While Elizabeth went back to dusting the mirror in the entranceway, Jane led Wilson through a door to the left, down a short flight of stairs and into a small kitchen. She pulled out a chair for him at a rough wooden table and began rustling through cupboards.
“Sit there and I’ll look for something for you to eat. Are you hungry?” She asked.
Wilson nodded, then nodded again when Jane turned around and raised her eyebrows at him. She pulled a loaf of bread and a jar of raspberry conserve down from a high shelf and set them down on the table with a knife. Curious and eager to find out more about why her uncle had sent Wilson to her, she watched the young man wolf down two big hunks of bread and jam.
“Thank you.” He said, wiping crumbs from his chin.
“Go on then, why were you sent away?” She asked.
“My father broke the law. I don’t really know much else. Mr O’Riley tried to explain it to me but I don’t think I understood. I’d like to work here though, if your master will take me. I can sweep chimneys and cut the lawn.”
He stopped and began to look around the small room. Jane smiled as she realised that Wilson was probably wondering whether houses in Oxford had lawns.
“Mr Butler, my employer, does have a garden but he pays a gardener to look after it. A sweep comes in from the local agency when the chimneys need clearing.”
Wilson’s eyes dropped to the table and he began to brush breadcrumbs together with his hands. Jane thought that he looked like a sad puppy, his face drooping and forlorn. For a while they sat in silence, listening to birds singing outside the window and carriages rumbling past on the street above them. Half an hour passed before they heard the front door close and a man’s voice called a cheerful greeting to Elizabeth.
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