Mabelle placed her belongings in the dresser drawers and immediately changed into her outdoor dress. She slipped on a pair of white slippers and headed toward the door taking the small key she had found in the dresser. Mabelle unlocked the door and opened it. She saw Phillip standing near the wall away from the door and called his name.
Phillip looked toward Mabelle with a smile and asked, “Are you ready…?”
Phillip stopped midsentence when he saw the dress that Mabelle wore. Her red dress was eye catching, especially how it hugged her waist showing her perfect curves and it showed just a bit of cleavage. Phillip averted his eyes with red cheeks.
“Miss. Winchester, do you have anything else you can wear?”
“I’m afraid not. I apologize for its appearance, but in the west area I came from it was quite common. I promise to shop for a new dress with my first wages.”
“I understand, but that appearance isn’t really appropriate,” stated Phillip, still refusing to face Mabelle. Phillip unbuttoned his butler jacket and then slipped it off revealing his white long sleeved button shirt and then held the jacket to Mabelle.
“Please wear this just for today,” stated Phillip. Mabelle nodded taking the jacket from his grasp and then slipping it on. She buttoned the front and then did a small twirl asking, “Is this to your liking?” Phillip nodded and then noticed her slippers.
“Must you show your privates?” asked Phillip, averting his gaze.
Mabelle showed her ankle and said, “I wouldn’t consider it a private and I don’t think you need to stare at my feet, so it should be fine, but I do promise to buy boots and socks to cover it in the future.” Phillip nodded looking Mabelle in the eye refusing to stare down.
“Then I suppose it is time for the tour.”
Mabelle nodded and began to follow Phillip down the hall again.
They entered the same museum like hallway, but then began to descend down the flight of stairs. When their feet touched the marble floor, Phillip urged Mabelle toward a closed door that was deep brown and nearly covered by the velvet cover of the wall. Phillip twisted the knob and pushed the door forward. The moment the door was opened Mabelle caught the delectable aroma of baking bread and different types of spices.
Phillip and Mabelle entered the newfound room and were greeted by a kitchen. The kitchen had two stove tops, one that was obviously heated since there was a steaming black pot on the top surface. A bread oven made of stone and clay rested in the corner and sent out the smell of fresh bread that nearly made Mabelle droll in anticipation. A wooden fridge locked tight was near a large wooden table that had spices lined up in a wooden rack hanging above along with garlic, carrots, and other vegetables of plenty. On the surface of the wooden table was a butcher’s knife with signs of blood along the blade. Wooden utensils hung above the stoves and knives that were finely shined and sharpened lined one part of the wall with empty baskets hanging above it. A wooden cabinet lined the wall as well and Mabelle suspected that it was meant to hold other ingredients, pots, plates, and silverware. Two wooden chairs and a stool were placed neatly by each other with the stool in the middle giving the kitchen a somewhat homely look. There were also three barrels that each held different ingredients: wheat grain, flour, and sugar. This very kitchen’s placement was a work of art in itself.
Phillip looked around calling, “Mr. Ackley” repeatedly. Phillip crossed his arms saying, “He must have gone to the wine storage down below.”
“Wine storage?” asked Mabelle. Phillip nodded and gestured toward the hot pot on the stove.
“Mr. Ackley likes to use slightly bitter wine to make his soups saying it brings out a certain aroma and flavor to the recipe,” stated Phillip and then added, “It might seem strange to others, but his cooking is God sent.”
“Thanks for the compliment.”
Mabelle and Phillip directed their gazes to a door in the corner and saw a man around his thirties with short jet black hair with natural curls exit with three bottles in his left arm. He wore a brown chef’s clothing with few stains on the cup of his sleeves. His hands looked rough, most likely from years of cooking and his eyes were chestnut brown.
Phillip smiled in the man’s direction and then held a hand toward the man looking back at Mabelle.
“This man here is the Edwardson Mansion’s cook, Farrow Ackley,” introduced Phillip and then looked at the man, Farrow, saying, “This woman here is the Edwardson Mansion’s new maid, Mabelle Winchester.”
The man, Farrow Ackley, smirked at Mabelle and then bowed at the waist saying, “Nice to meet you, Miss. Winchester.” Mabelle curtsied saying, “Likewise, Mr. Ackley.”
Farrow lifted his head examining Mabelle from head to toe and then directed his gaze at Phillip asking a simple question, “Why is Miss. Winchester wearing your jacket?” Phillip cleared his throat trying to avert his gaze and avoid the question of the cook, but to his utter astonishment, Mabelle answered, “I was feeling a chill and Mr. Scotts was kind enough to lend me his jacket.” Farrow nodded accepting the answer, but then his gaze fell onto Mabelle’s exposed ankles for a second before averting his gaze with a light blush. Judging by his silence, he didn’t feel the need to ask about her exposed “privates.”
Phillip placed a hand on Mabelle’s shoulder with his gaze meeting that of Farrow’s and stated, in a calm tone, “Miss. Winchester and I will continue our tour, so please continue to make your delectable dishes.”
“Will do, Mr. Scotts,” stated Farrow with a goofy grin, but that grin faded when Phillip added, “Miss. Gooding has also dismissed herself, so you don’t have to cook her portion for today or for the many tomorrows.” Farrow nodded with a frown this time as he turned away from Mabelle and Phillip, placing the three bottles of wine next to his pot and grabbing a bottle opener from a cabinet filled with cooking utensils.
Phillip urged Mabelle out of the kitchen toward another door that was different from the one Farrow came in from, which was most likely leading to the wine cellar. Pushing through the door Mabelle and Phillip were greeted by the sight of a grand dining room.
The dining room was large enough to hold about twenty or more people with a long white marble table that sparkled under the light of the hanging crystal chandelier and around thirty chairs covered in beige fabric that was hand woven giving it exquisite designs of mythical creatures only found in books on the back of the chairs lined the table. On the table were a total of three pure silver candelabra made by the finest craftsman of England and beige dolly cloths in a row, one in front of each chair before the table, giving it an even more elegant look. Besides the table, the walls were decorated with paintings of waterfalls and calming nature like flying birds and rabbits grooming themselves and one part of the wall had a fireplace with portraits of the Edwardson couple decorating the top of the white lines fireplace and a gold rimmed mirror with the carving of a lion at the top giving it a strong yet elegant look: a perfect edition to the dining room. The drapes for the windows of the dining room were pure white and seemed fit for a wedding. The final touches were the two statues of Aphrodite and Artemis at the corner of the dining room. The two Goddesses of Greek Mythology: one the Goddess of love and the other the Goddess of the hunt. They were perfect editions to this estate.
Phillip glanced at Mabelle saying, “As you could tell, the room we were in before was the kitchen where Mr. Ackley cooks and where the servants, such as myself and you, will be dining. You might be required to assist Mr. Ackley in the kitchen at times since there are no maids to assist him in the kitchen. As for the Master and any other guests of the estate, they will be dining in this room the master dining room. We usually have silver plates on the table, but we are short staffed so we only take them out when it is time to dine.”
Mabelle nodded in understanding and glanced at a portrait of the Edwardson couple at the fireplace. She once again saw the serious expression of Frederick and Ema, but unlike the first painting, Ema looked paler and worn out. Mabelle concluded that when this portrait was made, Ema’s health was beginning to deteriorate. Mabelle began to wonder when she would meet the lady of the estate, but her train of thought was interrupted when Phillip stated, in a calm yet loud tone, “Please follow me.”
Mabelle obeyed, following Phillip toward a double door separate from the door they entered through and another pure white door with a gold handle that they had yet to enter. Phillip pushed the twin doors opened revealing a grand ballroom that seemed to be made of glass and gold making it a treasure to gaze upon. Besides the obvious crystal chandelier dangling from the ceiling, Mabelle took notice of the corner stage with piano and other instruments for classical music like the clarinet and violin. There was also another stage in another corner where other entertainment could be gazed upon. The ballroom reminded her of an elegant circus, which was rare to see in those parts.
Phillip stepped into the ballroom saying, “This room is the ballroom and it is the master’s wish to have the floors swept every day to keep the ballroom shining and as servants, we are not permitted to step on the stages or touch the instruments, especially the piano.”
“Is the piano too delicate?” asked Mabelle, slightly startling Phillip at her sudden question.
“It is, but I was also told by the master that the piano hasn’t worked for many years. The master has tried to have it replaced, but the Madam refuses to part from it.”
“It must be a treasure than,” stated Mabelle in thought. Phillip just smiled in reply and urged her to follow him once again to an archway leading to a bigger hall with museum like features with paintings and statues.
As they journeyed down the hall, Phillip glanced at Mabelle and stated, “I believe you noticed the door in the dining hall we didn’t enter and the door Mr. Ackley entered through correct?” Mabelle nodded.
“Well that door in the dining hall leads back to the main hall and as for the door in the kitchen that leads to the wind cellar. I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to return to the entrance hall through that door and the wine cellar is only permitted for the kitchen staff and for the master.”
Mabelle nodded in understanding and then entered another room with Phillip revealing a two story library filled with books of both fiction and non-fiction. Mabelle’s eyes seemed to grow in excitement as she wondered what books were in this vast library.
“This is the main library of the estate. You will be required to dust this room once in a while and this library can be accessed from downstairs and upstairs. With those words, Phillip led Mabelle up a winding flight of stairs to the second floor balcony of the library. She followed Phillip all the way to another pair of brown oak doors that had knight armor at either side like they were guarding a gate to a palace.
Phillip pushed the doors opened allowing Mabelle to walk in revealing the museum like hallway of the upper floors. They entered a single door, but instead of stepping in, only peeked in. This room was one of the bathrooms of the estate. It was small unlike the other rooms, but it did have a marble tub that needed to be filled with warm water and a sink with a glass bowl.
“This is the servants’ bathroom. The master bathroom is next to the master’s bathroom, but he has instructed that only I should enter, so only worry about this bathroom when it is cleaning time and the bathrooms located in the lower floor for guests.”
Mabelle nodded allowing Phillip to close the door. The other rooms were servant quarters and guest bedrooms, but were empty. Only a few rooms had any trace of belongings which were owned by the only servants of the house. Phillip urged Mabelle down the flight of stairs again, but Mabelle stopped in her tracks looking in the direction of the master bedrooms.
“Shouldn’t I have a peek of the Master’s bedroom and Madam’s?” asked Mabelle. Phillip shook his head.
“Those rooms will be introduced to you last since the Madam would be in a sour mood and so would the master since Miss. Gooding relieved herself of duty.”
Mabelle nodded taking the last few steps down the stairs and continued to follow Phillip. He showed her the remaining bathrooms of the lower floor as well as simple rooms with no known role yet for the mansion.
Phillip soon led her to the back of the mansion and pushed open a pair of white Victorian style doors revealing the backyard garden of the estate. The front yard was filled with statues, but Mabelle could see that like the view she saw before from the second floor, the back garden was filled with almost nothing but the fruits of nature.
Mabelle’s expression of happiness was noticeable to Phillip, who stated, in a charming tone, “I see that you like the garden.” Mabelle nodded and then knelt in front of the nearest rose bush placing a delicate finger to a rose bud.
“This garden is filled with so much life. I can see that whoever takes care of this garden is truly talented and loves his work.”
Phillip smiled and knelt beside Mabelle saying, “I should introduce you to him right now. He should be in the maze trimming the hedges.” Mabelle nodded and took Phillip’s hand with her own.
They walked down the path of the garden with the aroma of flowers tickling their noses and the shade of the trees cooling them down. They soon reached the maze and entered. They were immediately greeted with endless walls of green that were finely trimmed to make it resemble a wall. As they walked, Phillip began to call out, “Curtis!” repeatedly sending his voice throughout the maze.
Mabelle heard the snipping of scissors followed by a male voice saying, “Over here Phillip!” Phillip and Mabelle entered a new path of the maze and saw before them the gardener with a pair of silver long scissors in his hands.
The gardener from first inspection looked to be around Mabelle’s age or older. His ash brown hair was cut short with a brown golf hat on his head to shade his brown eyes from the invading sun. There were traces of sweat along his neck and on the side of his forehead. He wore a white shirt with a brown vest with a single pocket and brown loose pants that had a light brown belt wrapped around with hooks that held gardening tools like a small shovel and small scissors for short trimming.
Phillip urged Mabelle forward and smiled toward the gardener, who stopped his trimming work to meet gazes with Mabelle.
“Curtis this is Mabelle Winchester, the new maid of the estate,” introduced Phillip and then looked at Mabelle, holding his hand toward the gardener; “This young man here is Curtis Addison, the gardener of the estate for two years.” Curtis bowed to Mabelle with a warm smile on his face.
“Nice to meet you Miss. Winchester.”
Mabelle curtsied saying, “Likewise, Mr. Addison.” They both smiled at each other, until Mabelle looked at Phillip and asked, “Is it all right for me to call Mr. Addison by his first name like you do?” Phillip cleared his throat and stated, “It is up to him.”
Mabelle looked at Curtis to answer her previous question. Curtis nodded adding, “As long as you don’t mind me calling you Mabelle.”
“Not at all, Curtis,” stated Mabelle with a warm smile that instinctively made Curtis smile back. The atmosphere seemed to be felt with warmness at their first meeting, but the warm atmosphere was immediately cut short when Phillip stated, “Curtis still has his work to do, so let’s head inside, Miss. Winchester.” Mabelle nodded and waved goodbye to Curtis as she began to follow Phillip out of the maze.
Curtis watched them leave, his gaze not leaving Mabelle’s form with a warm smile, but then his smile faded finally realizing that Mabelle was wearing Phillip’s jacket and her ankles were exposed. His face instantly turned red and continued to trim trying to get rid of the image of Mabelle in his mind.
Phillip guided Mabelle through the garden until they reached the gazebo next to the pond with the lotus lily pads floating along the surface of the water. Mabelle smiled at the reflecting surface of the pond in awe and giggled in delight when a carp of orange scales jumped out making a small splash in Mabelle’s direction. Phillip looked over her shoulder with a warm smile and stated, “Looks like the back garden is your favorite part of the tour.” Mabelle nodded making a small spin on the gazebo surface like she was ready to dance.
“I hope I have time to visit the garden every day,” stated Mabelle. Her voice was filled with hope. Phillip chuckled and held Mabelle’s hand gently.
“We have one more stop before we visit the master bedrooms.”
Mabelle nodded and allowed Phillip to lead her away from the gazebo.
They exited the back garden and circled the back gate toward onto a path shaded by the trees. As they walked, Mabelle began to catch the scent of horse dung making her slightly cringe at the smell. At the end of the path was none other than the stable area with a black hooded carriage on the side. The stable had a pile of horse dung on the side that was recently shoveled there to be disposed of and inside the stable, from what Mabelle could see from her vantage point was a pile of hay with horses: two brown horses and one black one.
As they got closer, Mabelle was able to see deeper into the stable. Besides the horses, she noticed the horse gear hanging on hooks. She also noticed that the walls she believed to be made of wood were really red bricks with a red oak roof and a white wooden gate. The number of horses didn’t change, but she noticed that the hay of brown and gold color littered the gray stone ground. The size of the stable wasn’t that impressive.
Mabelle then noticed that the carriage next to the stable had a single man inside. This man seemed to be around his thirties. He had short black hair with traces of white and Mabelle noticed that his eyes were brown when he turned slightly to scrub the floor of the carriage with a bristled brush. He wore a brown apron and brown gloves. On his feet were stained brown boots that smelled of dirty water and he also wore a white long sleeved shirt that had its sleeves rolled up and brown pants with a few tears.
Phillip cleared his throat loudly getting the attention of the man in the carriage. The man gasped at the sight of Phillip and Mabelle and tossed the wet brush behind his back and into the carriage. He dusted off his clothes sending mud to the ground and wiped some sweat from his forehead.
“My Goodness, Phillip, could have warned me that you were bringing a dame,” stated the man with a little English accent. Phillip rolled his eyes and stated, “I told you that the maid might be coming today.”
The man looked up in thought and then nodded saying, “That’s right, my bad.” The man cleared his throat and brushed his black hair back with his fingers as Phillip held a hand in his direction looking at Mabelle.
“This untidy man right here is Rylan Rutherford, the coachman of the estate,” introduced Phillip and then looked at the man, Rylan, introducing Mabelle in the process.
Rylan bowed by the waist saying, “Nice to meet you Miss. Winchester. I look forward with working with you.” Mabelle nodded and curtsied in greeting. Rylan then noticed Mabelle’s clothing and asked, “Now why are you dressed like that?” Before Phillip could explain for Mabelle, Mabelle giggled and stated, “It is a temporary look until my first paycheck and I can ask the same thing to you, Mr. Rutherford. That is quite the look to have in front of a lady.”
Rylan chuckled tapping his chest saying, “I needed to wear this to clean the dung and carriage unless you want me working smelling like waste of the street.”
“Absolutely not,” stated Mabelle with a giggle. Rylan chuckled back and winked at Phillip saying, “She’s a fine dame.” Phillip nodded and then glanced at Mabelle saying, “He’s the last of the servants, so we better head inside, so I can show you the master bedrooms.” Mabelle nodded.
“Wait a tick, are you saying Miss. Gooding quit on us?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Rylan clicked his tongue shaking his head and stated, “We really need to find the Madam a proper nurse.” Phillip nodded and then wished Rylan a farewell urging Mabelle to follow.
They had left the stable and returned to the main estate mansion. They entered through the servant quarters and headed up the flight of stairs. Just halfway up the stairs and they suddenly heard a crash followed by a female voice screaming, “Just get out!” It was followed by a slamming door and the angry steps of a male.
They saw Frederick walk pass the stairs, but he stopped in his tracks to look down at them.
“Have you already finished the tour for Mabelle?” asked Frederick. Phillip nodded stating, “We only have two rooms left to view.”
Mabelle followed Phillip up the steps, but ran pass him when she noticed the blood leaking from Frederick’s right hand.
“Master, your hand,” stated Mabelle in concern taking his hand gently into hers. Frederick sighed saying, “My wife and I had a disagreement about hiring a new nurse for her.”
“But that is still no excuse to lash out at you,” stated Mabelle examining the glass cut on his hand. Frederick chuckled.
“True, but she has a temper,” stated Frederick and then pulled his bleeding hand away from Mabelle saying, “Check the last rooms and then I need to speak with you alone in my study.” Mabelle nodded and watched Frederick walk away cradling his bleeding hand.
Phillip placed a hand on Mabelle’s shoulder and whispered, “Considering the circumstances, I will just show you the way to Madam’s room and then show you the master’s room last.” Mabelle nodded following Phillip down the hall where Frederick emerged from before.
They only took a few steps, before Phillip stopped in his tracks and held his hand to a pure white door.
“This is Madam’s room. You might have to visit this room once in a while, so be prepared for the temper of the Madam.”
Mabelle nodded clenching her hand tightly.
Phillip then led her to a different hall that led to the second master bedroom, which belonged to the master of the house. Phillip knocked three times and when there was no reply, he opened the door revealing the master bedroom. The master bedroom had a king sized bed with a light brown canopy on top. The sheets were brown, but at closer inspection it had brown flower designs sewed in perfect formation making it more mystical to the eye. An arm chair of beige fabric laid on the corner near the fireplace that had portraits of Frederick from his younger days, but there were none of his wife. The carpet was a deep red with traces of gold and the walls were beige colored, but with paintings of flying horses and dragons hanged on the walls. A brown desk was also in the corner with a cushioned chair of white and an owl shaped grandfather clock standing next to it like a guard. There was also a bookshelf with books dedicated to medical arts and a chandelier of silver hung from the ceiling. Near the bed was a pair of glass doors leading to a balcony. It was a wonderful room to Mabelle’s eyes.
“This is the master bedroom where the master sleeps. You will need to clean this room on a daily basis, but make sure that the master isn’t present, so knock first before entering like I did.”
Mabelle nodded at the instruction and then Phillip closed the door lightly. Taking a few deep breaths, Phillip smiled at Mabelle saying, “That concludes the tour, but do you want me to guide you to the study.” Mabelle shook her head, but to Phillip’s surprise, Mabelle removed his jacket and held it to him saying, “I wouldn’t want the master catching me with your coat when I go to see him.” Phillip nodded in understanding and was ready to add something, but Mabelle ran off saying her thanks in the process for the tour.
Phillip stared at the empty space where Mabelle once stood and blushed muttering, “I just wanted to tell her to at least change clothes.”
Mabelle explored the halls until she saw the door leading to Frederick’s study. She knocked on it slightly and then heard Frederick’s voice say, “Come in.”
Mabelle opened the door and saw Frederick at his desk trying to wrap his bleeding hand with a long white cloth bandage. Frederick glanced up at Mabelle saying, “Mabelle, please take a seat.” Mabelle obeyed taking a seat on one of the cushioned chairs in front of the desk.
Frederick groaned as he tied the bandage and then looked at Mabelle with a smile.
“Do you understand the layout of the mansion well enough?”
“That’s good. Now I have a favor to ask of you.”
Frederick nodded rubbing his wounded hand.
“You are aware that my wife’s nurse has relieved herself of duty correct?”
“Well starting today, I need you to care for my wife along with your maid duties until I am able to hire a new nurse for her.”
Mabelle was silent as she registered Frederick’s orders and then smiled saying, “Of course, Master.” Frederick heaved out a sigh saying, “Thank you, I thought you would refuse and quit on me this very moment.”
“Not at all and I already told you that I need this job,” reassured Mabelle.
“You’re a life saver,” stated Frederick.
Mabelle suddenly stood up from her chair making Frederick finally take notice of the red dress she wore, but what shocked him more was when Mabelle went around the desk and took his wounded hand in hers. He muttered Mabelle’s name in confusion as Mabelle unraveled his bandage and began to wrap it with a fresh one. Her touch was gentle and didn’t irritate the wound on Frederick’s hand. Mabelle tied the bandage and then smiled at Frederick saying, “Feel better?” Frederick glanced at his bandaged hand and noticed that it wasn’t too tight and was easy to move his hand without restraint from the bandage.
“Well done, Mabelle,” complimented Frederick with a smile, but instantly turned red turning away from Mabelle.
“Before you get to your duties, please change into your uniform. It is on the opposite chair,” insisted Frederick.
“Of course,” stated Mabelle and left his side to go to the chair to retrieve the neatly folded uniform that was in her size. She held the uniform to her chest and glanced back at Frederick, who still refused to meet eyes with her. Mabelle bowed and stated, “You will not be disappointed in me.” Frederick nodded and then dismissed Mabelle from the room.
Mabelle left the room holding the maid uniform close to her chest. Mabelle entered the hall and glanced at the uniform once again unfolding it in front of her making brown boot with brown laces fall to the ground. The maid uniform was a long yellow brown skirt and a brown long sleeved blouse. There was also a pure white apron with little stains and a white bonnet to cover the top of her head. Mabelle smiled at the uniform, while picking up the boots from the ground.
Mabelle walked happily down the hall and when she was far enough, Frederick opened his study’s door a crack and peeked at Mabelle’s retreating form. He stared at Mabelle and then shook his head clenching his bandaged hand.
“She’ll be gone in two days,” stated Frederick closing the door behind him.