From then on, Isabel was a part of the household. Or so she thought. The maids came to check on her all of the time, and even people who did not need to do so came to see who this strange new girl was.
As the effects of time travel did their work, Isabel had a chance to observe the routines. Within a week, she had the three maids who lived there on her side. It would be better to discover this secret fast, Isabel told herself.
Ellen, who was the eldest, had the most authority. She was often taking care of Isabel, making sure she ate and rested. About a week after her waking, Isabel decided to ask her a few questions to see how this household was built. It ran so well, it was almost amusing.
"Ellen, how long have you worked here?"
"I've been under the employment of Mr. Saint-Claire for two years now."
"Are they good to you here?"
Ellen nodded. "They've always been good to me, miss. Ever since they took me in. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, and no one else would take me."
"No one else?" Isabel repeated. That did seem odd. "Why was your master the only one who would take you in? Did something. . .happen?"
Ellen sat down on a small chair by the bed. "It's a very sad tale, miss. I'm not sure you would like to hear it. But I can tell you that no one will ever see a man like Mr. Saint-Claire ever again. He's not an ordinary sort."
"But why was he the only one who would take you? Did something bad happen?" Isabel asked again.
Ellen sighed a little. "'Cause my previous employer did things to me. Just before I turned sixteen. . . .I found out that. . . ." she paused.
"Go on. It's alright." Maria tried to sit up.
"I was having his child, miss. He beat me until it died." Ellen explained quietly, a tear rolling down her cheek. "It was four months later that the master found me."
"How did he convince you to work for him? Weren't you afraid?"
"I was, miss. But he didn't shun me, you see. He told me that he looked up my first employer, before that awful man, and they had told him that I have no equal. He asked me if I could take care of the missis and keep a reign on any other maids that he hired, and the wages would be more then acceptable."
"So you agreed." Isabel guessed, realizing how dangerous it could have been.
Ellen nodded. "I thought it would be tricky at first, miss, but Mr. Saint-Claire was good to me from the first day. I wasn't the only one, either. Lydia and Jocelyn, Vance the footman, even Mrs. Massey the cook has a story.
"We were all victims of some sort until the master found us. He's a different person. He doesn't care if something bad happened to us. He just. . . .helps. If God were on anyone's side, it'd be Mr. Saint-Claire's. That I'm certain of, and I'm not well-acquianted with matters of religion. I only know to say a simple prayer every night asking the good Lord to forgive me for my sins."
"That is. . . .excellent." Isabel murmured. "Thank you for telling me, Ellen. You've really never considered leaving?"
"Not once, miss." Ellen said with a smile. "Don't be surprised if the master finds a place for you here as well. He's a kind sort. He is a. . . I'm not really sure how to say it. . . "
"Philanthropist?" Isabel guessed.
Ellen nodded. "That's the word, miss. I remember it now. Mr. Vance told me what it meant the day after I was hired."
As it turned out, Ellen was right. She wasn't the only one. The days which passed by after that seemed long. The younger girls who Isabel had seen had stories of rescue as well.
Lydia, who was fifteen, had been rescued from the hands of her uncle, a pimp. Jocelyn, at fourteen, was from a poor family who had eight children. Even Vance, the footman, stopped in one day and let Isabel hear his story.
"I've been with Mr. Saint-Claire longer then the others, even our cook." he said. "But no one else has asked me how I came to be here 'sides you and Miss Ellen."
"How did you come to be here?" Isabel asked.
"Well," said Vance. "that right there is definitely not a story like Miss Ellen's, or even Miss Lydia's. But it is one worth hearing, if'n you're asking me."
"Simply put, Mr. Saint-Claire saved my life."
Vance clearly hadn't told this story very often. He cleared his throat, and tried to look composed. "Well, about six years back, I had this girl. Beautiful, she was, and sweet as anything. I really loved her. I even planned to marry her. But. . . .the night I was going to pr'pose to her, I saw her smilin' and kissing another man."
Isabel's eyes widened. No matter what time you were from, that hurt. "Oh, no. . . "
Vance nodded bitterly. "Oh, yes. I didn't expect that sort of thing to happen to me. She saw me watching and tried to explain herself, but it were too late. I knew. She loved him more then me. It was in her eyes, it was."
"So what did you do?" Isabel asked, surprised at the numbing pain in Vance's eyes from the memory.
"I made my way down to the river, Miss. I wasn't afraid of death anymore."
"And. . ." Isabel tried once again to sit up.
"That's when the master found me, as I were about to jump. I had one foot up, ready to leap over the bridge when this great carriage comes up like it were from nowhere and two men leap from it to safeguard me from a-drowning. It were Mr. Saint-Claire and his butler, who was also driving that night as one of the servants had been fired.
"They wrestled me into the carriage, and the master got out of me all that had happened with Lacie, and then he offered me a job. Since that night, I've been here as his servant."
"Wow. . ." Isabel murmured. It was so tragic. Like something out of a movie. "It sounds like Mr. Saint-Claire is a little more then extraordinary."
Vance nodded. "Men like 'im, they comes far and few between on this earth. He can do things right and still shows up to all of them fancy parties. Most people he meets has sommthin' to be grateful for."
"How could such a man exist?" Isabel murmured. He seemed sort of revered, like those demigods that she had read about in books. But he wasn't arrogant at all. Just a nice guy.
"Not easily." Vance answered. "It's very 'ard for him some days."
I'll bet. Isabel thought as Vance abruptly left the room, having heard someone call for him.