Jul 221936

Limedale Road, Liverpool 18
My dear Stella,
Funny, thinking of you and missing you so much, yet here I am in a hurry to catch the post. You seem ever so happy. I was afraid you would find time hanging, being so accustomed to a busy life! It is lovely for me to think of you and Mollie together so much, that is why I would not be a third party, specially as I have had my days. Yes, Mr and Mrs Harris are a lovable couple. I knew you would like them. Do give them my love. It is amazing about the cats – how they know a cat lover, but they certainly do.
Life here is as usual but very dull and sad without you. I don’t know how I am going to manage at all. Monday eve I was all alone, still I did not mind as there were heaps of jobs to keep me occupied. Down I came from your attic with curtains to wash etc, when in came the Howards. I was sorry because talking is trying, but I put on a good smile and tried. They were in a nasty mood. I got a lecture about Hal. It appears they know a couple of wealthy mothers whose boys started in factories, rock bottom and they worked their way up etc. As for Hal going away – well, I should let him go and think of myself for a change. Aren’t people a blessed nuisance, as though I was continually refusing jobs for Hal, and why do they come along and worry one about an anxiety one tries to hide.
I enclose letter from Shrewsbury. They do seem kind and you will reply, won’t you? I am glad you are taking food at convent hours, it is so much less trouble. Let me know when you are coming home, dear. Give my love to your other mother, Sister of the Heart of Mary, and love to Rev. Mother and gratitude for her kindness to you. Love from all at home, specially from

Jul 231936

St Peter’s, Derby Street, Reading [Stella is visiting her sister Mollie, a Carmelite nun]
You were a darling to rush a note through to me when you were so busy. On thinking it over it had occurred to me that you might not get my letter until late, so I was not really expecting your reply till Friday. I am looking forward to your promised second letter.
I have just climbed a six-foot wall in order to enter my digs. Mrs Harris is at her mother’s from after breakfast until 6 o’clock so my position is rather complicated. After Thursday I decided to give the convent meals a miss as far as possible because both the food and the hours of feeding were so peculiar. This afternoon I had intended going to Marlow and told Mrs H. I would not be back till 6. After lunching (at a respectable hour with respectable roast lamb) I gathered there would not be a Marlow bus until one and a half hours later, so I mounted the first Thames Valley bus I saw. The conductor seemed to think I was quite mad because I asked for a return to any village on his route. He said I had better go to Sonning, in a tone that suggested that Sonning contained the local lunatic asylum. It has been pouring with rain all day, you see, and only an idiot would want to see villages in such weather.
You wouldn’t like Sonning – very beautiful but not a single pub! After seeing the sights here, and failing to make up a limerick beginning – “There was an old lady of Sonning, Who always insisted on donning” – I continued through the rain to Yare where a bus to Reading appeared out of nowhere and took me home. I thought it was easily 6 o’clock but it wasn’t five, so the lady next door helped me to climb the garden wall and enter Mrs H’s through the back. When I got in I discovered your letter so am whiling away the time till tea by writing to you, having failed to think of any better way of filling this empty hour. I’m sorry about Sunday but I quite understand that it can’t be helped.
To make up for this disappointment, can you meet my train on Saturday? Please, darling! It arrives at Woodside station at 5.47pm. If possible, let me know whether or not you will be there, so that I won’t work up any excitement in vain.
Last night I went on a walk with Mrs H. along the side of the river and saw some sheltered spots that would have been splendid if you had been with me. Oh, dearest, I do miss you, and I can’t imagine how I’m going to do without you in Shrewsbury.
Although I enjoy being with Mollie, I am longing to get home again. For one thing, the air doesn’t seem to like me. I yawn my head off all day, and today and yesterday have felt lousy – which may be a good sign do you think?
Buy the way – if you haven’t already done so, burn my first letter.
You will be interested to hear that Mollie is praying for your conversion – not at my request. We’ve only had one fight so far and that was over socialism.
Till Saturday, goodbye, sweet, and do try to meet me.
All my love, darling,

Nov 011936

Carmelite Convent, Reading
My dear Stella,
I am going to take you at your word, my “helpless baby sister”, and exercise the privileges of one who put you to sleep when you were quite small, who took you out in your pram, and who held your head when you had bilious attacks. My baby! The world pivoted round my baby! A great deal of my world does that still. At one period, when you could just manage a spoon, Mother used to prepare a cornflour pudding for you, warm and sweet. I fed you with the spoon. It was a great feature of the day. Every mouthful had to have a story. A letter for the post, and you would open your mouth. So the plate was emptied. It would have been much easier for me to have eaten the pudding myself, but that would not have fattened you. I could bear the spoon to your mouth, but you had to open your mouth and swallow the food.
So now, my precious, I can pray for grace for you. God has prepared it for you and allowed me to bring it near you, but I cannot act for you, you must do that yourself. Grace awaits you, but YOU must receive it.
You must know, deep inside you, that my anxiety about you is much more serious than you say. You know that your action is a grave sin, are you purposely “begging the point”, have you been to confession yet? That is the anxiety that breaks my heart, an anxiety that never leaves me. It is practically five months now, and are you still living out of grace? If I was there with you at this moment I would take you by the arm and run you round to Our Lady’s Church, then when we were in the presbytery reception room, I would say to Father McAuley, “This girl has come to have a serious talk with you, Father. Now I will just go round to the church and say my prayers. Get on with it, Stella!”
There again – you have the spoon, I could not go further than that, the rest is your action. You must be miserable whenever you face it. Perhaps you fill your mind with the thought of next April, but you are not being fair even to that thought, for he, too, will need grace. He needs it now, and the peace that grace can give him.
Why, my precious, why, when God has given all things to you, do you turn away from Him? Have you forgotten already – “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me.”
It does not matter in the least whether you believe in the marriage contract or not. The fact remains, it is a law, and millions of wiser people than you have seen the necessity for keeping the law before you chose to break it. So in all probability you are quite wrong, and everybody else quite right. As the lack of devotion is based on ignorance, it really bears no weight at all, and certainly devotion has no chance of growing unless you encourage it. This is not the moment for argument, the matter is too serious, we are too near to Eternity, to hesitate and quibble. So, my own dear, make a big determined effort, and deliver yourself and everybody else from a most humiliating position. You know that you can, if only you will. The present situation is ignominious to a degree, and quite untenable.
I suppose I think of you more often than you do of me. My first waking thought is always a question, “What day is it, Lord?” Then when He has awakened my memory sufficiently, there follows another, “Oh, dear, and there’s Stella.” So my day begins.
I have often re-lived our week together [in July 1936]. How strange that after five years God should choose to send you, then. So that the first days of your tragedy were spent with me, who loves you more than anybody else on Earth. Do you remember our conversation about pedestals? Yes, yours did crash, after all. You are not less, dear, but you occupy a different position. I picked you up out of the debris, and want to shield and hold you now, whereas before I watched you from a lower altitude, and expected everybody else to do the same. They always crash, those pedestals, and I never grow any wiser. Ah, human nature, poor, weak, tainted nature, capable of divine heroism, and bestial wilfulness! And through it all, the plaint of the “tremendous Lover”, “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest…”
I hope you will soon have the little house, I am sure it would be much better for you. I am glad that you are making a success of home life. You have the best cook on Earth to teach you, so you should not err in that department, but it is very difficult to imagine you as the critical shopper.
Here is the end of the page, and a last whispered pleading. Soon, precious, soon, there is not time for delay. All the love and grace are waiting for you.
With all my love, dearest baby sister,
Sister of the Heart of Mary