Boatswain’s Mate, Mr Richard Dauntless
Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean
Sunday, April 17th, 1927
I am writing this letter with the faint hope that it should reach you, and find you hale and hearty. We have been parted ten years now and I think of you often, my dearest friend and foster-brother.
Your little home village of Rederring is much as you left it. My farm, however, has expanded from a modest dairy homestead to a sizeable acreage able to sustain many head of oxen, sheep, pigs and a considerable crop of corn.
My life of toil is rewarding and in my leisure I attend social gatherings including the early morning service at the Methodist Chapel. There I can be assured of encountering the delightful Rose Maybud. She is pretty, generous and by far the maiden most deserving of my attention in this village. However, she is quite particular about her suitors, and although I am eminently eligible, I still cannot bring myself to utter more than polite niceties in her prescence. Moreover, I am constantly reminded of my ineptitude by a bevy of bridesmaids who materialise at the merest whiff of a marriage proposal.
Worse still, my private moments are darkened by that circumstance to which few are privy. I talk of the curse placed by a vengeful witch upon the Baronets of Ruddigore. You know well, Dick, that I am in truth the successor to that hideous title and its doom. And how, twenty years ago, in the dead of the night’s high noon, concealed by the cloak of a new moon, I fled the castle and the evil heritage to begin this new life as simple, honest Robin Oakapple. It still sickens me to recall how after the death of the reigning baronet Sir Roderic, my younger brother Sir Despard, believing me to be dead, assumed the title along with its ban compelling him to commit a crime each and every day of his life! Many lurid tales of him abound, by the way, and Mad Margaret is heard muttering about his sore treatment of her; presumably she is one of the wretched objects of his daily iniquity.
But enough of this melancholy! It is a fine spring day in Cornwall, and such weather can lift one’s spirits. In fact, as I behold my rural seat, I feel my doubt and diffidence dissolving…perhaps today is the day… yes, I will do it! I’ll go this very morning to Rose Maybud and ask for her hand! Oh thank you, Dick, putting my ponderings to paper has given me gumption. Would that some day soon I might show you my gratitude in person – farewell and soon may blow those breezes to bring your boat home!
Your faithful friend
– alias Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
– a/k/a “Bad Baritone of Ruddigore”, Grant Doyle