Tuesday, February 19th
My devoted Angeline,
Hello, sweet friend and confidant! How does the weather treat you? Do its winds and temperature soothe you, or does it jostle you about as if you were light as a feather? I do not know what lies outside my house as of now, for I am bed-ridden. My reasons I will explain later, in generous detail, as only you, my loyal Angeline, deserve.
I have finally found that precise moment to write this small, polished letter to you, the time befitting both my disposition and my social responsibilities. You see, the last few days have been quite exhaustive for this poor sickly girl, as my parents had arranged for me to meet several courtiers in preparation for my debutante ball.
The first was young Marc, who you may remember from some of our late-night gossips with the girls. A popular fox indeed, and indeed that's what he is! -- a fox! Oh Angeline, if only you could have seen his magic! There is no limit to the number of friends a boy of his charisma could obtain, and he unnerves me because of it. He has not much money to his name, but is owed many favors because of his generosity. Is it sincere, my friend? Mother tells me I am not to fall for a man who tells me what I want to hear, but only to judge his worth by the size of the wallet in his pocket. How boring a life I am to live if this is how it shall be; couldn't I at least judge his worth by the size of other things in his pocket? Catherine, Catherine, you naughty girl.
My mother paid no heed to her own words, and was enchanted by sir Marc before he began to even try. He gave her what she wanted, in front of my very own eyes! A flatterer of her beauty -- of which I do admit -- and quite the expert at it, too. But I saw his eyes wandering, Angeline, admiring the nobility of our household, the extravagance of our fashion. He eyes the estate while everyone laughs at his witticisms and fresh ideas.
My parents made sure that I had some time alone with Marc, to talk to him. He tried to impress me with his knowledge of Greek mythology, and of recent explorations into the New World. Perhaps he realized that I saw through it, because he stopped eventually and began to ask me more questions than talk himself. His braggadocio works better on the naive, and bores me.
Why are all the men I meet so shallow and materialistic, dear Angeline? They have little of the sincerity and sweetness a friend like you possesses, yet I am still strangely attracted to such brutish beasts. Are there any men who look at me and do not see only my money, my potential, and my innocent virginity?
William came later in the evening, after Marc made an embarrassingly desperate effort to stay longer than his appointed time allowed. William is something of a royal heir here, not for any ennobling virtues, but simply because his family holds the titles to virtually everything in the city! Forgive me for my bluntness, but he reeks of money, and money clean of common men's sweat, no less! He met my parents first, of course, and while his social charms did not run as deep as Marc's, my parents were still interested in his property, his value.
If you ask me, that young man is here in my family's house to marry me, subjugate me through such means, and keep me from such men as Marc. The beast saving me from the beast, is this what I deserve?
What light fancy do I touch these fingers to my lips when I coo over fairies and dryads and nymphs and unicorns -- beings innate to all imaginative people, and shared by them through literature and music. Oh, if I could wander into the forest, lie down for a gentle nap, and wake up to find a silvan man appearing above me, with all the magic and excitement that such mysterious settings contain. He would have that je ne sais quoi that compels the heart and releases the soul. He would not be interested in money or fame or power, but merely with life itself! There is much more to life than material things, Angeline, and I know this without completely understanding it yet. Is it a curse to enjoy that which one will never have? Or is it a blessing, albeit demanding?
The proverbial rose does not want to be plucked yet, my duck. Come visit me, my Angeline, and keep me company through these uncertain times! I know I sound bitter, but I've been taught to have a keenness about myself. It serves me well in a time when everyone wants something from me.
But I do not want a life like that! I do not want to be a commodity, a trophy, something for others to exploit for their own means! How I long for younger days when you and I, with our childhood friends, could play so carelessly in our own little uncharted forest. How I long to not have the burden of being everyone's ticket to nobility and fame and power.
Please, Angeline, come to me! I wish to have someone to talk to, someone honest, someone I can trust. My parents used to look at me with such reverence, encouraging my fancies in becoming a journalist, or even a spy for the government. Now they scold me for not playing my part, which is maintaining agreeability with those who come to meet me. They do not understand me. It's not so much that they are using me, so do not worry. They care very much for my well-being, and they want to leave me in the best hands possible so that I may live a happy life. I do not think even they asked to have all this attention, but they are dealing with it the best they can. Deep down, I know Mother concedes that I'm just loose currency for those who enter our threshold with such warmth.
I require that you come, Angeline. I have become sick, and I fear my condition is worsening. The physician who came to my room today told me I was just experiencing women's growing pains, but I know it is not that. I know it! I feel full of anxiety, full of inexorable Worry, encumbered by responsibility to become the flower I am supposed to blossom into. I have not even finished my tutoring, and I have many books I want to read, but I must serve my responsibilities first, no matter how much I want to avoid them. Why can they not just leave me be?
I am bed-ridden, gentle Angeline, but I feel more than that -- tied down, indeed. My health worsens every day, and I am not allowed to leave my room for any reason. Any passion I have for reading Master Dickens while sitting on a sun-warmed hill during the afternoon, shopping with my mother in the city, or gossiping with the girls about the men who walk about in the streets, has been constricted by my ailment.
Sometimes, late at night, I wake up and hear Mother and Father arguing about what will be best for me in the future. It makes me ill with guilt and worry. Could that be all I'm suffering from?
I need the sun which hides its rays inside your youthful cheeks to come to my room, to liven the room with warmth and light. You are truly my most devoted friend, and I am most truly devoted to you. Only a fellow youth would understand. It will take the bubbling enthusiasm and raw excitement you possess to instill me with the happiness I require. I know you are occupied with your studies as well, but I need you to grant this favor for me, friend to friend.
Please say hello to your father and mother, and to your Colbert, whom I suspect is no longer the mangy pup he used to be when I petted him last, non?
I have said perhaps too much to make further letters to you interesting, but since I am not all that optimistic of mind regarding my future right now, perhaps this is better for now. I will write back to you soon, and am eager to see you again.
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