Join date: Jun 10, 2022


‘I hope so an’ all. I . . . I’d like you to meet her. You’d like her, I know you’d like her, and what’s more, well, being you you’d bring her out, ’cos she’s quiet. You have that habit, you know, of bringing people out, making people talk. You got me talkin’ the night all right about Newcastle’

Janie stood for a moment blinking up at him and slightly embarrassed and affected by the tenderness of this lanky, kindly young fellow. His simple talking was having the same effect on her as Rory’s gentle touch had done. She felt near tears, she had the silly desire to lean forward and kiss him on the cheek just like a sister might. But that was daft, there was no such thing as sisterly kisses. That was another thing her grannie had said and she believed her. There were mothers’ kisses and lovers’ kisses but no sisterly kisses, not between a man and woman who weren’t related anyway . . . Yet the master kissed his sister-in-law, she had seen him. Eeh! what was she standing here for? She said in a rush, ‘Good night, John George. And thanks again, I’ll see you next Sunday. Ta-rah.’

‘Ta-rah, Janie.’

She hurried up the side path, but before opening the kitchen door she glanced back towards the gate and saw the dim outline of his figure silhouetted against the lamplight, and she waved to it; and he waved back; then she went into the house . . .

Mrs Tyler, the cook, turned from her seat before the fire, looked at Janie, then looked at the clock above the mantelpiece before saying, ‘You’ve just made it.’

‘There’s three minutes to go yet.’ Her retort was perky.

She wasn’t very fond of Mrs Tyler. She had only been cook in the Buckhams’ household for eighteen months but from the first she had acted as if she had grown up with the family. And what was more, Janie knew she was jealous of her own standing with the master and mistress.

The cook never said anything outright to her but she would talk at her through Bessie Rice, the housemaid, making asides such as ‘Some people take advantage of good nature, they don’t know their place. Don’t you ever get like that, Bessie now. In Lady Beckett’s household, where I did my trainin’, the nursemaid might have her quarters up on the attic floor but below stairs she was considered bottom cellar steps. Of course, a governess was different. They were educated like. Why, in Lady Beckett’s the still-room maid sat well above the nursemaid.’

On the occasion when this particular remark was made, Janie had had more than enough of Lady Beckett for one day and so, walking out of the kitchen, she remarked to no one in particular, ‘Lady Betty’s backside !’


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