Chapter VI

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After closing the door behind the windy midnight of London I turned to see the statue of my master looking down at the floor with one hand on a chair at the table of the kitchen

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After closing the door behind the windy midnight of London I turned to see the statue of my master looking down at the floor with one hand on a chair at the table of the kitchen.

"Ohhh master!" Spooked by his presence in the candle lit kitchen I placed my hands behind me and bowed my head.

"You were out?"

"Yes sir."

"After dinner you went out?"

"Yes sir."

"I do not recall dismissing you."

"Uh no sir," I could not recall it either but he had not been one to previously bother with the absence of his staff.

"Then why did you go out in the middle of the night when I could have easily needed you to fetch me something?"

"Forgive me sir..." He did not care for it and went on shouting madly at me.

"Have you no sense of danger? You are not a man to be walking on and about at this time! Unless you were in the company of one, though you have previously denied it what else would make you leave at this hour? Do you not see the consequences of your actions? Or are you purposefully trying to make me to throw you out of here? Do you wish to be unemployed by tomorrow?"

"No sir," I shook my head thinking of which question to answer first.

"Then never leave this house without first announcing it to me, that is a rule all of my staff abides by," the master walked firmly to where I could see his shoes below my eyes while I grasped firmly my own two warm hands.

"Yes sir," I nodded in agreement and he left the kitchen upstairs to his room. "Oh my," I put my hand on my heart and took a seat about to faint from the lecture of the master crossing my fingers hoping the staff had not woken up to hear the one sided squabble I had gotten into and when I opened the door to the bedchambers I found for once everything looked calm.

The same week the master began a new routine, for most of the morning he would go out and be back when the sun was going away with papers under his arms. With his being away Mrs. Hall gave me time and freedom to see my family as I wished still I was curious as to why no one said a word of what the master might be up to every day. Then one morning in the duration of that week I was off to see mother and as I got nearer to where we lived I found mother walking alone, where was Daniel and Joan?

"Mother?" I said coming near her.

"Oh dear, it is good you are here," mother took my hand.

"What is it? Where is Daniel and Joan?"

"Daniel is with Joan at home, Mrs. Howlett..." Mother stopped and I knew what followed.

"Oh..."

"They prayed before, made sure she confessed, got a blessing."

"Good."

"I will prepare her and you can make sure the children are fed."

"Yes of course," I agreed and after helping prepare the body of the deceased Mrs. Howlett for the ground her husband who would not leave her side could not stop crying and mother was somewhat shaken I could see the way she observed him, feeling his pain like her own. After several hours as it neared the time where Mrs. Hall said I had to be back by I left mother and checked on Daniel and Joan.

"Daniel mother is at the Howletts, anything you need you go there."

"I know but we shan't need anything, so do you like it? At the mad earl's haunted house?"

"Stop repeating such nonsense there is nothing wrong with where I work and you should be grateful because look what I brought you to practice your reading," I put a simple book he could read from on his hand.

"A book?" Daniel hugged me, "I love it!"

"Good, good, father would be proud, finish it then let me know when you need a new one," I kissed his forehead.

"I will, thank you Alice."

"It's what father would have wanted, now you take care of Joan until mother gets back and no more stories, I am perfectly fine."

"Yes Alice."

Daniel and I saw Joan happily sleeping after drinking her milk so I left them barely wishing to be parted for a minute from them, the wound was still fresh, and I went away wiping quiet tears in front of the Howard household before entering. And come the night though secretly grieving I would serve the master dinner in the dining room while he wore the same clothes he'd gone out with, yet it was an improvement from his robes.

"Stay put," he said when I set the food instead of telling me to go away as he'd done previously.

"Yes master," I stood back on the corner of the room where he could not see me.

"Not there, there," he pointed to a corner where I'd be facing him, to keep myself from noticing his countenance I obeyed then lowered my eyes.

"Yes master."

"Is that all you ever say Miss Stewart? Yes master, yes Mrs. Hall, yes Mr. Eugene, oh for God's sake don't tell me you say yes to everything Gertie says too?" He knew his staff well and focused his almost mocking glare at me with a wine cup in his left hand.

"Yes sir," I gulped.

"Well it bothers me."

"Forgive me master."

"It was not an apology I wanted," his voice hit me directly from across the room and I began to blush with how much he focused on me.

"Forgive me sir, what do you wish?"

"To know."

"Sir?"

"The way you are, why are you so obliging? How can it be so?"

"I am your housemaid, it is my job sir." I began to think what was wrong with me to have him bring about my behavior for it had never been a problem before with any other authority.

"And with the staff? Are you any different outdoors? For I cannot imagine you being any other way than steadfast in your mystery," the master opened the wine next to where I stood and poured until the cup was completely full giving the wine no room to breathe.

"My mystery?"

"Why do you hide your thoughts from everyone? Is it so dangerous to share your ideas with the rest of us or do you simply have nothing to say? Is this fear before me or mere emptiness?" His lips roped around the glass and he drank to satisfaction as I quivered in the corner from his natural viciousness.

"I... have no dangerous thoughts master," I beheld the burgundy colored drink dripping into his throat with an unquenchable thirst he showed.

"Then why keep them all to yourself?"

"I know my place sir."

"Then Miss Stewart tell me who."

"I do not understand."

"Who broke your spirit Miss Stewart? Who molded you this way?"

No one had ever treated me this way, no one asked me such questions, no one looked so closely so why did he? Who could have any interest in another's spirit other than God and in my opinion the master was on the opposite side of such analogy.












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