My Dear Mother,
The office is more than adequate for our staff, and I have been growing more familiar with Kingstowne and its environs. I am afraid that no, they do not have any fruit trees here like you spoke of – I believe that is more on the west coast – but there is an amazing array of grasses that truly impress the eye with their variety.
I will be changing lodgings soon, and will let you know when I have my new address. I am hoping to find something more tranquil than the Inn, as pleasant as it has been. One does not always want to be in the very centre of town.
Speaking of which, I did not realize Irene had taken new lodgings ahead of her studies this fall. She did not mention it in her last letter. When you have her address do send it to me.
Love from your daughter,
Three weeks remain and I still have no idea of where I shall be staying after the Haverly. But how can I help it? I know no one here.
I continue in my role of generally incompetent booby at the District Office; and should not be surprised if I always shall be such. This keeps me busy enough that I have not even been able to enjoy the little phenomena that I see from time to time, and for which I can hardly spare a thought or a line of ink; the polka dot rainshowers of yesterday, after which the whole street looked like someone had randomly painted perfect circles in a darker brown, or the dust devil the size of a thimble that wouldn’t stop twirling on the office windowsill.
Now, you have asked what Mr. Ridgetop is really like, and consequently I had to properly examine him. Although I suppose I had to at some point.
To satisfy your curiosity, Mr. Ridgetop is tan and he wears a beard. He is not terribly tall. And I know that sort of thing is not what you were asking, Kate, but I would much rather dilly-dally than dwell upon his character.
Having managed to buy a small pocketwatch from the general store, and having wound it by the station clock, I can confidently say that he is not punctual, even after choosing such a lax hour as 9 o’clock to begin the day. He also continues quite surly. And what a disappointment it is, when I have no other workmates here, and I arrived blindly presuming that I should find kind and collegial persons here, much like at the university, with whom I would enjoy free trade of thoughts and expertise.
I am lonely, Kate. I am writing the most insipid poetry in the evenings, thinking of stupid Edward, and even Alexandra. Clearly I am being punished for not appreciating my fellow students of geography when I had them!
I have myriad questions about the lay of the land, and these I ask Mr. Ridgetop as often as I can without (hopefully) crossing the line into pestering. Most of the time he can answer as to whether a problem is old or new, solved or unsolved, and I am slowly dating and sorting the files, determining what work actually lies before me. But we do not speak otherwise.
To be honest, I dread the sight of Mr. Ridgetop. He has lived here much longer than I, has worked in this office much longer than I, and every question I ask sounds foolish somehow once it is spoken aloud. His air of confidence has not diminished, and he comes and goes as he pleases.
I do not care that there is no semblance of my being his superior. But it does feel terribly bleak to realize that one is not even considered an equal. It is plain that Mr. Ridgetop is one of those New British frontier men of solid, practical experience, who (according to novels, at least) are prone to nurture scorn for educated fools who have “never got their hands dirty”. I am one of those educated fools, Kate, and both he and I know it.
When he came in to the office for the first time after I had made the ill-fated walk out to his cottage, I could swear he started at the sight of me. And I know I was very, very red indeed, but I declare that was no invitation for him to go laughing to himself, however quietly!