A Wordy Gift (part 2)

Here is another brilliant fictionalised story about me, given on my birthday by one of my dear friends. 🙂

The Maid From the Manor

Once upon a time there was a young maid who worked in an ordinary manor, yet knew she would always be a maid, for she was not comely or handsome like the ladies of the house. Many times over summer, the ladies — for though they were her age, she thought of them much more highly than herself — would spend all day preparing for a ball, for no house in the shire wanted to seem parsimonious with their estate or friendship. The four sisters talked constantly of beaus and bows — the biggest fashion at the moment. Oh the bows! They argued whether one large bow at the waist was equal to twenty small bows sewn along the hem. Or else they talked of the most eligible men and which might have looked at whom at the last ball. Each of these evenings the maid aided them with their dresses and hair, speaking rarely — for in their excitement, the ladies forgot her. They had never been rude, but of course, she was but a maid.

After working hard through the day, when the ladies rushed off to the carriage with their mother and father, the maid would stop, breathe, and sit. She gazed out at the moonrise and thought of another life, a life she would never have. If she could be a lady, carefree, with such beautiful silks and laces, what worry should she have? Even if not — if someone would truly love her, perhaps she would one day have a home of her own. But she could not every truly imagine that life. It drifted at the corners of her mind, but every time she grasped for the dream, it slipped away, chased by a mop, a broom, or even a rolling-pin. She sighed. There was sweeping to be finished.

One morning, the maid was sent to the market to fetch some ribbon and thread. Greeting the shop owner, a pleasant middle-aged gentleman with intelligent eyes and neatly trimmed brown hair, greeted her. “Amanda, how are you my dear? And isn’t it your birthday?”

Amanda smiled at his friendly greeting. “Well enough, Mr Peters, and yes it is! How kind of you to remember.”

“Not at all. How can we help you today?”

“One of my mistresses tore a hole in her newest frock this morning, and we’re all out of blue satin ribbon. Have you some this morning, and some thread to match?”

Mr Peters assured her they had just what she wanted, and turned towards the storeroom door. “Merrese, the ribbon tray!”

A tray promptly appeared, carried by a young man with curly brown hair and his father’s clever eyes. Amanda inhaled sharply — who was this? His eyes glanced her way and settled there as the laid the tray on the counter and opened the lid.

“Amanda, this is my son Morry. He’s just joined us from school for the summer.”

“Last year, you know,” Morry said with a disengaging smile as he leant over the counter. “Blue, did you say? There’s five colours here, what a choice! Which will you have?”

Amanda took a few moments to get her tongue working again. “Oh, nice to meet you, thank you, please, “she managed, manners at least not deserting her, as she pointed to the ribbon that matched the best.

Mr Peters cut the length she indicated, and deftly rolled it, selected a matching thread, and packaged it. Amanda paid quickly and turned to flee, but Mr Peters stopped her.

“Wait there Amanda, you’ve forgotten something. It is your birthday after all.”

As Amanda turned back to Mr Peters he retrieved a package from under the counter.

“Drat! I won’t be outdone by Father, I won’t, not with the first person I meet,” muttered Morry, and with a sudden movement that boys tend to prefer, leapt upright and raced up the stairs behind his father.

As Amanda opened the carefully wrapped biscuits, made by Mrs Peters and a customary gift for all occasions, thumping upstairs betrayed Morry’s haste, followed by more thumping after the briefest of pauses. Moments later, a neatly wrapped parcel was in Amanda’s hands, a somewhat breathless yet grinning Morry before her.

 “You see, I picked this up from a small bookstore near the school and I knew it just needed a home. Not really my sort of thing, I prefer pirates and the like, but just the thing for a birthday. You see, the owner even wrapped it for me, no matter how I insisted, he would only sell it wrapped, and here it is, he knew what was right after all.”

During this pleasant chatter, the paper was carefully laid aside and Amanda looked down at the gift.

“Please promise you’ll read it,” and Amanda found herself promising, though she had never read such a book before. Usually shopping lists and recipes were all she even had time for. She muttered a thank you and fled.

That evening, when her chores were done, instead of going straight to bed, she examined the gift. What secrets could this hold? She paused, caught by an idea. Could a book such as this give her a dream? And written by a woman! Amanda gently turned the cover, and entered another world.

The maid never knew that not only would that book take her places she could never have imagined, but it would change her life forever. For her friendship with the young man she met that day grew, and shared dreams, one day, became a shared truth.

She was not the only one. For many, going back as far as stories themselves, were changed because of a book. For a story is more than just a story — it is an escape, it is a dream, it is a friendship. It is a gift.

KF

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Published in: on 13th May, 2011 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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