Is there any other wife in the land who has as much to endure as I have? I do not think that even in the company of the worldliest of women I could describe the events of the past day. My powers of deduction have been put to great use and my tolerance has been tested beyond all measure. I have once again determined that should my services as a wife and businesswoman be no longer required I shall present myself to the constabulary and find employment there. That would be preferable to the vexations of being a Lady with servants. The most outrageous demands are being put on me and I am at a loss as to what I am supposed to do next.
The Girl has found someone stupid enough to marry her – and she believes Josiah should present her with a dowry!
I found her crumpled and misspelt note in the deepest pocket of his silk night jacket – it has clearly been read a number of times, possibly thrown in the grate and retrieved, then used to clean his shoes for all I know. I read it and replaced it in the blink of an eye while Josiah was downstairs shouting at the postboy. I shall reproduce it now,
Josiah ( how dare she address him thus!)
I have had no word from you for days (why would she?) so am reduced to contacting you like this. I shall bring this letter to your door before daybreak so that your wife need have no sight of it. (Well it is some blessing, I suppose, that she is mindful enough of my feelings not to bore me with her goings on). The simple fact is that I can no longer survive as I have been and you should not expect me to. I must put food on the table for Jojo and myself. You have not been of any help to us for a long time now (since I insisted her wages should not come from us any more, I expect. The avaricious madam – was her income from the gentleman she worked for not enough?) so I have taken action to protect myself and the child.
I have accepted an offer of matrimony from a gentleman I met whilst walking Jojo in the park. (Goodness me! I walk in the park, too but have never been proposed to whilst doing so) I do care for him but mainly he has a good income. Jojo and I will be well looked after. I know his welfare is still important to you even if mine is not. (I did not understand this part, but she has always been prone to self pity so I assume it is nothing more than that. I well remember the snivelling and wailing she indulged in at Blindingham and during our first season in town)
My reason for writing is to ask you for a sum of money – enough to make it worth the gentleman’s while taking us on. I will leave the exact amount to you to decide but do not leave it long before you get the money to me (the effrontery of the woman!) We plan to be wed by the Summer. You do not have to come to the wedding of course but you would be welcome, Jojo does ask after you (does he? Why?)
Send word straight away,
This familiar way of signing letters is abhorrent but I should not expect more of someone in her position.
So – we are being asked to fund her and her idiot child so that a man who should know better can
justify her hand in marriage. What on earth does any of this have to do with us – we have not been her employers for a year at least. Has she no other family?
No wonder Josiah is so incensed. He is an honourable man who will wish to recognise the service the Girl gave us for all those years, but not with a gift of money at a time when we need all that we have at our disposal to rebuild the Hall. He must be worried about how to accede to the spirit of her request without financial inconvenience to us. And he is obviously anxious to protect me from this knowledge, having realised – correctly – that my first instinct would be to deny her and her child anything they asked.
I shall have to devise a way to help Josiah through this without letting him know that I have found and read her note. I say again, my powers of detection, deduction and discretion are second to none!