Yes, it’s from Harold. Listen to this, Marion:
My dearest Bess. I write these words in haste. I hope you are well and have not been too worried
by my unexpected absence. If you are reading this missive then I have the joy to announce that our enforced separation can at last be ended.
You see, my love, there has been the most monstrous misunderstanding. The uncle of yours, to whom you suggested I apply for a position, appears to have been under the impression that I was a potential pupil for a school of which he acts as governor. I am not aware of the precise location, but somewhere on a bleak moor in Derbyshire, I am enrolled in a boys’ boarding school!
In vain, I have pointed out that I am no schoolboy, but an independent gentleman of 25 years, recently contracted in the blissful state of wedlock with a beautiful young lady. Yet the school , it seems, caters to delinquent young men and the headmaster appears to assume that I am one such. I have ceased to protest for fear of his cane, which he and the staff use viciously to deal with any minor infraction or even annoyance. Most of my ‘class’ appear to be well into the age of majority, and have advised me to ‘buckle down and take it’, so beaten into submission are their poor spirits.
My own spirit is flagging somewhat, I will admit, under the oppression I suffer daily. As you know, dearest Bess,
since I recall you remarking on it with a smile when I mentioned the fact, my own school had a more progressive outlook and so the canings, cold showers and country runs are taking a terrible toll on my physique, not to mention my mental state, which alternates between terror of a forthcoming thrashing and tedium as I complete the mindless rote-learning tasks that pass for instruction in this benighted institution. I have been here not more than three weeks, yet already I have written over five thousand lines! Yes, my dearest, lines: it apears modern educational theories have yet to reach whatever godforsaken corner of Northern England holds me captive.
Furthermore, several of the tutors take… liberties with the ‘boys’ that I will not commit to paper for fear of being prosecuted for penning an obscene publication – and are in so sense fit to mention to a young lady, even one with
such enlightened ideas as I was pleased if somewhat shocked to experience on our wedding night.
I am handing this missive to a groundsman, to whom I have entrusted the last of my secreted funds. I can only
hope and pray you see it and intervene with your uncle before the end of the week, when I have been promised the thrashing of a lifetime.
I kiss the air and pray for your well-being, my love, my only dearest.
Goodness. Marion, my darling, will you bring me paper and pen? I need to write to my uncle. Is the boy who delivered this still waiting downstairs?
Excellent. Give him some supper. Tell him I want him personally to deliver my letter to Uncle Frederick, will you? I’m sure Uncle Fred will enjoy dealing with him himself. Honestly: taking money from pupils to deliver letters. You can’t trust anyone these days.
Oh – and that reminds me: we need to pay Harold’s school-fees for the rest of the year. Apparently after this first year, we can set up a trust which pays the fees in perpetuity, so we don’t need to be bothered with it again.
But we can sort that out tomorrow. Run my bath, will you Marion dearest? And get in: I’ll join you there when I’m done with this.