“Last night I saw the photograph,” said Ada. “The one Master David took four months ago of me and the other maids. He had invited me into his room to view it. I had a stern look about me in the picture, as if to say I oughtn’t to be here, what if Mister Toadbright comes and catches us standing about like this. But he didn’t. Just Master David with his head under a black cloth, gesturing with his hand; saying this and that. Iris was the only one of us actually smiling, though Doris had a glimpse of one coming when the flash and bang came. Caught us just like that. Marvellous thing when you think about it. After he showed me the photograph, he became all amorous, whispered into my ear, put his arms around my waist. I ought to have known he was up to something, but I didn’t think. Whisper, whisper, whisper, he went. His breath on my neck; his hands squeezing my waist. Then he kissed me on the cheek; said things; suggested things. Enough to make a nun blush. However, his bed looked lovely and comfortable; his eyes were on me so pleading that I felt all soft inside; my legs became all weak; he kissed me on the lips; I thought I’d never breathe again. I never got back to my attic room until early morning and crept into my own cold rickety bed.
I used to share with May Flowers, but she’s Miss Ellen’s lady’s maid now, gone off with her to a friend’s house in Dorset. Lucky mare. Wish I could get out more. Mind you, she never came to bed until late some mornings. Said Miss Ellen wanting things doing; needed her presence to get this and that done. Long hours she was there. At Miss Ellen’s beck and call. Do this and do that. Now she off out in Dorset.
Iris said that Tommy the footman wants to marry her, but she’s not sure. She doesn’t think Sir Dashpot will let them stay if they marry, and it won’t be easy getting another post for both of them together. Poor mare. Doris came in my room a few nights ago; said Iris wanted her to share with me for the night. I bet I know why, too. Doris didn’t say as much, but she knew. Iris and Tommy. He isn’t backwards in coming forwards as my old mum used to say. Has his hand on her backside in the laundry room sometimes. Just as well old Toadbright hasn’t caught them or they’d be for it. Good luck to her I say.
The cook, Mrs Gatsby, had me running round like a blue-arsed fly this morning; moaning about the ovens; about needing more help in the kitchen; about guests coming almost everyday and her expected to get the meals on time with little help. I heard that a new girl might be coming soon. Master David told me last night. Told me lots of things. I suppose men do when they’re in the mood to do so. I expect the new girl’ll be some young girl from the county knowing damned all about anything and we’ll have to show her it all; tell her the ins and outs of a maid’s job.
I miss May. Had a good laugh with her. Wish she’d not got the lady’s maid job. Don’t see her much now. Doris has her eyes on the deliveryman. He comes everyday with the groceries and things. Has her eye on him all the blooming time. Those big brown eyes of hers. Like cow’s eyes. Big and brown. And that coy look she has. Looking for a husband, I guess. Don’t want to end up stuck here all single and lonely in her old age. She wonders what his name is, if he’s married. Mrs Gatsby said he wouldn’t be interested in the likes of her and that gets young Doris all tearful. Don’t listen to the old bat, I tell her. If he’s unmarried, you are in with a chance as good as any girl. That cheered her up a bit. I can’t bear her walking about the place with a face like an undertaker’s assistant.
Lady Dashpot passed me on the stairs; looked at me as if I’d passed wind. Not a word from her. Just her gaze; cold as ice. Down she went her head to one side as if she’d broken her neck and didn’t want to say. Wish she had the haughty cow.
Sir Dashpot’s all right with me; smiles and says, good morning or good evening or whatever he wants to say and I reply in like manner. Keeping my tongue, hold myself so. Hoping he hasn’t guessed about Master David and me. I’d be out on my ear if he does.
After dinner, Iris had her afternoon off. Tommy was stuck here because Sir Dashpot needed to be taken into London; so needed Tommy to drive the carriage. On my afternoon off, I went to the park; walked around on my own. I wished that Master David would show up; take me off somewhere. But he didn’t. I don’t suppose he even thought about. After all, I’m just a blooming maid; he’s a man of quality with a bright future.
I was warm last night; snuggled down with him on his comfortable bed; lush sheets and blankets. And him kissing me; making love to me; hold me tightly. I wonder if he’ll want me with him tonight? Or will I sleep alone; all cold and uncomfortable in my old metal bed? I had a tiring day today. Been up since five-thirty, hardly a moment’s peace. Old Toadbright chasing me up to do this or that. Me feeling a bit lonely with May gone; Iris with her talk of Tommy; Doris and her deliveryman. And me waiting here wondering, wishing and hoping. And my old bed calling me empty, cold and lonesome.”