Dear Mr. Knightley,
I am not a lady to throw myself in the path of other men; on the contrary, I am twice as likely to throw myself off of it…especially when the man is one I admire.
I know this is most impractical. Firstly, however, I am terribly shy. Secondly, I cannot shake the feeling that to pursue the object of my admiration under pretenses of friendship would be dishonest. For I feel, you see, so much more, though I am hardly well-enough acquainted with the gentleman to justify more direct flirtation.
But I tire of hiding in bushes as my gentleman passes by. It is degrading, and further more, I’m beginning to acquire leaf stains on all my favorite frocks. In short, I most humbly beg your advice.
I am yours, etc.
Let me begin first by saying that those women who throw themselves so wantonly in the path of men at the blink of an eye are most certainly not acting as any true lady ought to. A lady does herself no favor in so desperately pursuing a man, no matter what his rank may be. For not only will her motives be questioned but she will also find that men take greatest delight in the pursuit of a beautiful woman but when they find their target too readily or too easily, they often lose interest fairly quickly. It is much better to let a gentleman pursue you, giving him small signs and tokens of affection but holding back slightly, as to arouse his curiosity and enhance your own air of mystery. But keep in mind, having a reception too cold, too modest, or too dignified may thwart a gentleman’s suit all together.
However, it seems to me that your currently methods, of throwing yourself off the path all together, may mean that you never even reach this point. A gentleman cannot pursue your heart if he does not have the opportunity to do so. This is why it is so vital to stay upon the road. Even as the wanton must resist pitching themselves at the gentleman, the trepidatious must resist the urge to flee. Love requires bravery, as all things of true worth do.
Regarding your thoughts on using friendship, there is a crucial difference to be grasped. Pursuing the object of your desire under the pretense of friendship is dishonorable indeed, however, pursuing the honest friendship of the one you desire is in no way dishonorable. It is only in knowing him a little better that you may realize if he truly is the man of integrity and honor that his impressions have painted him to be. And it may be that in gaining your friendship that small ember of love may be quickened in his heart as well.
Let me warn you though from bitter truths reaped from my own path, it is by no means easy, to be so close and intimate with the one you truly love and respect and regard above all others, and to know that they may not ever see you in the same light. But a very wise man once wrote, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. And Love conquors all.”
If what you feel is so strong, then draw strength from it and stand strong upon the road. Let him draw nearer to you, and draw near to him as well. Learn to know your gentleman a bit better and allow him to know you more. It is only this way that mutual admiration and regard can blossom into the sweetest of all life’s blooms.
Post Script. You may find this helpful in dealing with your stained frocks http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2007/07/24/every-day-chores-of-laundry-and-scullery-maids-and-washer-women/