Mary: A Fiction

by Mary Wollstonecraft

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Chapter VIII

I mentioned before, that Mary had never had any particular attachment, to give rise to the disgust that daily gained ground. Her friendship for Ann occupied her heart, and resembled a passion. She had had, indeed, several transient likings; but they did not amount to love. The society of men of genius delighted her, and improved her faculties. With beings of this class she did not often meet; it is a rare genus; her first favourites were men past the meridian of life, and of a philosophic turn.

Determined on going to the South of France, or Lisbon; she wrote to the man she had promised to obey. The physicians had said change of air was necessary for her as well as her friend. She mentioned this, and added, "Her comfort, almost her existence, depended on the recovery of the invalid she wished to attend; and that should she neglect to follow the medical advice she had received, she should never forgive herself, or those who endeavoured to prevent her." Full of her design, she wrote with more than usual freedom; and this letter was like most of her others, a transcript of her heart.

"This dear friend," she exclaimed, "I love for her agreeable qualities, and substantial virtues. Continual attention to her health, and the tender office of a nurse, have created an affection very like a maternal one--I am her only support, she leans on me--could I forsake the forsaken, and break the bruised reed--No--I would die first! I must--I will go."

She would have added, "you would very much oblige me by consenting;" but her heart revolted--and irresolutely she wrote something about wishing him happy.--"Do I not wish all the world well?" she cried, as she subscribed her name--It was blotted, the letter sealed in a hurry, and sent out of her sight; and she began to prepare for her journey.

By the return of the post she received an answer; it contained some common-place remarks on her romantic friendship, as he termed it; "But as the physicians advised change of air, he had no objection."

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