If you need a refresher on Mr Venn, it is here.
Henry Whittall Venn spent most of the rest of the evening on the back verandah praying that Eve would return. She did not.
They met on a few subsequent occasions, but each time Eve was surrounded by friends and Venn was unable to get her alone. How he hated those other women. If only she would consent to walk with him, he could kiss her and show her the real man behind the cold, sneering façade. She did not consent.
Yet, almost amazingly, his relentless (if gauche) pursuit of Eve finally brought success. Of a sort.
Eve and Mr Eve—for so it will be useful to call him—were due to set sail from Albany to Melbourne, before heading off to Europe for a long vacation.
From Albany, Eve sent a note to Venn which he took as a sign of her affection. We don’t have a copy of this letter, so it is unclear if it was merely polite, or she had genuinely fallen in love with him.
What we do know is that she invited him to write down his feelings for her.
It is telling, however, that she failed to include any contact details for her trip, and he had to plead for addresses. Could this have been a sign that she wasn’t that in to him?
On the other hand, he was completely besotted. But Venn needed to get a letter to Eve before she left Albany for her tour. He must express undying love in terms that would win her forever.
The letter he wrote was a mix of stereotypical Victorian sentiment and paternal advice. Despite his age, he was inexperienced at this game:
And now your note is before me, breathing a feeling akin to my own; and I think of you as a dear little thing that clings to its shelter with the loving tenderness of a woman in a way that a man loves so dearly. Your note gave life to me more than the champagne did to you; and now, at this moment, I feel like going off to the train and looking into your eyes again.
Using his contacts, Venn had Mr Eve arrested on a trumped-up charge. It wouldn’t last long, but it would give time for his letter to arrive at his sweetheart’s hotel without her husband being present.
To be continued…