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The Second Letter from Harriet Smith to Robert Martin (and the reason he proposed a second time.)
I feel it is necessary to write to you just one more time. I was persuaded to make my first response to your letter short and to the point. I can’t tell you how difficult that was for me at the time, and now I feel I must explain myself to you. For days now, I have felt sick with worry that I have caused you unhappiness. I cannot imagine what your mother and sisters must think of me. I can’t bear the thought of any of you thinking ill of me. My hope is that with this explanation, you will all be able to forgive me for my recent actions.
First of all, the letter you wrote to me was a very good letter, according to my particular friend, and I was quite happy to receive it at first. In time, my friend persuaded me that your love could not be true, as you had not even begun reading The Romance of the Forest, as I had suggested many weeks ago. I told her how you had gone three miles round one day just to bring me walnuts and that you have always been so obliging and good-humored, but this did not seem to alter her opinion of you. In addition, she made it clear that if I were to marry you, she would not be able to remain my particular friend. We would no longer be able to visit each other in our respective homes. She also said that there is another gentleman who apparently feels much as you do towards me. My friend thinks that he would make an ideal husband for me. I can’t imagine this could be so, but I feel that my friend is much more experienced in this area than I am, and that I must heed her advice. This friend does me great honor in her attentions, and I feel quite sure that I must do what she deems best for my future.
You must know that I have always been excessively fond of you, your sisters, and your entire family. I will always be grateful to them for all they have done for me. I will miss everyone, especially the little Welch cow, as I feel such a strong connection to her, and always thought of her as “my” special cow. Please tell your sisters that I will be very sorry to miss drinking tea with them in the summer house in your garden at Abbey-Mill next year. I am so grateful for their friendship and for their past kindnesses. I hope that you all can find it within your hearts to forgive me.