Miss Maitland Bristow
14 Bathurst Mews
29 April 1903
My heart leapt with compassion for you upon reading your last letter. In addendum to my recent correspondence to you, I should like to relay some thoughts I have regarding Mr. Hill, as I had not yet received your latest news before sending off my own.
I cannot bring myself to spare your emotions, nor to insult your intellect with flowery niceties. Do not trust him, Maisie. I may not be as keen as you are at deciphering the truth of things, but I should think I know the face of a liar. What noble reason can Stuart possibly have in going to such great lengths to shroud the truth concerning Collins' death? I daresay you are too lenient with Mr. Hill. Has it not occurred to you that he may have a more grandiose purpose in keeping things from you? Two dead men can now be counted among Stuart Hill's acquaintance; the Mr. Collins you met in Portobello Market, and the true Mr. Collins whom you discovered to be previously deceased with the help of constable Murphy. What chance is this, Maisie? And what of the night you overheard Stuart and Peter? Your brother has objected venomously to your engagement. Peter left the mews over this, Maisie! Perhaps he knows a side of Stuart Hill that you do not. I can only piece together that Peter has always known Stuart's true character--but it was all in good jest whilst you were merely courting. You must listen to reason! Do not waste another thought upon Mr. Hill, nor in trying to discover new ways to justify his suspicious behaviour. I have no doubt that Mr. Hill feels greatly inclined to secure your trust once more, but do not be fooled--it comes at a price. He wishes for your blind faith in support of these obscure endeavors of his! I will be the first to grant my full blessing upon a decision that reunites you with Stuart, if you can present to me but one semblance of a respectable defense on his behalf.
There is no grand love story to be told here, Maisie. There are simple choices we make each day, some of which draw us closer to security and contentment, others which pull us towards the mire of heartache and dilemma. I do wish I were there to talk with you and to help you make sense of it all. Do write again soon.
23 rue Saint Paul