by White Hat
Beginning of a story about a wealthy girl and her secret relationship with her servant.
| When I was a little girl, before I even began homeschooling, there was a particular creek that I loved to play in during the summers. At that age, it didn’t take much to keep me entertained or happy; just trying to sneak up on, and then trap, tadpoles and tiny fish in between my hands would keep me occupied and content for hours.
Every time summer arrived and I felt the temperature begin to rise, I became giddy with excitement, because in the summer almost all the families in our town frequently brought their children down to the creek to play there together with one another. Meanwhile, the parents and other relatives stood off among the trees, watching us idly from afar as they smoked and gossiped.
When we, the children, were left together by ourselves, we were free to invent whatever games we liked. During one particularly memorable summer, we created a game where each of us would play as characters in a kingdom. Every kid was free to create whatever title or role they wanted for themselves. Still, most kids stuck to fairly predictable roles such as kings, princesses, soldiers, or knights. I wanted to be a princess myself, just like most little girls. However, there was one strange skinny boy who insisted on playing as a horse. They called him Jeremy. Without a trace of hesitation or self consciousness, he got down on all fours, made neighing sounds, and pretended to graze out in the tall grass.
I noticed that most of the other kids seemed to avoid him, probably because they thought he was too strange, leaving him to play mainly by himself. But I, on the other hand, found myself entertained and impressed with his creativity and, feeling concerned that he might be lonely, I decided to go join him.
As I approached him, crawling around on his hands and knees, he looked up quickly, seemingly startled in surprise.
“A horse needs an owner,” I told him, matter-of-factly.
He blinked in confusion and gazed at me blankly for a moment.
“I’m Clara,” I informed him.
Then he slowly began to smile, and then laugh.
From then on during that summer, I played as his owner, pretending to feed him and brush his fur, and in exchange he helped me hunt for tadpoles. We made a pretty good team.
As all of us kids grew older and got to be around school age, I spent less and less time with my creekside buddies, until I no longer saw them at all. Instead, I began to spend most of my time in my family’s large mansion on a hill, where I was homeschooled along with my sisters. My parents hired a governess to give us our education.
My mother Angeline is well known throughout the town for her remarkable beauty. Hers is a case of a woman who managed to “marry up”, and considerably so, to my father Arthur. Admittedly, she came from a fairly well off family to begin with, the youngest of five children, but my father had been in a different league altogether. Born into the ultra wealthy, famous, and prominent Washburn family, he was the son of one of the country’s top political leaders. They met at an aristocratic ball where my mother is said to have caught his eye almost instantly with her impressive appearance, along with her elegant nature, and impeccable manners. As a man who was accustomed to claiming all the best and most beautiful things in life for himself, it is said that he knew right away that she was the woman he needed to marry.
So they did marry of course, and had three daughters: me, the oldest, and my sisters Tina and Amelia. To my family, life is all about status and power, earning it as well as keeping it. My sisters and I are constantly reminded by our parents that our destiny in life is to become the most perfect possible wives for the sons of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful families, to help make important political decisions alongside them as well as to help them relax, keep them pleasant company, and obviously also to bear their children and raise them well.
My father had long promised that he would grant me two of my very own servants as a gift on my twentieth birthday. They were presented to me in the kitchen that morning. They were two boys, both around my own age. They were wearing tattered clothes, and had messy hair that stuck out in every direction.They had dirt on their cheeks, and were panting as though they had just done hard labor. One of them, the slightly taller one, was blond, with pink, sunburned skin and freckles. He was also thicker and more muscular, and looked as though he was probably much stronger than the other boy, who had a nest of curly dark hair, and was thinner and paler, as well as more timid-looking.
They both wearily bowed down to greet me, and introduced themselves. The blond boy’s name was Michael. Then, as the dark-haired boy rose back up from his bow and looked into my face, his eyes widened in surprise. For a moment, I wondered what he was surprised at, but then I took another, closer look at him, and felt my own jaw drop in amazement.
“Jeremy?!” I cried out.
He nodded slowly, eyes still wide.
“Yes, Clara, it’s me,” he said quietly.
For a moment, we just stared at each other in disbelief.
“What’s the matter? Is there a problem?” my father cut in.
I caught my breath.
“No, Father, not really. It’s just that… I know him.”
“You KNOW him?” He looked confused. “How do you know him?”
“We used to play together near the creek when we were little.”
“Oh… as children?” He asked. I sensed his annoyance. He sighed. “I see. Well just silly matters then, nothing important,” he said. But then he seemed to have a sudden thought. “But will it be a problem for you, Clara?” he asked. “Should we find you another servant instead?”
I paused to consider for a moment. I noticed Jeremy looking at me silently, questionly.
“No, no,” I said suddenly. “I don’t see why it should be a problem. Let’s keep him with us.”
Father looked relieved and gave a slight nod.
“Okay, good. But just remember. The relationship between you two is master and servant. Not friends, whatever might have happened before. Remember to always behave properly.”
“Yes, of course, Father.” I said.
And that was that.
So Melinda, my parents’ old servant, led Michael and Jeremy away to the room in which they would be staying from then on. There, they would receive instructions for their new roles and duties in our home.
That evening, there was a tea party held in our mansion, as usual.
“Did you you hear, Mrs. Washburn? There’s been some gossip about someone plotting to take over your family’s power,” said Mrs. Bouchard slyly in a hushed tone, almost smiling, tossing her red curls over her shoulder.
Mother went a little pale, but she forced herself to smile politely.
“No Mrs. Bouchard, I have not heard of that yet, but anyway I’m sure it can’t be true. Our family is really in a great position right now, and we’re only planning to expand. Besides, we’re pouring so much of our hopes and resources into our daughters to ensure that they have bright futures. Remember that, Clara,” she added, turning to me briefly and giving me a small pinch on the shoulder.
I flinched, but I also forced a polite smile. “Of course, Mother,” I answered.
Mrs. Bouchard laughed.
“Oh yes, I’m sure you’re right. Your family does seem to be doing very well now, I must admit,” said Mrs. Bouchard, looking around at our huge and well decorated home. She waved a hand in a dismissive gesture.
“You’re right, you probably shouldn’t pay much attention to this gossip. I just thought I’d let you know in case the rumor reaches you, so that you would at least hear it from me first.”
“I see, well that is considerate of you, thank you Mrs. Bouchard,” said Mother.
“No need to thank me. Just telling you as a friend.” She smiled sweetly.
I rolled my eyes internally. Mrs. Bouchard was really the worst. But at the same time, I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Who could be spreading these rumors, and how true might they be?