Listening to me talk of Elise, he was convinced that this was the case with the two of us. We were bonded together, meant for each other, and nothing had ever sounded sweeter. I’d like nothing more for the rest of my life to start with Elise as soon as possible.

Ezra tired of listening to me speak endlessly of Elise, her smooth skin, her fiery hair, her hypnotic eyes… so he sent me out with a pad of paper to write down my story of Elise.

So here I sit on the stone by the pub entrance, scribbling all the things I can’t keep inside as I wait for Elise to arrive. Elise, my love, my true…

August 17, 1852

Dearest Elise,

I hope this letter finds you well. My heart aches without you, but otherwise, this journey is setting alright with me. I’ll never learn to enjoy being at sea, but the boat ride from Dublin wasn’t that long, and I am grateful for that.

As I write this, we’re not yet to London, but I expect we will be soon. The carriage is jostling us about a lot, so forgive the mistakes and the ink on the paper. Ezra is sound asleep next to me, and I wish that I could travel like him.

Maybe I would, but I can’t keep my thoughts from my last conversation with you. It’s that you said this time apart would be good for us both that has me so terrified.

I know this only because you feel as though I’m rushing things, but I’m not. We have only been courting for three months, that is true, but I am certain that I want to be with you for the rest of my existence. My proposal isn’t that strange.

Eternity is a very long time, but I know what I am agreeing to with you. I lie awake thinking of you when I should be sleeping. Ezra complains because I say your name in my sleep, and it keeps him awake.

We are bonded together, just as he says we are, and we both feel it. Why can’t you trust that I love you? I’ve done nothing to dissuade you of that, have I?

Ezra and I bought the house down the road from you, so we can be near without being too near. I’ve enjoyed the few kisses you let me steal, and I never ask you for more. I respect your decision to wait until marriage, but that’s not what I am encouraging marriage.

I love you, Elise. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Nothing can part me from you, my love, not even this distance between us. My heart still belongs to you, the way it always has, and always will.

I still feel your lips pressed to mine, taste the salt on them from the tears in your eyes as you kissed me goodbye. I assured you it was only a month to do business, to make our lives better, and you told me the time apart would do us both good.

The night before I left, when we stood in the moonlight in the garden behind your house, my proposal felt hasty. I know. But it wasn’t. I’ve thought of it since I met you, but when I’m with you, the words come out all wrong. My tongue fumbles that which my heart is certain of.

Elise, you are my love, my world, my true. You are the compass that keeps me due north. You are the moon that tells me when to wake and the sun that tells me when to sleep. You are everything, and so much more than that.

What I wanted to say to you, when your soft hand was cold in mine, and I saw you looking up at me with worry in your eye. You think I’ll go to London and won’t return – as if I could exist without you, as if I even have a choice not to come back.

I want to pour my heart out to this paper, but I fear the paper cannot contain it all. My love is spilling down the edges, seeping to the ground, and out the carriage door. The wind will carry it back to you, carry my heart to you, to where it belongs with you.

Do you not see that, Elise? You possess me, the way the Devil possessed Judas. Not that you are evil – but that you have taken over my soul, that you occupy my body, that my very being belongs to you.

I am going to London for you, for us. I know you love the farm, that you love managing the land your father once churned. But the earth can dry up, it can turn on you, and you know this better than anyone.

I want a life for us that is built on something far more stable. Ezra believes something is happening in America, something we should return to. He’s speaking of the gold rush in California, and sees that as an opportunity for us to grow. To have something, instead of scraping by. He wants to be a captain of industry, and on this, I agree with him.

I can’t ask for your hand if I have no means for us to live. I’m not recanting my proposal, but I am working up to it. I must earn the right to be your husband, and I assure you that I will. When we return, I will have everything I need.

Until then, I will have the memory of you to spur me on.

Do you remember our first kiss? You’d been dodging it for weeks, just as determined to keep your virtue as I was to steal it. I was meant to be helping you garden, but I spent more time distracting you than working.

I took your hand, and you fell down laughing onto the grass. I lay above me, looking in your eyes, certain I’d never seen anything I’d ever want more. I bent down to kiss you, overjoyed when you let my lips touch yours.

Something surged between us, something deeper than passion or desire. My blood warmed, flowing like liquid fire through my veins. I could feel your heart in my lips, hear it pounding in my ears. It was if love had a physical manifestation.

This month will be agony without your kisses, I know it, but it is a necessity. It must be done, for the good of us both, and hopefully, you will understand how much I love you, how much I need you.

Until I return to you, remember you are my love, my life, my very self.

Eternally yours,


May 12, 1853