Love letters: Ysabeau and Martan

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Ysabeau to Martan

My dear,

It has been three days, and I cannot stop thinking of you. While out and about, I hope, irrationally, to see you. In the library, instead of studying, I wonder where you are. In lectures, the professors' speech becomes nothing more than the drone of bees as I wonder what you are doing. I let meals burn while I worry if you are all right. I lie awake for hours at night, thinking what if? A dream of you awoke me. The evidence all points to one thing: somehow, in the space between a party and a farewell kiss, you became dearer to me than anyone else I have ever known.

Can something that transpires so swiftly be called love? I am at a loss. For me, love has always been something that grows slowly over time from a seed of shared interests, commonalities, friendship. It does not spring up full formed and mighty as an oak. Yet I cannot deny it; something powerful is there, yearning for you as a tree yearns for the sun. It's said that love is a cruel mistress; if this is not love, then it must be her crueller sister.

I don't know why I am writing this... Your wishes were, and are, clear to me. I don't know what other decision we could have made. I suppose I just want you to know that you are in my heart and in my thoughts...

It's late, and I should try to get back to sleep. By morning, I may have lost the urgency of the dream, or the courage to actually send this. By morning, this missive may seem as childish as a schoolgirl's first crush ( a phase I thought I'd avoided! )

I ache like a spurned schoolgirl, knowing that I have likely destroyed us before we even had a chance to be.


Breakfast P.S.: If it is childish, I don't care. I'm sending it anyway.


Martan to Ysabeau

Most beautiful mademoiselle,

You do me great honour - too much honour, if I am truthful. I do not know what to say, but I know I must respond. I have kept your letter next to my heart since I received it, trying to imagine what in me could inspire such strong and sudden feelings in you, trying to put my own feelings into words as eloquent as your own. I shall surely fail, but nevertheless, I cannot bear another reproach of having once more failed to return your letters.

You say you have some secret you cannot reveal, on some matter than concerns me, and that this troubles you. You wish to be honest - very well, let us be honest with one another. You could be telling me these things in order to try and trick me into revealing something, I know not what, or to lure me into some trap. This is what my lord would have me believe, but I cannot do so - you refused my offer of even such a miniscule secret as my name. You could have made up a lie to draw me in further, and yet you did not. If you are a spy, you are either a very poor one, my dear, or one clever enough to lay your trap in many layers. To see you again would be to risk that you are the latter, that your words of love are honeyed poison. But many tales told to me have been false up until now, and I have swallowed lies before and survived.

To have a chance at something true with you, I would risk everything.

I have certain business to resolve, and urgent matters which need my attention, or I would deliver this myself. I will come to you the soonest I am free, if you still wish it. If we cannot tell each other all our truths, then perhaps we can tell a few of them, at least.

My truth for today is that I dream of you too.

[It is 'signed' with a little drawing of three stars.]


Ysabeau to Martan

Dearest light in darkness,

If you could only see how my fingers trembled as I accepted your letter from a messenger's hands, if you could only feel how the earth seemed to fall from beneath my feet as I beheld my name written in an elegant and unfamiliar hand, if you could only hear how loudly my heart sang out "He replied!" you would understand that the honour is mutual. Giddy and tremulous, I could not know what might be written, stark black on white, inside. All that mattered, after three days of despairing hope, is that you did reply.

O, how your words made me smile. O, how they brought tears to my eyes. How stark an existence you must lead, trained to second-guess everyone's words and actions. I understand why it must be so, but it makes me sad nonetheless. I do not know what assurances I could give you, other than those you have already worked out for yourself, that I wish you only joy, safety, a long and happy life with whomever you wish to share it. In that, I think your lord and I may be in agreement?

Do you remember the winters in the mountains? So much snow! Sometimes, we'd be holed up for days in our house while the storms raged outside. When the wind died down, we couldn't wait to go out... In the bright winter sunlight, we built snowmen, slaved over elaborate fortresses and conducted heroic battles with our friends, using snowballs as our weaponry. Sometimes my father and others would clear the snow off the mill-pond and everyone would go skating. Late in the afternoon, we'd be called in to supper, but immediately after we'd eaten, we would beg to go outdoors once more. Usually we were told no -- it was getting dark, and we had our chores and I had my homework to do. But sometimes our parents would relent, and we would bundle up and tumble back outside. We'd play until the moon rose and the world looked like a dragon's trove of diamonds and silver. Sometimes, the dancing lights would ripple and float above us, and we'd just stop, and watch them, and I'd wish we were dancing among them. Eventually the cold would seep in even through our layers and layers of clothing, and we'd head in. Mama would help us with our cloaks and hats and mitts... the house would be warm from the kitchen fire and the coal stove. She'd wrap us in blankets and set us down in front of the fire, bring mint tea out for us to drink. Mama or Papa or both might come sit with us and tell us stories until we couldn't fight off sleep any longer; then they'd carry us off to bed. I would travel to the dream country perfectly content, wrapped in comfort and warmth and familiarity, sure of the rightness of the world and my place in it.

Those were, without doubt, the most wonderful days ever. After we moved to Diablotin, there was nothing like them, ever again. Until the space between a party and a farewell kiss. O my dear, come. Please come! I shall pray for a swift resolution to your business, that I may see you the sooner. There is so much I would speak of with you, if it didn't have to be put to paper first.

My truth for today is that I would risk everything for you, too.

['Signed' with a little sketch of a mountain flower]


Many other letters followed, but they have been lost to posterity.