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by H❀pe
Rated: E · Assignment · Drama · #2305869
Magnolia-Rose to her elder sister Elizabeth
Booth House, Ashford, Kent.

In the parlour, near an opened book of Shakespeare, was a pile of discarded clothing. The play-acting activity was long abandoned, but not all the costume had been discarded. Maggie was still sporting her brother's tricorn.

Sat in front of the fire, wriggling her stockinged toes in its warmth, she idly brushed her feather quill across her lips as she reread the letter she’d penned to her sister.

10th April, 1675

Dearest Elizabeth,
James' dinner guests are a mixed assortment. This week, one of whom was so old we might sooner open a grave for him than the door! While his son, despite having a striking profile, was absent an eye.

I must admit, however, that over the course of the dinner, I forgave the latter for his failing. I imagined him with a past life as a pirate, now returned home for a good bath and better company. An eyepatch does provide a man with a rather dramatic presence. He would make a perfect villain in next Christmas' family pantomime.

It still strikes me as rather odd James has suddenly become a socialite. It is nearly every week that he has people for dinner. And while I am happy enough to play hostess, most especially as he allowed me to order three new dresses, it seems odd that he never invites any ladies. Instead, it is all port and cigars in his office until the wee hours.

What would Papa think of this carousing?!

Your loving sister,


The rain was pelting down, though the drumming of the windowpane was muffled by thick and drawn-closed curtains. Within the room, a game of Skittles was abandoned, dramatically so in a decidedly kicked-at sort of topple. A damp letter from Elizabeth was dropped on the floor in the very spot it had been opened.

Meanwhile, a furious Maggie had snatched up her writing things to make a hurried reply.

22nd April, 1675

It cannot be true! For one, James would have told me if he thought it time I should marry, and for another, these gentlemen guests that arrive are hardly husbandly calibre. Why one fellow last week had hands that were splatted with ink, and when I queried as to why, he admitted he was an accountant! Practically a Clerk. Barely more than a bookkeeper!

I shall proceed with your suggestion of submitting James to an interrogation, at the very least I might push his focus away from my personal affairs to his own. After all, he is the eldest, and thus his duty to the family is to provide an heir. Fie! Perhaps I should ask the accountant if he has an unmarried sister?!

God Bless!

p.s. I went to see ‘Love in the Wood’, it was a wonderful play, and I am so happy to have seen Wycherley’s first.


When, through the course of time, a responding letter arrived, it discovered Maggie in a finer mood. Serious conversations had been had, and the eventful days since saw them into springtime. A vase full of Daffodils now ornamented the parlour table.

5th May. 1675

My Darling Sister,
Sorry to have distressed you, and it was all over nothing. James explained that it is important men's business, also that he must travel to Portsmouth next week, upon some frightfully exciting mercantile deal.

Meanwhile, he’s had the accountant take the silverware for safekeeping. Oh, and you know the man with an eye patch? Yes well, it turns out that he is actually a banker, which I think means James is growing Papa’s business successfully.

I wanted to go to Portsmouth too of course, but James said the road is dangerous. Just in case he changes his mind, I am practising throwing daggers. So far, most bounce off the door, but I’d have killed three highwaymen if they’d been stood there.

Lovingly yours,


Maggie hadn’t even heard back from her sister when she penned her next letter, so focused was she that she did not even notice the sound of songbirds through the open window.

12th May, 1675

Dear Elizabeth,
I was wrong about so many things. And James, well he was not entirely honest either.

When he got back from Portsmouth, he called me into his study, and he told me that he wanted to see me properly settled ‘before it is too late’. Which I take some offence at because 20 is not really so old.

I am not at all happy about his insistence on a quickened pace to my conclusion, particularly because my only love thus far is the theatre. Would that my Dom Juan walk through the door that I might feel differently! Alas, the reality of the male kind, to date, has been a disappointment.

To make matters worse, James made me cancel the order for new dresses. There is something awful afoot, and I am being made to suffer through it. It is not fair Elizabeth.

I have told him that I shall need time to think and that I shall visit you to do so. I have hardly even lived yet, I am not yet ready to be mothballed. For pity’s sake, allow me this distraction.

Forever yours,
Magnolia Rose

But visiting her sister in Bath would only delay the inevitable.

Over the coming days, Maggie made a new escape plan, under the charade of visiting her sister she would travel all the way to London by herself. She had always had a dream, a dream of auditioning to join the Theatre.
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