Dunder-Mifflin was a tiny village, lost in Yorkshire moorlands and known only by those who had had the pleasure to be born in it. The time was still there; the society remained constant, and everyone knew what to expect from each other. And some of the Dunder-Mifflin long-livers could predict the fate of locals even before they were born.
This state, however, had been altered after the new owner of Dunder Hall had taken ownership. Sir Michael Scott was a kind, amiable man, in whom the lack of manners and intelligence was offset by genuine cordiality. He had made a fortune on goods from West-Indies, had gotten a noble title, and had married a beautiful woman, who was sensible enough not to reject his hand and his four thousand pounds a year.
So, they had settled in Dunder Hall and had met local society. Sir Michael had found it charmingly earthy and lovely unpretentious. The society, in its turn, had found new landlord and his wife too fancy and fashionable for its taste. Although, since Lord and Lady Scott had invited respectable members of Dunder-Mifflin society to hunt or play cards and organized other unsophisticated entertainment, the opinion of commoners had changed from hostility to warmth.
Sir Michael had been basking in the glory of his status and respect from his tenants. Lady Scott, however, had not been as happy as her husband. The delight of the good fortune and the title had been replaced with boredom and yearning for intelligent discussions. She had found her only companion in Mrs. Beesly, a young wife of one of her husband’s tenants. A newlywed had suffered from similar ailment; she was a sister of a local clergyman and had had a misfortune to fall in love with an officer who had visited his relatives in Dunder-Mifflin. An elopement had been prevented. The officer had left without intention to return, and the young woman had been forced to marry a reasonable farmer ten years older than she, who had agreed to take her as his wife. For the sophisticated and romantic Mrs. Beesly, such a union had been barely bearable; and she had found solace in her flourishing friendship with Lady Scott. They had spent most of the time together, reading novels, making visits, or just gossiping or making fun of the faddinesses of their local society. No wonder that when Mrs. Beesly had given birth to a girl, she had named her after a heroine of their beloved novel. No wonder that Lady Scott had become a godmother of little miss Beesly. No wonder that when Mrs. Beesly had died three years later, Lady Scott had taken care of the girl and had raised her as her own daughter. She had shared with her goddaughter her opinion about this or that, had polished her manners, had shaped her tastes, and had encouraged her talents. To the local’s concern, Miss Beesly had been raising as a lady, whom a farmer’s daughter would have never become. And, when Lady Scott had passed away, someone had said, cautiously, that Lady Scott had been a peculiar woman indeed, though she would have been missed more if she hadn’t confused girls with fancy things and unrealistic fantasies. But the damage, at least for young Miss Beesly, had been done, though she could have hidden slightest glimpses of it.
Miss Pamela Beesly had been a quiet, lovely child and had become a pretty young woman with sweet wit and gentle manners. Her father had married the second time and, though he loved his eldest daughter dearly, he paid a little attention to her thoughts and needs. Sir Michael, partly because of memory of his wife, partly because of his own kindly heart, hadn’t forgotten to show her a small sight of attention, though his attempts to take care of Pamela rarely include anything but a new bonnet or a yard of colorful ribbons. Tiny lights of excitement that had been sparked by Lady Scott’s tutelage were almost hushed under the farm’s routine and the village monotony. Pamela had felt lonely without her dear godmother and had been growing with that feeling. Loneliness had become her second nature, despite her attempts to dispose off it - or humble with it. She knew, what the society expected from her, she was aware of her father’s plan about her future - a marriage with a well-respected farmer’s son from one or another family - and didn’t have any strength to change her own fate. So, when one of the Andersons’ boys, mumbling and shifting from one foot to the other, had asked for her hand, Pamela had felt a strange relief and simply answered ‘Yes.’
That had taken place five years ago, and she hadn’t had a name Anderson yet, though no one blamed her for it. The reason for such a long engagement was, as usual, in similar situations, money. Soon after Anderson’s proposal, old Mr. Martin - the clergyman and Pamela’s uncle - had died and left after himself only a few goods and chattels and a spinster daughter without a livelihood. Miss Martin had found a home under the Beeslys’ roof, but their earnings always were limited, and there was no money for a proper dowry for the eldest Miss Beesly. The Andersons had offered to wait with the wedding, the Beeslys had agreed; Pamela (as well as Mr. Anderson) might have had other thoughts about the subject, but they hadn’t shared them - not even with each other.
Five years had gone as one long and endless winter day. It would be an incorrect assumption that nothing in Dunder-Mifflin had happened at all. Their society had had a new member, Mr. Schrute, a strict German-born clergyman, who had derived pleasure in describing the torture of sinners in hell and praising the merits of Sir Michael. Mrs. Palmer had lost her husband, and miss Lapin had gotten one. And, after sir Michael had discovered the dishonest nature of his housekeeper and had dismissed her, he proposing Pamela to take her place. Almost without hesitation, she had agreed. She needed money for her wedding, after all.
Yet still, despite all changes - for better and for worse - these five years hadn’t brought much in a state of Pamela’s mind.
Not until Sir Michael had decided to buy a library.