Letter 24 - La Veille de Noël

Miss Maitland Bristow
14 Bathurst Mews

24 December 1902

Dearest Maitland,

Do not fret over me, Maisie, I am so very pleased with the announcement of your engagement to Stuart. Mr. Hill has always been one of my favourites when it comes to Peter's Oxford chums. I know you will have a lifetime of happiness. It is true that I have been a bit downtrodden since Eduard left so suddenly. I know it is silly for me to think on him when he betrayed me so. I cannot help but think Eduard was close to proposing to me, and how, if he had, the two of us would now be reeling in delight whilst planning our nuptials. I suppose it is for the best; Eduard would no doubt have been eyeing his next catch as he led me to the alter. Mr. Rousseau has confirmed Eduard's departure back to America, which is oddly discouraging to me. I had hoped to hear from him in the way of an apology by now. I check the post each day, but the only correspondence I receive are my dear letters from you, Maisie. The more time I have spent contemplating alone, the more I see the stark difference between the way Stuart treasures you and the casual and empty romantic affection Eduard had for me. Logically, I know it is for my benefit that Eduard's true character has been revealed. But my emotions are not governed by logic, and may take some convincing.

I am not surprised to hear of Peter's rash behaviour towards you. It did not make much sense to me at first; but, then, hasn't Peter been making rather a pastime of causing you grief of late? I can hardly bear that Peter has not once written me since I left London--at the least, are we not friends? I know you say he feigns interest in the letters I write to you, but still he remains the ever elusive and aloof Peter Bristow. He infuriates me so! Maisie, do not let your brother spoil this happy time for you.

As for Mr. Rousseau, he has been kind, indeed. I hardly think he has any intention aside from being my friend. I do not accuse Mr. Rousseau of any crime--except, perhaps, an unrealistic hope that the two of us should become an item someday. Poor Mr. Rousseau!

On a more pleasant note, Madame Fifi and the maid have begun to decorate the estate for the holiday. Mr. Westley gave me a little more than his usual in the way of an allowance, and I made an afternoon of shopping. The gas lamps hissed as I walked down the wintry avenue. I pulled my coat in tighter at the collar, and looked down so as to avoid the sight of a happy couple as they strolled by, arm-in-arm, laughing. Aside from being alone, the scene around me in out in the open air was quite enchanting. A crèche, complete with beautiful hand-painted santons, was displayed in each ice-frosted window fronting the row of shoppes. Parishioners stood at the steps of St. Augustin, collecting alms for the poor. I could not help but feel a bit happy despite all my efforts to remain otherwise. I made my way home and was welcomed to a setting quite different from the one I had left: the fireplace in the parlour is draped with evergreen boughs and red velvet ribbon. A small but perfect Christmas tree has been planted on a round mahogany table, and dressed with wooden trinkets, candles and fruit. The air is sweetly scented with orange and clove. Andre is busily cooking something divine in the kitchen. Christmas Eve is here.

I am posting this today. I doubt, however, that I will be able to keep myself from writing you again tomorrow. Merry Christmas to you, my cherished friend.


Adeline Westley

23 rue Saint Paul



Cheryl said...

Well, now I'm ready for Christmas! :)

Sticht Fam said...

I read all the letters today and completely ignored my kids. I love them and I can't wait to hear more. I am going to tell everyone about this.