One of the most remarkable, yet odd qualities of Sir Michael was his perpetual need for entertainment - both for himself and his circle of acquaintances. Ideas of what he could find amusing visited his mind constantly, but the lack of education and good taste made them either indelicate or unrealistic. Sir Michael presented his new ideas to Pamela, ignoring her gentle efforts to dissuade him, made a few attempts to gain what he wanted, and then, in most cases, quit his deal and complained about such injustice and ingratitude to his patient housekeeper. Pamela could only reassure him that each unsuccessful deed wasn’t worth his sorrows and pray to the Lord silently that she could prevent another thoughtless expenditure of his fortune.
But in exceptional cases, her soothing influence on Sir Michael was defeated with his conviction. He had received a letter from an old friend of his, who had written something about the royal library. Then he had had a conversation with Mr. Schrute, who had described flamingly the dangers of ignorance, which he had noticed so often among his parishioners. These two occasions had lead to the decision to purchase a proper amount of books which could be used both by Sir Michael and his acquaintance.
Pamela had never seen Sir Michael so passionate about anything before. He had decided to be a Maecenas; to enlighten the Dunder-Mifflin commoners and gain their endless gratitude. Neither lack of knowing what he should start with, nor the amount of expense did not bother him. Sir Michael radiated a cheerful mood; he recounted to everyone whom he could see about the benefits of his future library, leaving to Pamela deal with correspondence to bookstores and library owners. And Pamela found quite a joy in ordering tomes and dictionaries, works of historians and philosophers, novels and poetry; she even could allow herself to order a few novels she had wished to read herself.
A few weeks after Pamela had sent the first letters, the books started to arrive. Sir Michael was delighted, but this feeling was soon replaced with confusion and annoyance. He did not know how to arrange such a thing as the library; he had more critical deeds to be concerned about. Pamela should do it, he decided after short cogitation. The library was a part of the house; hence, it was her responsibility. And yet, after her gentle refusals and persuasions of searching the proper expert, Sir Michael wrote another letter to his old scholar friend and asked for someone to be sent who had dealt with arranging libraries previously.
‘Well, Pamela, I dare to say you should be proud of yourself. Some dull old scholar from Oxford will certainly be a charming addition to our circle, won’t he?’ Sir Michael said with a mocking grumble.
‘Not at all, Sir Michael,’ she replied. ‘And yet, if that means that you will have your library organized and fulfilled, I could endure any company you apply me for.’
Sir Michael laughed, and his spirits improved.
A week was followed by a week. Sir Michael expected the promised scholar every day, but neither the letters came, nor he. Sir Michael complained to Pamela constantly about his misfortune and the lack of responsibility that he found so often in others. She was patient with him, and yet she felt fatigued of his behavior, therefore when she gained an opportunity to spend some time out of the mansion, she would take it eagerly.
It was the end of November. Pamela had paid a call to her family and had no hurry in returning to the Dunder Hall. Instead, she was wandering among the hills, enjoying the fresh air and the last days of an unusually warm autumn. Pamela even allowed herself to loose the ribbons of her bonnet and take it off. She climbed on the Heather Hill and settled on a log, observing the scenery, wanting to capture this peaceful moment for an eternity both in her mind and on paper. Pamela was about to charcoal the landscape when she noticed a horseman in the distance. She watched him for some time; apparently, he saw her too as he changed his direction and rode to her. Pamela hastily put her bonnet back, hid her drawings, and stood up.
‘I am sorry to bother you, but could I ask you for help?’ the horseman said, raising his top hat. Even with disheveled hair and crooked cravat, he seemed to be a gentleman. ‘I am expected in Dunder-Mifflin, and I am terribly lost in these moorlands. I do not want to miss the unforgivable entertainment I was promised.’
‘You must have a foe somewhere,’ Pamela answered. ‘Only a truly wicked person could suggest you find any entertainment in Dunder-Mifflin.’
The horseman smiled light-heartedly.
‘Heavens, no. That thought had never occurred to me, though it explains a lot,’ he paused for a moment or two. ‘And yet again, I humbly ask you for help. Could you tell me, miss, where could I find Dunder-Mifflin, where I ought to spend my days in monotony and misery?’
Pamela gave him a small smile and pointed over the hills behind her.
‘You could find the village in that direction, though I hope misery remains unfound.’
‘Lord bless your kindness, miss,’ he raised his top hat again. ‘Have a good day.’
The man rode away, leaving Pamela alone to watch him until he reached the farther hill and disappeared. She returned to the log and prepared to charcoal again, but she realised very soon that the lighting worsened, and her absence for so long would be noticed. So she gathered her belongings and walked to the Dunder Hall.
When Pamela entered the hall, she heard the exaggeratedly gleeful voice of Sir Michael, which seemed to fill every chamber of the mansion. She took off her bonnet, her gloves, and her coat, and stepped timidly into the room where Sir Michael’s voice sounded the loudest.
‘Here she is!’ Sir Michael greeted her with raising a glass of Marsala in his hand. ‘I was worried about where you have gone. We have a guest, dear.’
Pamela sighted a man sitting in the armchair near the fireplace and immediately recognised the horseman from the moorlands. He stood up and smiled, obviously making a similar observation.
‘May I introduce to you Mr. Halpert,’ Sir Michael continued. ‘And this is Miss Beesly, my housekeeper.’
Pamela curtseyed, Mr. Halpert bowed. Sir Michael seemed to be entirely pleased with the gathering.
‘I have told you, dear, he would be an excellent addition to our modest society,’ he exclaimed with genuine delight. ‘We have known each other for less than an hour, and I could say certainly he is the nicest young man I have ever met.’
Pamela looked at Mr. Halpert briefly to see him hiding his embarrassment taking a sip of his wine.
‘I am glad, Sir Michael, that you made such a fascinating acquaintance,’ she said with a smile.
‘Acquaintance? I could name young James - you do not mind some familiarity, do you? - I could name him one of my dearest friends!’
‘I have no doubts, Sir Michael. But I should remind you that you could resume your conversation during dinner. You have some correspondence to reply, and Mr. Halpert must be tired after such a long journey. Besides, you have invited Mr. Schrute to dinner, haven’t you? You could discuss the matter of the library and the church school then.’
‘I suppose you are right,’ Sir Michael sighed, ‘though it does not bring me any joy. Could you show to our guest his chambers? And, James, I expected you to complete that story about Lord Wallace’s hunting.’
‘Certainly, Sir,’ Mr. Halpert answered politely.
‘Well, well, go have some rest,’ Sir Michael poured himself more wine when Pamela left the room, followed by Mr. Halpert.
‘To be honest,’ he said after a short silence, ‘I did not expect such a kindly greeting. But, without a doubt, it is something I cannot call unentertaining.’
‘It was improper for me to suggest something like that,’ she said. ‘I ask your forgiveness for my incorrect assumption.’
‘Well, you have it. Even more, I am certain I lost my chance to find misery there, so your wish accomplished.’
‘I would like to hear about it after you make an acquaintance with Mr. Schrute.’ Pamela answered. ‘I dare to say you could expect any kind of peculiar behavior from that man. He could be a prude, a flatterer, an oxhead and a reasonable man and I have not the slightest notion about which one of them he will decide to be at the dinner.’
Mr. Halpert laughed and said nothing. Pamela stopped near a guest room door and unlocked it with her key.
‘I leave you here and let you take some rest,’ she said, giving him the key. ‘The dinner will be at seven. As a rule, Sir Michael does not tolerate delays, but I assume he might make an exception for you,’ she lingered for a moment, adding ‘If you need something, ring a bell and let me know.’
‘Actually, I do need something,’ Mr. Halpert looked briefly at his room and locked the door. ‘May I ask you to show me the supposed library? I need to know how much work I ought to do.’
Pamela obeyed, leading him to the floor below and into the big dark room. She started to lit candles, and they cast light on the empty shelves, negligent piles of books, wrapped and unwrapped packages. Mr. Halpert looked around thoughtfully and picked up a tome of Wordsworth’s poetry.
‘Perhaps, I should start with this,’ he said lightly.
‘Actually, this is my book, and it does not belong to Sir Michael,’ Pamela said, reaching out to take her belonging back.
‘Do you like poetry, Miss Beesly?’ he asked, making no intention to return the book and leafed over the pages.
‘I am quite fond of poetry,’ Pamela replied, still holding a hand.
Mr. Halpert looked at a miniature pencil illustration on the second page and the letters ‘P. B.’ in the corner. He smiled briefly and gave the book to her.
‘I should say, Miss Beesly, I notice an injustice. You know my name, and I do not know yours.’
‘Oh, I assure you, Sir Michael will amend that fairly soon,’ she answered with a polite smile.
‘But may I guess?’ he begged, and, as she nodded, continued. ‘I presume it is Penelope.’
‘No, that is my sister’s name,’ Pamela found herself amused.
‘True. So, you have a younger sister. She is Miss Penelope Beesly, and you are just Miss Beesly.’
Mr. Halpert mused over another version.
‘I dare to suggest it is Philadelphia then.’
‘What?’ Pamela laughed. ‘Oh, no. I am not that kind of woman.’
‘And what kind of woman has the name Philadelphia?’ he asked teasingly.
‘Well, I cannot be sure, but it is a name for someone more elegant, more adventurous and, for sure, more wealthy. For someone from novels, not from Dunder-Mifflin.’
Mr. Halpert looked at her musingly.
‘Your name cannot be Polly or Peggy. They are too plain and do not suit you.’
Pamela felt herself blushing, hoping it was not noticeable in the dim light of candles.
‘Pamela, dear, where are you?’ they heard Sir Michael’s calling from upstairs. ‘I desperately need your opinion! Pamela!’
‘As I presumed before, Sir Michael has restored that unfortunate injustice,’ she said with a meek smile, and hastened to her master.
‘So it is Pamela then,’ Mr. Halpert said lightly, bowing at her leave. ‘Pleased to meet you, Miss Beesly.’