There was a good-sized kitchen-garden behind, and the farm-yard was at the side by the back door. The house is old and therefore was handsome outside, even then, but the chief of the lower story was comprised in one big room, a “keeping-room,” as it was called, with an open chimney, screened by a settle, and with a long polished table, with a bench on either side. Into this room the front porch— a deep one, with seats—opened. At one end was a charming little sitting-room, parted off; at the other, the real kitchen for cooking, and the dairy and all the rest of the farm offices.
Up-stairs—the stairs are dark oak, and come down at one end of the big kitchen—there is one beautiful large room, made the larger by a grand oriel window under the gable, one opening out of it, and four more over the offices; then a step-ladder and a great cheese-room, and a perfect wilderness of odd nooks up in the roof.
As to furniture, Fulk had bought that with the stock and everything else belonging to the farm for a round sum; and the Chancery people told us that we might take anything for ourselves from home that had been bought by ourselves, had belonged to our mother, or been given to us individually.
So the furniture of Fulk’s rooms in London—most of which he had had at Oxford—my own piano, our books, and various little worktables, chairs, pictures, and knicknacks appertained to us; also, we brought what belonged to the little one’s nursery, and put him in the large room. His grand nurse—Earl though he was—could not stand the change; but old Blake, who was retiring into a public house, as he could do nothing else for us, suggested his youngest sister, who became the comfort of my life, for she was the widow of a small farmer, and could give me plenty of sound counsel as to how much pork to provide for the labourers, and how much small beer would keep them in good heart, and not make them too merry. And she had too much good sense to get into rivalry with Susan Sisson, the hind’s wife, who lived in a kind of lean-to cottage opening into the farm-yard, and was the chief (real) manager of the dairy and poultry—though such was not Jaquetta’s view of the case by any manner of means.
What a help it was to have one creature who did enjoy it all from the very first!
The parting with Bertram was sore, and one’s heart will ache after him still at times, though he is prosperous and happy with his wife and fine family at the new Trevorsham. Fulk went through it all in a grave set way, as if he knew he never should be happy again, and accepted everything in silence, as a matter of course, not wanting to sadden us, but often grieving me more by his steady silence than if he had complained.
One thing he was resolved on, that he would be a farmer out and out— not a gentleman farmer, as he said; but though he only wore broadcloth in the evening and on Sundays, I can’t say he ever succeeded in not looking more of the gentleman.