Chapter Seven

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"It should be easy to find you some tasks that don't require the use of your left hand, but they will largely involve cleaning I'm afraid," Miss Jenkins said as I filled her in on what happened with Matilda.

"That's fine, cleaning is something I'm actually pretty good at, besides, at least with cleaning I won't have to see Matilda unless we happen to pass," I said, shaking my head and flexing the fingers out on my left hand. Although the stiffness had loosed somewhat, it was still causing an issue. I had hoped Robert could come up with a way to help, but for the time being, it looked as though cleaning was the only thing I could do.

"I'm sure Mrs Ealing will understand, no matter what Miss Matilda has to say on the matter. It will take more than a dropping a jar of smelling salts for your trial to end, trust me."

"It's not the smelling salts that's the issue, I know she's going to use the burn on my arm to drive me out, it's already caused enough issues as it is."

"Don't worry about it, hopefully, Doctor Ealing and Robert can come up with a plan to help and Mrs Ealing will see that it won't cause too many problems. In the meantime, keep your head down and do the work to the best of your ability. Remember, Miss Matilda isn't the one making the decision, you don't have to impress her."

"I suppose."

"No supposing about it. Now, take this cloth and go and dust down some of the cabinets in the hall upstairs, Miss Charlotte has been putting her finger marks all over them."

Miss Jenkins grabbed a cloth from the small room where I took my bath the night before and stuffed it in my hand, gesturing me to the stairs. I nodded and quickly crossed the kitchen and returned to the hallway I had passed by three times since my arrival at the Ealing household. Unravelling the cloth, I set about cleaning down the side table closest to the entrance, using the cloth to remove the little finger marks that covered the wood.

The top of the side table was covered in picture frames, photographs taken of the family at what looked to be a gathering. Mr Ealing in the centre of the photograph, with Mrs Ealing beside him. Standing at the back, on either side of the elder Ealing's was Robert and Matilda. Both Matilda and Robert looked the same, as though the photographs were taken recently, the only difference between the photograph and the real thing was that Matilda was smiling. In front of Doctor and Mrs Ealing, were two smaller children, both grinning from ear to ear. The girl looked a little like Isabel when she was younger whilst the boy looked like a younger version of Robert. Along with the family photographs, there were small, individual photographs of every member of the house in small frames along the edge of the table, they all looked as though they had been taken on the same day.

Using the cloth, I lifted the individual photographs and cleaned the dust and finger marks from under the frames and on top of the individual frames that held the photographs. Once the side table was cleaned, I moved on to the next table, this one holding books lined up along the edge, dust settling on the pages. As I dusted the tops of the books, I tilted my head to read the titles written on the spines of the book. Although I wasn't great at reading, I knew enough to understand that the books in question where about medicine, meaning they belonged to Doctor Ealing and Robert rather than his wife. I thought it was odd that they were keeping the books in the hall, but I had no reason to question where they kept their books.

I moved my way along the hallway, dusting all the cabinets and as many of the painting as I could reach, though that wasn't very many. By the time I had reached the end of the hall, all of the cabinets were free of finger marks and looked as though no one had touched them in a while. I stepped back to admire my handiwork, making sure I hadn't missed anything. Despite Miss Jenkins telling me to clean the cabinets in the hall, I moved into the parlour and set about cleaning some of the bookshelves that crowded the room. All of them looked to be medical books, though I didn't quite know what any of it meant.

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