Departure day. Granny has had a two hour search for her London keys and her English purse -the one hung on the hooks where keys always hang, the other stowed in the equally appropriate safe; how could she imagine anything so obvious? But now she is ready to go, if reluctant.
Much as she longs for England and her family Granny hates leaving the island and Beloved. Beloved will follow her in 10 days time. The island, rooted to the ocean bed, will have to wait till her return. She will miss the sea. She will not miss the wind, scheduled to last the summer. Good for Trade maybe, bowling the ships along. But not much else. And anyway, not to see an English spring is unthinkable. As is staying away from her grandchildren one minute longer. She may be able to write a little while she is away. One big post is in draft and she will put it up in a day or two.
Meanwhile a thought about the chickens. They are establishing their pecking order now. It is already clear which of the two Mr Handsomes is top cock. The loser is despised by all. He looks depressed, one eye closed, he hangs out on the little ramp leading from house to run all by himself. When the other chickens want to come out of the house, they push past him, regardless. Sometimes he gets pushed off. It's very sad. Beloved has picked him up and felt his crop and says he is still feeding. But the way things are going on he won't even be good to eat. Granny wants to separate him, put him away from his tormenters, feed him up. Beloved says this is the life of the flock and it's a waste of time. Testosterone, Beloved says; the top bird develops more and more, the sad loser less and less. In a flock without a male he says, the top hen develops testosterone too, more and more of it. Powerful, she becomes more powerful thereby. Ad infinitum.
Now this is interesting. Granny reflects on her feared and eccentric headmistress, heading her large flock of women from teaching staff down to the smallest new girl. She also reflects on Mrs Thatcher, top hen, top - honorary- male. She knows that the much deeper voice she developed was partly achieved by voice training, to erradicate the shrillness, the nagging note. But could it also have been a result of ever increasing testosterone? Remember the way she turned her male cabinet into mere hens? Remember her plume, her comb, her wattles? Yes indeed.