How good of you to worry yourself over my well-being. Let me assure you that you needn't come fetch me. I am quite well and our party has arrived safely in Italia. Your descriptions, however colorful, did not prepare me for the magnificent beauty of this place. The deep blue of the waters, the heavy smells of coffee and baking bread wafting through the streets, the delightful contrast of the rough clay houses and jagged cliffs against the Mediterranean sky. It is everything you promised and more, offering an array of beautiful landscapes for me to practice my watercolors.There is a beautiful painting in my chamber of one of the noblemen who once owned this villa. It is done in the style of the old masters and is likely quite valuable. I have spent hours studying this portrait and wondering about its subject. He looks to have been a quite intellegent and handsome young lord.
The dear Widow Applecross, whom you still address as Mrs. though she's been without her husband for nearly five years now, secured for us a lovely villa -- blessedly pigeon free --with a view of the sea from nearly every window. She speaks fondly of you.
Though it is true we are all well, having arrived in Italy without incident, I must tell you that I do feel there is one cause for concern with regard to our beloved Widow Applecross. There is an Italian "gentleman" who has been quite attentive to her since our arrival. A very small fellow who, though he assures us he is of noble blood, looks to me like -- (please do not disclose this to anyone Sir Wendell, as I am sure this information could easily sully the name of Applecross in our social circles) -- a, well, a MIXED breed. To be perfectly honest, I am not even certain that he is even one-half Italian!
I have, of course, kept my suspicions and fears to myself, not wanting to offend the Widow Applecross nor cause young Lilly alarm. But this "gentleman" I refer to, Botsotini, seems to always be lurking about the shore in front of our villa or just strolling by the cafe where we take tea, with his great, shaggy oaf of a "valet." (Believe me, I use the term quite generously as the only purpose this unkempt creature seems to serve is to attempt to make Senore Botsotini more fragrant and cultured and noble by comparison).
While it is true that I have no evidence to this fact, I feel quite sure that Botsotini is a villain! He asks many questions as to the wealth and inheritance and property of my hostess. I cringe at the thought that this shedding, twitching Botsotini may actually be winning Widow Applecross' affections! He is quite beneath her in every way! However, as you have said so many times about Amalfi, one could fall in love quite easily in such a beautiful setting --- even with the wrong type of suitor. I am concerned that Botsotini is playing the part of the serpent in this Italian paradise.
Reviewing the above passages, Sir Wendall, I realize that by the tone of this letter I may seem quite hysterical. I must be clear: Botsotini has done nothing (thus far) that could be construed as inappropriate. However, it is very obvious to me that the Widow Applecross' trusting nature and benevolence are causing her peril.Please advise me as to what course of action to take. I cannot stand idly by when in my core I feel such unrest as to the character of this man. I only wish you were here to counsel me and offer your trustworthy advice as a voice of reason to our dear friend, Widow Applecross.
Warmest regards, I eagerly await your reply.Miss Antigone Emmerton