Letter 8 - Wealth and Women

Miss Adeline Westley
23 rue Saint Paul

8 August 1902

Dearest Addie,

I considered telling Peter you find him dashing purely for my own entertainment, but decided against it. Addie, it really would not be prudent to feed his ego, nor to encourage him if he intends to pursue you. Peter was sweet when we were girls, but he is not the boy he used to be. I can scarcely believe he is the same lad who used to take us fishing (if you will) on the Thames during the summer holidays. I expect most lads of fourteen imagine they know everything there is to know, but Peter should have learnt better by now, and he hasn’t. Which is why it was extremely satisfying when Australia won the Ashes. And it is also the reason I simply cannot recommend my dear, misguided brother to you, however I may love him. In truth, Addie, he does not deserve you. Further, Miss Highmore, though I have little love for her, does not deserve your hatred. Miss Highmore’s conversational arts are lacking, but her social connections are desirable indeed. Peter made his choice, and if we lose him, the fault is his own. Perhaps I am too hard on Peter, but he has been insufferable lately, and his ingratitude toward Dad upsets me no end.

But on to more interesting events! I must tell you about my visit to Sir Rothschild! It pains me a bit to write “Sir” before his name, Addie. I cannot begin to imagine Her Majesty Queen Victoria conferring such an honour upon that greedy little man. I enlisted Dad to my cause, and he accompanied me on my visit to 73 Palace Court, which is only just across the park, quite close to the Mews. We were met graciously enough, and issued into a fine parlour to wait for our host. When Mr. Rothschild (for he shall get no more “Sir” from me!) entered the room I was sure he was the butler, come to offer refreshments. And yet, alas! ... no tray. He introduced himself and inquired as to how he could be of service. Dad proceeded to explain our errand, and our host was quite keen to discuss “Monsieur Bellefeuille,” but knew nothing of our mysterious Rabbit. He explained that he had been very good friends with “Luc” (for that is Bellefeuille’s given name) as a young man, that they had attended a boarding school together in France. He told us all about the school, called Louis-le-Grand, and it was quite interesting at first. But it soon became apparent that Mr. Rothschild was interested in two things only--wealth and women. The man was married seven times! He went on endlessly about the selfishness of Luc Bellefeuille, who apparently did not will to Mr. Rothschild any part of his rather substantial estate. At length he started insulting the recipients of the aforementioned wealth, Bellefeuille’s only daughter and granddaughter, and he used such language that Dad was compelled to make our excuses so we could escape. It was an interesting but uncomfortable visit. And, in the end, fruitless. I am no nearer to discovering the identity of Rabbit or the one who adored her so.

I must go help Mum with supper, but I will write again soon. I nearly asked your mother about the painting of the child at church, but your father was looking so surly that I lost my nerve. Let me know what she has to say on the subject in her reply to your letter. I miss you, dearest!


Maitland Bristow

14 Bathurst Mews

P.S. Peter favored McLaren for England, and took the train to Manchester to watch the final tests for the Ashes. I should very much liked to have seen his face when England lost--Stuart says it was rather like a baby whose rattle has been snatched from his hand. I am quite sure Stuart is biased, as a distant cousin of his, Clem Hill, played for Australia. But I take great pleasure in the image regardless.


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