Day 1 | Day 2
Sprake’s told them all he got off with Susan, and he’s gone all ‘funny’ because of it. God, what a liar. M. came upstairs this morning with some kind of drivel about Sprake’s drivel — apparently rejection has sent him a bit round the bend. Which I am sorry for, of course. He sits in his room muttering now and no one can get a clear word out of him apparently, never a good sign at all.
M. went down to breakfast early, said he couldn’t get a word out of the others here, who were all soon off on their work, whatever that may be. It’s strange to find everything wrapped up in such secrecy, though I think M. rather enjoys it. He’s been daydreaming rather than working seriously on his translations, and muttering some rather strange things himself. I don’t like it. I keep trying to tell him we’re on holiday and he shouldn’t keep working.
He’s not so good at turning off. He can’t enjoy the moment. I worry about him.
Anyway, I got breakfast with the housekeeper, a dear older woman named Dinah who somehow manages to retain her sanity in this madhouse. We sat in a pool of sunshine in her lovely kitchen, and I bored her a bit with my worries about M., and then she talked about her growing up in these valleys and family working in the mills. She herself has always worked in the kitchen, and confessed something odd was happening in the house, with all of the food going off within twelve to twenty-four hours of being brought within its doors. She’s never seen anything like it, and been worrying herself for the past few days over whether she should call a health inspector.
Charteris, of course, refuses to admit there is any need to do anything of the kind. He’s just started sending out one of these ‘friends’ to bring in fresh food every day. Wasteful, that’s what it is. Bets do what you employer tells you, though, right? It’s not as though work is so easy to find. I know that feeling — even in London. I can’t imagine a place like this. She insists Charteris isn’t so bad, just very very odd.
I could tell she was curious about my own presence, but I didn’t know what to say. M. keeps insisting we’ve been sent for for a purpose, but Charteris has not yet said anything.
Anyway, we did finally get out for a lovely walk along the moors, all covered with purple heather and splashes of golden gorse with bees buzzing all around and fragrance filling our nostrils. I has happier than I have been in a long time, especially when we stumbled across the old tumuli and the standing stones. There is an immense sense of beauty and peace here, that I have rarely felt elsewhere.
I hardly wonder at our ancestors choosing to be buried up here above the world amongst the heather, to conduct ceremony in this wide open space with such loveliness filling the horizon. Their stones stand enigmatic and beautiful, reminding me there is so much we can never know. I like that feeling.
I was reluctant to head back to the cottage and its dense, damp, feverish atmosphere. For our walk, Charteris had given us a map from 1870 — his idea of a prank I suppose — but we managed just fine and I actually enjoyed seeing so visibly the contrast of all that was here once, with all that is here now. There had not, indeed, been all that much change.
M. murmured something quite interesting as we pored over the map, it reminded me of just what it was I saw in him all those years ago:
Remember, though, the map is never the territory, and sometimes the territory does not want to be known.
Ooh, right? I liked that, though I’m not entirely sure what it means.
Then back to the cottage, which was hardly welcoming despite Dinah having laid out tea. She had already gone, sadly. Dinah cleans and cooks but does not wash laundry — I have noticed Charteris seems incapable of doing it for himself. He is positively mouldy.
If only M. would be a little more normal and stop shrieking at the sight of squirrels I might still count myself happy after such a day. But something very odd is certainly going on with the men in this house, and neither I nor Dinah have a clue as to what it might be…
Day 4 (morning)