My dear Harriet,
I am afraid I must burden you with an odious confession. I was the victim of selfish, headstrong whims and I acted in rash haste. I have, I regret to inform you, run away!
I pray you will forgive my singling you out as the recipient of such revelations, but I felt it was of the utmost importance for the sake of delicacy to take someone into my confidence. I have settled upon you, dearest creature, for I knew that your usual languor would prevent you acting upon the knowledge and therefore trying to discover me. I also know how highly you esteem a well composed novel.
Allow me to relate to you the whole sorry affair. I had hastened to Fleet Street, for Messrs Simmons & Co had of late advertised a range of cloaks which for beauty and wear could not be equalled in town. I had ordered such a one trimmed with white fox, squirrel and mink. I know this seems perhaps to be an indulgent number of pelisses but whence there I found myself entirely unable to decide betwixt the three.
It was as I stood admiring myself before the glass, quite in raptures over such finery, that I overheard a conversation that passed between my mother and Mrs Fawcett.
“It would indeed be a marriage of great advantage to both, for her settlement is beyond generous.” My mother was all eager vivacity as she spoke.
My own curiosity was almost overwhelming, for as you know I do take an inordinate amount of pleasure from gossip mongering. But before I could venture an enquiry my mother, believing my attention to be engaged elsewhere continued,
“I am sure your son could not find fault with such an arrangement, Charlotte is well versed in all accomplishments and is not without a certain, original charm.”
Upon hearing my own name I instantly understood what fiendish scheme was at hand, my mother intended me to marry Harold Fawcett! I found myself to be in such distress that not even a thrice lined cloak could offer comfort!
“Mamma,” I cried, casting the cloak away. “this is not to be borne! How can you assume that my hopes for matrimony are thus. Nothing could induce me to marry Harold, for how could any woman love a man with such a disagreeable tendency to write poetry! This madam, is nought but vulgarity!” As soon as my speech was complete I bolted from the shop and ran home!
(Harriet you know what a distance that is and therefore I need not describe the state of my apparel)
Whence in my own bedchamber I paced in fierce agitation, I knew that were I forced to choose between marriage to Harold Fawcett and destitution, I should settle for destitution.
I glanced out of the window and surveyed two gardeners engaged in a charming game of frolics. They were taking turns at striking each other upon the head with a large mallet. I am not sure if it was their subsequent delight at causing each other to fall to the ground in screams of agony, or the general gaiety of the scene that caused it, but I suddenly was gripped by a scheme of such brilliance that I acted upon it directly.
I took my scissors from my work basked and severed every lock and tendril from my head, I donned my brother’s garments, he is as you know a slight man and therefore his breeches were not at all unbecoming. I disguised myself further, using some of my severed hair to gave myself a handsome set of whiskers. I then left the house quite unrecognisable.
I crossed London as quickly as I could and secured a seat upon the post coach to Portsmouth. I found the long journey to be wearisome, it was made more disagreeable when a young lady of unfortunate dimensions joined our party and proceeded to try and secure my affection using all of the very scarce charm in her possession. My dear Harriet I confess I have never pitied men, however ten minutes in the company of this insufferable coquette was quite enough to leave me longing for a muslin frock and the protection of a chaperone! But before I was overcome with vexation I had reached my destination, the Portsmouth Naval Yard. I secured an interview for one Mr. Chares Lotte (Harriet, do not you think the name a stroke of some ingenuity) with Rear Admiral Porter, a man with a terrifying visage and a complexion as red as your strawberries. I told him that I was an able lad, that I had an ill relative suffering from a dangerous fever on the continent whose last wish was to see me. I said I was willing to earn my passage to his side, I also added that this poor relative had always desired to see me as a sailor “the noblest of all professions!”
Well the Rear Admiral had quite the tear in his when I had finished. It was just as well he was misted over, for just then one my whiskers slid off my visage and I had to hastily stoop down and re-attach it.
Rear Admiral Porter assigned me to the very next ship to leave port, the somewhat aptly named HMS Fugitive. We sail tomorrow and hope to reach our destination before the season is out.
My dearest Harriet I intend to begin a new life somewhere far from Harold Fawcett and his dreary verses! I shall write upon the very next opportunity that conveniently presents itself. But for now I bid you the fondest of Adieus.
Your affectionate friend,
Charlotte, now to be known as Mr. Charles Lotte.
Post Script: Pray my dearest friend you must conceal this letter in your undergarments for all eternity, for I am certain that Mamma shall be enraged by my spurning Mr. Fawcett thus and she would stop at nothing to prevent my reputation being ruined!