During my first semester at university, we went on a trip to Gregynog Hall in Wales for the weekend. We were asked to find an object on the grounds and write a piece based around it. I chose the beautiful archway that was located in the front gardens. It inspired me to write a short love story about a Lord and a Maid called The Archway.
‘Oh my Lord, is that the time already?’ I rip off my apron and quickly wash the flour off my hands in the sink.
‘Why? Where are you venturing off to at this hour Mary?’ I spin round to be greeted by the head Butler Mr. Gillespe hovering in the doorway, his eyebrows raised.
‘Nowhere Sir, I didn’t realize how late it was, that’s all.’
He frowns at me. ‘Very well, Goodnight Mary.’
‘Goodnight Sir.’ I wait until I can hear his footsteps fade down the corridor, then hurry to gather my coat from the cloakroom. I catch myself in the reflection of a window, I look pale and exhausted. I wonder if people can tell, he might be able to guess before I tell him. He can always read my face, I feel sick with anxiety at the thought of it.
I take a deep breath in and tighten my bun. I make my way out to the courtyard, the cool air pinching my skin. My breath looms in a cloud of fog around me. He’s already there, stood beneath the archway. Inhaling the frostbitten air, I let it fill my lungs and tiptoe over the crinkled leaves on the ground, careful not to make too much noise.
‘Jonathan,’ I whisper. He gaps putting his hand to his chest.
‘Mary, you startled me; where have you been it’s late?’
‘Sorry my love, I didn’t realize the time.’ He folds his arms around me, stroking my cheek softly.
‘I missed you, my dear,’ he says giving me a warm smile, before lightly pressing his lips against mine. I look into his penny brown eyes and fall in love with him all over again. He’s so handsome, I am still unsure how someone like Jonathan could fall for me “Mary the kitchen maid”. He could have any girl he pleased and yet here he is with me.
Hiding from all his family, keeping secrets. But what if it all changes once I confess my own. He won’t want to marry me, all his family would treat him as an outcast, especially his Father. I don’t understand how Jonathan and his Father share the same blood, his father is a cruel man, nothing but money on his mind, he doesn’t care for those; only those who will add to his fortunes.
Jonathan, on the other hand, is kind and caring. From our first meeting, I knew he was different from his family. He was polite and sincere, he always thanked me every time I served him. I didn’t see it coming, I was walking in the courtyard, I was strolling along in the courtyard when he pulled me to one side; underneath this very archway. He confessed that he couldn’t stop thinking about me, that my blue eyes haunted him every day. He knew it was wrong, his father would never allow it, but he needed to kiss me once, as he had done in his dreams.
I thought he was fooling me at first, but the look in his eyes right before he kissed me, was of a young boy’s excitement on Christmas Day. I know he loves me, yet I still dread to tell him what I know. I’m so scared of losing him, losing what we have.
‘What’s the matter, my dear, are you quite alright? You don’t seem yourself tonight.’
‘Yes I’m fine, just a little under the weather is all,’ I attempt to lie.
‘They have you working too hard in that kitchen, you need to take a few days off my dear. That’s an idea! Why don’t you say you’re visiting your family for a few days. I could say I have a business meeting in the city and we could go somewhere together.’ His face glows at the thought.
I attempt to look happy and force a smile upon my face, I must be a terrible actress because his face turns to concern.
‘ We don’t have to, I just thought it would be nice to spend more than one night together for once.’ He looks disheartened.
‘It isn’t that Jonathan, I want to, it’s just…’
‘What is it, Mary?’
I can feel tears wetting my eyes.
‘Oh my love, what is it?’ He pulls me in closer towards him and kisses my forehead.
‘Do you love me, Jonathan?’ I ask for reassurance.
‘Of Course, I do, you know I love you, Mary.’
‘I’m pregnant.’ He doesn’t say anything, he loosens his grip around me, then lifts my face with his hand so were looking into each other’s eyes.
‘You’re pregnant?’ Why did I tell him, I can see how scared he looks. What have I done?
‘ How long have you known?’
‘Oh Mary, you’ve kept this to yourself for a whole week.’ I nod as my tears escalate into a muffled cry.
‘Mary don’t cry, I’m here now; everything’s going to be alright.’
‘You’re not going to leave me?’
‘No Mary, why would I ever leave you?’
‘What about your Father, I’m going to lose my job, all your family would never approve.’
‘Don’t worry my love, I’ll think of something, not just for us; but for our child.’ He places a hand on my stomach as his face illuminates with a smile.