Emilia Stewart felt herself beaming. The warm morning light cascaded through the bay windows and warmed her face, as well as those of her two young charges, Anne and Sophie. Although the two girls were teenagers, they still took delight in playing with their dolls every morning whilst their beloved governess watched their joyful game. They’d sit on the floor and dress up their little toys with miniature clothes sewed by Emilia’s hand. They’d giggle and laugh, delighting in the good fun of a new day, and the sumptuous breakfast that was to follow.
Emilia sighed to herself. Being of one and twenty years, she was not so far away from being a teenager herself, but she could keenly perceive the difference between she and the two girls. They were boisterous, light-hearted and unencumbered. Emilia still shared all of those qualities with them. However, she had the added element of a sense of the future. What was going to happen to her? She often awoke in expectation wondering just that.
Emilia always wore her chocolate-brown hair up and allowed little tendrils of highlighted curls to fall haphazardly. She believed it leant an air of dishevelled beauty to her face, a face not made more beautiful by cosmetics, which Emilia detested, but rather by dirt and soot, natural consequences of her job as a devoted governess.
“We’re going into town,” Anne said, holding her doll in her hand and willing the toy to walk on its own two feet, past where she sat cross-legged.
“Might we come to town as well?” Sophie asked, holding her own doll and wishing to have it accompany Anne’s on the journey.
“No,” Anne replied sullenly, teasing her slightly younger sister.
“I care not if I’m allowed to join, I shall journey into town nonetheless,” Sophie replied, turning indignant. Although the sisters were being playful, Emilia felt the need to intervene.
“Now, now, girls. Let’s all go together in good cheer,” Emilia said, smiling at her charges tenderly.
“Hmf,” Anne replied, relenting. “Come along then.”
Their game continued for some time, as Anne and Sophie journeyed throughout the room with their dolls, walking the little creatures over the backs of chairs, over table-tops, and up the curtains. Emilia watched dreamily, still seated on the floor. She leaned back and rested on her arms, enjoying a moment of repose.
The repose would indeed be momentary for soon, the Hutchinson household would be abuzz with energy and life. It was not only the kinetic power of the two girls, but also the ferocious energy of three older brothers, a mother and father, four corgis, a Pomeranian, and even a parrot that lived up in the attic. For all those reasons, it had always been a lively household for the many years that Emilia had been in their employ, and she delighted in every moment of it.
The only trouble was that there was never a moment’s rest. After the casual play in the morning, chaos ensued. Dining, lessons, shopping, reading aloud, taking trips to the park, dining yet again. Once the continuous series of events concluded at 9pm in the evening, Emilia would finally escape to her own room adjacent to the attic and collapse onto the bed, often not bothering to change her clothes or perform her toilette before falling fast asleep. It was hard work, that much was certain. But Emilia was still sprightly and up to the task. And, in all truth, it distracted her mind to be so constantly busy. It released her body and soul from a challenging past, and the uncertainty of the future.
“Breakfast is served,” Lady Barbara Hutchinson said, poking her head into the door. Although Lady Barbara was a woman of exceptional, delicate beauty, Emilia could tell that over the years the task of having five children, six pets, and a husband had taken their toll. Lady Barbara’s skin appeared as crepe paper in the morning light. Yet still, it was not something that anyone payed much attention to when she smiled, for lines and wrinkles engaged in happiness were always a thing of beauty.
“I’m famished!” Anne cried dramatically, throwing down her doll and running towards the door.
“Now, now, Anne. Do you not remember where to put that?” Emilia asked with warm authority. Anne turned back to look at the discarded doll and relented, picking it back up and placing it on the shelf where it belonged. Sophie did the same, always mirroring what her older sister did.
“Hurry up now, ladies,” Lady Barbara said, “there are scones this morning.”
That was all the mother needed to say in order to speed up the process of getting Anne and Sophie to restore the room as it should be and make their way with graceful haste down the stairs and to the dining room, where the smell of scones, eggs, bacon and tea could already be perceived.
Emilia took a moment to herself after the girls had exited the room, ensuring that everything was back in order. She walked towards the window and indulged in the serene vista that lay before her. Castle Comb in the Cotswold Valley was always where the Hutchinsons spent their time when not in town. The estate was sprawling, and the surrounding countryside a verdant epiphany on a morning such as that one. Emilia sighed to herself, thinking how much more beautiful her surroundings were than when she lived in Painswick. How had she come across such good fortune? She thanked the heavens for it every day.
Below where she stood was the dining room, and she could already hear things crashing and a child screaming, which prompted Emilia to make haste out of the room and down the stairs.
Upon entering the dining room, Emilia had to shield her eyes the light was so strong. The estate was situated in such a location that every room was bathed in light, when they were lucky enough to be graced with it. On days where the countryside would be inundated with gloom and rain, candles and fireplaces would be lit in order to maintain the sheer luminosity that the Hutchinson family enjoyed.
Emilia quickly discovered that the commotion stemmed from Sophie having knocked over a silver tureen of cream, and she was crying in penitence. The child was quickly consoled when Emilia brushed her hand over the girl’s cheek.
“There, there now. We all make mistakes,” Emilia said, wiping away her tears.
“I’m so clumsy,” Sophie said, sniffling.
“We are all clumsy from time to time,” Emilia replied.
She took the girl’s hand in her own and walked her over to the table. The boys were already seated, Lady Barbara as well, and lastly Lord Hutchinson entered the room, wearing a crisp shirt and blue morning coat. The smell of the delectable breakfast was overwhelming, and Emilia felt her stomach growl in anticipation. The food was always remarkable in the Hutchinson household, and Emilia did notice that since living at the estate, her physical form had filled in to the point of womanhood, something that she was proud of.
Once everyone was seated, Lord Hutchinson said a little prayer and the feasting began. They were a devout family, the Hutchinsons, and had their own vestibule for prayer adjacent to the estate. Emilia marvelled at their goodness, and even wore a little silver cross around her neck in concordance with their beliefs.
A warm scone was placed upon her plate by a servant holding a polished silver set of tongs and Emilia felt her mouth water. She wished to pull it apart with her fingers immediately, but she would need to wait until the servants made their rounds and placed the poached eggs, crispy bacon and roasted tomatoes upon her plate as well. With each new item that was served to her, Emilia looked up and thanked the attendant that catered to her, knowing each one by name and also considering them friends. The staff of the estate was selected with expert care, for their diligence and goodness. But that’s not to say that there wasn’t a touch of gossip.
And Emilia had to be honest that a good portion of the gossip came from herself. She loved the intrigue of knowing which servant was romantically involved with which, she enjoyed hearing about the little quarrels that would take place between Lady Barbara and the head footman, Benedict. And she also took delight in hearing of the minor altercations that would transpire between the growing boys.
Finally pulling her scone apart with two hands, something that was improper but accepted by all of the Hutchinson family, who liked to feel the warmth upon their fingers, Emilia spread the split scone out onto the plate and reached for her knife, procuring a pat of pre-cut butter and placing it upon one half, watching as it melted quickly and disappeared into a warm yellow glow. The flecks of fruit within the scone were like summer flowers, bright and vivid.
Emilia brought the scone to her lips, tasting its tart, rich goodness. She delighted in the first bite for several moments and looked about the table, noting that the rest of the family was in rapture as well.
But a funny thing happened just then within Emilia’s mind. A realisation that took her by surprise. Looking across the way at Anne and Sophie, it became abundantly clear. They were women now, no longer girls. The morning’s reverie with dolls and quarrels, smiles and tears were nothing more than nostalgia. They grew up before her very eyes, and she could only see it clearly in that moment. The realisation was profound and left Emilia to wonder what their future would be. What her future would be. The perfection of their time together, the eventful days of transforming from girls to women, it had all gone by so fast.
Just then, a strawberry knocked Emilia on the side of the head and she was whipped out of her contemplation. It was flung by the youngest boy, of course, still intent upon teasing the governess at every possible opportunity. The middle brother would do the same, but the older did not dare. His own age was far too close to Emilia’s and that created a great deal of tension. The eldest was handsome enough, but Emilia daren’t entertain romantic notions of him. He was a boy of exceptional breeding and wealth and could never be interested in someone of Emilia’s class.
Emilia did not regret that in the slightest, nor her own station in life. She loved her job and had long given up feeling angry over her father’s misgivings, his action to lose all his money through gambling and drink, and the mother that was long since dead. Emilia had shed many tears over those things as a young girl, but not as a young woman. She had accepted her lot in life and wished to make the best of it.
And like the remarkable tableau that had been her many years of service in the Hutchinson household, so the pretty scene in the dining room progressed from breakfast to tea, and then from tea to supper, the light outside the windows maintaining its natural course from yellow to pink, pink to purple, and finally darkness. The day had been lively and carefree as ever and, taking her supper, Emilia dreamt of when she would retire to her little garret, lying in her bed and indulging in the book that had captivated her attention the evening before.
“If you’ll excuse me,” Lord Hutchinson said, getting up from the table and exiting the room.
The children followed suit, and Emilia pursued them, assuming that she and the girls might retire to the library where she could read aloud to them, something that was no longer necessary considering their age, but still enjoyed by all.
“Emilia,” Lady Barbara said, interrupting her exit.
“Yes, M’Lady,” Emilia replied.
“Might I have a word with you in my chambers?” she asked.
“Why, yes of course.”
Lady Barbara’s personal dwelling space was on the second floor of the stately manse, and it was upholstered in green, a fresh and calming hue. There were a number of occasions where Emilia had been invited there, but it was usually to discuss matters of some import concerning the girls and Emilia’s role in overseeing them. Those discussions were never serious in nature, but rather important points of rhetoric concerning Lady Barbara’s expectations. For that reason, Emilia felt no sense of dread, but rather, curiosity.
“Have a seat,” Lady Barbara said, motioning towards an armed chair. Emilia did as was requested and folded her hands gingerly in her lap. “As you are well aware, Anne and Sophie have grown. And your services have been instrumental in making them the girls that they are today.”
“I thank you.”
“No, I thank you,” Lady Barbara said, seating herself as well. “But I have known for some time that the day would come where your employment would no longer be required. You’re an exceptional woman, Emilia, and I know that your future is so bright. Unfortunately, Anne and Sophie no longer need you. It’s time for them to enter society and find husbands and families of their own, and I must be the one to chaperone them through that process. All of this is to say that, for some time I have been engaged in finding new employment for you. It would pain me immeasurably to think that I could release you out into the world with no tether. And for that reason, I have procured a position for you with the Earl of Cunningham, a man of remarkable good standing and admirable income. You shall not need to leave Castle Comb, for his estate is nearby, and you will be entrusted with his younger sister, Deirdre.”
For a moment Emilia was speechless. To have to leave the Hutchinsons would be an enormous change for her, and one she was not yet prepared to make. But still, a strange excitement filled her simultaneously.
“I am sorry for all this,” Lady Barbara said with a warm, apologetic smile. “I’m sure it must come as quite a shock.”
“Yes and no,” Emilia replied, finally finding her words. “I suppose this day was inevitable, was it not? I cannot express how happy I have been in this time shared with Anne and Sophie, as well as your whole family.” What Emilia could not express with words was the notion that the Hutchinsons, as well as the entire staff, had become a sort of family of her own.
“I know that you’ll thrive at Glastonbrook, the earl’s estate. The grounds are much larger than our own, but you will only have one charge to look after and I think that shall make your job much easier.”
But I like my duties here, Emilia thought to herself, craving the rigour of it.
“There is something else that you must know –” Lady Barbara added, and Emilia watched as the woman stopped herself from speaking the final thought that was on her mind.
“What is that?” Emilia asked, leaning forward, sensing that it was something of great import.
“Glastonbrook is . . . different from this home.”
“In what way?” Emilia asked, noting the trepidation on Lady Barbara’s face.
“It shall all be discovered shortly,” Lady Barbara said, her demeanour rapidly changing as she stood up grandly from her chair and exhibited an air of reassurance and good humour again. “But in honour of your good service, allow me to escort you to the kitchen where some friends await.”
Lady Barbara opened the door to her chambers and proceeded down the hall, Emilia in her wake. Winding down the servants’ stairs, something she had only seen Lady Barbara do on one occasion, Emilia entered the kitchen and discovered to her amazement that the entire staff was waiting for her, their faces illuminated by a bright candelabra whose light flickered in the darkness. Upon the countertop was a gorgeous white cake and each had in their hand a glass with libations.
“Enjoy yourself,” Lady Barbara said, taking her leave so that the staff might enjoy their reverie divorced of her company.
A glass was quickly placed in Emilia’s hand, the cake was cut, and slices were served on simple porcelain dishes. Her heart was so full with gratitude, happiness and nostalgia for the past all at once. The staff chatted and gossiped, laughed and shed a few tears.
“On to better things,” Martha the scullery maid said with a gentle Scottish brogue, taking a bite of her cake.
“Yes, that is how I choose to look at it,” Emilia replied with a smile.
“And where is that?” Martha asked.
“What?” Emilia replied, assuming everyone probably knew where she was going.
“Where are you off to, then?” Martha repeated.
Silence ensued. Martha knit her brow in confusion, and that confusion turned to doubt and, lastly, shock.
“Is it Glastonbrook, you say?”
“Yes. To care for the Earl of Cunningham’s sister,” Emilia added.
“My word,” Martha replied, taking another bite of cake. “You’re in for quite a change if all that I have heard is true.” The scullery maid was shaking her head from side to side in dismay.
“What kind of change?”
“I suppose you’re about to find out, then, aren’t ya?”
When Emilia arrived at Glastonbrook, the clouds were grey and the rain was profuse. Her skirts were completely soaked through and a chill overcame her body. There was no need to pay for the coach, as she was told that the Earl of Cunningham would take it upon himself to pay for the fare. It was all detailed in a rather terse letter that was sent to the Hutchinson home days before her arrival:
Dear Miss Stewart,
Your arrival at Glastonbrook is imminent. Please take pains to bring only what is of necessity. The coach and all travel arrangements shall be taken care of. You need only pay consideration to the arrival of your person.
Lord Joshua Forest, Earl of Cunningham
Emilia thought it strange that the earl had said ‘you need only pay consideration to the arrival of you person’. It was an odd way of phrasing it, and Emilia had to wonder what exactly he meant. Aside from the terse letter, she was also made uneasy by how the servants at the Hutchinson home had reacted to her announcement that she was going to be in the employment of Glastonbrook. Most looked at her wide-eyed and confused, and Emilia dared not ask why it was that they were so concerned and bewildered.
Aside from the rain, the general confusion and the slight anxiety, Emilia felt light-hearted within. She was always keen on new experiences and was greatly looking forward to meeting her new charge. She always took such delight in starting over from scratch and the possibility that all new beginnings afforded.
Yet still, she was freezing to the bone. The carriage ride was not long, but there was one window of the coach that did not function properly and, thus, the rain managed to pour through it and soak her all the way. There was only one small bag that she brought with her. Emilia never had much in the way of belongings and, therefore, the earl’s request that she only bring what was of necessity was easily fulfilled.
When they had been travelling for some time, with mud from the ground splashing up from the coach’s wheels, the driver finally turned a sharp right and Emilia found they were moving down a long driveway that was lined with tall, leafless trees on both sides. The road was muddy and rather unkempt. Emilia wondered if, in taking pains to keep the house in good condition, the driveway had somehow been neglected, for surely someone in such high standing as the Earl of Cunningham should take pains with such things as the entrance to his home. Once the long driveway was navigated, Emilia found that what she was greeted with was no less haphazard than the road that led up to it.
Glastonbrook was massive. From the dour, dank facade, Emilia imagined that there were no less than twenty rooms inside. However, the exterior was in such disarray that a huge wave of fear passed through her. Not only did vines crawl up the stone front of the house, but weeds and thistles abounded. From where she sat in the coach, peering out expectantly, she could see cracked windows on the third floor, a toppled topiary with no vegetation growing within it, and broken and damaged steps leading up to the front door. All was in shambles. The cold rain continued to pound, and the grey sky only melded with the grey exterior of the estate, leading Emilia to believe that she had disappeared into a world of dank, cold heaviness.
“This can’t be it,” Emilia whispered to herself, in utter disbelief of what lay before her.
“You better make a mad dash,” the driver said, shielding his face from the rain as he opened the door to the coach.
“Very well then,” Emilia said, never one to be put off by a challenge. She grabbed her small bag by the handle and stepped out and into the mud, feeling the wet earth envelope her dainty boots. She shielded herself from the rain and ran for the front door of Glastonbrook as the coachman had instructed.
Upon reaching the entrance, the overhang finally protected Emilia from the downpour. Her hair fell flat upon her head, which was a nuisance considering that she had taken great pains to set it right that morning. She felt, and looked, like a drowned rat, and she could feel her skin absorbing the cold water. Goosepimples appeared on her flesh, and her hands were icy blue when she removed her soggy gloves.
“My God,” Emilia said to herself, putting down her bag and doing her best to make herself presentable before she knocked on the door. She looked off into the distance where the coachman had already charged ahead, no doubt eager to complete his next job. She was so used to hospitality and care in the Hutchinson household, but she was beginning to wonder if she was in for a real shock at Glastonbrook.
When she had finally composed herself and reached for the large, wrought iron door knocker, she concluded that she was indeed in for a shock. A large spider web had collected there, signalling that the knocker had been neglected for some time. Within the web a large black spider lurked, waiting for its next prey. Slowly and with trepidation, Emilia lifted and dropped the iron knocker, hearing the loud pound that resulted echo somewhere deep inside the house. The spider, in protest, crawled away from where it sat and disappeared behind the base of the lock, no doubt confused that its home was so utterly invaded.
After knocking once and receiving no response, Emilia lifted the knocker and dropped it once more, hearing the large pound that reverberated throughout her entire body. Perhaps the Earl of Cunningham thought she was coming another day? It seemed so odd that it was taking so long for someone to answer the door. Emilia gave it one last go, pounding yet again and then feeling her heart race in fear. Was she at the wrong home? There was no way to summon the coachman back again. What was she to do if it was all just a terrible mistake?
Finally, just as desperation began to take over, the large door was opened and a tall figure peered out. The man was handsome enough, but he wore a frown, as grey and sad as the sky overhead and the building that he dwelled in.
“You are Emilia Stewart,” the man said.
“I am,” Emilia replied congenially, wiping drops of rainwater from her forehead and feeling moisture seeping down her back.
“Do come in,” the man replied, opening the door wider. Emilia stepped within Glastonbrook and disappointment overtook her. The interior of the home was just as cold as the exterior, and no less hospitable. Looking up, Emilia could see that the entrance hall was nearly as tall and vast as a great London museum, and with just as many paintings on the walls. However, the faces that looked back on her frowned as deeply as the footman.
“I’m Hugh,” the man said, standing erect and still, eyeing Emilia from head to toe.
“Hello, Hugh. So nice to meet you,” Emilia said, nodding her head. From the look of him, Hugh had to be no more than five and thirty years of age, with blond hair perfectly swept back and piercing blue eyes. There was fatigue written upon his face, and something that Emilia took to be distrust.
“I do hope that your stay at Glastonbrook will be pleasant,” he added.
“I as well.”
Silence followed. Emilia felt that she was still being inspected and she couldn’t think of anything to say. What she did wish to ask was where the devil everyone was. The house was still and silent and should a pin drop Emilia was convinced that she’d be able to hear it.
“I shall now escort you to your quarters.”
“That would be most kind.”
Emilia walked behind Hugh as he led her down a long corridor and past a large set of stone steps that dramatically climbed upward. Emilia knew intuitively that those steps were not for her. They were for the rich denizens of the estate, whereas the servants would have their own set of steps, as she was accustomed to in the Hutchinson home.
However, in contrast to her former living arrangement, the servants’ steps at Glastonbrook were even colder than the rest of the house, if that were possible. They were also wet, the moisture from outside of the estate having seeped into the little tunnel where the steps wound tightly upward. Emilia held onto the wall in order to steady herself, seeing as there was no railing, and she clutched her bag tightly. Hugh had not offered to carry her bag, and Emilia thought it unnecessary anyway. She was a strong girl and she would not allow harsh living conditions to deter her.
That being said, things got bleaker still when Hugh flung open the rickety wooden door that led to her room. Not sunny and bright like the one she had before. Her new space was barren and empty, with only a small bed in the corner and a desk near the tiny window, which let in almost no light.
“Do make yourself comfortable,” Hugh said, standing in the room with equal stillness as he had in the entrance hall.
“Indeed,” Emilia replied, not knowing what else to say. She put down her suitcase and looked from side to side, trying to let her new reality sink in, just as the cold rain had sunk into her skin. Discomfort filled her as she considered that the room was to be her future home, the place where she would retire to at night and rest her weary head. She would need to brighten it up somehow. Perhaps she could cut fresh flowers and place them in a vase on the desk or set up a little portrait painting that she had of the Hutchinson family. Should all else fail, she could drape a piece of fabric across the bed. Anything to add a splash of colour.
“Do not hesitate to approach me with any questions that you might have,” Hugh said, finally moving from his statue-like stance and exiting the room with haste.
Was that it? Emilia had to wonder if there was nothing else that he needed to impart to her. Where was the earl and his sister? What duties might she expect? What were the hours of breakfast, tea and supper? There were so many questions that she had, yet Hugh departed so quickly that she couldn’t muster the breath to ask him. Instead, she enjoyed a moment to herself, collecting her thoughts and exploring her new living space without being encumbered. Her first move was to walk to the window and see what might greet her there. Unfortunately, when looking down from that dizzying height, all that she was met with was an open field devoid of green or any signs of life. The field seemed to stretch off into eternity, and on the horizon there was nothing but a few broken trees.
“We’ll make the best of it,” Emilia said to herself, turning from the window and picking her bag off the cold stone ground that was only covered by a small brown rug. She placed the bag on the bed and opened it, looking down at her small assortment of belongings. There was no armoire in the room, but rather a tiny closet that Emilia opened. A small mouse scurried out of the closet making her jump, and she wondered how many other rodents and insects might also call Glastonbrook home.
Undeterred, Emilia began to take dresses out of her bag and place them inside the closet, hanging them with expert care. The portrait of the Hutchinson family was lovingly placed upon the desk, and a little porcelain figure shaped like a swan was sat beside it; a memento she was allowed to keep from her former room.
Although these paltry things were not enough to make the room feel like home, they were a good start and Emilia felt less cold and frightened. She sat herself down upon the bed, which was hard as a rock, then looked up towards the ceiling. A hush invaded the room as loudly as a scream. Where was everyone? Glastonbrook was utterly consumed by silence. There was not the squeal of children at play that she held so dear, nor was there the bustle of servants and the commotion of family. Glastonbrook was like a still heart in comparison to the Hutchinson family’s beating, red pulse.
Sighing, Emilia realised that she needed answers. She did not know where Hugh had disappeared to, but she was going to need to find him to learn more. She could not sit in complete quiet in her room for the entirety of the day, left to wonder.
Opening the door and walking down the hall, Emilia found herself tiptoeing, as though afraid she might disturb someone. It was utterly absurd considering that there was no one to disturb. Carefully picking her way down the winding staircase, Emilia held onto the walls yet again, fearing that if she should fall, she’d roll down that tight coil of steps and meet her death.
At the bottom of the stairs, Emilia found the very door that she had passed through earlier, but instead of going right, which would lead her back to the main hall, she went left, hoping to encounter any form of human life, even if it was another mouse.
What she found was exactly what she was hoping for. The kitchen was the first warm room that Emilia encountered at Glastonbrook, even if there was only one person within its wall. A rather large, older woman stood over a cauldron and stirred; the smell of soup entered Emilia’s nostrils.
“Hello,” Emilia said, happy that she had finally found someone to speak with. The woman turned, her face red from the heat of the stove. She wiped her brow. Emilia could see that the woman looked just as weary as Hugh did.
“Yes?” the woman said, straightening the cloth that was tied around her head.
“My name is Emilia. Deirdre’s new governess,” she said by way of introduction.
“I see,” the woman replied, not impressed. “I’m Winnifred.”
“Very nice to meet you, Winnifred.”
“I hope you like rabbit,” she said, rolling the R. Then Winnifred pulled the carcass of a rabbit out of the cauldron and held it up as the soup drained from it.
Emilia thought she might gag, but it was imperative for her to be polite.
“I love it,” she said, trying not to choke. “Might I ask where I can find Hugh?”
“He’s over there,” Winnifred said, pointing to a little door that was on the opposite side of the kitchen. “In his study.”
“I thank you,” Emilia said, crossing through the vast kitchen towards the small door. She knocked on it, and Hugh’s voice could be heard within.
Opening the door, Emilia stifled a laugh, for Hugh’s study was just about the size of her closet, and no less sad in appearance.
“You said that I should approach you with any questions,” Emilia said congenially. “I hope that I’m not disturbing you.”
“What do you wish to know?” Hugh was seated at a desk and writing in what appeared to be a rather old ledger. Should there be anywhere to sit, Emilia would have sat herself, but seeing as there was not enough space, she remained standing.
“Well . . . everything,” Emilia said, having so many questions that she couldn’t think which one to ask first.
“All right,” Hugh replied.
“For instance, where are the earl and his sister?”
“They shall return shortly. The earl needed to go into town on business, and it is his habit to never leave his sister alone.”
“Is there no one else to look after her?”
“That is your job, is it not?” Hugh replied vaguely.
“Yes, I suppose that it is.”
“What else do you wish to know?”
“Where are the other servants?”
“What other servants?”
“Well,” Emilia replied, turning and looking back into the kitchen where Winnifred still stood, “anyone aside from . . . us.”
“There is no one else,” Hugh replied flatly.
“Is that true?” Emilia asked in utter disbelief.
“It is the truth. The earl has chosen to let everyone else go at this time. He thinks it an unnecessary expense.”
“But who takes care of the grounds? Does the linens and looks after the stables?”
“We do,” Hugh replied, nose-deep in his papers.
It was beginning to dawn on Emilia that she was perhaps going to have many more duties at Glastonbrook than she originally assumed. No wonder Winnifred and Hugh looked so utterly exhausted, they were caring for an entire estate, and one twice the size of the estate that Emilia just came from. From the looks of the grounds outside, she could see why there was no gardener at Glastonbrook. In essence, there was nothing to tend to.
“Well, we’ll make the best of it,” Emilia said brightly, exiting Hugh’s study and trying to paint a pretty smile upon her face. But it was all a front, for deep inside, Emilia felt nothing but dread. What had she got herself into, or rather, what had Lady Barbara Hutchinson got her into? Was it a punishment? And if so, what had Emilia done to warrant such a cruel penalty.
She decided to return to her cold room and place herself under the covers, desperately in need of warmth, whilst she anticipated the return of the Earl of Cunningham.
“The Forbidden Passion of a Governess” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
When Emilia Steward is relieved of her post as governess in the Hutchinson family, she finds herself accepting a new position. Upon entering Glastonbrook though, she instantly becomes aware that the mansion is gloomy and neglected, due to an unsolved murder that took place within its walls. Adding to her troubles, she can’t deny her immediate attraction towards the dark and mysterious current Earl of Cunningham. When her secret passion is reciprocated, will she surrender to it? Can true love blossom within this forbidden romance?
Joshua Forest lost his parents under mysterious circumstances at a young age. Ever since, he has been the sole guardian of the Cunningham name and his younger sister as well. When he hires a governess for his sister, he does not expect a ravishing beauty to show up at his door. Their tension-filled encounters make his yearning stronger and stronger but he cannot succumb to the temptation. Will he let the captivating governess in, and allow her to help him escape the ghosts of his past?
They may come from different classes, but neither can deny the immediate attraction between them. For a chance of a future together, they need to work alongside to let go of their past and solve the mystery surrounding the mansion. Until then though, can they resist the temptation, or is their connection too strong to control?
“The Forbidden Passion of a Governess” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.