Status: writing!



The rain poured heavily that cold March night, drowning out the sounds the horses hooves made on the dirt road and the yells of the men directing the beasts. I drew my shawl closer to myself when the coach hit a bump in the road, not used to travelling such a long distance in one day. I prayed to make it safely to Melbourne, where I shall begin my new life and disregard my past as if it were a stray thought of the mind.

My employer knew little of my eighteen years. Besides the fact that I was devoted to my studies whole heartedly since I was taken to an institution at seven, the responder to my advert in the paper was kept in shadow. Clutching my right arm at the thought of my childhood was out of mere habit, due to all the pain inflicted on that spot before I turned the lucky age of seven.

Such ugly thoughts were halted with the abrupt stop of the horses. I held my breath until the door was swung open by the coachman who, without a word, roughly unloaded my trunks and with a small tip of his hat, vanished into the night. I stood in the rain for some minutes wondering where I was. My eyes soon managed the aptitude of darkness, rendering me speechless in an instant. The image I beheld ordered a smile that already bubbled to the surface.

What stood before me was Melbourne Hall, a stately home in the heart of Derbyshire, and where I fully intended to serve as long as I was needed. Although nighttime, I could make out the exterior of the manor, a large outline indeed. Small details were not seen but I promised to stand here when bright, to appreciate the building to its fullest decree. A shadowy figure emerged from the stables to the side of the property, and when coming closer I observed that it was the stable boy, a little younger than myself.

“Sorry miss to keep you waiting- Mrs. Bennett informed me of your arrival just this afternoon. I am in the correct understanding you are to be the new governess, Miss Cranford?”

I nodded my head before realizing it was too dark to see a tacit movement. “Yes, I’m to be the new governess.”

Another man was called over to help with my things before I followed the two through a side door of the grand house which brought us to the kitchen. The room had little decoration, the stone walls and floor strewn with worn rugs accented its humble stone fireplace, extinguished now as it was late. The younger of the two pointed to a door, “Take that door and turn left, Mrs. Bennett is expecting you there.” I thanked them both before taking his advice.

With a slight creak, I slowly pushed the wooden door open to see a quaint room with a fire blazing and an occupant sitting alone beside it with her back to me. Mrs. Bennett rose and as she walked towards me, I was put at ease with the old woman’s simple dress and welcoming face. “You must be Miss Cranford! It is so good for you to come a few days earlier than what was requested. I apologize for the conditions you had to travel in. Dear me, I don’t remember such an awful rain storm!” As Mrs. Bennett spoke, she untied my bonnet and cloak, leaving me in my plain gray dress with my wet hair down to be elbows. What a sight I must’ve been!

“Oh it’s quite alright- the coachman made good time despite the rain and we only stopped twice on our entire journey.” I politely responded, slowly edging towards the fire for warmth.

“Only twice? From Somerset I would think more stops would be- Oh where are my common manners! You are practically dripping child, I’ll call Grace for some tea. Do sit down, I’ll be back shortly.” And in flustered flurry, the woman was gone, leaving me alone by the crackling fire. I had only been sitting for a minute or so when I heard a loud scream from a far off place in the house- a man’s deep voice soon followed it, then a bustle of footsteps. I exited the room quickly to get a better listen when I bumped into a woman holding the tea, which I assumed was Grace.

“Sorry,” I said breathlessly, high-strung from the commotion. Silently, the woman set the tea down on the table and walked quickly down the hall, to the direction of the noise. With nothing to do but follow, a most horrible scene met my eyes. A woman was on the floor of the foyer, bleeding heavily from an undisclosed place. By the conditions of the railing of the stairs, it seemed she was either intentionally pushed or threw herself from the top stair. A man with gray hair was aiding her, along with the two men who had helped me with my trunks. What looked like a nurse ran to the frantic woman’s side, tying bandages on her left arm and leg as both seemed broken.

“My child! He took my child!” She repeated frantically, moving so much it took two more people to retain her. After she was carried away to be further treated, the gray haired man stood from where he knelt, surveying the group that surrounded the scene to look for signs of guilt. He stopped on my face, an unfamiliar one.

He took three long strides towards me and after studying me for a moment, demanded, “Who are you?”

“The new governess, sir. I’m Miss Jane Cranford from Somerset.” My name set a light off in his mind but he only nodded slowly.

“Why are you wet?” He asked with what could be mistaken as scorn but I soon took it as his nature.

“There’s a heavy down pour outside, sir. I only arrived about ten minutes before this tragedy.” I stared at the large pool of blood on the rug as I said this.

“What a terrible tragedy to have witnessed just upon arrival. I hope this does not cloud your impression of Melbourne Hall?”

I was surprised by how little he cared about the woman, but concealed this well, “Not in the least. Accidents like these inflict houses all the time, sir.”

He stared at my face for a while before half whispering, “Yes, an accident it was.” Then he gave instructions for everyone to return to bed as the man soon did himself. I was unable to move myself from that spot, break my eyes from that stain, until I felt a wrinkled hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Mrs. Bennett, her eyes brimming with salty tears.

“Are you all alright? That must’ve been frightening for you, my dear. How about we warm up that tea-” she gently directed my body away from the scene and towards the sitting room, “it may settle your poor nerves.” My nerves were well shaken, and it took three blankets and two cups of tea for me to relax enough to speak.

Mrs. Bennett was busying herself about the room, only sitting down after I asked the question, “Will I meet my pupil tomorrow?”

“Oh yes! Little Elizabeth has been counting down the days of your arrival since I told her of you a week ago. A lively girl, she is- but quite a handful.”

“Is that why my position became available? Could the governess not control Elizabeth?” I set my cup down with a hint of worry.

The old woman’s eyes flickered to me then to the flames which flickered as well. The time of silence grew, as did my imagination and when she noticed my restlessness gave a small smile, “The governess before you, a Miss Richards, passed away a month before your arrival.”

I held a hand up to my face to cover the noise my breath made as it caught in my throat. “May I ask of what she died of?”

“Poor thing had caught Typhus while visiting her family in Bermondsey and died on her return. Elizabeth cried for days although she didn’t like her much.” My crushed spirit prompted the woman to hand me her handkerchief, which I declined. After a few more minutes of studying me and my distress, she rose and offered an arm which slid through mine. “Better show you to your room, I’m sure this was frightening.”

Down halls and through doors we walked in silence, my eyes fixed on the spot of light where the candle Mrs. Bennett held shown glimpses of paintings and portraits of past owners. Finally stopping at a door, she entered first and as I followed I secretly wished I had more than two eyes since there was so much to be seen! As I marveled at the hand crafted fireplace, she set the candle down and turned down my bed.

“I hope you don’t mind, since we have so many servants right now, Mr. Winchester thought it best to place you in one of the front rooms, near Elizabeth.”

“Of course I don’t mind in the slightest, it’s beautifully decorated.” My voice trailed off as I studied a book sitting open on one of the tables.

“Well since its rather late, good night Jane. I’m so glad to have you here.” Her last sentence made me look up as she continued. “As many servants as there are, I am above talking to those inferior. It’s nice to have somebody to be an equal again.”

I nodded and gave a small smile, “I hope I can serve as a fine equal and governess during my stay, thank you.” She bowed her head in agreement before closing the door. Easily loosening my corset, I slipped into my night gown and laid down for a good night’s rest. The only thing keeping me from sleeping was my curiosity about what had happened tonight. I had forgotten to ask Mrs. Bennett about the woman, but I figured she wouldn’t tell me much, as I have a look of uneasiness even now.
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I have been listening to the Jane Eyre soundtrack on repeat while writing, really beautiful compositions by Dario Marianelli. My personal favorite is Waiting for Mr. Rochester. Both for the name and the lovely violins.