Dear Mother –

Yes, I am engaged to marry Esther Summerson, and no, I have not taken leave of my senses. As to forgetting my duty to you, I hope I never shall do that – however, if you consider it undutiful of me to choose my partner in life for her character rather than her birth, I take the liberty to disagree.

As a surgeon, I encounter people from all walks of life. I have learned that high lineage does not guarantee virtue or success, and that sometimes, true worth is to be found in the most unexpected places, from Bleak House to Tom-all-Alone's itself.

I have never known any young lady quite like Esther, and I believe I never shall. I have seen her watch over a dying crossing-sweeper boy as if he were her own brother, and treat poor Miss Flite with unfailing respect. I have seen her weeping for other people's troubles, while dismissing her own with a smile. Hers is a beauty which no smallpox scars can hide, and I am blessed to have her in my life. She deserves better than to be slighted for being English or not knowing who her parents were, especially since neither is her fault.

If you can accept my chosen bride as your daughter-in-law, we would be very glad to see you at our wedding. She has asked me to deliver her best wishes, and to tell you that you shall always be welcome at Bleak House II, as we call my new house here in Yorkshire. Nothing could be further from my intention than to hurt you, Mother, or to cause division between us.

I remain, as always,

your affectionate son