Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Francis to Charley: New Zealand

August, 1868
Charley-Still no word from Marlene. When I have tried to talk to Msr. Beauchamp about her, he waves his hand dismissively and says that Marlene must be one of those "hysterical" women and she has run off somewhere. He seems completely unconcerned about what has happened to her. I am happy to tell you that Msr. is going to be leaving for several months and that should give me the opportunity to look for the cupboard you mentioned. You will not imagine where he is going! To New Zealand and not for fashion--but for GOLD! It seems there is a gold rush there and Msr. B has gone to Thames, N.Z to stake a claim! Ha! Can you imagine fussy Msr. B in a miner's camp-getting his hands dirty? I must work quickly here as I imagine he will be back much sooner the he thinks.  Francis

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Charley to Francis: Norway

May 1868

This is disturbing news indeed!  Marlene had the key on her person and I fear it may be lost and she with it.  In her last letter she mentioned that the key fit a locked cabinet in the workroom.  I sent a wire to my contacts in Singapore and received a reply that Marlene never arrived but rather a man by the name of Robert Arsenault and that he had done the fitting for the Buckingham’s.  Something is surely amiss!  I will attempt to rendezvous with you in Paris as soon as I am able.  I am presently in Norway with Mary.  She has decided to purchase a prized herd of diary goats from the Balstads in Harstad, whom I believe you know.  I believe she is more interested in a certain cheesemaker but that is a story for another day when less pressing matters prevail.  If Msr. B has harmed Marlene in any way he shall rue it – I promise!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Francis Laird to Charley: Singapore

April 1868
Dear Charley-I am afraid I have rather disturbing news. As per our agreement, I met with Msr B and he agreed to employ my services as his soliciter, which would give me access to all his personal and business financial records. When I arrived at his studio, I was informed that Marlene had gone to Singapore to attend the wedding of John and Mary Buckingham. Marlene had helped design the lovely dress you see Mary wearing and was to help with the final fitting of the dress and with wedding preparations. I found it off that Marlene had gone to Singapore alone! And Charley, I am sorry to tell you this, but her seamstress basket has been left behind! With all of her tools in it. I fiind this very odd and alarming! When I asked Msr when he expected Marlene to return, he gave a very vague answer. I fear for Marlene's safety. Please advise. Francis

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Charley to Marlene: Turkey

January 1868

Dear Marlene,
Mary and I have found ourselves in the most exotic of places!  While travelling home to Scotland we met the most interesting man who is in the business of railroads!  His name was Solomon Willard.  His father developed machinery for an early tramroad in Massachusetts and Solomon was on his way to Izmir to observe the Ottoman Railway.  He was such an enthusiastic man!  I found his descriptions of Istanbul to be fascinating.  Mary just smiled and nodded, already acquiescing to what she knew was coming!  I am such a rascal to her it is a good thing she loves me so!  So after a short stay at home I am off again on an adventure, but this time with the delightful company of my daughter.  We are wandering the alleys and nooks of Istanbul, letting our noses drink in the exotic smells of spices and tobacco and sounds most foreign to us.  We were privileged to observe a dervishman or also known as a  “whirling dervish”.  He is a muslim “holyman” who spins round and round.  It is a most interesting spectacle to see.  His robes are very full so that when he spins they flare out most dramatically Mary has rendered him very accurately and beautifully for you along with the Turkish word for their god, Allah.  Before we left Fintry I sent a fella who works for me to Paris.  His or rather our plan is for him to ingratiate himself with Msr. B.  His name is Francis Laird and he is a most able and resourceful man.  He should arrive by the end of the month so do be on the lookout for him.  Once his is there and settled in the two of you have work to do!
Affectionately, Charley

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Marlene to Charley-Netherlands

October 1867
Dear Charley-What a pleasant surprise to receive the photo carte of you in the post. it is a most agreeable photograph. I have decided to respond in kind by sending you a photo of myself taken while in Switzerland. our plan was to travel to the Netherlands to consult with the royal family, but the trip was cancelled because of an avalance in Switzerland which buried the railroad racks. By the time we were rescued from the train, we had to return to the studio in Paris as we have (I have) many dresses to stitch before the holiday season begins. I am most anxious to get back to the investigation of the cupboard's contents but must get all the sewing finished first. Marlene

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Charley to Marlene: Canada

June 1867

Dear Marlene,
The trip to Cuba was a smashing success with a less than smashing finale!  Henry and I were afforded a grand tour of Cuba and he made some quite promising sketches.  He was so taken with the landscape that he changed his plans and remained in Cuba.  Nicaise and I continued on to Boston where we originally planned to return home after a short stay, but I took ill shortly after we put into port.  A most capable physician determined it was, as I secretly feared, the fever.  The doctor said he was most surprised at my recovery and determined it must have been due to my prior robust health.  Nicaise returned to England with haste to give word to Mary and to allay her fears.  She came as soon as the news reached her, but by the time she arrived I was convalescing most satisfactorily.  This week the weather warmed and Mary and I travelled to Prince Edward Island for extended rest and rejuvenation.  We are taking the ocean air in daily, which is most agreeable.  Mary convinced me to have a photo carte made which I send to thee most humbly.  She urged me to rest in a chair for the event, but as you can see I prevailed the day!  Mary brought your news from Switzerland and I am most anxious to hear of the cabinet!  Please use caution and send word as soon as you discover the contents!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Marlene to Charley: Switzerland

Switzerland, September 1866

Dear Charley
Msr and I have traveled to the rural valleys of Switzerland to see the yarns produced by the Spoerry brothers-yarns that can “provide textile creations with a unique soul”. I am unsure why Msr. wanted me to accompany him when there is so much work to be done in the design studio. I fear that Msr. is “keeping an eye on me”. Before we left, I was once again trying the key in various cupboards and to my surprise one of them opened! Then I heard the sound of approaching footsteps and I had to hurriedly close and lock the cupboard. I barely managed to do it before he entered the room. He looked at me in a menacing and suspicious way-but I am determined to find out what is in the cupboard.