Day 1: Dennis died yesterday. In his office they said. At lunchtime. He had phoned to say he was not coming home for lunch as he wanted to work through. Apparently his secretary, Margery found him and called the ambulance. No one phoned me until he had been declared dead at the hospital. When I went to collect his things and take a suit for the undertaker to dress him, they insisted he had not had his tie on him. That beautiful dark blue silk one I gave him for his birthday last year. When I went to the office, there it was, hanging over his jacket on the stand. I assume the ambulance people took it off him when they tried to care for him. After all we are always told to loosen clothing when we feel faint. I’m sure that’s what happened.
Day 2: After Father Jones left I went to Dennis’s office to confer with Arthur, his partner for over 30 years in the business. Arthur told me he had already paid the undertaker and that all was arranged as Father Jones had told me, for Friday morning. Margery was not at work. Arthur said she had phoned in saying she was unwell. I went to visit the chairwoman of the Woman’s Association at the church and we organised for the flowers and tea. Then I went home and even though it was only 3 in the afternoon I poured myself a glass, a small glass, of Dennis’s best Scotch. I didn’t really like the taste much, but I felt somewhat better after it.
Day 3: Margery has told me she will stay on at the Law firm until Dennis’s affairs are sorted out, and meanwhile she will assist me doing monthly payments etc. She looks very upset. It must be the shock of finding Dennis dead. She went with me to find a good black dress and coat for the funeral. We ended up buying one for her as well. I wonder if Arthur will find two outfits a bit extravagant, as we put them on the business account. Do all law firms have dress accounts for their female staff? I suppose it is to ensure they keep up the standards.
Day 4: Friday and the funeral was held this morning. The church looked fine, and the service was well attended. Dennis was respected by everyone in the village where we live. Many of the townspeople, especially the leading ones also came. I was glad I had bought a decent outfit. Oddly Margery came and stood with me, she cried as much or more than I did. It was good of her to take on some of the mourning duties.
Day 5: I tidied out Dennis’s clothes and packed them for donation to the church efforts for the poor. I found a few slips from the jeweller in town in some pockets, so I tidied them into the pile for Margery and I to sort out next week. I had some more of Dennis’s scotch. It really is rather dreadful. I poured myself a pink gin afterwards and was delighted to find a large one tastes even better than the small one he used to say was quite enough for a lady.
Day 6: This morning at church everyone was so nice to me. I did wonder though at Mrs Parsons comment about how Margery shouldn’t have done so much crying at the funeral. After all as Mrs Parsons said “It wasn’t as though Dennis was her husband”. Margery was looking rather tired, her eyes very red-rimmed.
Day 8: I went into the town, catching the 9.30 bus. When I went to the jeweller I discovered they had not yet started altering the ring and bracelet Dennis had bought. I asked to see them and really they fitted me quite well enough without any alterations. The necklace they were just keeping until Dennis came to fetch it all together, was of really good quality pearls, although Dennis knows I have a really good single-strand necklace. I suppose he felt I could do with a better string for our anniversary. That would have been in 2 weeks time. I left with them all in my bag. After all a new widow can’t start flashing new jewels all over immediately, now can she?
Day 9: I went to the office as Arthur requested. He read the will. Only Mrs Harris our housekeeper, Mr Peters, the gardener and I were invited. The bequests for the others were not very large, just a token of thanks really. The cottage was a surprise. I gather Margery has been living in it.
Day 10: Arthur phoned me about the dress shop bill. It seems the practice did not run an account there, it was a private one Dennis had set up. As I don’t usually shop there I asked him to settle the amount and close the account. I wonder why he had an account there. Maybe he used it to buy the occasional gift for his aunt Hyacinth who lives in the old age home in town?
Day 11: The inquest was a surprise. I assumed there did not need to be one. The outcome was that he had died from unaccustomed exercise. No fault for anyone. I did wonder; had he been moving furniture in the office at lunch time?
Day 14: When doing the accounts with Margery, I discovered on the local grocer’s account quite a few things I hadn’t purchased. I kept it aside as I was certainly not going to let that ride. I do all the shopping for the house. As I said to Mr Brownlee, now Dennis has gone there is no need for his previous secretary to buy him treats, now is there?
Day 15: In the post today was something else. Tickets for a round the world cruise for Mr and Mrs Dennis Peters. I smiled to think he was planning all of this for our anniversary. After all 25 years of marriage is something to celebrate. In the package as well were two passports with many visas. I locked them in the safe and phoned the travel agency. They assured me there would be no difficulty in changing the ticket and arranging new visas.
Day 16: I collected the other passport, and with a copy of Dennis’s death certificate visited the travel agency in the city. I also visited a rental agency and put down a deposit on an attractive flat in a fairly fashionable area.
Day 17. A frank conversation with Arthur about the need for Margery’s services. I am quite capable of dealing with my own affairs. Both the house and cottage will be put up for sale. I am moving back to the city. 25 years in a country village is quite enough for anyone to deserve some life before she is too old.
Day 20: Margery came to see me. Quite unexpectedly as I was packing up the kitchen. The only things I am taking are all the new stuff I have bought recently. The rest is going to the auctioneers. Her eyes were very red, most unbecoming. She said something rather surprising about Dennis wanting children and how she was sure he would have made provision for them. I told her sharply that I had never wanted any and Dennis and I had made sure of that by only giving in to his carnal needs when we were sure it was safe. Of course he had no children. She also asked to stay on at the cottage, but I told her it was being sold so she has till the end of the month to leave it. Really Margery is looking worse and worse, her eyes always red, and she is beginning to put on weight, she will never get another job as a secretary unless she smartens herself up.
Day 21: The movers arrived and I enjoyed showing them what to pack for the trip to the city. In the afternoon the auctioneer arrived and took the rest. Then I caught the 5.30 train. Leaving the village behind was such a relief. A long soak in the extra-large bath at the hotel revived me. Then out for dinner with my sister and her friend. I explained that Bryan, my friend would be joining us later. Something to do with some business deal. My sister will keep referring to Bryan as my ‘fancy man’. Makes him sound a bit shady. I am really lucky to have him, being a doctor and all, 10 years younger than I am. I still don’t understand all the fuss some council has made to stop him opening a new practice.
Day 22: Moving into my smart flat. Bryan came round for a drink after lunch and we spent the afternoon most pleasantly. Of course he, being a doctor has coped with my little emergency a few months ago, and now is making sure we don’t have another.
Day 23: Life in the city is so rewarding. Arthur came up for lunch, and asked me to join him. He told me Margery says she is pregnant, and asked if I would help her. I told him that if my husband’s ex-secretary was a slut there was no reason for me to aid and abet her in this. Arthur looked shocked. He said “I thought you knew”.
Day 24: I had a little celebratory fire at the flat. I burnt the passports that will no longer be needed, the divorce papers Dennis had given me the day before he died, and the letters I had found from Margery to him. And of course the new copy of his will I had found in his briefcase, not yet witnessed.. The one thing that would have ruined my life.
Day 25: I tool Bryan out to collect the present I had organised for him, a new sports car. He took me for a spin, we laughed and had such fun.
Day 26: We collected our tickets and passports. On Monday we leave on the boat for that cruise. It was so good of Dennis to organise it.
Day 28: We boarded, drank champagne and danced the night away. Bryan really does understand how to give a woman a good time. But I must say I didn’t like the way he kept eyeing the young singer in the band. She was definitely flirting with him. That can’t be allowed to continue. I am so glad I brought that vial Bryan gave me last month.
Day 29: Poor Bryan is seasick. I have been nursing him. He was so grateful, but he did say the black tea I gave him tasted rather bitter. Dennis also said that. Now I must go for lunch, a long lunch that will last all afternoon. I know the room service will be in later to clean up. Let them find him. After all that is something I have never done before.