My dearest Lionel:
Impossible to tell you how relieved I was to get your letter today. You seem to have many ups and downs but I do hope you will be able to stay on with Mr. Peterson. What business is he in? How came you to go to Mr. Reynolds? Of course he remembers you well. You used to play with his boys in 1873, when you were eight. And now you are back in the same city getting testimonials from him.
Arthur is giving trouble again. He was engaged
to a lady considerably older, who, it was believed would keep him in order,
but he is breaking out again. Lionel, my lad, I think if you were to take
to drink that would be the worst thing of all for me to bear…..
Camp Naga Hills
My dear Lionel:
You suggest I might make a good thing by retiring and going to America as a merchant. I agree with you that there is nothing derogatory about a gentlemen in trade, but I am past 40 without any of the requisite experience. For you, however, there are many opportunities, which is one of the reasons I put you in a sphere where a young man may make his way. All government appointments and so-called liberal professions are utterly barred to you in England by your peculiarly defective powers of spelling. And in England, where trade is looked down upon you wouldn't even have a chance of getting on as a clerk from the same defect. In fact the only line open to you there would be that of actor, but as I never heard of your possessing any talent for singing you would probably be a failure there too.
Your affectionate father,
On this cheerful note ended my father's first year in America. I wish I could tell you that nonetheless everybody lived happily ever after, but they didn't. Lionel was in and out of 3 or 4 more jobs in the span the letters cover to 1884. Great Grandmother Chambers died of her cancer in 1881, and Grandmother Chambers came to the States with Stuart in 1882. She must have divorced Colonel Chambers, although there are no direct references to this. He developed scurvy from the poor army diet and took several sea voyages for his health, including one to the States. And Arthur? Poor feckless Arthur frittered away his inheritance so that Heartree had to be rented. The older woman threw him over and when last heard of he was being packed off to India with yet another convenient uncle.