Eden took Sophia’s letter from her breakfast tray and broke the seal. She leaned against the mantel and let her tea grow cold as she read and reread:
Mother asks that I invite you for dinner on Christmas Day. You know, my love, how happy this makes me. And yet I must confess it came after a scene that has shaken my nerves.
When Mother saw your ring, she disapproved of me both for having accepted it and for giving you mine. But I told her I love you and I want to be yours for the rest of my life! Where do you think your Sophie found the courage to say these things to her mother? It was your ring working its magic on me already. I looked at it and felt you were right beside me, holding my hand.
Eden, I know that at times, the world looks upon you with unkind curiosity. I believe that Mother fears that your friendship will draw that same curiosity to me. But I promise to stand beside you and use whatever weak power I have to deflect the slings and arrows that come your way, dear, dear boy. Your love makes me strong to do it. I felt somehow, more than my mere self when I spoke to my mother this evening. I felt magnified with Eden’s love.
I sometimes feel there is nothing in the world that matters but that you love me. I am almost ashamed to admit how unimportant all my previous hopes and plans have become next to my desire to be with you under any condition you might set upon me. What has become of ambitious Sophia? She is no one now, but Eden’s Sophia. All my hopes have become nothing to me unless they will please you.
I blush to write these things, darling, but they are true.They are true! I am glad my mother doesn’t know, and yet, at the same time, I want to run into the street and shout them to the world!
What have you done to me, Eden? I have never been so bold in my life—not for any cause.
Come Saturday at noon, my love. Until then I am nothing but a shadow of
Your own Sophia
Eden finally sat in the chair by the fire and poured herself a tepid cup of tea. She hated to admit how she feared Mrs. Abington. She and Sophia’s father took their daughter’s education very seriously. Sophia was the only surviving child of her parents, her mother having lost one newborn infant before and another after her birth. Sophia wanted to be a doctor. Eden knew she did. But Sophia’s parents—especially her mother—seemed to want it nearly as much, perhaps even more than their daughter. Eden hoped Sophia had not said anything to her mother that would lead Mrs. Abington to think Eden stood between Sophia and her success in the medical school.
And yet, beside these concerns, Eden’s heart warmed with pride and love at Sophia’s brave vows on her behalf.
I am so glad to know that we will be together again soon. I am longing to see you, though you only left me yesterday! After three nights in your sweet arms, I ached last night without you. I hope you don’t mind too much how I want and need you. But I do, Sophie.
Please thank your mother for inviting me for Christmas. I’m sorry she wasn’t pleased about the ring. I hope you told her that I adore you and support your every ambition. I do not want her to worry that my love for you should compromise your plans in any way. Please never say you would give them up for me, Sophia. That is something I could not think of asking. I am so proud of my Dr. Abington— I know you do not want me to call you Doctor yet, but that is how I like to think of you, brilliant girl.
What can I do on Saturday to please your parents? Please tell me just what to do and I will do it. I am anxious that they should not find me too backwards and western. Tell me anything you can think of that will help things to go well with them.
Sweet, sweet girl, please dream of me tonight as I will be dreaming of you. It is an eternity until Saturday.
I am kissing you everywhere, my love,
Your own boy, Eden
She sealed the letter with Eleanor’s red wax and sent it back with Christine and the breakfast tray to be posted. Then she dressed and went out to find Christmas gifts for Sophia’s parents.