I am at a loss. My darling Posthumus has betrayed me in the worst possible way. Were Pisanio not loyal, I would even now be dead at my husband’s hand. I am shaking as I write this. I can barely conceive of such actions. Does love not trust? Surely love such as mine and Posthumus’ is timeless and unchanging. Yet, he finds fault with my devotion and orders my death. Pisanio has arranged for me to flee into the countryside. As I find myself surrounded by enemies, I intend to take his advice.
However, I hope to hear from you and that you will have better news for me. Perhaps I judge Posthumus too harshly and there is some reason for his behaviour. I draw hope from your last letter in which you mentioned your darling Hamlet was returning from university. Since his uncle and your father both support the match I am sure that you will not encounter the problems I have. Perhaps your next letter will contain a wedding announcement?
If you and Hamlet are now betrothed perhaps you can add his opinion of Posthumus’ behaviour to your own. I love Posthumus dearly and even as I flee him I pray we can be reconciled.
Your Dearest Friend,
As I read your letter I can only think that men are stricken with a peculiar type of madness. Hamlet certainly appears to have gone mad. If we ever had an understanding there is one no longer. He staged this horrid play, during which he was most inappropriate with me. His caresses might have given me hope, but it is clear that there will be no announcement. The man actually told me to go become a nun! As though his behaviour was my fault.
All he talks about is his father. I don’t know why. No one liked the old king. He was forever pinching the maids and he once cornered me. I don’t know what would have happened if Laertes hadn’t come along. Claudius is ever so much nicer. Does it really matter if the old goat actually died of a heart attack or not? Everyone is happy now. At least they could be, if Hamlet would stop acting like a lunatic. I hold little hope in that regard, however, as men seem to prize honour above all else.
That seems to be the problem with your Posthumus as well. Since you are in love with each other, trusting each other should be a given. Yet, clearly Posthumus’ honour has somehow been offended. You mentioned his friend Iachimo’s visit in your earlier letter. Perhaps the visit was some sort of inane male test. My advice is that instead of running into the country you search out Iachimo and discover the truth. Surely, whatever game he was playing, once the man realizes he has endangered your life he will admit to the truth.
If this plan is not to your liking you can always come visit here. I would be glad of some help with Hamlet. At this point I am sore tried and may run off to the nunnery!
Yours in frustration,
I cannot countenance your news about Hamlet. Perhaps you are right and all men are simply mad. I have found safe harbour for now in the countryside and can make no permanent plans. I will, however, take your words about Iachimo under advisement. It was after his visit that the bracelet given to me by Posthumus went missing. Perhaps there is a connection? Yet, surely Posthumus would not be swayed by the words of a thief.
Then again it seems your Hamlet is willing to throw away everything for a few silly rumours. And as you said who cares if they are true. Claudius is twice the man the old king was. Hamlet missed much while he was at school and knows little about how your kingdom has been run these past years. If he understood the situation he would be thanking God for his father’s timely heart attack. Perhaps, you can explain to him how things have stood in Denmark before he makes a fatal error.
As for me, I hear that the Romans are coming to Britain and fear for this sceptred isle. I intend to do my part to save my home and only hope that in doing so I will be re-united with Posthumus. If you do not hear from me again know that you remain my dearest friend.
Elizabeth Ramsay is an editor and education writer.