New York, N. Y.
Dec 8, 1896
From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell
My dear Ruth:
Papa didn’t get home until quite late to-night, considering it was almost ten o’clock
when I received your letter, and although I cannot hope to write you a very long letter, I
cannot refrain from writing at least to tell you how deeply grateful I am for your very
Yes, Ruth, that “queer feeling” has cleared away and I guess I’m myself once more,
only I’m sorry for having left you Sunday night with thoughts of my not being well to trouble
you. Hereafter I shall always try to be well, at least in your presence.
It is funny what odd speeches children do sometimes make, but I never should have
thought Bob would have said such a thing. I’m sure he would blush to make a repetition of
Was ist los with your Dutchman? I thought he was one of those careful deliberate
fellows, who did his work well but so slow. How do you account for his sudden burst of
energy which caused him to break the pump and team boards from the sheds? He must be
fed too much oats lately. He seems to have earned the title of “The Flying Dutchman.”
The meal in the parlor Sunday was a good success, and rather than to suffer the
disagreeableness of gas and smoke, why don’t you cook in there every day. No gas, no
smoke, no drafts, what additional inducements could be wanted for, and besides, the
trouble would be canceled by the consolation found in the fact that soon the stove men will
finish their work, and you will once more be permitted to resume the mode of living, which
suffered a suspension some months ago.
Ruth I am somewhat at sea to know what you mean by saying so many hard things
about yourself. I can only attribute it to that modesty of disposition of yours, which is
constantly belittling self, to the exaltation of most everything else. There are a few events
of my life which I should like to have erased, but although this is quite impossible, the
steady flow of the tide of life has brought me to a position of such entire contentment, that
all unpleasantnesses are either crowded out or are forgotten. So it must be with you, Ruth.
Our lives have no more to do with the past, except to retain what pleasant memories it has
afforded us. We have considerable to do with the present, but most of all with the future. I
can only say or repeat what you state, that “I can never love any other than you,” and I
have more than once, solemnly pledged that I would never marry anyone but you, no
matter what might happen, and this long before we were intimate, and when I thought you
cared nothing for me. So Ruth, if you have had a season “when everything seemed to go
wrong” I hope to prevent your suffering an unhappy moment ever again. Of course he has
yet to be born who can be free from trouble in this world, and troubles will doubtless come
to us, but we shall meet them together, and they are usually of such a nature that we can
find ourselves mutually prepared to meet them, when they come by our single faith in the
purpose of God to rule all things for the best.
But Ruth, pardon the melancholy strain of this letter, I did not mean it to be so but
have only been looking on the shady side of what is to me an exceptionally pretty scene.
I am very much gratified and encouraged by being so well thought of by your
brother, and aunt in Millburn. In writing her, I should like to have you express my
appreciation of her well wishes and that I shall anticipate with pleasure the occasion of our
It was, dear Ruth, not for any personal considerations that I should have wanted our
engagement kept secret for a moment. To me, as you know, it is the greatest possible
honor. But I was thinking of you, how very far above me you are and how you might be
criticized by a merciless public for having anything to do with me. But reflection seems to
reveal the fallacy of such thoughts, and I am free to say they are quite cleared away.
It is not long until Thursday, and in my own honor I shall try to be on hand early to
celebrate. Knowing your predisposition to such things, I would respectfully ask that you
don’t trouble yourself to prepare any surprises. I have you Ruth, is all that I desire, just as
Every morning on my way to the train I look across the valley and locate the position
of your house as near as I can judge. I think of you there calmly sleeping and always
breathing a prayer for your preservation and safety.
This letter doesn’t amount to much as a literary production, but there is not a word
in it that I wish to recall, and I could add much more, but me eyes are asking for a rest.
Be very very good to yourself, avoid as much as possible exposure to drafts, etc,
and accept much love from
Good-bye until Thursday.
W. A. G