Letter to Irene, 1/18/2003

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Dear Irene,

You are probably wondering why, after so many months, your flawed friend has managed to remember you and to write. I am afraid I cannot offer any excuses save for my cowardice, for which I hope you might find it in your heart to forgive me.

After that day on which we were forcefully separated to spare your reputation, I returned to my little cottage, as you might expect, and spent some weeks in lonely isolation with only Farmer Boyle’s sheep as company. Though you may not believe it, I thought of you often. I was frightened that if I were to continue soliciting your company, the Countess might extend her anger to you. How arrogant I am, to think she would spare a moment’s thought on me, or that I alone could alter her favour! How foolish to give up my one true friendship. I am so very sorry, Irene. You told me once that I was like a sister, and then I abandoned you.

I have been living with Baron Gwydaine since shortly after Beltaine - that is another story altogether which I do not wish to detail here, but which I am sure you can guess at. It is difficult for me to leave - whenever I do, I am accompanied by his faithful Rook. So, while my thoughts turned often to you, I remained in Oxford with him.

This Yule past, a miracle of sorts occurred. Her Excellency came to sup with us and bestowed gifts upon her son. Then she gave one to me: I am released from my oath. This has, of course, delighted the Baron.

Taking advantage of his happiness, I asked if it might not be possible for you to come visit. He agreed that you might, which has overjoyed me - I have so very much to tell you! But of course the decision rests with you, and you may not wish to waste time on a girl who has proven, at best, to be an inconsistent companion.

I await your reply humbly and with hope...

Love, Hayley