Arthur Conan Doyle
A Duet

by

Arthur Conan Doyle

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A Duet Page 01

A DUET

WITH AN OCCASIONAL CHORUS

TO MRS. MAUDE CROSSE

Dear Maude,--All the little two-oared boats which put out into the great ocean have need of some chart which will show them how to lay their course. Each starts full of happiness and confidence, and yet we know how many founder, for it is no easy voyage, and there are rocks and sandbanks upon the way. So I give a few pages of your own private log, which tell of days of peace, and days of storm--such storms as seem very petty from the deck of a high ship, but are serious for the two-oared boats. If your peace should help another to peace, or your storm console another who is storm-tossed, then I know that you will feel repaid for this intrusion upon your privacy. May all your voyage be like the outset, and when at last the oars fall from your hands, and those of Frank, may other loving ones be ready to take their turn of toil--and so, bon voyage!

Ever your friend,

THE AUTHOR.

Jan. 20, 1899.

CHAPTER I--THE OVERTURE--ABOUT THAT DATE

These are the beginnings of some of the letters which they wrote about that time.

Woking, May 20th.

My Dearest Maude,--You know that your mother suggested, and we agreed, that we should be married about the beginning of September. Don't you think that we might say the 3rd of August? It is a Wednesday, and in every sense suitable. Do try to change the date, for it would in many ways be preferable to the other. I shall be eager to hear from you about it. And now, dearest Maude . . . (The rest is irrelevant.)

St. Albans, May 22nd.

My Dearest Frank,--Mother sees no objection to the 3rd of August, and I am ready to do anything which will please you and her. Of course there are the guests to be considered, and the dressmakers and other arrangements, but I have no doubt that we shall be able to change the date all right. O Frank . . . (What follows is beside the point.)

Woking, May 25th.

My Dearest Maude,--I have been thinking over that change of date, and I see one objection which had not occurred to me when I suggested it. August the 1st is Bank holiday, and travelling is not very pleasant about that time. My idea now is that we should bring it off before that date. Fancy, for example, how unpleasant it would be for your Uncle Joseph if he had to travel all the way from Edinburgh with a Bank-holiday crowd. It would be selfish of us if we did not fit in our plans so as to save our relatives from inconvenience. I think therefore, taking everything into consideration, that the 20th of July, a Wednesday, would be the very best day that we could select. I do hope that you will strain every nerve, my darling, to get your mother to consent to this change. When I think . . . (A digression follows.)

St. Albans, May 27th.

My Dearest Frank,--I think that what you say about the date is very reasonable, and it is so sweet and unselfish of you to think about Uncle Joseph. Of course it would be very unpleasant for him to have to travel at such a time, and we must strain every nerve to prevent it. There is only one serious objection which my mother can see. Uncle Percival (that is my mother's second brother) comes back from Rangoon about the end of July, and will miss the wedding (O Frank, think of its being OUR wedding!) unless we delay it. He has always been very fond of me, and he might be hurt if we were married so immediately before his arrival. Don't you think it would be as well to wait? Mother leaves it all in your hands, and we shall do exactly as you advise. O Frank . . . (The rest is confidential.)

Woking, May 29th.

My Own Dearest,--I think that it would be unreasonable upon the part of your Uncle Percival to think that we ought to have changed the date of a matter so important to ourselves, simply in order that he should be present. I am sure that on second thoughts your mother and yourself will see the thing in this light. I must say, however, that in one point I think you both show great judgment. It would certainly be invidious to be married IMMEDIATELY before his arrival. I really think that he would have some cause for complaint if we did that.

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