Her Fifth Letter to Kate


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I am a monster of my own making, a gargoyle on the lintel, a capricious brownie. I have done badly and I may be committed to a rash course of action.

It is all because I cannot ignore stupid Edward. To like him is very vexing, and to disregard him is intolerable. It should be illegal for a gentleman to be so insensitive to a lady’s sentiments when such trouble as this can result.

At Alexandra’s last night I stood at the far end with the boys who don’t dance, both to keep myself out of the way of partners (who might be nonexistent and/or embarrassing), and to keep myself in the way of easy talk. We somehow got on the subject of New Britain, and Edward threw himself into it remarkably, saying that the future will be made across the Atlantic. Trying to be witty, I immediately interjected that, because things are rather odd over there, the future might be missing a few bolts.

I knew it was a mistake before I finished speaking. I cannot for the life of me recall the set-down that he delivered, but it mocked my tone, refuted my statement, and was much funnier than what I’d said all at once. Continue reading “Her Fifth Letter to Kate”



Champ and stamp and plough the way

No drifts may bury hallowed graves

Though flakes in doubled flurries fall

And moonlight casts its silent pall

We sweep and leap and claw away

To bare the shallow, stony graves

For one is yours, and yours entire

And one is mine, in flood and fire

And one is the grave of Aristo

Whom all have mourned but none have known

His are the softest falling snows

And his are the winds that cease to blow

But champ and stamp and clear the graves

And sing and croak the cold away

The moon spares naught for Aristo

Nor do the sparkling veils of snow

Elizabeth Cook, 2014

Her Fourth Letter to Kate

Her First Letter to Kate

Her Second Letter to Kate

Her Third Letter to Kate


Dearest Kate,

In a perfect world I would recommend painting over your father’s soldiers in your favourite colours and setting them out for a picnic romp – I like to imagine that the sight of his tin men cavorting would nauseate your father to the point of giving them up. But as he would probably have an apoplexy and burn your house down instead, I think you must continue to give up the tea table to the War of the Lilacs. Which actually seems like a sweet use for a tea table.

Or so say I, miles away, who need not be inconvenienced by holding my cup, saucer, and biscuits all in my lap, and by living in dread of stepping on the odd tin lance and having both a poke and a fuss for my pains. I hope this shows that I do understand your frustrations, Kate, but I can’t help but be amused by such scenes as you describe. Continue reading “Her Fourth Letter to Kate”

Her Third Letter to Kate

Her First Letter to Kate

Her Second Letter to Kate


Dear Kate,


Unless a lady is noticed by a gentleman, what use does she have for him? None!

Or so I have concluded from various tales and rules of propriety. Perhaps my review of the literature has been less than rigorous, but Kate, isn’t this what we have been learning? If a lady is charming then she is noticed, and pursued (and envied, rewarded with piquant notes and toads in her handbags). And if a gentleman handsome then he is all the better for doing the pursuing. On the other hand, I have been hard pressed to find instances of ladies instigating anything remotely titillating.

There are pretty sketches to go with our stories which draw a very clear line between the noticed and the not-noticed, the handsome and the not-handsome. Pages of pencil and watercolour may as well be hollering that we have made these norms and had damn well follow them! It’s like that fable with the man, the dogs, and the gross amount of saliva. Didn’t the dogs eat him when he wouldn’t reward them according to the rules he had established? Imagine the righteous indignation in those dogs.

Perhaps you can tell that I am straining to be funny, Kate. I am frustrated – I have again been in the company of a certain Mr. Thorton. Considering that we are a part of a circle of acquaintance in Kent I am ever a booby for being surprised and eager to see him. And then he gives me the notice due to a smudge upon one’s shoe, and then I invariably become desperate, and then my attempts to secure his attention end in sarcasm and failure. Very quickly too. Continue reading “Her Third Letter to Kate”

In the Land of NoComputer

There was a girl who sat down to lunch one day, only to find that she no longer had a computer. The world seemed quite the same to everyone else and yet this girl was jarred as if she had sidestepped through parallel dimensions. She ate in silence facing a wall, feeling the lack of sound and colour and movement to go with her meal, at a loss as to do anything but chew.

For days her desk contained a void in its principal corner, and with envy she watched her peers breeze by with screens and keyboards at the ready. They were now in a very different place than her. She puzzled over esoteric symbols and mathematical queries, her way barred by a wall of question marks, knowing that in the background other were flicking their fingers and mounting the wall.

She remembered at last that her phone was smart – but it proved to be a questionable substitute, frustrating in the extreme. And she knew that all the while certain people were growing vexed at her slow response to electronic signals.

Continue reading “In the Land of NoComputer”