December 14, 17--

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Letter XVII

14 Dec, 17--

Dear Madam C-------,

You will forgive the tardiness of this letter, Madam, when you discover that I am in residence in the same city as your esteemed self. I am to quit the city at the end of the week and I was hoping to call upon you before, entirely at your convenience, so that I might renew those sentiments of affection – so often espoused in my letters – in person once more.

To answer your correspondence, if but briefly, I can assure you that I am happy in my current position. I have grown very fond of my ward, Else, who you shall meet if you are free tomorrow or the day after; I should love for you to encounter her and discover her peculiarities for yourself. I fear I cannot do her justice by report alone.

I will send my Master's footman to your address now and request him to wait for your answer so that I can know your reply as soon as I might.

Your humble servant and true friend,

Charlotte B-----

Letter XVII

14 Dec, 17--

Dear Lady F---,

You must not condemn me too harshly for my failure in replying sooner; your letter came to my usual address and then was forwarded onto P---- where I have been in residence for the past two weeks. It is a tremendous city, full of bustle and life, and I have had the most wonderful stay here. You will be delighted to know that I diligently visited all the cathedrals you have ever recommended in the city and was especially awed by the gothic façade of Sainte-Chapelle, with those reverent stain-glass windows that was like walking through a waking dream. If I could spend every day there, like the Priests, with my head bowed in silence, contemplating the Lord in his splendid House, I should know true peace and contentment. I pray that I have cause to return again some day.

To the business of your letter, which, as always, pleased and instructed me at once. Your Ladyship had the keenest insight into any situation and I hope you will not take this as sheer flattery, for the evidence is in assertion that I have decided to remain in my employment – as you so judiciously predicted – for a while longer. I have not given up the desire to return to my mother and father, but I have relinquished the urgency and shall be happy to relocate when it is sensible to do so. Your offer of introduction to the P--------- family is all too kind and I shall accept it very gratefully; I believe that a summer opening would suit me very well indeed and I am at cannot think of a higher recommendation for them then your Ladyship's acquaintance. I hope they shall think the same.

I am certain that the poem you forwarded deserved all the praise heaped upon it, I fear that, though the lines were very pretty, I could not find them humour it undoubtedly intended. Assuredly, my anglais is too poor to properly appreciate the foreign satire – although it serves me very well for I am about to meet a young lady who has been living in England for some time and so I welcome any insight into their kingdom which, at present, I know notably little about other than what is common knowledge. I did read select passages to young Else, mainly those you had already pre-selected, and perhaps her fluency allowed her to delight in it more – for hours afterwards, she did not stop reciting the line her favourite lines. Sometimes, I almost find her precociousness unsettling. I now find that she is as likely to correct me during lessons as I her.

I thank you again for your letter, my Lady, and entreat you to kindly send more of the writing you encounter abroad.

Your humble servant,

Charlotte B-----

Letter XVIII

14 Dec, 17--

Dear Mother and Father,

How quickly the post travels to here! I have received yours of the 3rd and am so happy to hear that Jacq and little Bea are growing up well. You must remind me of them as often as you can; I fear that in my absence I will grow to become a stranger to them upon my return. I miss all of you so much that sometimes I ache from it. But do not feel that anything is truly amiss, beloved parents, aside from the pain of being separated from you - I am quite well and have been enjoying the adventure of being in such a large city for the first time.

You have posed so many enquiries – I am sure that is mother's doing – I scarcely know where to begin. I have indeed watched a theatrical performance, this one founded on the story of the "Mock Doctor". The farce, termed ballet, was a kind of pantomime, the childish incidents of which were sufficient to show the state of the dramatic art in Denmark, and the gross taste of the audience. A magician, in the disguise of a tinker, enters a cottage where the women are all busy ironing, and rubs a dirty frying-pan against the linen. The women raise a hue-and-cry, and dance after him, rousing their husbands, who join in the dance, but get the start of them in the pursuit. The tinker, with the frying-pan for a shield, renders them immovable, and blacks their cheeks. Each laughs at the other, unconscious of his own appearance; meanwhile the women enter to enjoy the sport, "the rare fun," with other incidents of the same species.

The singing was much on a par with the dancing, the one as destitute of grace as the other of expression; but the orchestra was well filled, the instrumental being far superior to the vocal music.

I have likewise visited the public library and museum, as well as the palace of Rosembourg. This palace, now deserted, displays a gloomy kind of grandeur throughout, for the silence of spacious apartments always makes itself to be felt; I at least feel it, and I listen for the sound of my footsteps as I have done at midnight to the ticking of the death-watch, encouraging a kind of fanciful superstition. Every object carried me back to past times, and impressed the manners of the age forcibly on my mind. In this point of view the preservation of old palaces and their tarnished furniture is useful, for they may be considered as historical documents.

The vacuum left by departed greatness was everywhere observable, whilst the battles and processions portrayed on the walls told you who had here excited revelry after retiring from slaughter, or dismissed pageantry in search of pleasure. It seemed a vast tomb full of the shadowy phantoms of those who had played or toiled their hour out and sunk behind the tapestry which celebrated the conquests of love or war. Could they be no more—to whom my imagination thus gave life? Could the thoughts, of which there remained so many vestiges, have vanished quite away? And these beings, composed of such noble materials of thinking and feeling, have they only melted into the elements to keep in motion the grand mass of life? It cannot be!—as easily could I believe that the large silver lions at the top of the banqueting room thought and reasoned. But avaunt! ye waking dreams! yet I cannot describe the curiosities to you.

There were cabinets full of baubles and gems, and swords which must have been wielded by giant's hand. The coronation ornaments wait quietly here till wanted, and the wardrobe exhibits the vestments which formerly graced these shows. It is a pity they do not lend them to the actors, instead of allowing them to perish ingloriously.

But I must bid this sought of amusement farewell; we are making preparations to return to the Master's chateau shortly where I anticipate the whole staff will be kept busy for the winter season. An announcement has been made, you see, that the Master is engaged to marry the youngest daughter of the Duke of B-------. I suppose I should not have been shocked by the news. He is, after all, too young to remain widowed and who else could he be expected to marry but a young noble lady? I am afraid that this means I cannot be spared at Christmas. I can only ask that you forgive my absence, and light a candle for me during the Midnight service – I am sorry that this will be the first year I have ever missed doing so in my homestead. Yet, even if I hadn't been asked to stay, I would be reluctant to leave Else who has not taken well to the news. She has grown very quiet and subdued since discovering her father's upcoming nuptials – although I'm confident, knowing her changeable temperament, that this will not last. Perhaps with a mother figure restored, I shall be less needed. I have obtained permission for leave at Easter and so, whilst we must wait a few more months, I shall see you once more – dear mama and papa – come the Spring.

God bless,

Charlotte B-----

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