25th March, 1831

It appears to us now that summer is far, far away and we are all a-weary of this cold and miserable weather.

We spend much of our free time in the kitchen now because, the servant’s hall having the smallest fireplace in the house, people began to creep into my nice warm kitchen come last November and I’ve not the heart to shoo them away just yet. Truth to tell, these times remind me of happier days when my George was still alive, and we spent many hours around the fireplace with our kith and kin telling stories, singing songs, playing japes, and enjoying much merriment.

I have always enjoyed listening to the tales of others and we have all discovered to our amazement that John Coachman is a teller of tales and he has been much in demand. Yet recently it has been noticed that I myself tell only the Old Tales – of Finn MacCool and Grainne and Tir Nan Ouge and Cuchulain and Conory Mor. I seldom speak my own stories.

So now, as I sit in the fading firelight with Eliza I wonder if the time has not come to tell my own tales?  Oh, not to the others, but to Eliza?  She is, after all, of my blood; and with no issue of my own, mayhap ‘tis time to pass them to her keeping?

I snigger to myself, betimes, when I think of the comfortable, respectable body I have become. Indeed, at times there comes upon me a great urge to lift my skirts above my ankles and dance with the gay abandon with which I once danced for George around our camp fire.  Or to...

So there I stopped for I was aware of Eliza’s astonished eyes and the involuntary way she looked to my lower limbs as if anxious they were decently covered after all. Which is when I laughed and told her that I would never have danced in these grey worsted stockings, but in my scarlet, silk ones. And she nearly dropped her quill in shock.

So I began to tell her tales that made her eyes start from her head like goosegogs, and “Oh Auntie!” she gasped and “Never!!” she cried, until finally she sat silent, eyes like chapel hatpegs, lost in the stories of my travels. Course I teased her, like that man named of Gulliver, who told tales of his travels to far off places; and, truth to tell, mayhap I even played with certain truths just a wee smidgeon, (“Oh Auntie!”  she says once more now, in a reproving way)but one thing that I now have a new Determination about: - I shall no longer hide away my stories.

Not that I have ever done anything of which I am ashamed.  Even my knowledge of the Old Ways and the Old Religion is no longer a secret to be kept.  No longer do cries of “Witch, witch” carry from house to house in these modern cities of ours.  No longer could groups of villagers hedge me about with staves and pitchforks; I am sensible Mrs. Simpson in her modern new house.

But most of all, no longer is my sister, Eliza’s mother, a young goodwife with a babe in arms and a reputation to build up in her newly chosen home in the small village of Preston.  Eliza (as I may have remarked before) is a young woman of marriageable age now (“Auntie!” she warns me, for in her eyes marrying young is not to be thought of.) and well thought of as the daughter of the admirable Mrs. Jackson.

There is no need to hide any more; so for the first time I have told her: I was a wild young stripling who, at 14, forsook her mother’s hearth to run off with the raggle-taggle gypsies!

I may not tell her the story all at once, for it is hard for me to talk of lost happiness.  But I shall no longer keep it from her.  Next time we meet I shall start the beginning of My story.