for writers and readers….
Mrs Finnegan – purveyor of wisdom and SAGE of the serving classes – is housekeeper at The Regency Town House in Brunswick Square, Brighton.
I HAVE TWO BEAUX and it is hard to choose between them.
Mr. L is very handsome and attentive, but he is wishful for me to learn how to play the harp-lute, and of course you are aware that only an unmarried girl may play this in public at gatherings and soirées where one shares one’s skills. Does this mean that he has no interest in marrying me, or can it be that he wishes me to learn this instrument for his private pleasure when we are married?
My other beau, Mr. M, tells me that I should play whichever instrument pleases me, since what pleases me pleases him. Is this a true desire to make me happy, or can it be that he is entirely indifferent to my skill? He has been known to fall asleep at soirées!
He is not as handsome as Mr. L, but he is kindly to all.
What should I do?
Miss Ophrah Singer of Ottley
You are fortunate to have TWO men to choose from, although both are a LITTLE tardy with an actual marriage proposal.
You are even MORE fortunate in that you are not bound by FICKLE emotion. However, there is a problem.
You are fixing on the minutiae rather than looking at the ROAD AHEAD that will take you from wedlock to family to old age and the cemetery…
You can safely disregard new-fangled harp-lutes as they are a passing FAD. Yet the request (or was it an instruction?) does indicate a NEED to be in command which is a worrying trait in a husband and should be NIPPED in the bud.
Mind you, in my experience what a beau says BEFORE marriage has very little to do with what a husband DOES after.
Concentrate on the important details, namely:
Are the young gentlemen of good family?
How much is their YEARLY income?
Is it sufficient for you to be maintain the style to which you WISH to become accustom?
Is there hope of an inheritance in the future?
If all things are equal you must CHOOSE between good looks and kindness.
Of course, as you are MUSICAL sharing that interest may also be a consideration, but it might be easier TO DANCE to your own tune on the long road ahead if your husband doesn’t have STRONG views on the subject.
Having said that, there is a lot to recommend a chiselled chin and smouldering eyes, but the price is TOO HIGH if it means having to CONTEND with a lifetime of moody mornings and sullen social evenings.
Of course, if neither of them get around to ACTUALLY asking the question you won’t need to make a decision.
I had the most peculiar afternoon.
I saw Master Owen Merryweather Talbot from my basement window in the housekeeper’s room. I would recognise his muscular calves anywhere. He has his faults, (some of which I may not be fully aware) but he does boast a fine pair of legs.
I waved to let him know I was not too busy to offer a cup of tea and a newly baked Portarlington biscuit. He glanced in my direction and then pretended he hadn’t.
I was shocked. I had thought he would be a BETTER actor, but there was no mistaking the shifty look or the quickening pace.
I ran up the stairs from the basement as light on my feet as young gazelle.
I called after him. After all, I still had much to uncover about the mysterious dog-napping of Brutus, the Newfoundland who reigns with benign grace over Brunswick Square every afternoon until his master requires him for unnamed nocturnal adventures.
By ill chance the housekeeper at Number 59 was passing at the SAME time. She remonstrated with me for shouting in the street.
Unladylike was one of the adjectives used. I won’t tell you the others
Dear readers, I know I do not need to defend myself to you. Suffice to say that Master Talbot (Merry to his friends) heard the ENTIRELY unwarranted hullabaloo, turned on his heel and raced back in order to accept my invitation.
In so doing he silenced the woman who could not tell the difference between a gracious greeting and a raucous rant if a set of silver tea spoons depended on it.
Once indoors I was determined that there would be NO shilly-shallying. My tone was firm, my voice steady. I told him how well he was looking (a bit of butter never hurts) and said I was aware where his fine green frock coat had been this last month.
He had the look of a seagull caught in the act of stealing a slice of fried potato and I knew I was right.
That gave me the confidence to ADD that I also knew how he had managed to get it back.
Readers, the dear man believed me.
It was all Master Peregrine’s idea, he said in a quiet voice.
“What? The dog-napping?” I asked.
No, not that.
“What? The hiding of the dog?”
No, not that bit.
“The feeding of the dog?”
No, not that bit either.
“What bit then?”
It turned out to be the bit when Master Peregrine pretended to find the dog and claim the reward. They shared it between them.
Merry complained he was still out of pocket as he had grossly underestimated how much meat Brutus could eat.
At that moment we were interrupted by a LOUD knocking on my door. Sissy opened it and in charged Master Peregrine.
Merry was on his feet. “You told her! You said you wouldn’t but you did.”
Master Peregrine pulled himself up to his full five feet and five inches. He never looked finer.
“I kept my promise, Sir. You did not keep yours.”
The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of wonderful volunteers at The Regency Town House. This week a VERY big thank you to reader SARAH WALDOCK
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such brilliant insight and advice.
If Mrs Finnegan was still young enough to blush she would be doing it right now.