I felt a surge of panic at hearing my real name being spoken in such a stern way. But when I lifted my head, my shock faded into surprise. A smile spread across my face as I recognized the woman who stood in the doorway. "Miss Graham!" I exclaimed, feeling a rush of fondness and relief at seeing a familiar, kind face. I surged to my feet. "How lovely it is to see you again! I didn't know you were employed here!"
Stepping inside, Miss Graham closed the door. Her hair had grown more gray since the last time I had seen her, but the serious expression on her face...oh, I remembered that look all too well. No doubt, she would be using her stern, governess tone of voice with me.
"Juliet Sinclair, you have not answered my question," she pointed out, ignoring my enthusiasm. And there was that tone I'd heard so many times when I got into mischief as a child. It made me smile, when it had caused me to quake in my shoes when I'd been younger. "I thought I must have been mistaken when I saw you earlier."
When had she seen me? "At the moment, I am going to try to save this poor gown." I held a rose pink monstrosity of fabric and lace in my hand. "I'm not entirely certain it is worth the effort, but I must try what I can and hope for the best."
"You know very well that is not what I was asking about," Miss Graham said sharply. She took a seat on the edge of my bed, not waiting for me to invite her to sit. "What are you doing here, in this house, this room? As a lady's maid? You are above this kind of work!"
Sighing, I sank back onto my char. Securing the needle into the fabric, I allowed the dress to fall into my lap. "It was unexpected, and I don't intend for it to be a permanent position. I knew Eugenia needed help to face her first Season, so here I am. As my mother always said, if you can help someone, you should."
"I doubt your mother meant you were to forsake your rank and privileges to serve another family. You cannot have fallen so far from society this is necessary for your survival."
"But, I am not forsaking anything, Miss Graham! It happened quite by chance, really. All Eugenia really needs is a good lady's maid to help her show herself to the best advantage. How can I not want to lend my aid to her? I was so fond of her when we were children together."
"Yes, it's true a good lady's maid would do wonders for her," Miss Graham said reluctantly. "Are you so prideful as to think you are the only one who can help her?"
"Certainly not!" I was not so egotistical to believe that! Why was explaining myself so difficult? No one seemed to understand my motivations. "But I have the advantage of having been in society. I know what she needs, and now I know how to give it to her."
Reaching over, Miss Graham took my hands into hers and squeezed them. "If someone was to discover what you have done, you would be ruined. What you are attempting is pure folly."
"It may be." I pulled my hands free of her grasp. "But Eugenia deserves every chance to be happy. What sort of person would I be if I did not do all I could to help her?"
Miss Graham frowned at me. "Are you so very unhappy, Juliet, you feel you must help someone else to be so because you are not? Why would you run away so foolishly? Have not your family been kind to you these past five years?"
"I am not running away and my aunt has been nothing but kindness!" I exclaimed, appalled she would think I had been neglected. "I was not...am not unhappy, Miss Graham. Please believe me when I say that. I simply wish to help Eugenia as much as I possibly can. And this was the only way I could think to do so."
My former governess tilted her head. "But, surely insufficient time has passed for Mrs. Burnham and Eugenia not to recognize Miss Juliet Sinclair."
YOU ARE READING
Keeping the PastHistorical Fiction
Book One of The Lady's Maid Trilogy Impelled by a nasty rumor that implicates her late father and brother as traitors to the Crown, Juliet Sinclair embarks on a course to save her family name. Relying on her five year absence from society to keep he...