"Lady Alice?" Mr. Henry called my attention while I stood at the departure of my mother.
"Come inside, it is cold and your mother has already gone."
"Yes it is cold," my hands were very cold and so was my face the wind howled through my heavy dress, the clouds covered the sun with the unsightly picture of the great house behind me.
Mr. Henry gathered his things and the second carriage departed with him to the nearest train station I sat in my mother's room where her comfortable smell was still fresh on the messy sheets. From now on she would be renamed as Mrs. Theresa Johnson because no one was to know my mother was in an asylum. Everything was to be kept under the rug and I would be trained to say to anyone who asked that my mother was ill and bedridden in the country house. Lady Walker and Mr. Henry went back to London and started spreading the well-constructed lie and in one month's time I was to meet them again in Stanley Hall for Miss Lilly's and Joseph's wedding.
Miss Lilly's and Joseph's wedding approached and so they delivered the dress I was to wear for the wedding, a dark shade of purple dress since I still had some months until I could wear lighter colored garments due to the my sister's mourning.
"Milady may we speak?" Mrs. Miller and Edna helped me into it to see what jewelry would be appropriate to wear with it after as we approached the eight month of mourning.
"Come in Mrs. Miller," I said and she had her hands close to her dress in an uncomfortable manner. "What is the matter?"
"Well milady, I do appreciate the opportunity to work with you but I have a made a decision in regards to my future."
"Oh... I am listening, go on" I said uncomfortable for after mother's last fit the nurses had been dismissed but so had other two servants asked to leave, they were running off to safety it seemed.
"I have decided to become a nurse..."
"Yes a nurse in a convent of nuns."
"This is a big decision..."
"Yes but you see they have a place where they care for wounded soldiers who have no money to pay for such help," she went on to say.
"This is good work."
"Thank you milady."
Mrs. Miller did love so much to boss mother and I that it was simply inconceivable she desired to make such a big change to her life.
"May I ask what compelled you to seek such a significant change?"
"'Twas Mrs. Theresa, these past months taking care of her was far more rewarding than everything else I have accomplished in life," she confessed earnestly.
"More than try to teach me good manners?"
"Much more milady, for you are well able to take care of yourself, but there are so many out there in this world in need to be cared for. I cannot find it in me to be complacent any longer, I think about it day and night and how I ought to be out there, helping while I have well able hands." Mrs. Miller spoke passionately with hand gestures then containing herself down again, "forgive me I do not mean to be ungrateful."
"No if you have decided on this noble cause then I am sure God has blessed you for it, so whatever you need talk directly to me and I will provide for you to go this convent."
"Thank you milady, I am forever in your debt."
"No, none of that, you outdid your duties when taking care of mama you shall be rewarded for your generosity."
"Truly I did not want this job of teaching you and now I cannot even begin to think how I would have found my purpose had I not come to work here."
Mrs. Miller of course had better ladies to take care of but she was at first persuaded by the yearly income though behold what a change we saw before us, she was the impersonation of the hope of which humanity could achieve.
"Thank you for doing your best for me and mama," I embraced her though I knew it was not her way of showing affection.
"And will you become a nun then?" Edna asked curiously.
"Yes I will, so it is a good thing I never married," Mrs. Miller made a joke for the first time and Edna and we were at once convinced of her change and wished her the best on her new endeavor.
Mrs. Miller helped with the acquiring of servants to replace the ones that were gone and after packing my things to spend two days at Stanley Hall for the wedding it was decided that Mrs. Miller would stay behind at the house with Mrs. Trudor and Edna was to go with me.
"Goodbye Mrs. Trudor," I got in the carriage.
"See you soon Lady Alice," she said.
"Are you comfortable Milady?" Edna asked riding with me in the carriage for one of the first times.
"Yes and I think you will get on well with Mr. Howard's staff, at least I did when I was the maid."
"You were the maid?" Edna questioned and at last I found myself at liberty to disclose my past to her.
"Yes before I came into my inheritance I worked at Stanley Hall as a maid."
"So that is why you know how to take care of yourself before I can get to you?"
"Well then you must have been a very good maid from what I can see," she smiled and we both rode in as I told her my story from poverty to riches on the way to the dreaded Stanley Hall where I found comfort in most of its residents.
Most people who would be part of the Lord Stanley and Miss Lilly wedding had arrived to the Stanley estate for you could hear the noises of talk echo in the hall, and to my knowledge this place had never looked so full, beautiful and exciting.
"Lady Alice!" Mary waved at me.
"Mary," I looked at her big belly tenderly, "you are to have a baby?"
"Yes I am," she rubbed her belly.
"Oh congratulations Mary!" I hugged her.
"Thank you I believe it's a girl but Eugene hopes it's a boy."
"I am on your side, a little girl is always a cuter blessing."
"Thank you I was happy when I heard you were to come to the wedding, Mrs. Hall and I made sure to put you in the same room as always."
"Thank you Mary, that is very thoughtful and before I forget let me introduce my companion this is Miss Edna," I presented Edna to Mary.
"Hi there Miss," she shook Edna's hand.
"Hi Mrs. Mary pleased to meet you."
"Well let me take her to get settled in and I will call Mrs. Hall who is anxious to see you again to take you to your room."
"Thank you Mary," I could not believe the same girl who barely peeped could look so ecstatic and comfortable going about the house, I guess it was good to know that nothing ever stayed the same.
Then as Mary and Edna went inside the house I beheld Mr. Howard leaning against the door like an extension blending in with his house waiting for them to go inside or for me to go closer and my poor heart sank into the bottom of my stomach.
February & March of 1891.
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...