“I may have to go away with mother at any time—I may be detained by events I cannot help—and I have not bound Cornelia to me by any personal recognized tie—and Rem Van Ariens will be ever near her. Oh, indeed, this state of affairs will never do! I will write to Cornelia this very moment and tell her I must see her father this evening. I cannot possibly delay it longer. I have been a fool—a careless, happy fool—too long. There is not now a day to lose. I have already wasted more time than was reasonable over the love affairs of other people; now I must look after my own. Safe bind, safe find; I will bind Cornelia to me before I leave her, then I have a good right to find her safe when I return to claim her.”
While such thoughts were passing through his mind he had risen hastily from the chair in which he had been musing. He opened his secretary and sitting resolutely down, began a letter to Doctor Moran. He poured out his heart and desires, and then he read what he had written. It would not do at all. It was a love letter and not a business letter. He wrote another, and then another. The first was too long, it left nothing in the inkstand; the last was not to be thought of. When he had finished reading them over, he was in a passion with himself.
“A fool in your teeth twice over, Joris Hyde!” he cried, “yes, sir, three times, and far too good for you! Since you cannot write a decent business letter, write, then, to the adorable Cornelia; the words will be at your finger ends for that letter, and will slip from your pen as if they were dancing:
“My sweet Cornelia:
“I have not seen you for two days, and ’tis a miracle that I have endured it. I can tell you, beloved, that I am much concerned about our affairs, and now that I have begun to talk wisely I may talk a little more without wearying you. You know that I may have to go to England soon, and go I will not until I have asked your father what favour he will show us. On the street, he gets out of my way as if I had the plague. Tell me at what hour I may call and see him in his house. I will then ask him point blank for your hand, and he is so candid that I shall have in a word Yes or No on the matter. Do not keep me waiting longer than seven this very night. I have a fever of anxiety, and I shall not grow better, but worse, until I settle our engagement. Oh, my peerless Cornelia, pearl and flower of womanhood, I speak your speech, I think your thought; you are the noblest thing in my life, and to remember you is to remember the hours when I was the very best and the very happiest. Your image has become part of me, your memory is a perfume which makes sweet my heart. I wish this moment to give you thousands and thousands of kisses. Bid me come to you soon, very soon, sooner than seven, if possible, for your love is my life. Send your answer to my city lodging. I shall follow this letter and be impatiently waiting for it. Oh, Cornelia, am I not ever and entirely yours?