Her Twenty-Second Letter to Kate – and others


Back to the Beginning

Dear mother,

Thank you for enclosing Irene’s address; it is both most unaccountable, and most entirely her, that she has not written me herself. At any rate, I hope she is keeping well.

I went to a lovely dance the other evening, among the nicest of gentlemen and ladies as you could imagine, and yet not like our parties back home. For it was outside, on a balmy night, with a great fire and a great number of musicians. I believe many of the guests took turns at playing. It was Miss Thurston who invited me, and I think I am widening my circle of acquaintance here credibly.

Tomorrow is my move and I shall tell you all about the new cabin. There it shall be much more convenient, with my gelding being stabled only a minute’s walk from my door.

Have you got all your pickling done for the season? Have you enough wool laid by for your knitting? I am sending a wire so that you can get the house provisioned for autumn and the winter to come – do let me know when you get it.

Your daughter,


Dear Kate,

You must not tell anyone, but I am seized with a fit of regret over the cabin. It is two rooms, which seemed to be of most generous size when I visited weeks ago, only now it feels somehow cramped, and unwelcoming. I believe the young couple must have taken away every scrap of decoration that had been here – that or it was the O’Shaughnesseys up at the main house – and it seems not to have been cleaned since their departure. Why, there are not even curtain rods. And I failed to notice beforehand that there is no running water, but a pump out back.

Actually I just began to laugh, for it seems that every time I arrive somewhere there is something amiss. Perhaps I was never meant to leave home. But it will make for good stories. And Lorenzo seems to like the barn, a mere forty paces from my doorstep.

Edward has not written back, just as you said he would not. I am cleaning up the place, in what I hope to be a very stoic manner, mourning the lack of curtains and a doormat, and not paying any mind to my second-hand letter-desk, which leaves much to be desired in both comfort and the lack of letters from the above-mentioned.

Anyway, there are many more important matters I should be thinking of. I do believe I wrote you about the Kingstowne annual report which I submitted, but I omitted to mention my conclusions as to the probable location of some limestone deposits a few miles east of town. In my report I included details on all the promising indicators, and I finally went out today on a long ride, with a shovel and a pick tied behind my saddle, to quite literally dig a little deeper. I will have to go back again tomorrow; however, I can now say with a high degree of certainty that considerable deposits are present, and with the presence of coppers and silicons in the soil of this region, I am itching to find proof of the turquoises and opals that may lie within.

How am I to describe what a discovery this might be for a place of Kingstowne’s size, and how lucky I would be to make such a discovery? The economical consequences could be far-reaching. It brings to mind a wonderful passage in the original mandate letter, received by the Kingstowne District Office upon its conception, that I dug up out of the bottom of a cabinet (and only a little the worse for mouse droppings):

The role of the Officer is to take account of the land, its characteristics, peculiarities, and possibilities. No attention to detail must be spared, and consideration of its inhabitants should always be present too, in their habits and livelihoods and well-being. The Officer is to consider all matters, from the maintenance of justice, to the planning of streets, to the laws of property and business. But always the Officer is to return to the question of the land.

No matter how non-existant my kitchen might be, that is something, isn’t it? Something I am a part of. The great importance of New Britain is the land itself, after all, amid all the anomalies of this hemisphere of the globe, and no matter how short my sojourn might be, my name would be forever in the records if I stake out a useful resource such as this.

I wish I had someone here with whom I could speak about it, it is so terribly exciting. But something tells me that bringing it up at tea with the Thurstons or the Mathesons would not be quite the thing. I declare they have the most leisurely afternoons of anybody I have ever met! Coming and going, I almost feel ashamed to pass the ranch hands, working away in the pastures. And that is not to speak of the card parties I have been invited to (some of which I have attended, with due deference for inability to stomach many late nights in a row), nor of the next dance that Regina (Miss Thurston) and Adrienne (Mrs. Matheson) are so looking forward to.

No, I do not think they are the right sort for chatting about rocks – although they might like the sound of opals, for a number of reasons I don’t share. Yet each to their own bailiwick. They have most kindly pressed me to allow them to help me choose my next dress, and there I think I shall bow to their expertise.

I shall try to buy something very dashing and very out of step with my dreary cabin. I only wish I were thinking solely of my ride tomorrow, of the hills and the next place I am itching to dig, instead of imagining myself in a Cinderella dress, and wishing Edward were here to see me.

Your best of cousins,


P.S. Why do all the girls get married so young, here, Kate? I was shocked to discover their ages – I was on the shelf before my even knowing it.


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