A Helping Start.


Before I could think of anything else an aged couple strolled into the room. The elderly man bowed a little and closed the doors when the duet had reached the middle of the room. They were two feet away from me and I could smell the sweet scent of perfume off the woman and a hint of aftershave off the man. Although it was faint I knew it was expensive and so was their dress. The woman who I presumed to be Mrs Wedgewood wore a silk evening gown of primrose that covered her from head to toe, wearing only a pair of pretty light blue earrings dangling a little from the lobes of her beautiful ears. The man, Mr Wedgewood wore a suit of dark blue with a matching waistcoat to that of Mrs Wedgewood’s dress. Mrs Wedgewood did not look a day over thirty five but her husband, I presumed, looked about forty seven or forty eight, but each supported a wedding band on their ring finger and walked in unison, their bodies in prefect rhythm, supporting the idea that they were wedded.

Mrs Wedgewood step forward leaving her husband behind and stretched her hand out in front of her.

‘Hello, my name is Mrs Wedgewood. What is your name child?’ she said in prefect English speech just like everything else about her.

‘I am Kathleen’ I said in broken English still confused as to what was happening. I walked forward two steps and took her hand shaking it briefly and then letting go. Her hand was cold but her grip was tight. I felt her eyes on me when I shook her hand but was unable to look up at her, for she stood nearing five inches taller than me and did not wear heels.

‘My daughter Elizabeth found you on the boat and thought it would be nice to help you. She said you were all alone and did not know where to go or how to survive in a foreign country.’

Unable to understand all the words the woman said, I picked out the words I did understand and tried to answer her question; the woman on the ship was her child? That I was alone and she wanted to help me?

All I could say was ‘Yes I need help, can you find my brother?’

The woman looked at me hard. Did I say the right thing? Did I offend her instead of asking for help to find Kobe?

After what felt like half an hour, but which was actually only moments, Mrs Wedgewood spoke. ‘My husband can get you a job as a maid in one of the houses in town. Understand?’ she paused and looked at me for reassurance that I understood, I nodded. ‘What you do in your free time is up to you. You can stay here until you have enough money to support yourself, say a month or two at the most.’ At that she walked away leaving me in the room with her husband. The butler opened the door promptly but did not close it knowing that his master would be passing through any moment.

Without warning Mr Wedgewood stepped forward announced ‘You shall visit me at nine o clock tomorrow morning in my study to arrange your employment. Dinner will be served for the maids at half six.’ He turned around to the butler. ‘Harry, tell one of the maids to come fetch this girl and show her around’ and out he strolled without a goodbye or anything. Harry closed the door and walked over to me. ‘Follow me please madam’ he said in the same voice he used for the master and mistress of the house and went over to a wall with a tapestry hung on it, pulled the tapestry away and opened a secret door. As he disappeared I ran to follow him before I got lost. The tunnel was lit by candles every few feet and looked well used. It was made of stone and had a sharp cool breeze. I doubted that it was every warm in here. This must be how all the maids and servants get around, is all I remember thinking.

After two or three minutes of walking which consisted of stairs as well as flat surfaces, we came to the kitchen which was busy with maids and cooks and servants all running around doing their errands. When I stepped foot in the kitchen everyone stopped and looked towards me. Harry did not seem to notice but turned to one of the maids and said ‘Henry has asked you to show this girl around. She is to dine with us tonight.’ The girl nodded and turned to me. ‘I’m Juliana. What’s your name?’ For the second time today I answered ‘Kathleen’ in a small voice while everyone looked at me. ‘You can stay in my room as Mary is gone to visit her aunt in Swanville. She will not mind you having her bed until she is back. I will bring you up now.’ She said this all really fast in a thick accent that I could not place but I understood “bring you up now” and nodded my head straightaway knowing that it would get me out of this place and away from the staring eyes.

The End

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