By Michael L. Wexler
Mary Elizabeth Braddon
c/o God/Richmond Cemetery
London, England, TW10
Dear Mary Elizabeth,
I am writing to let you know…I love you.
There, I said it!
I know this might come as a somewhat of a shock seeing that you are pushing 200 and “dead” and I am 45 and “alive” yet what are these but readily transferrable titles? You are so not dead. You are as alive today as you ever were.
“Unluckily for the harmony of creation, wise men do not always fall in love wisely” (Eleanor’s Victory)
I confess to being an exemplar of your own prophetic words and my mother would be quick to agree that I do tend to chase “unavailable women” but in this case perhaps we can make an exception? Via the pages of the 80+ novels you left behind, I feel as if I have come to know you – not in a frivolous manner like George Vane would throw around sovereigns, or Richard Thornton paint, but in the hard-earned fashion of an Arnold Wentworth or Gilbert Monckton.
“…[the artist’s] pencil is the outer expression of her mind, and whatever falsehoods she may impose upon her fellow man, her sketchbook will tell the truth. It will betray her when she is false and reveal her when she is true” (Eleanor’s Victory)
What has been revealed to me through your mighty quill? Like a young John Faunce (Rough Justice), I have investigated your character and found it to be not only true, but so keenly attuned to the human condition.
“These contradictions and inconsistencies are the stuff of which human nature is woven – a woof of darkness, a warp of light – black and silver threads crossing and recrossing” (Eleanor’s Victory)
“I think that pitying angels must sometimes weep over the useless torments, the unnecessary anguish, which foolish mortals inflict upon themselves” (Eleanor’s Victory)
“Phoebe Marks was a person who never lost her individuality. Silent and self-contained she seemed to hold herself within herself, and take no colour from the outer world” (Lady Audley’s Secret)
You see, I too am a scribe, a would-be Sigismund Smith charged with channeling the colours of the rainbow. Excuse me for gushing but the way you build up a villain so effortlessly only to redeem them at the last possible instant is truly sublime.
Ala Jabez North: “Worthy Citizens of Slopperton; I started from the workhouse of this town; I never in my life had a friend to help me or a relation to advise me. Unloved, unaided, unprayed for, unwept, motherless, fatherless, sisterless, brotherless, friendless, I have taken my own road” (Trail of The Serpent/Three Times Dead)
The “mad” Lady Audley: “You and your nephew have been rich all your lives, and can well afford to despise me; but I knew how far poverty can affect a life, and I looked forward with a sick terror to the life so afflicted”
Even Oliver Greswold: “At fourteen years Oliver was motherless, and knew that he had no one to look to but the grim old man who sat at meat with him day after day, and hardly ever flung him a civil word” (Rough Justice)
The empathy you possess for your own worst creations brings a tear to the eye and carries me away like your lush poetry:
“Laura Mason was not made for the active service of life. She was one of the holiday soldiers in the great army, fit for nothing but to wear gilded epaulettes and gorgeous uniforms, and turn out upon gala days to the sound of trumpet and drum”(Eleanor’s Victory)
“To the ardent minds of the juvenile denizens of the waterside, the swollen river was a source of pure and unalloyed delight. To take a tour round one’s own back kitchen in a washing tub, with a duster for a sail, is perhaps, at the age of six, a more perfect species of enjoyment than that afforded by any Alpine glories or Highland scenery through which we may wander in after-years, when Reason has taught us her cold lesson, that the shadows are awaiting us on the other side” (Trail of The Serpent/Three Times Dead)
Is our love doomed? Let us not let the gulf between life and death stand in the way. There are modern day Blurosset’s (Googling “bringing someone back to life” pulls up 535,000,000 results in under .56 seconds – Google is just one of the many modern conveniences you might enjoy in the 21st century). That, and the fact that those vultures – the W. Fraser Rae’s of the world – no longer sully your good name.
Yes, M.E.B., I am a victim of a “…love, which is a madness and a scourge, and a fever, and a delusion, and a snare…” (Lady Audley’s Secret)
Perhaps you know where this is going but I can’t bring myself to ask the penultimate question, so I include this picture to speak a thousand words. Leave the cozy crypt that you are chilling in and move to Kansas City. Our team won the World Series recently and we have great BBQ.
My love, do not let me suffer the cruel fate of a Roland Landsell (The Doctor’s Wife) but instead answer me swiftly and affirmatively. I shall be checking the papers daily (as well as Facebook and Instagram [just in case]).
I know I am not the first suitor who has knocked on your celestial door, but let me be the last. I tenderly await your reply…
Michael L. Wexler – Duke of 18th Street, KCMO
(Okay not really but I know there is always royalty in your stories so I didn’t want to disappoint.)