Sometimes when it's really late and I don't want to go to bed yet, I write a letter from one imaginary person to another. I don't usually know what I'm going to say, I just start out with the first sentence and keep going. This is the first one that I wrote, lightly edited for coherency.
My dearest brother,
We are all faring well here. Mum has had a slight cold, but nothing to take alarm at. We have all had colds in turn but have gotten over it tolerably well.
Frances came over to visit yesterday. She said the visit was to check on Mum, but really it was to ask after you. She very discreetly brought up the subject of war, and would not leave off until she saw your latest letter. As it was not an overly personal letter, and your location, weather and plans for the future had been censored out, I felt it a safe enough thing to show your nosy admirer.
She does like you, I believe, enough to almost make me feel sorry for her. But I do not blame you either. She does not deserve you; I only wish she loved someone she did deserve. I think Mr. Todd is a perfect match for her, and I am trying my hardest to convince them both of the fact.
But I know you did not ask me to write so I could tell you of my latest matchmaking attempts. You asked me to write of news, and to keep you posted on how the locals are faring. I’m guessing that when you asked for news, you had someone specific in mind, so I will try to fulfill your unspoken request.
Rose will not be wed, as so many thought; she has rejected the young man’s proposal. As it was a near perfect match, I can only guess at the reason. It is possible that she is waiting to hear from a certain young officer; in which case, I would write to her immediately and inquire about her expectations in a subtle way. If she has not a thought of you, she will not recognize your implications, but if, as I believe, she is hoping and waiting for your letter, she will surely understand you. Please, take my advice on this point. I love you both dearly, and to see you happy and together would be my dearest dream come true.
As for myself, of whom you also requested news, I am doing as well as can be expected. With you gone and Emmaline getting married in the fall, I have had no one to talk to except Rose, who has also been tremendously busy in her newly planted garden. I have tried to help her, but gardening is a quiet occupation, and I long for your teasing and friendly conversation. Rose has a natural green thumb, and has worked miracles everywhere since you’ve been here last. Where I could grow only weeds, Rose has made blooming beds of flowers, and herbs for Mrs. Lindy.
If Rose works miracles with the earth, Mrs. Lindy works them in sick people. Our own little Katie had the most horrible cough; I thought she’d never be free from it. But Mrs. Lindy came for a visit, listened to her raspy breathing, and prescribed an herb to be taken in tea form. Within twenty four hours the cough had subsided.
Did I tell you I started making a new quilt? It is a memory quilt, with all of our worn out play clothes and aprons sewn into it. The designs represent some of my favorite memories of our family. I mean to send it to you as soon as I can finish it. It will warm your body on cold nights, and I hope warm your heart when it begins to long for home.
I have made a new friend recently. Her name is Sarah, and she only moved into town in the last couple of weeks. She seems very smart, and friendly, but she is a quiet sort of girl. As I tend to be quiet myself, I prefer to have companions who will do the talking for both of us. I would rather listen to clever people than attempt to be clever myself. But I have tried to sacrifice my natural tendencies to make Sarah feel welcome. It has been more difficult than I imagined. I have been so wrapped up in my own affairs, that putting them aside for someone has become more difficult. I can only try to do what you would do, were you here. Having you gone makes me realize how much we all depend on you.
Please, write back and tell me how you are, so I can tell Rose, who just now interrupted me to ask after you.
Thinking of you,
Your sister Jane