It was never my intention to have two such unhappy people. Alice was quite unsympathetic when Amelia told her what had transpired “You silly goose “she said” I have never seen you in love before and you have thrown it away for some strange ideals which do not even make sense. You must be aware that the recent change in the law enables any woman who married to remain an individual before the law and keep her own wealth if you want to. I don’t know why you would want to keep your own money anyway. What is the point of getting married if you are going to stay separate? And as for bearing children, how do YOU know that you can have children? Well you have made your own bed and you will now have to lie on it.” Deep down, Alice was as distraught as Amelia, and her outburst was a cover. A trivial exchange of words had had a devastating effect on the life of the person she most loved in the world outside her immediate family. Alice also knew that she would probably be the person to carry Amelia through the next hellish few months of the latter’s existence.
Amelia went through the usual progress of emotions of the bereaved. Sadness, anger, resignation, determination whence she threw herself into a range of activities, tennis, horse riding, cycling, theatre, museum and art gallery visits on occasions showing her independence by wearing the latest and more extreme dress being advocated by women suffragettes and the rational dress society. A woman can be independent and make her own way in the world without the need of a man, and however true that is, for Amelia, there was always that Charles shaped gap in her heart. Until the day a letter arrived. Even though she had longed and longed for a letter from him, now that it had arrived she could not bring herself to open it and read its contents and it was left until Alice visited the day following its arrival, who noticed immediately Amelia’s change in mood and the letter, in a prominent position on the mantelpiece, unopened. Alice immediately, took the letter and turned it over. It was indeed from Charles. With a glance at Amelia, she opened it!
It was clear from the tone of the letter that Charles had become reconciled to the barriers that Amelia had raised against accepting his proposal of marriage. “My dear Amelia” it began “It seems such a long time since we were together in London and enjoying the social life and the company of each other. I have been working hard on the farm and we are blessed at present with the weather raising our crops. The sheep and cows are producing their little ones and our hands are full dealing with the weaklings, but fortunately this year there are only a few. It is probably that I will unlikely to be able to come to London at least until the winter, perhaps at the time of the Regimental Ball. I do so hope that if and when I do come up to town I would be welcome to visit you. Rest assured, that if you do come to B-shire, you are welcome to visit the farm” and ended with the regards of Charles de la Rochelle. As Alice finished reading and put down the letter, she looked at Amelia who was looking at her with tears in her eyes. “A kind letter and the very least he could have done except for not writing at all. Alice donned her coat, kissed Amelia goodbye and left leaving the latter to her lonely sadness.
A couple of weeks after the arrival of the fateful letter came another devastating blow for Amelia. She had been so consumed by her feelings for Charles, she had quite forgotten her life as a ‘private consulting detective’ and perhaps by co-incidence she had not been approached by anyone with a problem to solve. So while she was still in the depth of despair, the nation rejoiced at the amazing return of the great Sherlock Holmes himself after an absence of 4 years, when for the majority of that time he had been assumed dead; there had even been an obituary in The Times of London. The whole excitement would have passed Amelia by if Alice had not burst in one day waving a copy of the newspaper with the banner headline “Sherlock Holmes Returns from the Dead”. A contributor to Amelia’s wracking indecision over what to do about Charles was the thought that as a wife, and hopefully mother, she would have to relinquish all thoughts of investigating the activities of criminals, a role which had given her excitement, thrills and not a little fear. She had found it difficult to image a life without this kink of stimulation and without it was was there left to do, especially as women were so restricted in the range of professions they could choose. Being married, just made everything so much worse. Nevertheless it was out of the question that she could continue as a private detective, and Jane Wilks had demonstrated so clearly that there was no place for a woman in the police force of the 1890s. And anyway, she always knew that claiming to follow in Sherlock Holmes’ footsteps, put her in the role of the servant faithfully following his King through the snow. At their journey’s end the Page was still a Page and the King still the King. her career had ended with a whimper and not a bang.
All these thoughts wandered through Amelia’s mind in a jumble and Alice began to fear for her friend’s sanity. But as they say, time is a great healer and as Amelia exhausted herself with an endless round of socialising, sport and theatre the fog slowly began to clear and so it is that one morning whilst her maid was combing her lustrous brown hair, she looked at herself in the mirror and made a decision. She would go to him.