Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Transition

Here is the transcript of Alfred's first diary entry.
 Do you have any thoughts on Alfred or what may happen next in his life? If you do, or if you'd like to discuss the document with other readers, please use the comments section to express your views. In the meantime, we will be working on the second diary entry and our progress will be trackable using the Facebook page.


10 August 1890

‘Loyalty is a butler’s best tool’, my father once said.

These words have helped me greatly when serving as the butler of Newton Surmaville. A truly breathtaking estate, especially for a man who can appreciate the finer things in life. It houses paintings by artists such as Edward Armitage and Paul Cézanne, and features a library filled with first editions from esteemed authors like Thomas Carlyle and Henry James. So as you can imagine, I am going to miss the house greatly, for I have been requested to serve the Wolfthorn family at Barwick Park, which is just a short walk away. The reason for this transition is because of the recent departure of my dear father who passed away earlier this week. A fine butler himself, I owe much to his teachings and guidance. Unfortunately, we never spent much time together during his later years, due to our professions, but we still spoke through letters whenever possible.

I shall miss him dearly.

Upon arriving at the estate, I spoke to Lady Margaret Wolfthorn, a widowed woman who lives alone, which is a little unorthodox but it is not my place to pass judgement. She seems to be a stern woman, who treasured the service of my late father. Apparently, it was a personal request that I take his position, which was rather touching I must say. As I left to attend to my father’s belongings, she gave a slight smile, yet in her eyes I could sense a type of sorrow one feels when they have lost a loved one. A look I know all too well.

My father did not have many belongings when he passed on. A simple man in many regards, but one who was greatly respected wherever he went. I sorted through his documents and personal effects, a task that was quite difficult I must admit. Whilst organising these items, my eye caught hold of a small box on a shelf above the desk. Quite captivating to look at, it was decorated with carvings that were exotic in nature, yet was seemingly impossible to open. I cannot recall my father having such an item when I last saw him, so as you can imagine I was extremely keen to have a peek inside. Yet, I could not work out how to open it, for there was no latch or lock of any kind, a truly baffling contraption.

I decided to put the box aside for the time being, and as I did so, I saw a figure standing in the doorway. A woman with golden blonde hair and eyes that were reminiscent of Van Gough’s Starry Night - vibrant and enchanting. She smiled and told me that the lady herself gave the box to my father as a present for his unrelenting service to the Wolfthorn family. She also told me how to open it. Her name was Rose Burns, and she was the lady's maid. I thanked her for her assistance in the matter and watched as she gracefully exited the room and walked down the stairs, like a pure white swan submerging into a still lake.

When I was alone again with the box, I decided to have another attempt. Rose told me that the key was to slide the midsection to the right, and that would unlatch the lid. This seemed to do the trick, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found within. It was a small silver ring, the ring my father gave to my mother on their wedding day. Simple and refined, much like himself, the ring is not worth much money, nevertheless my father believed it was priceless, as it was the only tie he had with mother after her passing. Seeing the ring again reminded me of their affections for each other, and gave me solace to think that they are now reunited once more.

With my father’s belongings sorted and my own possessions moved in, I began to look through the house logs to see how the house was being kept and the amount of staff we have employed. I was rather shocked to discover that aside from myself, the only staff working for the Wolfthorn family were: 3 housemaids, a cook, a scullery maid, Rose (the lady's maid), 2 gardeners, a groom and a coachman. Seriously understaffed for a house of this size. With there being no footman, it would seem that I would have to perform these duties, and discuss the issue with the lady herself. It is fortunate that her brother, who owns the illustrious Newton Surmaville, an estate that I fully regret leaving, supports her.

Having so many duties must have been a heavy burden on my father and I can now see why he was struck with ill health. I think of him now as I prepare to secure the house and check on the fires. His words of loyalty lingering on my mind, alongside the porcelain face of Rose, the lady's maid

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