Chapter Eighteen

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That afternoon, Miss Jenkins set me tasks in areas of the house she knew Robert wasn't likely to be. I was more than certain she was having Esther track him so the two of us would never end up in the same room as one another. The whole thing felt strange and a little over-dramatic considering Matilda was the only one who seemed to find any fault with our chance meetings. Why that seemed to be such a cause for concern to everyone else was beyond me, Robert was the only adult member of the Ealing family who treated me as an equal rather than a servant.

Nevertheless, there was little I could do about it rather than move from chore to chore as though I was a sheep being herded. Spending so much time on my own, cleaning shelves and sweeping the floors gave me a fair amount of time to think, which was something I had never had much time for. I couldn't help but notice just how much my life had changed in only a short period of time, but I still couldn't shake the feeling that I was doing something wrong.

I was having fun for the first time in a long time, I was with a family who didn't spend all of their time -minus Matilda- tearing me down at every opportunity. My life had an air of normalcy to it, an air of normalcy I had never known before. I was happy, but it felt wrong. It felt as though I shouldn't be feeling happy, be glad to be away from the factory whilst the other girls were still there, still suffering at the hands of the foreman. To anyone else, it might have been ludicrous, but I felt guilty for enjoying my freedom.

Despite how crazy it might have seen, I kept thinking of ways to help the others, ways to get them out of the factory, but none of them were possible. Although I thought the Ealing family may have some trust in me, there was still an inkling at the back of my mind that they wouldn't believe me. Even after the crazy things that had already happened in my time serving the family, this one topped them all. There had to be a way for me to help the others without having to reveal everything, I just didn't know what it was.

"You've been washing the same dish for almost ten minutes now, everything all right?" Miss Jenkins asked, returning to the kitchen from the dining room, where she and Esther had been serving dinner to the family.

"Fine, just got a little distracted, that's all," I replied, placing the plate onto the side.

"Master Zachariah will be going to bed in about half an hour, so you should finish washing all of those. He's been talking non-stop about how happy he is that you're the one putting him to bed. Whether or not he goes to sleep will be another story, he is very enthusiastic." Miss Jenkins shook her head and grabbed a towel and the plate I had just put down.

"How did Matilda take it? Kicked up a fuss I presume?"

"No, actually, she seemed relatively happy about the whole thing. In fact, she said she was glad you had found something to do in the evening, though that might have been an insult."

"I'm surprised she didn't kick up a fuss. Odd that I'm to stay away from Robert, but she would rather I spend time with the twins rather than hide down here. I would have thought she prefer I keep out of the way."

"I wouldn't read too much into it, Rosie. She'll move onto something new soon enough. For now, keep out of her way and she won't able to say anything about you. The rest of the family have fallen in love with you so don't rely too heavily on how Miss Matilda behaves, that's just who she is."

"I suppose."

"Now, hurry up and get those dishes washed, Esther will be down here in a minute with the cutlery from supper and you'll have to wash that up before you go and see Master Zachariah."

"Alright."

Pushing any thoughts of Matilda to the back of my mind, I continued to wash the dishes that Esther bought down from the dining room, stacking them off to the side for Miss Jenkins to wash. Out of the small window above the sink, I watched Samuel slink across the grass towards the stables, the fading light casting a shadow. Whenever I saw Samuel he was on his own, but he never looked sad about it, it looked as though he was glad to be on his own, doing work I assumed he enjoyed. He was always humming to himself, swinging his arms, acting as though he wasn't doing work at all.

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