Chapter Eight

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I spun around on my heel, almost smashing into the door frame as I turned, coming face to face with the small girl from the photograph. Her dark hair was pulled off her face with a pale blue ribbon and she was wearing a dress of a similar colour with a white sash wrapped around her waist. She looked at me, her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, a small teddy bear clutched in one hand, held tightly against her chest as though she didn't know what to make of me. I took a breath, smoothing out the apron that was tied around my waist before I spoke.

"My name's Rosie, I'm the new servant," I said.

"Oh, okay," she said before turning around and walking in the opposite direction. I tilted my head to the side and watched Charlotte walk down the hall and disappear down a flight of stairs.

Laughing to myself slightly, I continued back down the hall and heading in the other direction, checking rooms as I went. Each room was neat and organised, as though no one really lived there, and the rooms had been decorated for show rather than anything else. I found Esther in the last room, straightening out a blanket that had been folded up on the bottom of a four-poster bed. She was surrounded by an assortment of stuffed toys and other wooden objects scattered around the room in various piles. The bookshelves on the wall were covered in other wooden toys lying in heaps or dangling off the edge. Whatever Esther and Charlotte had been doing all day, it had created a mess.

"Oh, Rosie, what can I help you with?" Esther asked, glancing up and noticing me standing in the doorway.

"Miss Jenkins is looking for you, she wants you to set the table for luncheon. I don't think I'm trusted to do it in case I drop something," I said.

"I heard Miss Matilda telling her mother about what happened earlier on, I'm sure it will be fine,"

"Mrs Ealing says it shouldn't be an issue, but it's only day one, anything could happen."

"It will all be fine, Rosie, trust me." Esther paused. "Could you finish cleaning up here? If Miss Jenkins wants me, I won't have time to put all of the toys away."

"Of course, I can."

"Great. Just put the stuffed toys on the bed and the others in the corner over there, they won't stay there for too long anyway."

"Okay."

"Thank you so much. I'll see you later on."

Esther placed her hand on my shoulder as she left, sending me a reassuring smile as she slipped through the door and out into the hallway to carry out Miss Jenkins task. I looked around the room, taking in the mess that was around me, it looked a lot bigger when I was the one who had to clean it. I had no idea what Charlotte and Esther had been doing all day to get into that state, but I certainly wasn't one to ask questions, especially as it kept Charlotte out of the way. It was better for her to create a mess in her own room rather than throughout the entire house, one room was easy enough to clean, the whole house not so much.

Sighing, I set about following in Esther's footsteps and rearranging the room as best I could. I had never seen a child's room full of so many things before and finding places to put them all to keep them out of the way was difficult. First, I finished straitening the blankets on the bed before placing the stuffed animals onto the bed itself, arranging them to from largest to smallest. By the time all of the stuffed animals were on the bed, the pillows had completely disappeared amongst a sea of animals. When I was a child, I had a singular stuffed bunny rabbit, about the size of a tea-cup which I called Emily, after my mother. After I was sold to Mr Thompson, the rabbit remained with my family. On some of the coldest nights at the factory, I dreamed that I could have her back, but I couldn't.

The Factory Girl // Book 1 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now