Year of our Lord 18–.
November 15th. Damn good day, out with the hounds at dawn, back after dark. Housekeeper complains of the mud and bloodstains on my britches. Curse on English women and their finicking ways.
November 17th. Dinner with the Parson, damn me if he didn’t match me glass for glass. Housekeeper while helping me up the stairs, stopped halfway, muttering some nonsense about a Governess for the child. What need of book learning for the girl? A pretty wench will always make her way in the World. If she were plain t’would be another matter.
November 21st. Rained all day. What a climate, it puts me quite out of Humor. Bored. In need of exercise so mounted to the attic, up-ended the Trollop and at her with a will. She may be as mad as my hat but by thunder she’s willing.
January 3rd. Weather foul. No hunting. Hey ho for London and the gaming tables.
January 10th. Housekeeper writes that the West Wing is damp and the child grows difficult. Write back suggesting she consult Steward and engage Governess – why cannot a woman see the simplest of solutions?
January 15th. Uncomfortable midnight visit from two large men in black. Have decided to settle debts. Back to the country for some hunting, and a tumble or two in the attic.
January 17th. Damn the dog. Damn the horse. Damn this ancle. The merest sprain, say I to the Surgeon. Sir, says he, you will keep within doors a sennight.
Bored. Madam, say I to the Housekeeper, bring me the new Governess. In she comes, face like a cow’s arse. Damned amusing though, putting her through her paces. Play for me, say I, pretending to know about music, also, bring me your drawings if you please Madam. Prickly as hell she is, like all these plain women. Deigns to be offended, if you please, because I fail to recognise her as the wench who held the horse. Explain all white women look the same to me, and had assumed it was the Gatekeeper’s Wyfe who assisted me after the horse threw me.
January 18th Ancle hurts like the very devil. New Governess obliges the Child to recite for me. Mercifully her memory fails after two verses. New Governess asks if Child is not much improved. Cannot think how to answer. Conversation tedious in the extreme, attempt to dismiss the woman. Name escapes me of course. Miss …er say I, Yes sir says she, what is it you require of me? Your absence, Madam, I reply. Thank the Lord for a ready wit! Bored. Must see if I can manage attic stairs tonight.
January 19th. Locked! Damn that architect. Only one way into the damned attic. Meet the Servant in the corridor with the key on her belt. Madam, says she, is otherwise occupied. By Jove say I, out of my way woman, I’ll occupy her. Make to push past, damned woman fells me with a single blow. Tell the Housekeeper I walked into a door. At dinner tonight notice Miss Er’s looks are vastly improved. Country air agrees with the wench.
February 14th. Fell asleep reading Lusciouse Wymmen, candle set fire to bed. Next thing I know Miss Er is in the room beating out the flames with her reticule. Feel very low and shaken today – have never seen a woman in curl papers and face cream before.
February 15th. Recovered. At dinner made fine joke about natural beauty being most desirable in a woman. How Miss Er squirmed! Must think up some more.
February 16th. Out with the Hunt. No foxes but several cats, a cockerel and the farmer’s Wyfe. Took the attic stairs three at a time. Met the servant in the doorway. (Note: something oddly appealing about a powerful woman. Pity about the mustache). Madam, says she, is entering a period of Celibacy in order to discover herself. But she’s raving mad say I, and that takes no discovering. No no says Mrs. Poole, flexing her biceps, ’tis nothing but her menstrual cycle, get ye hence, explore the art of self-abuse, for you shall have no more of your wicked ways here.
February 17th. Brooding all day. The woman Poole exceeds her authority. Am I not to be Master in my own house? Try a ladder at the attic window, but find it’s too small to climb in. Mrs Poole empties slop bucket over me as I am descending. Tell Housekeeper I tripped up on a patch of mud. Situation becoming desperate. At dinner notice how Miss Er’s eyes gleam in the candlelight. Damned if I can recall her first name. Will call her Jayne. Plain Jayne.
February 25th. Still barred from my own attic. The Lord knows I am a reasonable and patient man, but I fear the time has come for action. Since my Wyfe is denied me, the Governess will have to take her place. Resolved to have Jayne Er this very night.
February 26th. Late last night Housekeeper, hearing my fit of sneezing, informs me that all Governesses are taught to carry a bag of pepper for the defence of their Virtue. Inform the woman I was merely searching the Library for a Learned Work when some dust set off the unfortunate attack. She tells me the Library has been locked this many a year and the key is lost.
April 1st. Attic still locked. Plain Jayne still resists me. The jade insists on marriage.
June 1st Why not? She knows nothing of the attic, and I am a man in torment.
July 28th. Damn damn damn damn. Damn all Solicitors to hell. Wedding stopped at last minute, attic door still barred, and farmer wants compensation for loss of Wyfe. Told the impudent fellow to get himself another. Jayne Er gone off in a sulk. Never did like a woman with warts anyway. How I miss Jamaica. Spent the evening poring over favourite book, Blacke Wymmen in Interesting Poses.
August 31st. Women! Grace Poole comes to tell me she is the happiest woman alive and she is going to California to start a new life with my Wyfe! Asks for one hundred pounds to found new Religion. Offer the hussy a taste of my whip instead, they leave without so much as a goodbye! Housekeeper has eloped with Gamekeeper. Fell asleep over new book of woodcuts by famous explorer (Naked Wymmen I Have Known), knocked over candle and burned house to the ground. All my hunting trophies gone forever! Lost one hand and eyesight.
June 5th. Bored. New Housekeeper tells me she will take dictation. Decide to take up diary again.
June 6th New Housekeeper reads letter from America. All members of new Religion killed when asked to demonstrate faith in a snakepit. Grace Poole strangled seventeen before one foolhardy serpent slid inside her skirts and bit her on the Buttock. Both died in agony. Jayne Er turns up and announces she will marry me. Ask her if she’s still plain. She says Sir, I cannot tell a lie, an enchantment was placed upon me so that I am now the fairest of women is it really true that you see nothing? Touched by this show of concern. Decide to marry the wench.
August 12th. It’s a miracle, eyesight is returning. Run to stables, saddle hunter and ride all day. Later find Jayne in her parlour. She looks up at me from her sewing. A shaft of sunlight falls across her face – damn damn damn damn DAMN