The definition of a breakfast is something I have never questioned before. A gruel, I think we would both agree, does not qualify – it is the choice of invalids or paupers (in the latter case, not really a choice) and knows no one single hour of the day. A roast, on the other hand, is certainly meant for supper, or served cold at an ensuing luncheon. And those sweet confections which we enjoy and our fathers so love to disparage, the pancakes and cream, the eclairs, the fruits, those are most certainly a dessert or a breakfast, on an equal footing with the traditional English, eggs, bacon, toast, romanesco and all. I am ever so glad beansnever caught on, my father’s own wishes aside.
What, then should one’s reaction be when sitting down in the morning to two stout, round, puck-like looking things, browned across the top, crisp edges steaming, topped with something that looks like the inside of an apple pie? I must admit I sat and stared, beflummoxed.
Upon my asking, my landlady, Mrs. Brougham, brought me cutlery and informed me stiffly that they were fried biscuits. And oh Kate, they were heavenly! The heavy, buttery biscuit hot from a pan! The sliced apple and cinnamon cooked to one caramel consistency!
As you can probably tell, I am restored to more or less my usual state, and I must apologize for the tone of my last letter, and the delay in writing this one. There has been ever so much to do. It seems I was never to stay at The Haverly indefinitely, and so I have decided it is most sensible (lazy) not to finish my unpacking, and I am presently engaged in searching for more permanent lodgings. Which, in a town as diminutive as Kingstowne, is not the simple matter I would have expected in England.
Why, at home, one can hardly walk a mile without coming upon a cottage or something or other. Here, the sighting of any sort of habitable structure is a thing of purport.
I was informed just this morning by the generous Mrs. Brougham that I have precisely a month to find myself a fitting situation (she did not soften, as I had hoped, under the influence of my compliments on her biscuits). And so this has preoccupied me above all things the past few days, more so even than my new post…
…But heavens, Kate, I had to leave this letter and return to it in order to think what I am to say. District Official to Kingstowne, in the County of New Cambridge? It sounds far more orderly than what it really is!
The Mr. Inglethorp, who wired me to accept my candidature and hasten my arrival on the scene, has decamped and I daresay I shall never see the man in the flesh. I discovered this only after asking three residents for directions to Mr. Inglethorp’s office, receiving blank looks twice and a voluble correction once. It seems he was my predecessor – resigned his post back in the spring – was most annoyed at delaying his departure for the boulevards of Cartaeser until another Official should be procured – and finally spirited himself off days ago. Despite incessant speaking on this part of a good shopkeeper, I discovered nothing more of import about Mr. Inglethorp, but I did finally get directions to the District Office.
The latter is directly on the main road, toward the west end of town and therefore a not insignificant walk from the Haverly. By the time I had managed to gather the necessary intelligence and make my way there, it was fully 10 o’clock in the morning. Or so I think it must have been, had I a clock anywhere to tell by!!
Well. I stepped inside and the dust of the road came with me. No gutters, no stoop, no front mat, shoddy windows, shoddy door. I took this all in in an instant. And there a rectangular one-room affair, containing two desks, and a person whom I assumed must be a part of the staff.
He being seated at one of the desks. With a pen in hand. All quite official-like, if it weren’t for his boots being up on the desk itself, and an air of carelessness.
I said Good Morning. I said that I was the new District Official. I paused and then spoke a dangling Mr. –, so that he might readily introduce himself.
Then he rose, and I was thanking my lucky stars because it had begun to feel awkward, when that person turned around and stared at me a good five seconds. Then he shoved his hands in his pockets, squinted, and said “Charmed, I’m sure.” And he told me, that should I need anything, he was at my disposal, in a way that most certainly meant the opposite! And he left just like that. I am not exaggerating in the slightest, Kate, this is precisely how it occurred.
I am writing to you now comfortably alone, and seated in the other desk, for I would rather burn that chair than sit where he’d been.
With love and exasperation,
P.S. No one else has shown their face at the office. Was that person the only “staff” to speak of?
P.P.S. The files are too much a mess to be called such; I cannot make heads or tails of anything, except that the two recurring names I see are Inglethorp and Ridgetop. So I presume that person’s name was Ridgetop, and I am afraid I will actually have to speak to him again.