Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Century or Centuries (02/17/11)
TITLE: The Governess
By Adele Butler
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Anne was a slight girl at twelve. She had nothing but a battered suitcase with her clothes and her mother’s worn Bible. She looked like a poor wretch in her worn dress and shoes. Her heart pounded as the driver of the carriage knocked loudly on the door.
The door opened and a male servant stood there. “Yes?”
The driver pulled her in front of him. “I brought Miss Anne Brown from the Workhouse.”
“Oh.” The servant glanced down at the little girl, not attempting to hide his disdain. “Come in,” he said, reluctantly stepping aside.
Anne hesitated for a moment and then she stepped into the house. As she gazed at the enormous foyer and the staircase that seem to wind all the way up heaven, she heard footsteps and then a woman dressed rather smartly appeared. She stopped short when she saw Anne. She looked her over, wrinkling her nose. “Anne?” she sounded unsure.
Anne nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Her brown eyes were enormous in her small face.
“My goodness, girl,” she exclaimed. “You look dreadful. Hilda!” she cried. Hilda, a young maid came scurrying into the foyer. “Yes, Mrs. Hawthorne.”
“Hilda, take Miss Anne and clean her up. I want her to look presentable before she meets the rest of the family. When you are done, bring her to the drawing room.”
“Yes, Mrs. Hawthorne. Come, girl.” She caught hold of Anne’s hand and hurried off with her.
Anne was taken up the flight of stairs to the attic. Hilda ordered her to strip. She pushed her into a large tub and scrubbed her hard. She gave her hair a good wash too.
“Good, you’re look nicely cleaned up,” Hilda said as she helped her out of the tub. She helped Anne to dry her skin and hair. “Now, we have to find you something proper to wear.”
Hilda disappeared for a moment and then came back with a blue dress. Anne’s eyes widened when she saw it. It was not fancy or anything but it was decent. It didn’t look worn like her dresses. Hilda helped her into it. Hilda took up a brush and pulled it through the chestnut hair. When she was done, she stood back to examine Anne. “Well, that’s the best that I can do with you,” she concluded. “Now, I’ll take you back downstairs to the Mistress.”
Anne would have preferred to stay in the attic. But, she followed Hilda back down the stairs, her heart pounding with each step. Mrs. Hawthorne was in the drawing room, . an impressive room with its fine furniture, paintings. Anne’s eyes went from her to the man standing by the fireplace and the two children who were standing by the window. “Anne, this is Mr. Hawthorne, your mother’s cousin. And these are our children, Nigel and Catherine. Children, this is Anne. She will be living with us.”
Life at Graydon Manor was good. Anne adored Mrs. Cartwright, the governess and she enjoyed learning English and French. She and Nigel became close. Then, he got engaged. Heartbroken, Anne persuaded Mr. Hawthorne to send her away to a boarding school. There she threw herself into her studies. When she completed her education, she pondered what she should do next. Then, she got the letter. And here she was.
She knocked and Hilda opened the door. “Miss Anne,” she cried, “It’s good to see you.”
Anne stepped into the foyer. Hilda took her bag and coat. “He’s in the drawing room.”
He was standing by the window just as he was fifteen years ago. “Anne?” He came over to where she stood. “What are you doing here?”
“I came about the position of Governess.”
“Hilda wrote me.”
“And so you came…”
“I wanted to help an old friend,” she said simply. Their eyes held for a moment. Then she asked, “Where is she?”
“In the garden.”
“I’ll go and meet her.” She turned away.
“Anne, it’s good to have you back” she heard him say as she reached the door.
She stopped. “It’s good to be back.” It was.
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