“That was a very warm cuddle my dears. Now up you go, your new Governess shall be here very soon.”
Rupert and Diana peered over the banister from the top of the staircase.
“Careful Rupert, don’t lean so far! You might fall over the edge!”
“Shhhh! Diana, they will hear us!”
“Good Evening, you must be Miss Douglas.”
“Well, we are very pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Thank you and I yours.”
“Well, do come in, Rupert and Diana are upstairs.”
“I should like to meet them. My, isn’t your house beautiful? Goodness!”
“Thank you. I have to admit to being rather attached to this house, although, it comes from Edward’s side of the family. You will see them shortly. But first, tell me a little about yourself.”
“Well ma’am, I am 17 and well-educated, even though I am from a humble background. There is very little to tell, on the whole I live a very ordinary, unsociable life, although I am never idle.”
“Ah, that is always good. We like our staff to be hard-working.” Edward smiled, placing an arm around Lucinda.
“I will go and get the children Miss Douglas, one moment.”
“Please excuse me Sir , but isn’t that not a servant’s job?”
“No, no. Well, not in this household.”
Edward climbed the stairs, knocking on the nursery door. “Children?”
“Miss Douglas is here, come down and meet her my dears, she is to be your new Governess, providing your Mother is happy with her work.”
“Father?” Diana whispered, clutching his hand.
“Yes my pet?”
“Umm, nothing.” Diana’s bottom lip trembled.
“Do not be frightened little one. Come along, shall we go downstairs and be sociable?”
“Here now, here she is. Children, this is Miss Douglas and Miss Douglas this is Rupert and Diana.” He eased Diana forwards a little.
“Oh what beautiful children you have, how very charming!”
Diana and Rupert gazed at the tall, raven-haired girl who stood before them. Her mouth curled into a smile.
“How do you do? Who might you be?”
Diana stood in silence, Rupert nudged her arm, clearing his throat. “I am Rupert, one of a twin. This is Diana.”
“Oh he always tries to sound so grown up!” Diana rolled her eyes. “I am Diana.”
“Ah, you are a pretty little girl aren’t you? Just like your Mother. If you don’t mind me saying Ma’am.”
Diana’s eyes sparkled, Lucinda smiled a secret, soft smile.
“She must want her eyes testing.” Rupert muttered, Lucinda laughed, holding Edward’s hand in hers.
“Now, now children please be good. Miss Douglas, Rettie will take your bags and show you to your room. Once you both return, Lucinda and I will have to go. Rupert, Diana, please return to your bedroom.”
“Thank you.” Miss Douglas smiled, glancing at a pale Lucinda who was adjusting her gloves and new sash.
“That is a very beautiful gown ma’am, is it new?”
“Yes! Edward surprised me today.”
“It suits your colouring well.”
“What a lovely compliment, thank you Miss Douglas.”
“Come along Miss Douglas.”
“Thank you Rettie.”
“Miss Douglas, if there any problems tonight, do not hesitate to ask Rettie.”
“The children’s room is directly above yours, any nonsense from them and I can assure you that you will hear them quite clearly.”
“Yes sir. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Miss Douglas and thank you.”
“Yes Miss Douglas? Oh sorry Miss am I striding too far ahead?”
“No, it is not that. This house isn’t haunted is it?”
“Now what ever made you think of such a thing? I don’t think it is, or at least not that I am aware.”
“You have an accent, where are you from?”
“The North East.”
“Ah, I thought so, although, your accent is more refined. Well, go and check on the children. Then, we are having some cups of tea in the servants quarters if you’d like to sit with us. Have you travelled far?”
“Yes quite far. I have to admit to being hungry.”
“Here, I will wait for you while you look in on the twins.”
Miss Douglas slowly climbed the stairs, glancing into the children’s room. Much to her relief, they were sleeping soundly. She gathered her skirts, rejoining Rettie at the bottom of the stairs.
“They are both asleep.”
“Ah, you are lucky.”
“Oh, are they not normally at this time?”
“Sometimes, sometimes not, you can never really tell with the Ashdown twins. Here we all sit in here, but there is no-one about. It is only 10pm, how strange, normally we all sit down from 10-10.30pm when all our chores are done. Would you like tea?”
“Yes please, do you have sugar?”
“Sugar? Heavens no! It is only the family and their guests, it is very expensive, we would never expect sugar.”
“Oh, I shall have to do without.”
Rettie raised an eyebrow, continuing to pour the steaming tea into two hand-painted tea cups.
To be continued…