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Friday, July 18

Mrs. Elton Sez: Besotted Miss Bereaved Over Banished Beau

Dear Mrs. Elton,

I am quite beside myself with grief. I am truly in mourning. I am forbidden to ever see my dear darling amour Wilkinson ever again! Mamma and Papa have separated us, - sending him to some far distant shore or thereabouts - away to our cousin’s estate in the south in Cornwall. The end of the earth to be sure. Why oh why? They are cruel and unyielding even though I plead his case. Mamma is the worst. She does not understand my need of him, or our carefree and pleasurable time together galloping across the meadows and hills of our estate. Papa says he is an unmanageable rogue and should be shot immediately! Heavens, all because he threw me over at the sight of that odious Caroline Bartley in her red shawl. Insufferable flirt. She acted all coy and apologized, but she knew exactly what she was doing. She has spoiled everything for me, and my parents are unsympathetic. Oh misery, you are a cruel master indeed.

Mrs. Elton, pray advise me. Should I run away and travel to the ends of the earth to be with my love in Cornwall, or should I take my father’s advice and find a new mount from our stables?

Most Sincerely and Truly Yours,

Miss Prudence Puckler

Mrs. Elton's Reply

To Miss Prudence Puckler:

I am afraid I do not quite take your meaning, in your most extraordinary letter. Is this Wilkinson of whom you speak, a horse, a gentleman, or a servant? You speak of him as your amour, which, whatever he may be, is most shocking. A horse ought not to be called an amour, even by a young lady in the most tiresome stage of horse-loving, unless you mean to be confused with the Empress Catherine of Russia, of whom many things were said; but I will not repeat them in the interests of delicacy.

No lady who is a lady could call any gentleman to whom she was not actually engaged, her amour; I refuse to believe such a thing of you, as I have heard of no engagement. Finally, it is quite unthinkable that you should speak of a servant in such extravagant terms, for in such a case you would deserve the utter contempt of society. I collect, therefore, that you do mean your horse, however indelicately you have expressed yourself in the matter. As you are a young lady given to such odious expressions, I am all the more surprised at your father, being willing to allow you to take another mount from his stables. In my opinion, all horse-riding by you ought to be curtailed for at least a twelvemonth, and you be confined to the school-room with your governess who will practice strict use of the backboard and the globes. Perhaps, at the end of another year, you will have learnt to express yourself less violently and be all the readier to "come out" - though not, one hopes, upon a horse.

Faithfully yours,

Mrs. Elton

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall. Please join her on Tuesdays and Fridays for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects.

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