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The Maid

 Paul Holbrook 

Excerpt from forthcoming Novel Domini Mortum crowdfunded by Unbound

Paul Holbrook is a writer from North Yorkshire. 
Although rushing headlong towards middle age at a nauseating speed, Paul only started writing with any serious intent a couple of years ago after finding that his subconscious had been unnaturally busy, trapping an ever growing and dangerous gang of ideas deep within his brain.

Paul currently spends his days working at a secondary school, supporting the development of the next Great British generation and his nights plotting and planning the next Great British novel


Visit Paul’s Unbound page to learn more about Domini Mortum and to pledge your support

          In the later years of my youth I became a sullen and rude individual.  I spent long hours out of the house, both working as an apprentice artist and writer at The York Herald, a position which to my annoyance involved precious little in the way of drawing or writing, and out of working hours touring the pubs of the city where I would sit in booths and observe the harder side of life around me.  Often I would not return home until late in the evening, sometimes worse the wear for drink, where Mrs Coleman would fuss and harry around me, attempting to get me to eat something wholesome before I retired to my room.

          My father was rarely at home either, since Mother’s incarceration it would seem that he had been freed to spread his ministry further, spending long hours, like me, around York aiding the ‘welfare’ of the fallen and broken.  I knew this to be a lie, of course.  Often I would see him in the pubs and on the streets, drunken and licentious, using the collar around his neck as a tool for his philandering.  He did not see me of course; I melted into the background, a skill which I had developed over many years of wandering the city.

          My anger towards him was immense.  He was immoral and disgusting to me, having failed in his duties as a husband and a father because of his primal urges and detestable desires.  He had had his own wife locked away to pursue these addictions and had left me to my own devices and the care of his house staff.

          Mrs Coleman, although I know disappointed by my lack of presence in the home, felt maternal love and worry for me.  She would push me to eat well, always having a breakfast ready for me each morning, no matter how unwell I felt, and would ensure that my clothes were kept clean and my appearance presentable before I left the house for work.  I complained loudly and bitterly at this cloying behaviour but knew deep down that she meant the best for me and was only trying to replace the care that Mother would have provided had she not been imprisoned.  What she thought of my father’s actions I can only begin to imagine, as I am sure she knew the true nature of his ministries. My relationship with her daughter, Victoria was somewhat different.  I took advantage of my position as the son of her employer in a terrible way.  I abused her good nature, I lied to her giving her hope, and then I cast her away when my actions caused a problem.  For it was when I had not long passed the age of eighteen when she fell pregnant and my world began to fall apart.

          She came to me with the news in secret, she was excited and saw it as a sign that we should be together.  I had put these thoughts into her head for years, with the grievous intent to get what I wanted from her and now she discovered how untrue all my words were.

          “Are you sure it’s mine?”  I had asked her coldly, knowing

            full well that it would be.

           Her eyes were suddenly red rimmed as she realised that there would be no happy future for her in all of this.  There would be no fairytale of the young servant girl saved from a life of servitude by the dashing son of her employer; a fairytale, I regret to say, that I had fed at every given opportunity since first drawing her into the dark folds of my affections.

          “We will go to see my father about this, he has been helping poor unfortunates like yourself for years, and he will know what to do.  He will know to fix the problem.”  The shock on her face was both concrete in its severity and, at the same time, like melting ice as her face slowly drooped in the realisation of her circumstance.  “There will be no mention however that it is mine, none at all.  As far as my father and your mother are concerned I am merely helping you in this terrible situation that you have got yourself into.  There is a way out of this for both of us but if you talk of what has gone between us I will make sure that both you and your mother are put out onto the streets.  Do you understand me?”

          Still she did not speak, but nodded her head in an incredulous fashion. 

          There, it was done.

          She told a good tale to my father when we went to see him.  A tale of delivery boys who she had met but the once and whom she had never seen again.  I am not sure that he believed her, he played along however and spoke to Mrs Coleman amid much tears and anger at her foolish daughter.  All the while Victoria did not speak of what had gone between us and I, for my part did not involve myself in any of the discussions or actions hereafter.

           It was decided that the child must go before being born, Father knew of a ‘discrete friend with medical experience’, who he had called on in the past for circumstances similar to these (in the back of my mind I wondered at the depth of his involvement in these ‘circumstances’).  Mrs Coleman took my father’s assurances of the man’s abilities in good faith and, less than a week after Victoria’s admission to me, she was taken in Father’s carriage to a property on the south western fringes of the city for the procedure.

          The maid did not survive.

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