Pride and Precedence: Camping, he says


A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

In March, one’s thoughts turn toward planning a lovely spring holiday for the family.

And why not? Spring is the perfect season for a visit to The Metropolis. So charming! So fashionable!

And I would be packing my trunks this very minute if I were married to someone other than Charles Musgrove. How I yearn for a fortnight at an elegant hotel in Mayfair, such as my father enjoys each year! And yet my dear husband is instead making summer plans to go … camping.

Camping! I ask you, what good is that? It sounds completely horrible to me. Rustic living. Communing with nature. Gazing through glasses, not at the opera stage but at birds and flowers! Please. The only flowers I care about are of the silk variety. That is to say, those that adorn the crowns of the newest spring hats!

But does Charles care? He says that I will enjoy a rustic retreat. I think not.

The Uppercross estate is not extensive enough for camping. It’s wretched to live as gypsies for a fortnight, traveling about like vagabonds, but must we trespass on other people’s land as well? Shall we call at the mansion houses to ask permission? Risk seeing someone we know?1Leisu222

The Bedouin lifestyle is vastly overrated. Who in their right mind wishes to live in a tent? This is England, not the Sahara. Trust me, there is a reason my forefathers built castles (while everyone else’s built crude stone houses with thatched roofs). It’s called rain. Our ancestors wished to stay away from nature, not commune with it! In a house one is beyond the reach of foraging rodents, crawling insects, and rabid squirrels. I fail to see how lying on a cot in a tent can be anything but nightmarish.

Our servants will resent the extra work. Yes, they will—and Charles’ idea of giving them a holiday away from serving us is absurd. What do we know about cooking? And pitching tents? And fitting up mattresses from leaves and cut grasses, as Charles so imprudently envisions? He says we will cook our meals over an open fire—hamburgers and frankfurters. I say that Charles can take himself to Saxony if he wants German food.

Sleep deprivation is unhealthful. So too are bug bites, bruises from lying on rocks, and exposure to the damp night air. And then there are those flaming arguments that erupt over nothing. 1Indiv520

Camping does not improve family values. Charles thinks we’ll sit around a rough-hewn table by lamplight with the boys and play card games. Such a scene is anything but appealing, for we’ll be constantly slapping at insects! Moreover, the games Charles proposes are outrageous. Slapjack. War. Gin-Rummy. Cheat. These do not sound at all suitable for young children! Look, I have enough trouble with their grandmother as it is, without her putting her oar in when they come home from camping and ask to play something called Cheat.

It is impossible to keep clean. I might be the sole woman in a family of males, but no matter. Personal hygiene is not up for the democratic vote. I have no intention of using a make-shift outdoor toilet or of being without clean linen. Moreover, although my young sons may run about and shout like savages, they do not need to be encouraged to eat and dress like them.

Leisur134This summer our family will not be camping. If Charles wishes to play Army and bivouac himself in a tent like a soldier, I say he ought to join up. But that would never do. For of course he would get himself sent to some foreign place like Spain or France and be killed in the fighting. And then, being dead, he couldn’t inherit. And I’d never become mistress of Uppercross.

If he is so eager to be close to nature, Charles may “camp out” in the dog kennel, I think.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross

Have you discovered Mercy’s Embrace?
Romance, adventure, and Admiral Patrick McGillvary are waiting …


Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini


11 thoughts on “Pride and Precedence: Camping, he says

  1. Robin Helm

    Mary is certainly over the top, but I have quite a bit of sympathy for her in this instance. The mosquitoes here are adept at dive-bombing; therefore, I do not enjoy eating outside. Bite, slap! slap! in waltz rhythm is not relaxing to me.

    Had the good Lord meant for me to perspire and be eaten alive by hordes of insects, he would never have invented air conditioning. While we “glisten” (Southern ladies do not sweat) around the campfire, the “bought air” goes to waste in the house.

    The one time my dear hubby was able to convince me to camp in a tent, I nearly stepped on a snake when I left said tent to go to the privy. I was cured instantly of any longing for a repeat performance. I will “camp” in an RV or a hotel, but I do not relish using his invention of a cocoon sleeping bag strung up between two trees to prevent the occupant from becoming breakfast for a bear.


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      See this thing? It’s called a yurt. I actually like camping, despite the inconveniences. The worst part is that I am a rolling dessert tray for mosquitoes!

      But reserving a yurt changed everything. Especially when it began to rain, which it so often does in this part of Oregon.

      And inside, there is electricity and a heater. And a floor I can sweep!

      (I swiped these pictures here.)


  2. Susan Kaye

    I’m with you, Robin. And, reluctantly, with Mary, on this insane need some have to get back to nature. I used to go camping with my friend’s family. Huge canvas tent, food for a week, cooking utensils, and big dishpans in which to wash said utensils. I refuse, not when I can save and get a nice room at the coast for a weekend.



    1. Laura Hile Post author

      I’m with you on going to the coast, especially during the off-season when there are storms to watch. Any anyway, why would you even want to go camping? You live on, what, 80 acres? Wildlife parades before your deck. You deal with nature on a regular basis, so there is no “getting away” element at all. πŸ™‚


      1. Susan Kaye

        Except for a stint of a few years living in urban Portland, I’ve always lived rurally. I grew up with animals, domesticated and wild. The romanticism of hiking in the woods is lost on me. And sleeping there, fuggedaboutit.


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Holiday Inn? Oh, you are bad, Gayle. πŸ™‚ I’d rather have the yurt. Part of the appeal of camping lies in the cheapness of it. Or relative cheapness. Prices are going up everywhere.

      Many come to our part of Oregon for vacation, and campgrounds, while nicely forested, are busy–with slow-moving cars, kids on bikes, pedestrians. Money for travel is hard to come by, so I have decided that my Outdoor Office (pictured below) is kind of like camping.

      Sure it is. How is my yard any different than a campground, right? We have a fence between the house and the street (although you cannot see the trees overhead that shade it) so it’s quiet and private. I snake a long extension cord around from the backyard and set up shop. I hear birds, see clouds drift by, and soak in the best of summer while I write.

      Most of the year it does not look like this! Today, for example, it is raining. But once summer comes (after July 5th, usually), it’s perfect.


      1. Laura Hile Post author

        That’s the twisted reasoning of my evil writing brain … making sense of Mary’s logic. What this says about how well I rationalize selfishness is kind of a lot.



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