Dear “Mr. Gray”;

It seems that the wind and the ice have conspired to spare me at least a week or so in replying to your dreary litany of complaints. They appear to have as much interest in speaking to you as I do but alas, neither of us can be spared our entanglement, as you seem to enjoy calling it, as of yet. And please don’t read this letter as an attack. I do forgive your rather harsh comments and ask you extend the same courtesy for myself. You see, I was somewhat unable to counter your abuse as I was under the weather at the time. A minor case of life threatening illness that took some time to contain, you understand. If not for the excellent choices of housing staff that I have, I might have left you in quite a state, it seems. I also extend my greatest apologies that my illness did not yet kill me, an event that no doubt leaves you thoroughly heartbroken. I assure you, you won’t be the only one to feel such sorrow over my continued existence but that is hardly a surprise. We both know the startling manner in which I keep company, especially given my current ailments. Again, do forgive my lack of patience. I’ve only so much to go around and I’m afraid that I’ve exhausted it on certain familial obligations that will be dealt with in the near future but that is a personal affair and I shall spare you.

First of all, I am rather alarmed to find myself offering my condolences on Brother Edward and I must say that this is indeed a shock of the worst kind. Have we any news on what has transpired in regards to his passing? Yes, I understand that there has been some manner of “dog attack”, if we must be calling it that but surely, you don’t expect me to believe that a man such as our fallen friend might have been so foolish. Think, my fiendish friend, of who we were dealing with and ask yourself truly if this was the manner of man who might succumb to something like the elements. More over, you said yourself that he was a man of the water, known for his traveling. I cannot be satisfied that he might have fallen prey to something so tawdry. Nevertheless, should you happen on any information about this so-called dog attack, do let me know. More importantly, ensure that his Brothers informed of anything that might present itself. They are a rather passionate group and while delivering such a message would not be a chore I suppose anyone would want, it is not worth the price to be paid should they be unaware. I assume they know he is dead but is there anything more to be learned? If so, ensure that you tell them first, even before me. His Family should, after all, be the first to know if there are any issues that should arise and if anyone has been foolish enough to harm one of their members. I assume that such a task would be too difficult for someone of your constitution so I assume that you’ll send someone in your stead if you have not already. If you haven’t, please send them a token of our appreciation of their Brother and his services. They need not make assumptions that dear Brother Edward’s talents were going to waste for those who could not appreciate them.

Oh how I do so enjoy your strange obsession with that wretched family that dwells out in the forest. If you were any more fascinated by them, I should worry that perhaps you were spending too much time sitting around the Phoenix lounge, listening in on the elderly spinsters having their afternoon tea. But of course, you would never be so gauche. Still, one must wonder how one such as yourself finds himself steeped in the best gossip of this town, my vile friend. I should think that you would be happy that you find yourself speaking to only myself on a regular basis, dreadful though it is for both of us. A man with such a keen ear for what manner of news has come out might yet gain a reputation if he were indeed speaking to the masses as you do.

In regards to what you’ve told me about the chilling point of their recent interactions, I find it no reason to lose our heads. Consider this, my fellow, that Master Kent cares only about those things that sit directly between him and his interests. He always was like that, strange bird, that one. He cares about things intensely for as long as it takes to get annoying for him and then it fizzles out. If not for his own inheritance and the wealth that gets thrown at the Kent name, he might have died a pauper by now for his lack of insight or patience. If revenge for some slight is currently what he sets his sights on, let him to it and we need not interfere. While the survival of Lady Kent has him likely fuming, I doubt that his temper will bring him to our doorstep unless there is reason for him to believe that he knows me or has any reason to. I’ve neither the inclination to bother with their ridiculous affairs and we’ve more than enough on our own plate and in our own collective corners that we can afford to leave him to his muttering. Please do not mistake my attitude for a kind of graciousness or even indifference. I am aware of what that man is like and I know that he is more than capable of showing off his more wretched side. I also know that it is less likely that we will suffer from such an outburst if we do less to provoke him and we need not volunteer information before it’s time. We can stay vigilant about his actions but allow the fool to create his own storm. We need not run to greet it and hand him a direction for his need for retribution. My name will likely always remain somewhere in his bad graces and you must remember, there’s more than one of us out there. Be it me or another, there will be a target for his anger at some point and I’ve no intention on allowing him to use me for his catharsis. Do not trouble yourself or me with such things. I will pay attention as much as is demanded of me but it is a fool’s errand to tend to the discord of their lives.

I’ve been made aware of Old Mary and her untimely death though I am neither shocked nor saddened by it. While her propensity for gossip is no surprise to me, I too am somewhat disturbed to find that she was found in a bawdy house. I can assure you that this was not where she lived, at least not until recently. I know only because there were particular details that came to my attention in regards to her mail. She was very particular about where it was sent and as a precaution, it was sent by someone trusted. The report back was that her living situation was admirable for one in her position and that she was living comfortably. Far moreso than even a generous wage such as I was paying for a laundry maid might have afforded her. I have a sneaking suspicion, my curious fellow, that Old Mary had some secrets that she was selling to higher pay outs. Should my hunch be right, allow me to relieve you in some stress immediately by saying that our blind and troublesome former employee here had little to work with in regard to myself. Business is only conducted in the usual way here as it always has been. For as much as you despise this town and the cloistering trees, they make for useful allies in situations such as these. The world need not see our little private lives and you’ll be grateful to know that Old Mary saw nothing and was told even less. Perhaps that was why she was such a dreadful laundry maid but alas, I gifted her with only her wages and nothing more. That said, I’m not so certain that I was the only one whom she kept employ with. Should any other names surface in regards to her, do let me know. She might be gone but by now, you know how this town works. The stories, they do have a life of their own, no?

In regards to the sudden death that has found its way into Cousin Johnny’s circle, I trust that we’ve taken all the appropriate measures to keep them happy? You did, alas, leave that part out of your previous, less boorish letter to me. I should think that if anyone knows how important the conventions of politeness are to these men, you should be the one I can count on for such things. It is, after all, how we’ve managed to continue to find success in these crazy days when change can happen so fast. And these lives, they run out so quickly. I should suspect that your thoughts on the matter are correct but we should always ask ourselves about motivations. It can be easy to allow ourselves too much in the way of panic when it is too convenient an answer and should we simply give in to baser instincts, we may well miss some clues which might be a threat to us after all. Stay vigilant but don’t assume that our viper, as you insist on calling her, is truly the culprit. If she is indeed behind this, we should be looking to find out why. What manner of motive might she be acting on and what might she gain from it. These things are of the utmost importance to remind ourselves of, lest we suddenly lose sight of them and become victims of a greater inconvenience than this wretched county or the Kent family.

Finally, the fellow that you’ve set in Brother Edward’s fine footsteps is someone I wish to follow up on. I understand that your panic may have caused it to slip your mind but I am interested in who this gent is and how he feels that he can fill such shoes. You know that I am rather particular as to who I might keep company with and I have certain reservations. Oh I do know that you will simply regard this as another reason of mine to complain but I assure you that I do have my reasoning. I can be impressed by handiwork but I will also remind you that Brother Edward’s range was all but impossible to find elsewhere. It is likely something his own Brothers are sorely missing right now and I would be quite offended to have them believe that we felt so little about his many talents or that we might treat his work with such disrespect. I’m not in the habit of hiring any great fools so I should think that I can rest and recover with some certainty that this has not escaped your notice and that all efforts have been taken to ensure that this young man is not currently taxed with as much as our fallen Brother. His eagerness to please, as you put it, has me somewhat intrigued but less optimistic than yourself. I would be more pleased to know what we intend to do with our new fellow and what manner of trouble his presence may yet bring. Do keep me updated on this.

As your warden, as you insist on calling me, I have been mindful of how much this absence has troubled you and have done my best to get this letter to you in a timely fashion. The roads being what they are, I have done what I can to employ any tactic necessary to get this letter out, even going about this in a manner I dread. We will not make a habit of this but seeing as our regular postal service has been a bit overwhelmed by this dreadful snow, we must make the best of what is available. Only reply in this manner if we are still unable to communicate via our usual channels and please do so quickly if there are any further developments. I am still dreadfully ill and will not be leaving the house on account of both my health and the road conditions. That said, I have means to get more information to you should it be necessary. Do not hesitate to use other channels if an emergency arises. Otherwise, I must end this now and hopefully soon be recovered to my usual self. Should I fail in this endeavour, I assure you, you’ll get what you deserve from the estate. Now then, doesn’t that make you feel better, my fine enemy?

With cold regards,

Mr. White”

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