Oh, how I have missed this place!
My beautiful home is very nearly ready for us to occupy again – my, how utterly transformed it is! The parts destroyed during that dreadful fire have been rebuilt and refurbished so that now the Queen herself would feel at home here. Truthfully, if she were ever to tire of travelling to the Isle of Wight for sanctuary I should be careful to expect a request to come here. Josiah’s men have chosen such gorgeous wall coverings – silks and tapestries, each hand made with designs to reflect the theme of each room. I was delighted enough with the Japanese room, but was rendered speechless by the Byzantine decor in the restored banqueting rooms. I cannot wait to take up residence again – I shall have another ball and invite simply everyone to come and see how lucky I am to have such a tasteful and generous husband.
I know we have the Prudential to thank for all this – and Cook, I suppose, for without her crazed antics last year the fire would never have happened – but I admit I am overwhelmed by the amount of money Josiah has allowed for these refurbishments. I do not profess to understand every detail of the claim he made but we have ended up with a residence far more opulent than the one we had before. I shall not comment upon that to Josiah, of course, for I would not like him to think me ungrateful.
Despite my desperate wish to walk the landings as mistress of the Hall once more, I have actually had to fall upon the charity of the Cornbenches for this visit. Mrs Cornbench was more than welcoming when I wrote to her to say I was coming down for a few days. She would not hear of me staying at the Inn in the village and was kind enough to invite Josiah to come, too, but he has business to keep him in London. She is as thin and clinging as she ever was, but I can bear it in the interests of keeping my household together.
Tomorrow I am to meet Jennet and his stupid bride. I shall see at a glance whether this wedding is a necessary one and if it is not, I will do all I can to prevent it. I have no plan as yet, but I am sure that spending time at the Cornbenchs’ dinner table this evening will lead me to devious plotting!