Chapter XXVIII

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"Good afternoon Lady Alice," Joseph said with flowers in his hands, "for you

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"Good afternoon Lady Alice," Joseph said with flowers in his hands, "for you."

"They are lovely," I held the bouquet filled with different pink flowers and smelled their sweet aroma before handing them to Mrs. Trudor. "Ask Edna to put them in my room please?"

"Yes Milady," Mrs. Trudor grumbled but I feared if she kept the flowers much longer in her presence they would wilt and die within minutes.

"Mrs. Stewart good afternoon," he said to my mother.

"Good afternoon Lord Stanley."

"I hope I am not intruding," he said.

"No not all, we are happy to see you," I responded while mother measured his good intentions.

"So am I," his sweet and genuine disposition did not win mother right away since no one showed to anyone's house without first sending a calling card or notice.

"Please do have a seat."

"Thank you."

"Will you have tea?"

"I shall."

"So how did my daughter meet you Lord Stanley?" Mother asked straight out instead of having some pleasant conversation first. "She has not shared the story with me yet."

"Right..." He hesitated disclosing our meeting since now that I was Lady Alice there was not much place for unmeasured honesty.

"We met when I was in service, when my circumstances were quite different," I disclosed the information I knew Joseph would feel obliged to keep.

"When our circumstances were different, still I cannot recall the mention of his name before the opera." Mama said just to see Joseph and I sweat through our fine clothes.

"Forgive me mama," I said embarrassed she chose to call me out in front of him.

"Well I met your daughter on the way to my father's house during a rain storm which she was caught under after walking to town to deliver a letter," Joseph talked to get us going from mother's pulling of my ear.

"And who is your father?"

"The Earl of Bridgeston."

"Mr. Howard mama," I made it plain for her.

"Oh I understand now."

"Joseph took me back straight to Stanley Hall and put me in one of the guest bedchambers while I recuperated from the cold I caught." I did not want her to think because he had treated me unkindly which I could tell from her face she was ready to jump to those conclusions.

"Is that true?"

"Yes and even ill she read so many books we thought she would be done with our library first than us its owners," he joked.

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