BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Hates Raisins, Education for Young Ladies and a Knock on her Door Late at Night

Mrs Finnegan remains the loyal, reliable and hard-working Housekeeper at The Regency Town House and continues to GIVE pithy and pertinent advice to readers but…her mind is ELSEWHERE.

NOW MY GIRLS are ten and twelve I want to plan their instruction with a view to making a succesful marriage.
After much consideration I think these three subjects are probably the most important:
Music Lessons
Drawing Lessons
French Lessons

I would be grateful for your thoughts.
Conscientious Mama, the BETTER part of Brighton

Mrs Finnegan replies

It is the modern fashion to tutor young ladies in subjects that have no practical application and will not equip them to deal with everyday tribulations.

Unless you are hoping to arrange marriages with French musicans/artists I suggest MORE practical alternatives:
Mental Arithmetic
for shopping and household budgeting. Also you don’t leave any evidence behind
Creative Writing
for love letters, party invitations and final demands
Rhetoric
The art of persuasive speaking…in what situation would that NOT be useful?

PS

Have you slept this past week?

I expect like me you have been lying awake night after night thinking about “Mister Finnegan”.

No doubt you have TORMENTED yourself with a THOUSAND questions, chief of which is:

Who is the man who knocked on my door and destroyed my peace of mind?

He knows a good deal about my late departed husband and has explained away his death and funeral as an ELABORATE plot to escape the ties of matrimony.

Call me suspicious, but I wonder if the WISH to be tethered to that NOBLE institution once more has ANYTHING to do with the fact he is now unemployed, without savings, friends or any MEANS of support – all crumbs of information I have picked out of him like raisins from a scone. (I’ve never been able to abide raisins, NASTY crinkly things that are only worth eating when soaked in brandy.)

He is surprised that I am wary.

He is amazed that I do not FALL into his arms in GRATITUDE (although he has never held out his arms so there’s been nothing to fall into even if I were so inclined). The one BLESSING is that he has not attempted any DISPLAY of affection.  As a rule he keeps a distance of at least two feet, although on one occasion he did hold my hand (or to be more accurate my wrist… )

Personally, I wish we would stay two counties apart.

In short, he thinks it right and PROPER that we should resume where he CLAIMS we left off. I TOLD him EVEN if I was convinced that he was my dearly departed the Mistress would never countenance married servants living together under her roof. Of course, I have not asked.

He was not at all put out and said he expected as much and he had already found a DECENT room within five minutes brisk walk which would do us NICELY.

NO! said I. Being a housekeeper is a not a MERE  6 O’ Clock in the morning  to 10 O’ Clock at night job. It is a VOCATION that demands constant attendance.

Little Sissy must have heard what we were saying because I could hear her SOBBING in the corridor. I ran to comfort her and she told me in haltering voice that she DIDN’T think she could stay if I were leaving. But it would be all right, she would go home and learn to eat a lot less, REALLY she would, but the look she gave ‘Mister Finnegan’ would make Lucifer himself queue for confession.

I told her I was NEVER leaving. ‘Mister Finnegan’s’ dark presence in the doorway was like a thunder cloud in May.

“That’s right, girl,” he growled. “All The Missus has to do is visit on her half day off like a good wifey. But I’ll be around for my dinner most nights.”

So that was HIS plan.

And a very good one it was too. All my wages WOULD be his and he would be well fed into the bargain. An excellent plan for ‘Mr Finnegan’.

The rent on “his” room was 2/6 per week I was INFORMED. He had not taken up residence yet as money was required in advance – he was very VAGUE about where he was staying in the meantime – but he needed 5 shillings as there were some additional furnishings he required.

“You have your savings,” he said looking at me intently as if the coins were STUCK to my forehead. I looked back just as steadily. I KNEW this trick.

At the mention of money do NOT let your eyes FLIT towards your hidey hole under the floorboards or the purse nestled in the top drawer of the tall boy. Resist! I can tell you at that moment NOTHING in the world would have made me look towards the STRONG BOX at the back of the linen press. It is my SECRET that none shall pry out of me.

It MUST be a magnificent room, I remarked if they can charge 2/6 for it. “It’s a couple of rooms,’ he said. “We don’t want to be living on top of each other.” Quiet so.

I asked how he had managed to FIND me. Since his ‘death’ I had been in service in Chingford, Neasden and Nuneaton and other far-flung places. I am a well-travelled woman. My LAST position was in Oxfordshire before coming to Brunswick Square so tracking me down was some feat.

“It wasn’t difficult,” he smirked. “I’ve always been a great reader…” His mouth shut like a rat trap SNAPPING on a particularly fat rodent.

It was as if he realised he had said too much.

That was THE MOMENT I realised he has been READING my Chronicles!

At the very LEAST he must have read the BRIEF autobiography I was persuaded (by public DEMAND) to pen. It was in two parts: The Flaming Red Years (my youth) and The Cultured Years (since then). That was how he knew where I was LIVING. It is also PERHAPS how he knows about my late husband’s PASSION for onion soup!  Unless, of course, dear reader he is my husband….

I said nothing. I am biding my time. As he left that evening he cocked his head towards the sound of Sissy singing in the kitchen. “You’re fond of that girl and she of you.” I agreed. “She’s not yours, is she? I’m not going to rear another man’s child. Or take back a wife what’s tainted.”

I nearly said something then. I nearly did him a damage. It’s LUCKY I didn’t have a saucepan in my hand.

I bide my time.

Susan thinks we should barricade the house against him. I’m not sure how the Mistress would FEEL about that (actually, I’m entirely certain).

Miss Martha is getting worried and believes the SOLUTION is in the law. “I think once you’re dead, you’re dead,” she said after his third visit last week. (Yes, THREE visits!) “He would have a hard time convincing a Court. You should see a solicitor.” 

There are many things that dear Miss Martha does NOT know and one of them is that solicitors and their fees are not for the LIKES of me or ‘Mister Finnegan.’

I was touched by their concern, but I didn’t EXPECT them to do what they did last night. Yet again there was knock on my door. I have learned to DREAD that sound…to be continued.

The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House.

Click HERE for the next THRILLING episode!

And if you click HERE Mrs Finnegan will send you a note every TUESDAY to let you know when the ink is dry and her chronicle is ready to be read. That’s one less thing to worry about…
This service is provided ENTIRELY FREE of charges, taxes and tips.

7 comments on “Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Hates Raisins, Education for Young Ladies and a Knock on her Door Late at Night

  1. beth
    February 1, 2022

    he is a cunning snake and mrs. finnegan a wise owl and i’ve no doubt that she’ll prevail in this matter.

  2. Cathy Cade
    February 1, 2022

    tense… a veritable cliffhanger

    • bridget whelan
      February 1, 2022

      Really should have some dum-dum-dar-dum music at the end but my tech skills aren’t up to it….

  3. Sarah Waldock
    February 1, 2022

    almost calls for Bach’s little fugue… dear me, solicitors might be outside dear Mrs. Finnigan’s purse, but what of reporting him to a magistrate for attempted extortion? if the soapy step and dark twine across the area steps is too much to contemplate..

    • bridget whelan
      February 4, 2022

      I shall report the suggestion to Mrs F (and I’m not saying that the soapy step has entirely been discounted…)

  4. Paul Couchman
    February 1, 2022

    I am glad that Mrs Finnegan’s year is anything but dull. Perhaps she should dispatch this scoundrel down the Town House’s well. She may say that he inadvertently slipped. It is easy to lose your footing in the yard. A poetic end that would mirror the way that the REAL Mr Finnegan left Mrs F’s life.

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830.
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