This is a fan fiction story based on characters from the Lonesome Dove television show, which belong to Rysher Entertainment and Hallmark. No infringement on copyrights is intended.
Author's Note: Occasionally, glimpsing something reflected in a mirror gives it an entirely new perspective. That was my intent with the following letters from Mary to her lifelong friend, Sarah. In my opinion, Mary perceived and touched a place in Clay that went beyond first love. Despite the brevity of their time together, she intuitively understood him better than anyone, and I thought it would be interesting to try to view him through her eyes.
The letter below is based on a storyline created by Colleen MacLennan. Contextual information is provided in italics. I'm working on additional letters now and will add those to this webpage as I finish them.
[Mary had met young "Mr. Mosby" in the spring of 1858, after her father decided she should leave their family home in the Shenandoah Valley and live outside Richmond at her aunt and uncle's plantation. Mary's intellect has been encouraged by the company of men -- her father and two older brothers -- but their protective embrace also fostered an innate shyness. The intention of the move was to finish her education as a lady, introduce her to refined society, and break through her debilitating reticence. Clay has been pursuing her -- with growing intensity -- ever since her arrival. She is sixteen and he is seventeen here, and this letter occurs at a turning point in their courtship.]
September 17, 1858
Never have I hungered for the comfort of your company, the safety of your trust and the wisdom of your understanding as I do tonight! In a house bursting with people there is not one I can speak openly with -- not on this subject. Not on the events of today.
Oh, Sarah, if only you were here with me now -- sitting on the bed, listening to my foolish rantings, smiling in your way... but I must be grateful that I have you to turn to, if only through letter, in this most confusing of times.
Yes, as Iím sure youíve already guessed, this is about (as you like to call him), "My" Mr. Mosby -- although after tonight, whatever might have been between us is surely no longer a possibility. But I begin with the end... forgive me. My thoughts, my feelings are so hopelessly jumbled at the moment. I can almost hear you patiently suggesting perhaps I might consider starting at the beginning and so I shall I endeavor to do so... but where to begin?
Since my last letter to you he has been in our company often (as often as possible, I believe!) and I have had great opportunity to observe and modify my opinion of him. Thereís no doubt that heís supremely self confident and pleasing to the eye which had made me sure there would be little else to recommend him.
How happily mistaken I've been.
He has a quick mind with an even quicker tongue and an amazing ability to make me laugh when I am at my most serious. And oh, Sarah, he can actually converse! Topics seem to abound and were it not for the brevity of our time together I feel we would talk endlessly. Most astonishingly of all, he seems to truly listen. Iíve noticed that whenever I offer an opinion, he inclines his head ever so slightly as if to hear me better and the light softens in his eyes. Do you know how delightful it is to feel like a participant, an intellectual equal, rather than just an audience? Not once, while in his company, do I find my mind wandering elsewhere which is so often the case with nearly everyone else.
Until the telling of this, I had not realized how strongly I looked forward to his inclusion in our activities or how deeply I will now miss his presence. But again, I have yet to tell you the circumstances of our breach.
My uncle, having business to attend in Richmond, suggested we ("we" being myself, my cousins, and Mr. Mosby) form a party and make it a day excursion into the city. On the return trip I found myself sharing the second buggy with Mr. Mosby who took instant and wholehearted advantage of our situation by teasing me in regards to my cruelty in denying him any token of my affection.
Perhaps we had grown more comfortable with each other. Whatever the cause, I took the bait. I asked him -- rather boldly Iím afraid -- what sort of token was he looking for? He eyes took on a wicked gleam that made my pulse quicken, but his voice was so very tender when he replied, "A kiss, Mary. A kiss when we part today."
Although I had the decency to blush, I could not look away and the setdown I should have given him would not make it past my lips. "Very well," I replied in the most businesslike tone I could muster. "But only if you would kindly change the subject until that time arrives."
What turn the conversation took after that I have little recollection, so focused was I on the rashness of my promise. Although dismayed at my impulsiveness, I could barely contain the anticipation I felt at the prospect of being kissed by Mr. Mosby.
Sarah -- the ride was endless!
I could not meet his eyes when he lifted me from the buggy nor look at him directly while we waited for his horse to be brought round. As ridiculous as it may sound, I felt like a school girl completely unaccustomed to the company of men and only with the greatest of effort did I hopefully hide my agitation. I remember hearing with great distinction the sound of shod hooves on the stone walk as the groom approached us and when the horse stopped, whatever I had been saying caught in my throat.
I sensed rather than saw Mr. Mosby step closer to me and when he spoke my name, I at last looked up at him. A breath apart, his nearness overwhelmed me. The smile was one Iíd seen countless times but his eyes... oh Sarah, his eyes were aglow with a warmth that positively terrified me. Suddenly everything about him seemed so... so intensely male that I fell back a step and started speaking some idiocy about the pleasure of his company!
Still babbling, I withdrew another step.
"Surely, Miss Clairmont is not afraid of one small kiss?" His voice was softly teasing, but with each word he was steadily reclaiming the distance I had achieved until we were once again nearly toe to toe. Before I could reply, his face was bending towards mine, and driven by fright rather than thought, I put my hands on his chest and pushed him away while averting my lips, telling him, "No... donít. Iíve changed my mind."
No sooner had I made my utterance than I wished desperately to take it back, for he looked as if Iíd slapped him. He stiffened and stepped back almost instantly, but his eyes were unguarded and for the briefest of moments, betrayed his hurt. Words to make amends rose to my lips but caught in my throat as his expression suddenly blackened. I am neither ninny nor coward, but under the full force of that angry gaze, I felt like both.
In a moment he was smiling again. A cold, controlled smile with unreadable eyes. "So, tell me, Miss Clairmont, are all your promises so lightly given?"
My face burned crimson, but he had made his point and apparently expected no reply, for with another chilling smile, he nodded good-bye, mounted and was off. I did not -- I could not -- watch his departure. The mortification I felt was only underscored by the realization that there was not anotherís opinion of myself I valued more.
I returned to the house, my sole thought being to gain the privacy -- the sanctuary -- of my room without encountering any of the household. In this I succeeded. Once there, I collapsed against the closed door at my back and burst promptly into tears.
Sarah, you of all people, know how seldom I cry, but not since motherís death have I felt so bereft, such aching loss. At the very moment that I lost it, I realized how very much his regard meant to me -- how much he meant to me -- and the shock of that truth froze my tears.
If I am to search my heart with honesty, I must tell you that the impossible has happened -- I have met the person with whom I would want to share the rest of my life, and what should bring such joy is now an agony I will find hard to endure. There is much I have yet to learn of him, but I know beyond a doubt that my actions today wounded him in such a way that he must hide it behind anger. His pride is such that I fear that he will withdraw from my company altogether and whatever future might have been ours is not to be.
I must close, for supper is in quarter of an hour and I must dress and put on the face everyone will expect to see.
Please write as quickly as possible, for your words will be my only comfort.
With deepest affection,
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