Selena’s Legacy – Part 2
Continued from Part 1
In the afternoon Lady Augusta rested in her room and Selena did the same. The evening passed playing cards in the drawing room and dinner was a bit early because Lady Augusta wanted to visit her friends, the next morning.
Since they were to start early, it seemed a good idea to turn in sooner than usual. The two ladies were driven to the town where her ladyship’s friends lived in a gorgeous villa.
They left after an early breakfast and reached the villa at about 11 am. Giles and Miriam were an aged couple who lived alone. Their 2 children lived in Australia and were not able to visit much. Lady Augusta visited them often and they came and stayed for a few days at the Manor whenever they felt lonely.
Selena liked the old couple and was taken on a tour of the villa and its gardens by the couple’s faithful housekeeper cum cook Mrs. Daniels. They returned to the Manor after an early dinner of roast chicken, fish cutlets, fruits and ice-cream cake.
Lady Augusta went straight to bed and so did Selena. The days were passing peacefully at the Manor. Selena found her duties to be very easy because Lady Augusta believed in a laid-back life.
Sometimes she would take Selena to the movies, theatre, shops or to eat out at the various expensive hotels of which there were many. All the letters coming to the Manor were dealt by Selena. She also had to handle finances, pay the salary to the people working at the Manor. She supervised the flower arrangement with help from old Sam, the gardener.
Lady Augusta liked fresh flowers displayed in all the rooms. Selena loved going to the garden and choosing flowers for different rooms. She loved walking along the garden path or sitting under the shade of a tree, reading a book.
Sam kept the garden beautifully and all those who came to the Manor praised his work. Selena also had to discuss the everyday menu and make grocery lists. She had to go through the linen cupboard and see to it that everything was enough in the house.
Sometimes her ladyship decided to throw a party and Selena was in charge of everything. After the first party organized by her, she was complimented by her mistress. “You have done a good job, Selena. I will be giving you a raise and a bonus starting next month. It is nearly 2 months since you came to the Manor, I’m very pleased with you.” “Thank you, my lady. I really appreciate your kindness,” replied Selena in a dignified manner.
Up until now, Selena had spent her free days settling her room, reading, mending, doing some embroidery, washing her hair, doing her nails etc. Now she decided to go out and explore the area near the Manor. On her next free day, she got ready in the morning, had her breakfast in the kitchen and went out of the house to enjoy herself.
She wore her coat because it had become chilly outside. The area near the Manor had more houses of the same type, but walking further she found a narrow path leading to a meadow with a stream running beside it. She sat for some time at the edge of the stream and felt very peaceful.
She got up after some time and walked ahead looking at some children playing and old men and women sitting on benches chatting in an amicable way. A bit further ahead, she noticed a small sweet tea room. It was round in shape with glass windows all around it.
At the entrance swung a sign reading ‘Isabella’s Tea Room’. She went inside and sat at a table near the door. The place was nearly full. She noticed the tea room had a lovely cozy atmosphere with the aroma of tea, coffee, and freshly baked cakes and buns. Selena ordered tea and a sweet bun. When the waitress brought her order to the table, she noticed there was a slice of Chocolate Cake too.
She was about to say she hadn’t ordered that when the owner herself walked to her from behind the counter – “Hi! I am Isabella. You seem new here. Very pleased to meet you,” smiled the jolly fat woman shaking her hand vigorously.
“The cake is on-the-house. I serve this first time to all my new customers,” said Isabella, her smile broadening to a grin. “Thank you, Isabella, I’m sure it must be delicious,” said Selena smiling in return. She found both the cake and bun were very tasty, but the best of all was the tea, strong and hot with a wonderful aroma.
Later on, Selena decided to visit the local shops. She spent some time in the boutiques, trying to choose a dress for herself. Just as she was coming out of the last shop in the row, she saw a lilac dress hanging at the side of the entrance.
On an impulse, Selena picked it up, went to the trial room and tried it on. It’s simplicity made her decide to buy it right away. The dress had long sleeves with a big bow at the left side of the collar.
There was a broad silver belt to go with it. Selena got it packed and after paying for it asked the sales lady whether the dress-box could be delivered at the Manor. Since Lady Augusta was a regular customer, the sales lady was only too anxious to oblige.
Next, Selena went and saw ‘Gone With The Wind’ for the third time at the local cinema. After that, she had coffee and a sandwich at the nearby cafe and went back. Lady Augusta wanted to know what she had done the whole day and also wanted to see the dress which had been delivered shortly before her arrival.
“Wonderful, Selena. The dress will suit you my dear child and I’m glad you enjoyed your outing. Tomorrow we will go to the action at the ‘Novelty Store’. I’m sure to find some nice pieces of my liking there. Goodnight Selena. Sleep well.” “Goodnight to you too Lady Augusta,’ replied Selena.
Next morning, they left the Manor at 11 am to reach the store. Lady Augusta sat on one of the front seats and Selena sat next to her. The room filled up quickly with people from both the upper as well as the middle class. The latter hoping to get something useful but not expensive.
The auction began with knick – knacks which were sold off easily enough. Lady Augusta sat quietly, for the most part, waiting for the really beautiful pieces of china and porcelain. She returned home with a lovely tea – set and a trinket box with intricate carving on the cover. Selena bought herself a small silver jewellery box in which she decided to keep her mother’s jewels.
It was 6 months now since Selena had come to the Manor and Christmas was very near. Lady Augusta kept her busy sending invitations to her relatives and friends to come to Christmas dinner.
A few of the guests would be coming from other towns so they were going to stay overnight. Rooms had to be prepared for them. Selena helped Betty get rooms ready and saw to it that the bathrooms had enough towels, bathrobes, bath mats, soaps, shampoos and other things.
Lady Augusta also wanted Selena to make a list of presents she wanted to give her family and friends. “We will start shopping soon Selena and I want you to choose gifts for my guests. I will tell you about them so that you have an idea what to buy for whom. Selena loved going shopping with her Mistress.
They went to the Main Street where most of the shops were located. It took them a few weeks to choose and buy gifts for everyone who mattered. Christmas cards were also written and dispatched by Brett. Lady Augusta bought a hat for Betty and a Cigar box for Brett. For Selena, she chose a lovely fur coat in a mixed shade of pink and grey with matching gloves.
Preparations were going on at the Manor. All the gifts had been packed by Selena. She had also put name tags on each packet and Brett had stored everything in the small box room near the stairs.
On her last day off before Christmas, Selena made a trip to the shops and chose gifts for the 3 people at the Manor. For Brett she bought a pink tie, Betty was to be given a small Magenta silk handbag and for Lady Augusta, Selena bought the latest book of one of her favorite writers.
At last, the day of the party arrived. Some of the guests came around midday. Betty had two helpers in the kitchen and another cook had been hired. Selena wore her mother’s last gift to her – a light blue skirt and top with a pink jacket. The guests were offered tea and coffee on arrival.
Lunch was simple, sandwiches, salad and ice cream. Dinner was a great success. The Plum Pudding was marvellous. Selena went quite late to bed very tired indeed. She had helped the ladies to their rooms after the party while the men smoked their last cigar.
Next morning, when everyone left, Selena gave her gift to Lady Augusta. She was pleased with it and said, “You shall read it to me at the first opportunity. Tomorrow you can take the day off to rest. You have really worked hard and the success of the party was completely due to you.” Selena was pleased to hear this. She rested in bed the whole of next day because her feet ached so much.
It was now one year since Selena had come to the Manor. Lady Augusta loved her as her own daughter and trusted her with all her valuables. She said one day “You know Selena I have no one to call my own in the real sense except for a few far-off relatives. My father and mother passed away when I was a teenager and I never married. If I had, I would have loved to have a daughter like you.”
Selena caught the old lady’s hand and said “I too am very fond of you my lady. You are all I have in this big world. I can’t ever repay your kindness.” “Come now, it is I who should thank you, my child. You are a real gem.”
This morning Selena was very worried. Lady Augusta was very ill with fever, cold and cough. The doctor had given lots of medicines but her ladyship’s condition was worsening day by day.
One day she called Selena to her side and said in a feeble voice, “I know my end has come dear. I am leaving the Manor, all its belongings and my money & jewels to you. I have called my Lawyer and will officially make you my daughter.
I am quite happy to have you to carry on my legacy for me. Do look after the Manor and Brett and Betty will stay with you. They are very fond of you too. You will have no need to work anymore because the fortunes left to you will not dwindle soon. Do be careful that you marry someone who loves you and not your money and title.”
Selena held her ladyship’s hands in her own and could not stop crying. A week later, her new mother passed away and Lady Selena was left to carry on with her legacy.
Contributing Story Teller:: Amita enjoys writing about her experiences as well as short stories for children and poems. Contact her at [email protected]
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