Letter 46 - Rabbit

Miss Adeline Westley
23 rue Saint Paul

14 July 1903

My dearest Addie,

I am so sorry for my neglect! I have scolded myself soundly, but it is nothing close to what I deserve for deserting you at such a time! Please forgive me, dearest. How terrifying it must have been to have your first proposal of marriage come from a deranged fellow holding you captive! I do not understand him in the least, nor should I wish to; but I am grateful for whatever imbalance motivated him to spare you the greater horror. I shudder to think of what might have occurred had Mr. Rousseau not come to your aide as quickly as he did. You once wrote that it would have made little difference to whom you were married, but I am sure you have realized how grievously wrong you were in that opinion. I begin to see your "Vaughn" in a new light. As you have granted him your faith, so shall I grant you mine. If you love him, Addie, I wish you every happiness! As for Peter, you are right to give him up. He has abandoned us all, and is rarely to be seen in the Mews. Dad, on the one occasion I was weak enough to complain of my brother's hurtful absence and lack of correspondence, assured me that he is of the age when a young man must strike out on his own, and so feels the fetters of family obligations keenly. Dad is certain Peter will come round once he has had his bitter taste of freedom. I am not so sure. My dear brother grows colder by the hour, or so I must judge according to the time I saw him last, since he does not appear again to banish the impression from my mind. It was a fortnight ago, I think, when James and I were walking along Fleet Street on some little errand, that we encountered Peter emerging from the Daily Telegraph office. How delightful, I thought, that in all of London we should happen to meet my beloved Peter! I expressed something of my delight, but I was not received in kind. For himself, Peter appeared greatly preoccupied, and failed to notice our presence even after I had spoken to him! I laid a glove on his arm and he turned so quickly and with such a fierce look in his eyes that I was quite afraid of him, Addie! His countenance softened when his eyes lighted upon me, but the effect of this change was only to convert his expression from murderous to indifferent. "Well, Peter, who were you expecting to see? The Whitechapel Murderer?" I tried to make light of it, Addie, but, search as I might, I could find no hint of brotherly feeling in his face, and my heart sank very low. Peter ignored my flippant question and glanced shrewdly at James, than back at me. "What are you doing here, Maisie?" was all he had to say. I introduced Peter and James to one another, as they had not yet met, and we exchanged a few strained pleasantries before going our separate ways. I could not but notice that James had been a shade less friendly than usual during these interactions, and as Peter disappeared from view James turned to me and said, "Your brother is a dangerous man." The idea was absurd, of course, Addie, and I laughed accordingly and told James he was far too cautious and that, as a police constable, it was his duty to see a potential criminal wherever he looked. "Perhaps you are right," James conceded, after which he relaxed visibly. But his words have haunted me since, Addie. How came my stubborn, studious, warm-hearted brother to this pass? How could he regard me with so little affection, and leave me so quickly with so little regret? I can scarce imagine a worse impression for him to have given James, and I had fostered such hopes of friendship between them! I shall follow your lead, then, and cut him loose. He will not be kept, so I haven't much choice in any case, the ungrateful wretch!

Now, Addie, you asked for good cheer, and I do have news which I hope will raise your spirits and give you much to think on. I wanted to reply to your letter first, but I have been fairly bursting with this new bit of intelligence--James has succeeded in discovering the identity of our mysterious Rabbit! He came to me only last night with the news. It would seem that Elyse Bellefeuille, born to Luc and Marie Bellefeuille in London 1861, married one Charles Reginald Westley at St. Mary's in Stoke Newington, June of 1883! As extraordinary as this may seem in itself, that our Rabbit should be your own aunt, and that you should have been unaware of your uncle ever having been married, I must go on and bewilder you further. Your uncle applied for and obtained a divorce from his wife a few months after their marriage, after which she was promptly registered in London as being joined in a civil marriage to Walter Thomas Westley. I knew your mother's Christian name was Elyse, Addie, but I am so accustomed to think of her as "Mrs. Westley," or indeed as simply "Addie's mother," that I am sure I never knew her family name. Can it be that you never knew it, either? In any case, Addie, it would seem that you have been lied to as regards your maternal grandfather, who died little more than a year ago! What a shame you should never have known him! It is making me dizzy to consider all the aspects of your life this revelation may affect, dearest, and I am sure you must be in a right state over it. I suppose you will write to your mother? I must dress for an engagement tonight, and so I will post this now and compose a longer letter tomorrow. I am eager to hear your news, and hoping that this letter finds you well, or at the very least, better than I left you last.


Maitland Bristow

14 Bathurst Mews

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