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24th March to Sir Montgomery Preston

MontyIn the wee hours of the night, Rosings Asylum

24th March 1812

Dear Monty,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Do you recall my telling you how annoying I used to find my temperate brother, the one who would look down his haughty nose at those of us who might indulge in a third glass of port, or is that memory merely a figment of my deluded mind? I can no longer be certain, having left Prince William at midnight slumped in a chair in the library nursing a bottle of brandy and much the worse for wear. There is, of course, the possibility he did it only to annoy me, since his presence there prevented me from carrying out my urgent mission to discover that dratted book with the caricatures of my aunt, but since he should be unaware of its existence, it seems unlikely. Of course, my brother does have an uncanny talent for knowing things I wish he did not, while never realizing any of those things that might reflect to my credit.

I am even further out of his good graces than usual, after an unfortunate incident involving a suit of armour earlier today, but that cannot account for his truly abominable temper since then. I am more than ever convinced that something is troubling him, and it has to do with my aunt’s parson. I intend to get to the bottom of the matter, if for no other reason than to remove the glowering cloud of resentment that is William from ruining what little pleasure I can find here. Today he said I should not allow Theseus to go faster than a walk except on the roads, since the rains have made the ground muddy? As if I have not been riding over muddy ground since I was a child!

In any case, I have a plan. Tomorrow I will arise early and ask my venerated aunt for her advice on how to further my career. You may stop laughing now, Monty! I have on occasion seen the sun rise. My intention is to flatter Lady Catherine into thinking she can improve me, and then to wonder aloud whether her parson might be a good influence. Then I can quiz the parson as to what occurred between him and my brother, and if I am fortunate, even have the opportunity to see them together.

But enough of my foolish brother, I can hear you cry! Do not fear, I have not forgotten your charge to me. The stable master tells me he has heard there is a fine team of chestnuts who might be available. The gentleman who owns them lives near Brighton, but occasionally comes up to Maidstone for business. If it is possible, I will attempt to see them and will report back to you.

Yours, as long as my sanity holds,

T.D.