B’ham Hall October 3rd 1851
Villiers and the Gardener asked me to walk the grounds with them before we close the Hall down for the winter. I am a bit of a noodle where such matters are concerned, but I kept my head and behaved as if I were born to the land. I discussed tree cutting, lake design and planting programmes with as much confidence as I could muster and I am sure the Gardener thinks the better of me for it. Not so Villiers, who kept making reference to ‘madam’s capability’ and laughing like a showgirl. Really, he is too much to bear without Josiah here to keep him in check. I declare that had the Gardener not silenced Villiers – which he did masterfully with the sternest of looks – I should have taken a spade to him right there.

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