz's for supper tonight thinking I might there forget the dull ache at my heart, but seeing them in their happiness, I couldn't refrain from speaking of you, and though it was good just to have someone to whom I could talk about you, and who would understand, the homesickness became worse. I felt I couldn't stand to sit quiet in church so I stayed for a time at Fritz's then came out into the wonderful starlight and moonlight with the clear bracing air of a September evening. The stars whispered 'Elnora' and it seemed as if the breezes must waft that gentle name across the leagues and leagues of land that separated us and gently stir the curtains of your room, reminding you that far away across the vast spaces, but conquering even space in its spiritual flight, my heart is beating with yours. Oh, the unutterable longing for your presence tonight! That I might clasp you in my arms and hear the sweet words from your lips, and see the glad wonderful light in your eyes that tells me you are mine, mine to protect, and love and keep, my inspiration, my anchor, my wife, my joy - my wife.
I had a thousand things I wanted to say to you but the dull indefinable longing and ache for a sight of your face tonight makes it hard to talk about other things. Oh, my dearie you are beginning to understand me, aren't you? I can't find words to tell you how much you are to me, but your own heart tells you what I cannot express doesn't it? I haven't got over my schooled reserve of so many years, and I can't say what I would say, but perhaps on account of that very reserve and self repression the surge of my pent up feelings tonight is so hard to bear. I want you, oh I want you my Love - my Life.
What can I give you in return for what you are to me? The exchange is all one sided, you, one of God's women, with your wonderful truth and faith and steadfastness, with you marvellous power to see and know and understand beauty, with your fresh unspoiled outlook on life, you to give yourself to me, an ordinary grub in the world's professional back yard. The thought often comes and fairly overwhelms me. What if in the future days my little girl should be disappointed? How will she look upon me when she is disillusioned, when she finds that she has over-estimated me? Will she cease to love me? Oh, my love, I would a thousand times rather you thought less of me now, yes even did not quite love me than that in after years your love should wane. Please, please don't expect too much. If you were anyone else but yourself, I think I couldn't bear these thoughts. But in spite of all such doubts, I feel you will never love me less will you? Your eyes are too deep and true and your soul is too steadfast.
Since I last wrote, my time has been pretty well occupied. Last Thursday night the Liberals of Calgary gave a banquet to the western members of the Federal house. Not all could be present but many of them were besides a fair number of members of the local legislative including Raenier Sifton.
I was undecided for some time whether to go or not, even although I am on the Liberal Executive. To tell the truth, of late I have seen so much of the inside of politics that I have become thoroughly disgusted. It seems little else than a sordid selfish game of grab. Members who have brains and honor and high ideals find they must spend the greater part of their time, not in solving great national questions but in arranging for some post office here, a petty job in the government service there, - getting a man a homestead patent when he has not fulfilled the regulations etc etc etc.
Everyone seems bent on some personal gain animated by a spirit of graft and a selfish desire to serve personal ends. And it is on one's ability to cater to just such low motives that success in elections depends. The same thing is true of those occupying higher position. A cabinet minister tours this country. What does he meet? Not people who discuss national affairs of questions of general interest or benefit. - Oh no, - he is a slave from morning until night - day in and day out - to the program mapped out by the local machine. - And the program thus provided is nothing more nor less than a series of appeals from party hec[k]lers for some concessions or aid that will make them rich at the expense of the public treasury.
And so, I had been taking no part in politics of late, but I decided to go to the banquet for one reason only, to hear Dr Michael Clark M.P., of Red Deer. Do you know anything of Dr. Clark? He is considered one of the best if not the very best speakers in the House today. A medical doctor, born in England, Manchester I think, university bred, a keen student of political economy, politics and philosophy, an ardent free trader with a marvellously analytical mind - a striking personality - a ready wit, a formal presence, a deep rich voice and a vocabulary that never falters - although sometimes his speech is halting from an impediment that reminds one of Rev. J. A. MacDonald, he is one of the most convincing orators I ever heard. When still a young man he had dabbled in politics in England and was on intimate terms with the leading Liberals of his time. However he was becoming addicted to the use of liquor so he came to Canada several years ago, and bought a farm about 15 miles west of Red Deer, thinking that he might conquer or check the craving for liquor if the temptation were removed.
He became a real farmer, working with his own hands and now with his 2 grown up sons who manage the farm he has one of the finest and best paying stock farms of about 1000 acres to be found anywhere in the country. He never ceased to study public questions or political economy and in particular the tariff question which now became his particular hobby. In 1900 he was elected Liberal member for Red Deer and if it had not been for his extreme free trade views he would have been a member of Sir Wilfred’s last cabinet. As it is of late years he has become recognized as our leader of the Liberal party. - “Red Michael’s” speeches on the navy question during the last session were classic and they easily stamp him as a real marvel. He spoke 5 times on the navy bill, each speech of more than 2 hours duration and both Liberal and Conservative newspaper men say he did not repeat a single argument. Truly a most wonderful performance.
But to return to my subject. The banquet was a great success - about 300 were present. One very unique and gratifying feature was the absence of liquors and wines. A "dry" political banquet is almost an unheard of thing. But this was "dry" and couldn't have been more successful.
From my point of view, it was well worth while to hear Dr. Clark alone. He is one of the few public men who can inspire me. Every time I hear him, I come away feeling there is still something in public life strive for - that men are not all mean or sordid, but that there are still big men seeing big movements and animated by lofty ideals are solving and attacking big problems. Dr. Clark always sweeps away the petty unimportant details and gets at the essential. And important things. But I might go on talking all night of Dr. Clark. - the banquet lasted till 2.30 am.
The next night a small body of Liberal workers had another meeting when Mr. Turiff M.P. for Assinaboia gave us a talk. Consequently I feel rather sleepy yesterday - especially as last evening Mrs Quigly had Roy and Miss Whittleton and I up for dinner. Things have progressed so far now that Roy is considered only as one half of himself.
Yesterday afternoon I had a glorious ride. The air was just perfect - cool enough - and yet not too cool. How I wished you were with me. As it was I had the company of Miss Bailey, a fine girl, Mr Oaten's chief assistant. She knows I'm engaged. Say, do you object to my going out riding with any other girl? Unless you object I expect to occasionally, but if you think I shouldn't please don't hesitate to say so. Above all things let us be perfectly frank with each other. There is so much more I want to say but I must close. Good night my dearest. Never so dear to me as tonight. May Heaven's guardian angels watch over and keep you this night.
Your own true love.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 14, 1913
My Dear Fred,
Ora is at the desk and she has been at it half an hour. Really, it must keep Art busy reading the screeds she sends him. I am writing on the third volume of Ridpath's History of the World, so that my letter ought to be very comprehensive.
It isn’t very long before S.S. but I have studied my lesson and now may let my soul Eat, drink, and be merry, for soon I’ll have to listen to Clarence say just the same things I read in the quarterly. My mouth hasn’t done much eating and drinking because we had only a lunch and are going to have dinner about half-past four.
Will you consider it "talking shop" if I tell you what I've cooked lately? Yesterday it was pies, biscuits, and cake. Do you like your apple pies nice and fat, with cinnamon in them? I hope so, for that's the kind I like. Mother and Ora said they were too fat, dad said they weren't but they didn't have enough sugar. Oh yes, I got twenty-five cents worth of meat one day and we had three meals out of it. And it was good, all but the first time when it was tough because it wasn’t cooked enough. But that wasn’t my fault because Ora moved it to the back where the fire always goes out. It did, so if it's economy you want, I'm your man.
Mother and Ora are going to Toronto tomorrow but I can’t go. Tomorrow night is my turn at League. In the afternoon dad and I are going to Toronto to meet the school board. It is a three roomed school and they have one teacher at present. If I thought I had to teach school for about forty years I think I’d expose myself to some quick-working disease. ...
I don’t feel like replying to you last letter to-day - the one you wrote last Sunday. I didn’t get it until Saturday morning whereas I usually get your Sunday letters Thursday night. The letter you sent from the Soo got here Tuesday night but I had posted my letter to you in the afternoon. ...
It’s cold to-day and I nearly froze yesterday. I spent a good part of the afternoon consulting the cook book to find a way to use some lamb chops. I found just what would have suited only I couldn’t make it because we didn’t have any meat stock, and then when I told Ora about it she said I could have used water. Art told her there was no reason I shouldn’t learn to cook, but that three-quarters of one’s success lay in having an efficient teacher. I said “Very true my teacher is the Boston School Cook Book and my own brains.” Ora says the worst thing about me is that I’m slow, but I tell her I’m just getting the correct motions, and after I get them I can get my speed up.
They were at your Uncle Freeman’s yesterday, took Wray some plums. He told his mother he was never nearer dead than the night after that corn roast. I’m very sorry I got him in on such a thing, but I guess he’s all right now. Will both know enough to find out the nature of such affairs before we accept another invitation. Of course he didn’t say much to me, he didn’t mind at all, but he was afraid I’d be awfully tired.
This would be a grand afternoon to go for a walk, but I get tired of feminine company. Do you? To-day and for the last few days I've been wishing I were going back to college, not under former circumstances, but as I am now. I just wish I could have another year there. I don't wonder that the boys hang around there doing research work.
Ora is writing to some of her Alma(3) friends - Dad came in a few minutes ago and saw us both hard at it. He called mother and said, "Jen, just look at these two fools." The call for Sunday School has been issued and I must go. Willingly? You can guess how much. ...
Fred to Evelyn
My dear "True Heart,"
I'm sitting in front of a blazing fire in the grate. I started out to set a supplemental examination paper in jurisprudence with brave resolutions to work first and write to you afterwards, but my mind refused to concentrate itself on "the abstract science of positive law." If I looked up, I saw your face in the glowing coals or the flickering flames. If I riveted my eyes on the book or paper on my lap, I still could hear your name whispered from one crackling flame to another. The paper must be set by tomorrow and I steadfastly tried to set my mind to its appointed task, but finally I gave up in despair and decided to write you one tonight, and leave the examination paper until tomorrow morning. Fearman has promised to call me at 6.30.
... You say my letters are becoming less formal. May I say the same about yours? I didn't intend telling you but I think now I may, that your first letter seemed a return of you earlier reserve, that I was always so afraid couldn't be entirely humanized, but each succeeding one has been better than the last, until now they are just like you, as you were in that last all too short week, whose every moment was fraught with a happiness I couldn't then realize or fully appreciate.
My joy and regret mutually excelled each other this morning - I was expecting a letter from you but when Arthur [office boy] laid two on my desk I didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry, It’s not necessary to say why I was glad but I couldn’t help thinking how you must have been looking for letters from me and here in my selfish fears I had only written you twice during the past week. Oh my dearie, you don’t know how I enjoyed those letters this morning. If you look for my letters with half the eagerness or read them with half the interest that I do yours you may depend upon it I’ll not restrict myself to two a week.
So you think the absence of feeling betokens true happiness? I don't - but I believe you haven't yet awakened to your real self. I'm not worrying about it, because I believe I know you better in many ways just now than you know yourself and there will come a time in the not far distant future when my "I love you" will stir the deepest chords of your being. You asked me once to make you love me. Well, I didn't expect to go two thousand miles away to do it and even if the whole round earth separated us I'd call to you with such a compelling voice you'd have to answer and I'm going to do it.
I've just been re-reading your third last letter. No, I don't want you to be grown up just yet, I want you to stay my little girl for a long, long time and to teach me how to live the youth I never had. Oh, if I only had your light fancy and child- like imagination! In my life I've had glimpses, just fleeting glimpses into the windows of that wonderful world when the fancy flits, but for the most part, like the picture in "The Poor Little Match Girl," the bright lights with all the wonderful visions of another world, vanish and leave but the blank stare of a cold stone wall - a wall that my feeble fingers try in vain to tear down and that mocks and mocks and mocks.
Sometimes I almost despair when I think "what if the desire for this other fairy world should some day leave me?" But then I think of you and I know that with you we shall mount on wings to those highest summits from which we can see life in its truest, deepest meanings and with you by my side I can't become a mere cog in the great commercial machine of existence. All through the year I have looked to you and your influence has kept me from sinking into the depths I saw but could not quite avoid. You alone and God have kept me from being a mere automaton. The past is not wholly vain - because of you. The present finds me confident - because of you. The future is bright with glorious hope - because of you.
You remember I told you how for so long I had waited because of my doubts whether we were suited to each other physically? Before I spoke to you I had become convinced they were groundless and that you were meant for my mate. Still, I may say it now, even after I spoke to you while I was in Ontario and even on my way back to Alberta and after I was back here, even then, those same questioning doubts would arise. I couldn't understand it. I knew I loved you, that we were mates and that these doubts shouldn't trouble me, but yet they would come. The doubts themselves didn't trouble me so much as the thought that they existed at all. How could I love you truly and feel any doubts at all? Could it be possible that my love wasn't the deepest and truest? Should I have waited until I was so thoroughly in love and so blinded by it that I couldn't even think of such things. These are a few of the questions that ran through my mind. Does it seem strange that I should tell you these things? I wondered at the time whether, in order to be perfectly honest, I shouldn't tell you, but I decided not to, because it would only worry you, and I felt sure that in time it would all come right. And I am telling you now because those doubts have all gone.
Last Saturday, when I was out riding with Miss Baily, in a flash all questions and doubts vanished, and I knew you then for my mate as I never had before. Until them I had known it convincingly, since then I have known it satisfyingly. In one letter I said I wanted our love to be a progression. It has become and is so with me. Is it with you dear?
Yesterday in church too, there came a deep satisfying unutterable and unchangeable conviction that my love for you was the best and truest kind - in a way it never had before. Do you know why? The thought came while Mr. Farell was in the midst of his sermon - “A woman of God! Do you know what that means? Have you ever attempted to fathom the meaning of that most wonderful and most holy of all God’s creation - a woman - a woman of God?” I had been thinking of you all along but at these words you seemed suddenly to stand right before me and I felt like kneeling in silent reverence and awe. And then it came to me in a flash, that whenever my best nature held sway, whenever I thought of the good or grand things of life, whenever I was on the mountain peaks of Life - at all such times my thoughts turned to you. I could never live my best moments without you to share them. ...
And so the revelation came to me of the real meaning of Love. It is not infatuation nor physical attraction nor mental affinity nor any one of the hundred other things that may go along with love - but love is that union of personalities, mind soul and body, that can stand naked and unafraid in the crises of Life, looking confidently and trustingly and helpfully into the depths or smilingly understandingly and joyously up the heights that lead to eternal bliss. With you I can face anything and share everything. - Do you wonder I know you for my love - my mate.
A lot of things I wanted to tell you tonight must wait. Space forbids and time too, for it is one o'clock. And I wondered once whether I might not run out of material to write about! Truly Love is a transformer.
But I want to tell you one thing about Heber [Moshier] for it may make you less harsh in your judgement of him. Don’t repeat this for he might misunderstand my motive in telling. A few days ago I invited him to have dinner with me tonight. I meant to remind him during the day for I have forgotten dinner engagements myself. ? I was up at the court House nearly all day and forgot to phone until about 5.30. Then he was out. I waited until 6.15 then went over to his office. He came in just as I was leaving and by the blank look on his face I knew he’d forgot. He said “Say didn’t I promise to take dinner with you?” “Yes, and you have forgotten.” “Yes, but that isn’t the worst of it, I’ve invited 2 other fellows to have dinner with me.
I puzzled all day, thinking I had intended doing something when suddenly I remembered I was going to ask these medical students to dinner as they leave tomorrow for Toronto and I forgot all about your invitation.” He was really cut up about it but I finally convinced him it was all right and went out to dinner with ? instead. I had a fine time. So you see his forgetting isn’t intentional.
Good night my dear love, never so dear as tonight.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear Mignon,-
I may not write much tonight for it is now ten o’clock and as I stayed up late last night and arose about 7 this morning, I feel a wee bit sleepy, but I want you to get this Saturday night. ...
I've just returned from dining out at Art Smith's. Last Saturday Art was out shooting and tonight there was a repast of roast duck and prairie chicken. I've been living high lately. ... Of late I've had very few meals at home. Last Sat. noon Harold Smith and I had lunch at the new Hudson's Bay store. At night Edmanson and I were at Singley's for dinner. Sunday night Fritz's. Last night, as I've told you, at the Hudson's Bay again. Today at noon at the Canadian Club luncheon. ... I'm hardly getting my money's worth at the Hermitage.
Do you remember you once said my letters could all be divided into 3 divisions. Is it still true? Whether so or not, I don't think last night's letter was evenly balanced according to your classification so tonight's will be gossip only - of what I have been doing and of people I've met.
Just at this point an interruption occurred in the form of Miss Hogen with an egg sandwich - a favorite midnight lunch at the Hermitage. To begin - I had quite a nice chat with Harold Smith last Saturday and guess the news, he's engaged. When he told me I said "Is it the same girl?" meaning, of course, the Pittsburg one, for I had heard of no later one. He seemed a little surprised and asked what I meant. When I explained he was compelled of course to disillusion me. I certainly thought last spring that the Pittsburg girl was the only one, but I'm glad that it isn't she. I've never met his fiancée but she comes of a good Nova Scotia family and reports are very favorable. She lives in Banff, and Harold has known her for a couple of years. He didn't ask me not to tell, but he isn't anxious to have the news spread. So you will please respect his wishes. Harold is changed already - for the better. He is less "flighty" if I may say so and seems to have caught something of the meaning and seriousness if life - of which I guess my little girl's man has too much.
I told you we had lunch together at the new Hudson's Bay store which was opened last month. Many people have said and I believe it that there is no finer store in Canada. Of course it is not so large as Simpsons or Eatons but in its equipment fixtures, stock etc. it is second to none. They are making a special advertising feature of their dining room. I have never seen a more beautifully furnished room. I can't describe details such as color schemes, style of furniture etc., but the effect is most pleasing. The service is A1., the silver and glassware, china, and other dishes are all new and stamped with the Company's crest. Needless to say everything shines and the linen is spotless. - And the price! Besides the á la carte service they give a regular luncheon for 50¢ and a regular dinner for .75¢ Of course this is only for advertising purposes for they lose money at these prices.
At our table on Saturday there were also Jack Brownlee and Charlie Adams. Jack’s wife was in the hospital and Charlie’s in the East. After lunch we went up on the roof, on the observation tower from which a magnificent view of the whole city could be obtained. Speaking of the view - you surely don’t labor under the misapprehension that Calgary is flat. The older part of the city is on the flat in a bow of the river but the city crowds out and upward on all sides on to the surrounding hills and river banks. At the Canadian Club luncheon today Rt Hon. Mr Samuels, Postmaster General of Great Britain, who was the guest of honor said in many ways the situation of Calgary reminded him of Florence. No, Calgary may be uninteresting bare and bleak but it is anything but uninteresting or flat and level.
At the Canadian Club luncheon today Rt Hon. Mr Samuels, Postmaster General of Great Britain, who was the guest of honor said in many ways the situation of Calgary reminded him of Florence. No, Calgary may be bare and bleak but it is anything but uninteresting or flat and level.
Afterwards we took a hurried walk through part of the store. On the 3rd floor in the furniture department there is a model house of 7 rooms completely furnished. It is a beauty. I'm going back again when I have more time, to get some idea on furnishing, although to tell the truth I intend leaving such matters to you. You have ideas. I can only approve or disapprove. I'll tell you more about this house some other time. ...
Next Sunday Rev J.W. Graham preaches at Central Church and the following day he addresses the Canadian Club. We have invited him to take dinner with us and if Heber Moshier is not out of the city he will come too. Heber says his father is a great friend of Dr Graham’s. I wired Dr Graham last night to Moose Jaw to make sure Fritz and Elizabeth wouldn’t forestall me. In my lettergram I said Edmonson and I want the first refusal and that we’ll let him visit the bride and groom later to inspect the results of his handiwork.
Don't think Calgary is entirely passed by the good things intellectual. Lately we have had several prominent men address us. ... Yesterday the Canadian Club entertained at luncheon Sir Gilbert Parker.(4)
My work didn't permit of my being present, but they say he gave a splendid address. Today at the Canadian Club we heard Rt Hon. Mr Samuel and Hon M. Pelletier, British and Canadian Postmasters General respectively. Pelletier made a campaign speech, Samuel an Imperial statesman's. For breadth, depth of thought, polish and finish, Samuel's speech was in many respects the greatest I have ever heard. I wouldn't have missed it for more than I can say. I haven't time to tell you about it tonight, only to say this, he spoke of the Empire and in a way I had never heard the subject presented before. It made me feel proud to call myself a British subject.
I didn't expect, yet I looked for a letter this morning. I never thought I'd feel such a sense of something lacking just because one day passed without receiving a letter. My dear, dear, dear love how can I make you know how much I care for you? Every day, yes, it seems every hour deepens and intensifies my love. What was a swiftly flowing stream is fast becoming a mighty restless tide. Can't you feel it? At this moment you're not asleep in your bed. Though your eyes may be shut, your heart is wide open and understands the message my own is giving, my heart's message, while the tongue can duly say in those all too feeble words "I love you. "Oh my dearie if you could only nestle in my arms tonight and press your lips to mine!
Good night dearie.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 16, 1913
My dear Fred,
It's about half-past six, a rainy evening, and I'm all alone. But I'm not lonesome or blue. Cause why? I've just re-read your letter which I received this morning and now I have an opportunity for a good chat. Then after a bit a nice girl is coming up to sit and sew with me. Ora and mother will be home on the boat car and I'm going to have a nice hot supper for them. I guess I'll make tomato soup. I made a success of it the other night.
Now Mr Man, do you object to such petty gossip of my own doings. from day to day? Just for that I'm going to give you some more. I told you what I was going to have at League. The selection from Leacock about the Knights of Pythias proved much too long, being read very slowly to add to my misery. I felt like saying, "Oh cut some of it" or "heave that part out." It was my fault but it was the most suitable one in the book and I didn't consider that I read things so much faster than many other people.
Wray was in to-day and got talking about the corn-roast and dad started teasing me. He said if I’d given an account of our trip to Fonthill it would have done as well as the piece selected. They were some what alike - they both started out well and they were so long in getting finished. I waxed quite indignant and threw grape seeds at him, because I had been stewing about the crazy thing all morning while I was working. But I guess laughing at it put it out of my mind easier than my force of will. ...
...You are very foolish laddie to restrain your desire to write to me. Don’t you know the Bible says “Quench not the spirit.? If you restrained yourself, mon ami, you would gradually, very gradually, get so that it didn’t make much difference whether you wrote or not. Yes you would if you were given a long enough time.
I am afraid you are going to be disappointed in me. Do you think I am an angel sent down from Heaven to lead you back with me? Not so, my friend, but a traveller like thyself, one who too often stops to view the country, to chase butterflies, and to sleep beneath a pleasant tree. I don't know whether it's because I've lost any power or not, but I'm too happy to think much about religion. I don't do any work, I never have, much. I go to church and Sunday School, League and choir practise, oh yes, I had Mission and Bible study classes.
Oh yes, but now what to do? Well not very much. We shall have to start some definite work early my lad. I have often dreamed of what I might do with girls, not just teach them in Sunday Schools, but help them to keep and make homes, help them to live right in business. No, oh no, we must not be selfish. We’ll want to keep our home to ourselves but we mustn’t do it too much. We must use it for other people too.
Why should Elizabeth soon hear of our engagement from the east. I haven't told anybody except some of my friends who don't know her. I don't want people to know. Do you think that's queer? Well, it isn't because I'm ashamed of you, or don't love you, but I just want to have it between you and me and our friends. It doesn't concern other people. I guess I sometimes hate the world "en masse."
It is at night I want you most. All day long I am busy, but when the darkness comes down then, oh then I want you.
Give me your P.O. number.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 17, 1913
My dear Fred,
I have just been writing to Miss Addison and thought I'd write to you too before I go out. She sent me a letter offering me rooms on Charles N. and Cumberland Sts., with board at South Hall.(5)
The latter is an innovation. I'd have been glad of it had you not interfered in my affairs.
I think we'll have to wait another year and I'll get to work. Say, it costs like the mischief to get married. I get almost wild some days when I start thinking about it. You see the stand taken is this. I am not to have anything more than Ora and you see she has been making money for herself for four years now, and is doing so yet. I stay at home and work so that she can go out and teach but nevertheless I'm not doing anything to bring in any cash. If I were to talk of going away to teach I'd be immediately sat on. But it makes me just mad. I don't want to come in ahead of Ora, but I hate having what I do considered of so little account.
I didn't mean to tell you this but I'm going to now I've written it. And you needn't say that you don't care if I have anything or not. I care a good big bit. I just hate to sit down and wait for somebody to get sick so that I can take her place. I guess I'll go and poison one of the teachers. I guess I'm not exactly just in what I've said but it's just the uncertainty that bothers me. I'm going to kick and say that either I'll have an allowance or I'll answer an ad. Why can't dad give Ora one too instead of giving neither one any. I suppose if I said anything to him about it he'd see my point, but that's the way I do, you see, just nurse my grievance instead of airing it. Well, I've aired it to mother and she rained on it. She just laughed and it made me so angry.
They're all away again to-day, mother and dad at a wedding and Ora at school. I've been alone almost all week, so far, and I don't like it. So you're getting the benefit of it. I just don't want to think of what it'll be like for mother when we're gone for dad isn't much for company. He's away nearly every evening, the time you want anybody most.
Ora got the material for her wedding dress. She's going to have a train. No, mother got it, and I'm to have one too, I mean a wedding dress, and a train if I like. For Ora's wedding I'm to have a pink dress trimmed with lace. Ora got a lot of things, a coat and a dress and I don't know what all.
And mother got a dress but she didn’t [get] dad’s collars nor what I told her to get for Ora. Never thought of it from the time I told her until I asked her about it. And they didn’t get my cook-book, nor some other things I ordered. I’ll go myself the next time. Oh, you should see what Ora brought me, a nice silvery hair ornament with brilliants on it. Mother told her to get one for herself and she said, No, she’d wear Nora’s.
To-day they were teasing me because I didn't get up and get dad's breakfast yesterday, well he got his own to-day too. And I did a lot of work on Monday. Ora said you'd be saying, "I wish Ora would come and visit us and get us a good meal," and then the first thing she knew she'd be getting a ticket from you, just as certain people do at Election time. Oh, I don't mind their teasing because when I do make anything that's good, they both say it's good. ...
I hope your spirits will rise as you get to the end. Mine have. You're a good safety valve. And that's a great deal to me
Your doleful one.
P.S. My eyes are not blue. They're no colour. It's the absence of colour that makes 'em look dark.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear little True-Heart,
I can't have you sitting on my lap tonight so I'm getting the best substitute possible. Our line of communication, this letter, is on my knee as I write. I'm sitting in a great deep leather covered easy chair before the grate fire which I made myself a short time ago. ... I sat down to look up some law for tomorrow, but I fear I'm failing sadly in will-power, for as on previous occasions I decided to write first and work afterwards. Tonight I feel very wide awake. Last night I lay down on the couch at 8.30 and slept there until 11 when I got up and went to bed in orthodox fashion. I arose this morning at the usual hour - 9 o'clock. I was really tired and sleepy last night for the two previous nights I had stayed up very late writing to you. I hope the letters didn't sound sleepy. ...
Do you remember dearie, where we were 3 weeks ago tonight? To me the time seems like three months and the past 3 days that have brought no letter from you - like weeks. ... Oh my dearie. I can't forgive myself for causing you the heartache that must have been yours last week, if you looked for word from me half as eagerly as I have from you. What are you doing tonight I wonder? At this hour 11.30, it is half past nine here, of course you are in dreamland. Tell me, have the days been long? Are you busy, working or reading or just resting? Every little detail of your life interests me now. I want to know when you are glad that I may be glad with you - when you are troubled that I may help you - when you have sorrow or pain that I can share it. Do you realize yet that we are mates and all that that means? I don't think we can fully know its meaning until after we are married but even now, though separated by space we can be one in aim and thought and spirit.
Tonight I've re-read every one of the letters you've written since I saw you. There are many little touches that show you are coming into your own true heritage, and that the womanhood I always knew to be, deep and true in your nature, is asserting itself. You are not more glad dearie than I that you are not in that miserable old school-house. It's all very well for some women to teach school, but you are a little home-maker - and to think that you are to be all mine - and your name is to be my name! Tonight as I have been sitting before the fire, I have been picturing our home, with you nestled in my arms gazing into the glowing coals and interpreting to me the wonderful visions no eyes but yours can see, or reading to me and helping to raise my thoughts and life to that lofty plane that is the homeland of your soul, and oh, dearie sometimes my fancy wandered even farther, particularly when I read that part of your letter where you told about Sadie Wismer's little kiddies. Some day to have of our very own, yours and mine! I think the only real prayers I make these days are that God will make me worthy of you and fit me for the joys and responsibilities and privileges of life that has taken on such a new meaning since you promised to give yourself into my keeping.
Did I tell you the other night how homesick it made me to be at Art Smith's? Mrs Smith played and sang while Art and I sat in big deep chairs before the fire, but all the time I was thinking of my own little girl in Thorold and wishing, wishing, wishing that I could see her face and hear her voice and feel her kiss on my lips. ...
I do wish little girlie that you could be here so that we could plan things together. Do you know Art Smith planned his house alone and had it built last summer before he got married? She never saw it until after they returned from their wedding trip - and it is a wonder to me that she got furniture to harmonize so well, for some was bought before she saw the house. I think I told you Mrs Smith was a Miss Ryan of Winnipeg - a daughter of the millionaire shoe man. She is another who exchanged a big house with all sorts of luxury and servants for a husband, a small house, a modest income and work - and she doesn’t regret the change. I don’t think any true woman will object to such an exchange if with it she gets a generous amount of love.
I was asking Mrs Smith what she thought of the idea of going to England for a wedding trip. Both she and Art disapproved saying they thought the sooner you got into your own home the better. As Art put it, "You seem to be only playing at being married until you sit opposite your wife at your own table, eating some of her own cooking." They took only 2 weeks in a cottage at Banff, no wedding trip at all. However I hold to my original opinion, I think it depends upon the people. Neither of them ever was in Europe and I don't think they would enjoy it as I know you would. For the past six years I've looked forward to seeing some of the beauty spots of England with you. I do hope nothing will happen to prevent our carrying out our plans.
The same evening Art took me in his auto to look at a spot along the river just on the outskirts of the city - that I had in my mind as a possible future building spot. At present it is about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest houses and of course is without water or sewer, but in a couple years the intervening space will be at least partially filled up and all the conveniences will be obtainable. It is about 3 1/2 miles from the centre of the city but it is in a section that will be purely residential of the best class.
I wish you had seen Calgary and so could know what sort of place you'd like best here. In one letter you spoke of a hill. Many of the best people have had a sort of craze to get perched on the hills with an uninterrupted view of the city. Personally I'm not so fond of climbing hills and I'd like best to get a place along the Elbow River, with gardens sloping down to the river bank. I know it's a long while ahead to talk of these things when we don't expect to build until after we are married, but I am keeping my eyes open and some day if I see lots that I think will suit I may buy them. Then if they don't suit you we can sell them again.
I'm addressing this letter to Beamsville too, for I suppose you'll be there until Monday or Tuesday at least. Of course you'll go up home and see father and mother. I'm afraid they'll be lonesome this winter with all of us kids away. Father in particular since he has had poor health is so glad to see friends, and you know you were always a favorite of his. Let me know how he is when you write. I'm afraid after Ray leaves there'll be too much work for father.
I know there'll be a letter for me tomorrow morning? Does it seem silly to you? It use to, me but I'm kissing this paper.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 18, 1913
My dear Fred,
I wonder what you are doing now. Eating your supper, I suppose, as it's past time for it. But I am waiting for Ora to get back from the Falls. Mother and dad are away again, down to Mr. Henderson’s at St. Catherine’s. I haven’t been alone very long though. ...
Here's Ora, so I'll have to get something to eat. I didn't expect her till the next car. She just brought home her suit and it's pretty handsome I tell you.
Friday night, 7 p.m.
This is the first chance I've had to sit down to-day, except while I was peeling things. ... after I got everything else done I made a cake. It was warm for supper and was the kind dad liked. I was a little surprised to see him cut off a slice 6" x 2" but more so when he went back for some more.. He declares that that kind of cake is the only Christian kind. ...
The Sunday night you wrote I had a particularly lonesome fit. I started out by thinking about the girls and how long it would be before I saw them and by the time I got to you I was having a little cry all to myself. You see it was after I had gone to bed so no one else knew anything about it. Do you know how I say good-night to you? No, but I’ll show you sometime. It would look too silly to write it.
Your Sunday [Sept. 14] letter almost made me cry. I didn't realize before how really, really much you want me. I want you all the time, but it isn't a dull want, it's a hopeful want, and although I count the weeks until I'll see you again, I feel less lonesome than I ever did before. I feel so glad. Your letter made me so happy, I can't help feeling it rather funny though yes, I even laugh about it, that here are two people who love each other very, very much, but each one is afraid that the other holds him or her in too high esteem and fears that disillusionment is sure to follow. Why my dear man. I don't think you're perfect. You wouldn't want me if you were. I've been thinking about why you think you can be better because of me. The conclusion I have reached is that you know I expect you to be and believe that you are - a good man. And because you love me you cannot disappoint me. ...
I used to have queer notions about marriage. For one thing, I thought that after marriage people didn't enjoy anything. I remember one day my uncle was at our house and I was making toast for his breakfast. I burnt the first piece but the next one was a pretty brown and when I took it to him he said, "That's better, that's nice," and I recall very vividly the feeling of astonishment I had that it made any difference to him. And wedding trips - I thought they were some strange and wonderful event, but it never seemed to me that people enjoyed them, that they talked and laughed and had a good time just as when they took another trip. Even the other day, I received a shock. Ora was talking of the ones she was going to invite and she named a few - so that we could have a good time. A good time at a wedding! I never had a good time. I helped do it twice but they were very solemn aweful occasions when I had my new swell clothes on and didn't belong to the common herd.
Weren't you coming Christmas? Ora is thinking of getting married on New Year's. Mother says if you'll come she'll make you a can of pickled peaches.
I'm pretty much ashamed of the last letter I wrote you. I was even while writing it. Mother said yesterday she really couldn't get along with me away and I know she can't. So you see my usefulness is recognized. But after I'd said it I got thinking and I saw where I was getting into a very bad habit of fault-finding and I decided then and there to cut it. I've transgressed once.
You ask me if I mind your going out with other girls. Do you think I want you to be the Hermit of the Hermitage? There are engaged men who have paid marked attention to girls other than their fiancée. That disgusts me. It indicates that they don't want their own girl because of herself but because of her sex. But my man isn't like that. You have girl friends. Certainly. Enjoy their company while you have a chance for soon enough you'll be guarded by a jealous vixen.
Now I have to go to the church. Do you know what would suit me better? A grate fire, a book, and you. We might even get along without the book. Oh, can't you come home Christmas? But I don't want to be your temptress.
Fred to Evelyn
Sept 19, 1913
My dear Non, -
Not a long letter tonight for it's ten o'clock. ... I have been re-reading your letter in that same big black leather-covered chair before the fire, but I’ve come to the desk to write for while possibly less romantic I find it vastly more comfortable than writing on one’s knee. - when it’s your own knee.
It seems funny to read in your letter that you had just received mine of Sunday before last. That seems such a long time ago and I've written so many times since. I can't understand why it was so long on the road. I hope my next reaches you on Monday and that there'll be a reply awaiting me tomorrow morning. Was there anything wrong with my letter? Because yours seemed more restrained and impersonal than at any time since I was east. Please tell me, dearie where I fail. You know it's part of our bargain for you to woo me out of myself and make me a boy again and oh! I want so much to please you. I may be blind to my faults but I'm not so bad that I don't want to have them pointed out to me by you.
Thanks for the clippings enclosed. I enjoyed the ballad and was interested in the monologue, though I still hold to my original opinion on that subject. You need not be afraid however, I’ll not eulogize on it tonight - I haven’t the time and besides it would not be polite to look a gift horse in the mouth.
No, I'll not call it "talking shop" for you to tell me what you have been cooking or baking. As I told you last night and as you must know anyhow every detail of your life interests me, only don't be disappointed if I sometimes appear to fail to notice what you say about those things. Perhaps I have a sensitive streak in my nature but I'm afraid you'll think I exaggerate the importance of cooking. I believe you have thought so in the past and to a great extent unjustly so. Some day I hope to prove it to you. In the meantime I value your good opinion too highly to risk that you should think ever so little that I am always thinking of my stomach.
Is it wicked to hope you didn't get the Fonthill school? Not that I have any grudge against Fonthill. If you must teach somewhere it's as good a place as any and a little better than most. It's in a beautiful section of the country and there are some very fine people in the village and surrounding country - at least there used to be. Did you know that in 1901 I taught my first school at Hausler's near Effingham, which is about 3 miles from Fonthill. But I doyou - all that you are, all that you may be. You don't want a few paltry dollars. What will they matter two years hence or even one? I know you'll say you don't intend to work hard, that the work will be light, that there isn't enough for these women to do at home anyhow and a lot more things that sound good and sufficient reasons. Hope you will conserve your health and strength and spend this year in preparation for the business of home-making. School-teaching can't do that! At best it can only give you a very little bit of money and if you try to do much else along with it your health will suffer. What will it profit? I don't want money or things that money can buy. I want
Oh my dear, I don't want to be dictatorial, or to have you do or refrain from doing things merely because I wish it, but I do think in this matter my vision is clearer than yours has been. Won't you please look at the question fairly and squarely, and judge for yourself. I'll not fear the result. Forgive me if I've spoken too strongly. This is a question on which I feel deeply, for the curse of an unrestrained school life has already cost you more than you know. I don't want to be nagging, and so I don't expect to speak of this again, so you'll forgive me if I have said too much this time, won't you?
... What are you doing tonight? Do you think it silly of me to want to tell you every time how much I want you? I wish I had words to tell you what I feel but I can only say the same old words in the same old way but meaning oh, so much more to me every day - I love you.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 21, 1913
My Dear Fred,
It's Sunday afternoon, rather cold and rainy, and I have yet to go to S.S. What a pleasing setting for a letter to you. I’ve just written to my friend Edith Adams inviting her over for a week. You’ll have the pleasure of meeting her some day. You asked me if I ever thought how blest I am with friends. Yes many times, and I’ve sometimes wondered if the reason I had so many intimate friends could be because I was shallow. My friends are certainly a wonderful lot, girls and boys of all kinds and every one delightful. ...
Mother and I were in the city last night and I went down to see Lina [Moyer] for a few minutes. She and your Aunt Carrie are coming for tea Tuesday evening. She asked me if I didn't wish I were going back too, and I said yes. Mrs Moyer said, "But your troubles are all over," but Lina laughed and said, "I should say they had just begun." I wasn't exactly sure what she knew so I couldn't be sure of what she meant.
So you are sure at last. Then I wasn't the only one who had doubts. But our cases were reversed. I knew you were the only man I could really love with my soul, but I wasn't so sure about the other ways - and although they are of minor importance, still they exist. Don't you see what I meant when I said you were good? I meant that in the deepest sense, in the spiritual sense, I loved you. I knew I should not be afraid to face any of the issues of life. I knew you were honest and do you realize exactly what that means? I believe in you, I trust you absolutely, and if any terrible thing were accredited to you, if circumstances were against you, I should still know you to be innocent. Does it seem strange I should think of such a thing?
I was thinking of Rex. His own people were not sure about him; they feared that he might have been drunk, there was a possibility in their minds. And I knew, that terrible week I stayed with them, made me know that I could never really love a man I did not trust absolutely as far as morals were concerned. And I trusted you so fully that I knew that if we lived together for a time and if I should die I should not be afraid to leave children with you. ... So now you see something of what it means when I say I trust you. That is the foundation of an ideal marriage.
Do you remember that I told you that I'd always meant that the first time a man kissed my lips it should mean something. You did not understand sweetheart, but you will now. I had meant that it would be a covenant between him and me and God, that we love each other's souls primarily and not merely our brains and personalities. But you will admit although the spiritual life is the one of first importance yet the social, the intellectual and the physical lives play a great part in man's happiness or woe. And it was in this respect that I wanted you to make me love you. We had been away from each other for such a long, long time that we were almost strangers. And you must remember what I told you, that several years ago I decided I wasn't going to love you. So I dwelt upon all the things about you that I did not like, I enlarged upon them and the result. Well, it was distorted to say the least. I was afraid there would be surface irritations. You always seemed so positive in your statements, for one thing. That generally makes me cross. In you it only makes me smile as at a child. And I thought you always wanted your own way. But instead you surprise me, you want to do what I want. Where I feared I'd have to fight for a thing, you give it to me, gladly before I even express a desire for it! And I was afraid you would be cold and reserved with me, even as you had been before. And I find you anxious to reveal yourself to me. Instead of knocking at you door, it stands open and you are at the door to welcome me in.
The two last letters you have written have meant so much, oh, so very much to me. But after all, they are cold things. I want to feel you. Did I tell you this kid story? A little child was upstairs alone. She had been put to bed at night. But she cried until her mother came up to comfort her. The child was lonesome. "But", said the mother, "You have your dolly. And you need not be afraid, God is here." "Yes," wailed the child, "but I want somebody with a skin face." And in letters, I have your words, your thoughts, but I haven't you. Do you think it is wrong that when I think of you, you nearly always have your arms about me? There were ten months from September to June. One is almost gone. It has been a happy month, but I'm glad to see it go. If only Christmas would bring a "skin face" with it.
The other day I was making up Christmas rhymes to send to my friends. When they're in shape I'll send you some for your criticism.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear, dear little girl,
It was almost worth Saturday's disappointment to get a double joy this morning. This was the opening day of the District Court sitting and I didn't have time to look at your letters until on my way to the Court House about 9.45. At first I hesitated about opening the second one, thinking I'd leave it until tomorrow or at least tonight, but after I had fairly devoured the first I couldn't refrain from reading the second. I said to myself "Even if Nona hasn't had time to get any of my last letters to show her I have put away all fool notions I had about not writing often, she must have felt my spirit calling to her these last days and I believe there'll be a letter for me tomorrow too. Anyhow I'm going to get all I can of her right now."
Oh my dearest. I just read and read and re-read those letters till I think every word is fixed in my memory. It's almost worthwhile having you so far away to be able to get such letters. No, I don't mean that, for good as the letters are in themselves it's because they are yours that I value them - because they speak of you and reveal you and seem to be part of you. Did I once suggest that anything you could say to me would be petty gossip of your own doing from day to day. I didn't mean it to apply to you even when I said that. Surely it isn't necessary for me to say that nothing you may do or say is petty? Oh my dearie, I wish I could burn with words of fire into your heart the thought that every part of you, every act and every thought is dear to me, how dear I did not realize when I was with you. I often wonder now if I were to be with you again if I could make you feel how much you are to me my love, my mate, my life: I don't know, words couldn't do it but somehow I feel that I'd make you understand as I've never been able before the reality of my love. Does it seem foolish for me to say these things to you so often? As I think of the letters I've written you nothing stands out, but a regular repetition of the one theme. Surely you wouldn't classify my letters now as you did once. Instead of three divisions there would be only one - and that the same every time.
I guess I'm losing some of my self restraint or self-poise as you call it. I never used to think I'd ever want to repeat over and over again the words "I love you," but now that one sentence keeps thrusting itself in whenever I want to say anything to you. And, dearie it may be a confession of weakness or egotism or vanity - or whatever you want to call it but I want you to tell me often that you love me. Do you remember one night you said this to me? I didn't realize then just what you meant. Although I decided to it because it would please you. But now I do know how you feel - at least I think I do, - because of the longing in my own heart. Oh if I could only hold you tight in my arms tonight and hear you say those sweet words as you pressed you lips to mine? I know you love me. I feel it in every part of my being but I like to have you say so.
You’ll not mind when I tell you I read part of your letter to Fitch today? In his final year he won a scholarship in Economics and in order to retain it he has to take such work. He has been writing off exams Saturday and today and after he came in today I couldn’t resist the temptation to give him the benefit of your little bit of philosophy that helped me so much when I read it this morning. You put some things in a way I had never heard before - and how simple and nice it all seems when you look at Life that way! If I told you what I thought of that part of your letter you’d not believe me and say I was biased anyhow. So I’ll just tell you what Fitch said. He listened - almost fiercely attentive - all through until I had finished then with kindling eye “By Jove, that’s great writing. You know she’s put things in a new light to me. I never thought of the question quite that way before. That girl’s got brains.” And the way he said it made my eye kindle and my breast swell with pride at the praise of my little girl.
No, I don’t think you’re an angel, but do you wonder I look up to you for inspiration - and get it? I don’t want an angel for a wife. She wouldn’t be much of a help-meet, I fancy. I want a woman with a woman’s frailties that I may in some measure be a stay to her, but also with a woman’s wonderful power to love and inspire and sacrifice - which you have more than any other woman I know.
I’m sorry your League night proved a disappointment but did you stop to apply your own philosophy? Perhaps the meeting that seemed a failure to you was a link that bound someone nearer his Maker. If the talk was earnestly done it was well done.
So you are the chef these days, for so I interpret the tales of your doings in the culinary department? Yes I like my apple pies deep. As for the spice, well I don't rave over highly spiced foods any more than over slit skirts or X-ray dresses, but we'll not quarrel over your apple pies. I know it's easy to say now we'll each like what the other does and then when the time comes there'll be enough of natural cussedness aided and abetted by long bachelordom in me to want things as I have liked them in the past. Still I don't think I'll be such a gastronomical crank as to cause you as much anxiety as you feel now. Someone has said married life is a series of compromises . How would it be if we'd start a compromise diet, leading off with fancy work and allspice or whatever it is?
You wonder why Elizabeth was likely to hear of our engagement from Ontario. Because Wray and several others have eyes and a certain amount of perspicacity. Like you, dearie, I felt at first that I wanted our engagement to be a thing hallowed to us and unknown by vulgar curious ones. So I didn't blazon the fact abroad, although I well knew the people here would soon suspect it for various reasons. But I have told a few people, Fritz and Elizabeth among the number and last night when I was out at their place for an hour after church, Elizabeth took me to one side and asked if she might write to you. She said she had wanted to but didn't want to do anything that would appear to be an intrusion upon privacy. It made me feel glad that she wanted to write you and I told her so and also that I thought you'd appreciate it, for she won't write any sham conventional letter but because she likes you and hopes to look upon you as a sister as she does me a brother. So you may expect to hear from her in the near future.
Another reason I didn't tell Fritzes outright when I first returned was because I felt sure they'd suspect it from my changed appearance. I can't help looking more pleased with the world, I guess, for lots of people have remarked it. They all say I'm getting fat. Well Elizabeth did guess it. She told me last night that she guessed it the first time she saw me - the night after I returned to Calgary, and then the following morning they had a letter from Wray which gave a concise but graphic history of recent events from his point of view, and so she was just waiting until I should tell them in my own way which I did a week ago Sunday. What does she think of it? I guess you know perfectly well what her opinion is of you - and as for It she has been planning It and giving me hints of her desire for It to happen ever since she came to Calgary, I'm glad you know each other and that you'll be such good friends. ...
Yesterday the Hermits had their picture taken on the front steps with Dr Graham in the centre. When the pictures are finished I’ll send you one. ...
My paper is finished, but I've not quit talking to you yet. I always talk to you for a while after I go to bed and before I go to sleep . Do you hear me? Pleasant dreams
Fred to Evelyn
My dear Elnora,-
... I couldn't see through what I was reading because of a dear face with dancing eyes that would stare at me out of the open pages, and so I put the law books aside and took up my usual place in the big chair before the fire. ...
Talk about great oaks springing from little acorns, who would ever have thought that a wee body like you could so completely disorganize the business of a man two thousand miles away? ... I read your letters over four times this morning and even this afternoon I caught myself several times thinking about you when I was supposed to be listening attentively to the woes of some client. ...
You say the letter I wrote a week ago Sunday night made you very happy. I don't know anything you could say that would make me feel happier than just that, for my dearie, it's my happiness to be able to make you glad. I used to think it foolish for anyone to kiss things, but foolish or not I just kissed those parts of your letter this morning - no I didn’t kiss the letter - I was kissing the writer by proxy. I never had much use for proxies before, but they are better than nothing, - and everything that comes from you seems invested with part of your personality so my action wasn’t as ridiculous as you may think.
So you think the reason I expect to be better because of you is that you are counting on my being a good man and I don’t want to disappoint you. Whether you are right or not all depends upon where you put the emphasis - if you think it’s because I want to live up to expectations you haven’t even got half the truth. That would be too much like the type of man you spoke of later on in your letter who loves his fiancée not because of herself - but because of her sex, - so with me, it doesn’t explain anything. If that were the only reason I would feel the same about any other woman who I know looks to me to be a good man - but I don’t. It’s because of you I expect to be a better man - not because of what you expect of me - but because of what you are. You are the one woman in all the world who can inspire that feeling in me. Excuse me for contradicting you, but you are good and sweet and true and helpful and withal, oh, so lovable. My pen is nearly empty and is running irregularly so please excuse the blurs and blots.
I've been wondering today whether to answer that part of you letter about going home for Xmas. I try not to think of it - the temptation is so strong. My dearest, you don't want me to go any more than I do myself, but I don't see how I can. It isn't a question of money although even from the standpoint I don't think I should, if we want to have a wedding trip as we have planned and hoped. We must look to the future now, and while I know you aren't lacking for riches and would be willing to share the humblest cottage with me, I don't want you to have to do it. I want to save as much as I can for our home, especially since we want to take the trip to Europe. But the main difficulty is lack of time. You see I have already been away for a month and if I am to get enough time off next summer for a European trip, I simply dare not, with any show of right, go away at Xmas. This is one place where there is "room to deny ourselves." You don't know how hard it is for me to refuse your request when I know you want it so much but, dearest, you agree with me don't you?
And I haven’t been thinking only of myself I would like to go home then for the sake of Ora and you father and mother. I wonder if Ora can understand how it is with me. Surely she and Art know I’d go if I could, that money considerations aren’t a factor at all but that the only reason is inability - to get away from the office at Xmas and next summer too.
Has the date for Ora's wedding been definitely fixed for New Year's Day? That's the day father and mother were married on. Have they decided yet how large an affair it is going to be? And does Art know yet whether they'll be able to go to Europe for the winter as he had planned? Has the edict gone forth that you must duplicate Ora's wedding in every particular? I was going to make a suggestion or two but on second thoughts I have decided not to.
How does your ring fit by this time? Is it too tight? Do you still wear it inside out and do people still think Wray is the "victim"? The next time you see Wray please thank him for me for taking care of my little girl. Of course I know he is doing it for your sake and not for mine, but that doesn't make any difference. Whoever is nice to you places me under an obligation, though how people could help being nice to you I don't know.
I haven't read either of the books you lent me, but I'm going to start some systematic reading right away. I feel I'm losing my powers of expression. My vocabulary isn't nearly so good as it used to be. I feel abashed in you presence, but when we have our own home you'll read to me at nights won't you dearie?
We’ll have a fireplace and a nice big easy chair - big enough for both of us. A hammock may be too small for two but I’m going to have a chair that will not be. Oh. my dear dear heart, I wish you were here tonight. You have been thinking about me this evening haven’t you? By this time you are asleep. Do you ever dream that I am with you? It will not be long until we shall wake up and find our dreams a blissful realty. Until then we shall have to make the best of talking to each other long distance like this and in anticipation of the time when we shall see each other again face to face. Good night my darling
Oh, my dear, dear heart, I wish you were here tonight. You have been thinking about me this evening haven't you?
By this time you are asleep. Do you ever dream that I am with you? It will not be long until we shall wake up and find our dreams a blissful realty. Until then we shall have to make the best of talking to each other long distance like this and in anticipation of the time when we shall see each other again face to face. Good night my darling
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 24, 1913
My dear Fred,
My surprise you can imagine when on opening your letter written last Friday, I found with it a note from Mabel Buck.(6) I am sending you the back of the envelope. It is often very easy to open the letters without tearing them. Art and Ora always seal theirs. I merely add that of course I don't think they took your letter out, but simply put Mab's in with it. So you see, I didn't go to Beamsville. And I wish I had not mentioned to you the possibility that I might go. Had I really intended going, I should have mentioned it later. ...
And I didn't get the school at Fonthill, and there's more than enough work for us all, getting Ora's dresses done, and the dresses we have to have in consequence of the dire event. ... I've only three quarters of a an hour before this mail is made up, and I'm afraid if you don't get this letter on the earliest mail possible, you'll be thinking seriously of a divorce. Ah, no, you'll be thinking something far worse, that I've been careless, that I really might have written sooner. Well, I didn't intend to write Monday, that is, I didn't intend very hard - I should have if a lady hadn't come in and taken up my time. But yesterday I did intend to, really but I didn’t have a chance until after half-past ten when mother made me go to bed. You see, there was ironing to do, then mother was sick and I had to work longer in the afternoon than I thought I’d have to. She had a headache, so I made her go downtown with me. ...
I had my first failure in some time last night when I thought I'd be so smart. I was going to have hot biscuits and honey. Well, I made the things, but they just sat on their pan, and didn't rise a bit. I thought it was because the fire wasn't hot enough, but mother discovered the real reason this morning. Ora had put corn starch in a can exactly like the baking powder can. They look the same, and of course, I used that. Dad said my great grandfather did the same thing once. After his first wife died, he used to do the cooking. Grandpa and Uncle Robert teased their father about his mistake, asking each other in front of him, if they'd notice how stiff their father had become.
So you want to know what is wrong with your letters. Ah, nothing with yours. But mine are stiff, I know it, dear, but, do you know what a really physical effort it is for me to write that little word?. I'm afraid you'll have to take a lot for granted, and yet I shouldn't like you to expect me to do that. I really don't think I love you as much as you do me, but you must give me time. Don't you see, it's like being connected, in my case. I have to repent, and to turn around and do the exact opposite. If only you got the letters I write you just before I go to sleep. It's a bad thing to lie in bed asleep, but I do it for about an hour. And that's the time I really think of you hardest. In daylight, it seems silly, a little, but not at night.
I was thinking last night of what I wanted to call you, and when I came to the name that I shall call you next year, it seemed as if I were taken right out of myself and that you were really there and that you took me in your arms. Every night you kiss me, and I lie in your arms, but never before did I feel anything like that. The sensation was almost physical, as if something had been torn out of my body. And yet, after all that, it seems impossible that after a time I really shall be with you, that the things I always longed for, but hardly expected, are going to be mine.
Last winter again, I really though to spend my life as a missionary, honestly, but something held me back. I didn't really want to, I wanted to be a wife. But I was trying to accustom myself to the fact that I shouldn't be one, yet all the time, in the background, I just pretended that everything had come out right, and that sometime I might really be one. Oh, my own dear man, you must have wanted me very, very much last night. Will you remember to tell me if there was any particular reason, on Tuesday about half-past nine here?
Don't you go letting Mr. and Mrs. Smith dissuade you from your original plans. Of course, if we couldn't go, you knew it would be all right with me, but if we can go, oh, I want to so much. I have dreamed so long about Europe, but always I've been afraid that I wouldn't go with the most congenial company. But to go with you, ah, we'll get to be chums there and to have that as a background for the rest of our lives. Will you be disappointed in me because I'm not in such a wild hurry to get in our own home. I fear I am hopelessly practical, but it seems as if we'll have plenty of time to live there, but there'll never again be such a good time to go abroad. ...
So I have ideas about furnishing a house. It's the first time I knew it. Why, I scarcely know enough to pick out paper much less furniture. You see we've never had the pleasure of doing it. I do know how I want the kitchen, bath-room and the bedroom finished, and I have a colour scheme for some other rooms. Mother doesn't like my bedroom plan - says it's too cold so I said I'd put the people there that I didn't want to stay long and when we build our own house, I want a dressing-room, I don't care how small, that will be warm. I've been nearly frozen here the last couple weeks, it's been so cold, but I've gone back to cold water baths. I feel like a heroine, and more wide awake also. ...
We have all been sick since Friday all except Ora, who is away. Mother thinks it's too much fruit. It's rotten, whatever it is. I keep myself pretty well for one thing, because I hate to be sick and not able to follow the desires and devices of my heart. My friend Edith Adams comes tomorrow if the lake is in fit condition ...
I have a great deal more I might say, but my time's about up. You won't get this until Monday, and will be spending Sunday without a Saturday's letter. I’ll write on Monday after this and post it on Tuesday. Of course, if I get time, I’ll write on Tuesday too.
Why do you think I live on such a high plane of thought? Or that I am so imaginative? What you have seen are only rare cases, not my everyday self. When you realize this, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed and I couldn't stand that. So please let me down off my peak. I'd rather not have such an elevated seat. I like the ground better, but another place better still. Guess where, dearest?
Fred to Evelyn
My dear Elnora,-
It is ten o'clock and I've just come in after having dinner and spending the evening at Fritzs'. They waylaid me on the street coming home from the office and insisted on my accompanying them. After dinner we sat down before the fireplace and Elizabeth started what proved to be a whole evening's discussion by telling about a series of magazine articles she had been reading lately dealing with the question of outside work for married women. The gist of it appeared to be that for some women who dislike housekeeping, it was better for all concerned that they should do the work for which they are best fitted and hire the housework done. The thought is by no means original or new, and of course Elizabeth doesn't believe in it very much, but I think she wanted to hear me talk. We often have discussions on such questions and I thoroughly enjoy them for she is always mentally stimulating. ... Elizabeth has changed her viewpoint very considerably since she got married. I believe I've told you this before. Not only has she changed her mental attitudes, but most marvellous of all is the metamorphosis in her outward acts. I never imagined she could be so affectionate or so far unbend as to show her feelings. She's just as human as I've found you to be, and likes to be caressed and petted too. I'm a privileged guest and I shouldn't tell what I see to anyone else but you understand.
Once tonight when Fritz and Elizabeth stood before the fireplace with his arms round her and she leaning on his shoulder I felt so homesick for you I just had to turn away. This shows the change in me. Before I went east when I saw them so, I looked on with a sort of impersonal envy, but now there is understanding and mingled with the pain of homesickness is the joy of anticipation looking forward to the time when we shall have our own little house and you will be my house-keeper. Oh my little girlie, how can I make you know that you are more than all the world to me? My heart calls out to yours tonight and longs to beat warm against yours telling with every pulsation. I love you. I don't know - perhaps it was because of your suggestion today of a "skin face," but for the first time I took your picture in my hands and kissed it over and over again and I fancied your eyes looked down at me with a new expression of approval. You remember you told me once I did not know how to kiss you. Well, I think I know now.
Not long ago I said I wanted our love to be a progression. Mine is progressing so fast it fairly frightens me when I think of it. I look for every letter more eagerly than the last and each time it is harder to put it away and settle down to work. Every letter reveals you more and makes you more dear to me. You have been one great big delightful surprise and the best is the surprise keeps on growing. A beautiful true and noble woman I always knew you to be, that was the foundation of my love, but your adorable lovableness has been a revelation. And I was thinking today if in the short time since you promised to be my wife my feelings have become so much more intense what will a year bring forth? Can my love keep on growing or will there come a point when we shall take each other as matter of fact and cease to talk about our love? How can we continue as we have begun? And if such a time does came will you think that because I say less I have ceased to care for you in the same way? I'm sure you will not. I don't think such a time will come but you will know that my love for you is deep and true and abiding. Do you realize dearest how much it means to a man to be told what you said in your letter to me today, that you trust me absolutely and implicitly no matter what might befall? Such a sacred trust to commit into my keeping!
Do you realize dearest how much it means to a man to be told what you said in your letter to me today - that you trust me absolutely and implicitly no matter what might befall? Such a sacred trust to commit into my keeping! Oh, my darling, pray that I may be worthy of you and bend every energy of my being to measure up to the responsibility of guarding and keeping and cherishing you. And I am selfish - but I want you to teach me by your own unselfishness to be like you. If you only knew how you can mould me! - I'm not wholly bad - I want you to make me good. People often talk about a woman’s power to influence the lives of her children. I almost think a good woman’s power to influence the life and shape the destiny of her husband is no less great. I thank God that you are a woman of whom it is no sacrilege to think with Christ himself.
How has the day gone with you? I have been very busy and tonight I feel tired. It isn't the work so much as lack of sleep. I haven't been in bed before midnight this week and I am usually up by seven. I intend to get a little more sleep tonight and of course Saturday night is always a long one....
Tomorrow afternoon the touring Hamilton football team plays here. They have swept everything before them so far, winning everywhere by enormous scores. ... There has been an enormous advance sale of tickets and there should be a record crowd. Fritz and family are going with me. Elizabeth has never seen a really first class game of rugby so the west will have the honor of showing her the first in this as in many other things. She says she's going to write you that the west is not nearly so bad as it's painted. ...
So you didn't go to Beamsville after all. When did you get the two letters I sent there? I suppose the Buck's got some amusement out of the episode. Well, the only thing that worries me is to think that you didn't get the letters when I wanted you to.
I'm afraid this letter is disjointed and uninteresting. I'm awfully sorry but I feel terribly sleepy. Because I don't always mention it, don't forget to give my regards to your folks but keep the love for yourself.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 26, 1913
My dear Fred,
Edith Adams and I are sitting up in her bedroom at the little round table writing letters and post-cards. ... I was sick yesterday afternoon. Wednesday night when I went to bed I was quite positive that I was going to have typhoid fever. Waking in the night, I was mildly surprised to find that I had stopped aching all over, and in the morning, though I felt pretty tough, I knew I wasn't going to have the fever. And I'm all right to-day. ...
Yesterday afternoon I lay on the bed a couple of hours. I started out by reading all the letters I had received since you went away. I felt particularly mean when I read in your last letter that there would surely be a letter for you next Saturday, and I knew that there wouldn't be. And I didn't want you to go all Sunday without a letter from me. ...
I'm not alone to-day, and I can't talk to you very freely. I never realized that another person would distract my attention so, especially when she is busy too. It is difficult to talk to one's sweetheart when there is company in the room. You don't seem to find it so though, for the last two times you have written there have been others with you.
Oh, I had so much to say to you and I've forgotten it all. Yesterday, when I got through reading your letters, I could have said a great deal. But instead I just lay there and thought and thought. Mother and I had been talking about certain things, and she laughed at some of my remarks so that I cried a little - not because I was angry at her, but because I was disgusted at life in general. And really I didn't know whether I loved even you. But when I came up and read your letters, and they quite restored my poise.
Do you know, it seems so often as if you are very near. Just now it is as if you were beside me. Although I can neither see nor touch nor hear you, I feel you. You are so comforting. Do you know just what that means? You said one time you were afraid I'd get sick and want my mother and wouldn't want you. But sometimes I want you, just the same way I want her. But not always. Sometimes, and generally, it's in a far bigger, a different way. She's my mother, but you're becoming my own chum.
I don't remember much about the first time at your house except one thing of which I was always ashamed. I think it was the first time I was there. You were down on the ground or the floor, leaning over, and I kicked you. And after some time, when I got a little tiny bit grown up, I was so ashamed of myself, just as I was when I thought of how I had sat on your lap and that I had acted in such a way that you had kissed me. I didn't blame you a bit, but I was disgusted with myself, and I wondered that you weren't with me too. And so you thought I was dainty! A long, long time ago, I arrived at the conclusion that I wasn't nice looking. I wanted to be something so I decided that at least I could be dainty. And to think that that is the first impression you had of me. Do you know, it pleases me very much. ...
Ora was at your place, and said your father was looking pretty well. Mother asked her how long she stayed and she said "until Mr. Albright nearly went to sleep, and Mrs Albright yawned." We expect Ray tomorrow night to spent the Sabbath. Evidently he is honest and means to pay that bet.
Are you ever going to tell me what your mother said that night when you told her? You know she never said anything to me, and had you not given me a hint of her characteristics, perhaps I might have thought she wasn't glad. For I really don't know her very well, just sort of on top. She seemed very happy, yes, I think she seemed pleased. Now, don't you say anything to her. I guess I'm a little curious. No, it could hardly be ranked as low as curiosity - it is really interest and I guess I have a right to be interested.
I didn't mean that I wanted a house on a hill, just on a little slope, mon ami. I was asking dad what it was like by the river and he said that it overflowed near where Fritzes were, and wanted to know if it were anywhere near where they are.
Ora said Mother [Albright] was very much disappointed because I didn't go up, but I'll go later. I didn't want to go when there'd be a crowd. I guess I knew I was going to get sick. She said that letter was almost open and she thought she'd better paste it up there than have it come undone here... ,
Your own girl.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear Elnora,
If there were nothing else to remind me that this is Sunday I could not forget because of the hundredfold longing for your presence that comes every Sunday evening. I want you every day, but never do I feel your absence so keenly as on this day and particularly at this time of the day - evening. It has been a glorious day - all bright warm sunshine - the noonday heat of midsummer tempering to a soft balminess tonight that only the west can show. My first waking thought this morning was of you - oh, how I wished you were here that we might go for a long walk out into the country and enjoy fresh morning air! Instead there was nothing to do but the old humdrum round dressing, breakfast, church. ...
I ensconced myself in an easy chair on the porch for a whole afternoon’s read. Last night I had started a novel “The Testing of Diana Vaughan” and as it seemed much better than the ordinary run of current fiction I became quite interested. The plot is fair, the characters well delineated - the heroine is particularly so, and the general to me, wholesome and uplifting. I finished it this afternoon and the book has left a pleasant memory behind. Just as I was reading the epilogue it floated over me that how like a book is this life. Both end just at the beginning of the really interesting part, - life with death- a book with marriage. Just as marriage is the end of the preparation and the beginning of real life and true happiness and love - so is death the drawing of the curtain upon the ep prologue of existence and the gateway to that longer, fuller, completer life which must lie beyond the grave. Most books end with the betrothal or marriage of their leading characters and perhaps we are inclined to think the interesting part of their lives is told - what has happened is merely the more or less exciting sailing over the rocks and shoals - crossing the bar - and marriage is the passing out into the great beyond of the mighty deep, - the real beginning of the voyage of life.
When reading this book I thought of your last letter - that part where you spoke of my being good and it came home to me as never before what a terrible thing it must be for a man or a woman to realize some day that his or her life partner is impure or morally weak and liable to fall into the snares of the grosser temptations. And do you know I believe very few people would be so if they only knew that someone trusted them absolutely - without the shadow of a doubt. My dearest, those words of trust are the most precious of all you have ever said to me - they do not mean confidence alone - they mean love too for with your nature you could not trust fully in that way without the firm foundation of an abiding love.
May I never do anything, my darling, to cause you to waver in your trust or to regret that it has been misplaced. I've tried long enough to understand myself somewhat and it's not a pleasant thing to realize that I am less than I once thought I was. Good I am not, only a weak very human man whose acts are often regretted the minute they are done: Clever I am not. I used to think that be dint of application and hard work I would rise above my fellows, but I've learned that I'm only a very ordinary individual with a very ordinary amount of gray matter and that instead of being a wonderful controlling and grinding force in the world I am destined to be but a cog in the great wheel of life. Great or noble or self-sacrificing I am not. It isn't comfortable for one to have to say these things but honesty compels me to admit to myself what other people have doubtless always known. But if I am none of these things, my dear - I am and can and will be true. And oh the joy it is to know that whatever may come you will always believe that.
You said you have felt for a long time that you could safely leave your children with me. Do you know, that was one way I always tested other girls and compared them with you? And you always stood peerless. Bringing children into this world is a fearful responsibility - but nothing to be compared to the responsibility of training and guiding them and being an example to them in later years. I used to look at other girls and wonder what kind of mother they would make. Some I misjudged as time has proven. Many whom I thought to be careless and frivolous and weak have become sobered and transformed by the coming into their lives of other little lives for whom they were responsible. But I never had any questionings about you. I always knew that if it were given you to know the joys of motherhood the deepest and holiest responsibilities would be met with all the intensity and devotion and self-sacrifice of your true and earnest nature. Can I say more than that I always associated you in my mind with the Madonna? I can't realize it - I can't understand how it is possible for you in your sweetness and purity and holiness to love just me. Sometimes it seems as if it must be all a dream - that it's too good to be true but it is true, isn't it dearest? Oh. I want you to tell me so over and over again.
I didn’t go to church this evening for I felt I couldn’t listen to Mr Marshall when my thoughts were all of you. So I went for a stroll - but wherever I went I saw husbands and wives or lovers - everyone seemed to have someone but me - and I felt more lonesome than when in the house. I called at “Rosie” Wright’s and thought to forget the homesickness or rather heartsickness in social intercourse, but there too everything cried out for you. The house - the fireplace - the baby, now nearly two years old, who today for the first time in her life let me, or anyone outside of her own family take her up in my arms, - everything made me want to rush out and take the next train for Thorold to bring you back with me to our own little nest.
Mrs Wright sang several old songs, the first I had heard her for two or three months - and I did enjoy it so much. She sings beautifully although her voice is a little harsher than it used to be. This a woman who has been completely transformed by marriage. - I used to think that her home instincts were so undeveloped and so buried under the desire for outward display and selfish happiness that she would never develop into a true wife and house-keeper but I think my expectations are doomed to a glorious disappointment. True, she can’t eradicate entirely the pernicious influence of her lack of house training and of the false ideal of life set before her by her father and mother, but she is going a far larger way towards true womanhood than I ever thought possible.
Yesterday the touring Hamilton Tigers played the Calgary football team. The day was too hot for ideal football and the players must have had the sensation of having undergone a strenuous succession of Turkish baths. But if the heat made the players uncomfortable it didn't cause any perceptible slowing off in the play. The game was easily the best I've seen in Calgary, and was by no means so one-sided as the score would indicate, 19 to 2 in favour of Hamilton, but the Ontario boys played like a machine, ... Fritz and his family accompanied me and Mrs Clark got her first introduction to Rugby football. I'm not quite sure whether she was favorably impressed or not for in spots the game was anything but a pink tea(7)
affair and on one occasion there was a free for all fight with the spectators swarming all over the field and a pandemonium that was only quieted by the mounted police.
Tomorrow the university opens again doesn't it? And you wish you were going back again? Elizabeth expressed a similar wish the other night but Fritz and I both said we thought she'd be disappointed. Of course you haven't been so long away, but I believe even you would find things greatly changed. Well next year you may have your university, only I'll be the student and you the professor.
At this point last night the lights all went out and I had to quit. I haven't time to write more this morning, so will stop here.
Always your very own.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 28, 1913
My Dear Fred,
It does seem too lovely a day to spend in eating and going to church, so I'm varying my occupation by writing to you. There isn't much time as to-day is Rally Day and I'll have to get to S.S. on time.
You ask me if I think you are silly for telling me the same thing over again. Why, my dear, that's what I look for. Don't you remember when you were here that we both seemed to feel something missing. When I spoke of it to you, you said, I expected too much, that my ideas were based on novels. Weren't you really answering your own inward protest? You wonder if you could make me feel now how much you love me. I think no. I know you could. Do you remember that I spoke of volcanoes and plains? It was fire that I felt lacking, and I was cold. But now, now I warm myself at your fire. I said to myself when I read your first letter, "It is cold and reserved." But now it has gone, without any effort on my part. Ah, if you could only come to me now.
Sometimes I am so terrified at the thought of marrying you without seeing you again. What if I should be loving an ideal that did not exist? What if when you came I should have forgotten things about you, and what if when I saw you I should not want to marry you? Oh, how I wish you could come at Christmas time. You asked me if I knew the ache of disappointed hope. Do I know it? I have known it, only too often. But I am glad to say, you have never caused me a pang like that. Yes, I have looked for letters from you that have not come, but I always knew that soon there would be one. It is hopelessness, or the hope even in the face of overwhelming odds that give the deepest pain when it is crushed. And I was going to tell you the other day that I never felt such a painful longing for you, not because I did not want you with me, but because I was able to wait. But I can't say that now.
That same day, Friday night, I guess it was, Edith was playing "O Thou Sweet Evening Star" from Tannhauser. It was a sad haunting air that would raise longings in the heart of anyone, but that day I had received no letter from you, and somehow, that piece just then was about all I could stand. Whenever I hear really good music I am always so lonesome. I think the final test of you will be to sit with you and to hear music that fairly tears one's heart out, and if then I can lay my hand in yours and feel satisfied, then I'll know beyond all doubt that I love you. You know sweetheart, that I don't really mean that, not all of it. You know I love you anyway, music or no music. And so you decided to tell me of your love because it pleased me. And I suppose I am to conclude from that, that you also kissed me to please me. I never realized before what a treasure of self abnegation I was getting in the human form of you. And how blind and foolish I was to imagine that you had a very faint desire to do those things.
It is time to go to Sunday School. We’re back now and all three of us are finishing letters. Then we are going out into the beautiful sunlight at the Rally service. I learned that Alberta Conference S.S. had increased 15% in membership this year - the largest % increase.
You have twice spoken of the divisions of your letters that I once made. I was rather nasty but you were so cold and I sort of felt that you were purposely so. But not now. Oh, my dear, I feel as if I were only half living. It has been like that for a long time. ... My only regret is that I didn't know you as my mate years ago. But perhaps I needed the training I got. I cannot think that experience, however painful if they were not sinful, could be for no purpose.
I started out to say that I feel as if I were only half living. I had always dreamed that when I loved and was loved as I thought possible that I should be changed. And I feel that when we come together, when we are with each other constantly, that then we can commence our work. I never felt that I could be satisfied with just loving and being loved. I wanted a purpose behind it all. I feel that some day, not so very far hence, I can start to write. I've felt it in me for a long time, but it never seemed that the time was ripe. I have general plans in my head, but I need someone to help me work them out.
No, I do not mind that you read part of my letter to Fitch. I wrote it partly for him. To search for the meaning of Life is an evidence of life; to find no answer is to die spiritually. Once Noble said à propos of this, “To say that we are here and must make the best of things is no answer. One must have a purpose.” And one must feel oneself and purpose related to the general plan of the world if he is to be animated by the spirit that labours cheerfully and continually - the spirit that gives one a vision of what may be. When you mentioned the matter again I began to wonder if I really thought that out myself. I didn’t think it, it just came like a flash. But I remember that once Mr Moshier said something of the same sort, that God’s idea was to raise man by love.
I have told several of my friends of our engagement. I want them to know. And I think that was singularly delicate of Elizabeth to ask you about writing to me. I had half been expecting a letter from her before you wrote. Won't we have good times together, all of us who know and like each other so well.
We are going to have a nice warm rug in front of our fire so that we can lie down on it sometimes. And I am going to have a low chair. I shall pull it in front of the fire, and you will sit down with your dear head on my knee, and sometimes I shall put my arms down, and hold you in my arms. Do I hear you talk to me before you go to sleep? If I don't it is because I'm making such a noise talking to you. And I kiss you good-night, the way I kissed you the last night you were here. Now answer me, do you think I love you?
Fred to Evelyn
My own dear little sweetheart,
It's a good thing you wrote a long letter for by the time I got to the end I forgot for a little while the despicable trick told about in the opening sentences! It's also a good thing your letter was delayed and didn't reach me until noon. If I had received it first thing this morning I might have vented some of my ill humor on some poor unsuspecting client. You'll think I have a terrible temper but I must say the word I didn't utter, when I learned that any had dared to open my letters to you wouldn't bear repeating in you ears! Luckily no one was around. ...
You can imagine my delight at seeing your dear familiar handwriting on my desk and I snatched up your letter and opened and read it as I walked along the street. I was mad,luridly, boiling, fighting mad. To think that anyone I know and thought to be an ordinarily respectable friend could descend to such an unspeakably despicable theft, stealing money is not to be spoken of in the same breath with such a robbery as that, the invasion of the sacred privacy of intimate correspondence, stealing the most intimate words of one person to the other who is dearest to him of all people on earth. It is so mean and utterly base as to be beneath contempt. If I were a better man perhaps I would let it pass at that but I'm not and I was furiously angry. Even now I can't think of it without thoughts coming to me that I know are unchristian. You, in your own dear forgiving way try to make excuses by saying you don't think the letter was taken out or read. Well, I wouldn't have believed anyone would have opened the envelope, and now I know it was done, I don't have to stretch my imagination to come to the conclusion that the person who could do the opening could, and did do the reading also. I guess I'd better quit talking about this any more or I'll say things I'll be sorry for. ...
Was I thinking of you very specially last Tuesday night? Half past eleven in Thorold is half past nine here. At that hour Smith and I were at Dr Kirby's, and I was supposed to be entertaining and being entertained by some of the lady members of the staff of Mount Royal College . But many a time during the course of the evening my thoughts wandered far away to a dear little blue girl (not blue-eyed, then what shall I say?) true-eyed girl who I hoped was thinking of me and kissing me good night. And you were, weren't you dearest? But it wasn't only last Tuesday night, every night I long oh so much to have you with me and to caress me as you did that last night before I went away. It was sweet then and the memory of it is precious, but oh my darling, I know so much better now the meaning of that sweet surrender. You asked me to make me love you. All the time I was home, I seemed to be encased in a sort of shell I couldn't break through. I couldn't understand it and I beat futilely against the bars of that invisible cell that I might show you my real naked self but I couldn't do it. Perhaps it was because then I wasn't quite sure, I still had doubts. But now, my darling, I don't fear. If you were here at this moment I'd make you love me. You couldn't help yourself, how I know it and I know in my inmost soul I have the power to make you see my love and return it with a love that shall be as deep as the ocean, and as true and abiding as the everlasting hills.
You say you don't love me as I do you. Well you see I've been thirty years saving up for this so I have several years the start of you. I've been looking for you and waiting for you so many years, my love is like the pent up waters of a mighty mountain cataract. Is it strange that it should be so? But nothing you can say frightens me. I know I have your love and once given you will never take it back but it will grow and grow until it becomes such a mighty thing I hardly dare think of it. I don't believe you have the faintest conception of the depth and intensity of your nature. And to think that you are mine! Oh my dearie if I could only do something to show you how I prize the gift you have bestowed upon me but I can't, all I can do is just to try every minute of my life to show you that I am yours, every bit of me.
I never realized until yesterday just how weak and miserable a thing is that love which is based upon mere physical attraction. It came to me as never before when I was reading the book I told you about last night. The heroine was an actress who had risen from a home of squalor and wretchedness to be a prima donna. Being a woman of rare physical beauty and charm it was natural that many men sought her, but she was a good woman and she was seeking true love and she scrutinized carefully every offer of so called love that was proffered her. It seemed to her that many men who professed to love her did so honestly - but they love her for her body, - and she didn’t want that. She wanted to be loved for herself - her real true self - her whole self.
And oh, my darling, I’m so glad that’s the way I love you. At first it didn’t seem quite right to me that I shouldn’t have become passionately thrilled by your face and form - by your physical presence. You did appeal to my senses but not as I thought you ought. To speak perfectly frankly, you didn’t seem to appeal as I thought you should to my sexual nature. But oh my dearest, I’ve come to realize there’s a far more excellent way. I’m not insensible to these things but I thank God there’s something higher and purer in our love than mere sexual attraction. Do I need to repeat. I don’t want you for your sex but for yourself, - not because you are a woman but because you are my woman, even as I am your man.
It is eleven o'clock.You have kissed me goodnight and folded me in your embrace long ago, but your dreams will not be disturbed my doing so to you now. Goodnight my dear, dear love.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 29, 1913
My Dear Fred,
I see you have gone back to my old name. So you can't find any name to suit you. There's one of mine you've never heard that only a couple or maybe three people call me now, and that is coon. Once when I was a little, little girl, I stayed at Auntie Smith's all night and I slept with her in the back. When Uncle came home and got in bed, he found a little foot sticking out over Auntie's and it was just like a coon's foot and so he has always called me 'coon.' Rud, that's his son calls me 'coonie' sometimes, and Dr. Davey still calls me that too. Dad has almost forgotten it, but once in a while it comes out. ...
Father was just saying that there is going to be an article in the Onward in a few weeks which will mention Thorold. Dr. Bartlett is coming again in October, and is going to bring his new camera which “will take pictures.” Father was also telling about a nasty thing in connection with the sale of land for the new Book Building. I think there are some men who are utterly rotten in their treatment of old Dr. Carman and Dr. Briggs. The idea of trying to dishonour old men like that.
Oh, yes, you may stay as well as you can, but you're not to get fat, as you were last summer. Then you looked like a prosperous business man; this summer like my own chum, I suppose you'll look better forty years hence if you're nice and round like your mother, but not now, please.
... No, I won't give up my fancy-work. And you can't stop me putting cinnamon on pies, if I like. So you see, I have the upper hand of you there. If I am to compromise it'll have to be on something over which I have no control. And dear heart, I don't think you're always thinking about your stomach. I'm sorry if I touched a sensitive spot when I teased you about that. And I'm not afraid that you'll be a crank along culinary lines. And what's more, I'm glad you notice when things are dainty and fresh. There wouldn't be nearly so much enjoyment in keeping things that way if you didn't notice Oh, I'm so anxious to get started. It seems such a long time till next summer. Nearly every day I say to myself, "Next year at this time, what shall I be doing?"
I must go to League. Did you like the sealing wax on the last letter? Ora didn't. She doesn't like it, and wants to use it up I guess.
Your own sweetheart.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear little sweetheart,
One whole month has passed since I left you. In one way it has seemed a long time and in another so very short. Do you know what makes the time pass quickly? Writing and getting letters from you. Every time I get a letter from you the day becomes brighter and I have a bit of sweet communion all alone with you - the whole world shut out. I wonder sometimes if you look as eagerly for my letters as I do for yours, and if they mean as much to you.
Tell me dearest, did you ever think the time would come when I'd write to you every day or nearly every day? I never did. Honestly it used to seem so silly to me. I think I reasoned it out something like this. "If two people have lived so long apart and have been able to get along without daily communication why must they think they have to just because they are going to be married? Surely they wouldn't expect to do it after they are married." Well I've changed in a good many ways since you promised to be my wife, and Fritz says I'll change still more once I'm married. Certainly he has. But I was going to say that while before I looked upon letter writing as a duty, pleasant enough when I was in the humor for it but a horrible bore at other times now there's no thought of duty, I write you because I want to talk to you, because it's the easiest thing to do. You see I am following the lines of least resistance. I guess there's another reason too, that if I didn't write you often I'd have lots of disappointing mornings such as I had last week and the week before.
I'm sorry now dearest that I wrote what I did last night, after getting your letter this morning I really do believe my letters weren't taken out or read, and I despise myself for being so ready to suspect that it had been done. You'll never let Mabel know that I did falsely accuse her will you? Please forget it. I guess it was a good thing any how that it happened, for it will make me more careful in the future. I always used to think it a bit of foolishness to seal letters with wax but this morning I went out and bought a stamp the very first thing so in future you need have no fear that anyone has come in between us, but may be sure that you and I are talking to each other alone.
So you want to know, dearest what mother said that night. Forgive me for being so thoughtless, but it never occurred to me that it might mean anything to you or I would have told you long ago. Not that there is much to tell. I can't remember the exact words either she or I said. I didn't speak to her that night to learn her opinion of you, for I knew it pretty well before - only I could see when we arrived home that they hadn't known who I was bringing as I thought they would. As mother said that night and it seemed so true when I thought about it afterwards - I had always so carefully avoided every appearance being interested in anyone in particular, and as for you, I had shown more attention to Ora, (You know now dearie why that was, don't you?) that it is no wonder the folks at home were at sea in their conjectures. The fact that I telephoned from Thorold seemed to give a clue - but you know I didn't say very much over the phone, and they couldn't be sure how far matters had gone, even if they had known who you were. So I just wanted to tell mother right out that night. When you get to know mother better you'll understand that with her a few words of affection mean a great deal. She doesn't tell us she loves us but she lives her love. Sometimes I think we're the most selfish family in the whole world to have allowed mother to make the sacrifices she has for us. It has always been so and is yet, and the worst of it is she does things in such a way that you don't see the self denial and the sacrifice at the time. But it's always there.
Oh I hope that some day I can make mother know that I understand a little bit of what she has done for me. I don't suppose I ever can realize it fully - only a mother can understand a mother's love and sacrifice, but if I can only let her know that it hasn't all been unnoticed! But to come back - Mother is also very practical and I think at first she thought a little bit as I used to, that we were physically unsuited to each other, but as for her opinion of you - well I'm not going to tell you for it would make you too vain. Like father she thinks you are just about one of the very finest girls that ever took man captive, and dearie you may not think it, but mother loves you - I don't mean like - I mean Love. You don't have to win a place in her heart - you have it already. All I ask is that you don't dwell there so much that you forget to come back to your real heart-home or I'll be jealous.
On looking back over this I don't seem to have told you anything that mother said. As I said before I don't remember her exact words, but I've given you truly the gist of her talk even to the expression of doubt as to our physical compatibility. Are you satisfied? If not you'll have to go up to Beamsville and after you've stayed with mother a while you'll believe me.
...This is the kind of evening I enjoy sitting by our own fireside writing or reading. But if this is nice, what would it be like if you and I had our own fireside in our very own house - and all the world shut out but just you and me? Oh my dearie, I'm getting so anxious for that time to come. I can hardly wait until next year. Do you remember that picture which was copied in the Ladies Home Journal, "Housekeeping Hearts Are Happiest?" That's my ideal. You'll not be lonely, dearest, with just me will you? If you ever do, I'll just fold you up in my arms and rock you to sleep like a tired little child and you'll nestle in my arms and kiss me goodnight even as you are doing in fancy now.
Evelyn to Fred
Sept. 30, 1913
My dear Fred,
...I expected Edith to stay longer but last night she got a long distance message that she would enter the Lillian Massey and that she must register to-day. Of course that meant that she had to take the early boat and I was up betimes to go to the car with her. I saw a girl on the car who was in ’13 but who is now in ’14, had to stay out a year on account of ill-health. She was at the Hall, and the sight of her made me a little homesick to be back. I heard the noise in the corridors of gay greetings, saw the boxes and trunks standing around, ready to trip the unwary on a midnight prowl.
And then there was the excitement of enrolling, of getting books, of seeing what we were going to have, and where we were to have it - And the new girls. They had to be inspected and visited. And there were so many things to do, so many trips down town before we got our rooms furnished, so many calls to make in the middle of our work. I remember once, I think it was in my third year, Hazel put up my pictures and my curtains in fact she settled me. She had got there first and was all ready for work when I arrived. Oh, she is a great girl. Thinking about these things makes me so homesick to see her. Yet the last time we were together there was a restraint which both felt and neither wanted to feel. It is very strange how two who like each other so much can feel that way, whereas if the cared less they would probably chat away at a great rate.
You remarked in your letter about feeling abashed at the meagreness of your vocabulary. Really, that made me sit up, it was so ridiculous. I guess you don't fully understand how 'umble I am. You must cling to the old idea one time held by Ora, Myrtle and Ray, that I am conceited. And even granting that your vocabulary is becoming limited due to lack of reading, what could you say for mine? I scarcely read at all. I have been at one of Zola's for over two weeks, I don't like it, but I'm going to read it. It is horrid. Everything in it, from clothes to morals, is bedraggled and untidy. I cannot understand why those realists thought that ugliness was the only real thing, why they could not see that ugliness was the abnormal instead of the normal.
Well, Well, I started out, in the paragraph before the last, to tell you how hard we worked to-day. Ora's things were washed. And guess how many towels she had of all kinds. No less than sixty. Dad asked her if she meant to wipe up the whole North-West, and she said that sometimes there were floods out there.
I ironed all morning and you bet I was tired. But after dinner Mother and Ora took a nap. Did I? Not yet. I was sleepy and tired but I thought to there'd be a letter down at the post-office. So I got dressed and hied me down after it. And I got one. I wonder how I should have felt had the box been empty. I started to read it as soon as I got across the street from the post-office and kept at it until I got home. Then I read it over again and then I had my sleep.
Last night I couldn't get to sleep for so long. Just before we went to bed, Dad told us a story Dr. Moore had told him. A girl who lives not far from here was going to Auburn N.Y.. At the Falls, I think, she was alone in the coach. Two men got in, one sat beside her, the other turned over the seat and faced her. Resenting this, she got up and tried to pass them but they told her to stay where she was. When the brakeman came in, she appealed to him, but one man tapped his forehead and said, "Never mind we are taking her to the Asylum at Auburn" She appealed to passengers who had come in, but they all thought her crazy except one young man. When they got to Auburn he telegraphed Dr. Moore - he is the Secretary for Temperance and Moral Reform. They traced her and succeeded in getting her out of a terrible place.(8)
Of course I couldn't help thinking about that, and about how easy it was for those men to do that, and I got so frightened I couldn't sleep. And then I skipped a few years and imagined my daughter in such a terrible predicament. Is it not dreadful to be afraid on one's fellow man. And yet I am.
Oh how I hate the dagoes around here, they look at me so boldly. When I was going to school this spring they used to say things about me when I passed and call to me. It made me rage, that they should dare to do that when it is only very rarely that a Canadian man or boy speak to me as I pass. When I go past a crowd of men I look neither to the right nor to the left, and if one is in front of me, I look right square through him. John used to laugh at my lofty air. But I do despise bar-room props and corner loungers.
Mother says this is the last time I may write this week! She says you're not to write so often, Art has the habit, but you're only forming it, so you are more easily broken of it. Are you? Well I hope not. I didn't realize how quickly I'd get so accustomed to a daily letter that I expect it as I do my meals or my nightly sleep.
It is worthy of mention that we both have the same idea about the way some of our evenings are to be spent. Do I ever dream you are with me? I dreamt of you the other night, but I forgot what it was, only I was afraid and was calling you. I don't dream you with me, I just think you with me. Do you know you kiss me a very great deal? Do I you? I'd just to know how the other end of the line receives communications.
I noted what you said about Christmas. My answer was a sigh, and it's almost a tear. But you know best my dear. So it won't be a tear after all.
1. Nellie McLung, 1873-1951. Writer, women's rights activist and politician.
2. Norman Duncan, 1871-1916. Writer and magazine correspondent in Newfoundland & Labrador.
3. Alma College, a private school for girls at St. Thomas, Ontario, was a Methodist foundation. Received its charter in 1877, opened in 1881. It is now closed.
4. Sir Gilbert Parker. 1862-1932. Journalist, author, politician. Best known for his historical novels set in Canada.
5. South Hall, women's residence at Victoria College, opened in 1905.
6. Mabel Buck, family friend. Wife of Clarence Buck.
7. 'Pink' tea; a formal tea or reception.
8. This might be an 'urban legend.' It is interesting to note that this type of story is not a recent one.