What a Pretty Story Could Be Written

24 Apr
Ruth and Ethel, 1890

Ruth and Ethel, 1890

Summit, NJ
April 21, 1897

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

Dearest Ruth:

I have just finished reading your letter for the second time and in gratitude for your
many kind loving words I am going to write in return at least to express thanks. It was your
intention that I should receive your letter last night, but I did not receive it until tonight. I
was quite sure last night that you had written and you can imagine my disappointment
when I found that nobody had been to the Post Office for the afternoon mail.

However, Ruth, the anticipation of a letter from you is the next pleasantest thing to
receiving it and I have been quite content all day, being positively assured that my
expectations would be realized tonight. I did not take any chance of no one having been to
the Post Office today, for while the train stopped at Summit I ran there and returned just in
time to catch the train again.

As I have already said, your letter being delayed was all the more acceptable, and
when I read it and reread it, my heart seemed to swell with love for you Dear, in return for
your kind and true expressions. I have not only love for you Ruth, but admiration and pride
in your noble character. How proud it makes me to be loved by you Ruth. How proud I felt
Sunday to be near your side when we were out walking together. How can I help being
proud when I am loved by so good and true a girl.  

I am sorry you were tired Dear, Monday evening. I would have tried to have done
without the pleasure of your letter if you had taken the time used in writing it for practicing,
thereby getting to bed and rest earlier. Although you didn’t say, I hope you felt well
Thursday morning and that you did not have to work so hard as to become tired by

Ruth, do take care of your dear self. Be very kind to Ruth, for the sake of all that is
good and pure within her, and the power of the virtues in the lives of others.

You might think, Ruth, that your letter had the effect of turning my mind to
sentimentality, but it did not. What I have said in the foregoing was prompted only by my
great love for you, Ruth, and I can never give it adequate expression. Perhaps one of the
greatest pleasures your letters afford, I find in that part which you call sentimental and I
find similar pleasure in writing you in the same strain.

Am glad to know your little pupil is getting on nicely, and hope she will always have
the same interest in her work, thus making it pleasant for you and profitable for her. It
seems like a long walk to her house, and if I may offer a suggestion, Dear, would it not be
well for you not to do much of anything else on that day, so you won’t be tired.

I finished up “Dombey and Son” today and have since been reviewing the whole book
in my mind. I never read a book containing so many or such a variety of characters, from
the blackest villain up to the most noble. Florence the heroine was certainly as lovely a
character as could be and I was sorry to have come to the end and when I did my thoughts
immediately sought out you. When we have grown old together, Ruth, how pleasant it will
be to look back in our lives and think what a pretty story could be written on the love and
devotion of at least two people for each other. How immature such reverie is, though Ruth,
when the very first chapter of that story is not yet lived, and it is a pleasure to know that we
still have it in our hands to make that story as beautiful as can be.

Give Ethel my best thanks for sending me one of her “goblinks” and tell her that I
shall appreciate it not for its value – for toys are never very dear – but for the
heart-rendering sacrifice the giving of it must have occasioned her. Tell her that I will play
with it and always take good care of it and will someday perhaps restore it to her and ask
you to tell her this lest when I don’t return it her surprise and joy would be so great that she
would otherwise be overcome

You will not get this letter until tomorrow evening and if all goes well I shall see you
a very short time after, so it almost seems useless, and an imposition to thrust this letter
upon you and follow it so soon myself, but Ruth, I cannot help it; charge it to my love.

With best wishes for your perfect happiness and a kiss goodnight. I am

Ever yours


Tell Ethel further that I would like to say more of her commendable generosity and
almost unchildlike unselfishness in presenting me, all for my own, Mr. Goblink, but as Mr.
Toots said, “Its just like Burgess and Co wishing to oblige a customer with an extraordinary
pair of trousers, but being unable to cut out what they had in mind.”



Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Family History


Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses to “What a Pretty Story Could Be Written

  1. rachelmakingthings

    April 24, 2013 at 9:31 am

    *Swoon* I just stumbled on this blog, but this is a wonderful project, thank you so much for sharing!

    • Jenny

      April 24, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks for reading 🙂


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