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Not Very Sisterly

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268 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

19th July, 1941

O Sooze

It is all a bit pear-shaped. Here on my tod really isn't much fun -- children don't count. In fact, they make it worse. Darling Susan, I know you will understand. You always hated babies, didn't you? And now I am beginning to hate them too. I miss Esmond so horrendously, but then that goes without saying.

Donk's screaming again. She has been re-christened Donk as in Donkey, for the racket.

Sometimes I think What Boud Did wasn't so silly as we all pretend. Although she lacked justification.

Don't fret about coming to see me. Americans are ghastly, and you would only point it out endlessly which would become tiresome.

Love Susan.

*

268 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

21st July, 1941

Darling Susan,

Do ignore my last. I can't think what on earth is the matter with me, that I should write you such a lot of terrible nonsense. And with the price of post what it is! And paper! Woman would be aghast, don't you think.

This one will be short in the hopes that, being lighter, it will over-take the other in mid-flight.

All my Love (and Constancia's too)

Your Sooze.

*

12 Blomfield Road, W9

4th August, 1941

My darling Susan,

Goodness what a fright I have had! I refer, of course, to a month-long dry spell of letters quenched by a torrent of two all at once! But now I have sat and had a large cup of tea with two sugars (despite vile rationing), I can glance over your tense little missives without palpatations.

Dear Susan, you have torn me in two. Naturally I am worried about you, darling Soo, but I am terribly far away to be of any practical use. One might have thought, were this a cry for help or solicitation for sympathy, Woman might have suited you better. Or Nard. Or Debo, or Muv (you take my point.) Therefore I can only assume you apply to me because you require that which I give best: level advice and a healthy dose of cynicism.

Firstly, Donk is a delightful name, far superior to any other I can think of ever having heard. Babies are hideous. They do, however, generally grow into children, which can be delightful creatures.

Of course you miss Esmond, darling, and of course it goes without saying. Even I am not so hard hearted as to make a joke out of that. Is there any new on bringing him home?

Reading this back, Decca, you must be mortified to have sent such a thing. Don't be! If it will make you feel better, I promise to unburden my soul in my next and reveal a deep dark secret.

So there, you absolutely must write back soon.

Love from Susan.

*

268 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

19th August, 1941

Darling Susan,

Here, am I not a woman of my word. Well, your word, as a matter of fact. But a woman of words, nonetheless. I am writing, though I have nothing to tell. Donk grows, I shrink (inward, not downwards) and the heat here is much too much. Please find some sunshine enclosed. Hopefully it will not get lost on the journey!

Some people write that they have nothing to tell lightly, but it is the honest truth. I am sad and I look after a baby and I sleep. There is very little else to be done.

Esmond is missing not dead, Soo.

And I have want of a deep dark secret, even though it will probably be another month before this gets to you, and you get back to me. Appalling service!

With love from Sooze.

*

12 Blomfield Road, W9

2nd September, 1941

Dearest Decca,

Oh dear, all your lovely sunshine seems to have dripped out the envelope, there's o in here but paper and ink. Now I am disappointed. Apologies, Mme. Subtlety, these things become Chinese whispers when passed down the Mitford grapevine.

And speaking of the Mitford grapevine, I assume I can trust you to destroy this once it's brought you whatever thrill of emotion it brings. You are much better behaved than me, but one can't help judging others by one's own standard. I shouldn't even tell you, darling, but I feel so awful at being absolutely no use. What more can I do but divert you.

Very well, you shall have my secret, and without even a dressing up or down. When that beastly little man from Homeland Security hauled me into his beastly little office over Honk's case, I told them she was a danger to the country and should be locked up. I can see your disapproving little face now, Decca, and you needn't look so, for it's no more than Esmond would have expected of you. My pen writes nothing but trash and acid, but there's a point at which one must stand up for what is right.

Oh dear, now I sound defensive, and you will despise me for making excuses and not standing by what I said. I would say it again in a heartbeat. It is so very difficult to judge your reaction from this distance. Don't be cross and don't be gleeful. In fact, if you could avoid being anything, that would be simply divine.

As ever, your Sooze.

*

268 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

20th September, 1941

Darling Susan,

You really are tragically difficult. Whatever am I supposed to make of this. Of course I shan't tell a soul, I wouldn't do that to either of you (truths such as this would shine a grim light on either party).

But I suppose that, if Britain decides it is at war with Communism, I'm to be painted with the same size brush.

You did the right thing, I think. A right thing is not the same as a good thing. Not very sisterly, Soo.

Love from Soo.

*

268 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

November 24th, 1943

Dear Soo,

Apologies for the prolonged radio silence. You dropped a bit of a bombshell and I think it took a while for my dust to settle.

It seems only proper that you hear it from me. Doubtless the Brit press will pick it up sooner or later, but even if my letter is too late, at least you will know I tried to tell you first. When the time came, I had to agree with you, that there is a point at which one must stand up. I have written to W[inston] C[hurchill] and told him that letting them out is a disgrace to the memory fo everyone who has died for his cause (the cause of us all). A copy of the letter has been sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Be sure to write back on rice paper, for I know very well you will make me eat my own words.

All my love, Decca