Miss Adeline Westley
23 rue Saint Paul
29 August 1902
I am so sorry for your suffering! Here I am at home, with my family around me, where everything is safe and familiar (albeit dull), and I complain to you about being lonely. It is a symptom of my selfishness that I can think of my own troubles when you are truly alone (albeit in glamorous Paris!) in a country of foreigners. It is a symptom of my silliness that I should envy your amorous French tutor bearing romantic gifts, and the direness of your situation concerning that horrible man who intends to force you to marry him. It’s only, sometimes I wish for excitement, Addie, even the unpleasant variety – anything to break up the monotony of my days. I am sorry, dear Addie. I will pray for you to find a way to come home.
You are not good enough for Peter?! I must insist that you abandon this nonsense tout de suite. If my brother chooses to make an arse of himself, following Miss Highmore about like a besotted hound on a leash, so be it. But do not let it reflect on you. How can I make this clear to you, Addie? You are worth any number of vapid Frances Highmores – and I beg of you not to forget it.
As for the abominable Mr. Rothschild, you are right, of course, Addie. I should have inquired as to the married name of Luc Bellefeuille’s daughter. I suppose I was too appalled by his tantrum to think logically enough to ask details about the unfortunate lady whose reputation he was defaming. He really was quite improper; Dad was furious with him. Your letter came in good time, Addie, because I was on the point of indignantly refusing an invitation to that very gentleman’s house (if gentleman he can be called). Mr. Rothschild sent a note by way of apology, as it were (his excuse, of all things, was the heat of the day), and invited me to a dinner party tomorrow evening. I must accept the invitation, now, of course, and hope that the other guests (and the cool of the evening) might make for an environment in which my question can be answered with less vulgarity. Dad will never allow it, of course, so I will have to be mysterious as to my plans for tomorrow evening … perhaps Peter can be coaxed into covering for me.
I shall close this letter and post it right away, and I shall write you again day after tomorrow and relate any information I gain from Mr. Rothschild at the dinner party. Take heart, Addie! If you have nothing else, you do have a friend in London who finds it quite effortless to love you.
14 Bathurst Mews
P.S. I expect Ms. Beale would have gone into fits one hundred times over if she were privy to my secret thoughts. Mr. Rousseau, as exotic and clever as he may be, cannot hope to satisfy you if he cannot captivate you with … conversation. – M.B.