Volume 3

Chapter 6

It had come after breakfast, stamped second. Well, he had been a bit impatient with first, there really had been no need. He had let it sit unopened at his desk, trying to be otherwise busy but it was barely half an hour before he threw on his coat and boots and went outside to read it.  
    The moon sat faintly in a cloudless sky and the breeze carried with it the cool sweet scent of fields waking for the day’s work.

Dear Charles,

I long hesitated to answer you, I was put out by the unexpectedness of such a letter. That is not to say I do not welcome it; I found it both a joy and worrisome. I smiled too, moments of first love are naturally thrilling but one cannot get ahead of such rushing thoughts.

I wonder how you will find me if this lockdown lasts. I fear that in these last few weeks I have become apathetic as I try to grasp how much my little life has been torn. Not only withdrawn, I also feel cornered into the woman you think I am, hope me to be. Though I find some heart in your words, finding you are the same young man I knew, whose eyes reveal every part a boy unsure, who thought he was playing me.

I now find myself free, a changing woman and I should make clear, I am of no mind to be yours. Standing in the mirror I am happily alone, toying with the thought that if you were by my side it would be because I let you and that you would see me as I am.

I will forgive your boyish outburst but I cannot say sorry for making you wait. Know that some days I find myself beholden, wishing I did not matter to you; another set of expectations.

  Other days I almost forget how pathetic this is and remember only that with you I forgot myself altogether; life without such expectations would be an unhappy one.

This was never to be the mad admission of a love I could not then allow myself. Nor is it a sharp, cold spurn, which I come to think you may have preferred, leaving you in the throes of a love-fever, crying and staining the ink of your pretty blue paper.

What we did that night, what I let you do…really we must spend more time together. Who knows whether I will have worn out your hot-temper before we have the chance. I only hope you hold yourself so that I cannot disappoint you.

No promises,


Struck by the words whose pleasure was almost too painful to be read clearly, he stumbled across the village green between the phone box and the lamppost, talking to himself, thinking of reply.   
    Submerged in shaded lanes, he gasped for breath under the swelling crest of blackthorn in its baptismal robes; spring had bloomed and its flowers were almost summer ripe. The country hummed and a bee shot out at his temple like a broadside. He ducked and with a sidestep found himself entangled in a knot of gnats, delirious.
    Up at the Celtic cross, picking at the mother-die, he stood quietly, enjoying each long breath, staring out enthralled. The old land lay quiet too. A gnarled Cornish oak, naked still, swept in shocked fright like a wrist palmed-up grasping in soliloquy, shook its heavy burden in the passing gust.
    Nearer to his heart, somewhere a tractor burred and a cow mooed. A crenelated church stood out against the crested distance. Its belfry sagged around harrowed, wisened lancets like the weathered face of an older man, who, at peace with centuries past, might too be at rest swaddled in an ivy sarcophagus beneath.

Chapter 7

Dear Ophelia,                                                                                                                    

I rushed things once before and will not again. ‘Moments of first love are naturally thrilling’ you wrote and yes you did unnerve me that night, as you did that first Wednesday. Thus my pressing letter was perhaps the premature expression of a longing I do not yet fully understand but do not think I have made some false idol of you.

It is not just your beauty that enlivens me; it is that I should stand beside you in that mirror. To be with you in those moments; when the copper beech soughs and the sun warms my favourite bench and the coast and fields. To be at a party with dozens and music and shallow conversation and know that you are somewhere near, that I will find you afterwards. To share with you all the small moments which to me mean intimacy; this whole correspondence in the warmth of a mere touch.

I seem to have taken leave of myself and if I grow bolder it is because your reply emboldens. It must be with open affection or complete rejection, I cannot have any less in myself at least. I have known such meretricious things and there is not much in it. From you I would rather read that you cannot see me, will not have me. Either way, I see you as you are Ophelia.

Ton muget de Mai,


Dear Charles,

You seem to have made this all a fuss. I am not worried should we get to that. You need not intimate such things. When I said I was not yours, I thought I had been clear; I will do what I want with whomever I want.

There is an order to these things and you cannot so quickly expect my confidence. Though, I admit you have forced this order. Cornwall has made me jealous and eager, I long to share it with you. I find in you a touching honesty I cannot spurn; in your promise of parties and a life after this. I dream and you are there and I am quite put out when I wake.

I find waiting for letters very dull, I sit here checking my letterbox unable to do other things, so do not take too long to answer.


Dear Ophelia,

Another letter this week to spoil you, though a short one only to assure you all is well. I wrote as I did because I could not do otherwise. The letter sealed was posted that day. Walking back from the village shop along the jack & jill, the lilac charming still in its pale spring make up, leant over as if to kiss my crown as I had yours.

To think back to the time we spent together, it seems so precious; I should not want to ruin it with ink and paper. I expect nothing more from you than every moment we may share, every word you send me here. I cannot say when I will see you, though I fear for the sake of the village, I cannot have you here.



Chargé D'affaires - Depuis 2020