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To Oliver Greenfield

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To Oliver Greenfield, care of Mrs Greenfield,

Dear Mr. Greenfield,

Enclosed you will find 5 Pounds, and a receipt for money borrowed.

Yrs Most Sincerely,
E. Loman.

 

Dear Loman,

I can't believe you have written - it's been years. Thank you for the repayment, but that was never the reason why I gave you the money.

I have been wondering whatever could have happened to you, since you disappeared from school. We all have.

Please write again, as it truly has been good to hear from you.

Best,
Oliver

 

To Oliver Greenfield, care of Mrs Greenfield,

Dear Greenfield,

Sorry about having been so abrupt - it's just hard to know how to write to you. I have been trying to put rights to all I have ruined before. Turning over a new leaf, as it were. Don't be worried about the source of the money - I have been working in Australia on a sheep farm and have earned every penny. (As I should have been honest before.)

I hope you don't mind I am sending the letters to your mother's, as that was all the address I could find for you.

Yrs Most Sincerely,
E. Loman

 

Dear Loman,

It is absolutely no trouble that you have sent letters to my mother - it just takes a circuitous route to make it over to mine. I must have forgotten to give you my direct address in our last exchange and am including it now.

I started at Cambridge after graduation from St. Dominic's, am thinking about reading law. Wray's also here, a fellow at the same college. We knock about on the River Cam, play football, and try to get in a spot of studying.

The weather this season has been unseasonably hot, it makes rowing much more pleasant in the morning. Otherwise, being shut up all day with recitations makes for very little news, I'm afraid.

My little brother, Stephen, is still at St. Dominic's, in the Third Form, and a right roarer he's starting to become. I understand all is much the same at the old school, and the Doctor is in good health, as is Mrs Senior.

Hope you are well.

Best,
Oliver.

 

Dear Greenfield,

As you are undoubtedly seeing more of Wraysford than I will, I would ask a great favor of you. Please do me the favor of settling my mind with regards to the debt I owe Wraysford. I have included three pounds and a note of apology for not paying earlier. Again, if you would assure him that the money is honestly earned, that would cause me tremendous ease.

Your brother was a great roarer from the start, if I remember correctly. I should also send apologies to him. I had treated him terribly, allowed him to enter into situations as no decent monitor ever should, and caused him much difficulty. It was for the best he stopped fagging for me and went to Wraysford.

I'm terribly sorry for all the trouble I've been to you and yours. For considerably more than the money.

Since coming to Australia two years ago, I have tried to not dwell on the past, on missed opportunities to do the right thing. I have tried not to be so lost as to be stuck in despair. I am merely trying to do the right thing now, going ahead with with my life. It was possible to live without thinking about my faults for a long time. But it is also here, where men speak more honestly and plainly, and also give further opportunities to newcomers that I could not see happening back in England, that I could face what I had done to you. I am terribly sorry and I hope I can atone for it some day.

Sincerely,
E. Loman

 

My Dearest Oliver,

Dear Mr. Greenfield

To Oliver Greenfield, Mister

Dear Greenfield,

I have not been in Australia long, only a few weeks, but the time spent aboard ship and then in this new land have given me more than enough time to think. The people I have met here remind me of you in a way - they are honest, their actions speak for themselves, and find boasting of anything substantial to be distasteful. To be fair, many things remind me of you. Too much.

I have been terribly lonely these past months, at school, and now here. But it is my fault, my own fall from grace and I own up to all the distress I have caused my parents, the Doctor, your little brother, and especially you. I can see it better now, in this new land, where the heat and barrenness of the station reminds me of passages of hell from chapel service.

There is something peculiar in the act of committing oneself to deceitful acts that somehow, burdens the dishonourable far more than acts themselves might indicate. Then the only thing to make such actions bearable is to lower oneself with many minor, petty acts and fraternizing with bad company. Some might say it is a small thing that I have done, but it is still difficult to speak of. As only by distance and time that I can bring myself to even write it down.

I hope by writing of the wrongs I have committed that I can relieve myself of the burden that I carry, to someday apologize to you and your family for not only the lending of money to assist me without a second thought, and also to help search for me the day I abandoned school. I behaved badly, on all fronts. I do not remember much of the return trip, but I recall your kind words and actions, and at the last, your strong arms around me as they helped me back to the road of correction. I think of it still.

You have helped me in more ways than through your actions (though those have been great). There have been moments recently when I have felt my weakness of spirit give but for the example I found in you that last year at St. Dominic's. Your ability to bear gracefully under great pressure is a valuable example and I cherish those memories greatly. I hope to someday learn be as stalwart and principled as you are in your own native self.

I apologize for the rush of feeling, but I thought it best to lay it out there, before I lose my courage, or perhaps if I am feeling weak, this is to remind me to no longer go down that route. Someday, I hope to make all of this up to you.

Yours Always

Yours in far exile,
Edward

 

Dear Greenfield,

If you should come across a scribble or two from me that was written some years ago, please disregard. I have had a recurrence of illness and had a friend post some correspondence for me. I mistakenly gave them too large a packet, some of which should be considered nonsensical rubbish from goodness knows when. Many apologies for any confusion or difficulty.

Most Sincerely,
E. Loman

 

Dear Edward,

Wraysford was much like myself in receiving repayment - surprised, and not a little in wonderment of your state of mind. He thanks you.

As for the other matter, I have not received any such letter. I do know that it is only those who are capable of good and honourable actions that feel their own, rare, dishonourable actions so keenly. But if such a time comes that you should warrant need of further reassurance, know that I, too, have been lonely even amongst a crowd. A man always needs friends, wherever they are.

Your Friend,
Oliver.

 

Dear Greenfield,

Thank you for handling the matter of Wraysford's repayment.

I appreciate the notice about the past letter. I am much in mind that good regard needs to be earned, friendships should be well-maintained, and know I am far from acceptable.

Sincerely,
Loman

 

Dear Edward,

It is nonsense about earning friendships, at this point. If we are not friends, we are, at the very least, pen friends with a shared history. This is more than most pen friends.

Your Friend,
Oliver.

 

Dear Oliver,

Yes. Pen friends. Friends are valuable, even discovered late past the initial acquaintance.

I was worried that the kind feeling you display in your letters would vanish when you truly realize what kind of person I was, and am trying no longer to be.

Yours Most Gratefully,
Edward

 

Dear Edward,

Now we have the question of what kind of friendship we have settled, perhaps you can tell me more about Australia.

I have been studying hard - as it is my last year at Cambridge and attempting to go for some prizes, one in Greek. Wraysford, that dog, has had a hand in obtaining a notable prize in Religion. The weather here has been most clement, and the River Cam beckons. If not for the temptation of the prize, I'd have chucked it all and gone boating.

Yours Languishing in Study,
Oliver

 

Dear Oliver,

Australia is beautiful, and vast, and hot and cold, lush and barren. The animals are beyond description (I shall try to enclose a sketch or two), the water (what I remember of it from the ship, as it is dryer than you can imagine here, today, on the station), is so blue it makes your eyes hurt. The sky is wide open beyond imagining, and the stars looked strange at first, and there are fewer of them. Maybe that is why they look so large in all the black. When I first saw the Southern Cross, it made my heart ache. Otherwise, Australia is red and dry and scrubby, and red, and red as far as the eye can see. It is more everything than England. I love it, and I have had some grand adventures, and many useful thoughts.

Soon, though, I must return to England, as my mother's health is starting to be of concern. My father is willing to consider me as a junior in his law firm, if I am able to come up to snuff. Perhaps, if you have time and are able, you might consider meeting with me.

Yours in hope,
Edward

 

Dear Edward,

Of course I will meet with you once you return. That is what friends do.

Please send regards to your parents.

Yours on the River Cam,
Oliver

 

Dear Oliver,

I am still hesitant that you truly desire to meet, but glad for the meeting, and looking forward to it most heartily.

My parents are glad to hear of your salutations, and thank you ever so much for your help those years ago. I imagine they hope (however weak it may be) that you will be a good role model for me. (They do not know your good influence has already begun its work.)

Your pen friend still in Australia,
Edward

 

Dear Edward,

You are a gudgeon.

Your friend who is decidedly not a gudgeon,
Oliver

 

Dear Oliver,

It is true. I am a gudgeon, and most likely will always be. But ever grateful for another chance to see you.

Yours in hope of returning to England in the next few months,
Edward.


With a final fold and seal of the flap upon the envelope, Loman smiled. He looked out of the window of the small post office, at the sun-lit scrubby wilds that had been his home for the past four years.

He held the envelope up to his lips for a bare moment, sighing his hopes upon the silent paper. Soon, he thought. Soon he would see Oliver again and truly determine what status he held in that man's thoughts, and be truly appreciative for whatever he was given.

Then he handed over the envelope and payment to the postmaster and went on his way.