Katherine Holland

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Another short story I wrote for a class.

Submitted: September 27, 2009

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Submitted: September 27, 2009

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September, 1824

Katharine Holland made her way through the crowded, dirty streets of London. Her mind was occupied with thoughts of the ball being thrown by her employers, Lord and Lady Eton. It was to be held in three days time, and cook needed eggs. So Kat had been sent out to fetch some.

Kat was a a sort of 'all purpose maid', and had been since she and her mother arrived at Eton Place eight years ago. Miranda, Kat's mother, had been a maid in the household of Duke Edmond Rochester when she became pregnant with Kat, rumor being that the father was the duke himself. Consequently, she was fired and held numerous short term positions until settling at Eton Place. When Kat was fourteen her mother died of pneumonia, and Kat was grateful that the Etons let her stay on, being younger than the average maid. Kat was now eighteen.

Knowing the way to market place by heart, Kat spent most of her time watching the highborn ladies dressed in fashionable gowns of soft cotton and silk. They looked so happy, the groups of them all clustered together, laughing and pointing into the windows of shops as they passed while their escorts of older women- most likely their mothers and aunts- clucked their tongues disapprovingly and hid their smiles.

Kat looked down at her own clothes, a black woolen maid's uniform with a not-so-white apron. Sometimes she wished that she could be one of them. A highborn lady. Not for a long time, mind you, all that politeness and stiff formality and the endless parties seemed quite tedious. But just for a day...well, it would be a nice change to make the orders instead of follow the orders.

Technically, the odds were quite high that she actually was a highborn lady, though no one at Eton Place knew that. Kat certainly wasn't about to tell anyone, anyways. It would be infinitely embarrassing to be known as the bastard child of Duke Rochester. And besides, she was usually quite content as a maid. She had a roof over her head, and food and enough money to get by on. Just sometimes, sometimes she wanted just a little bit more.

Shaking her head at her own thoughts, Kat purchased the eggs and made her way back to Eton Place. It was about a half hour round trip and Cook was just rolling dough for a peach cobbler when Kat walked in the side entrance reserved for staff that led straight to the kitchens.

The almost continual hustle and bustle of the kitchens, which usually brimmed with people chopping vegetables, curing meat, boiling stew, and baking pastries, was cut down to only Giselle, a thirty-ish year old woman who had just started working in February, and Cook. The low numbers were caused by a strange amount of babies being born and family members dying. When a normal day would easily see fifteen to twenty women working side by side at any given time in the kitchens, they were down to seven- not including Cook. Kat briefly wondered where the missing maids were, but set the thought aside quickly. Nodding to Giselle, she put the eggs on the counter beside Cook.

“There ye' are, sweet,” Cook said with a fond smile.

Kat smiled back warmly, “Here I am,” she agreed.

With a chuckle, Cook took a handful of eggs and set them aside in preparation for her next recipe. “Kitty, be a dear and fetch me some o' tha' cinnamon from the pantry, will ye'? It'll go nicely wi' t' cobbler.” she said, her distinctive accent heavy as she brushed past Kat to grab some sugar from behind her.

“Sure. Do you need anything else while I'm there?” she asked.

“No, dearie, that's all,” Cook replied, and busily shooed her on her way.

Smiling, Kat walked the short hall and into the pantry. The pantry was a large rectangular room, as opposed to the kitchen's squareness, with shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling, except for one large area on the north wall that let sunlight in through glass windows. Each shelf was packed with spices and baking supplies. From the ceiling rafters hung dried corn and sausages.

The air smelled of cinnamon, pepper, and sunshine. Kat breathed deep, loving the scent, and picked out the cinnamon that Cook requested.

As she was entering the kitchen once more, the butler, Mr. Hodgins, came in, apparently looking for her.

“Miss Holland, there is a visitor for you,” he said, in that stuck up snooty way of his. He was a very haughty elderly man, nearing seventy, and walked so upright that he could make a ruler look bent. So pleased was he by his job that he felt everyone else (excepting the Lord and Lady and their three delightful daughters) were dirt under his foot.

How strange, Kat thought. Servants never have visitors that get announced. Usually they would come in the servants' entrance, being servants themselves.

Thoroughly confused, she and Cook shared a look of surprise. Shrugging her shoulders, Kat followed Mr. Hodgins to the drawing room, where visitors were received.

Inside was an elderly man with a large stomach and an unfortunate nose. He introduced himself as a solicitor by the name of Mr. Billington.

Well this is unexpectedly unusual, she thought.

“I'm sure you are probably thinking how unexpected this whole situation is. I assure you, it was quite unexpected.”

Goodness, she thought, he reads minds.

...he continued. “The night before last, the Duke of Rochester passed away in an unseasonal fever. It was quite peaceful, I hasten to assure you. As you know, the Duke has no children. Other than yourself, of course,”

Kat was quite shocked, her mouth hanging open and forming an 'o'.

“Bastard though you may be, and a female to boot, it is highly irregular, but the Duke expressly wrote in his will that in the event of his demise that you should inherit everything. He loathes his cousins with a surprising amount of venomous ardor. Well, that's all I came to say, and if you'll meet me at four o'clock tomorrow at my office then we can square away all the little details.” And then he bowed and walked out.

Kat was absolutely and completely stunned. She stood there for a few minutes in blank shock.

Her first thought was that she didn't want it, her second that the Duke must have really hated his cousins, and her third thought was that she hoped the cobbler wasn't burned.

The Duke of Rochester was really rich. Very, very rich. Astonishingly rich. Maybe too rich.

As she was sitting on the dock of the bay, Kat wondered how she could get rid of it. She certainly didn't want the money.

Maybe I can give it away to charities or something, she thought.

So she did, and everything worked out wonderfully. The summer was over and the living was easy.

THE END


© Copyright 2019 Clarissa. All rights reserved.

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