December 29, 1908
Kelowna, B. C.
My dearest Kathleen,
At last your letter [Kathleen–December 14, 1908] has come and there is so much to answer I hardly know where to begin. If you have read my subsequent letters you will know those things weren’t true. You must believe me Kathleen for, whatever you may think, I have been perfectly honest with you all the time. I have never cared for any girl like I care for you, namely that I should like to marry her, neither have I ever told a girl that I loved her, only you.
You never asked me if I had kissed other girls. I should have told you at once if you had. A very long time ago I made up my mind to that, that I would tell you all you wanted to know even if I lost you by so doing.
I didn’t tell you about this girl for this reason: I thought it was all over when I came home last time and a man doesn’t talk to the girl he’s engaged to about other girls he has known unless there is some special reason. I told her I was engaged as soon as I came out again this time and then didn’t see her at all except for chance meetings. She always had lots of friends and seemed cheery enough all the summer and I thought no more about her. Later on I went to see her once or twice but until two days before I wrote to you I had absolutely no idea she cared for me at all. As soon as I found out that I thought it was time you ought to know. You would never have found out if I hadn’t told you, as nobody out here would be likely to say anything about it to you.
I wish I could explain how it all came about. I first met her in the autumn of 1906 and even then I told her there was a girl in the Old Country that I was very fond of, for I had an idea that a man should not take a girl about to shows and things if he didn’t mean anything without explaining that fact first, but having done that I saw no harm in it. She knew all along that I only took her as being a more pleasant way of going to a show (travelling shows visit Kelowna periodically) than going by myself or taking Harry or someone. Well, that is how it began. She had been engaged once and there were always lots of men whom she saw quite as much of if not more of than me, so I didn’t see how I could be doing any harm.
Of course people talked about us. They always do, especially out here. As soon as two people are seen together more than once everybody wonders when they are going to be married, but as we knew better we just used to laugh and take no notice.
I used to go to the house quite a lot in the summer, and I expect that is when she began to care for me. If I had only known I would never have gone. I used to have supper at the ranch at 6:00 o’clock and from half past six till bed time there was nothing to do and it was just the nicest part of the day to ride into town, spend an hour or two, and then home again. That is how I was so weak. I knew I oughtn’t to go and yet like a moth I kept circling back to the flame.
Now I want you to read what follows carefully and try and understand. I took many liberties with the girl but never that one which if I had taken I could never look you in the face again. I have been frightfully tempted, Kathleen, quite unintentionally on the girl’s part I know, but I have not give way altogether. That is the whole truth of the matter. I kissed her on the way back from supper at the Batchelors’ Ball (you remember what I told you about that). [See Robin–October 14, 1908 and (poignantly) Kathleen–November 6, 1908.] I think I must have been mad at the time. I know that afterwards I felt so ashamed I scarcely knew what to do with myself. I have felt unhappy about it ever since.
Oh, Kathleen, can you understand that with all this I love you more than anything on earth. I wish you hadn’t said that about my telling you I had never kissed another girl. I’m sure I didn’t. I never loved another girl, Kathleen, and I repeat that I have never given any girl the impression that I cared for her, but I would never have had you think that I was better than I am.
Kathleen, surely I don’t owe the girl anything. There is no return I can make to her. She cares for me very much, I know, but I swear I didn’t try to make her. She blames herself, not me, which makes me feel worse than ever. I never dreamt she would come to care like that.
I am so ignorant, Kathleen. Can a girl really care for a man who she knows doesn’t care for her. Isn’t it imagination, or something like that? Surely, if she met a man who really cared about her, wouldn’t she forget me and be happy again? She has loved before–I know, for she has told me. Surely she will love again?
That is all I meant when I said our friendship had ended disastrously. If she hadn’t come to care I should not have reproached myself half so much, but I hated the thought that I had made somebody very unhappy, and now it appears that I have made two people unhappy and I wonder what good there is in me.
You know all about me now, dear, and I think I can come to you quite fairly if you will have me. Everybody has some faults, dear, and you know mine now and don’t be offended with me when I tell you that mine disappear with marriage. You must trust me absolutely, Kathleen. Think carefully if I ever told you I never kissed anyone else, for if I did it was a deliberate lie and I would rather you didn’t marry me, but I know I didn’t. I have never told you anything but the truth and a good deal more of that than most men tell their girls. If I hadn’t loved you so much I shouldn’t have told you that much. Kathleen, dear, as you love me, write back when you get this and tell me I may come home next summer. I can’t get on without you.
With all my love, my darling,