Servant or Superior?


B’ham Hall
September 29th 1851

Josiah has gone up to Town to secure rooms for the winter, so I am left in charge of the Hall. I have asked him a hundred times to have words with Villiers but he has not – and the moment the carriage set off down the approach he began to behave as though he, not Josiah, were Master of Blindingham!

I was a little sad at waving my husband away, although I know he will be well served by the staff he has taken with him. The under cook is a sensible sort and she will make sure that the Girl performs her duties properly. I had wanted to give her my written instructions in person but Josiah, mindful as ever of my health, forbade me from leaving the Hall whilst he and the staff loaded themselves aboard. It was a cold day, the first real biting wind of this season and he did not wish me to catch cold so close to our stay in London, bless him. So he took my notes himself and will make sure the Girl sees them when they arrive.

As the carriage left the gates and turned out of sight I rang for Villiers, but he took an absolute age to arrive. When he did so, his collar was awry and he had the look of a man disturbed at his rest. Rest! At 2 o’clock in the day! I was concerned about who would be caring for the Girl’s baby while she was away – quite why this should be a matter for my attention I do not know, but I wished to be informed all the same. I asked Villiers what arrangements had been made for the child’s welfare in his mother’s absence. Well, I might as well have asked him how many monkeys were dancing on my head. He gave a laugh I can only describe as girlish and stared at me for five minutes before he could compose himself to give me an answer.

“Worry not, Madam,” he eventually managed to say. “The baby will be well cared for.”

“I expect it will, but by whom?” I asked.

“By persons well qualified to do so. Please do not concern yourself with this matter a moment longer. Would Madam care for tea?” And before I could think what I wanted he had skittered from the room, stifling yet more laughter. I wonder whether he is quite well.

Still, the child must be content, wherever he is, for I have heard no cries since Josiah and the Girl left. Perhaps the boy fares better without her, I am sure I do.

I shall wait for Josiah to send word of our address for the winter. This year he seems to think it unnecessary for him to return to collect me, so I will fill my days packing and writing to my ladies, notifying them of my imminent availability for social occasions. I am proud that Josiah trusts me to close down the Hall myself. He has instructed Villiers to come with me and to spend the season with us in London, so Blindingham will be quite empty save for Cook, the Gardener and the stable boys. I do not much care to travel with Villiers. His attitude towards me is not that of a servant to his mistress. Rather, he behaves as if I have interrupted him from something more important, it is most vexing.

Oh, I do hope Josiah is being well looked after. I am sure he cannot wait for me to arrive in London – he will be every bit as excited to see me again as I am to see him. What a blessed life I lead, in truth!

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