Here’s a final offering from my Country Diaries book, a collection of informative, fascinating and funny entries from various journals throughout the ages. This one was recorded by in December 1872 by Francis Kilvert, one of the more famous diarists:
Dame Matthews used to live at the Home Farm at Langley Burrell. She was a member of the family, but she must have lived a long time ago, as Mrs Banks remarked, because she called cows ‘kine’. The Dame used to sit in the chimney corner and near her chair there was a little window through which she could see all down the dairy. One evening she saw one of the farm men steal a pound of butter out of the dairy and put it into his hat, at the same moment clapping his hat upon his head.
‘John’, called the Dame. ‘John, come here. I want to speak to you.’ John came, carefully keeping the hat on his head. The Dame ordered some ale to be heated for him and bade him sit down in front of the roaring fire. John thanked his mistress and said he would have the ale another time, as he wanted to go home at once.
‘No, John. Sit you down by the fire and drink some hot ale. ‘Tis a cold night and I want to speak to you about the kine.’
The miserable John, daring neither to take his hat off nor go without his mistress’s leave, sat before the scorching fire drinking his hot ale till the butter in his hat began to run down over his face.
‘Now, John,’ she said, ‘you may go. I won’t charge you anything for the butter.’