Read To Sybyl Marchmont of A Woman of the World, free online book, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, on ReadCentral.com.

Who Has Learned Her Origin

Your despairing letter lies before me.  I wish you were here, my dear child, that I might talk from my heart, instead of writing from it.  I am sorry that the secret, so long hidden, has been revealed to you, and in such a despicable manner.

An anonymous letter always carries with it the venom of a serpent.  I have long known your history, though the world generally believed you to be the actual daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Marchmont, who adopted you when you were scarcely one week old.

No daughter ever received more affection or better care than these good people gave you.  Mrs. Marchmont lived always with a fear in her heart that you might learn your history from some idle or malicious lip, and before she died begged me to be your comforting friend, if that hour ever came, which has now arrived.

As your mother’s nearest friend, it is natural you should turn to me in your crucial hour of pain.  And in reply to your questions regarding the truth of this anonymous assertion, I will tell you all I know.

Your own mother was well born, and a girl of great beauty and charm.  She was of foreign blood, and her parents, after the foreign custom, selected for her, at the age of seventeen, a man of mature years and unattractive personality, but some fortune.  The family lived in a seaport town, and your mother attracted the eye of a young seafaring man, holding a government position.  An intense and uncontrollable love sprang up between them.  Your mother had been kept in ignorance of God’s great law of sex attraction, its purpose and its results, and she was like a new-born babe towed on the sea of her own suddenly awakened emotion.

It was arranged that your mother was to elope with her lover on his next arrival in port.  All plans were to be made by him during the voyage on which he went forth, after a stolen interview with your mother.  He was lost at sea, and all on board the ship perished with him.  Mr. and Mrs. Marchmont chanced to be sojourning in the place at the time of your birth.  Mr. Marchmont had longed for a child, and the tragic story came to his ears through the physician of your mother’s family, and he and his wife decided to adopt you and take you to America.

I was the one friend who shared with Mrs. Marchmont the story of your birth.  Other friends knew she had adopted a child, and of course all sorts of rumours were afloat for a time.  Mr. Marchmont’s nephew was particularly unfriendly, I remember, as he had believed himself heir to his uncle’s estate until your adoption.

Some three years ago I chanced to be in the seaport town where you were born, and I made quiet inquiries about your mother.  I learned that she had recently died, leaving a husband and three children.  I hunted up the children, and found them to be most uninteresting and ordinary.  The oldest daughter I met and studied.  She was plain and commonplace in appearance, and the other children were dull and unattractive.

The husband was the elderly man selected by your grandparents.  Just how he had been led to accept the second place in your mother’s life, and whether he had known of the tragedy, I could not learn without asking more questions than I deemed wise.

But what I want to impress upon your mind by this recital is, your own divine inheritance of love, the inheritance which has bestowed upon you physical beauty, mental power, and rare qualities of heart and soul.  I know few women so endowed by the Creator as you.  I know of few young girls-in fact, not one-I would so gladly and proudly claim as a daughter, or wish a daughter to be like, as your lovely self.

When I read your letter, with its wild expressions of self-abasement and despair and regret that you were in the world, where, you seemed to believe, you had no right to be, I could not help picturing to myself the dull face and disagreeable personality of your half-sister, the child whom you no doubt believe has a greater right than yourself on earth.  Now whatever society has decided is legal and right for human beings, you must not forget that God also has made rules, and that those rules must first be obeyed, before the rules of man can be regarded as perfect.

God’s first law, regarding the propagation of the human species, is that the mother must be dominated by a supreme and ruling emotion to give to the world the highest type of a child.

Your mother loved your father with all her heart and soul.  She was a young girl, ignorant of the world.  She thought of her lover as her rightful mate, and lived but for the hour when he should rescue her from the unhappy fate arranged by unwise and sordid-minded parents.

Your father loved her, and they were in God’s sight more truly husband and wife than the soulless and loveless ceremony of the law made her and her legal husband afterward.

It is a great misfortune that your parents lacked the self-control which is necessary to every well-balanced human being who seeks for the fullest development.  It is a sad thing that over your life this shadow of unlegalized birth must rest.

But were I given the choice to-day to be what you are, or what your sister is, and what thousands of children born of loveless marriages are, I would not for one second hesitate in my choice.

The world needs marriage laws to keep any order in society.

The wisely reared and well-balanced woman will keep herself in womanly reserve for her legal husband.

Your mother, by a moment’s weakness and loss of self-control, left a blight upon her life for ever, and a shadow upon yours.

But do not for one instant think of yourself as anything but a child of God, endowed with all the wealth of the spiritual kingdom, whatever the law may withhold from you here.

You are legitimized by love, your sister is legitimate by law.  She is illegitimate in the sight of heaven, you in sight of earth.

Be glad of your beautiful nature and beautiful qualities, and do not spoil them by despondency or pessimism.

Think of yourself as if you were a child of Adam and Eve, born before the serpent appeared, when there was no law but the law of love to govern two souls, drawn together by irresistible attraction.

The best and highest qualities of two human beings meet and mingle in your nature.  Do you suppose the great Creator of all things regards you as base born, when he has so endowed you with all that makes woman lovable and charming.

Live up to your divine inheritance, my dear girl.  Make the world better for your presence in it, and bear your sorrow with that resignation and philosophy which all human beings must cultivate if they do not wish to become weak repiners when they face the sorrows of life.

Look the world squarely in the eyes, and feel no shame.

Your mother’s marriage to the man she detested, and the birth of children conceived in loathing, were acts which in my mind called for more shame on her part than your own birth.  Both were misfortunes for her, since only by living an orderly, controlled, and lawful life can any human being find happiness or self-respect in the world.

But when we come to the close analysis of motives and impulses, many an act the world condemns is far less reprehensible than other acts which meet its loud acclaim.

You have received from the vast spiritual realms about us your rarely beautiful qualities.  Go forth and give them to humanity.

Be strong, be good, be brave, be happy.

No one and nothing can harm you but your own mind.

The world, as we encounter it, is but an echo of our own strong convictions.  Respect yourself absolutely, believe in yourself absolutely, and the world will respect you and believe in you.

Say to yourself every hour, “I am God’s divine creature,” and no one will dare look you in the eyes and say you are anything less than that.

The arms of infinite love enfold you-have no fear.