like flicking back in time to a slower age

March 15, 2017

Wednesday 28th January 1959

Dear Mother,

How strange it is to be here. I flew around the house glancing into the bedrooms, the nooks and passages, cupboards and corners. The refectory-like dining hall with my callings echo-singing back at me, the dim sitting room with its touches of rubbed gold and the eyes of his lost close ones following me, the glass doors that stare onto the garden, the kitchen with its proud dresser and my footsteps bold on the quarry-ringing floor – like flicking back in time to a slower age when everything was done by servants. No servants of course, no handmaidens, only Campbell who has been seeing to things since last year and who will come in often to help me. He seems friendly enough, although all he said when Cadogan introduced us was Young, so young… in a voice too soft and secret for his bulky frame, before lowering his eyes again to the chopping of oranges for marmalade. It was odd when that happened and made me wonder if having him here might not be too intrusive after all. People should think quietly to themselves until they know each other properly. And he’s right – I am young, and know little or zero about cooking or tendering a house of this size, let alone a husband-lover.

I’ve chosen the bedroom of sky and bluebells, river and cornflowers. It has a small bathroom and made me welcome, unlike the rattling dorm of the convent or the naked cell Cadogan used in the life just before we were married, although he was rarely here and mostly stayed at the flat in town. Everything has been so sudden – how could I have imagined this time last year that I’d soon be a wife with a house in the folded hills?

Nell Grey
Three Magic Women

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