Arianna’s Diary, written by Sienna James
I’ve pasted this letter from my dear brother James into my diary. One day I’ll tease him about it terribly. He does seem so lovesick!
I don’t suppose life at Ickworth is much different since I last wrote – more dishes, I expect? I hope you’ve got lots of blankets at night, the frost doesn’t half bite at the farm. I knew bringing Granny’s old woollen quilt down from Derbyshire would be useful in the winter.
I haven’t got heaps of time to pen this letter. I have to be out in the paddock fetching the horses in a few minutes, so I’ll get down to the subject quickly. Fact is, Arianna, I’ve decided to go a-wooing. Only Valentine’s Day once a year! And I’m going to make the most of it.
Her name is Charlotte and she is the sister of Joe here on the farm. Joe’s a decent old bean and he invited me to their little cottage one evening. His father, you see, is a tenant of the farm and they live about a mile away. Charlotte Vaughn is such a smashing girl and I’m quite sure you two would be friends instantly. Of course, she is three years older than you, but it’s only two months until your fifteenth birthday. She really is marvellous, Arianna, and I would dearly like her to be my Valentine this year.
The reason I am writing is to ask your opinion on how best to woo her. That’s what sisters are for! What do you think, Arianna? Flowers? Sweetmeats? Poems? Chocolates? I remember you used to tell me that soppy old story. Shakespeare, wasn’t it? Well, I would rather not act the Romeo and call up to dear old Juliette from the farm’s dung heap. But don’t girls like that sort of thing? Put yourself in Charlotte’s shoes, sister, and try to imagine what would make you happy on Valentine’s Day.
Make sure to reply soon. Do take pity on the struggling, lovesick heart of your brother and give me some needed advice! Who knows, perhaps I’ll have a sweetheart on Friday after all… Can you imagine? Your clumsy older brother parading around with a smashingly pretty girl? I must say the idea makes me chortle, so you must be in fits of giggles.
Love as always,
What can I say? James and Charlotte. Perhaps I should get used to those two names together. I had never really considered that James might get a sweetheart one day. He’s just always been my older brother, and although he is four years older than I am, we’ve always been the best of friends. We became especially close after Papa’s death and then when Mr Fairfax came into our lives. I’m glad James asked my advice instead of writing to him! God forbid! I’ll never forget those days before the wedding when Mr Fairfax refused us admittance to the larder and pantry, just in case we young, foolish children should dare touch the cake. He was a brute!
Anyway, the whole affair with Charlotte finds me wishing him well and yet wishing he hadn’t discovered her. See, I rather fancied myself in the role of matchmaker. The next time James visited Ickworth, I was going to try and introduce him to one of the housemaids -maybe Flo, Carrie or Rose. Of course, I suspected that would have been thought as getting ‘above my station’, but it was a nice thought to occupy my mind while I washed dishes. Yet it doesn’t matter now and I feel rather mournful about it all.
I have not yet heard back from James so I don’t know whether Charlotte is his sweetheart or not. I hope my advice for a posy of wildflowers with a pretty card worked the trick. I am curious to meet her and I find myself wondering at such silly things like the colour of her hair or the sound of her voice. Is she a hearty girl with a Suffolk accent and round, rosy cheeks? Or is she a girl who has a laugh like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings and wears gowns of pure white?
I do wish he would reply so I can know how it all went!