I live in the Tudor era. Henry VIII has been reigning for twenty-one years and I have only been alive for fifteen of those years. In general I am late to leave home; most of my friends left when they were thirteen to be maids at houses of varying class. However, I help my father out on our farm with jobs like making ale, making dinner washing up after wards and so on and so forth. I am very close to my father; I am all he has. He was distraught after my brother died when I was eight (he was twelve) and then my mother's death just five weeks later nearly broke him. The doctors all said she died of a stroke, though I disagree. My mother was always sickly, but had a sweet soul and I think that's what kept her alive for so long, but when my brother died I believe that she gave up on herself and so her body followed suit.
I am walking on a dirt path on my way to see my father; he has sent for me. We rarely get a chance to talk anymore other than brief conversations at meal times and so am wondering what this unfathomable meeting could be about. I walk through the back door to see my father sat on his wooden chair holding a letter in one hand and his chin in the other.
As I walk in he looks up at me and smiles then sees my scruffy head cloth and frowns - small and almost unnoticeable, but a frown all the same.
"Cover your ears, girl. It is a sign of respect." he chuckles "The Lord knows you are going to need to be able to show some soon enough." I tilt my head with a quizzical look on my face. He waves the letter at me. "Lord Neville has finally agreed to take you on as their maid." Father had sent a letter a couple of months ago requesting my employment in his household. He hadn't heard back from the Lord until now.
"When do they wish to receive me?" I say seating myself on a similar chair across from him.
"My dear, Ethelreda, they are hasty. They wish to receive you in no more than a week!" he says resuming his chuckle. I am taken aback.
"A week Father? So soon? I feel I would barely have enough time to get my chores done, find a new employee, pack my bag, say my goodbyes..."
"Ethelreda. My dear. Do not be so anxious. We have waited for this moment for months. If nothing else, this shall be an experience; a way for you to get to know the world and how it works. And to possibly get your nose out of a book. Teaching you to read was possibly the most foolish thing I have ever done." he says with a smile. It is true. Whenever I find any spare time I will be reading some of the books my father writes for me.
"Oh, father! You shall have to write me more books for whilst I am away! And send me some in letters? I don't believe I could even last a day without one of your exciting tales." I say.
He expression turned more serious now. "I shall not do that. You need to know what it's like to be a young lady, not a library. You need to find a suitable husband,"
"Father. We have spoken about this. I do not wish to marry someone I do not love!" I say. He sighs a 'here we go again', but leaves the argument there.
"You have a week."
I am sat in one of our stables amongst the hay thinking. Sure, I have been preparing for this my whole life, but some part of me always thought it wouldn't happen. I wouldn't get sent away from home, father and everything that matters to me. I know Lord Neville is a very wealthy man and that many people tried to get into his household as a maid (my father was friends with him before I was even born) or through marriage to his eldest son who is supposedly very rude. However, I will make no judgements unless their source is my own knowledge. Lord Neville has two other children (much younger than their brother who is twenty-four) and it is them I will be tending to as a maid, as well as Lord Neville if needed.
I have a week to prepare for my departure, but I could be gone within a day. As soon as my father thought I was ready. I love my father, his books and everything about him. And soon I will be torn from him.
I head back to the house for dinner.
We sit down, father at the head and the rest of the household along the table in order of rank, and he turns to me (by his side) and tells me I shall be going tomorrow. I know better than to argue with him, so I just take out my spoon and eat my food.
However, at night-time I lay awake, anxious to part from my entire childhood and dreadfully quickly, the morning comes.
I wave at my father as I start to walk down the path towards my future, bag in hand and making sure my ears and hair are covered by my head-cloth. Then I turn away and walk. It would be around an hour before I arrive, enough time to think about all the possible ways today could go...
I arrive, soaked through to the bone, chuntering at the 'classic English weather'. I am greeted at the door by one of the servants who shows me to my room and some dry clothes. I nod my thanks before changing to meet the Master of the house. I slowly walk down the corridor to his study where I am introduced and a man (around my father's age) turns around from staring out of the window. To my surprise a tremendous smile lights him up etching out creases in his aged face. He comes and takes my hands and leads me to a chair, where he sits opposite me. "My dear! How kind of you to come so soon! I could only imagine how painful it must be to leave your father. How is he?" Before I could begin to answer, he spoke again. "We were good friends a long time ago, so I couldn't bare to turn him down, especially after the death of my poor wife." He looked mournful and I was about to offer my condolensces when he spoke yet again. "Oh and the children have been nightmares! Not Bas of course! No I do believe he is London at the moment, no doubt finding pretty girl after pretty girl to taunt and leave heartbroken." He chuckles and before he can start again, I say
"My father is fine thank you for asking. I am so sorry to hear about your wife. And who is Bas?" he chuckles again.
"My, my. I have barely given you enough time to answer my questions! How silly of me! Bas is Bastian, my eldest son. He is four-and-twenty, however my twins are not yet thirteen. Bas should be arriving shortly. If today is Tuesday then he must be arriving in two days." I realise he must be mistaken and say
"Today is Thursday."
"Oh my! The time does fly. He is arriving today! Oh, Lord! I haven't got the maids to prepare his room!"
"Well then I shall prevent you from doing so no longer. In fact I myself shall go and help the servants." I smile and leave the room, shortly followed by him, but we go our separate ways within a few seconds.
I walk around the house, until I find a couple of servants and warn them of Bastian's oncoming arrival. They look at one another and scurry off. I follow them and leave once they give me instructions. I head to one of the rooms, which is supposedly Bastian's and make the bed with the folded sheets on the bed, as instructed by those girls. I then go downstairs and pick flowers to put on the dresser, also instructed by those girls.
I hear the clackering of hooves and a carriage pulling up along the drive. I rush downstairs and stand along side the other servants at the entrance of the house.
I see the carriage door opening, and see him get out.
YOU ARE READING
A Tudor Girl named Ethelreda lives as a maid in a grand house. But things do not go to plan. The master's son- a spoiled, arrogant, rude man with no regard for anyone but himself- and two mischievous children make her life extraordinarily difficult...