May 10th 1860, Blindingham Hall
I promised to recount my gains. At such backward looking I see they were not gains at all, but distractions. Nevertheless I shall set them down here. Oh, for a story to tell of happiness! That will be for another time, I hope.
Papa’s passing, shocking and painful though it was, resulted in my being gifted a sum of money which quite put me about. He had made sure to say, in his will and testament, that his bequest should be for me and only me. He declared Josiah to be of independent means and took care to say that he should not receive so much as a guinea from the estate. Bless Papa – he was so proud of Josiah’s nose for commerce, he would not wish to do him the disservice of gifting him unearned wealth.
So, at the age of 27 – childless and without much purpose I would be missed for – I fancied myself quite the traveller. I told Josiah I should like to see what America might offer me. Me! Whose only excursions to date had been down to the village for bread or across a London Square for tea!
Josiah would not countenance my traveling alone – his care for me was boundless, I must attest, and I was pleased he wanted to suspend his business interests in town to spend so much time with me. He promised to use his own money – owing respect to Papa – and told me he had heard of men in New York who would be keen to learn about what London menfolk did to prosper in business. He told me he was determined to become adept in protection – lucky, looked after wife that I was – and would come with me on my adventure. I was more excited than a new rabbit in spring!
We left Villiers to run Blindingham in our absence – his shock at Jennet’s death was a surprise to me but he is a man who feels deeply and I fancy he was glad of the extra responsibility. His concern for the new boy – the simple lad who had been present when Jennet met his end – had been such that the boy had left his family in the village and moved to lodge in Villiers’ rooms. I will never stop admiring Villiers’ capacity for compassion. He and the boy would make good husbands of the Hall, I was sure.
Within weeks of my decision I had secured passage for Josiah and myself, told Dauncey to behave for his temporary masters, and filled a trunk with everything I thought I would need for my stay in America.
Learn this from me, if nothing more – preparing for a lengthy stay in another country is a strange and wearisome task. You will fill your trunk with more, and less, than you need. Without any notion of what the weather or society expects of you, you arrive as a newborn does on its confinement bed, and look to others for help. Further, you will return with most of what you brought with you, unworn and still folded.
That is of course if you do not depart hastily, as I was forced to do. In such circumstances as I faced, you will say goodbye to clothes and possessions you acquired but which mean little to you.
To return to my story. We embarked for our journey on A bright morning in June 1855. I am too ready for my bed to say more than this tonight. It is enough to say that, on that morning at least, I saw it as an adventure and thus a Gain. The loss came later.