Chapter XLVIII

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"Alice?" Mr

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"Alice?" Mr. Howard appeared in my room while I sat on the bed crying.

"How did you get in here? The door was locked," I looked and my door still locked there must have been some passage way into my room I did not know of.

"I told you to stay in the library."

"And you think I owe you obedience?" I scoffed trying to wipe the tears but they were flowing out.

"Why were you in the library in the middle of the night?"

"I was returning your book," I could not believe he had come to the bedchamber just to question me instead of apologizing, "the one your mother gave you."

"You should not have done that, it is ungrateful of you to return something I gave you," yes after seeing Lydia and him together I was still to be labeled as ungrateful.

"You said it was your mother's gift, it is yours to keep then."

"In the morning you should go get it, if I knew I would have brought it here now but..."

"But you were dealing with your secret wife," I went to the subject since he was avoiding it at all costs.

"That is none of your concern," he was keeping the subject at a distance but then he talked back, "the same way you and your escort to dinner behaved in front of your fiancée are none of mine."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Henry is my son's friend."

"Are you implying something sir?"

"One minute I catch you with my son in an intimate moment and another exchanging less than innocent smiles with Henry Walker these are not mere implications but facts I have seen with my own eyes or will you try to play like I am the only guilty person in this room?"

"Be quiet!" I tried to smack him but he held my hand and then I was strong again at least for the moment.

"How dare you try to lecture me? I will smile at anyone I choose to, and if you have not spoken to Joseph about our earlier conversation then you cannot possibly understand."

"I do not understand? I think I understand you perfectly, time has given me the advantage to know you are one of the silliest girls I have ever had the displeasure of meeting in life."

"And you sir? Why did you come then? Only to be a heartless monster unto me?" My tears began spreading on my vision when his words hit me, as if he had not done enough damage he aimed to finish the job he started, to ruin me.

"I..."

"Get out you monster!"

As I lifted my head to see Mr. Howard had disappeared as requested and through the night I cried myself dry until the sun came up. What on earth could drive a man to be so severe and cruel to a girl he once held dear? There were no excuses for his actions, I had to kick him out of my life once and for all for with every passing encounter Mr. Howard became more hard hearted and my heart shattered its pieces once more by the stones he threw. If we went on this way much longer there was not much more I could take, I needed to retreat, to heal, I needed to breathe and pick myself up again from where he left me, there had to be some place where I could be sheltered from him, where was this place?

"Lady Alice?" Mrs. Hall woke me up.

"Morning Mrs. Hall."

"Oh dear your eyes are purple, did you not get any sleep?"

"I am afraid not."

"Breakfast is almost over I thought I would come check on you."

"Oh I missed breakfast? Mother will be upset," I sat up.

"She seemed otherwise engaged in conversations with the other ladies."

"Good for I do not feel like eating, will you help me put my clothes on?"

"Of course where are your tennis clothes?" Mrs. Hall looked through my clothes.

"No, no tennis just a day dress I wish to go spend time with you and the staff if I may?"

"Of course you can dear."

Mrs. Hall helped me get ready and while the guests played a game of tennis on the lawn I finally decided even though I was worse off than when I had arrived at Stanley Hall it was better to go see the kitchen staff soon rather than later so I mustered up my smile to act as best as possible in their presence.

"The kitchen smells divine," I said arriving while they had their tea and some leftovers from breakfast.

"Look at you now Lady Alice they told me you turned into a thin little stick but I did not believe them until now," Gertie and the rest got up from the table see me.

"Maybe the secret to my health was here, in this kitchen" I made light of the situation.

"Well I guess then nothing shall keep you thin anymore," Gertie generously hurried to go get me something to eat as if she cared for my well-being.

"Mr. Eugene is that right? Are you married sir?" I saw the ring on his finger.

"Ah yes I am a married man Lady Alice," he looked at the band.

"Mrs. Mary previously Johnson and Mr. Eugene got married six months ago," Mrs. Hall explained.

"Congratulations to the newlyweds then," I said taking in the new merriness of the staff.

"Thank you miss," Mary replied.

"Mr. Bert do you feel like taking the plunge yourself?" I knew he got along with Mrs. Hall but he might never propose to her if no one encouraged him.

"Ah Lady Alice has turned into a jokester since we last saw her," Bert dismissed my comment and then Mr. Eugene began playing the piano.

"We heard you singing yesterday for Mr. Howard's party," Mrs. Hall said and the rest of the staff turned expectantly to me.

"Oh well I hope it was not too much of a disappointment."

"Not at all, if we had known we would have asked you to sing before but there's no time like the present," Mrs. Hall insisted.

"Ah right... Then I will only if Mr. Bert sings as well," I asked because Mr. Bert could sing with more artistry than most men I heard in society and he was not inclined to give in.

"Oh no, it is your turn Lady Alice," he refused it.

"Mr. Bert please sing with her," Mary asked him and Eugene encouraged it too, his bad humor had taken a turn for lighter days.

"Do go on Mr. Bert," Eugene asked.

"Very well then," he left his food and got up.

We sang together and the others sung along when we moved on to happier melodies and then as without noticing my sadness ceased for a time again and we were dancing like a bunch of drunken Scots at a bar.

"Mr. Henry I beg your pardon," our happy dancing was interrupted by Mr. Henry walking in the kitchen.

"No continue your dancing and singing please," he chuckled.

"Is there anything you need sir?" Mrs. Hall asked him.

"No I was only looking for Lady Alice and now that I know where she is I shall return to the game."

"Mr. Henry won't you stay?"

"Are you sure?" Mr. Henry asked wanting to accept the invitation I extended to him as the staff stared waiting for him to say no.

"We could use another dancing partner," I was overcome with courage to be happy and the music began again.

Mr. Henry did not sneer at my manners instead he spun me round and round for two songs to come; when we were done he walked me up to my room.

















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