Chapter XIII

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"Yes, I believe, you do not like the struggle sir

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"Yes, I believe, you do not like the struggle sir."

"The struggle?" His forehead crinkled meaning for me to go further.

"Between the sorrows of earth and the blissful peace of heaven, they do seem oblivious to man's sufferings but it is beautiful, is it not? Or at least true, because those in heaven cannot help us we must choose our own way up there, unlike so many things out of our hands at least in this we all have a choice."

The answer was enough I thought, since society had taught me I was not permitted to analyze anything. Being a woman and someone of my inferiority did not give me much space for delights of the mind yet this felt like a surge of new blood pumping through my veins.

"Still waters run deep indeed," he said and I tightened my hands against each other when his eyes touched mine there was something in the midst of their stoutness in which I could see a flicker of light break through every once in a while.

Or maybe it was how he thought my words were to be regarded as sound judgment, "what is your birth name Miss Stewart?"

"Alice."

"Alice come with me," Mr. Howard's pace was quick and he went over to farther bookshelves and climbed up on the stairs to get a book.

"Here read this," he placed a book on my hands and I looked questionably at it, what if something happened to it I might get in trouble. "I command it if you are thinking of reasons not to."

"Are you very sure? I do not want to..."

"It is a favor to me, and once you are finished report back to me, are we understood?"

"Yes sir."

"Have a good day Miss Alice," he said instead of Miss Stewart though why he called Ms. Johnson and I as if we were eligible family girls was beyond my rationale. We were not; we were the lowest servant or should have been, yet I served him like a personal maid then was ordered around by everyone to do a housemaid's work.

The very night I began the reading Mr. Howard asked of me it was a novel called Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, a very satirical take on one's placement in society. There was a sense of purpose in the alone time I spent for once with this book, I had been feeling very restless here in the country but this was something grounding. The staff was also more relaxed and off edge since the intentions of the master was to stay in Stanley Hall for a while.

Mr. Eugene's trip had been quick, it took three days for the master's things to arrive at the Hall, they were all taken up to the tower so I could not see what they had been tasked to get. But Mr. Howard was very busy with whatever had come from his seaside cottage and I imagined what his former living place was like. Mrs. Hall said she liked it there, in fact she was born in the nearby town where the cottage was and she wrote from time to time to a couple of friends her and Gertie had there.

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