"Dearest, when your letter kept away, all this morning, I never once fancied you might be angry .. I knew you must feel the love which produced the fear. And I will lay to my heart the little, gentlest blame that there is, in the spirit which dictated it,—I know, my own Ba, your words have given me the right to doubt nothing from your generosity—but it is not the mere bidding .. no, at the thousandth repetition, .. which can make me help myself to all that treasure which you please to call mine: I shall perhaps get used to the generosity and readier to profit by it.
I have not time to write much: all is divinely kind of you, and I love you for forgiving me.
You could not leave at an early hour under those circumstances .. the moment I become aware of them, I fully see that.
Ah, but, Ba, am I so to blame for not taking your diamonds, while you disclaim a right over my pebbles even? May I 'withdraw from the business'? &c &c"
I suspect that this is the phrase she said in 'jest' and that all the fuss was about. Browning's turn of phrase here is very wise. He recognizes her low self-esteem while adoring her all the same for her blindness. Very sweet.
"Kiss me, and do not say that again—and I will say you are “my own”, as I always say,—my very own! As for 'sarcasms' and the rest—I shall hardly do other than despise what will never be said to me, for the best of reasons—except where is to be exception. I never objected to such miserable work as that—and the other day, my annoyance was not at anything which might be fancied, by Mr Kenyon or anybody else, but at what could not but be plainly seen—it was a fact, and not a fancy, that our visit was shortened &c &c
All which is foolish to think of. I will think of you and a better time.
You do not tell me how you are, Ba—and I left you with a headache. Will you tell me? And the post may come in earlier tomorrow,—at all events I will write at length .. not in this haste– And our day? When before have I been without a day, a fixed day, to look forward to?Bless you, my dearest beloved–Your own RB
I am pretty well to-day—not too well– My mother is no better than usual; we blame the wind, with or without reason– See this scrawl! Could any thing make me write legibly, I wonder?"
He ends the letter with a series of BA's written in different types of scripts. Very cute. So while one crisis burns out another begins for Miss Barrett reports a crisis:
"Here is a distress for me, dearest! I have lost my poor Flush—lost him! You were a prophet when you said ‘Take care’.
This morning Arabel & I, & he with us, went in a cab to Vere Street where we had a little business, & he followed us as usual into a shop & out of it again, & was at my heels when I stepped up into the carriage– Having turned, I said ‘Flush’, & Arabel looked round for Flush—there was no Flush! He had been caught up in that moment, from under the wheels, do you understand? & the thief must have run with him & thrown him into a bag perhaps– It was such a shock to me—think of it! losing him in a moment, so! No wonder if I looked white, as Arabel said! So she began to comfort me by showing how certain it was that I should recover him for ten pounds at most, & we came home ever so drearily—. Because Flush does’nt know that we can recover him, & he is in the extremest despair all this while, poor darling Flush, with his fretful fears, & pretty whims, & his fancy of being near me– All this night he will howl & lament, I know perfectly,—for I fear we shall not ransom him tonight. Henry went down for me directly to the Captain of the banditti, who evidently knew all about it, said Henry,—& after a little form of consideration & enquiry, promised to let us hear something this evening, but has not come yet. In the morning perhaps he will come– Henry told him that I was resolved not to give much—but of course they will make me give what they choose– I am not going to leave Flush at their mercy, & they know that as well as I do– My poor Flush!–"
Flush, the pampered spaniel, has been kidnapped. Apparently this was not the first time. I would guess that the delicate Miss Barrett and her dog were an easy target for the dog-napping gang. See what compassion she has for her dog, you can imagine her compassion for someone she loved and how her heart must have been breaking to do something that she knew would hurt her father. Notice she is not saying that she is upset, her concern is for the dog and his well-being. A soft hearted woman has not many protections in life except intelligence and humor. Happily she has both.
"When we shall be at Pisa, dearest, we shall be away from the London dog-stealers—it will be one of the advantages– Another may be that I may have an opportunity of “forgiving” you, which I have not had yet. I might reproach you a little in my letter, & I did, I believe; but the offending was not enough for any forgiving to follow—it is too grand a word– Also your worst is better than my best, taking it on the whole– How then should I be able to forgive you, my beloved, even at Pisa?"
Is this sentiment an illustration of Browning's apt comments that she is upset because he won't take her diamonds while she refuses to take his pebbles: "..your worst is better than my best?"
"If we go to Southampton, we go straight from the railroad to the packet, without entering any hotel—and if we do so, no greater expense is incurred than by the long water-passage from London. Also, we reach Havre alike in the morning, & have the day before us for Rouen, Paris, & Orleans. Therefore nothing is lost by losing the early hour for the departure—— Then, if I accede to your ‘idée fixe’ about the marriage!– Only do not let us put a long time between that & the setting out, & do not you come here afterwards—let us go away as soon as possible afterwards, at least– You are afraid for me of my suffering from the autumnal cold when it is yet far off—while I (observe this!) while I am afraid for myself, of breaking down under quite a different set of causes, in nervous excitement & exhaustion. I belong to that pitiful order of weak women who cannot command their bodies with their souls at every moment, & who sink down in hysterical disorder when they ought to act & resist– Now I think & believe that I shall take strength from my attachment to you, & so go through to the end what is before us,—but at the same time, knowing myself & fearing myself, I do desire to provoke the ‘demon’ as little as possible, & to be as quiet as the situation will permit– Still, where things ought to be done, they of course must be done– Only we should consider whether they really ought to be done– Not for the sake of the inconvenience to me, but of the consequence to both of us–
Do I frighten you, ever dearest? Oh no– I shall go through it, if I keep a breath of soul in me to live with– I shall go through it, as certainly as that I love you. I speak only of the accessory circumstances, that they may be kept as smooth as is practicable–
Despite the upset of having Flush taken from her she writes a very good evaluation of her own condition, recognizing that the real obstacle is her nervous disposition and not her physical condition. She seems to recognize that her nervousness becomes more of a physical condition as it escalates. And notice how she is as concerned about it as much for the consequence to him as for her own discomfort.
You are not well, my beloved—& I cannot even dream of making you better this time,—because you will think it wise for us not to meet for the next few days perhaps– Mr Kenyon will come to see me, he said, before he leaves town, & he leaves it on the fourth, fifth or sixth of September. This is the first– So I will not let you come to be vexed as last time—no, indeed– But write to me instead——& pity me for Flush. Oh, I trust to have him back tomorrow– I had no headache, & was quite, perfectly well this morning .. before I lost him–"
I am intrigued by this: "I cannot even dream of making you better this time," How did she make him better? She always disparages herself, but here she seems to be attributing some healing quality to herself. Or is she simply teazing him that he will not come to see her if there is the risk of running into Kenyon? She doesn't want another outburst!
"Is your mother able to walk? is she worse on the whole than last week for instance? We may talk of September, but you cannot leave her, you know, dearest, if she should be so ill!—it would be unkind & wrong.
More, tomorrow!– But I cannot be more tomorrow, your very own–"
Reading this last but one sentence may lead Browning to send a letter in which he states that his mother is miraculously healed! Let's see what tomorrow brings. Will Flush be ransomed? Will Browning lead a rescue party?