Hong Kong, July 1864
Mrs. Edwards, I have just arrived in China to secure silks for my work in Spain. I may be here for some time as the civil war continues and my lack of fluency in the language hampers negotiations. Msr. B may well be on his way to becoming the father of “Fashion Moderne”, but I tell you this not lightly – he has done it on the backs and talents of women with far more integrity than he possesses. Msr. B is a cad with an appetite for the attractions of those above his station. But I can confess to you that he is a fraud and a charlatan who has bought those attentions through means most nefarious! Although I am but little known to you, I sense a kinship in you, and because of this I pray and urge you not to mention our acquaintance or the key to Msr. B. Secure it safely, not on your person, but perhaps with your husband or a trusted friend. Mrs. Edwards, you appear to be a woman of some talent and grace. Do not be seduced by Msr. B’s promises for they will bear little fruit. If you have any designs for fashion I urge you to spare your heart a great disappointment and secure any drawings or notes in a place of only your knowing. Please for my own sake, place the key with them. You should precede post haste!