A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove
I was raised in a more civilized and genteel setting. Kellynch Hall is surrounded by ornamental gardens, not working farms. The stables are quite a distance away, and with good reason. Of course we had the occasional wandering fly, everyone does. But those were nothing like the flies we have here in Uppercross.
The building in which I now live used to be a farm house, for pity’s sake. Adding a veranda and French windows have supposedly made it into a cottage (according to my mother-in-law). But prettiness does not make up for location. Uppercross Cottage is a quarter-mile from the Great House, and yet it is only a stone’s throw from its stables. High walls and great gates are nothing to flies.
My husband’s dogs are to blame, along with my father-in-law’s horses and cows. But will either of them listen? They smile and tell me to keep the windows closed, as if the stifling warmth of summer were bearable.
A very good plan is to spend “fly time” in a civilized and fashionable place like Brighton. But when I suggest this, they only laugh. Charles would like to breed horses as a hobby. Therefore as the years pass, my misery will only increase.
So in our open windows come the flies–all types of flies: mosquitoes and stable flies, horse flies and even wasps. And then there is that bane of the summer evening, the cloud of midges.
None of Charles’ solutions have worked. Traps are useless, and his suggestion to wear light-colored clothing is laughable. What does a fly know about light or dark colors? If Charles is right, I am done for when anyone dies, for I shall be obliged to wear black for months. But I believe most deaths occur in winter.
My solution is the only sensible one: move the location of the stables. Again, Charles and his father only laugh.
At one time, I thought living close to a village would be exciting and social. But my sisters-in-law pass by my windows without a thought for me. I am left to the company of flies, it seems.
I carry a fly wisk during the spring and summer months. Sometimes I’d like to use it on people.
Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini