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24th March to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam

Rosings Prison, Kent                                      

24th March 1812

Dear Cousin Richard,

I trust you remain in good health? I should, in all honesty, have berated you in my last, for your absence has much to answer for, not least of which is my presence here in Kent. No doubt you will name your commanding officer as the source but, as we are not acquainted, you will have to shoulder the burden of knowing how I suffer in your stead.

Your company is sorely missed, not least by me. As anticipated, my presence is barely tolerated, both by our aunt and my brother, the latter of whom continues to charge me with a lack of restraint in how I conduct my life. Further, it seems he will never forgive me my foolish fascination with Wickham as a youth, nor that I see the one life we have been blessed with as something to be enjoyed rather than endured.

Other than that, I endeavour to pass my time constructively. Theseus is a great consolation – indeed, he is my only friend here in Kent. I only hope for some freedom before long, that I might allow him to stretch his legs across the downs. At least if I plan to ride in an easterly direction, the temptation to follow the London turnpike and lie low in the company of Georgiana and the delightful Mrs A would be reduced.

I continue to study the Court reports in the papers – though I am perhaps more diligent at this when the Prince is around than not. Talking of whom, there is something amiss with his Highness. I have yet to determine the source, but rest assured I am on the case. However, if counsel is required, I suspect he will take your advice over mine, and I will therefore take the liberty of keeping you informed of any progress I make on this account. Do not be alarmed; he is in sound good health. The affliction seems to be of a nature to affect his spirits rather than any physical ailment.

How is your dear Mama? Do send her my love, and let her know that I forgive her for the reprimand she bestowed upon me when last we met. Having endured eight and forty hours at Rosings, I gladly reinstate her as my favourite aunt forthwith. Do assure her that this takes immediate effect!

One last thing before my supply of ink runs dry (rations here remain as abundant as ever): a small dilemma, but one I would raise all the same. You may recall, when we were last here in company together, the sketches I pencilled of our aunt whilst hiding behind one of her books. I recall you being particularly taken with the one of her as a parrot, though I still favour the vulture myself! Well, Cousin, I am dashed if I can locate the book that holds these treasures. The Prince will have me locked in the Tower if the old bat comes across it – do you by chance recall which tome I defaced? The library is full of such tedious texts, I truly cannot identify it by its spine and even less can I bear the perusal of each and every one – though if your memory fails you that may well be my fate.

I will bid you farewell, trust that your present occupation is none too arduous and look forward to hearing back from you directly.

Yours etc,