Still camped near Vienna – Letters from Russia, Part 3

Letters from Russia: Folio, letter 4
Letters from Russia: Folio, letter 4 with letter, envelope, and lake sketch (vertical)

April 8, 1812
Encamped near Vienna, Austria

Cher Genevieve,

Again, I spent all day gazing at clouds while I wandered the camp, thinking of you and us.  Remembering long lunches in second-story cafes, peeking below at passers-by, guessing their stories: Where they are going? What do they do? Their secrets, or their names.

Thinking of our future, perhaps a small country house where you’ll teach at a school & I’ll go bald & tend to radishes.  Or maybe I will grow my shop and train apprentices, but honestly, I am not sure I want to force a profession on someone unless it is what they want to do.  Rather I want to be the one who encourages others to find their essential nature, to explore their desires and predilections without shame.  Honestly to make their way in the world without hindrance, fear or influence from Church or State.

Letters from Russia: Rowboat
Letters from Russia: Rowboat

Being from a merchant family, I am awkwardly struck between the so-called nobles, clergy and other suckling wastefully from the labors of others, – and those others being the peasants reduced to shame by the “sin-king” who shone nothing but scorn for those who produced the wealth of France.  But neither class care for the trader and crafters, both fearing and envying our limited political influence.  No matter, such a world is not mine to decide.

Though I have endless choices before me, I know only one choice to make and that is you.  You Genevieve, you are the joy that sustains me, the antidote for the venom of fear.

With the vigor of our love, I will keep safe in my tasks so as to return to you whole.

Affectionately, H.