for writers and readers….
Mrs Finnegan, housekeeper of The Regency Town House, knows that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry and a TIME to prepare for a visitor.
I WATCH from my window from first light to early dusk, with my nose against
the glass. I see the girls next door dressed primly. But appearances deceive. If dress belied morals they should be clad in flaming crimson. That house is a recruiting ground for the legions of Venus.
My servants call me foolish and tell me it is a finishing school for young women whose families have fallen on straitened circumstances. But the lady who runs the house of sin seems to have no qualification for running a school save her own reduced circumstances.
The girth of her purse, I am told, is in a constant state of flux.
Although due to my early bedtime I have yet to see the customers of the brothel I am convinced I am right. The school is a bawdy-house. I know a rodent when I sniff one.
These voluble, young creatures are learning fashionable phrases to seduce at tea tables. These girls are learning to sing light opera for the scandalous purposes of singing to well-paying gentlemen after they are spent.
Debauchery so close to home!
Horrified Esquire from Hollingbury
Debauchery is CLOSER than you think, sir.
It’s inside your house, staring out.
It is in your imagination, sir and no DOUBT in your dreams.
I have NO patience with a man who cannot be bothered to stay up after his BEDTIME to confirm his suspicions.
My own dreams have been unsettled of late, full of long-haired men staring so hard they could bore through a Sunday bonnet…
and odd images….
along with lots of bouncing…
I haven’t an idea what it all means, but I know you will be AGOG to learn what happened after the Mistress issued her cruel ultimatum. I was instructured to pester the life out of poor Susan about the identity of her child’s father (without mentioning Mrs Hankey or her son). Or else!
Some of you were kind enough to write with advice about my INNOCENCE regarding pearl earrings and desk drawers. One or two have EVEN offered to be character witnesses should I be required to appear before a magistrate.
Such kindness! I was quite overcome.
After a FEW days of forehead-wrinkling contemplation I realised I had no choice. I could not PRETEND to Susan that I would dismiss her from service if she DID NOT instantly reveal the most intimate details of her life for one very GOOD reason. She would not believe me.
I am, after all, Mrs Finnegan.
It’s well known I WEAR the fichu of authority lightly.
and the cap of recitude sits straight on my head.
I could do naught, but tell Susan the truth and SEE what came out of it.
And what came out was precisely….nothing.
Susan made it very clear she would LEAVE her well-paid positition of lady’s maid that very afternoon RATHER than discuss the father of her beloved daughter. And she gave me permission to report the same to Mrs Hankey.
The mistress did not take it well. She wanted to know what I made of it and how Susan looked. AND was there a tremor when she spoke? And did she mention – at any point – Thompson Hankey Junior.
“What is the girl playing at?” Mrs Hankey demanded, in a voice loud enough to carry a pail of water across the Square.
In my opinion, she’s not playing at all and perhaps she should. The world is not a kind place for children born out of wedlock, however much their mothers love them.
And that’s where things stood until early this morning. A message arrived that Master Thompson’s ship has landed, or docked, or whatever ships do, and his feet at this very moment are walking on English soil. We expect him imminently.
Mrs Hankey is huffing and puffing like the east wind, issuing a dozen instructions and then CHANGING her mind about six of them by the time she DRAWS a second breath. Susan is pulling her weight and the expression on her face hasn’t changed since she was FIRST told the news which is to say she is radiating a quiet calm. But is a storm brewing underneath?
As Mrs Hankey mounts the stairs to her room (to change her entire ensemble for the second time) she gives me a sharp look and says in a COLD voice that has more than a touch of Siberia about it.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten my pearl earring. She pauses for effect. Or where I found it.
The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House. This week a special thank you to Paul Couchman.
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…
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