Below is a love letter which is part of the Teatime Tales collection and is inspired by one of my favourite Austen books, Mansfield Park.
Thursday, 14 February 1811
My dearest Fanny,
You’ll think me strange when I tell you from where I am writing this. Indeed, the servants have given me some odd expressions as they have squeezed their way past me. I am in the stairwell at Mansfield, on the very step where you sat weeping all those years ago.
It is difficult to imagine the sorrows you must have endured being removed from all you had ever known and loved to be thrown into the midst of a family that you were to be part of but not fully, to be cared for, but never treasured as you ought to have been. Had I been aware to a greater extent of your miseries, perhaps I could have done more to shield you, but I was more apt to see what I wanted than to see what was.
No, do not excuse me because of my youth. You, my dear Fanny, have always outshone all in your ability to perceive the right in a situation. How oft did I see you display such a skill as you refused to be drawn along in one scheme or another? Had I been more discerning, I would have learned from you instead of attempting to sway your resolve. And, I blush to admit, I felt justified in so doing, for I deemed myself wiser. I feel the shame of these words exceedingly for had you listened to all my persuasions, had you laid by your good sense to accept my poor advice, how might you now suffer? How might I?
But what might have been is not what is, and I must not dwell on it for long, for if I do, I shall become melancholy considering all my faults and failures. Instead, I shall dwell on my good fortune, my blessing, my love, my Fanny. I shall praise you, and you must bear it. I know praises are not what you wish for yourself though you are most eager to bestow them on others!
Shall I tell you of your beauty? I believe I shall. But it shall not be a recitation of the loveliness of your hair, the sparkle of your eyes, the fairness of your complexion, or the pleasantness of your figure ─ though you possess all of these. No, these I shall tell you in person. These I shall whisper in your ear. I will trail them along your neck and across your breast. I will press them against your lips. I will whisper them at midnight and repeat them in the morning, for your loveliness enchants me.
Here I will tell you of your true beauty. A beauty that far surpasses the excellence of your figure and outshines the light in your eyes. A beauty that will remain when all other charms have faded and passed away. A beauty which touches the lives of others and leaves its traces there, multiplying and growing until all you have met share in its splendour.
Do not duck your head and blush. Do not chide me for my words of adoration for it is right that I should praise you. I have found the treasure spoken of in the Holy Scriptures, for your noble character, my dear Fanny, is more precious than rubies. As your husband, I have nothing to fear; I know you shall bring me good and not ill all the days of my life. I safely rest in your counsel. Your wisdom and integrity are my constant companions. I rejoice in the thought of your hand guiding our little one down a true path–a path that will lead him to become a man of sound principles, a man who is not pulled astray by every pretty word.
I could go on for pages speaking of your diligence, your compassion, your discernment, your patience . . . but I must stop before I do indeed fill too many pages. With these few simple lines, I have taxed your ability to hear such lovely things spoken of you, have I not? Rest easy my love, I shall save further praise for another day and will close with this. My dearest Fanny, you are the heart of my heart, the soul of my soul. I am truly honoured and blessed to call you my wife, and I will ever be yours.
Scripture passage referenced is Proverbs 31:10-31
Other stories included in this collection are
From Oxford Cottage by Leenie Brown
A Music Room Meeting
A look at the beginning of Richard and Harriet’s relationship
From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mr. Bingley Plans a Ball
Mr. Bingley returns to Netherfield
From Tolerable to Lovely
A ballroom blunder stops Mr. Darcy’s famous disparagement
A Battle of Wills and Words
Elizabeth engages in a verbal joust with Colonel Fitzwilliam
Two Days in November
Darcy and Elizabeth embark on a plan to bring happiness to Jane