Diary of a Scullery Maid – March

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Written by Sienna James

Nancy Wilcox – what a name! Flouncing, flirting, fooling around as though she owns Ickworth instead of Lord Bristol. She is, to use Mrs Finkle’s word, an absolute hoyden.

What I don’t understand – apart from how she gets away with her rouguish roguish attitude towards work – is how she came to be kitchen maid at all. I know I am not always a perfect scullery maid. Cook says I am always slow when washing the dishes, never seem to chop the right amount of vegetables and so far every sauce has turned out lumpy. As for plucking pheasants, I still have to bite back revolt. But nevertheless, I’ve worked hard for the nine months I’ve been here. Yet now this girl waltzes into Ickworth and becomes a kitchen maid without a blink of an eye! She didn’t even have to try! I don’t even think she has done scullery work. I wonder what Lily thinks of her… I’ll ask her when she comes upstairs. You see, I went to bed early, as I wanted to vent my fury in this little journal.

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“I think she’s funny,” remarked Lily as she bundled every cover she could find onto the bed. Even though it is March, the grass is always still heavy with dew in the mornings, and all my fingers are red from cold sores. I wish the warm weather would hurry up!

“You think she’s funny?” I questioned.

“She makes me laugh. We need a bit of laughter in the kitchen now that we’re starting the spring clean so the house will be ready for when His Lordship returns.” Lily sighed as she clambered into bed. “I don’t want the new season to start again – it gets so stuffy in the kitchen in the summer months. In the winter at least we’re warm near the oven!”

I nodded in response – fair enough. Grudgingly I realised Nancy did bring some kind of entertainment, although how she can get away with a few curls framing her dimpled face I cannot understand, when Mrs Seddons scolds me every time she sees even one hair out of place.

Nancy has a head of blonde curls which seem to float in a dreamy way about her face, like some kind of angelic halo. She has the widest and clearest and bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. As I peered in the looking-glass this afternoon my mousy locks and dark, heavy features looked common and dull in comparison. My nails are yellow from washing up and I’ve noticed the skin under my eyes is usually grey from lack of sleep.

Well, never mind. I can’t compete with her carelessness or playfulness, but I do find it infuriating that she got a new kitchen maid job and I’m still stuck in the scullery. When I told that to James in a recent letter, all he said was that I need to keep working hard. Aparently Apparently he’s told Charlotte lots about me which is good of him – I am looking forward to meeting James’s sweetheart.

Goodnight for now – I’ll need sleep for tomorrow to keep my wits about me in the kitchen. Nancy seems to be able to annoy Cook yet deftly avoids her sharp words. How? I think she needs to teach me a few tricks so I can manage through the spring.

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