Dearest and rightly Beloved: You cannot tell how your gift has pleased me; or rather you can, for it shows you have a long memory back to our first meeting: though at the time I was the one who thought most of it.
It is quite true; you have the most beautifully shaped memory in Christendom: these are the very books in the very edition I have long wanted, and have been too humble to afford myself. And now I cannot stop to read one, for joy of looking at them all in a row. I will kiss you for them all, and for more besides: indeed it is the "besides" which brings you my kisses at all.
Now that you have chosen so perfectly to my mind, I may proffer a request which, before, I was shy of making. It seems now beneficently anticipated. It is that you will not ever let your gifts take the form of jewelry, not after the ring which you are bringing me: that, you know, I both welcome and wish for. But, as to the rest, the world has supplied me with a feeling against jewelry as a love-symbol. Look abroad and you will see: it is too possessive, too much like "chains of office"—the fair one is to wear her radiant harness before the world, that other women may be envious and the desire of her master's eye be satisfied! Ah, no!
I am yours, dear, utterly; and nothing you give me would have that sense: I know you too well to think it. But in the face of the present fashion (and to flout it), which expects the lover to give in this sort, and the beloved to show herself a dazzling captive, let me cherish my ritual of opposition which would have no meaning if we were in a world of our own, and no place in my thoughts, dearest;—as it has not now, so far as you are concerned. But I am conscious I shall be looked at as your chosen; and I would choose my own way of how to look back most proudly.
And so for the books more thanks and more,—that they are what I would most wish, and not anything else: which, had they been, they would still have given me pleasure, since from you they could come only with a good meaning: and—diamonds even—I could have put up with them!
To-morrow you come for your ring, and bring me my own? Yours is here waiting. I have it on my finger, very loose, with another standing sentry over it to keep it from running away.
A mouse came out of my wainscot last night, and plunged me in horrible dilemma: for I am equally idiotic over the idea of the creature trapped or free, and I saw sleepless nights ahead of me till I had secured a change of locality for him.
To startle him back into hiding would have only deferred my getting truly rid of him, so I was most tiptoe and diplomatic in my doings. Finally, a paper bag, put into a likely nook with some sentimentally preserved wedding-cake crumbled into it, crackled to me of his arrival. In a brave moment I noosed the little beast, bag and all, and lowered him from the window by string, till the shrubs took from me the burden of responsibility.
I visited the bag this morning: he had eaten his way out, crumbs and all: and has, I suppose, become a fieldmouse, for the hay smells invitingly, and it is only a short run over the lawn and a jump over the ha-ha to be in it. Poor morsels, I prefer them so much undomesticated!
Now this mouse is no allegory, and the paper bag is not a diamond necklace, in spite of the wedding-cake sprinkled over it! So don't say that this letter is too hard for your understanding, or you will frighten me from telling you anything foolish again. Brains are like jewels in this, difference of surface has nothing to do with the size and value of them. Yours is a beautiful smooth round, like a pearl, and mine all facets and flashes like cut glass. And yours so much the bigger, and I love it so much the best! The trap which caught me was baited with one great pearl. So the mouse comes in with a meaning tied to its tail after all!