Ms Whitehall-

Decency, kindness, faith. All these things are important to the people around you, to the "merit" of your being. I would not say that these have no impact whatsoever on the world, no. But surely you understand yourself that money is what persuades. Laws get passed by force of political pressure (in effect, money), you will wed someone you don't know because of the money you have. I did not take you for a simpleton, nor do I think you are one now, in spite of your admitted naiveté. You understand some of the ways in which the world works, at the very least why important things happen in this country. Finance, dear girl, finance, is all that matters. If it did not, do you think that my mother would be selling herself for want of a better job? We need money to keep us alive, not kindness nor decency nor faith. As a matter of fact I would go so far as to say that indecency and infidelity are what keeps me alive.

Perhaps the fact that you, from the very beginning, were not a piece of scented paper was the problem (scented? Why in the name of the Lord do you need scented paper? Is the scent a mark of status, or do merely insist upon making my hands smell of stinky French perfume every week?) . You have always been a person to me, and perhaps that made it worse. My efforts to dehumanize you were as much a shield to me as your repetitive mention of my ineligibility were a shield to you.

So, the truth, I suppose. I am interested in what you have to say, and in who you are, in spite of myself. I want to know who you are, mostly because I cannot bear to have something exist that I know nothing of. I suppose you could call it an exploration of the unknown. I am not sure that you should be honored, but I know you should not be insulted either.

Fair exchange, then. I will tell you about me and my life, if you will do the same. I have to admit your account of the lordling and his sister had me laughing for a long time. Does everyone in court talk like that, or was he just stuffy? I hear that everything is governed by rules and such, but I had not known that it went so far as to dictate conversations, warping them until they become dances around the actual issue. Is everything left to intrigue and innuendo? How frightfully boring. Small wonder you seek escape.

You have described yourself to me, however insufficiently. I will do the same for you. Our father, it seems, gave us the black ringlets that get caught up in knots at every possible moment. I have brown eyes, pale skin, and am sadly a good head shorter than everyone I know (excepting, of course, my younger siblings). This, it seems, I inherited from my mother.

Please accept this letter as an apology, or at least a concession that I have underestimated you. Our rather ugly relations were not completely my fault, after all, so I cannot accept full responsibility for them.

By the way, I am also stubborn.


Emma Whitehall