Letters Cover.JPG

Letters (1855)

Dear James,

The gray arrived, fully lathered but determined, near dusk. Behind nearly five minutes, was Syracuse riding her own mare. You remember Syracuse? The young girl Howard and Lindsay Browse found abandoned by the canal near Syracuse? Recall she was three at the outside. Prue envies her straight hair. But of course you do. She works at Tully's now.

She said the gray passed Russell's at a full trot without once breaking stride. Nor did the gray take the field at Medford's, thereby shortening by a quarter mile, but instead followed the road, the corner, and south. She flagged at Hollins's stud, but didn't break. She came into the yard, blew out once, and settled to the grass by the barn.

Syracuse's mare was just as lathered with the extra weight, but she's a young and strong bay. Narragansett. Remember that come Rome.

I offered Syracuse the night, but she left, saying she didn't mind so much the dark and that Tully would worry. Then she patted her long rifle and said it could see in the dark if need be. I believe her.

I will examine the gray's feet in the morning. First glance shows she hasn't thrown a shoe. The nails appear tight. I didn't see the one you said was missing, but the lantern was low.

Morning ––

The gray appears to have recovered nicely overnight. Drank two buckets from what I can tell. Grazed all night with the cows. I've sent her along with the boy. I've added an extra wind of catgut to the satchel.

I have decided to jar the apples, sauced and whole, as well as some winter squashes, and will be busy for a week, if not up to the fair, but with Prue's help the time will pass quickly. I purchased forty pounds of wax. Prue continues with her breads. Did you appreciate the anise?

You would be well-paid if offered apples and pears rather than coin. We have potatoes a-plenty, so don't be accepting them.

Preston's Grocery has purchased an ice-making machine. It is difficult to guess what he will be doing with it. It's too small to compete with the river.

Number One only gave a quart of milk this morning. Number Two gave nearly a gallon. Robert hunched close and suggested mastitis. Prue nearly hit him. "'Tis a blocked teat, 'tis all," she said. I was surprised Robert knows what mastitis is. Assuming he does.

Be advised, The Ode had notice of sweet potatoes.

The assessor hasn't returned.


I am sorry to hear about Brian O'Shea. Abandoned cemeteries are disheartening –– a curious combination of grief and forgetfulness.