November 23rd 1922
It was a rather cold morning on the Yorkshire Moors, the trees stripped of all leaves that lay on the ground, looking out of place and the hills were covered in the first blanket of snow, it truly was winter and the wind could be heard whistling from the small market town bellow in the valley and above in the hills. Traveling at a somewhat careful pace along the small country lane, up the moors was myself, an everyday, normal man who was born into a family with a poor background, my father was nothing more than a simple butcher, we had no money to speak off really, just scrapping by through life was the family motto or so my Father used to always say. Along side me on this cold start was another man, a rather tall man that I did not know, I assumed that he was from the same town and we had just never crossed paths before but despite this, we were polite to one another and we talked a little about current events happening in the country and such but the talk would die down after a short while. To me, he seemed to be a man who liked to keep to himself, not much of a speaker unless I said anything, his hands were in his pockets, rummaging about all the time and his mouth was covered with a dirty cloth of some sorts, it was quite cold so I imagined that it was to keep his face warm. We were sat on a Horse Drawn cart, driven by the local blacksmith John Gore that had been ever so kind to offer us both a ride from town for the mere cost of Three Shillings and Six Pence, although the man who was with me thought this to be a bit of an unreasonable price but none the less, we paid the driver and set off through the snowy terrain, out of town in the midst of the morning, the sun was waking up from it’s slumber in the distance, worth while to get up early for indeed.
The two of us were both on our way out of the town at daybreak, up into the moors. I am not that fond of the countryside in this area particularly, the large scale of land with no trace of life minus life stock for miles on end was always daunting to me and the reason I thought this I guess was down to my imaginative mind, I would often come up with dreams of the moors and of innocent lives being lost in it’s mysterious mists, never to be heard off again. Another reason for my dislike of this area was the rumors of giant creatures roaming about them, with claws like swords that could slice through a bull with ease and teeth eager to rip apart human flesh in the blink of an eye. It all sounds like fantasy to me but it’s what the town of Edwin believes in and has done for centuries, back to the days of the Tudors in fact was the first recording of a demon creature but I shouldn’t think of such nonsense, not on such an opportunistic day such as this.
I was very fortunate to come across an opportunity such as this one, to take on a very prestigious position that don’t come about every day, to be truthful, they don’t come about these parts that much in a lifetime, so it was a chance to really get somewhere in this life for me, either that or become a worker in one of the many factories or mines in the area or even work in my Father’s butchers. I was to take the job of being the Stephenson’s new Butler, my name was Edward Smith, a young man who was born and raised in Yorkshire. I had been a servant to two previous households, prior to accepting this job…I was the Butler to the Brown Family for seven years before I decided that I needed a change of scenery, that and the pay offered here was much better. I was a good friend to the Brown Family, they had always given me a roof to sleep under and food for my body and I returned that kindness by remaining loyal to the household and was a big part of the upbringing of their children, young Sophie and Henry, both bright children who were ahead of their peers, it was beyond a joy to be apart of there upbringing as it was for the oldest, the one who was young master Matthew Brown. Young Matthew was raised to take over from his Father and run the family business but, it was not to be as in 1914, a shot rang out, so that the world could hear it and went insane, war broke out and all men who were able were sent to fight, I had gone but had received an injury in the first battle at Somme six years ago, so many boys lost that day, I knew a few, my friends that I hope are in a better place now. I still get kept awake at night with pains in my right leg, it will forever be a reminder of the world I live in, a painful one that can choose to hurt you when it sees fit. I was one of the lucky ones in that battle, unfortunately, Master Matthew wasn’t as lucky as I, he was too young to tragically perish out in the trenches in Flanders a year after I had returned home. To this day, I believe that it should have been me who perished in the mud and barbed wire, the world wouldn’t have missed someone as lowly like me.
I will never forget that fateful day that the Brown’s received the news from the Army. A rather warm July afternoon, the sun was hiding behind a white cloud and the sky a royal blue. The children playing in the garden as their Mother entertained guests inside. I was preparing cups of Tea and scones with jam in the kitchen when a loud knock echoed through the house. I went and opened the front door, unaware of what I was about to have to hear and what I would have to do. Stood at the door was a messenger in a uniform, I don’t know much about ranks but he had enough medals on his uniform to tell me that he was very important. He didn’t speak so much, he just handed me a letter, told me the news and offered the Brown’s his condolences before he went on his way. I stood in horror at the front door, knowing that It was down to me to crush Mr’s Brown’s spirit, to be the one to tell the children that their older brother would never play with them again, it was a task that no servant ever wanted to have to do as it felt like the receivers shouted and accused you of lies but it had to be done, what choice was their? received the devastating news, the look of horror in their eyes, it still haunts me so. I entered the dining room with caution and I could see her eyes on me immediately, I gulped as she rose from her chair.
”Who was at the door?”she asked me
”A messenger from the Edwin Regiment” I said straight away.
I watched her put her hands over her mouth and gasp, I could tell that she understood what I was about to say next.
Before I had a chance to speak, Mrs Brown was already on her way to the floor and was rushed to her bed where she would spend two days in solitude, refusing anyone who wished to see her. Matthew’s body wasn’t recovered until a year or so after the war’s conclusion and the brave soldier was buried with honor in Belgium. It was a blow that I thought would finish the Brown family off, they remained behind closed doors for a while afterwards and removed most of the staff they had employed but I was one of the few that they kept on, I felt honored that I had be chosen to stay. A few years past after that and I watched the family slowly come to terms with there loss and even begin to move past it. Young Henry began to learns his Father’s trade and Sophie had begun to talk about wanting to be a live in nurse so when I told the Browns of my sudden decision to move on, they understood my reasons. I had wanted to go a couple of years prior but felt that the Brown’s needed me, even if they wouldn’t admit it to me, I could not leave them in that dark place.I did promise that I would return to visit someday and I did feel sadness in my heart when I left that house, something told me that perhaps…it would be a mistake but I just took this as nerves and thought no more of it.
As I reminisced about my past and what my future held for me, I had forgotten that I was sat on a cart in the freezing winter and If I had not been paying any attention, I wouldn’t have spotted the small pathway that led away from the main road, and the Horse was trotting at quite a pace down the road which sent the cart to quite the bump, it then turned around the sharp corner, which made me jolt, snapping out of my fantasy and I yelped slightly in fright which terrified the Horse and as a result of my shout, it bolted before it would stand up on it’s Hind Legs and screamed in terror, I feared for my life and covered my face from the beasts’ wild swinging hooves as it bucked and reared but fortunately the driver and the man sat beside me were able to calm the animal down, they grabbed it’s reins and kept looking at it’s eyes, not showing any sign of fear and within a moment, the Horse seemed to stop rearing and screaming in terror and it lowered it’s legs back to the ground and stood there, like nothing had happened at all.
”You bloody idiot, were you up at the pub all night or what?” John snapped at me.
I was cut off by the Blacksmith who snarled at me with disdain, his morning had been disrupted by me, a lowly servant had halted his progress to the next time, only briefly dropping the two of us off, only to have his loyal Horse be spooked out of it’s wits.
”If I were a lord and you were my servant, I’d call you a dog and beat the life out of you until you were black and blue!’ he shouted.
If there wasn’t anyone else on the cart with me that morning, I wouldn’t have been able to prevent being struck by John’s whip but fortunately, the gentleman beside me managed to calm him down and make him see sense, he took a deep breath and forgot the matter. I had always thought of Horses as majestic and beautiful creatures but also wild and dangerous if you did not know what you were doing with them, the owner of this one gave me an ever so angry look afterwards, I am very fortunate that he did not make me walk the rest of the way for this error of judgement. The path went down a somewhat dirt path that looked unsafe for a Horse and Cart but it was able to pass through without any damage sustained and after passing through a set of woods which seemed to stretch on for an eternity, we came out into a passing and before us was a mansion. It looked like a magnificent house, one that seemed to stretch on as far as the eye could see, the beige colored walls and the fancy glass windows all looked clean, unlike any of the buildings back home that were always covered in soot and dirt. You could tell the class of a family by how clean their house was in Edwin, my house was very dirty because I couldn’t afford to keep it clean and the soot from various factories would stain it so, unlike this family that has a work force to do that for them. The building itself looked to of had at least four floors and a garden as big as a forest, followed by acres of land that stretched beyond the horizon and with enough cattle, sheep and goats to feed the town fifty times over, chickens for eggs and a stable flourishing with magnificent and beautiful horses, It dawned on me that I really was at the home of the richest family in the county, the home of the Stephensons.
We were greeted in the yard of the estate by the owner of the land, Gordon Stephenson, a rich factory owner who had become very successful for owning more cotton factories in all of Lancashire than anyone else. It was an honor to be so close to a man such as him, well groomed and with healthy looking brown hair, I could see that he had more money in his clothes alone then I could ever hope to earn in a lifetime, this class was in another world to the one that I was in but he greeted us kindly and even shook our hands which was unheard of for someone who was so powerful to do to a commoner such as myself, I thought I was in one of my vivid imaginations again. He proceed to show us around the house and we met the other family members. There was Gordon’s Wife Emily Stephenson, a blonde haired Yorkshire beauty with ocean blue eyes who was always amongst the talk of the town for her generosity and kindness as a patron to the towns school. Next there was the young master James Stephenson who was a clear cut of his Father but he had his Mother’s eyes, he was seven and already learning his Father’s trade as well as attending the most prestigious school in the area, he was the envy of all other boys in the county, perhaps even the British Empire as with a snap of his fingers, he could have what ever he desired, his family was wealthy enough. Finally, we had Olivia Stephenson was the youngest of the family, just three months old and looked like an angel, children always look so innocent and that was my belief, nothing could ever change that. as well as the farm and introduced us to the other workers. It was here that I learnt the name of the other gentleman who would be also be working for the Stephenson’s, his name was James Gould, a big muscly Scottish man from Dundee with a reputation for being a ”Tough guy” I feel like I should have known him but his short cap and cloth over his mouth had made him unknown to me this morning.
It felt grand to be in such a place and the rest of the staff appeared to be genuine, hard workers who were friendly enough to approach me and introduce themselves which was reassuring to me, I didn’t want to be spending time trying to not just be a spare wheel, I wanted to do well here. As for James Gould, he was to help out on the farm which we were also shown around which all looked amazing but to me, it wasn’t something that I understood so well, only that my food and milk came from them. Gould would exercise the Horses, milk the cows and sheer the sheep, rather him than me I thought to myself. It was here that we went our separate ways and would be introduced to our individual tasks, he would be the outdoors man who would help grown and nurture the land while I would nurture and look after the family that owned the land.
I was then taken to my room which was on third floor, at the end of the corridor and to say the very least, it was more then I ever expected to receive due to my status. A bed with clean covers and a chair with a desk, it doesn’t seem like much but it was more then I could have expected so I was very grateful to my new boss. I was then given an explanation of my duties which more or less was to serve the Stephenson family from Dawn until Dusk, from cleaning, serving food to watching the children, that and occasionally help run the farm when numbers were low but I was rather hoping that I would rarely be needed down there as I’m not the most confident individual around animals. However, I have been given the evening off to relax and prepare for my first day of work in the morning, however as I settled down to my slumber, I heard the faintest knocking coming from my door. Feeling rather hesitant, I went and opened my door and stood before me was an old man that I did not recognize. He had a rather disgruntled look on his face, a face that was pale and wrinkled, his hair long and grey, flowing down to his shoulders as he stood in my doorway wearing nothing more then a dressing gown.
”Can I help you sir?” I asked him.
He stood there in silence, not uttering a word in response to my question and this troubled me somewhat, I thought that perhaps that he was hard of hearing so prepared to ask him again but before I could do so, he raised up his hand and prevented this from happening.
”So you think that you can come and take Madge’s place, do you?” he said in a whisper of a voice.
I did not know who he was speaking off but I could only assume that Madge was the previous maid that I had been told about when I applied for the job, she had left due to her elderly mother falling ill and passing away, she was then needed to look after there family home in Derbyshire case of the worst but that was six months ago and no one had heard from her ever since but the people of the town had assumed that Edwina had moved away to recover from the loss of her Mother and was now staying in Derbyshire.
”I do not know what you talk of”
He spat on the ground and grabbed my bedroom door, snarling like a vicious dog that was after it’s dinner, his teeth would grind at me and for a moment, I thought that I would be attacked by him. However he moved me out of the way and stepped inside my room, he was looking away from me now and I felt like I should kindly ask him to speak his mind before his loud actions wakes up the household.
”I If could ask you to-
”Heed my warning boy!” he shouted ”You have made a big mistake coming here, get out before it’s too late”
I turned around to face him but to my horror, there was no one stood in my room anymore, I looked about what space there was but to no avail, he had simply vanished into thin air, was he really there to begin with I wondered? I looked about the hallway ever so quietly but it was empty and quiet. I came to the conclusion that if he were real then he would not be able to move that quickly so I must have imagined him, Probably because I’m tired, it has been a long day for me and I should get some sleep for the day ahead. With that said, I crawled into my bed for the first time and closed my eyes but as I tried to sleep, all I could think about was the old mans words, was he right?