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THE STORY CONTINUED IN SEVERAL NARRATIVES
1. THE NARRATIVE OF HESTER PINHORN, COOK IN THE SERVICE OF COUNT
[Taken down from her own statement]
I am sorry to say that I have never learnt to read or write. I
have been a hard-working woman all my life, and have kept a good
character. I know that it is a sin and wickedness to say the
thing which is not, and I will truly beware of doing so on this
occasion. All that I know I will tell, and I humbly beg the
gentleman who takes this down to put my language right as he goes
on, and to make allowances for my being no scholar.
In this last summer I happened to be out of place (through no
fault of my own), and I heard of a situation as plain cook, at
Number Five, Forest Road, St. John's Wood. I took the place on
trial. My master's name was Fosco. My mistress was an English
lady. He was Count and she was Countess. There was a girl to do
housemaid's work when I got there. She was not over-clean or
tidy, but there was no harm in her. I and she were the only
servants in the house.
Our master and mistress came after we got in; and as soon as they
did come we were told, downstairs, that company was expected from
The company was my mistress's niece, and the back bedroom on the
first floor was got ready for her. My mistress mentioned to me
that Lady Glyde (that was her name) was in poor health, and that I
must be particular in my cooking accordingly. She was to come
that day, as well as I can remember--but whatever you do, don't
trust my memory in the matter. I am sorry to say it's no use
asking me about days of the month, and such-like. Except Sundays,
half my time I take no heed of them, being a hard-working woman
and no scholar. All I know is Lady Glyde came, and when she did
come, a fine fright she gave us all surely. I don't know how
master brought her to the house, being hard at work at the time.
But he did bring her in the afternoon, I think, and the housemaid
opened the door to them, and showed them into the parlour. Before
she had been long down in the kitchen again with me, we heard a
hurry-skurry upstairs, and the parlour bell ringing like mad, and
my mistress's voice calling out for help.
We both ran up, and there we saw the lady laid on the sofa, with
her face ghastly white, and her hands fast clenched, and her head
drawn down to one side. She had been taken with a sudden fright,
my mistress said, and master he told us she was in a fit of
convulsions. I ran out, knowing the neighbourhood a little better
than the rest of them, to fetch the nearest doctor's help. The
nearest help was at Goodricke's and Garth's, who worked together
as partners, and had a good name and connection, as I have heard,
all round St. John's Wood. Mr. Goodricke was in, and he came back
with me directly.
It was some time before he could make himself of much use. The
poor unfortunate lady fell out of one fit into another, and went
on so till she was quite wearied out, and as helpless as a new-
born babe. We then got her to bed. Mr. Goodricke went away to
his house for medicine, and came back again in a quarter of an
hour or less. Besides the medicine he brought a bit of hollow
mahogany wood with him, shaped like a kind of trumpet, and after
waiting a little while, he put one end over the lady's heart and
the other to his ear, and listened carefully.
When he had done he says to my mistress, who was in the room,
"This is a very serious case," he says, "I recommend you to write
to Lady Glyde's friends directly." My mistress says to him, "Is it
heart-disease?" And he says, "Yes, heart-disease of a most
dangerous kind." He told her exactly what he thought was the
matter, which I was not clever enough to understand. But I know
this, he ended by saying that he was afraid neither his help nor
any other doctor's help was likely to be of much service.
My mistress took this ill news more quietly than my master. He
was a big, fat, odd sort of elderly man, who kept birds and white
mice, and spoke to them as if they were so many Christian
children. He seemed terribly cut up by what had happened. "Ah!
poor Lady Glyde! poor dear Lady Glyde!" he says, and went stalking
about, wringing his fat hands more like a play-actor than a
gentleman. For one question my mistress asked the doctor about
the lady's chances of getting round, he asked a good fifty at
least. I declare he quite tormented us all, and when he was quiet
at last, out he went into the bit of back garden, picking trumpery
little nosegays, and asking me to take them upstairs and make the
sick-room look pretty with them. As if THAT did any good. I
think he must have been, at times, a little soft in his head. But
he was not a bad master--he had a monstrous civil tongue of his
own, and a jolly, easy, coaxing way with him. I liked him a deal
better than my mistress. She was a hard one, if ever there was a
hard one yet.
Towards night-time the lady roused up a little. She had been so
wearied out, before that, by the convulsions, that she never
stirred hand or foot, or spoke a word to anybody. She moved in
the bed now, and stared about her at the room and us in it. She
must have been a nice-looking lady when well, with light hair, and
blue eyes and all that. Her rest was troubled at night--at least
so I heard from my mistress, who sat up alone with her. I only
went in once before going to bed to see if I could be of any use,
and then she was talking to herself in a confused, rambling
manner. She seemed to want sadly to speak to somebody who was
absent from her somewhere. I couldn't catch the name the first
time, and the second time master knocked at the door, with his
regular mouthful of questions, and another of his trumpery
When I went in early the next morning, the lady was clean worn out
again, and lay in a kind of faint sleep. Mr. Goodricke brought
his partner, Mr. Garth, with him to advise. They said she must
not be disturbed out of her rest on any account. They asked my
mistress many questions, at the other end of the room, about what
the lady's health had been in past times, and who had attended
her, and whether she had ever suffered much and long together
under distress of mind. I remember my mistress said "Yes" to that
last question. And Mr. Goodricke looked at Mr. Garth, and shook
his head; and Mr. Garth looked at Mr. Goodricke, and shook his
head. They seemed to think that the distress might have something
to do with the mischief at the lady's heart. She was but a frail
thing to look at, poor creature! Very little strength at any time,
I should say--very little strength.
Later on the same morning, when she woke, the lady took a sudden
turn, and got seemingly a great deal better. I was not let in
again to see her, no more was the housemaid, for the reason that
she was not to be disturbed by strangers. What I heard of her
being better was through my master. He was in wonderful good
spirits about the change, and looked in at the kitchen window from
the garden, with his great big curly-brimmed white hat on, to go
"Good Mrs. Cook," says he, "Lady Glyde is better. My mind is more
easy than it was, and I am going out to stretch my big legs with a
sunny little summer walk. Shall I order for you, shall I market
for you, Mrs. Cook? What are you making there? A nice tart for
dinner? Much crust, if you please--much crisp crust, my dear, that
melts and crumbles delicious in the mouth." That was his way. He
was past sixty, and fond of pastry. Just think of that!
The doctor came again in the forenoon, and saw for himself that
Lady Glyde had woke up better. He forbid us to talk to her, or to
let her talk to us, in case she was that way disposed, saying she
must be kept quiet before all things, and encouraged to sleep as
much as possible. She did not seem to want to talk whenever I saw
her, except overnight, when I couldn't make out what she was
saying--she seemed too much worn down. Mr. Goodricke was not
nearly in such good spirits about her as master. He said nothing
when he came downstairs, except that he would call again at five
About that time (which was before master came home again) the bell
rang hard from the bedroom, and my mistress ran out into the
landing, and called to me to go for Mr. Goodricke, and tell him
the lady had fainted. I got on my bonnet and shawl, when, as good
luck would have it, the doctor himself came to the house for his
I let him in, and went upstairs along with him. "Lady Glyde was
just as usual," says my mistress to him at the door; "she was
awake, and looking about her in a strange, forlorn manner, when I
heard her give a sort of half cry, and she fainted in a moment."
The doctor went up to the bed, and stooped down over the sick
lady. He looked very serious, all on a sudden, at the sight of
her, and put his hand on her heart.
My mistress stared hard in Mr. Goodricke's face. "Not dead!" says
she, whispering, and turning all of a tremble from head to foot.
"Yes," says the doctor, very quiet and grave. "Dead. I was
afraid it would happen suddenly when I examined her heart
yesterday." My mistress stepped back from the bedside while he was
speaking, and trembled and trembled again. "Dead!" she whispers
to herself; "dead so suddenly! dead so soon! What will the Count
say?" Mr. Goodricke advised her to go downstairs, and quiet
herself a little. "You have been sitting up all night," says he,
"and your nerves are shaken. This person," says he, meaning me,
"this person will stay in the room till I can send for the
necessary assistance." My mistress did as he told her. "I must
prepare the Count," she says. "I must carefully prepare the
Count." And so she left us, shaking from head to foot, and went
"Your master is a foreigner," says Mr. Goodricke, when my mistress
had left us. "Does he understand about registering the death?"
"I can't rightly tell, sir," says I, "but I should think not."
The doctor considered a minute, and then says he, "I don't usually
do such things," says he, "but it may save the family trouble in
this case if I register the death myself. I shall pass the
district office in half an hour's time, and I can easily look in.
Mention, if you please, that I will do so." "Yes, sir," says I,
"with thanks, I'm sure, for your kindness in thinking of it."
"You don't mind staying here till I can send you the proper
person?" says he. "No, sir," says I; "I'll stay with the poor
lady till then. I suppose nothing more could be done, sir, than
was done?" says I. "No," says he, "nothing; she must have
suffered sadly before ever I saw her--the case was hopeless when I
was called in." "Ah, dear me! we all come to it, sooner or later,
don't we, sir?" says I. He gave no answer to that--he didn't seem
to care about talking. He said, "Good-day," and went out.
I stopped by the bedside from that time till the time when Mr.
Goodricke sent the person in, as he had promised. She was, by
name, Jane Gould. I considered her to be a respectable-looking
woman. She made no remark, except to say that she understood what
was wanted of her, and that she had winded a many of them in her
How master bore the news, when he first heard it, is more than I
can tell, not having been present. When I did see him he looked
awfully overcome by it, to be sure. He sat quiet in a corner,
with his fat hands hanging over his thick knees, and his head
down, and his eyes looking at nothing. He seemed not so much
sorry, as scared and dazed like, by what had happened. My
mistress managed all that was to be done about the funeral. It
must have cost a sight of money--the coffin, in particular, being
most beautiful. The dead lady's husband was away, as we heard, in
foreign parts. But my mistress (being her aunt) settled it with
her friends in the country (Cumberland, I think) that she should
be buried there, in the same grave along with her mother.
Everything was done handsomely, in respect of the funeral, I say
again, and master went down to attend the burying in the country
himself. He looked grand in his deep mourning, with his big
solemn face, and his slow walk, and his broad hatband--that he
In conclusion. I have to say, in answer to questions put to me--
(1) That neither I nor my fellow-servant ever saw my master give
Lady Glyde any medicine himself.
(2) That he was never, to my knowledge and belief, left alone in
the room with Lady Glyde.
(3) That I am not able to say what caused the sudden fright, which
my mistress informed me had seized the lady on her first coming
into the house. The cause was never explained, either to me or to
The above statement has been read over in my presence. I have
nothing to add to it, or to take away from it. I say, on my oath
as a Christian woman, this is the truth.
(Signed) HESTER PINHORN, Her + Mark.
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