What’s this? A letter? With my name on it? How grand!

Bring it to me in my study, in my living room, in my boudoir, in my bedchamber. Bring it to me on a platter strewn with rose petals and flax.

Fetch me my slippers, my nightcap, and my purple velvet robe. Decant the cognac. Summon the hickory pipe.

Have you received a letter too?

But first, light a fire, and build it big and bright. Pile high the maple wood. Let the flames crackle and roar.

Draw up the easy chair, and let it glow in the embers’ heat. Let me sit, and puff, and drink, and ponder. Let me gaze out the window and hear the owl cry, Who, who?

Who could it be?

Could it be a friend come to ruin and in desperate need of aid? Or a long-forgotten foe declaring his revenge? Could it be my wanton younger brother, with news from the rough Atlantic? Or my beloved—sweet Annabelle!—returning my affections at last?

What fate, O envelope, does your cellophane portend? What weighty tidings thus crinkle your manilla?

Fetch me the letter opener of gleaming white silver! Fetch it from the box lined with satin and silk—with the family herald and the family name. Unsheathe the blade and let it fly to reveal: A 10% discount if I upgrade to Verizon 5G, with 0% APR for the first twelve months.

Quick! Fetch me my inkpot, and my blotter, and my goose-feather quill. Retrieve my monocle, and pour out three fingers of port. Light up a pair of candlesticks, and unfold my handkerchief. For I have a letter to write, and I need to get in the mood.