"You'll walk a hole clean through the floor, you keep that up." Mrs. Cobb teased the butler, aware of his constant pacing.
"He should have returned a quarter hour ago." Mr. Boyle snapped his pocket watch shut, tucking it back into the safety of his vest.
"Now just try and relax. This is Henry we're talking about—you and me both know he's unable to run to town without taking a Sunday stroll 'round the square."
"Mr. Higgins agreed to keep his shop open late as a kindness to me. I will not have him cavorting in the streets and keeping Mr. Higgins from his wife and dinner."
These words had barely left his mouth when the young man in question burst into the kitchen, panting heavily.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Boyle." He tried to catch his breath, leaning against the doorframe, a small paper bag in his outstretched hand. "Mr. Higgins rooted around his store room for well on ten minutes looking for this."
"He assured me he had it in stock when I placed the call." Mr. Boyle took the bag and carefully inspected its contents.
"Higgins? That daft old man!" Mrs. Cobb laughed. "He samples more than he sells. He don't know whether he's washing or hanging out to dry."
"Here's the change, sir." Henry plopped several coins down on the table before turning to leave.
"Henry," Mr. Boyle addressed him formally, eyeing the change. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Henry stopped and turned back, fear evident in his wide eyes. "It's all there, Mr. Boyle. You can count it if you like."
"I believe you've forgotten your tip." He flipped a shiny coin into the air toward the young footman.
She fought hard against sleep, willing her eyes to stay open. It was now almost nine and according to the note he'd sent with Ellen, he would be coming to bid her good night soon. She'd ignored his orders to stay in bed, eager to return to her post after her confinement. She'd dressed and made several rounds during the day, her will much stronger than her body. Now she was paying the price, beyond exhausted and feeling quite weak.
With a yawn she reached for the book of poems that sat quietly beside her bed. The book fell open naturally to a page of verses that she'd read and re-read countless times. Words that describe everything she felt for him. Words that she would one day speak to him without reservation. Her eyes moved across two telling lines in particular and she paused to etch them into her mind...
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
A soft rap sounded on her door. Instinctively she snapped the book shut. She smoothed the folds of the sheets, adjusted the collar of her robe, and ran her hand lightly through her hair.
"Come in, Mr. Boyle," she called out.
"Mr. Boyle, indeed." Mrs. Cobb shuffled into her bedroom with a chuckle. "I'm only here to return these." She placed Mrs. Truelock's key ring back upon her dresser.
"Oh, Rosemary," She tried to hide her embarrassment. "I'm so sorry. I thought you were—"
"Oh, you don't have to tell me what you thought." Mrs. Cobb snickered again. "It's as plain as the nose on your face."
"Were you able to complete the inventory?" Mrs. Truelock asked, quickly changing the subject.
"With Ada's help, yes." She nodded affirmatively. "Everything's organized, present, and accounted for. We'll take receipt of the wine and grocery order day after tomorrow. Lord Huxley's guests will want for nothing in the way of food and drink during their stay."
YOU ARE READING
A Single Drop of Rain: A Love Story Below StairsHistorical Fiction
England, 1919. A country estate the size of Chadfinch is not without its secrets, as Maggie Truelock and George Boyle can attest. In their time working side by side as housekeeper and butler they've collected a few of their own. When Maggie falls il...