June 27th 1860, Blindingham Hall
I pace these rooms like a trapped cat.
I sent word to Boo that if she did indeed have any thoughts on what I might set before a Judge I should be pleased to hear them. I must, must be a free woman by the Autumn, I can bear it no longer!
I have not explained myself fully yet – nor can I think how I might – but my marriage to Josiah has come to an end in all but the most administrative of senses. He is here at the Hall this summer, during what he calls a ‘lull’ in his business dealings. Our paths do not cross during the day and I find I no longer seek him out in the evenings, to talk to him or sit while he smokes and tells me what’s what with the World. As a young bride I loved nothing more than to listen to him as he explained things to me – how men do politics, what the Vicar believes and why he might be misguided, how best to polish the silver – he knows so much about everything, I thought, and how lucky I am he has chosen me to be his student as well as his wife!
I learned from him and tried so hard to understand more so that I might be a suitable companion to him, intellectually. I found myself frequently distracted, though, by the need to issue orders to the servants, or wondering what new fabric had arrived from London. I was – and possibly still am – such a feather-headed piece that many a time I would drift away even while Josiah was talking directly to me. Poor man – I would suddenly become aware that the talking had stopped and that, whilst I was stroking Dauncey or thinking about the fish we had had for supper, Josiah had paused to hear an answer from me.
“Effie! I asked you whether or not you thought I was right! Well, do you?” he would bark, and my fingers would clasp Dauncey’s fur so hard that he bared his teeth at me. There, the two creatures I loved most in the world angry with me for not knowing what to say. I would touch Josiah’s knee and say “My darling of course you are right – would that others could see it!” which always seemed to please him.
Over time I came to see that he talked about the same subjects, night after night. I learned the rhythm of his arguments such that I knew when he was about to pause – at that point I would let out a sound which he interpreted as agreement. He did not actually need me to speak – it was enough that I was there at all.
In truth I cannot say exactly when the talking stopped. But I do remember realising that the silence became preferable.
If I do not hear back from Boo by the end of the month I shall press on with my quest to find evidence which might set me free. My old Clacton detective skills have not deserted me yet, I trust!