Sorry to have been gone for a while. It’s a long story and one I’ll likely share later, but today I’m back with another chapter of ‘Dear Madame’ for you. If you’ve forgotten what happened in the first two chapters, read here and here for chapters 1 and 2 before reading chapter 3 below. Let me know what you think if you feel like sharing and please feel free to pass it on to friends.
Patricia hardly knew what to think about the letter she’d just read. Could there really be a connection between a box of old letters her mother had here in the US and a French one found hidden in chair in England. She’d never heard her mother mention any letters, but clearly she had talked to someone. Well, maybe she hadn’t actually talked to anyone, but glancing from the photocopy she held in her left hand back to the letter she’d just read in her right, it looked as if her mother had certainly made contact with at least one man.
Leaving everything behind but the two letters, Patricia got up from the floor and moved to her study searching the letter for the man’s name as she walked down the hall. She walked quickly past the bathroom even though she’d been dying to go in the few minutes before she came through the front door. She couldn’t decide whether traffic in this city was helping her bladder or hurting it and often joked with her girlfriends that she’d be packing adult diapers in her sample case if they didn’t soon finish the never-ending road work that slowed her commute each day.
Easing into an oversized office chair, she sat down at the desk she had rescued after her parent’s divorce. It was one of those big partners desks for two and she’d grown up hearing them battle each other across it like the courtroom warriors they both wished to be. Unlike the news-making litigators that had inspired their law school dreams, neither had ever tried cases even though they’d argued for years as passionately as if they were before the Supreme Court justices instead of facing each other in the home office of the house where she’d grown up.
They hadn’t separated until Patricia had moved into her dorm at the university and she was glad she hadn’t been there for the final battles over the house and other stuff. She had grown weary of their daily dramas long before they seemed to tire of each other and the idea of separate houses for the holidays made going home more inviting even if home was a place she no longer recognized.
She’d learned early it wasn’t stuff that made a place a home and except for a few things like the desk neither parent had wanted, she tended to travel light during the years before she’d bought her condo.
Leaning forward, Patricia felt the edge of the desk push against her breastbone as she reached around the back of her iMac to find the on switch. She flipped it on with the practiced feel of someone who never left her computer on when she was away during the day. She’d owned it so long it wasn’t good for much more than research or email and she pushed a couple of stacks of paper out of her way readjusting what her Uncle Ed used to call her horizontal filing system. Patricia knew it affected her efficiency to always have to search for things as she did, but she was too tired at the end of the day to decide what to toss and she tended to hold on to more than she should.
While her computer booted up, she reread the letter pulling out the important information. She wondered how her mother had found this man, Trenton Molesworth, and checked her spelling as she typed his name into Google and added Bonhams as an after thought.
Bonhams sounded vaguely familiar to her and she realized why when she pressed the return key on her computer and saw the website come up. While she had remembered that Bonhams was an auction house of some sort, she hadn’t known how many locations there were worldwide and the range of items they offered for sale.
She expected to see Trenton Molesworth listed as someone who provided auction valuations and was surprised when his name came up as the editor of Bonhams Magazine. Patricia clicked on the link that opened into a recent article written by him where he was talking about the 200-year-old love letter and it’s possible significance to a historical event. He went on to say that it was a shame that there was only this one letter as he needed more evidence to support his theory. Ho Ho, she thought, don’t we all wish we had a little more than we do.
Saving the link to the Bonhams article by Molesworth, she quickly googled the words, 200-year-old-love letter and found a translation on the BBC news site.
‘ My dear small love, do not be worried, do you seriously believe I would tell anything to these people, who don’t understand anything about love?
If someone insists that I say something, it will be anything but the dear love acquired by you, which is the great treasure hidden in my heart.
I didn’t tell you to come yesterday because I didn’t have the opportunity, but do come every Tuesday around 5:30, and Fridays as well; I count/hope on you tomorrow.
At the moment I write this letter, I can hear my aunt yelling, who else annoys us all day long, today and tomorrow.
My dear, I cover you with kisses and caresses until… I need you in this moment of desire. I love you.’ *
Patricia read the translation several times and went back through the BBC reporter’s version of the story noting how the letter was discovered and by whom. Afterwards she thought it was certainly sweet, but could not see what made Molesworth think there was more here than just a few tender words between lovers.
Resting her eyes as she thought about what to do next, she brushed back a bit of strawberry blond hair that never seemed to stay put and picked up the photocopy of the letter from her mother that the Trenton fellow had mailed back with his note of interest. As she scanned the letter written in French, she noticed there were notes in the margins and parts of it were circled and highlighted.
It looked as if her mother’s photocopy had brought out the editor in Trenton Molesworth and she caught a word in English that made her look a bit closer at the notes he had scribbled along the edge of the page. Taking a breath, she held it without realizing as she thought about what he was suggesting … did he really believe that something like that might be possible …
* Love letter translation taken from BBC online story about a found 200-year-old Love Letter.