My rating: 2 of 5 stars
To Lady Helen,
My dearest friend, I have been following your adventures with anticipation for quite some time now. When you told me of a secret society that vanquished demons hiding among the populace, no one was more thrilled than me that you were to be a part of it. I lived vicariously through your missives for a while, and I was proud to call you a friend.
Then, of course, we could not communicate for a few months, and I must confess, some of the details of your trials slipped my mind. I hope you will not judge me too harshly when I say that I had difficulty recalling names and events. When you spoke of losing the Colligat, I had to sift through my old letters to bring it back to mind.
That said, since I will be judging you quite harshly from now, perhaps you would be fully justified in berating my poor memory. I do not know what it is that induced such a noticeable change in your personality during your stay at Brighton, but I do not remember you being such an indecisive soul. Nor quite so preoccupied with the Bible. I appreciate your devotion to god and country, but perhaps you could save the repeated sentiments for someone else? I believed that you were a pragmatic person, not one steeped in religious fervour and prone to believing whatever she was told.
Surely you of all people know that one must keep an eye out for agendas.
I am sorry to say that your maid, the inimitable Miss Darby, sounds a thousand times more sensible than you. She, for one, is not constantly in denial about her feelings. Keep your thoughts to yourself, Helen, but do not lie to yourself. It ill becomes your intellect. I somewhat sympathise with your keeping secrets from everyone, but you cannot play every side and hope to win. Your lack of conviction in your comrades is disheartening, to say the least. As for the Earl, the less said about that, the better.
The incident at the tavern was equally appalling. I cannot, for the life of me, tell why you would attempt to punish a Deceiver that was clearly not doing much harm. They do not sound pleasant, but you must know when to wage your battles. There is merit in diplomacy, even when the enemy is involved. I thought you would realise this when you met the Comte, but sadly you continued to disappoint me with your unilateral thinking. I do not ask you to abruptly alter your principles, but when new knowledge comes your way, do take the time to ponder it.
Finally, with regards to your latest experiences, I have noticed that it seemed less adventurous altogether, though admittedly the stakes were higher. If I have not misunderstood it, you spent most of your time at Brighton, keeping secrets from other people and worrying greatly over the state of affairs. On several occasions, you foolishly revealed yourself to the public, but again, nothing of import occurred. Then you suddenly went through some truly shocking events in the space of a day or two and ended up engaged to the Duke of Selburn. I find myself at a loss here. That last incident was clearly caused by your own unjustifiable recklessness – why in the world would you attempt to avoid attention by jumping into a stable? Walking away would have been the easiest route, but for some indiscernible reason, you nearly killed a stableboy and yourself by taking that needless leap. It is hard to feel sympathy when you insist on acting so impulsive, my dear.
I would say, as a friend, to be cautious of the Duke. That man is clearly the Grand Deceiver when his every move reeks of an ulterior motive. And if I am incorrect about this, it is all the more disturbing that a normal human would choose to ceaselessly pursue a woman who has rejected him more than once. He hides behind propriety while breaking it. Do not trust him, Helen. Fairer faces than his have hidden black hearts.
I hope my letter, brutal as it is, will bring you back to yourself. I wish only the best for you in the days to come, and want more than anyone else for you to find happiness. I only worry that it would be impossible in your current state. And last but not least, there is such a thing as an annulment. I would advise you to keep your options open.
Wishing you the best,
Ms. T. Rious