Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Disappearing Rose

We have now transcribed the second entry from Alfred’s diary.

The text is available to read below and as always, please use the comments section if you wish to discuss your thoughts on the diary. We are especially interested in hearing your opinions on Alfred’s relationship with the lady’s maid, Rose. Keep checking the blog and the Facebook page for updates, as we now begin to restore the third diary entry.


15 August 1890

I awoke last night to the sound of horses.

It startled me as I slumbered and was quite frankly aggravating, as I was fairly tired from working in this understaffed estate. As I peered through the window, I saw the lady and an unknown coachman; obviously it was not Peter, our resident coachman. I also thought I may had saw a third figure, but the darkness hindered my vision and I could not tell for certain. 
Despite the noisy occurrence during the night, the servant’s hall was filled with a certain glee that was quite refreshing. Jack, the gardener of the estate, was at the piano playing Dream Land Op. 59 by the wonderful American composer George Frederick Bristow, which filled the air with a joyfulness that was only raised further once I had caught sight of my Rose. Over these last few days we have become more acquainted, and I do believe my affection for her has grown considerable over this time. Unfortunately, as I am the butler of Barwick Park, it was my duty to stop the music and ensure that everyone was back on track and achieving their daily tasks. I did, however, manage to have a quick word with Rose, which resulted in us agreeing to meet at the hilltop overlooking Yeovil for a small picnic and a spot of painting, whilst the lady visited her relatives at Newton Surmaville.
Even my morning duties seemed to have a positive outcome, as while I was serving breakfast and waiting upon the lady, I attempted to engage her with a conversation regarding the current staff predicament. This often does not go very well, yet, the lady seemed strikingly cheery today and assured me that she would look into the matter later in the week. It was pleasant to see her in such a positive mood and to see a smile, on a far too often saddened face. Seeing this positivity, I made another attempt and asked the lady about the events of the night. She did not take kindly to this question, glaring at me through eyes that swelled with both anger and panic. Instead of answering my query, she stood and began to exit the room, but before she did so, she stopped next to me and told me that the top floor is out of bounds. Before I could reply, she was gone.
My breakfast duties were unsettling to say the least. So I was quite relieved when the lady left for Newton Surmaville, and I could make my way to Rose who was waiting at the hilltop. Upon arriving, I could see that she had changed into a simple, yet elegant white dress. She stood, overlooking the small town below, the wind blowing the dress in such a way that one could swear she had wings and the glaring sun was her halo – indeed an angel, waiting just for me.
We spent a few hours on that hilltop. Me painting her appearance - a fair complexion contrasting the deepness of those blue eyes, and the light streaming through golden hair, like the pure white sand on a tropical beach. Whilst she read The Trumpet-Major by Thomas Hardy, mentioning at numerous moments that she would very much like to take a train to Weymouth at some point in the future.

I promised her I would do so.

Once we had finished our activities, and our picnic that was simple but appeasing, we began to walk back to the estate. Before we reached the house, Rose grabbed me by the arm and drew her face close to mine. Unfortunately, this was only to whisper in my ear. She told me that she had seen something peculiar last night and would tell me more about it later tonight, as the lady had returned to the house and would be needing her assistance. Before she left, her hand touched mine, leaving behind a small pocket watch bearing a Landseer design. When the small hand reached the eight, I would find her in the servant’s hall, she said as she walked away. Her smile was the final parting gift.
I was ecstatic that a woman I held with such high esteem had given a gift to me. Whilst serving tea to the lady, my hand would constantly slip into my pocket just to caress the deer that adorned the cover, only stopping when the lady’s eyes lifted from the table. Her graceful smile from the beginning of the day, was gone, all I could notice now were watery eyes and a vacant expression.
As I walked to the servant’s hall, I tried to dislodge the memory of the lady’s pained appearance, and instead thought about the meeting that was about to occur with Rose. I was both curious as to what she had to say, and eager to thank her properly for the gift she bestowed upon me.
When I arrived at our meeting location, Rose was not there. Instead a note was left on the centre table that simply read:

As I stood motionless, the sound of the piano reached my ears as Jack played The Wind Demon Op. 11 by Charles Jerome Hopkins. It echoed through the corridors and through my heart - a heart that now beats an empty tune.


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