To Elizabeth, From Anne [Part 1 of 3]

Twelfth of April, Seventeen Fifty Three

My Dear Elizabeth, the news of your springtime escapades never ceases to thrill me.  I read your latest missive just this morning, my peals of laughter startled the gardener who was shaping a nearby hedge.  When he jumped, his shears closed on his thumb.  I do hope he is alright.

As for the current Essex fashions, many ladies of respectable lineage have taken to wearing more elaborate hats.  Even the simplest pieces now have three or even four layers of embroidering or lace.  The milliners must be terribly busy.  One of the local ladies, Georgiana, commissioned the most intricate formal hat I have ever laid eyes upon.  Pale blue, trimmed in textured silk and satin, with an entire bouquet circling the brim.  She says they are real flowers grown especially for the purpose, but I believe they are carefully wrought out of fabric.

It is such a shame that you and the family could not join us at the Vernal Ball.  Louis and I had a marvelous time.  As you well know, I am not fond of dancing.  Nevertheless, I found myself positively transported by the music.  The orchestra boomed and sang across the hall, we have not danced like that in years.  I wish you had been able to attend, I fear long-distance travel has become increasingly perilous this past fortnight.  Several prominent guests, who never miss an event of this scale, were absent.  Trouble on the road I suppose.

Elizabeth, I hesitate to mention this, as I write, there are birds chirping on the grounds, it all seems so ridiculous.  I saw the constable in town this past Tuesday, and he was not his usual chipper self.  I did not mean to pry, but I asked him if he was quite alright.  He hastily grinned and walked down the boulevard.  “Everything in order madam,” he harrumphed, “nothing for you to worry about.”

Later that afternoon I spoke with Mary.  Her sister said that the patrolmen barricaded some of the western roads and would not allow travelers or merchants on the lane.  I confess, I did not understand at first.  I thought perhaps it was some social movement going on.  Rumors have spread quickly over the past few days, stories of an attack.  They speak of feral beasts waylaying anyone caught on the road, day or night.  Even well armed caravans have disappeared.

There may not be any substance to this.  It is a tragedy, but people get lost in the wilderness and carriages break at the worst possible time.  At any rate, Louis wanted me to tell you that we will not be able to see you in Warwickshire before June.  He says it has to do with the shipping schedule, but I think he is concerned about what might be happening in the North.  It pains me not to see you, and the children, but it might be for the best.  If there is any unrest in the countryside, Louis wants us to stay safe at home.

The footman just informed me that my presence has been requested in the foyer.  I do hope it is not Georgiana again, that woman, or her hat, will be the death of me.  I wish you all the best, take care of yourself.

-Anne

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