The 18th of September 1848 – Columbia, South Carolina

(found beneath the cold embers of a dying fire, sealed within an iron casket)

My Dear Charles,

I am feeling quite lonely at the moment. I am feeling quite scared.

It was an old china doll that our grandfather had given to me when I was quite young. I had it placed on a shelf above my bedside table, and I had it placed there since I was a little girl.

I realize now that I had been afraid of that china doll for quite some time. I was afraid to touch it, afraid to play with it. I’d never played with that china doll, not since our grandfather passed away so many years ago. It was too precious to me. So, Charles, I’d just lay in bed and watch it, look at it with my head upon my pillow. And do nothing else. It was too important, too important to even risk.

Well, then today I was overcome by the strangest sensation, a peculiar and inexplicable determination. I reached out and grabbed the thing and pulled it close to me. But I failed to get a proper grip, and, as I took it down from the shelf, it slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor.

It shattered on the hardwood.

But I was not sad, Charles, nor I am sad at this moment. There was, immediately after witnessing the catastrophe, an odd feeling of relief that swept through my body. I breathed easy, but only – perhaps – for half a breath.

But now I am plagued by an unease, and the earth seems to shift beneath my feet with every step I take.

Charles, I cannot help but wonder, and I cannot help but feel the loneliness and the fear. Charles, I cannot help but wonder.

If the important things, by circumstance or choice, suddenly become less important or not important at all, are we expected to just pack up and find new important things, even knowing full well that the sense of importance we feel is artificial and constructed and imposed?

Where are we to go?

Give our mother my love.

Warmest wishes,



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