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~ A Letter from Miss Emily Barton to Mrs Mary Astley ~

Wednesday 1st December 1813
Bristol, England.

Dearest Mrs Astley,

It is my most sincere and ardent wish that this correspondence finds you well and entirely unmolested by the difficulties and duration of your journey to India.

How I miss you. I cannot write in simpler terms. Bristol is barren without you and its society weakened by your departure. So it is with a bitter and lonely pen that I enquire as to your marriage, and trust it these words find you happy.

You may be surprised to learn that in your absence I have seen little of our acquaintances and in light of recent events, I confess to withdrawing from society almost entirely.

I had thought we may remain together always, you and I, that marriage nor distance should ever separate a friendship such as ours. I see how grievously mistaken I was. My foolish actions and the cruel habits of society have confirmed what I had thought impossible. I cannot come to India. My father has forbid it.

I am so sorry Mary, truly I am. I had not thought that my association with a certain gentleman may ever cause such scandal. Yet it has, and the result of which is now I am betrothed, and forbidden to leave.

I apologise my dearest friend for this.

You may indeed suspect the identity of this gentleman who has caused such difficulty. It is none other than Mr Charles Grimley. I beg you not to think ill of me, Mary. For he is naught what anyone suspects.

It all began innocently enough, as these things oft do -  a smile, a nod, a comment. Yet somehow those innocent things turned towards things less sanctioned. His smile became a lingering touch, his nod became a kiss and may the Good Lord forgive me, his conversation became the physical act of ruination.

Once again, I beg you not to think ill of me, or indeed ill of Mr Grimley. For in truth I have never found a greater satisfaction than I did beneath that man. His mouth, his hands and his very form, seemed to offer me an elusive and pleasant escape from the unhappy circus that has become my existence in Bristol since your departure.

You must wonder why I chose Mr Grimley of all men, to ruin me.You know him as a man I had never held in great esteem. It sometimes happens however, on closer acquaintance a level of affection grows. To this end, I found him to be a man of great wit and intelligence. The pomp and pride we once charged him with is all but a shallow act. In a quiet corner away from the eyes of society his is a different man all together and one I came to admire, and admire greatly.

Our intimate acquaintance was most unfortunately revealed by none other than Miss Florence James, who happened upon us in Lord Stanton's orangery. Despite our pleas for discretion, Miss James would not be silenced and went at once to speak with my father. I cannot recall the dreadful scene that followed, so great was my mortification and humiliation.

Without grubbing about in scandalous detail, I can only report that during that awful meeting, my father forced Mr Grimley's reluctant hand - and now we are betrothed, to wed in one month.

By the time you read this letter I shall be a disgracefully married lady.

It is to my increasing unhappiness, Mr Grimley has not responded well to our impending marriage. He has become distant and abrupt, a far cry from the lover he was.
I do not blame him, the stain of scandal is a cruel one for anyone to bear, let alone one from a family like his. I am certain  he never considered me as a future wife, though in truth, I never considered him a future husband either.

Yet this is what we are destined to be.

So I beg your forgiveness again, Dearest Mary. Our plans to see one another again shall not come to fruition. I understand entirely if your husband, the good Colonel, forbids any further correspondence from me, fallen from Grace as I am. Our friendship and my good name I have have foolishly allowed to be subversi per penis. Ruined by the Penis.

Your dearest, most apologetic friend,

Miss Emily Barton

©Viveka Portman 2014
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