I’m Terribly Sorry, I Simply Don’t Know How Much Money My Husband Makes — I Really Couldn’t Say
Oh, dear, I’m afraid I simply don’t know. Is it very important? He has a little desk upstairs somewhere, I’m sure, where he keeps all his letters in, and sometimes he does go out of the house, but beyond that it’s Greek to me. I’m sure he works, but I’d never considered the possibility of his taking a job, exactly, either. One hates to think of one’s husband going to a little office, somehow, clacking away. I suppose one hears about husbands more generally being in something, railroads or the Home Office, from time to time. Once I met — when was it, Cynthia? Was it in Prague? — a woman whose husband was apparently in oil, but it wasn’t Prague at all, but the Friedrichsbad baths at Baden-Baden, so she might have meant it quite literally. But who thinks so much about husbands? Certainly not wives.
I’m sure he does, of course. There always seem to be people around, I mean, and I’m sure one of them would say something if there weren’t any money, or anything like that, so I’m sure that whatever the situation may be, everything’s quite all right, or even more than. Would you like me to send for someone? It’s no trouble at all, that’s what the bell is for. Someone or other will answer presently.
Oh, Mathilde! I’ve left my fancy-work somewhere in the east wing. Once you’ve found it, will you bring it to the sitting-room, and then ask Mr. H — darling, it’s really no trouble at all, it won’t take her a moment if you’re worried about her falling behind on today’s duties. No? Just the fancy-work then, Mathilde. Was there something wrong with Mathilde? I could ring again for someone else. Perhaps you’d rather send a man to ask him. You’re sure? Well, let me know if you change your mind.
Perhaps we could puzzle it out ourselves together. That might be exciting! When I want something, I usually ask Mathilde to wrap it in something, or if it’s very heavy, for MacTavish to bring it round in a car. Is that helpful, do you think? And I know sometimes restaurants will write down the price of some dish or other on the menus they give to the men, but I’m afraid we don’t visit that sort of restaurant, so that won’t do us any good. I could ask Mr. H if he would take me to that sort of a restaurant, if you think that would get us any closer to solving the riddle. But I’m afraid I simply haven’t got the faintest idea. Isn’t that funny? You always have the most interesting questions, I’m forever saying after your visits that nobody is quite so interesting a visitor as you are. You have a perfect gift for the ingenious, you really do, and always an eye for what things are liable to cost. Like a talking adding-machine!
Oh, quite a lot, surely. Perhaps that will have to do for now? Quite a lot, details to follow — doesn’t that sound impressive? I think it sounds awfully impressive. Would you like some money to take with you, since it interests you so? I’m sure we have some tucked away somewhere. I’ll have Mathilde go through Mr. H’s desk while we lunch and wrap some up for you. It’s a Chartreuse today, I think. Partridge, with clear soup and Nesselrode bombe. I don’t know how Cook does it. All those recipes and things, I mean. That’s a job of sorts, isn’t it? Cooking, and — and so on? Not that Mr. H is likely to be off cooking all day, of course, when he could do that just as easily at home for free. Although presumably Cook doesn’t. I mean I’m sure she gets something out of it besides the satisfaction of a job well done. Perhaps there’s money in the kitchen?
I wonder if I ought to get a job? Mr. H will know. I’ll ask him at dinner and see what he thinks.
a delightful soup of Magic Mountain and Fräulein Else plus the quadruple bathing of Friedrichsbad baths at Baden Baden, you just made this Germanist's day/week/month