• harveyvickie

A Life of Drudgery

A cry from the attic bedroom

a slap and the baby cried,

The mother looking bedraggled

had been stripped of any pride.

So young and pretty she lay there

upon that blood soiled sheet,

Her life lay with her in tatters

the baby’s heart faintly beat.

The wind outside blowing fiercely

blew the torn curtains aside,

A mouse scurried o’er the floorboards

and the baby gently cried.

As if it knew its place already

too scared to cry in the dark,

And there on the babies forehead

was the same Masters birthmark!

The girl in the bed was so tired

but work was waiting next day,

Even though she’d got the Masters child

she needed to pay her own way.

For if the Mistress had got wind

she’d have them both thrown out

Because although he was Master

it was she who had the clout.

Grace had managed to hide her plight

from the others in the house,

They’d taken pity when she came

straight from the local workhouse.

With some cleverly placed clothing

there was only one who knew,

The cook was world wise and knowing

kept her secret as she grew.

It was she who helped at the birth

took care of the frightened girl,

Kept her away from the mistress

kept her away from the Earl.

It wasn’t the first time the Master

had an affair with a maid,

It was well known in the village

on all young girls he preyed.

The cook brushed a hair from her brow

Grace held the babe on her arm.

Come tomorrow the child must go

away from the Master and harm.

Her sister would take the wee one

though she’d got three of her own,

The young girl would keep the secret

until the baby was grown.

Grace snuggled down with her newborn

for at 5am she must rise,

She dreamt of a life far away

and brushed the tears from her eyes.

Early the very next morning

she could hardly rise from bed,

Dressing by flickering candlelight

she kissed the baby’s head.

Grace slipped her print dress over her head

donned apron and white cap,

Rubbed her well worn hands with lemon

when on the door a tap

The noise was almost deafening as

she opened the creaking door,

Her sister had come to take away

the child she had just bore.

Down the dusty old winding stairs

she tiptoed through the hall

Into the dark cold dining room

she clung on to the wall

She swept the floors and dusted

brushed the Masters attire

Laid the table for breakfast

put a lucifer to the fire.

Grace rushed her own meagre breakfast

mopped the sweat upon her brow,

Knew she should make it through the day

just didn’t really know how.

The dining room bell made her start

woke her from her trance

She ran up the stairs, opened the door

the Mistress gave her a glance.

“Serve the Master, he’s going out!

Are you not feeling well?

We rang three times, were you asleep

did you not hear the bell?”

No answer was needed as she served

she should be seen – never heard,

The eyes of the Mistress followed her

the Master never stirred.

Grace after serving, left the room

was glad to be out of there,

Got a feeling of impending gloom

as she climbed up the back stair.

In her weakness she missed the step

lost her balance – began to fall,

Rolled back on the stairs stirring dust

smashed her head on the bottom wall.

Blood oozed from a gash on her head

the old cook rushed in and screamed,

Followed close by the Mistress

who shook her fist and blasphemed.

‘What the hell is wrong with that girl

she was useless at breakfast too,

I suppose she’ll be off for days

What are we going to do?’

A mirror was fetched from the kitchen

and placed to the young girls lips,

‘You no need worry about that Mistress

the poor young thing’s had her chips.’

Grace was buried in a paupers grave

along with another female,

In a dark part of the churchyard

where the wind would blow a gale.

It’s said on a dark cloudy night

when the wind is blowing wild,

A woman’s voice above the roar

crying out loud for her child.

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