My Dear Friend, Miss Rachel Smith. I apologize for the delay in my post. My activities here have kept me rather busy. When I arrived at Herald House I was dismayed to see a vague depression that hung over the family. In one week we have seen many events and improvements. Cousin Rosemary needed a proper friend to support her during this time of transition within the family. I am honored to have been able to fulfill that need. Mr. Willoby senior has hired an estate manager and the improvements are already evident. The senior Willoby’s are leaving Herald House on the 20th to return to Meadow Grove. It was their intention to leave a day later but word has come that Mr. Michael Willoby is already in residence there. He has been abroad since the untimely death of his brother, Mr. Roland. Cousin Rosemary is pleased that he has returned and hopes that he will come up to Herald House over the holidays. I plan to return Jan. 7 by train and will contact you at that time. Merry Christmas and my best wishes to your family and friends at the grand Christmas Eve Ball. I am so dismayed that I cannot attend, however, Cousin Rosemary is my charge for now.
Until then, Your Dear Friend,
Miss Lucy Augustine
Such a busy day. After we visited the vicarage, Mrs. Willoby, senior, remarked that Mr. Johnathan was indeed a man of fine character and education. I informed her, clearly, that I did agree, however, his personality is best suited to a local lady of fine character that I met after the service. Miss Amanda Locke is the daughter of Mr. Clarence Locke, the butcher in the neighboring village of Acorn Glen. Smaller than the village Wren, it is the hub of agricultural activity in the area. Miss Locke is the school mistress at boys academy there, White Hall. While Cousin Rosemary remarked that she had heard of the fine reputation of the school, she had not been introduced to Miss Locke.
It is the custom of the house, to consume the large meal of the day mid-afternoon at Herald House on Sundays. This custom developed when Mr. Roland invited many of his friends and acquaintances from distant areas to dine. When they could not stay over, he adjusted dinner time so that they could travel and return to their homes in the same day. I think it is a grand idea. I will institute this custom when I return to Number One Maple Lane.
We decorated the Christmas tree in the large library. What a glorious sight. Cousin Rosemary commissioned some stunning blown glass balls to adorn the boughs, mistletoe berries are tucked between the limbs, the candles have been attached but will not be lit until Christmas Eve. A plaster crafted angel in golden ribbon dress adorns the top of the tree. The boys were staring in awe as the decorations were applied, they were relegated to the dried cranberries and popcorn garland. After a light tea at 6 pm we all retired to our rooms to recover from the days events. I have posted a thank you to the kind and generous Mr. Walden for the divine leather-bound sketch book. I plan to spend some time this evening sketching the adornments in my chamber. I think I will start with the charming mirror that stands beside my wardrobe. It is on a framed stand that sits at an angle into the room. The frame is decorated in scrolls of gesso tipped in gold, very French. A potted fern sits to the right of the mirror and its reflection will provide a lovely contrast for my drawing.
So good night for now my faithful friend, my journal. Tomorrow we have no specific plans. Mrs. Hillary has prepared some sugar cookies for the boys to decorate and Cousin Rosemary and I will attend the event.
6:00 am: What a dreadful and restless night. I barely have slept a wink. What foreboding news has Brother Phillip uncovered?
7:15 am: I hear activity in the hall, the house is awakening. I have hidden the telegram in my desk, under the blue leather-bound sketch book I must remember to post a thank you to Mr. Walden. I am curiously hungry. I will go down now.
8:45 am: As usual, Mrs. Hillary provided a lovely repast. The side board was laid with fine sausages and crisp bacon. eggs in a scramble, muffins and biscuits with several jams. The coffee and tea were hot and refreshing. I sense we may have a snowfall today. The clouds are dark and ominous and there is a definite chill in the air. We will proceed to the Estate church to worship and later to meet with the Vicar, Mr. Johnathan. Since his living is attached to the Estate, Mr. Willoby senior kept him on. He was so helpful and consoling at the passing of Mr. Roland Willoby. It will be a lovely occasion to remake his acquaintance. Mrs. Willoby has remarked that he remains without a wife and is currently seeking company. I feel a sense of unease about this remark. I am certainly not looking for a husband and I am indeed not interested in the role of a country Vicar’s wife!
Dear Journal, after a lovely dinner with the family, Clarke came through with a telegram, for me. I was instantly on edge to receive a post at the late hour. I tried to appear nonplussed and place my coffee cup carefully on the side table. Cousin Rosemary stopped her elegant recital of piano overtures in surprise. Mr. and Mrs. Willoby stopped short as well and placed their playing cards on the table waiting for my response. I opened the post, read it carefully and attempted to disguise my surprise. I suspect my efforts were rather meager because I could read the concern of their expressions. I gathered my wits quickly and stifled a false laugh to exclaim some nonsense about Mr. Sullivan finding a possible buyer for Number Ten Maple Lane. I rambled on about my reasons for selling and how pleased I am with Mr. Sullivan’s interventions on my behalf. Cousin Rosemary remarked that it was peculiar for Mr. Sullivan to send the telegram on at such a late hour. She felt that information could have waited for morning. I instantly recovered and remarked that tomorrow was a Sunday, and he would have known we would be at Church. She seemed to accept that explanation. I would not want to concern any of the Willoby’s with incomplete information, they have been so kind to me. I will proceed as Brother Phillip suggests. The Vicar is expecting us, it was not a total falsehood. Oh my.
Have hired a private detective (stop) Name is Mr. Clifdahl Fisk (stop) He will investigate Mr. Hawkins (stop) I have discovered a connection with Charles Peacock, Mr. Willoby’s estate manager (stop) Do not discuss this matter (stop) Will advise (stop)
Your Brother, Phillip Sawyer
Dearest Sister Eliza,
I hope this note finds you healthy and well on to your Holiday preparations. We have been very busy here at Herald House applying the greens to the mantles and banisters. My chamber is beautifully but sparingly decorated. Just enough to lighten the spirit. A braided garland of white pine boughs laced with the Pyracantha berries and white velvet bows provides a joyous sight when one enters the room. It is my intention to sketch some of the sights here at the Herald House and Grounds before returning to Number One Maple Lane. I mentioned my passion for drawing to Dear Mr. Waldon and he included a divine blue leather-bound sketch book with my stationary order as a Christmas Gift. I was so overcome with his kindness, I will write a thank you note shortly.
One of my favorite places in my rooms is the Louis XV writing desk that is angled into a deep window well facing south. From this vantage point I am privileged to see the full length of the drive through the park and all approaching guests. It is a grand sight fitting for such a grand house. I am writing to you on my new stationary prepared by the talented Mr. Waldon of the Village Wren. It is a fine papyrus with the monogram perfectly centered in my favorite color of Platinum Gray. Have you noticed the fine raised script? I extremely pleased.
Our Dear Cousin Rosemary is becoming more alert by the day. She is attending meals and her appetite has greatly improved. She has returned to spending periods of time in the schoolroom with Kenny and Ross in the early morning and again in the afternoon. It seems that Dominique, the governess, was a bit perplexed by this new attention, however, she has grudgingly accepted the new routine. She also has reluctantly accepted our nightly intrusions after tea as well to read to the boys before their bedtime. As a result, both of the lads seem much fulfilled and happy. It is a blessing indeed.
I will close now to dress for dinner. My new dresses are so lovely. The village seamstress has done a fine stitching on the dark green velvet dress. The bodice is trimmed with cross-hatch stitching in golden threads, each cross mark is dotted with a lovely pearl bead. She has applied a new hem treatment, very popular in Paris right now. It is randomly tucked to pull the hem up in soft gathers. I am very pleased.
My Best Wishes to all my loved ones,
Your Loving Sister, Lucy
Oh Dear Journal, I am so relieved. I donned my lovely new Tweed Walking Suit and traveled the front lane down to the cottage of Mrs. Waters and her son Peter. I was so pleased to see her up and about preparing a rabbit stew for their supper. While she stated that she was a bit chilled yesterday after collecting her eggs, some hot chicken soup and a warm fire settled the chill. She confirms that Peter worries frequently of her health. He is of a delicate nature and finds himself with many anxieties. He enjoys working with Mr. Hawkins now. He prefers to take directions from one person rather than to attempt scheduling his own activities. She also mentioned that Michael Willoby was returning to Meadow Grove for the Christmas holidays. Peter is not particularly fond of Mr. Michael, this concerns her. She is concerned that he will visit and set Peter on to more fearful behavior.
I was able to gather some lovely Pyracantha berries along the way. I will use them to drape the mantle in my chamber. Do not fear, the berries are on the very high mantle unreachable by little hands.
I have neglected to share appointments there. How shall I begin? On the second floor, in the west chamber above the large library, I believe, this room is selected for the most important guests. It is the third door, on the right as you travel the connecting hall. It is decorated entirely in a fine French Blue satin. The walls are dressed with a subtle brocade silk. While the furniture is the finest mahogany the contrast with the pale blue trappings and bedding is stunning. On the bed is a tufted velvet duvet and light and fluffy goose down pillows. The linens are fine threaded pale blue to match with the Willoby monogram on the hemming. I feel like a princess here. But sometimes the princess is lonely and longing to live her own life. As I glance out large windows that face the boxwood garden facing west, I am reminded of the great wealth of this family and how vulnerable Dear Cousin Rosemary might be.