Some internal dialogue from Sophie de Courcy, toasting her toes in front of her bedroom fire in December 1794: –
Brisk footsteps sound in the corridor, and here is my lady’s maid, Agnes (I still cannot get the better of my astonishment that a poor relative should be given one).
I love her already, though I to conceal it; I could not resist giving her a large present I could ill afford on St Nicholas’ Day.
She is pretty, that cap set upon her glossy brown hair looks more like an ornament than anything; some might say that short nose is a bad feature I think it makes her look the more fetching. “Nasty cold wind, Miss Sophie. You are wise to wear your thick shawl.”
On my first eve at the Manor, she made me laugh indeed by coming out with the most absurd predictions about a couple of young men coming into our lives from overseas, destined to be an admirer for us; how I may yet have my heart’s desire (as will she) but only if each of us can defeat the forces of evil, which will manifest themselves through a man in mourning, and the wicked acts of a dark woman.
I told her it was very shocking and not a Christian activity, looking as strict as brother John’s wife Harriet does, when rebuking a maid.
The irrepressible girl giggled; “That may be, Miss, but my Tarot cards is never wrong,which is more than you can say for the Vicar, saying as we would have a better harvest if we prayed more, and then we had the wettest summer in years…”