My Dearest Miranda (863 words)
My Dearest Miranda,
With the sobriety of morning, I can see my behaviour last night was quite reprehensible.
To have said the things I did was bad enough, but to accompany them with such actions as I remember was so unforgivable that I can barely summon up the courage to ask you to attribute these lapses of decency to the effects of too much wine and to accept my unreserved apologies for such ungentlemanly conduct.
When I said that, but for the size of your nose and the squint in your eye, you were the most Venus-like of women, please believe that I meant no offence, but was imagining in you the line and beauty of Botticelli’s goddess in her scallop shell.
I hope this may cast in a different and more acceptable light my having asked you to stand in the dog’s basket, while relieving you of your dress and loosening your hair.
Furthermore, in the cold light of day, I realize that it would be entirely understandable for you to misconstrue the respect and admiration I have for you as no better than a cover for lewd and lecherous cravings. And let me hasten to add that no insult to your reputation was intended when I handed you that bicycle saddle and suggested you consider it emblematic of the designs I had upon you.
Even as I write, I grow scarlet at the memory of my vulgar jests at the expense of your surname, my own, dear Miss Bakewell. You are not a tart, you never were a tart, nor ever could be; and, in my foolishness, I wish I had concentrated instead upon the excellence of your bread making.
Never have I felt more ashamed of myself, as I contemplate the improprieties I imposed upon you. And I fear an excess of the gift of Bacchus is no excuse for my impertinent dwelling upon the unsavoury associations of your name or of my subsequent and questionable demonstrations of devotion towards you.
You must believe me that, when I planted the rose in your bosom, it was an act of adoration and not as the tawdry means of touching your appurtenances. A still graver misdemeanour, I know, was my attempt to rearrange your corsetry; and I am not surprised you chose to leave the dog basket, at that point.
Which brings me to the matter of my wholly despicable vileness in pursuing you upstairs, while unbuttoning myself. I wished only to give you a signal of the ardour of my regard for you, a tangible token of the passion you arouse in me. Nevertheless, I fully appreciate it was a gross display and I accept full responsibility for your swooning and loss of colour.
Nor could it have seemed to you anything other than the most flagrant breach of your modesty when, upon the merciful return of your composure, you discovered me unclothed and holding you in my embrace. I hurry to assure you that my nakedness was due solely to the considerable heat I experienced upon freeing you from your petticoats so that you might breathe more easily.
I see now how easily this state of affairs may have been misunderstood by you and, upon reflection, I am overwhelmed by your magnanimous generosity in favouring me with your trust and demanding no more of me than a pledge of matrimony, which I believe I may have given you.
Now that the sun has risen, however, and bathed these baleful events in the fulsome calm of its own bright warmth, I have no hesitation in releasing you from an engagement that must be so very distasteful to you; and I will readily bear the heavy disappointment of that circumstance as my just desserts for having treated you so abominably.
Yet, how extraordinary is this! Your messenger has just called to deliver your note; and I am, of course, full of wonder at the alacrity of your posting of the banns proclaiming our forthcoming nuptials. You do me a greater honour than I had anticipated.
Let me say this, however, so that I may behave with rather more propriety today than yesterday and, hopefully, redeem myself in your eyes; I assure you that I have no intention of holding you to your commitment to a life-long bond, founded upon the shallow ground of my inebriation. To do so would be to add injustice to the indignity I have already subjected you to. And I hold you in too high regard to allow you to sacrifice yourself in such a way.
On the contrary, it is clear to me now that the only honourable course of action is for me to leave you in peace and not to inflict my shameful presence upon you ever again. Please do not try to dissuade me from this, as it is the very least I can do by way of recompense.
There is so much more I would wish to say to you; but, I must draw this to a swift conclusion as your father is at the door and my carriage awaits.
Copyright: Charles Becker, 2017.