-Wilson has gone to Mr O’Riley’s niece, Jane, to look for work. The master of the house has just returned-
“That’ll be Mr Butler. I’ll go talk to him and you can wait here. Is that alright?”
“Thank you, Jane.” Wilson said.
Jane smiled and left him alone in the kitchen. Her skirts rustled as she jogged up the stairs to the entranceway. She reached the ground floor in time to see Mr Butler’s back disappear into the drawing room.
Elizabeth caught her eye, sighed and shook her head. If he was already with Mrs Butler, then Jane’s petition would have to wait. The lady of the house objected to her husband performing acts of charity, so it would be best to talk to him about Wilson when he was alone.
“Oh, go on then.” Elizabeth said.
As she spoke, she casually tipped a small flower vase onto the tiled floor. The glass ornament shattered and a loud gasp came from the drawing room. It was an inexpensive item, locally produced, but Elizabeth would still be in trouble for breaking it.
Jane mouthed her thanks and moved to stand on the other side of the drawing room door. It quickly flew open and an authoritative female figure swept out to descend on the maid. Pressing herself against the doorframe, Jane slipped through the opening as the door closed.
“Mr Butler, sorry to disturb you.” She said.
The master of the house let out a small cry of surprise, thinking that he was alone, but the face he turned towards her bore a smile. He was arranging a stack of letters of the coffee table, ready to conduct his afternoon’s correspondence. Jane cleaned his study daily and made it ready for him, but Mr Butler rarely used it. He preferred to work in the comfort of the drawing room and somewhere that he could be in the company of his wife.
“Yes, Jane?” He asked. His speech was always curt and to the point, but Jane knew him to be a soft, kindly man.
“I saw an old acquaintance of mine today, Wilson, who I was hoping you could find some employment for. He used to work at Sir Charles’ manor.”
“The baron Charles? Leave his letter of recommendation on the table there.”
“Sorry, Mr Butler, but he doesn’t have a letter.”
The businessman looked into Jane’s eyes with a piercing gaze. With one hand he drew a pair of round spectacles away from his face and placed them on top of the stack of letters. He sat down carefully on the settee and smoothed the creases of his grey suit. Mr Butler was a thin man with prominent cheekbones and hair greying at the temples.
“I assume you have a reason for vouching for this fellow? This isn’t like the time Bess tried to palm that Jerry fellow off on us?” He asked.
“Yes, Mr Butler. My uncle recommended him and I’ve met him when we were children. He was always a good boy.”
“Mr O’Riley recommends him? Well that’s good enough for me. Your uncle is a man of the very best reputation. I could always use an extra pair of hands at the mill. Ask your friend Wilson to start at eight o’clock tomorrow.”
“The mill, Mr Butler? I believe Wilson was hoping to work around the house.”
The sound of voices grew louder in the hallway. Mr Butler began rearranging the letters on the coffee table.
“He can work at the mill, starting tomorrow. Six shillings per week.”
Jane bobbed her head and ducked back through the doorway. The sounds of a heated argument quickly came to her ears.
“Sorry, Mrs Butler, I can be so clumsy sometimes. I didn’t mean to do it?”
“You’re clumsy enough when it’s my vase you’re breaking. Are you this careless with your own belongings? Do you stumble around downstairs and knock over that framed picture of your sweetheart? I sincerely doubt it, Bess.” Mrs Porter was saying.
“No, Misses, I’d never damage a picture of my Jerry. That’s a keepsake.”
“And what if that vase had been my keepsake?”
“You bought it in the market for two shillings, Misses.”
“I didn’t say it was, I said if it had been.”
“Who would give you a keepsake except Mr Butler, Misses?”
Jane saw the lady of the house’s face begin to turn the colour of a beetroot and quickly scurried past them. She trotted down the stairs as the shouting began and closed the kitchen door behind her.
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