Letter 16 - What Stuart Wanted

Miss Adeline Westley
23 rue Saint Paul

3 November 1902

Dearest Addie,

Now, Addie, just because you are being courted by a handsome young American artist in Paris does not mean that Stuart Hill has any romantic intentions toward me, the fact that he was looking for me to the contrary notwithstanding. You really musn’t encourage me to think of such things, Addie, it will only perpetuate the sort of irresponsible girlish fancies I am struggling to rise above. I must ask you to put aside the disarming qualities of Mr. Hill’s exceptionally pleasing appearance and bearing, and keep in mind that Mr. Hill has ever been a source of frustration to me, as his only means of paying me attention has been to mock, belittle, or otherwise poke fun at my person, albeit with such a gentlemanly manner that it is sometimes difficult to decipher the insult. In short, I beg you not to make much of what I am about to tell you. I have indeed discovered the purpose of Mr. Hill’s inquiries after me at church the day I found the note under your pew. He came to call the day after I posted your last letter, and explained his purpose. I needn’t have worried that he wished for a private conversation. He did not. In fact, he hardly seemed to require my attendance at all. Mum invited him to stay for supper, and he explained his errand in the presence of Dad, Mum, Peter, and The Cat; in less time than it took for me to bring out the pudding. It seems he has been invited to spend a fortnight with his cousins in Ambleside, and they shall be short one female for the dancing. “As Miss Bristow will no longer be troubled with schoolwork,” I overheard him saying to Dad, “I thought perhaps she might do my family the honor of accompanying my cousin Richard to the various festivities which will take place during the holiday.” So. I wanted nothing so much as to slap his presumptuous face, but before I could move or open my mouth, or indeed set down the trifle, Mum was answering for me. “That is very kind of you, Mr. Hill. Maisie has been so lonely this summer--a holiday will be just the thing. Of course she’ll go.” You know I love my mother, Addie, but she was almost as bad as Stuart! I wanted to bury my head in the bread basket, but all I did was smile and nod curtly, for Mum’s sake. And so it has fallen out that I am now consigned to a pity holiday, and I am not sure who is the more pitiable, myself or Richard Hill.

On a happier subject, Peter and I are going to the Bridgwater Carnival to celebrate Bonfire Night. I will tell you all about it in my next letter. You must tell me all about Mr. Steichen. The truth is, Addie, I am lonely. Desperately so. I miss you greatly. I only wish my wretched state had not been advertised to the one who, of all people, needs no further reason to feel sorry for me. Do cheer me up!


Maitland Bristow

14 Bathurst Mews

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