Letter 4 - Admiration

Miss Adeline Westley
23 rue Saint Paul

11 June 1902

My dear Addie,

I suppose you are not completely mollified by a new dress,
but aren’t you at least a teensy bit excited? I would
never ask Dad to present me to society, he would laugh
and tell me I’d have to trade in my books for socialite
rags. And of course I don’t want to be just pretty and
petted and admired for my clothes . . . but I can’t help
liking beautiful things. You must tell me all about the
fitting - Emily Carrington says the new Paris gowns
are divine (and she would know). Will you dance with
French young men, then? Are there many English boys
in Paris? Students, perhaps? I wouldn’t object to a
dance with a French fellow, but the conversation might
be a bit lacking. If only I could come to Paris and
attend the ball with you! I am still scheming, but I
haven’t come up with any brilliant devices yet.

I wonder if you could find out about the little girl in
the picture by writing to your mother? Your father is more
likely to know, but I expect he is not particularly pleased
with you at the moment. He may not know himself, if
he and his brother parted ways before the child existed.
Mysteries abound! I have not made any progress discov-
ering the previous owner of the old copy of Wuthering
Heights. I made a pilgrimage down to Holywell and
asked the proprietor at the shoppe, and he was good enough
to tell me it was obtained from the Dorset estate of a
gentleman called Bellefeuille, a foreigner who had only
lived at the estate for six or seven years. I suppose he
spoke English, but somehow I don’t think it could have
been him. He probably acquired it from the writer of
the inscription, or from Rabbit herself. I’ll have to do
more digging - and heaven knows I’ll have the time.

Another little mystery, and this will amuse you, I think -
yesterday I caught Peter perusing your little stack of
letters to me. I was so shocked I didn’t even scold him
for invading my privacy. He dropped the one he was
holding at once and seemed to be pretending to look
for something else, then abruptly left my presence,
muttering something about “where is that invitation
Frances sent over.” Addie, as soon as I recovered from
the shock I laughed myself silly. Why, after all, would
Peter be looking for his invitation on my dresser? My
best guess is that the illustrious Miss Highmore, however
popular she may be among London’s high society, is not
quite as interesting to Peter as a certain Miss Westley
of Paris. If so, Peter is not so much of a lost cause
as I had come to believe, Frances Highmore to the
contrary notwithstanding. After all, even a self-important
graduate of Oxford must have some redeeming qualities.
Perhaps Peter’s saving grace is his secret admiration
for you.

Addie, I’m so glad we can write one another, but it is
hardly enough. I miss you every day, and can hardly turn
a step in London without remembering one of our many
adventures in these streets. Cheltenham seems ages ago,
although it has been less than two months since graduation.
Don’t forget me once you are inducted into the heady
swirl of glamour that is French society. I am lonely in
the crowds at all our old haunts. Write soon, dear.

Yours sincerely,

Maitland Bristow

14 Bathurst Mews

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