As much as I was desirous to enjoy myself, I was occupied in my mind of the state of our living situation. The day after the picnic, the Hegwoods and I traveled outside of Nashville proper to explore a home on a rather expansive piece of land. We were greeted by a positively charming drive that wound from the main road through a rolling green field with large trees lining the drive and scattered as far as the eye could see. We rounded the last curve to see the house, and I am embarrassed to admit I let out a cry of astonishment; and my astonishment was not entirely one of pleasure. The home which greeted us was nothing more than a single story stone cottage; hardly bigger than the stables on the property of the Hegwood Estate in Albany! The carriage came to a stop and we were all handed down; Mr. Hegwood, though better, leaned heavily on his cane for a moment, and I noticed his hands shaking more than normal. I slipped my arm through his free one and we walked to the front steps of the little building.
"Mr. Hegwood, why have we stopped at the servants quarters? You can't possibly walk to the main house in your condition!" Chided his wife as she tied her bonnet under her chin.
Mr. Hegwood looked at me with a wink and chuckled to his wife. "My dearest, this IS the main house," said he.
At that moment I was certain Mrs. Hegwood would positively die of shock, for she looked at her husband and burst into tears.
"You cannot possibly sentence us to live in this sort of squalor! Why, our things will hardly fit into this shack!" sobbed she.
"Now, now, my pet, don't you fret! The house will certainly not remain this way for long, I have great plans for improvement you know! Before you know it we shall be living in a house suitable for a country gentleman," Mr. Hegwood cried as jovially as he could, in a vain attempt to placate his wife.
Fortunately for all around, birds and beasts included, his words had the desired effect and her crying ceased as abruptly as it started.
"Truly, Mr. H? You shall not force us into this poverty-like state for long?", said she, looking as pitifully as she could at the both of us.
"It shall be a charming change of scenery, don't you think, Mrs. Hegwood?" said I, cheerily, though I did not feel as certain as the conviction in my voice. We continued forward into the house, and made the circuit of the three small bedrooms, the single parlor, and the worst excuse for a dining room that ever was, for it was separated from the kitchen by only a too short screen, and having convinced Mrs. Hegwood that proper additions and alterations could be made to turn it into a fine house, the matter was settled and the house and land was to be purchased straight away.
Abigail is to be our only maid, which I am grateful to hear, for I could not bear to part with her now, and Mrs. Hegwood could never do without some sort of maid. At the first opportunity, I made haste out of the cottage and began to walk through the field of knee high grass. It was so blessedly silent, and I was very amused to see small birds burst forth from the grass merely yards before me, chattering and calling their displeasure in being disturbed. I paused and slowly turned about me to see a portion of the tree lined lane leading to the house, and nothing but rolling green all around. I knew that in time, I could grow to love this beautiful country as much as I loved my dear home in England, for within the country around and before me, my heart was buried now.
Written by E. Waterman