Morning mist clung to the heads of cornflowers in the meadow beyond the house walls. The tracery of fine silk spider webs hung low in the corner of old wooden door way of the stable .
far off the sound of dogs barked and for Mark the help the day had already started when Mistress Emma appeared in her bedroom window still sleepy and moth like warm in her gown .
Mark dared look up at her beauty but soon head down polishing brasses as the foot fall of old Simon Holland came before him.
“Fine day for a ride boy. Saddle the bay hunter. I will be at the bran bring her around will you. “His word was law at Rentondale Hall. He was not one of the family but had served with the Master at The battle of the Somme in France. He had served as his Batman and after that his gentleman butler .
In the hall meanwhile Master John was reading the post that had come up with the milk from the village a mile off the great iron gates .
Around the breakfast table sat in second place Lady Grace the wife . Next to her Lord Sinclair and then Lady Emma his sister.
“Anguish on your face my dear . Not cramps again I hope or have to summon Henry from town.”
‘No not a doctor it is the Government again. Spanish Flu out break again in Batshot village I fear. Seems we fought the war to victory but cannot win the blasted peace. This thing is traveling faster than the Prussians to the front dear. “
She sat upright and looked at him. He felt her yes on his face and looked up. “May well go the other way not come near us. Should not worry. Any more tea in that pot dear.?”
For the mounted butler hard pressed to reach Morley common prior to the train. . He galloped onwards down the dale jumping the gate out of the moor and onto the lane leading to the tiny rail station . There waiting was his own daughter .Frail and pale she smiled and waved .
The girl was to join the house staff .It had been arranged that very week to hire her as kitchen maid to Betty Thimbel the old cook . Her father had hoped she would pick up health and be feed well. aiding Betty was not a hard job as with training she would fit in. . She mounted behind her father and he trotted slowly back to the hall. In conversation she told him her breathing was better and she looked forward to being with her father if only in the kitchen. She was 15 years of age lived with aunts and uncles since death of her mother of Tubercolusis when she was only 5 years old.
.At the hall the ostler took the horse for grooming and feeded.
So My dear Holland this is young Mary your daughter is it. Hello and welcome to our home . “He rang the bell and Mary was to follow down stairs to the kitchens to start her training with some apprehension .
The two men stood talking as Lady Grace came down the main staircase.
“I must break in to your converse gentlemen . John a word in your ear “
“You mean to say that he died of this Spanish killer?”
His wife nodded and withdrew into her wardrobe. The Butler to his duties and Master to his study to phone his doctor for check up.
At same moment in marches Lady Emma headed for the stairs . She was intercepted half way up by the Butler coming down stairs.
“Oh! Holland what an awful mess- “
“You know the place its now hung with banners .Red letters and filth.”
” Which place is that ?”
“The Deanery of course, where else .”She raced up to the next landing and vanished leaving the Butler unsure what she meant .So he decided to talk a walk up to the village pump to see for himself. The Deanery was an old sandstone fronted building once the church property but now a public house. For sure banners did hang outside of it as he had been so informed.
Back in his study the master placed down the receiver and sat back in his easy chair in deep thought .
Lady Emma was resting in her room. The kitchen was the only place in motion.
‘Come on girl I asked for flour not the sieve for it. “
: Sorry Cook thought flour would be inside it.”
‘Well my lass we know what thought did. Flour goes off waiting to be used. Be in sack not in sieve. Clean out every time one uses it. Understand?”
“I do Cook yes . ”
“Dinner tonight is rabbit pie .So learn by watching me making pastry .”
“Yes thank you Cook.”
The evening meal was served by cook herself as her ward had much to learn and sharp time was to learn it. She watched from the wall as Butler served wines to poured at each course.
She only had to learn how to serve plates .When to take way empty dishes and from which side of the diners chair she should be at each operation . It was daunting but she was not slow at catch up thankfully .
Outside on the gravel yard a car sped to a halt . The Footman appeared for luggage but soon noticed the two men in the open top car where policemen .
More next week.
Thank you for reading and staying with me.
Copyright Kevin Parr Bt2022 August