Dawson, Yukon Territory
April 17th, 25
Dear Mrs. Ryder
Even tho’ this letter may occasion you some surprises, yes I hope it will cause you no alarm. I believe that you may have heard my name mentioned in letters from Mary before this.
I intended writing you before, but it was only on the last mail I received from Mary that I learned your address, and apart from the great pleasure it gives to write to you, I feel that it is also my duty to do so.
Mrs. Ryder – without so much as a ‘Please’ or a ‘By your leave’ to you, her mother, I have fallen in love with Mary altho’ I am quite sure you will not censure me for doing that, will you? Because I just couldn’t help it.
May I take the liberty of explaining this, to me, very important matter?
Last August, I happened to be on the Dock in Dawson when Mary arrived in company with Mrs. Burke. Knowing the latter as I did, she stopped and spoke to me and introduced me to Mary – and – the damage was done. During the all-too-short two days of Mary’s stay here, I spent a great deal of time in her company which I enjoyed immensely. She appeared to like my company too – or if this sounds too conceited on my part, I will say she did not appear to dislike my attentions then. We parted with mutual promises to write – promises we have both fulfilled very faithfully.
During the months that have elapsed since that time, my feeling of sincere friendship for her has ripened into a much deeper feeling, and I have discovered in her, thro’ the medium of her letters so many qualities that I sincerely admire, that I have fallen deeply in love with her, and – once again an apology for my apparent egoism – I know she reciprocates my love.
I must admit that our case is a most unusual one: two days’ acquaintance – a long separation – and we both find ourselves very much in love with each other.
Mrs. Ryder, we, both of us – Mary and I – are quite aware of the most unusual circumstances it has been quite unavoidable. Although we are a mere 400 miles apart, yet I have not been able to visit her during the winter months. That distance in this northern country of primitive means of transportation – during the winter – would take longer to travel than ten times as far outside where one can step right into a Pullman almost at one’s very door. It would take me at least two weeks travel by dog team each way – without reckoning any stay with her, and I was unable to get that much leave granted to me.
Now we are quite aware that it is quite out of the question to proceed any further with our affair without seeing each other again, so with this end in view I am hoping to get leave in July and pay her an eagerly-looked-for visit in Ft. Yukon. I have had a very pressing invitation from both the Dr. and Mrs. Burke, whom I have known for several years, and also from Mary herself of course, to visit Fort Yukon and stay with them.
Now, Mrs. Ryder, it is my intention after we have seen each other again, and providing we are still of the same opinion as we are now, to ask Mary to be my wife – because – I say it in all sincerity – I am deeply in love with her, and I know she is with me.
As you do not know me, it seems perhaps rather foolish to ask you if I may ask her that question, but I would like to know your feelings on a matter that concerns us both (Mary and Myself) so vitally. I am quite sure that I know Mary sufficiently to be able to say with confidence that she would be inclined to hesitate perhaps before taking so decisive a step if she knew you disapproved or withheld your sanction. She has spoken so much of you to me in her letters and I know how she loves her mother. (I think that is one of the many reasons why I love her so well – the love and respect she has for her mother).
If she says ‘Yes” to my question, I want to fetch her in the Fall. I know she would like to visit home first, but I don’t know how it could be managed. The summers are so short in the North but – maybe – one day before long – we could visit you – together.
Would you be willing to trust her to a mere Policeman Mrs. Ryder? We are not, of course, a highly-paid bunch of men, but I certainly couldn’t love her more if I had a million and I’m sure I’ll take as much care of her as if I did have a million dollars to my name.
Regarding my position here – I am now holding a position in the clerical department – office work – or on the Staff as we term it. During my eleven years’ in the Service I have been a Yukoner for ten years during which time I have been stationed in many isolated posts and have traveled by dogs and canoe practically all over the Territory – from the Arctic Ocean almost – to the B.C. Boundary and from furthest eat to furthest west, but I am now no longer anxious to roam but want to settle down.
As Mounted Police jobs go I have a fairly good one. If I were married, I should have the privilege of a house, with rent, light, wood and water service free and rations for myself and wife; and my salary of $100.00 a month; uniform for myself and medical attention for my family. Of course this is by no means large but I think two of us could manage.
I would like to quote you from Mary’s last letter – ‘I hope you will be hearing from my mother – and Anna soon’ – and again – ‘If you do write, tell them I said I’d be good – and that I won’t ask them one more favor for a long time – if only they’ll grant this one’. She means that she hopes that you’ll let her stay. The underlining is Mary’s – not mine.
She certainly has been very sweet in her letters to me this winter. I really don’t know what I should have done without her companionship.
Of course there is no agreement between us yet. Mary knows my intentions exactly – I have told her – but we are not engaged: if however, we impress each other favorably at our re-union. I shall have something to give her that I think she is very anxious to wear.
Have I entered into too much detail in this letter to you? I hope not. My enthusiasm in things concerning Mary sometimes gets the better of me.
My Dear Mrs. Ryder, please think over carefully before you answer my letter and may I ask you to remember that you were once young and in love.
May I conclude rather an unusual kind of letter (perhaps you’ll be thinking this) by presenting my respects and compliments to both you and Mr. Ryder. I have not written to Anna – tho’ I would like to – but I really think I should feel like sending her my love (Oh! Just brotherly love you know!) Because Mary has told me so much of her that I feel I know her already.
It is hardly necessary for me to add that I shall look forward with much eagerness your reply.
Allow me to subscribe myself as Cordially and Most Respectfully
Claude B. Tidd
P.S. I must add a post-script asking you to excuse my paper, but I don’t like ordinary note paper – I can never say enough on it!