Charlotte Smith's Diary - Part 12
This is a Regency satire of Helen Fielding's wonderful novel, Bridget Jones's Diary.
For parts 1-11, follow the links on the sidebar to the left.
5 to 12
Quickly tipped the rest of the vase into the potted palm as the butler returned to hall.
‘Lord and Lady Winters will see you now,’ he said.
‘Lord and Lady . . . ?’ I gasped.
There was no time to think anything further as the butler had already started walking across the hall. Picked up my basket and followed him quickly into a large room with high ceilings and deep carpets. I am cut out to live in a house with high ceilings and deep carpets but will probably end my days living in Susan’s attic.
Lord and Lady Winters were sitting on rigid seats behind a huge table. They looked up when I came in.
‘Why is your skirt wet?’ asked Lady Winters, lifting one eyebrow.
‘It was raining,’ I said, thinking quickly, and not being able to admit I’d dampened it to make myself look sexy for sake of hot, bachelor Lord Winters, who turned out to be cold, married, fish.
Lady Winters looked out of the window at the glorious winter sunshine.
‘In the country,’ I said, thinking even more quickly. ‘I’ve come from the country and it was raining there, quite heavily.’
‘I wonder you didn’t think to wear a coat,’ said Lady Winters
‘Yes, I did, but I took it off and left it in the hall.’
She lifted the other eyebrow.
‘It was hot in the hall. So I took it off.’
The interview was not going well.
‘You seem to have something on your skirt,’ said Lord Winters, raising his quizzing glass.
I looked down to see pieces of china dust clinging to my skirt.
‘In the country, where I come from, they make pottery. Some of the dust must have stuck to my skirt because it was wet.’
Lord Winters looked at me for what seemed like an hour but was probably only fifty-five minutes, then he said, ‘Yes.’
There was a slight cough from the window and I looked towards it to see a sweet old lady with white hair sitting on a very large sofa.
‘Yes, of course,’ said Lord Winters. ‘We are here to find a companion for my mother. You appear to like reading,’ he said, glancing at my basket.
I’d taken The Earl’s Secret with me in case I had to wait.
‘Yes, I do.’
‘Good. My mother likes reading, but her eyesight is weak and she needs someone to read for her. You seem to like improving books.’
‘Oh, yes I do.’
Had decided little old lady would be a good person to work for, particularly as I saw her pushing a book under her cushion and recognised the cover of The Earl’s Secret.
‘Did you think The Earl’s Secret improved, too?’ I asked.
The sweet little old lady coughed.
‘The Earl’s Secret? Which earl was that?’ asked Lord Winters. ‘The Earl of Richmond?’
‘Oh, no, the Earl of Ravenskeep,’ I said.
‘Ravenskeep. I don’t believe we know the Ravenskeeps, do we, Hortense?’
Hortense wrinkled her brow, then said, ‘No.’
‘I will have to read my Kings and Queens of England again. Or perhaps I should try and find an Earls of England,’ he said, revealing his yellow teeth in a ghastly grin.
‘Oh, yes,’ I burbled, thinking, What is he talking about? Then noticed that Kings and Queens of England was sticking out of my bag and realized Susan must have changed it for The Earl’s Secret when I wasn’t looking.
‘Well, that seems satisfactory, I think,’ said Lord Winters.
‘Yes. It will be good to have someone to steady Mama-in-Law,’ said Hortense. ‘She tends to be too giddy. A course of improving reading will do wonders for her character.’
‘Oh, yes, of course,’ I said in a serious, deep voice. ‘I like nothing better than some serious reading.’
‘Good. You can start next week.’
Hooray! Have a job. Am going to be a companion to a sweet old lady who likes romances. I won’t have to live in Susan’s attic after all.
Spirits fell as I realized I wouldn’t be able to marry sweet old lady’s handsome son. Sweet old lady’s son is not handsome and is already married. Spirits rose again. Perhaps the sweet old lady has another son.