November 24th 1922
I woke up to the bustling sound of a household emerging from darkness and into the light of the sunrise as it was the crack of dawn and the household servants arose to begin their daily routines of maintaining and caring for the Stephenson Family. A knock came on my door and I froze still in my sheets, the image of the previous night still fresh in my mind, I called out, asking who was there. The door opened and a woman stepped inside my room, she was in a clean maid outfit that that I would learn was worn by all the female servants that worked in the house. She also had long brown boots on that looked as if they hadn’t been worn at all before, I wondered how this could be as no servant that I have ever known can afford to buy many clothes. This woman was holding a sweeping broom in her hands and with a smile on her face, came closer to my bedside, to awaken me from my slumber and help me get to know the place on my first day, which I thought was very kind but she may have been told to do it. Her name was Victoria, who had shoulder length brown hair and green eyes which I admit, I struggled to not find myself getting lost in amongst them.
‘It’s mighty cold out there’ she pointed out.
I looked out of my bedroom window and discovered that it had snowed quite heavily during the night. The darkened sky full of grey clouds and whistling winds could be heard in the moors surrounding the area, I fear for anyone out in those lands in these conditions, something that I pray that I never find myself having to do.
‘It sure is’ I replied.
‘Are you ready to start work?’ she smirked at me, for what reasons I don’t know.
‘Yes, I am but I do not know where to start’ I told her honestly.
I felt so out of place, compared to the others as I hadn’t done anything as of yet whereas everyone else knew the routines and where to be and when to be there.
‘I’ll show you the ropes until your settled in’ she smiled at me. ‘I always help a lost puppy find it’s way’
I do not know why but I felt nervous as I looked into her delicate blue eyes, her kind smile made me feel weak at the knees as I cannot recall a more gentler creature in this world being so close to me.
‘Thank you’ I said slowly back to her. I watched her giggle at this and I felt stupid for struggling to even talk but she reassured that it’s normal to be nervous on the first day so without much more said apart from basic details of each other like where we come from and our family histories, we left my room.
Going downstairs, I was astonished to see many people about the place, more than ten I think were in the dining room alone which baffled me as to why the family decided that they needed to hire anyone else, their were enough people in this household to run every business in the entire town of Edwin. I felt very much out of place amongst the rushing around but was able to find my place in laying out the breakfast table in time for the family’s awaking which was always at 7 am every today was an insight into how the biggest household in the area was ran. Myself and Victoria set the table with it’s cutlery, the most incredible forks and spoons ever seen by my eyes, I felt like I was serving royalty but I might be getting carried away with that, I’m sure I’ll feel differently in a months time. Food was prepared in the nearby kitchen, the succulent smell that came from within those doors was enough to bring drool from my mouth and down my shirt, I wiped it off quickly as Victoria chuckled away.
‘I do apologize’ I said feeling very humiliated as I said dirtied my work clothes on the very first day.
After that moment that I choose to forget about, the family began to make their way into the dining room, just as the final preparations were being completed I noticed as I went about from floor to floor that other servants were being very respectful and asking me for jobs to perform which I could not understand they would feel the need to ask me, I hadn’t even seen the entirety of the house as of yet so it seemed strange but I did the best that was able at the time. As I served, I couldn’t help but feel as if a stare of disapproval was upon me. This was because as i past the window to the yard outside, a worker spotted me and his expression changed from a chatty hard worker to one that looked frightened, I thought that it was just a mistake and he wasn’t looking at me and didn’t think much more of it but it stayed in the back of my mind all morning. Despite that one moment, I was feeling good about how things were going, Victoria was there every step of the away and she answered all of my questions, even though I had to help out others who were more experienced as many came asking me what needed doing and I was unaware why so many were coming to the newest member but Victoria just smiled and answered them for me if I was unable to do so, I was beyond grateful for this.
However, my good feeling turned somewhat sour in the afternoon as I was cleaning, I noticed two gentlemen in the midst of an argument in the courtyard and one of them was Mr Stephenson, I felt that I should not intervene at first but with the possibility of the children seeing it, I made the choice to try and end the arguing before things got out of hand. Stepping outside, I saw that a small group of workers had stopped what they were doing and were observing, so to say what was going on. As I approached the scene, a voice raised and the other gentlemen spotted me, an observing look about him, he paid great attention towards me.
‘Is this the one you got to replace the fleeing maid?’ he asked Mr Stephenson
I looked at my master across the yard and a look of fear was across his face, he then turned and looked surprised that I was there, I walked over, through the growing crowd, until I was stood in front of him. My master then shot a look of anger at Mr Kipper,a nerve had been hit indeed but what does he mean by fleeing maid?
‘Indeed, this is the new worker that I brought here, what of it Kipper?’ he asked him
‘He has the look of the devil in his eyes!’ He spat at me with a hateful intention towards me.
‘I would rather not discuss this matter here’ he said quietly but with authority ‘Don’t you have a new stable that needs to be finished Mr Kipper?’ he asked his servant, rather awkwardly.
I immediately heard whispers amongst the others in the yard and looks all aimed towards me, it was as if they were looking right into my eyes, deep into my innocent soul. I could see that Mr Stephenson looked like he would rather be elsewhere at this moment, his eyes avoided direct contact with me, sweat dripped from his forehead and his lower lip was dropped slightly.
‘We needed a head butler to maintain order amongst the workers, we were left high and dry by Madge and this young man’s background check was of the highest order so that made him the perfect fit’ he shouted at Mr Kipper.
Head Butler? I wasn’t made aware of this, was I really the Butler that saw over all others in the household?Why wouldn’t the family inform me of this when I applied for the job? All of a sudden, I felt invisible as the two gentleman stared intensely at one another. I had heard that Mr Kipper had worked from the bottom and was seen as the representative of all the servants in the house and on the farm, if he wasn’t happy about the treatment of workers then no one was.
‘Judging by the look of your ‘Head Butlers’ face, he had no idea that his job title was such!’ Kipper smirked ‘You always were good at keeping your little secrets all to yourself, same as always!’
The look of fear that emerged confused me as I couldn’t see why he would need to get so worked up over a simple question. I was confused and somewhat frightened for not only been called the Beelzebub but I was in a status that I was not informed of, power was in my hands for reasons I did not know but was dying to.
‘That’s enough out of you! Get back to work!’ Mr Stephenson snapped.
‘Your worker has that look! if you don’t release him now, you’ll bring misfortune to all here and your empire will crumble!’ He yelled at Mr Stephenson. This caused shock and horror amongst the gawping workers, the whispers and finger pointing grew now, all towards me, a confused worker with no quarrel or wrong doing yet I felt like I was on trial for murder
‘Need I remind you that despite you being beloved by all of the servants here, I am still your master and you obey what I command you and all here to do!’ I heard Mr Stephenson snap.
The looks on the faces of the workers was one of uncertainty, it was unheard of that anyone would speak to Mr Stephenson, one of the most powerful men in the North like this, it was out of character for a man such as Mr Kipper to speak above his place.
‘So, are you going to tell everyone why Maude left than Stephenson?’
‘That’s none of your business!’ he snapped.
‘She convinced herself that your house was haunted, didn’t she!’ Kipper shouted without fear.
‘I’m warning you, enough of this foolishness Kipper!’
Mr Kipper could tell that he had struck a nail, the smirk on his face told the story as Mr Stephenson looked away from his face momentarily.
‘I don’t believe that you have the power to discipline me, not when I have such knowledge that can destroy your reputation not only with your workers but your family along with the entire country sir!’
I, along with everyone else stood in silence, some looking awkwardly away. I could see Mrs Stephenson watching from the garden with her son, probably wondering just what was going on, I dreaded the children hearing such things.
‘I’m warning you Kipper, either drop this matter or I’ll have no other option but to punish you!’
‘You can’t punish a free man, I quit this hellhole and if anyone amongst us have any sense, they will do the same, unless they are prepared to suffer a fate worse than death!’ Mr Kipper called out.
It was beyond clear that his words had striked fear into the hearts of the workers, they all looked terrified, shaking in their boots
‘You leave me no choice, lock him up in the shed for a while, until he cools off at least’ Mr Stephenson ordered.
Two men approached Mr Kipper who didn’t put up a fight, he looked to accept his fate and allowed himself to be dragged away, out of sight of everyone else.
‘Fools, all of you!’ he yelled as he was forcibly dragged away. ‘That man will bring you all to Satan’s Gates!’
Without saying another word, only a sigh Mr Stephenson walked away towards the garden area and I didn’t see him again for the rest of the day, neither did I see Mrs Stephenson for that matter. I felt rooted to the spot by anger and fright. Such new knowledge that I did not know had made my position quite a dangerous one, If I may say. The workers who this morning treat me with kindness and respect now looked at me with fear, it was as if they would die if they came close enough to me, that showed me that Kipper’s word was taken seriously around here but as far as I could tell, no one had left the household, yet.
An hour slowly ticked away as the household went back to it’s usual routine of care, it was as if the incident in question had never taken place. Victoria approached me as I finished cleaning the upstairs bedrooms and informed that I had been requested to head down into the town and purchase some items but deep down in my heart, I felt that it was just an excuse to get me away from the house for an hour or so, the looks that certain people had given me after that argument made me feel quite uncomfortable, even Victoria looked at me a bit suspiciously as she gave me a crumpled list of items to purchase which I’ll admit, hurt me a little as I felt that she was my only friend there, whether that was still the case now, I did not know but I couldn’t of felt more alone.
The sun was starting to set as I departed the farm on one of the family’s carts, pulled by one of their fine Horses, I felt privileged to be so closed to a creature that was worth so much more than I was in the world and it was under my control for the time being. It was a smoother ride into Edwin then it had been when I first came for my new job, I had good control and avoided any disasters en route and was successful in purchasing every item that Victoria had requested I buy. As I re boarded the cart, a sense of fear embarked into my soul, it was a silly thought but I was afraid to return to the household. It wasn’t a moment of cowardice but to go back to those judging eyes of everybody who looked at me as if I were the devil, I had somehow brought about bad luck and the devils curse on them all, what nonsense I told myself.
It was now dark as I began the ascend of the hill that led back to the Stephenson house which made it difficult to see the tight corners of the path, let alone the small turn off it into the woods. I was afraid of going through these woods during the day but at night, I didn’t want to think about it, I only wanted to be at the other side and be safe in the warmth of my bed. I might be sounding paranoid by what I write next but as I made my way along the wooden path, I felt as if, I was being watched. It sounds crazy but I felt like a presence was always near me and watched my every move as I hurried the Horse along, almost into a canter as the cart bumped along the track which was quite uncomfortable but the feeling that I felt would only become stronger as in the corner of my eye, I thought I spotted a shadow from the trees but I put it down to paranoia as the snow than began to come down from the skies again.
I was very thankful when the house came into sight, I rushed into the house which was mostly quiet, only a couple of people were about downstairs but Victoria must have gone to bed. I could not get the argument earlier out of my head, it was one that was intense and could have escalated to something quite serious if intervention had not happened. What did Mr Kipper mean about the previous maid, had she not really left to look after her family home in Derbyshire…had she left because it was haunted?
As I laid down on my bed and tried to get some much needed sleep, I groaned and tossed about the bed, struggling to fall asleep when suddenly, I heard above me the sound of movement but the only room above my own was the attic, who on earth could be up there at this time of night? Trying to ignore the moving about, I placed my hands on my ears and blocked out the creaking sound but alas, this did not work and my curiosity took over, I had to know who was making that noise.
In the dead of night, I left my room and made my way up into the attic, quietly pulling open the door to the stairs that led up to it. My candle guided me through the dark and up the creaky stairs and I was full of fear, what if I ran into a criminal? or worse, could I defend myself if that happened I asked myself.
Darkness greeted me as I stepped inside, shining my lamp as I quietly closed the door behind me, a slight graze on my left leg ached as I stepped inside the room, after a slight kick from the Horse after I disembarked from the cart and attempted to put her in her stable, I most indefinably will not approach a Horse from behind ever again, she was quite startled, fortunately, a worker was close by as it happened and took the animal away. I did not fear the possibility of a thief attempting to sneak inside and steal but in my mind, it was likely to be one of the children messing about. I shone the lamp from corner to corner as I made my way into the center of the room, aware that my footsteps could be heard bellow but as I look about, I could not see a soul about but how could that be? Had it all been in my imagination? it seemed so real to me, it had to be real but perhaps I am just tired, it had been a long day so I decided to turn back and return to my bed, forgetting all about it.
However, one more thought crawled into my mind, one that I needed answering soon. Why was I really brought here? Am I really meant to be the new Head Butler or is there another motive?