Monday, July 21, 2014

Chapter Eighteen



I was almost there when the Sheriff waylaid me ... or tried to.  "Move," I told him.

"Well you're in a mood."

"No I'm on a mission.  And stay out of my way."

He let me pass but his curiosity got the best of him and he followed me to Dr. Cummins office and was there when I knocked on his door.

Someone called "Enter."  I walked in and introduced myself.  "I am the Widow Linder."

The doctor stood up quickly and came around.  "Is someone ill?"

"That is what I am trying to prevent.  I ..."

The Sheriff interrupted.  "Don't stand on so much ceremony with him.  He's another cousin."

I sighed and asked, "Which side this time?  The sane or insane?"

My tone and words caused him to smile.  "Oh definitely sane.  He's the son of my father's sister."

"Lovely."

I turned to look at the man in question to find him leaning against his desk for a seat.  "Had a lot to do with Daren have you?"

"Enough," I said.  "But it is not the Sheriff and his peculiarities that I wish to discuss.  Let me be frank, below stairs is a hideous mess.  To order it properly is going to take all of my status and creativity.  I spoke hastily this morning trying to head off a situation and now I need your cooperation."

Cautiously the doctor said, "If you will explain I will see if I can comply."

I turned to the Sheriff and said, "Shut the door, preferably with you on the other side of it unless you insist on being a busybody."

"Oh I definitely insist," he said with a glint in his eye.

"Fine, have it your way.  But stay out of trouble and don't cause me any."  To the doctor I said, "I suspect that part of the stress that the Guardian's wife is under is due in large part to household politics.  People trying to prove they are needed above someone else, that they are a favorite, people getting comfortable with unfamiliar duties and higher status, the new staff trying to run things like they were run at your other holding except you don't make those kinds of changes in the midst of the mess that has been going on.  Some appear to be claiming privileges they don't have or haven't earned, and that is only from one short meeting.  A few seem to think their status gives them access to authority that they do not have and they are ... leapfrogging the chain of command if that makes sense."

The Sheriff said, "They're making an end run around and trying to go directly to the head."

"I suppose ... whatever what you just said means."

"It means that Mrs. Kinsey has been up to tricks again," the doctor interjected.

I relaxed a bit.  "I would not call them tricks.  They are much more harmful than that.  She disobeyed a direct instruction from me."

Both mean said, "What?!"

"I don't wish to make too much of this yet.  Perhaps she is just territorial and I will have to prove myself.  That's fine, that I can deal with.  But when I asked for the schedules she had stated she had them in her room.  When I asked why they were not on the board in the dining hall like they were supposed to be she said it was because that isn't the way they did it at your other holding.  I said she wasn't at your other holding, she was now at Linderhall and the way it is done here is complete transparency.  I asked for the schedules not once but multiple times and she still did not produce them.  That means either the schedules do not exist or she is refusing to produce them for some other reason ... either is unacceptable."  I sighed.  "And that's when I spoke precipitously.  She threatened to take the issue directly to the Guardian's wife and I said that she no longer had such access because the stress of what was going on was endangering the heir."

"You may have spoken precipitously but you did not speak wrongly.  And if you are asking me to support you on this I do and will inform the other staff that Mrs. Kinsey can ... leave a message with the Guardian's secretary."

I nodded.  "Thank you.  That should flummox her for a bit but I need to find a way to deal with this constructively and permanently."

"Why not request that she be sent back to my brother Gerald's holdings?"

I looked at the Sheriff and said, "Dunce.  Because she doesn't have a place there anymore.  I won't gain order here by simply exporting the problems to someone else.  I think her lack of job may be the biggest problem.  Apparently she was supposed to hold a special position here ... to take care of your Father's and his Consort's private quarters?"

Both men shrugged.  "It was a possibility but no contract was signed."

"What was she supposed to do if not that?"

Neither man had a clue.  "Her brother was father's valet but he is one of the upper staff that succumbed."

"OK, that's another reason she might be insecure.  But you do realize I cannot allow that to continue to interfere with the running of Linderhall?"

The two men looked at each other.  I could see their concerns before they even had to voice them.  "If you think I am only going to pick out the staff from your other holding to make an example of you are wrong.  Mrs. Kinsey is just the current nail sticking up that I will need to hammer on.  I just need to know that I have your support in insulating the Guardian's wife from any unpleasantness that may arise."

I turned to leave but heard as I swept out the door, "Are you sure she is sixteen?"

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