Dear Mr Derringe
Your direction has been conveyed to me by way of Lady Bexbury, whose offices in the matter had been requested by Mrs Lowndes, sister of Miss Netherne – though I doubt not she is now Mrs Carter? – that so very kindly conveyed news of you.
I am entirely glad to learn that you and Mr Perry did not die of a fever in the South Seas, nor were eaten by cannibals, as some have rumoured, though I mind that you told me that the stories of man-eating were an entire figment, or at least exceeding exaggeration. I hope that you are entire recovered from the fever that brought you under Mr Carter’s care, and that your plans for a school prosper.
Dear Mr Derringe, pray do not distress yourself concerning our marriage that never came to pass: I confide that I too am by no means suited for the matrimonial state. But I assure you, I am now in quite the happiest way of life. Your very fine remarks about David and Jonathan brought to my mind that other remarkable tale of devotion in the Old Testament, that of Ruth and Naomi.
You will recall that my cousin Hester is Countess of Nuttenford – now Dowager Countess of Nuttenford, the late Earl having been fatally savaged by a bear whilst on a botanical expedition in Virginia. I became companion-chaperone to her middle daughter, Lady Emily Merrett, a very fine young woman with no inclination to marriage, while she was keeping house for her brothers, the Countess having been an invalid these many years and gone to reside with her eldest daughter, that had but lately married the Marquess of Offgrange.
The present Earl is now married to a very fine young woman, and has given over to our use one of his smaller estates, Attervale, an exceeding pretty little place if somewhat quaintly old-fashioned. There is a dovecote of considerable antiquity and I have taken to the keeping of these birds. Meanwhile,
dear Em Lady Emily takes to the keeping of hawks, for there is a mews that we suppose originally intended to that purpose - as she also practices archery we might almost be took for some household of the Middle Ages.
There is a very fine orchard and we brew our own cider:
dear Lady Emily’s stepfather, Sir Charles Fairleigh, was most helpful in instructing us in the matter, his own apples and their brewing being highly renowned.
Are you now acquainted with the Thornes and the Carters I confide that you are in a very good antipodean set. The Thornes’ fine humane endeavours for the unhappy convicts are very widely admired in our circles and Lady Bexbury, as I daresay they will have told you, is their benevolent patroness raising interest for them. Their scientific observations are ever attended with the greatest eagerness by savants. I like to think that you will have the opportunity of many fine games of chess with them: I ever regretted that I was by no means up to your mark in the matter.
Is there any service I may do you, I hope that you will always consider me your friend. Please convey my kindest regards to Mr Perry.
In great regard and esteem