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Most Women Are Dull and Stupid

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Usually, it's me who is tapping, impatient to be off, to be
On to the next thing. She taps the table, but there is no
Purpose to it. It isn't excess energy to be channeled to work--
Seeing the men doing their jobs (or not), writing letters,
Writing in my journal, walking into Halifax for ink.

I think, there is too much going on for her to take it all in.
She has not even changed from her night clothes. She needs
A purpose. I think of Mrs. Priestley's sudden trespass
A few days ago, before York, and how that breach might be
Mended. "I wonder," I say, "if we should pay a house call

On the Priestleys. This morning, first thing. Because
If we skulk and avoid her, it'll look like we have something
To hide, something to be ashamed of, and we haven't.
We don't. We're just two respectable women who choose
To spend time together. That's all." Ann whispers, "She saw

Us." "She didn't, not really. The point is, if she says anything,
And if we carry on as if we have nothing to hide, it'll undermine
Anything she might say. If we avoid polite company, it could
Make people think there's truth in what she says." "But now?
Today?" "I think it's best to deal with such things head on."

It takes a while of cajoling and another two cups of tea,
But pretty soon she is coming round to my way of seeing
The thing. I leave her maid to help her dress, noting the news
From London, grinding my teeth at the ongoing reforms,
Then put on the charm as she comes down the stairs...