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Historical Fiction Transgender LGBTQ+


Bristol, August 4, 1875


My dearest daughter Jemma,       


It is of the utmost importance that you come home, and with great haste. Your mother misses you greatly, and your sisters find themselves at a loss without you to aid and direct them.

I implore upon you the thought of Oliver, who anxiously waits for your arrival, as we accepted his proposal sometime last week. Engagements are already underway for your wedding attire, and you must remember the honor that was granted us for him to ask for your hand. Your mother will no longer have to hurt herself doing her housework, for Oliver’s family will grant us a maidservant to take her place. If not to return for him, return for your poor mother’s health and wellbeing. 

           Furthermore, I am of the opinion, as is society, that a woman has no place in trousers, much less a militaristic setting. The dishonor you will bring if others were to find out that my daughter had enlisted! Why, I can practically see your mother fainting from astonishment if she knew what you have done now. Oliver would retract his proposal and our family would be ruined! All our attempts to better ourselves will be for naught if you continue to be so selfish. Of all improper things to do, this far exceeds what has happened in the past, and you will not be the only one affected by your imminent downfall.

           Please, think of our family, and appear home at once. I can already see how beautiful you will look in the dress your mother has been working on, and though you wish to wear grey or red, this one is a lovely white, resembling the attire of Queen Victoria herself. We have saved for several months to afford this fabric, and since your mother’s skill is unmatched, we will make do.


I wish only the best for you,

your loving father,

Leopold Hale


Ms. Jemma Hale,

Pirbright, London




 Bristol, November 10, 1875


My dearest daughter Jemma,     


           It is highly inappropriate that you have continued your stay away from our family without the express permission of myself, your father, or on the arm of your husband. Oliver still awaits you here, though I am unsure why, for if your mother had dismissed me so when I asked for her hand then you would not have come to be. What he sees in you, I do not know, nor do I think I will ever see.

           What further irritates me is your apparent ‘promotion’ within our standing forces, as a woman has no place there, whether she be demanding and insistent towards the troops or not, she must not attempt to raise herself to the stature of a man. Your further persistence towards the male appearance will bring shame upon us! Forever you shall stay our daughter Jemma, and to think of you as anything but would be blasphemy in the eyes of the church and horror in the eyes of our peers. I do not know where this delusion that we would ever call you James comes from, but it is wrong, and I will not encourage it.

I could no longer hold off telling your mother to where you had run off to, and she has fallen into a state of shock. Your mother, ill! It seems as though I was right to insist upon your expedient arrival home, although at this rate, it seems to be a debate as to whether you mother will remain a part of that home when you make it back.

I shall think of it a pressing matter of conversation upon your return the discussion of what to do about your engagement, and if you take in any salary from the army, do send it back for your mother. It is your responsibility for putting her in this dastardly state, and therefore it lies upon you to bring her out of it.


I await your next letter,

your loving father,

Leopold Hale


Ms. Jemma Hale

Bandar Tua, Perak





Bristol, December 25, 1875


My beloved Jem,            


           After hearing about your latest exploits in Malaysia, I have found a newfound respect for our soldiers. While I am still of the opinion that you have no place among our militarymen, I appreciate your effort to lead our men towards victory over the Malays.

           The money that you have sent towards aiding your mother’s illness has helped us greatly, and she is recovering swiftly upon promise of your return home. Please do come back to us safely, I am afraid that news of an injury might shake your mother’s condition and turn south.

           Your sisters have been spending much time with Oliver, and while I am still confused as to why he wishes to stay in waiting for you, I do appreciate his constant presence. He is a good reminder of you once being by our side. He has greatly helped our financials as we await you, and seems to enjoy very much our calling of you as Jem, rather than Jemma. Almost as if he knew all along how you felt! Alas, I am still quite uncomfortable with the thought of your presentation, however I am willing to try if it means you will come home to us faster.

           While you write of an advancement into Sayong, I pray daily for your health in hopes that you will survive past the end of this war.


Do keep us in your thoughts,

your loving father,

Leopold Hale


Ms. Jem Hale

Sayong, Perak





Bristol, January 20, 1876


My dear James,                              


           I have waited for your response letter to my last one, and while I do believe it was read and received, I still wish for some kind words back.

           I hope that your missions in the jungles have gone well, and while I am now of the opinion that you have done a wonderfully leading your men, I still wish for you to be careful. Oliver still awaits you here, and I am sure that we can arrange for a private reception and service for you and him, if you still with to wear trousers upon your return. He speaks of you often - as well as your large number of letters - so I believe it would be appropriate to assume that you still wish to be with him.

           Your mother is now back to full health, and she eagerly tidies up your room, so that it will be pristine upon your return.

           We have heard of you in this week’s newsletter, where much praise for yourself and your men was written. I assure you there will be much celebration upon the troop’s reinstatement to England, your men to Bristol, and you, to us.


Do write back soon,

your loving father,

Leopold Hale


Mr. James Hale

Kota Lama Kanan, Perak





Bristol, February 3, 1876


My dear Oliver,                                                                               

           It is with great sorrow and pain that I write this letter to you. I wished for my next letter to be notice of James’ jolly return to England, but it is instead that I must inform you of the package that I received from the infantry some three weeks ago. I have not had the courage nor will to write, for every time I sit down at my desk I break down into tears.

           As of the 4th of January 1876, Colour Sergeant James Hale perished during the fight in Malay. The loss of my son weighs heavily upon my heart, as enclosed in the letter that I received was both the Elizabeth Cross, of which I am very proud, and the letter to which I had last written James, unopened. It is my greatest regret that he was not able to read his name written in my script, and that he will ever hear me speak of how proud I am of him as my son.

           I do appreciate very much all that you have done for our family, and since you were to marry him, I implore upon you to keep the Elizabeth Cross that is enclosed in this package. Please keep his memory close you your heart.


Your to-be father-in-law,

Leopold Hale


Mr. Oliver Williams

Canterbury, East Kent

August 04, 2021 07:04

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