Seán Ó Séaghdha

Undated letter from Geoffrey to Murray found in Ardath: A Story of a Dead Self  by Marie Corelli.

Friday afternoon

My Much thought-of Sister,

it seems that all is well and news piles up so quickly even in such a homely spot as this (and with a homely soul like myself — you will allow one so close a little pretension I hope). All the Bladder-Fondlers send their love, even crusty Abblethwath — delivered in his own rather coarse and incontinent manner, and the baby in its infantile gargles. All is well apart from a rather unseemly illness in the nether regions of the most junior members (please pardon that vulgar pun) — playing too lustily, as youth is prone to do, with their new xmas gifts. Nothing more serious than a mild putrescence that a little home surgery has corrected — we now have a family of heiresses. I prophesied that the unwanted aggressions of the juniors would become a sin of the past. This seems to be the case and the more senior Abblethwath has come round to my way of thinking. I have been audacious enough to congratulate myself on my firm hand in the matter and George rather playfully suggested a career in the Diplomatic corps which made me blush at table — we were taking tea at the time. It was very gallant of him though we all know that I am too busy working my collars to contemplate the world of politics — which of course hasn’t been the same since cousin Benjamin (I ought to say Mr. Disraeli but he’ll always be Bumptious Benny to me) pulled the empire together.

And collars have been my major raison d’être during my vacation. I have finished a rather nice linen Queen Anne with cream scallops and white mistletoe that will suit your grey silk a treat. On my return you must allow me the pleasure of offering it to you. Beneath your cap and wringlets it will set off your elegant throat, the envy of all who have the misfortune of not being born a Bladder-Fondler. I know the Duchess will be piqued — she has positively bullied me into her service though I remain firm in my resolve to keep my collars for blood relatives; if I faltered for the Duchess, formidable as she can be, why then my collars might end up becoming a fad for society and that would be unbearably vulgar. I would shudder at the thought if I wasn’t unutterably well bred.

Nature appears intent on negating any pleasures for me, crudely gothic that it is. But I remain undaunted. What loss is it to I that the chaise-and-four cannot be taken out in this unseasonable heat. I have never felt the necessity of driving hither and thither, exhausting oneself with waning and nodding along the avenue. Much rather, I take my seat at dear Grandpapa’s table, basket close at hand and content myself with humble stitching.

I had to point out to the Archdeacon, when he commented on my secluded ways at dinner last Tuesday, that the church may momentarily condone flippancy in the guise of sociability, but my eyes and hands had sights on eternity, a sight perhaps more distant, but certainly more beautiful that those nearer at hand. I thought it most improper, as you can well imagine, and found it most discomfiting to appear at odds with one steeped in our Lord’s ways, but then he is of Methody and Great Grandpapa would have been much more severe in his opposition I didn’t doubt after due reflection in the privacy of my room.

I hear a cry of despair; I fear Maggie has been playing with Tom by the pond again. I must attend.

Goodbye my dearest.   B.