Author: littlemscurious1106 PM
result of a creative writing course at uni...the task given was to incorporate the words "bourbon", "ankle", "confused" and "sacrament"Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Words: 1,140 - Published: 03-03-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3105577
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Rain poured down onto the broad open fields while dark, heavy clouds were looming over the grand estate, set in the middle of a well-kept garden. It seemed as if the pink blooms of the cherry trees were trying to fight the grey dullness of their surroundings with all their might, but eventually they would have to give in. Little streams were flowing through the various flowerbeds already, leaving behind a maze of little pathways in the dark and impregnated soil.
Inside the manor, Mary, the housemaid, did her best to keep the fires in the rooms blazing, which was quite a task considering the sheer size and number of the rooms, but so far she was doing fine and even if she hadn't been successful, it would have been herself probably being most annoyed by it. Who else should care? The only other members left of the household staff were the cook and the gardener, who kept to their own business and parts of the house. And the only other person who should have cared couldn't do so less. Lord Henry Baltimore, head of the estate, lost interest in the household affairs months ago. He used to be a much liked and popular person, a welcome guest at dinner parties, and a successful businessman. Now he counted cigars and bourbon to his best and only companions,while totally neglecting his friends and even his prize-winning horses.
He blamed them for the death of his beloved wife. Lady Baltimore had been a passionate hunter and incredibly confident on horseback, but during a hack two years ago she fell off her horse and broke her ankle. It wasn't anything to worry about and the doctors were pretty sure she would be home just a few weeks after the incident, but she suddenly fell ill with bronchitis and her slim, fragile body was too weak to fight it. She died only two weeks later, leaving behind a devastated husband and, as a consequence, a leaderless household. Henry Baltimore was not the same ever since. Most of the staff had left him one after the other, not being able to stand his tempers any longer. Besides, his disinterest in household affairs made daily life at Riverton Manor rather difficult. Decisions normally made by him, had to be made by others, risking he wouldn't approve of the result. In the end, only three people remained. The cook and the gardener had already worked for Lord Baltimore's parents and therefore already belonged to the inventory of the manor somehow. Mary just didn't know where else to go. She needed the money to support her family and, every week, she also put a little bit aside for herself. Besides, she liked Lord Baltimore and felt sorry for him losing his wife after only three years of marriage. She knew that deep inside, he didn't want to be like this. He was just lonely and hadn't come to terms with the sudden loss of his wife yet.
"Mary?" His deep voice echoed in the grand hallways of Riverton Manor while he was sitting in the big, old armchair in the Gentlemen's Parlour enjoying the warmth of the fire. Only a few moments later, Mary entered the room. Her housemaid's uniform was meticulously clean and smooth. It had taken her ages to get all of the crinkles out of her white lacy apron after washing it the other day. But tidiness and order were important to her. She had to be perfect, wanted to be perfect at all times. She did not necessarily do this to please others, but rather to please herself, to make herself feel better, to feel pretty and good. As she stepped into the room, whose walls were covered with dark green silk tapestry, he looked up. His eyes looked tired and empty, his clothes weren't as neat and tidy as usual and as he sat there, looking all lonely, Mary felt the urge to hug him and tell him that everything would be okay again one day. But she didn't. Her status didn't allow her such a gesture of compassion, so she remained standing opposite him, waiting for instructions. "Would you mind bringing me a glass of bourbon, please? No water, just ice. Thank you!" She nodded with a sympathetic smile on her lips and went over to the drinks cabinet to fulfil his wish.
As she placed the little salver with the glass of bourbon on the side table next to Lord Baltimore, he folded up his newspaper and looked at her. "What do you think about the sacrament of marriage, Mary?", he quietly asked. He looked sincere, as if he really cared about his housemaid's opinion on the matter and, although she had hoped he did think of her as trustworthy and diligent, she did not expect a question like this and was therefore a little confused and taken aback. "To be honest, I don't know, Lord Baltimore. I haven't thought about it really." He nodded and seemed to be lost in thought. Just as Mary wanted to leave him, he asked for her to stay and take a seat opposite him. "You know, Mary, you are still young and I'm sure you have a lot of admirer already, but...I was wondering if you were ever thinking of getting married. During the last months I was, I confess, not a very good guide for this household, leaving you with this heavy burden instead and I am very sorry about that. However, the last months have also shown me, what a trustworthy, clever young women you are and...this house needs a lady in charge just as well as I need a wife by my side. I am sure this comes as a surprise to you and I would completely understand if you denied my question, but...Mary, could you imagine yourself becoming my wife?" The words hung heavy in the air and all of a sudden the fire seemed to be hotter than before, leaving Mary with blushed cheeks and sweaty hands. "But Lord Baltimore..." "Henry,...please call me Henry!", he interrupted her almost shyly. She smiled nervously, not sure how to cope with this situation. "Okay, Lo- Henry. I...I am flattered and honoured by your proposal, but...this is rather surprising and unexpected." He nodded with an understanding smile. "I could understand it, Mary, if this is a decision you do not wish to make without having thought about it thoroughly. Take your time and let me know of your decision whenever you are ready to." She smiled gratefully and thanked him again before leaving him alone again, thoughts racing in her mind.
Life at Riverton Manor continued as normal the days after the proposal...except for the little diamond ring on Mary's finger and the content and happy smile on Lord Baltimore's face.