Dr Hatherwick, I presume?

October 6th 1860

Blindingham Hall

I have laughed more today than in the whole of the year thus far – I can hardly hold my pen to record the cause of my amusement, so this entry may be brief. But record it I must – posterity will thank me!

Josiah has announced his wish to become a learned man. He wrote to me from London to inform me that he wishes to study with the Greatest Minds in the Country. Quite why he thinks I care, I do not know.

He says in his letter, amongst other ramblings,

“Eff, I find myself more free, now that I am without the constant bind of having to consider your happiness, to nurture my intellect. Your abandonment was a cruel and selfish act. The act of a woman who has lost her wits and I will never forgive you for it.

But I wish to thank you for releasing me to be able to concentrate on myself, for once. You have my eternal gratitude for the time and independence I now enjoy. Ha! You didn’t expect that, did you? You did not want for me to find happiness in your departure, quite the contrary. Well you are to be disappointed! Ha!”

He blathers on for a while in this vein, I confess my eyes glazed over for much of it, but he ends his letter with this:

“So, before long, I shall be the cleverest of men. I have embraced a world of which you know nothing – I revel in the company of educated men whose boots you are unfit to polish. I shall soon be awarded the highest academic title and the greatest academic respect. My subject is, as you may expect, Business and the Swift Acquisition of Wealth.”

He suggests that I may be so enraptured by his success that I will beg him to return – “A vain hope, Eff, I will tell you this minute. Do not wait for me to come back to you”. At the very least he seems confident that I will approach him for money when he is rich – “I accepted your help when we first married because I knew the giving of it made you happy. I did not and do not need financial help from you and will never offer any in reparation.”

Villiers knocked on my door to ask what I could possibly find so amusing, since I was alone in the room. I chose not to share the reason for my laughter, indeed I could barely speak because of it.

This evening I have invited the vicar to supper. His attitude towards me since Harvest has cooled and I wish to know why. I care little for his actual opinion of me, of course, but his good word stands for much in the village and beyond. I wish not to be dismissed by those who have respect for him. Cook is preparing a stuffed duck, I believe. Duck is far too dry for my preference, but I agree with her that it shows restraint.

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