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Taken in by Fancy Words

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Dear Anna,

I know my sudden departure will come as a surprise to you, but Mr Lovelace had persuaded me that this was my only alternative if I did not want to marry the odious Mr Solmes. Mr Lovelace had been so faithful, sleeping outside night after night until I was prepared to fly with him from my home. I admit to still having my doubts, but when I heard the sounds of a chase I knew he had provided me with the only chance of happiness I had left.

He has been so attentive to me and so solicitous of my well-bearing that I am entirely convinced my brother was quite wrong as to Mr Lovelace’s character. And I know my sister was merely jealous when he transferred his affections from her to me. She can have a sharp tongue and he has confessed he is of a sensitive nature and felt every sharp word of hers intently.

I have to admit to a certain surprise at the inn in which he has lodged us overnight, although he has explained to me, had he had more time to prepare, he would have found us somewhere finer and more suitable to my station. When I ventured to chide him slightly for not having foreseen our need to stay over, I could swear there were tears in his eyes as he begged me not to be cross with him. I was forced to accept his apology at which point he cheered a little and we were able to spend a relatively pleasant evening, given the circumstances.

I will write again when we reach London.

Your friend,

Clarissa

***

Dear Anna,

Please accept my sincere thanks for sending the information about my family. I had hoped that they had not taken against me quite so strongly, for I feel a trifle homesick and would have wished to contact them had it not been apparent how unwanted any approach from me would be.

I have been in London for three weeks now and I have begun to fear that Mr Lovelace’s fancy talk is nothing more than mere words. Our lodgings are not in one of the more salubrious areas and although I would have no hardship with living in a humble abode I fear there is more to this house than simple humility.

Mr Lovelace is pressing me to marry him and will not accept my protestations that I would be entirely happy to live quietly by myself. He has assured me his aunt and cousin will be coming to town in a few days and they are looking forward to meeting me. He has confessed he might have given the impression we are already engaged and when I remonstrated with him, he presented to me that downcast expression I am beginning to recognise as one I should perhaps resist. Instead I told him I would be delighted to meet his relatives, but I would prefer for him to refrain from giving them false information.

Once again, he begged me not to be angry with him, and I assured him he had done so much for me I would always hold him in high regard. I know he would wish to receive more from me, but I do not believe it to be possible.

I hope that you will be able to come to town soon, as I have much I would like to discuss with you and I miss your company.

Your loving friend,

Clarissa

***

Dear Anna,

I had hoped to hear from you by now but trust it is only the vagaries of the postal service that have delayed your letter, and not that you have been affected by illness or family problems. To tell you the truth I am quite desperate to hear from you, since my own situation has deteriorated.

I find myself to be a virtual prisoner within this house and even when I go for my daily walk I am followed by one of the landlady’s servants. I am sure every step I take is reported back to her. When I attempted to speak to a young lady I had seen taking a similar walk the servant had instantly joined me and insisted I return home. The language she used when speaking to me was designed to give the impression that I was simple in the head, so that, if I were to appeal to the young lady for help, she would merely think I was deluded.

I have seen very little of Mr Lovelace these last few days. He no longer employs any of his fancy words, and instead insists I must marry him. I have told him I do not wish to, but he tells me there is no alternative. I begin to fear he will try to do so by force and I must therefore find a way to escape from this house.

At least I can trust the maid who has promised faithfully to post this letter to you. Please reply as soon as you are able for I feel very alone in this world.

Your increasingly desperate friend,

Clarissa