A Little Death

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Authors: Laura Wilson
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, Crime
like that be an accident? Even if something had fallen out of the sky—there were no big trees anywhere near, but I suppose it could have come off thetop of the privy, a stone or something—and hit Master Freddie on the head, why didn’t they find it there with him, whatever it was? One thing which I did think was that there might have been something there, but Mrs. Mattie took it away or had it cleared off or something. Not that I’m saying she would have done that, but just that she might have moved something, perhaps because she didn’t know, or… I don’t know. It was a long time ago and it wasn’t all fingerprints and detectives in those days, not like now. I don’t know what the family thought of it. To this day, I’ve never heard Miss Georgina speak one word about it. My thought is that she’s never talked about it to anyone, not even Master Edmund. But what’s the good of he and she talking about it? It’s not going to bring Master Freddie back, is it?
    It was different at Dennys after that. It had been a happy house, but it all began to go down and bad after Master Freddie died. Mr. Lomax arrived the day after and we were all lined up in the drive for him, same as usual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look so unhappy as he did that day. When me and Ellen were upstairs in our little room that night she said to me, ‘He’s taken to drink.’
    I was horrified; ‘That’s a terrible thing to say!’ ‘I can see it, it’s like a hand that’s laid hold of him.’ I said, ‘You want to stop reading silly books,’ because it was so fanciful I thought she must have got it out of a book, not that I ever saw her read one. Well, that was just the start of it, the two of us falling out. We were like cat and dog all summer after that. That particular summer it was
so
hot, and what with our dresses and stockings and stays, and you had all your heavy hair nailed up on your head with great steel pins, nothing felt right. You were just sticky and pricky all day long. And where me and Ellen had to sleep, the room was just under theroof and it was like the fiery furnace. But being in service wasn’t a rest-cure, like it is nowadays, and you had to do your day’s work even if you never got one wink of sleep because you were being boiled in your bed.
    It made me feel wicked to hear Ellen going on about William, so I used to pretend to be asleep. Ellen used to say to me, ‘I don’t know how you do it, Ada. When you get into bed, you just die.’ The hot weather went on well into October—this would have been, oh, four, five months after Master Freddie died and we were getting back to normal. If you want to call it normal, because it wasn’t.
    Anyway, there was one day, mid-October, when we had to wash the china and glass. Not the stuff they used for eating and drinking, this was all the fancy things from the big cabinets. A lot of wealthy people had that sort of thing in those days and they were so valuable they had to be taken out one at a time to be washed. Well, William had to bring them to me, I washed them, and then I gave them to Ellen and she made them shine. We were in the scullery with the door wide open and I had my hands in the sink—which was nice for me, to have my hands in the cool water—and Ellen kept going over and whooshing the back door to and fro to give us a bit of a draught. Trouble was, there was all these wasps that kept coming in as well. I think there must have been a nest somewhere. The kitchen maid put out all these traps for them, glass jars and bowls with water in them and a scrape of honey, so the wasp would go in after it and drown. I was standing there, washing away, surrounded by all these horrible things buzzing and dying, keeping my arms right in to my sides so I wouldn’t get near them. We worked away until we had a lot of china clean and we were waiting for William to come and take it all back. Ellen said, ‘There’s no room here,I’m going to start taking them

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