To the Foreign Gentleman
(in the newsstand who complimented my bustle this morning):
You and I are similarly of low fortune. While in rare circumstances, a certain charm and affection can make up for a deficiency in income (for a time), in our case, no such affinity exists, and we would surely be as miserable as ever two people could be. I dread the despair into which this missive will surely cast you, but I implore you: bend your thoughts to your daily task, to living virtuously, and to God’s grace, and in time I am certain that you will forget your disappointment, and find some measure of peace and happiness in a life well lived.
To the Dear Sirs In the Helmets
(at work upon the scaffolding near my residence):
For some months now, you have been engaged in making some renovations to an estate adjoining my own property, and so I have had occasion to pass by you several times daily. Thus frequently tossed together, we have developed a familiarity with each other that perhaps we would not have done, had circumstances not caused it to be so. I cannot say that I regret this turn of events, as your cheery greetings of a morning never fail to bring a smile to my face. However, of late, I have noticed that all of you, dear sirs, do seem to be somewhat competing for my affections. I would not trifle with honest working fellows, so let me be plain: I do so value the friendship of each of you that I could never forsake the dear, genial esteem of all for a closer intimacy with one. I hope that we can carry on as before, feeling for each other the true, deep love of brothers and sister.
To the Young Laborer Upon the 6 Train:
I did not mean to appear, all windswept and partially undressed, on the threshold of your subway train. It was the storm, you see. And rude it was indeed of you to heighten a lady’s shame by exposing her to ridicule and unseemly remarks, especially in front of a train car’s worth of strangers. I am no woman of easy virtue. I merely could not afford to secure myself a taxicab. Am I to be subject to such abuse merely because I have not wealth enough to hold myself remote from it? Does it make you high to bring me so low? Would you make sport of a richer woman in this way? Am I not, though poor and undefended, a woman, after all, with a woman’s heart, a woman’s shame? What have I done, sir, to deserve such ill-treatment at your hands? Is my offense merely to be of little fortune, alone and beautiful and subject to the whims of public transportation? I may not be wealthy of purse, but I am proud, sir – proud and honest. I pray that this letter may work some remorse in you, and teach you not to use another woman thusly. However, for myself, I merely hope that our paths never again cross.
To the Fellow in the Tavern Friday Last,
Having had some little time to reflect upon our brief tête-à-tête and the unfortunate way in which we parted, I have decided at last that perhaps I was to some extent to blame. I will admit that I had gone into a bawdy place and imbibed too much wine. I was low of spirits and convinced to enter the tavern by a dear friend who, while possessing of a good heart, does not, I am sad to say, always conduct herself with the utmost prudence. I am in charge of my own affairs, however, and ought not to have behaved myself thusly. I had lately been disappointed in a marriage proposal, and perhaps I sought to cure my wounded vanity by attracting admiration from another. A dreadful, wanton way to behave, true, but if you but knew how I had been wounded!
However, it was still my hope, in any event, to attract the attentions of an upstanding and genteel young man of suitable birth and proper comportment. Little did I expect, even in such surroundings, to be so accosted by one who I now cannot but regard as a most debauched and sorry fellow. Furthermore, just because a lady consents to speak privately with a strange gentleman in an alleyway, it does not follow that she is likewise prepared to enter a taxicab with the gentleman and proceed unchapheroned to his private residence! If your black eye did not teach you the truth of this, allow this letter to remove any remaining doubt. And so, while it may indeed have been true, as you so unkindly and repeatedly asserted, that I was in some respect ‘begging for it’ . . . not from you, good sir! Never from you! I would bed an hundred hipsters before I ever stooped so low!
(I do sincerely apologize, however, for becoming ill upon your oxfords. That part of the business was indeed my own fault.)
To the Stockbroker Who Took Me to Dinner
(and bragged about his ventures all night, then stiffed the waiter):
I guess money can’t buy class, you dick.