I am happy to announce the discovery of
‘A New Shakespeare Document’
Cressida’s Letter to Troilus (Troilus and Cressida, Act V)
Physical state of the document.
Cressida’s letter, though torn, is quite easy to decipher from the fragments. She writes in a large, girlish hand, graphologically remarkable only for her tendency to ‘dot’ her i’s with little circles, which she intermittently changes into little love hearts, especially in paragraph 3. Various blotches obscure several words in the final PPS, though the half-erased words are easily deduced from context. These marks might be attributable to Troilus weeping.
How is my Best Darling Troy Boy!? I sort of expected to have heard from you by now, so I really have been wondering. Perhaps you have been too busy at war to think of your little Cressida… B.T.W., if you still want to get a message to me – and of course, I so very much hope that you do! – if you can’t get Uncle P. to deliver it for you (after all, I don’t think he’s capable of getting past the guards, so to speak), there’s a funny little man round here called Thersites that you can count on. He does tend to grumble a bit, mind, but he’s a really quite a sweetie once you know how to deal with him. When he saw my gold lamé sandals – you know the ones, that pair with the straps that go criss-cross up to my knees – I thought his eyes would pop out of his head! Anyway, he delivers the letters round here.
Well, where was I? Yes, now don’t you worry about me. Daddy predicted that everything would be fine for me here, and I’ve got to say that for once he was right. I seem to be very popular already and I’ve got to know just about everybody. Actually, the way they greeted me, you’d think they hadn’t seen a woman for years. Though come to think of it, lots of them probably haven’t! Between you and me, I think there is a great deal of (hem) improvising going on, if you know what I mean. Uncle P would love it here! You do know what I mean, don’t you? I mean, you have realised, haven’t you? Well, I suppose most of them have got wives back at home, and I think one or two of the discerning ones have maybe got slave girls at the backs of their tents on the QT. Honestly, the way some girls allow themselves to let go! I’m much more careful, I can tell you. Oh, and yes, I’ve met Menelaus now. I can’t say that I can see what she ever saw in him, but at least he can take a joke at his own expense, which is more than can be said for that stuck-up cow. There, I can say what I like now I’m no longer stuck in
I must say, Darling T., that that fellow you handed me over to has been rather pushy. I still don’t know what you were thinking about. Honestly, the way he carries on, you’d think he thinks he owns me. I’ve had to take him down to earth once or twice already. But don’t you worry, his bottom is nothing like as cute as yours! (That is one of your Cressida’s little jokes, by the way).
As for your plan of corrupting the Greek sentries to pay me nightly visits, I’ve been thinking that, as I’m actually here, it will be much easier for me to find Greeks to corrupt than for you to do it. So it makes sense to leave it up to your Cressida, and I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve found some. You know you can count on me to be clever about something deceitf [scored through - Editor] like this.
Thank you again for the sleeve. Every time I find myself thinking of you, I have to blow my nose on it. I hope you aren’t getting cold all down that side without it, by the way. You see, your Cressida does think about you.
Ta ta, and kiss kiss! Be true!
PS When you write to me, as I am so sure you will, try not to use all those long words. It can make you sound quite cross, when I know that you don’t mean to be. Sometimes I used to think that you made them up as you went along to impress your poor little ignorant me.
Send my best wishes to Uncle Pandarus. I bet he’s thinking of a new girlfriend for you already. It makes me so mad to think of it. You know, he really isn’t someone I think you should be spending all your time with. I used to wonder about you two. You were so slow coming on to me that sometimes I wondered what was going on. I know what he is like, anyway, and I worry about where he might lead you…
I’ve just had another thought. If you should ever run into that Ulysses on the battlefield (I know there’s no chance of that ever happening, but I suppose he might wander there one day by mistake while looking for the rest room) well, give him one of your best Trojan chops for me, will you? He was the only person here who didn’t seem utterly thrilled to see me, and I heard him making some nasty remarks while I was talking to someone else that I can’t mention now. If you ask me, he’s just got so used to being the centre of attention, that he can’t cope with there being someone else everyone is more interested in now. Heavens, I think this is the longest letter I have ever written! So bye bye now, and take care!
PPS I seem to have lost one of my gloves. Get Alexander to look for it and send it on, won’t you? It can be quite nippy out here in the tents, especially when you’ve no-one to warm your hands on. As an example, a frightful draught almost blew this letter away at just this very moment!