Cranford Wives


Belgrave Square
December 20th 1851

I have received an annoying little letter from one of The Wives. Full of polite praise and pledges to stay in touch. I wanted to tear it up the moment I had read it. Those women are nearly as dull as their menfolk, if such a thing were possible. The one who wrote the letter was the sharper of the two, which does not say much in all honesty, and the other one was barely conscious. She looked at Josiah as if she had never seen him before and when I asked if he behaved himself with propriety when under her roof she professed to know nothing of his residence with them! What a strange and alternative world she must inhabit if she cannot recognise her own house guest.

They both did their best to charm Mrs Doughty, with no success as far as I could see, and now they wish to become better acquainted with Boo and me. I should rather drive needles into my eyes. A more tiresome pair of prattling simpletons I could not imagine. No wonder Josiah had never spoken of them to me. When I asked whether Mrs Waterhouse was inattentive to his needs when he stays there he waved me away with a grumpy little snort. I can’t say I blame him. An afternoon in their company makes it clear to me why their husbands would rather spend most of their time underground.

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