People always speak of how Mr. Strange and Mr. Norrells publications inspired more and more Englishmen to become magicians, but they do not venture to fathom how such writings might influence other persons. As word of their fame spread, others began to consider how magic might make their own lives a little easier. A simple maid, a wistful Irish girl, might pluck the discarded magazine from a pile of papers on her master's desk and people would presume she meant to throw it out with the armful of papers she had already gathered. No-one would think for a moment that she meant to read it.

As soon as she had a spare moment, she dashed upstairs and locked the magazine away in a metal box under her bed, where she kept her mother's Rosary, a book of Celtic legends, and various other precious and forbidden things. That night she would sit up by her candle and cut out all of the most interesting parts. The rest she would shred up by hand and dispose of.

This kept her informed, but it did not sate her curiosity, which had only grown more ravenous as tales of feats drifted over from the Peninsula. She wished to do magic, even if it was nothing so spectacular. So you can imagine the delight she felt when an opportunity finally presented itself.

Her master and his brother (a vicious brute of a man who spent his life tormenting the female servants whenever he visited) were sitting on opposite sides of the fire, each absorbed in his own reading and happily ignoring the other, when the former harumphed and rustled his newspaper.

"What do you think of all this magical nonsense flying about, Art?" He asked his brother.

The other lowered his book in order to fix the back of the Times with a good glare, as though he could read what his brother had been prompted by through the page, and did not like what he found there. "It's just as you said, Frank. Nonsense! Whatever happened to blowing a man to pieces with a canon?"

Her master chuckled. "Proper warfare!"

The two mused over this for a few minutes, each feigning the knowledge attributed to men of war, despite the fact that they had never fired a gun in their lives. She was fetching the whiskey from the cabinet by the wall and paused in her pouring when she heard her master say "Do you remember Uncle Martin and his spells?"

His brother scoffed. "All that rubbish - visions in silver basins and speaking with faeries!"

"Mad. Absolutely mad!" Her master shook his head, laughing. "Where's that whiskey, girl!"

She jumped as he suddenly bellowed this last remark, spilling some alcohol over her hand. "C-coming, Sir!"

"Impossible to find good help these days." the brother sneered, eyeing the girl in a way that made her shudder inwardly.

"Indeed." her master agreed, shaking out his paper once more.

"Whatever happened to his books?" His brother pondered.

"Hmmm?"

"Martin's books." He explained. "I recall him having a dozen or so of the things."

"Oh imagine they're still in the library." Her master, who had never had a mind to read anything vaguely stimulating, peered over the top of the page. "You don't intend on reading them, do you?"

"Heavens no!" His brother protested. "I was thinking you should sell them to this Norrell fellow!"

"Are you mad!" her master cried. "I'll not have anyone thinking I condone such pastimes!"

"You're right enough in that, I suppose." his brother sighed, seeing he was getting into one of those tempers the physician had warned him about. "They've probably crumbled to dust by now, anyway."