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From Miss Rose Dacre, Southampton, to Miss Amy Conway, 30, Alford Street, Park Lane.

YACHT “MARIE,”
SOUTHAMPTON.
July 15th, 1901.

Dearest Amy,

Here am I on Jack’s yacht, anchored in Southampton waters. The weather is perfect, and I am having a very good time. Jack’s mother is on board, and is really devoted to me. I am a lucky girl to have such a sweet mother-in-law in prospective. She is the dearest old lady in the world. The wedding has been decided upon for the last week in September, so I suppose that I shall have to come back to town before very long to see about my trousseau.

There is really nothing so bewildering to anyone who sees it for the first time as the exquisite order and dainty perfection of a yacht in which its owner takes a pride, and can afford to gratify his whim. And this is the case with Jack. The deck shines like polished parquet. The sails and ropes are faultlessly clean, and Jack says that the masts have just been scraped and the funnel repainted. The brass nails and the binnacle are as perfectly in order as if they were costly instruments in an optician’s window. There is a small deck cargo of coal in white canvas sacks, with leather straps and handles. And there is the deck-house with its plate-glass windows and velvet fittings and spring-blinds.

Soon after I arrived I went down into the engine-room, where I saw machinery as scrupulously clean as if it were part of some gigantic watch which a grain of dust might throw out of gear. On the deck are delightful P. and O. lounges with their arms doing duty for small tables. All around the wheel and upon the roof of the deck-house, and here and there on stands against the bulwarks, there are ranged in pots, bright red geraniums contrasted with the yellow calceolaria, and the deliriously scented heliotrope. Altogether, everything is charming.

We go delightful trips every day, and it doesn’t matter whether there is a favourable wind or not, as Jack’s is a steam yacht. We have slept on board except one night when it was rather rough, and then Mrs. Vivian and I stayed at the South Western Hotel.

Altogether I am enjoying myself more than I have ever done in my life. Jack is an angel and adores me, the darling.

Fond love,
From your affectionate
ROSE.

P.S. There is a Mrs. Tenterden, a widow, coming down to the yacht on Thursday to stay for a few days. Mrs. Vivian tells me that she is very good-looking.

From the Same to the Same.

YACHT “MARIE,”
SOUTHAMPTON.
July 22nd, 1901.

Dearest Amy,

We are still here. Mrs. Tenterden, the lady I spoke about in my last letter, arrived here on Thursday.

I hate her! I hate her!! I hate her!!!

You will doubtless wonder why I, who am, as a rule, a quiet, harmless little dove, should indulge in such sinful feelings, but you will cease doing so when I tell you the truth.

Mrs. Tenterden has set her cap at Jack! He has I know it fallen under the spell of the enchantress. And she is an enchantress. She is a woman of about thirty, tall, fair, with striking features, lovely eyes, and the most superb complexion I have ever seen. The best complexion I ever recollect was that of a peasant girl’s at Ivy Bridge in Devonshire, but hers was nothing to compare with Mrs. Tenterden’s. It is perfect. I can say no more.

Then she is extremely amusing, being a brilliant talker (for I heard Jack say so) and very witty (for he is constantly laughing at the things she says, and which for the most part I don’t understand).

But this I know, that since her advent I have changed from the happiest girl in the world into one of the most miserable.

Mrs. Tenterden is the widow of Colonel Tenterden, who was a brother officer of Jack’s father, Colonel Vivian. Her husband died in India about six months ago, and she has lately returned to England. Jack had never seen her before, but Mrs. Vivian, who knew her as a young girl, asked her down here.

She has made a dead set at Jack, and I feel (I can’t help it) that he has fallen a captive to her bow and spear, for his manner towards me has entirely changed. He is not my darling, loving Jack, at all, but merely a polite friend.

Mrs. Vivian must be blind not to see what is going on. But I cannot enlighten her, and what am I to do? Do give me your advice, dear Amy?

Ever your affectionate
ROSE.

From Miss Amy Conway to Miss Rose Dacre.

ALFORD STREET.
TUESDAY.

My dearest Child,

Just got yours. You ask my advice, and to use a phrase of my brother Tom’s, “I give it you in once.” Don’t be a little goose and bother your pretty little head. I am older than you, and I understand women of the Mrs. Tenterden type. They amuse men for a time, and very often take them captive, but in nineteen cases out of twenty the prisoner escapes. In other words, they are not the women who men care to marry. Fancy your Jack, for instance, preferring a rusee garrison hack, like Mrs. Tenterden, to your own sweet self. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Do nothing and say nothing. Don’t worry yourself and all will come right. The temporary infatuation will pass away, and Mr. Vivian will love you all the better afterwards. You will see if I am not right.

So be comforted, darling Rose.
Ever your loving
AMY.

From Mrs. Tenterden to Mrs. Montague Mount, 170A, Ebury Street, S.W.

YACHT “MARIE,”
SOUTHAMPTON.
July 23rd, 1901.

DEAREST LILY,

I promised to let you know how I got on, and to write as soon as there was anything to write about. So here goes. I am on board Jack Vivian’s yacht, and a ripper it is. That is to say, I am on the yacht in the day, but sleep at the South Western Hotel. I hate sleeping on board a yacht, and never do so if I can help it. It may benefit one’s health daresay that it does but I do like to take my rest on shore. Well, now, as to my news. I have made a great impression on Mr. Vivian. He is the easiest man to deal with I ever met in my life, and he is as putty in my hands. That stupid girl, Miss Dacre, to whom he is supposed to be engaged I say supposed because he does not seem to be quite clear about it himself hasn’t got a chance with me. What Jack Vivian could have ever seen in her I can’t guess. She is the usual type of English Miss who can say “Papa and Mamma,” and that is about all. I can see that she loathes me, and I don’t wonder at it. But I am perfectly charming to her, and affect not to notice her palpable dislike.

Mrs. Vivian Jack’s mother seems not to have the remotest idea how matters are shaping, and fondly imagines that her beloved son is going to marry Miss Dacre. My dear Lily, as the Americans say, “it will be a cold day in August before that event comes off.” The fact is that Jack pays her only the slightest attention and is absolutely engrossed with me. If I, therefore, don’t pull off this coup I deserve to be hanged. When I have actually landed my fish I shall take my departure for a day while he breaks matters off with mademoiselle. You may not perhaps approve of this, but I know what I am about.

More in a day or two.

Ever yours,
ALICE.

From Mrs. Montague Mount to Mrs. Tenterden.

170A, EBURY STREET, 24th July 1901.

DEAREST ALICE,

I was much interested in your letter. Needless to say that I wish you the success that you are sure to attain. One word of advice. If I were you, while you are at Southampton, I should manage to be a good deal more at the hotel than you appear to be. You cannot have much opportunity for conversation on board the yacht, but at the hotel you can have Mr. Vivian all to yourself. And you can easily make excuses to get off the yacht, and as he is evidently so epris, he will follow you to the hotel, when you will have him more or less at your mercy. I shall be longing to hear how the plot thickens.

With fond love,
Believe me,
Your devoted friend,
LILY.

From Mrs. Tenterden to Mrs. Montague Mount.

July 29th, 1901.

DEAREST LILY,

Thanks for yours. My dear child, I have taken your excellent advice and am very glad that I did so. Your plan of campaign has proved most successful. I have had Jack with me for hours in the smoking room at the hotel, where the ladies staying in the hotel as well as the men always resort. It is a large room and affords ample opportunity for a tete-a-tete. Of these opportunities I have availed myself to the fullest possible extent. And with what result, you will naturally ask? With the result, my dear, of making this man absolutely mad about me. He has become an utter imbecile. C’est tout dit. His incoherent raving would only bore you, so, like the kindhearted little person I am, I spare you this infliction. Suffice it to say that he is mine body and soul. I say nothing about his fortune, because that naturally goes with the other two.

Let me thank you sincerely for your wise counsels,

And, believe me,
Ever affectionately yours,
ALICE.

Miss Amy Conway to Miss Rose Dacre.

ALFORD STREET.
THURSDAY.

DEAREST ROSE,

I have been anxiously expecting to hear from you, but you have not sent me a single line. I say “anxiously,” not that I really feel the least anxiety about you, being perfectly positive, as I am, that all will be right. But, my dearest girl, I am so deeply interested in this affair that, of course, I am anxious to hear how matters are going on. And you are a very naughty child not to have written to me before. Repair your sin of omission as soon as possible, and let me have a full account of all your proceedings.

With much love,
Yours ever,
AMY.

From Miss Rose Dacre to Miss Amy Conway, 30, Alford Street, Park Lane.

YACHT “MARIE,”
COWES.
August 2nd, 1901.

DEAREST AMY,

Pray forgive me for not having written sooner. But as the French say, tout savoir est tout pardonner. And having been for many days in the depth of despair, worried out of my life, and half dead with anxiety, I have not really been able to put pen to paper. But now all is changed, and I am able to address you with a light heart.

I am sure, Amy, that you will be longing to know why, and for this reason I will not for a moment leave you a victim to the most terrible ailment that can attack our sex unsatisfied feminine curiosity.

Two days ago we were still at Southampton, and it was proposed that after lunch we should take a little trip down the river Hamble a river which runs into Southampton Water. Well, we started Jack, and a friend of his, Captain Cleland, Mrs. Vivian, Mrs. Tenterden, and myself. All went well for about an hour, when a breeze sprang up which soon developed into half a gale. At least I understood the captain of the yacht to say so. I didn’t mind it in the least, but Mrs. Vivian, poor old lady, was dreadfully ill and nervous, and though I did all I could to comfort and reassure her, it was not of much use. As for Mrs. Tenterden, she absolutely collapsed. In abject terror she uttered incoherent cries, and no one could make out what she wished to be done. Jack seemed very upset and tried to soothe her as well as he could, but it was all to no effect, and indeed she once turned on him just like a virago, saying,

“I never wanted to come on your horrid yacht, but you would make me, and see what has happened to me now.”

Poor Jack I call him “Poor Jack” although he has behaved like a very naughty boy seemed to wince, but made no reply.

Eventually we arrived opposite the village of Hamble, and there the anchor was weighed if that is the right expression. Jack suggested that the three ladies, including myself, should go ashore in the dingey and stay at the hotel. Mrs. Vivian said that she did not want to do this, and Mrs. Tenterden positively refused.

“Do you think that I am going to risk my life that jim-crack boat?” she asked. “I am not quite an imbecile. Though I think I must be after all, otherwise I should not have come on this idiotic cruise.”

Jack again made no reply, but there was something in his face that told me that he was becoming disillusioned.

Shortly after that he sent the skipper and a boy ashore, who returned with some marvellous looking lobsters and a huge crab. It seems that this place is famous for its shell-fish, and I can only say that I never tasted anything more delicious than the crab in question.

Mrs. Vivian managed to eat a little dinner, but Mrs. Tenterden retired to her cabin and contented herself with some soup.

I for my part, ate a most capital dinner, and I fancied that Jack seemed sorry for the way he has been treating me lately; treatment which I should never have put up with, except from a man whom I love so devotedly a man whom I meant to rescue (selfishly, I admit) from that siren’s clutches. In all I have done I have been guided by your advice, and therefore to you remains all the credit, coupled with the life-long devotion of your little friend.

Well, we slept on board the yacht, and the morning brought its revelations.

Mrs. Tenterden was not present at breakfast, and came on deck very late. And only imagine, my dear, how she had changed. That beautiful pink complexion that I had admired so much, and even envied, had disappeared altogether. Her face was of a greyish hue, and possessed no shade of pink. Those beautiful pencilled eyebrows seemed to have strangely altered, and to have unaccountably thinned down. The charming woman-of-the-world manner had entirely disappeared, and, later on, when we descended to the cabin, at luncheon time, Mrs. Tenterden cast furtive and certainly not reassuring glances at the little mirror hanging there.

I confess that at first I was a wee bit sorry for her, but after all, this Nemesis was thoroughly deserved, and when I saw the impression that the metamorphosis had made on Jack the darling goose can’t conceal his feelings I must own to having been overjoyed.

“The Enchantress” left for London the same evening, looking in her war paint quite a different being. But this made no difference, for Jack, I need scarcely say, had evidently altered his mind.

Since her departure, everything has gone back to its old state. Jack, poor fickle boy, is devotion itself, and I have not thought proper to resist his entreaties to consent to an immediate marriage. You will not blame me, darling, will you?

Ever your affectionate and
Happy friend,
ROSE.