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Dearest,

I was fortunate enough to catch the message you dispatched to the Gazette that infers you are home again and not under the knife of those filthy butchers in white coats.

I have another gift for you, this time straight from London, if you please!  My mother collected all the fashion papers, fashion plates, and modiste recommendations for one’s wedding clothes and trousseau and sent them to me that I might forward them to you with her best compliments.  Do direct me how they should be sent, I am sure the latest London fashions and planning your upcoming nuptials will make your convalescence much more agreeable.

And do let me know whatever service I may do for you, beloved.  I am quite at your disposal.

Affectionately,
Lady Rivenall

My Dear Lady Rivenhall,

I find myself shocked at breach of propriety committed by myself, and must endeavor here to correct it.

Upon my publishing of a certain letter in a public, though sparse, forum, you offered a few very kind words in response, for which I neglected to send proper thanks. As the topic was very personal and a subject of some embarrassment, perhaps my breach is understandable. But let me rectify it now.

Many thanks, my dear, for reminding me that on occasion, the powers of persuasion exerted by a certain town to the South are, in fact, very much lacking in sound judgment. Indeed, the population that fills our entire State has created a Way of Thinking that I find myself hard-pressed to accept. As ready as I am to defend myself, my actions, and my opinions, it is a relief to be reminded by yourself and my own good sense that on some (indeed, many) matters, explanations and defenses are not or should not be necessary. Although I have not yet committed a large enough lapse in manners as to pointedly remind interlocutors that there are some matters they have no right inquiring on, I have, since receiving your support, politely avoided such inquiries with answers that were appropriately vague, and felt absolutely no guilt while doing so!

Such a society we must interact with! When entering on a new acquaintance, I often find myself shocked at the inquiries they deem proper to pose to a young lady! Upon finding myself entered into the state of bliss, many new friends think themselves entitled to solicit information regarding the growth of my family circle, not even realizing what a shocking breach of propriety they commit. I am sure you must have encountered such individuals since your own entrance to the state of bliss, dear Lady Rivenhall. Know that you have my sincerest condolences.

My own state is not assisted by the situations of my various siblings, as I find those of my extended family anxious to see myself and dear Mr. Elliot follow the examples set for us. Happily, the attention of various parties are, at present, diverted, as my eldest nephew will soon be forced to relinquish his title as Only Child of my brother. Perhaps, by the time my brother’s wife has entered into her confinement, my sister will do me the honor of following her example in my place.

In any case, my dear, I do enjoy our correspondence, limited as it is, and look forward to our meeting at a certain soiree upon the week’s end! Thank you again for your support, and know that I may also be counted on for such, in kind.

Gratefully Yours,
Mrs. Elliot

(The list you referred to is, alas, not in tangible existence, as such. However, if you should like to enlist my aid in creating one with you, I would be quite amenable to the idea.)

Oh my ladies,

I was so grateful to read both our Mrs. Tilney and Elliot’s letters, because I too have been feeling a bit like Atlas: that the world has been conspiring to crush me!  And the care and keeping of a husband has surely contributed!

My dear Mrs. Elliot, I know all too well the feeling of isolation you speak of.  I only wish I had known how keenly you must have been feeling it recently!  I dined with Miss Wollstonecraft some weeks ago and we both commiserated over your relocation to the North, but reasoned that you must be both busy and happy since we heard so little from you and trusted that soon you would reemerge into Society your cheerful self.  Please be assured that you have been in no wise ‘driven from our minds’ as you say, quite the opposite.  So many ladies of our set have of late been married, gone into gentle employment, or are abroad or in the country for the summer that I venture to say Town is feeling the loss of society rather sadly…but for myself, I have been so encumbered with setting up our house (to say nothing of the horrid political machinations at my own place of employment) I have hardly gone out at all this summer.  Lord Rivenhall and myself would be all to happy to wait upon at any time you feel convenient, or indeed as Lord R. is himself occupied in business I will invade your charming newly made up west drawing room myself if necessary!  And though our beloved Miss Wollstonecraft is much engaged with her political causes, educational energies, and generally turning the world to rights, I dare say I can drag her from her latest male conquest (you have heard of this, have you not my dear?) or reforming project to accompany.  A little planning is all it will take to resurrect the perfect satisfaction of our friendship, despite the distance!

And as for our dear Mrs. Tilney, good heavens!  The things I could say about my own workplace!  It has been my pleasure to be acquainted with many men of import, prestige, or influence…but truthfully I have never come across so many men puffed up with (entirely misplaced) self-importance as I have here.  Sir Isaac Newton was mistaken I am afraid, the cosmos are held together entirely by the combined gravitational force of egos located in Knight Buildings!  If I hadn’t been raised a lady, I shudder to think of the language I could employ to describe them.  At least you are dealing with beings who cannot be expected to behave other than what they are…children of 50 and 60 years are quite another matter. 

If it’s any consolation, you have managed in the last three months to complete what seems to me to be a Labor of Hercules!  I know few ladies equal to the task!  As you say, once the novelty has worn off I suspect you will be the tour de force that will put the rest of us all to shame.

My own troubles seem much less serious that yours, my friends, but I cannot help but feel them all the same.  Adjustment to marriage, especially for one with such a reputation and taste for independence as I, has been a strange journey.  Some days I worry that I will lose that part of myself that is wholly me, apart from anything else in the universe, if I am not careful.  Integrating one’s life with another is no easy business.  Make no mistake!  Lord Rivenhall is peerless (in my eyes, of course, you ladies are welcome to agree and I shan’t grudge you your own matrimonial preferences!) but I have not yet grown accustomed to sharing myself, my mind, actions, fortune, and indeed happiness with another person.  But even I will admit that my happiness has increased tenfold, it is still a novelty. 

Unfortuneately, Rivenhall has had to bear the brunt of my impotent rage since I am unable to direct it towards the objects of my frustration (the lords and gentlement who govern my place of work).  The sheer amount of idiocy I have had to shovel in the past two weeks would make you grind your teeth on my behalf, dear friends! 

Writing to you always makes me feel cleansed!  Adieu, my dears.  RSVP.

Lovingly yours,
Lady Rivenhall

Dear Stressed Ladies,

I have done it.  I have reached a mental plateau which is the result of too much stress in one’s life.  This plateau invokes feelings of laziness, tiredness, hunger, and a looming lack of motivation.  Unfortunately said plateau does little to reduce the stress, but it does allow me to somewhat rejeuvenate and thereby be better able to tackle the stress. 

I assume you are wondering why all the stress.  The top six stressor areas in life are generally considered to be: relationships, finances, health, career, safety, and home.  I have at least one major event in almost each of these areas.  However, before I elaborate, I feel inclined to remind you that stress is not always negative.  Much of the current stress in my life is actually quite positive, there’s just a lot of it.

Relationships: For the first part of the year, I was planning my wedding and was married just three months ago, so we continue to try andcombine two separate and different lives into one new one.  I also live close to my family, who had another wedding to plan, organize, and execute in a short time of three months.  Thankfully all went off beautifully yesterday.

Finances: In conjuction with my recent marriage came the chore of combining finances, budgeting, and consulting with a partner on most purchases.  We will also be doubling our income shortly, but will be tight on cash until the new paychecks start flowing (a month away).

Career: I recently obtained a new position teaching third grade.  The school is great and the people I work with are an amazing help.  But there was a classroom to set up, procedures to implement, students to get to know, and daily lesson planning to complete.

Home: Three months of marriage and we have already moved.  I had just finished decorating our apartment and unpacking all of my belongings, when I was offered the new job.  Because I don’t enjoy commuting, we quickly began seraching for a new place near my school.  We found one and moved in a few weeks ago, but there are still boxes to unpack, curtains to hang, and pictures to place.  Not to mention trying to re-figure all of the household duties (like cooking and cleaning) that still need to be accomplished despite both parties working full-time during the day.

Health: This past week my husband came down with a terrible cold and I was terrified of catching it.  Since it was the first week of school, I could not afford to get sick.  Thankfully I seem to have avoided this particular bug, but still had to nurse him back to health as much as I could.  Besides, first year teachers are known for always being sick due to the large number of illnesses and bacteria they are exposed to each day.  Something to look forward to.

Safety: I think I’m actually doing okay in this particular area.  Perhaps I just have so much else going on that I don’t have time to worry about my husband commuting to work each day (this may change once snow begins to fall) or the interesting people I am bound to meet as I begin busing home from work.

As I said, all of this stress is the result of good things happening in my life.  I have just gone from being an independent, single, young woman with a boring, part-time job to being a full-time, salaried employee and housewife in a new area within the last three months.  I am looking forward to finding my routine and being able to breathe once more!

Stressfully,

Mrs. Tilney

How curious to find oneself married and at the outside of one’s acquaintance! I confess, it comes as a surprise to me.

In my early years, my social world was never one which would easily be described as large; however, in later years it has seemed to grow in away most pleasing. How very vexing to find myself once again a solitary creature! Entering my present state of bliss has, unfortunately, been quite detrimental to my place in society, I fear.  I am quite curious as to the cause of my being such a pariah amongst those I once called friends. My thoughts revolve around two likely causes–

Those of my acquaintance are likely to think me quite busy enough, after considering my relocation and many frustrations regarding the domestic sphere. The duties of running a household are enough to make any lady quite exhausted, and perhaps those of my friends who consider my company pleasant wish to not tax my time with what they fear may be seen more as obligation than as pleasure.

Where I once called upon friends and neighbors, I now merely go about my various occupations, not remembering that friendship must not onlybe enjoyed, but instigated and maintained by ALL principals as often as possible. My shameful neglect of my friendships is now serving to harm only myself, as all of my acquaintance are thoroughly delightful creatures who, unlike myself, make new friends quite easily. The glitter and thrill of new society has, I’m afraid, driven all thoughts of myself from their minds.

In either case, my present state is not to be envied. The solution presents itself quite handily, but is, I’m afraid, easier spoken of than acted upon. It seems I must entertain. Surely if I achieve the cultivation of a habit of hosting various soirees, evening parties, card parties, and other such fashionable gatherings, those invited will be delighted to return the favor of an invitation to pleasant society, and my current dilemma will come to an end. Happily, a venue for hosting fashionable society is presently at my command, as I have within the past week or two completed some improvements upon my westdrawing room which put the room much at an advantage. Unfortunately, my plans all depend on the social availability of my dear Mr. Elliot, which, due to his strong inclination to study the law, I find at present sorely lacking.

My dears, wish me luck!

I remain, determinedly,Yours, etc.
Mrs. Elliot

My darlings,

We are officially less than a week away and I’m absolutely wretched because I am (as I am sure you all know) a horrid control freak…and now absolutely everything beyond this point is outside of my control!  If my relations choose to make an appearance and toss soup in the Prince of Wales’ face, I can do nothing.  If my hair dresser tumbles into the Thames, I can do nothing.  If the flowers fail to arrive, my gown gets stained/ripped/shrunk, or the entire party gets lost on the way to the nuptials, I can do nothing.

You may imagine how much this state of affairs pleases me.

In other unwelcome news, I’m off to my physician today for the Dreaded Exam singular to our gender as well as confirming all manner of arrangements for the wedding breakfast and ball.  A pair of events that, I think, do not at all go together in good taste!

Yours hurriedly,
Miss Kirk

Miss Kirk,

You are too kind!  Although I do agree with the overall smooth running of the entire affair.  I was ecstatic with the perfect weather, since, at one point, I had to plan for snow.  I wore my dress for what will probably be the last time last night as I accepted congratulations from the family and friends of Mr. Tilney.

Our honeymoon has been a time of bliss, happiness, and lots of Disney!  But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  We begin our journey back to reality tomorrow.  I will now be working full time and continuing to seek for teaching employment.  Now the fun of putting our apartment together really starts though, so that is a definite advantage.

My own family is not done with wedding planning it seems.  My younger sister announced her own engagement last week and intends to be wedded by the end of August.

With my own nuptials behind me, I am even more anxious for you to enter into the same state.  Your planning will pay off.  The entire event will be lovely.  And you will find the same happiness.  You’ll see.  Press on!

Excitedly,

Mrs. Tilney (still adjusting to that!)

PS-Wishing you a happy birthday this coming Tuesday!  We should set up a lunch or dinner date at some point. 🙂