Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 -

The Housekeeper

by Lucy Appleby
Published: Oct 19, 2013
Words: 22,297
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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The Housekeeper

At first, Martha dismissed the advertisement that appeared in the newsagent's window. It advertised the position of housekeeper, but given that the person who required a housekeeper had the surname Flemscrape, she initially thought the ad was some silly hoax. She filled in an application form anyway. Was Mr Flemscrape for real? Apparently so. He telephoned her two days later and arranged an interview.

Putting on her one and only suit, Martha adjusted her hair, applied a subtle touch of colour to her cheeks and a mellow peach gloss lipstick. The reflection in the mirror looked smart and businesslike. Inspired with a rarely-felt confidence, she smiled, straightened back her shoulders, and left her small apartment, arriving at Lavender Hill some thirty minutes later.

Lavender Hill. It sounded like an old peoples' home, but it looked amazing - being a large house, part of it dating from the Elizabethan period. It was situated in its own grounds at the end of a quiet leafy suburb. Martha's heels tapped on the flagged path. The house was quite beautiful, with mellow stone, wisteria-covered walls and mullioned windows. She reached the front door and rang the bell. From behind the glass panel of the door, she saw a shadow advancing, solidifying as it drew nearer, taking on the form and substance of ... a middle aged man. He opened the door, his face impassive, yet Martha felt herself being under scrutiny.

"Miss Waterstone?" His voice was well modulated, his diction perfect.

Martha nodded, wearing her best smile.

"Martha." His expression softened as he returned her smile. "How nice of you to come along. And how punctual you are." He looked at his watch. It was 2 15pm exactly. "I am most impressed." He smiled and opened the door wider. "Do come in."

"Thank you." She accepted graciously and followed him down the long hallway. He opened the door of a room on the left which led through to a comfortable sitting room, elegantly and tastefully furnished in shades of mahogany complemented by gilt-framed pictures and claret-coloured swagged curtains. A large sparkling crystal chandelier hung from the high ceiling.

"As you see, this is a large house," said Mr Flemscrape. "I need someone who is discreet and trustworthy." He paused.

Martha nodded in tacit agreement. "Of course."

"I think you will find my terms are more than reasonable. You will be required to prepare breakfast, to be served promptly at 8 30am every day except Wednesday and Thursday. From 8 30 until noon you will engage in doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and preparing a light luncheon to be served promptly at 1pm. You may then take the afternoon off and resume your duties at 6 15pm, during which time you will prepare dinner, to be served promptly at 8 15pm. The rest of the evening is yours, and I do not object to the dinner plates being cleared away the following morning, providing the dining room is clean and tidy in time for breakfast. You will have Wednesdays and Thursdays off."