But it was a reward. Anything that drew her father nearer to her was received with gratitude by Mary, and the words of kindness in some degree softened the blow. She had never had much hope, though now she found it had been more than she had been willing to believe; and even now she could not absolutely cease to entertain some hopes of the results of Oliver’s return, nor silence one lingering fancy that Louis might yet wait unbound; although she told herself of his vacillation between herself and Isabel, of his father’s influence, and of the certainty that he would see many more worthy of his love than herself. Not any one who could love him so well—oh no! But when Mary found her thoughts taking this turn, she rose up as she lay, clasped her hands together, and repeated half aloud again and again, ‘Be Thou my all!’
And by the morning, though Mary’s cheek was very white, and her eyes sunken for want of sleep, she had a cheerful word for her father, and a smile, the very sight of which would have gone to the heart of any one of those from whom he had cut her off.
Then she wrote her letters. It was not so hard to make this final severance as it had been to watch Louis’s face, and think of the pain she had to inflict. Many a time had she weighed each phrase she set down, so that it might offend neither against sincerity nor resignation, and yet be soothing and consoling. Some would have thought her letter stiff and laboured, but she had learned to believe that a grave and careful style befitted a serious occasion, and would have thought incoherency childish or affected.
She released him entirely from his engagement, entreating him not to rebel against the decision, but to join her in thankfulness that no shade need be cast over the remembrance of the happy hours spent together; and begging him not to grieve, since she had, after the first pain, been able to acquiesce in the belief that the separation might conduce to his happiness; and she should always regard him as one of those most near and dear to her, and rejoice in whatever was for his welfare, glad that his heart was still young enough to form new ties. ‘Forgive me for speaking thus,’ she added; ’I know that it may wound you now, but there may come a time when it may make you feel more at ease and unfettered; and I could not endure to imagine that the affection which you brought yourself to lavish on one so unworthy, should stand in the way of your happiness for life.’ She desired him to make no answer, but to consider this as the final dissolution: and she concluded by all that she thought would prove most consoling, as to the present state of affairs with her; and with a few affectionate words, to show that he was still a great deal to her, though everything he might not be.