October 31, 1807
I think it is noble and honorable of you to wish to join the Cavalry. Tibby says it is horrendously expensive and is not sure if your family wealth is up to the task. She is also going to be horrified that I am writing to you about money. She says it is terribly impolite. I don’t quite understand why however because it is something we all need and all should know about, don’t you think? In light of this I have written to ask my trustees (since I now have practice writing letters) how much my own fortune is worth. Since it is just sitting there right now, my own expenses not being so large since I am only nine, I would like to give you the money you would need to purchase your commission. That way you needn’t ask your own trustees about doing so.
I have decided to draw you a picture of the village church. It is rather charming, don’t you think? I have also included a group of frogs on the front steps. I hope they make you smile like they do me. If I am not a witch, at least I can picture unkind people as I want to.
Buttercup says hello to you. I speak to her of you often and I think she approves of our friendship.
She is very curious however about your name. Tibby tells me that it is short for St. John. But if your parents wanted to name you St. John, why did they not simply name you St. John? It is rather strange how parents come up with names for their children.
My name is Russian, you may not be aware that my mother was from Russia. She has left me a great many jewels apparently which Mr. Markham says are safe in a lockbox. Tibby told me upon my presentation at court I shall be able to wear some of them. Perhaps even the diamond tiara. You can shorten my name to Tasha if you would like to. This is what Buttercup calls me. Well, in my head she calls me that as I am quite aware that she does not speak. I don’t want you to begin to think I am daft.
Tasha is a funny kind of name too. When you say it over and over again it begins to sound quite silly (so does Sinjin I must admit, but mean no offense at all). I prefer to be called Tasha though, even though Tibby seems to have an aversion to using a shortened version of Anastasia. But why should Sinjin be proper to use when Tasha is not? All these rules are difficult to keep straight. Perhaps it is a good thing I never really go into society as I would have trouble doing the right thing.
Please let me know when you are ready to buy your commission as I would very much like to be able to give that to you.
Your affectionate cousin,
December 12, 1807
I agree with you that my name sounds silly. It has been a burden to me and the cause of much teasing throughout my life. I am now resigned to it however and I suppose it is as good a name as any my parents could have chosen.
Tibby is correct in that it really isn’t quite the thing to speak to others about the state of one’s own fortune or that of others. I appreciate the offer to purchase my cavalry commission, but feel that there is still enough in the Rensalaer coffers to afford at least a captaincy. I also agree with you however that such strictures about speaking of money leads to all sorts of problems. I think it is very admirable of you to begin to learn about your own fortune and from whence it comes. You are an unusual child and I hope that your trustees support your endeavors.
My own trustees have agreed that a commission is in my future as soon as I have finished my time at Oxford. I know from friends of mine who have brothers serving in the wars that it is not all fun and games, that war is not as glorious as we sometimes consider it to be. However I am determined. It does mean something to me that my little cousin Tasha thinks it an honorable path.
I hope you have a lovely Christmastide. I am going to be at the home of my friend Robert Chatsworth since I too am an orphan and really have no family with which to spend it. We leave on our journey tomorrow and I may not have time to write for some weeks yet with all the festivities. So I will wish you a Happy Christmas and all best wishes for the New Year as well.
Yrs as ever,