Neighbourly relations

Lydiatt House
March 22nd 1853

I have loved my home for so long that I have been quite blind to the parlous stupidity of its village folk. This waiting for news of Cook is so tiresome that I find I no longer care overmuch whether she is alive or dead – she is sure to be one or the other. I have spent more time than I care to contemplate wandering the village lanes in search of her. At the start I was alive with eager hope that she would come walking around the next corner, scolding me for wearing unsuitable boots as she used to do. I am only slightly sorry to confess that now I would be happy for a glimpse of her under a bush or floating in Bartle Pond – anything that would bring an end to this uncertainty.

I visit Mrs Everdown in the Forester’s Arms every morning to see if she has had word, but she is becoming increasingly vague as her vigil there goes on. When all this is over I shall insist that Josiah does not employ her as housekeeper of the rebuilt Hall – she is unlikely to appreciate the sophisticated new surroundings I am planning. She is too much of a villager for us after all, and resembles her bovine daughter more closely than I had imagined.

The people in Blindingham are well meaning enough, I suppose but oh! they are so dense and harsh of feature. There is not one of them without a nose like a pineapple. Everywhere I go I see the same thick set brows and square jaws looking back at me – I feel as if I have stumbled univited upon a family gathering. I wonder I had not noticed before how dim and pockmarked they all are.

If cook does not appear soon – quick or dead – I shall return to civilisation and be thankful that I do not have to conduct my business in the sawdust and smoke of a village hostelry. The air in the streets of Bayswater is a good deal fresher, I will swear to it.

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