Dear “Mr. Gray”;
If I weren’t mistaken, I would have understood from your last correspondence that you may have been cross with me. I assume that I am, indeed, mistaken on this matter and that we are able to continue to engage in a more professional manner than this. Aside from being gauche and tawdry, it may arouse certain people to become entirely too interested in affairs that would otherwise be completely unexciting to the likes of that company. As a man well-versed in gossip, I should not have to explain to you how irritating it can be to suddenly find oneself becoming the target of it rather than the casual listener. Besides, it would mean that your tea room ladies would cease conversing with you and I should be most put out to find out that the few people who do keep you company had decided to abandon you now. Whereas I am more fond of limited social engagements, I fear that you find yourself entirely too unhappy without them and I don’t think either of us would be able to stand it if you were forced to talk to me for company. Our relationship is strained enough and I have high doubts that either of us would survive such an ordeal. With that, allow me to explain something very important to you.
Some months ago, the gentleman who has potentially expired, if the papers are to be believed, was paying somewhat unintended host to a sibling he found most unsavory but was well aware of her so-called talents, as we shall call them. She has the most terrible luck with matrimony, you understand, having married at least half a dozen times and each poor soul finding that his grave just could not be avoided. The merry widow found that each husband had been very generous towards her in his last will and testament and as such, she had grown very accustomed to a certain lifestyle. A lifestyle, I might add, that has been impossible for her to find here. Now, for the sake of this story, imagine if you will that the man who had met his unfortunate demise had been named as the sole heir in an estate in France that, on paper, had little to offer, but also allowed for the beneficiary to be privy to certain land holdings and paperwork that guaranteed a fortune for each as well as undetermined sums to be paid upon the hour of their father’s death? All hypothetical, you understand, but if we think of our viper here, suppose she had become very unlucky with her current husband and was in dire need of currency to return her to Europe. Suppose the dearly departed knew about such things and perhaps even other aspects to this little viper of a sister of his? Perhaps there may have been reason for his silence in the matter. Some form of insight into the mind of such a woman that he found it safer to keep those elements of his life that were private tucked away from her rather keen eyes. If we were to imagine that the woman we are thinking of is more than simply very unlucky in her dealings with the world of men, suppose this poor soul who has been lost, as told by the newspapers, knew that this sibling of his had made several trips to the chemist upon her arrival and was very interested in keeping prying eyes to a minimum. Now imagine how the poor man might have felt falling victim to such tricks? Oh all of this is simply speculation, I assure you. But what might have become of a man whom she had no attachment to, no patience for, more money that she currently had and every motivation to dispatch of on her way back to Paris? He would make for a rather convenient stop, no?
And now imagine if such a man had told you even less than simply to keep an eye out for such a woman? Perhaps you feel a sense of betrayal but of this you can be certain: I have yet to ever fail anyone under my employ in matters of business or otherwise. For as frustrating as I find your company, I have acted in such a manner so as to keep you from falling prey to a lion posing as a lamb. A lion, I might add, that I have significant insights into the appetite of and would know better how dangerous a creature she could be. Such things are known to me and should I choose to keep them close, I can assure you that I do so for good reason. Mark my words well, you are only alive because the most potent predator in this pit of a town has no access to you at all and the cunning hunter that she is, if you had made any sort of presence known to her, she would have made short order of you in less time than it would take to compile all of your mourners for your impending funeral. Ask John what it felt like to be taken into the spider’s parlor and you’ll know that for what I lack for affection for you, I at least respect you enough to spare you such a disgraceful fate.
Having said all this, I anticipate that you will see my next request of you to be a token of madness and for this, I can hardly blame you. Perhaps it is a kind of illness of the mind but for what it is worth, I also have every intention on making sure the spectacle is of some value to you. You may even find it a labor that brings out some of your better qualities and gives you a chance to exercise some of those talents that have perhaps been a little on the ill-used side for a while. I don’t suppose that I understand what passes for amusement in your world so I stop short of suggesting that perhaps you might find this foray fun as such but I will say that just maybe, you might even find some enjoyment out of my decision on this matter and my plans for dealing with a family that I hold in little regard.
As your letter so tersely stated, the family of which I write have recently brought a rather dangerous house guest under their roof. Knowing what I do of their affairs and the deplorable head of their operations, I suspect that this woman would be considering doing us a favor in ridding the world of this beast of a man but I am under no delusions about the environment that she dwells under. While the patriarch of that family may not be intelligent, he is not so foolish that he knows not what he deals with. Their guest has a bit of a reputation, you understand, and while the Master of the house may not have figured this out on his own, he is well-versed in social circles enough to be on his guard. That said, he is not immune to stupidity and his greed does often overshadow what passes for intellect in his life. His arrogance should eventually prove his undoing but I suggest a more expedient method for dealing with this situation.
While I mean every single word of what I had said prior to this about the dangers this woman brings with her, I want her removed from that household. While I do not believe in the slightest that what awaits that brute that has taken her has not been earned, I cannot take the chance and have her stay in their house potentially introduce them to any information that may have made its way to her. Before you panic, I have dealt with our correspondences as I have always done and even in my current, unfortunate state, I have gone to great lengths to continue to contact you as diligently and discreetly as possible. Still, you know how gossip travels and this viper, as you call her, is an expert in finding anything that she believes might be of some use to her. With this in mind, I would like to make it a priority to have her removed from a situation that may find her loosing her grip on what information she may have found. And while my own manners are often lacking in social situations, I do believe that any house guest that starts to sport bruises is a step too far in forgetting ones’ civility. Along with the aforementioned concerns that this guest of theirs may have found something of interest that may be potentially irritating for our affairs, I do so hate to think that we may also be letting a good opportunity pass us by in regards to reminding our loathsome fellow to avoid acting so shamefully. For the good of the community, I think that perhaps we might find a way to bring him up to date on such matters. We do, after all, have a great deal of resources at hand and perhaps a few that are interested in instilling our neighbors with a sense of humility that is always popular around this time of year. Are you interested at all in such a motion? As always, in matters of community service, I am most happy to offer generous support to fruitful ideas. Do let me know what you think of and perhaps we might yet turn this unfortunate episode into something more entertaining for both of us.