"Yes sir but you may leave me to walk I assure you nothing will be held against you if you do."
"My conscience will hold it against me or are you so perverse as to leave me in agony for not helping you?"
"I am sorry to say you have no great talents of persuasion sir."
"No especially with the ladies, but I can still see the traces of your crying for the emotional paleness, the red of your eyes and nose are still there. Please let me take you to a warm place Miss Stewart I promise no harm will come to you," he offered his hand and without proof to deny his evaluation I gave him my hand so he put me on his horse.
The whole way through the storm with eyes closed shivering from the cold rain beating on us we arrived where I was running from, Stanley Hall, a sudden dizziness overcame me and Sir Joseph's face was the last thing I saw.
"Mrs. Hall?" I woke up in one of the enchanting spare guest bedchambers of Stanley Hall.
"Sorry Miss Stewart I am afraid the only company you have right now is mine," the young man, Sir Joseph, who offered me shelter sat near.
"Sir Joseph?" I asked breathing heavily and blinking slowly, "why am I here?"
"You fainted and the doctor said you caught yourself a very bad cold."
"I meant why am I not in my room? And you sir? How did you know to..."
"I believe the doctor said you must rest," he sat by me urging me to get back into bed and be still. "And you are here because I insisted you be treated like a family friend."
The young man seemed to be under the impression I had ties with my grandfather Sir Paul but I did not, he should not have been treating me this way.
"Joseph?" I heard Mr. Howard's deep voice ask from the door before I could question Joseph about his ties to Stanley Hall.
"Come in she is finally awoken," Sir Joseph said to Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard approached my bed with his usual posture to look at my ill state and when I saw his face it showed no affection previously given freely to me.
"She asked me for her room but the guests will only arrive in two weeks so she may use this one until she feels better. I am sure Sir Paul will appreciate our hospitality of his family," Sir Joseph said looking at Mr. Howard.
"Of course," he responded to the young man with fixed eyes on me.
"Sir you do not understand I will be very well in my room..."
"None of that, it is resolved you will stay here until you are better."
Sir Joseph spoke with an interminable smile on his face unlike the usual gothic like bleakness of Mr. Howard's spirit.
"Thank goodness Miss Stewart is awake!" Mrs. Hall said coming in with new towels.
"Mrs. Hall," I said glad to hear her enthusiasm in the room.
"I will leave the trusty Mrs. Hall to care for you then," Joseph said.
"Yes m'lord leave it to me and she will be up in no time," Mrs. Hall assured him.
"I will be counting on that!" Joseph kissed Mrs. Hall's hand and she blushed. "Come on Mr. Howard leave the girls be," he cut off Mr. Howard's unyielding stare at me.
"Coming," Mr. Howard said walking out with Sir Joseph but the young man was so mistaken about my connections I could not think of way to undo this confusion without any discomfort. And the question persisted how did they know each other so intimately since Mr. Howard had not received guests yet in this house nor in the London townhouse.
"Now drink this Miss Stewart, it was recommended by the family doctor" Mrs. Hall said.
"Thank you," I lifted my body which felt like it weighed a ton of bricks to drink the concoction.
"You must be over the moon you lucky girl," Mrs. Hall couldn't keep a smile off her face.
"I would not say being this ill is luck Mrs. Hall," I laid back down.
"But it is my dear when you have Joseph looking over you the whole of the day," she put a hot towel on my forehead.
"Mrs. Hall he is only doing that because I told him who my grandfather is."
"And who is he?"
"It's Sir Paul and Joseph seems to know him and now he thinks I am a lady which we all know I am not."
"Oh dear that is quite a misunderstanding either way it makes your prospects a little better, noble blood and all."
"Mrs. Hall I assure you it does not, it only makes it people uncomfortable when they find out the truth and they never seem to know how to treat me after the fact."
"Well then all I'll say is when you both came in soaked from the rain Joseph changed out of his wet clothes and came straight here to be with you. I have known m'lord Joseph his whole life and he does not get so easily attached to a girl so this is quite something Miss Stewart."
"Mrs. Hall you have to tell him he is wrong about me please and get me back to my room, I do not belong here."
"Yes but after we have seen of Joseph's dedication to you, telling him would do none of you any good. The last girl my little lord fancied things went awfully wrong, her family did not approve him and Mr. Howard made sure to keep him from her, so I will not ruin his happiness especially when I wish you good fortune."
"I know you do Mrs. Hall and because you do you must clear it up I believe he would feel ashamed if I did it and he seems a fine young man to be told off by a maid no less."
"Fine Miss Stewart I will do as you wish then and I will have to warn the master because your grandfather might show up for the dinner in two weeks."
"My grandfather will come?"
"Yes he was an old acquaintance of the late Earl William."
"Yes do warn him, please."
"Okay let me change the towels and try to get you back to your room."
"Thank you Mrs. Hall."
I felt a certain flattering happiness from knowing Sir Joseph's attention were directed at me but not enough to overshadow the inappropriateness of it, and how Mr. Howard would react if he heard of these ideas. It was past time to find myself a new situation for when my grandfather came to spend the week at Stanley Hall it would only cause a general embarrassment for everyone involved.
In the same room another dawn I woke up to a hand touching mine and when my eyes opened, it was Sir Joseph's warm hands and a sweet smile staring at me. Sir Joseph had something angelic about him, a work of art perhaps as I followed his soft features; he was to the sun as Mr. Howard was to the night, both opposing ideas differing in every palpable way.
"Good morning Miss Stewart," Sir Joseph uttered quietly the way everyone should be awoken in the morning.
"Good morning sir."
March of 1889
Copyright: All Rights Reserved to A. Sena Gomes
YOU ARE READING
The Greatest JourneyHistorical Fiction
Miss Alice Stewart is a poor girl, recently fatherless with a mother and two younger siblings to take care when she finds a job in service as a maid with her aunt Mrs. Green. Soon the family she works for loses money and lets go of her, in need of w...