Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Back To School (literally)


Well, this could possibly be the end of This Homeschooling Life (sniff, sniff), because this Friday, I'm returning to ordinary schooling. It could be OK, it might not be. I'm absolutely petrified at the moment, but I suppose anyone who's starting a new school would feel like that. I just hope that I won't go through a repeat of what happened at school less than a year ago. I won't get into all that!
To anyone reading this who's considering homeschooling, I would recommend it. Homeschooling has been such a brilliant, liberating experience for me, and I'm sure it would be for you too.
Anyway, I've been toying with the idea of starting a new blog. Please comment and let me know whether you think I should or not, and tell me what you've though about This Homeschooling Life.

Lots of Love
LylaStar10 xx

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Two Awards


I got awarded The Kreativ Blogger award and The Hearthfelt Award by the wonderful bloggers Anna Banana and Cherry Diva. The collective noun for these two coolios is Cherry Banana Spilt (cool name, huh?). Thank you so, so much for these great awards. And I'm going to keep the chain going and nominate some other blogs for these awards. Drum roll please...

The Kreativ Blogger Awards

1. Sara, Dragonfly Book Reviews

2. Anna, Anna Banana

3. Cherry Diva, Cherry Diva

4. Jenny, Blog Of A Jenny Bean (by the way, I hope you had a good fourteenth birthday. Sorry I'm a bit late in telling you that)

5. Sasha, The Sweet Bonjour

6. Imogen, Write About What?

7. Amber, Let's Call It A Journey

Congratulations to everyone who won one!

Now, with this award giving, I'm meant to list seven of my favourite things. So here goes:
1. Books

2. Writing

3. My iPod

4. Movies

5. Any sort of nice smelling bubble-bath

6. Nice weather (e.g, lovely blue skies and warm temperature)

7. Pink roses (well, I think it would be rude to not put them as one of my favourite things, don't you think?)

Now for The Hearthfelt Award. These are blogs that makes me feel cosy, warm and at home.

1. Let's Call It A Journey, Amber

2. Cherry Banana Split, Anna Banana and Cherry Diva

3. Blog Of A Jenny Bean, Jenny

4. Serendipity Book Reviews, Meggin

5. Beanieology, Beanie

6. Rainbow Juice, Kate

Congrats to the winners! If you won The Kreativ Blogger Award, then just scroll down and find the logo on my sidebar, and copy and paste it onto your blog. And think of seven things you love, and seven blogs you love, and award them on your blog. (Like the Miley Cyrus song. I LOVE that song, don't you?)
I had a bit of trouble uploading The Hearthfelt Award logo, bcause it's an animation. Sorry about that. It's a little mouse in a teacup, I think. Just use your imagination! Do the same as the Keativ Blog Award, but think of up to nine blogs that make you feel all fuzzy and cosy inside. OK?

Well done again
LylaStar10 xx

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Grand Tour (and an apology)


I'm not going to post any more chapters of "Chocolate Eyes", because some person could copy and paste it, and try to claim it as their own. I know this is very unlikely, but I don't want to take any chances. I'm very sorry for any disappointment, and I hope people will still read and comment on my blog.
Thank you.

Yesterday, I went on a very long grand tour of the school I might go to this September. My aunt is friends with the caretaker, so he became our tour guide for an hour and a half and showed us around the school. I had no idea it was going to be so long. I think what my aunt had in mind was a quick twenty minute whip-around, so I could see what I could be getting myself into. But it seemed a nice school. At my old school there were swear words scrawled across the walls in black marker pen and dented walls from chairs being thrown against it. It was just like "Lord Of The Flies". But this school didn't seem to have any of that.
We were shown around the sixth-form building too, which was very, very SWISH. It had a waiting area with leather sofas and a grand piano, for God's sake. I'll be slumming it in the main school for the next three years!
We had another family with us. A chatty mum and a very non-chatty dad and son. They'd just moved from Cornwall, and I don't think the boy was very pleased about leaving his friends. I know how he feels. I had to put up with all that when we moved from Nottingham (my home for eight years) to Brighton. But I can't help but think he was being rather unnecessarily sulky.
I had a nice time, all in all. Of course, nobody was there because it's the summer holidays. But I feel much better about it all now, for some reason.

Lots of Love
LylaStar x :)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Chocolate Eyes, Chapter Seven


Please comment on what you think of this chapter!

Chapter Seven

Edward went home first. I wanted to savour every moment in Bluebell Woods. A squirrel came right up to me, only about a foot away. He stared at me for a moment, cocking his head to one side.
“I haven’t got any food for you, “ I told him. “Sorry.”
It looked as though the squirrel rolled his eyes when I said this, and it scampered off without a backward glance.
Eventually, the air cooled down and the woods started to get chilly. This was when I went home, walking as slowly as I could. I could feel myself getting colder, but I did not care. It was not nearly as cold as Mrs Browning’s mood when I arrived home.
“Where, may I ask, have you been?” she asked querulously.
“It’s my afternoon off, madam.” I told her. “I went for a walk.”
“And how long was this walk? You could’ve walked to Scotland by this time. You’ve been gone for nearly five hours.”
“I’m sorry, madam.” I said meekly.
“Yes, so you should be.” Mrs Browning said, and swept out of the room. I called her my favourite insulting name in my head, and went into the kitchen.

Sunday is the day of rest, but this tends to mean that wealthy people rest, and the servants carry on practically as normal. This is irony to the power of one hundred, because the servants work and work and work, therefore probably more in need of rest. Wealthy people rest just because they are wealthy.
I had enjoyed my afternoon off, but now I had to set the table for dinner and stand like a lemon while the Brownings ate and talked and moaned and argued mildly. Just another typical night in the Browning household.
“You were out for a long time today, Edward.” Mr Browning suddenly announced. “Where were you?”
“Oh, just going for a walk.” Edward said casually. “It was a nice day today.”
“What is so special about walking all of a sudden?” Mrs Browning asked. “Apparently, it’s all the rage.” she turned in her seat and looked at me forebodingly.
“You never walked in London.” Mr Browning said.
“That’s because it isn’t as nice as it is here,” Edward said. “What is there to walk about for in London?”
Mr and Mrs Browning raised their eyebrows, but they said no more about the subject.
I was very happy to go to bed that night. The fresh air seemed to have made me sleepier. As soon as I blew out my candle, I was dead to the world.

The next morning I woke very early. Today was the day that we went back home to London. I wished that we could stay here. I had never known somewhere that was so wonderfully clean and endless. I went back to sleep, hoping that I would be awake for six o’ clock. Luck did not spin my way. I woke up again, and as soon as I looked out the window I knew I was very late. I flung myself out of bed, scrubbed at my face and changed into my morning dress. I had fallen asleep in my afternoon and evening dress the night before, so it looked very crumpled. I shot down the stairs, still pulling my hair back, and ran straight into Mrs Browning.
“How kind of you to grace us with your presence, Jemmy,” she said flippantly. “Did you have trouble getting out of bed this morning?”
“I’m so sorry madam, I slept in. I promise it won’t happen again.”
“It had better not,” she said, making it sound like a threat. “Otherwise I shall assume that you are not dedicated to your work. If that is the case, there is not much point in you being here, is there?”
“No madam,” I said, my simpering smile getting strained. “But there is point in me being here. I won’t sleep in again, I promise.”
Mrs Browning sniffed and started to walk up the stairs.
“It wouldn’t kill you to try some of my jobs for a while. That would be interesting.” I muttered. Mrs Browning turned around.
“What was that?” she asked frostily.
“Nothing madam.” I said hurriedly. But when her back was turned, I couldn’t help smiling.
Louise helped me to cover every piece of furniture with a white sheet so that they didn’t get dusty when the Brownings were in London. This sounds simple, but it took forever. We shook the dust off one sheet when Mrs Browning walked past, accidentally covering her in murky grey fluff. We apologised until our heads ached, but we couldn’t help but laugh about it on the train.
“Don’t you prefer it in the countryside to London?” I asked Louise. Cook was already asleep; snoring softly with her head slumped to one side.
“Yes, of course. The Brownings seem to as well.” Louise told me.
“Then why don’t they live there all year round?”
“Mr Browning’s job is in London.” Louise reminded me. “How would he get money in the countryside?”
I imagined Mr Browning in one of his stiff grey suits, ploughing fields and digging all day long, his morose, expressionless face permanently in place.
“No, I suppose not.” I said. “You know everything there is to know about the Brownings, don’t you?”
Louise laughed. “Well, there isn’t a lot to know, is there? They aren’t exactly a complex bunch, are they? It’s like they are born to say the same phrases and do they same things every day.”
“We do that too,” I said miserably. “Are we turning into the Brownings?”
“Maybe,” Louise said. “Soon, the only difference will be that they are rich and we are poor.”
“That’s a big difference,” I said, brightening. “I think we’ll be all right.”
“Let’s hope so.” Louise said, laughing.
I was sad to leave Bluebell Woods. I did not know if I would ever see it again. Maybe I would if I stuck this job out for another year, although this didn’t seem very likely. I was on the verge of breaking point, but that wasn’t a problem. I could manage. But Mrs Browning did not seem to like me any more than I liked her. I still did not know why. Louise and Edward had told me that she treats every parlour maid who sets foot in her door the same, but it still made me uncomfortable.
I shuffled around in my hard seat, every inch of my lower feeling deadened. I stood up and wriggled, trying to get rid of the pins and needles in my leg.
“What are you doing?” Louise hissed.
“Sorry. I feel numb. I can’t feel anything in my leg.” I said, still shaking.
“You’ll live,” said Louise, pulling my back down in my seat. “Honestly, people will think we’re a travelling circus.”

We seemed to arrive home quicker than we had left for the countryside, but we still couldn’t quite make our legs work properly.
“The Brownings will think we’ve been getting drunk the whole way home.” Cook said. We all giggled hysterically at the thought, still laughing as we met up with the Brownings on the platform. No doubt, we certainly looked and sounded drunk.
A man who nobody knew helped us with loading the trunks onto the carriage. He didn’t look very prepossessing. He wore dirty, ripped clothes and his face was bright red. It was only twelve o’ clock in the afternoon, but it was blatantly obvious that he was drunk. I suppose it was kind of him to help us with the suitcases, but Mrs Browning told us to keep an eye on him just in case he ran off with one of the cases. He didn’t look as though he was up to walking in a straight line, let alone gallivanting off with a heavy, unwieldy trunk. All the same, we nodded submissively.
The man wolf whistled at Louise, but she elbowed him out of her way and made a very rude gesture with her fingers. She sat huffily on the back of the carriage.
“What an idiot.” she whispered to me, flicking her glowing red hair out of her face.
The man did not manage to get one case onto the carriage. He simply picked one up, his face going even redder, and then dropped it again. It fell on the ground with a thump, opening and spilling someone’s possessions out onto the platform. The man giggled foolishly. I think this might have been Mr Browning’s case, because he got out of the carriage and told him that he and the driver would do it, and would he please go away. The man stumbled off, bumping into people as he went.

The Brownings settled back into their home easily. Mrs Browning checked the kitchen; presumably to make sure it hadn’t burst into flames in our absence. The kitchen was still intact, but Mrs Browning saw something she did not like at all. As we walked in, a tiny, grey mouse scuttled across the kitchen floor, so fast it flew past in a blur.
“Rat!” Mrs Browning shrieked. I hesitated.
“I think it was a mouse, madam.” I mumbled.
“I don’t care what it is. It’s small, it’s filthy, and it’s in my kitchen. Why do we not have a cat?”
“We do, madam. Humphrey.”
“Well, where is he?”
“He usually sleeps in the drawing room or in my bedroom.” I faltered.
“Yes madam. Sleeps.”
“Why is he asleep? I could be missing something, but the reason he is here is to catch mice and rats. Or have I been misinformed?”
“No, madam.”
“Well, where is he?”
“He could be with the other cases, madam. We took him with us.”
“And he slept all the time when we were away, am I right?”
“Yes, I think so, madam.”
“Well, go and fetch him.” Mrs Browning huddled me out of the kitchen door and into the hallway where all the cases were. I gently lifted Humphrey out of his carrier, where he had made a comfortable little nest out of the blanket inside it.
“Here he is, madam.” I said.
“Put him in the kitchen.”
“But madam… he might eat the food or make it dirty.”
“Last time I checked, mice and rats were considerably dirtier than cats, and they eat the food in the kitchen, don’t they? And you will do as you are told.” Mrs Browning said the last sentence so fiercely I jumped.
“Yes, madam.” I said, and carried Humphrey into the kitchen. Cook wasn’t impressed when she saw him.
“I’m not having that cat under my feet all day,” she said.
“He’s going to catch the mice for you.” I told her, rocking Humphrey as though he was a tiny baby.
“What, him? He’d have trouble catching a snail, let alone a mouse. Take him away at once.”
“He’ll behave himself, won’t you, Humphrey?” I gave him a stroke and he purred appreciatively. “You won’t even know he’s here.”
Cook paused, thinking. Eventually she weakened.
“Alright then. But if he makes a nuisance of himself, he is well and truly sacked.” she said. I put Humphrey down, and he trotted away happily.
Humphrey did make himself useful, but when he did we were not sure what to make of it. He had caught two mice already by dinnertime, and proved himself to be much more capable than we thought. Louise, Cook and I stood in a circle, looking down at the two dead mice reproachfully.
“What do we do with them?” asked Louise thoughtfully.
“Put them outside, of course. In the dustbin.” said Cook. They both looked at me hopefully.
“I’m not picking them up,” I said hurriedly. “I’m the parlour maid, not the get-rid-of-dead-mice maid. I think Louise is the closest we’ve got.”
Louise spluttered. “Why me?”
“You’re the scullery maid. The Cook’s assistant. Disposing of dead mice in the kitchen is part of your job description.”
“Nobody ever told me that.” Louise said, folding her arms.
“It goes without saying,” Cook told her. We both nodded her encouragingly.
“Fine. I’ll do it.” Louise said. She picked up both mice by the tail with each hand, averting her eyes dramatically.
A few minutes later she appeared through the back door, waving her hands in the air triumphantly. Cook and I clapped and cheered, as though she had just battled a pride of lions and won.

There is a broom cupboard, near the kitchen and under the stairs. It has a door that closes on it own, and then locks itself. I had never had a problem with this, until the day after the Dead Mice Day. I was doing my morning chores, getting the broom out of the cupboard, ready to sweep invisible traces of dust and crumbs off the floors. However, I forgot to hold the door open with my free hand or leg, so the door clicked shut and locked me in the miniscule, dark cupboard. I swore furiously, and banged on the door relentlessly until someone let me out. This took a very long time. I must have been stuck in that cupboard for at least twenty minutes, and I was in a foul mood when I got out. Edward opened the door, looking surprised to see me.
“What on earth are you doing in there?”
“Looking for hidden treasure,” I said sarcastically. “I know that you are a such a busy family, but surely you can open a door when someone is locked behind it? Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot, you are all too important to act anything other than totally incompetent.” I ranted. I suddenly realised what I had said. I put a hand over my mouth, as though I had just shouted out a swear word in church.
“I’m so sorry sir, I don’t know why I said that.” I stammered. But Edward was laughing.
“Were you not aware that the cupboard locks by itself?” he asked me.
“For what? To protect it from the Broom Cupboard Bandit? The brooms are not made out of gold, I have noticed.” I said. I sighed and rubbed my hand against my forehead, telling myself to just shut up. It was fortunate that Mrs Browning did not open the door. I would be halfway down the street by now, utterly job-less.
“You’re certainly in a talkative mood today.” Edward observed.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I don’t know what is the matter with me today,” I said.
“You seem…oh, I don’t know. Tense.”
“Well, twenty minutes in a broom cupboard can do that to a person.” I told him. “But it definitely woke me up. You should try it some time.”
“I don’t think it’s for me.” Edward said. “I think I’ll stick to reading.”
“Wise choice.” I said. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“He’s caught another one!” Cook said later to me as I walked through the kitchen door to collect the plates for dinner.
“What?” I asked.
“Humphrey. He’s caught another one. Louise says she’s not picking up any more mice.”
“Oh, that’s annoying of her.” I said, picking up a plate. Cook gazed at me from across the room, giving me a soppy little smile.
“No.” I said. “No. I’m not picking up a dead mouse. I’ve got things to do.”
“Please. I know where they keep the chocolates. You can have three for every day of the week. They won’t notice.”
I considered this for a moment. “Alright. But you are forever in my debt, do you hear me?”
“Abundantly.” Cook said, giving me a hug.
“Can I just do it after dinner?” I asked.
“No, please do it now. I can’t stand looking at it for much longer.”
I sighed, wavering. I sulkily put the plates back down on the counter, and approached the mouse warily. I got it over with as speedily as possible, holding it by the tail, running to the dustbin and dropping the mouse quickly inside it.
“There.” I said to Cook. “Are you happy now?”
“Very happy.” Cook said.
“It’ll be your turn soon,” I told her, walking swiftly out of the door with the plates.
“Not if I can help it!” she called after me.
Mr Browning gave me a suspicious look when I appeared in the dining room.
“What have you been doing in there? Growing the broccoli?” he asked incredulously.
“No sir,” I said. “Just a bit of a mouse crisis. What happened was-”
“I don’t want to hear it.” Mr Browning interrupted. I nodded, thankful that I did not have to tell him.

For dessert, there was a magnificent jelly, covered with pieces of fruit and all the colours of the rainbow. It looked so pretty I doubted anybody would want to eat it. I was just about to pick it up to take it into the dining room, when Humphrey skidded across the counter, in hot pursuit of a mouse. The jelly flew up into the air, and then fell on the hard kitchen tiles with a deafening smash. The china plate lay in shatters on the floor, and the jelly was now an ex jelly. The fruit was strewn across the floor, and the jelly lay in a soggy heap.

“Humphrey!” Louise whined. “Bad cat.”
Humphrey was clearly not listening. He was sitting by the skirting board, transfixed by the hole that the mouse had run into. He miaowed in frustration, sticking his paw inside the gap.
“What now?” whispered Cook.
We all hovered uselessly, none of us knowing the answer.
“I’m going to tell them what’s happened.” I said, opening the door. Louise rushed over to stop me and caught me by the arm.
“No! You can’t do that. They’ll murder us.”
“Well, they’re going to find out sometime.” I said, pulling my arm free. “They’ll murder us and then put lemon juice on the wounds if they find out we’ve lied to them.”
Louise sighed desperately. “Alright, go and tell them. But tell them carefully."
I nodded and marched off determinedly, as though I was going into battle. To some extent, I felt I was.
I crept into the dining room, waiting for a gap in the conversation.
“Sir, there is a slight problem with the dessert.” I said, my voice unsteady.
“What do you mean, problem?”
I struggled to know what to say next. “It’s been… temporarily mislaid.”
“Well, technically we know where it is, but it’s sort of…died.”
Mr Browning sighed and put down his wineglass. “Are you trying to make a fool out of me?”
“No, not at all sir.” I said. “But the thing is,” I stopped, not knowing what to say again.
“Spit it out, you silly girl.” Mrs Browning said. I knew that I had to.
“Humphrey knocked it off the kitchen counter and the plate and the jelly has smashed.” I said all in a rush. Charlotte and Edward spluttered with laughter when they heard this. Mr Browning glared at them and they tried to look serious and forbidding.

Hope you liked it. Watch this space for chapter eight!

Lots of Love
LylaStar10 xx :)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Reasons To Be Cheerful


Sorry I wasn't very imaginative with my title. Let me off this once, eh? The reason I haven't been posting any more chapters of "Chocolate Eyes", is that I just got a new laptop (whoohoo!), which hasn't got the story on it, but I'll transfer it over soon. I'm actually quite pleased we got a new computer, because I've had my old one since I was about seven (yes, really). It's the slowest, most unpredictable thing you'll ever come across. Except from maybe a Morris Minor. We might have some competition.
Anyway, I thought I'd give you some reasons to be cheerful. Hence the name.

1. There's ALWAYS something to look forward to. Yes, always. Next time you're feeling down in the dumps, plan something for you to look forward to, like a really big shopping trip or seeing your friends and family. It works.

2. Find something you love, and make the most of it. Mine is stuff like jumping around to "Shut Up And Let Me Go" (I bet you know that one), eating loads of chocolate cake, writing stories and listening to my iPod as much as I can. You get the idea.

3. This one sounds stupid, but always remember that things could be a lot worse for you. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say. Who would've though a cliche could be so true?

3 small but oh-so-unbeatable rules. Try them out for yourself.
By the way, who else has read anything by Sarra Manning? Just to let you know, she's great. One of the wittiest teenage writers I've ever come across. Her books include "Let's Get Lost", "Guitar Girl" and "Pretty Things". If you've read anything by her, comment and let me know what you think of Sarra Manning! Check out her blog by clicking on the name

Lots of Love
LylaStar10 x

Monday, 20 July 2009

Triumph Number Two!


I've finished my next story "Among A Crowd Of Stars", which is 328 pages!!!! I'm so happy, happy, happy!
Where did I get the name from, may you ask? Well, my favourite poem is "When You Are Old", by W. B Yeats, and a line from it is "amid a crowd of stars". It's a simply gorgeous poem. Check it out.
Anyway, this line seemed to fit as a title for my story. This time, it's about a twenty-first century girl called Molly Bilson, who has a very eccentric father and is an outsider at school. But then two travellers come to her school, Millie and Daniel Olivine, and for the first time in Molly's life, she starts to come out of her shell.
Everything at home starts to come apart and Molly finds herself all alone, but what will happen when she realises Daniel's secret?
"Among A Crowd Of Stars" is my best story so far, and I'm going to try and get it published. Wish me luck!

Lots of Love
LylaStar10 xxx

Friday, 17 July 2009

Chapter Six, Chocolate Eyes

Helllooo my lovely bloggers!

I've had some requests for the next chapter of my story "Chocolate Eyes", so here it is! I'm sooo glad you're enjoying it!

Chapter Six

The next day, the Brownings decided on the spur of the moment, to have a picnic in the woods. Cook and Louise did not want the bother of making and organising the extra food, so they tried hard to convince them to change their mind.
“Really, madam, the woods are not very nice at all. Very dirty. Insects all around, getting at the food.”
Mrs Browning was not fooled. “I am perfectly aware that you do not want to make any extra food. But it is your job, and it is also your job to do as I say.” she said briskly.
So Cook and Louise morosely made the food, complaining bitterly as they went.
“As if it wasn’t enough to make thousands of blooming dinners for the perishes every year,” they’d say. “You get off lightly. All you have to do is clean.”
“Yes, well, you’re always surrounded by food, so you have no excuse for being starving all the time.” I told them. They did not know what to say to this.
So we trudged to the woods, an intrepid search to find the perfect picnic spot. Louise and Cook carried the picnic baskets, and I carried the chairs and the little table. I wished that they could simply sit on the ground like you were supposed to when you had a picnic. Us servants would certainly have to.
I was lagging behind with the table and chairs, but Edward helped me and moaned at his brother and father until they did the same. The both sighed acrimoniously, and took a chair each. Charlotte and Mrs Browning smiled demurely, pleased that they were the only two that were not burdened with chairs, tables and picnic baskets. We eventually found the perfect spot, underneath an enormous oak tree. The Brownings sat elegantly on the white garden chairs, sipping lemonade sombrely. Louise snaffled an apple each for the servants, and we sat on the grass, crunching loudly. All seemed peaceful for about fifteen minutes, until we heard a loud shriek, and I saw a big, white splatter on Mrs Browning’s shoulder. She went pale, and she collapsed onto Mr Browning’s shoulder, apparently unconscious. Louise whooped with laughter, but then got a stony-faced look from Mr Browning. I heard a squawk and a flutter of wings, and a bird flew out of the tree above us, and out of sight.
“Perfect!” said Charlotte, flinging her arms about in exasperation. “What do we do now?”
“We’d better go home,” said Mr Browning. His wife stirred a little, saw the white patch of on her shoulder, gasped, and fainted again. I couldn’t help but think she was being slightly overdramatic.
“Nobody’s even eaten the food yet,” Louise muttered to me, towing the picnic basket along. “Bit of a waste of time. But we can have it when we get home. We’ll have a feast!”
I smiled, picked up a chair for each hand and started to haul them along with the others. Edward picked up the table and two more chairs, and Joseph reluctantly picked up a chair for himself. We stumbled along, the chairs getting heavier and heavier. I was sure that every bone in my body would be bruised by the time we got to the house, but I followed on valiantly. Mr Browning had to stagger along supporting Mrs Browning on his shoulder, looking more and more agonized. I felt that Mrs Browning was laying it on very thick now, and stared at her resentfully.
At long last, we made it back to the house, where Mrs Browning got changed and had to sit on the couch for an hour or so, with me flapping some cloth around her so that she could cool down. It was as though she’d been kidnapped by a gang of thieves.
Afterwards, I had to clean the white mess off Mrs Browning’s dress. This had to be my most hated job so far. It was certainly one of the most futile. I scrubbed and scrubbed for what seemed like hours, but there was still a faint shadow of white on the shoulder of the dress. I gave up in despair, hoping that Mrs Browning would not notice. I dried it out and discreetly put it back in her dresser drawer.
Louise, Cook and I gobbled up most of the picnic food before anyone could protest. It was the most I had eaten in nearly a month, and afterwards I felt like I could do anything. It wasn’t as though I had eaten much at home, but at least I eat with everybody else. The Brownings acted as though we were not worthy of their company most of the time.
The week went at snail’s pace, being typically boring and repetitious. But the one thing I was very pleased about was that Joseph seemed to be leaving me alone. I had tried very hard not to act suspicious. I did not really know what I had in the first place, anyway. I had learned that rich people appear to be so bored; they come up with fantasies and accusations just for their own amusement.
On my Sunday afternoons off, I did not sleep like I would of if we were in London. Bluebell Woods had truly enchanted me, and seemed to have some sort of trance radiating from it to make me come back again and again. It was a place where I could relax, where I didn’t have to pull my hair into a depressing bun and make sure I looked presentable all the time. I climbed trees, I sneaked onto the haystacks just outside the wood, but most of the time I just sat in the soft, mossy ground. Smells of flowers and greenery and summer hung in the air. To me, Bluebell Woods was the most magical place in the world.
I was enjoying my few hours alone in the peaceful, deserted wood. I was so happy to not worry about anybody else, just for a while. Edward sometimes followed me, even so.
“Why on earth do you keep following me?” I demanded.
“I’m not. I just like this wood, the same as you do. It is a free countryside. I can go wherever I please.”
I never knew how to answer this sort of question, so I just looked at him sceptically and pointed to a tree.
“That looks a good one.” I said.
“A good one for what?”
“For climbing, of course.” I said, rolling my eyes and hoisting myself up from branch to branch.
“Do you need any help?” Edward called from the ground.
I raised my eyebrows. “You are the one who cannot climb on a haystack, sir.”
Edward sighed and climbed up the tree as well. He seemed to be going well, until he slipped and fell right off and onto the ground. Luckily for him, he landed on a particularly soft patch of moss and grass, which broke his fall slightly. But as he went down, a branch cut right down his arm. Across his elbow, right down to his hand.
“Are you alright? Hold on, I’m coming down.” I called, jumping down from the tree and landing on the balls of my feet. I looked at his arm.
“Honestly, can you afford to keep your arm out of cutting range for five minutes?” I asked. “This is even bigger than the last one.”
“Do you know that you sounded just like my mother just then?” Edward said, grinning.
“I’m going to pretend you did not just say that, “ I said. “Do you have a handkerchief or something?”
“Yes,” Edward pulled one out of his pocket.
“Well, if you don’t mind getting blood all over it.” I told him. He started to dab at himself, but he just spread the blood further and winced in pain.
“Here, I’ll do it,” I said, sighing and snatching the handkerchief. I put on Mrs Browning’s high, imperious voice. “That’s what I’m being paid to do, isn’t it?”
Edward laughed.
“Good grief, you’ve sliced a whole chunk out of your arm.” I muttered. “Why are you so clumsy, sir?”
“You do not need to call me ‘sir’,” he told me. “I’m just Edward.”
“Alright. But I don’t think your mother would like that. Or Joseph.”
“What do you mean? What about Joseph?”
I realised I had started something I did not want to start. “Nothing. It doesn’t matter.”
“No, tell me.”
I considered the best way of telling Edward what his brother had said. “He told me… that it was best if I kept away from you.” I said carefully.
“He talks nonsense.” Edward said firmly. “All my family do. I talk nonsense too.”
I looked at him. “Not nearly as much as they do, if I may say so.”
Edward smiled and gently pulled a strand of my hair. “You have very nice hair when it’s down. You can’t really see it when you wear it up.”
“What were you saying about you talking nonsense?” I asked, rolling my eyes.
“No, I’m telling the truth. It’s nice.”
“You’re very kind.” I told him. “But it’s just brown. Boring brown.”
“Not just brown. It’s got blonde and ginger bits in it too. You can see all of it in the sunshine.”
I smiled uncertainly. “Nice day, isn’t it?” I said brightly, practically bursting into song.
“Yes, it is.” Edward said, almost as enthusiastically as me.
“Another torn sleeve,” I said shaking my head. “You are determined to damage every piece of clothing you own, aren’t you? The other cut has just healed. Now you’ll have to start all over again.” I gabbled.
“Yes, I have received the message loud and clear. Can we talk about something else now?”
“Yes,” I said snippily. “You go first.”
Edward laughed again. I stared at him.
“What do I keep saying that is so funny?” I asked him.
“Nothing,” Edward said. “You are just so different to anybody else I have ever met.”
“I don’t know how you came to that conclusion, sir.” I told him, but I smiled. He smiled back at me, but he looked at me a little too long, which jolted me into the real world.
“You’d better go home. They’ll be wondering where you are.” I said, standing up.
“No they won’t.” Edward told me. “It’s only two o’ clock.”
“I suppose so,” I admitted. I started to climb up the tree Edward had fallen off, challenging myself to go higher and higher.
“You’d better stay on the ground,” I said loudly. “We don’t want you getting torn to shreds this time. That would not go down well with your mother.”
“You’re probably right.” Edward said, settling himself under the tree. I picked off a handful of leaves and threw them down at him.
“Hey!” he said, brushing the leaves out of his hair. “Don’t make me come up there.”
“No, I won’t. You’d probably fall off again.” I said, laughing. “You are so lucky to have a house near this wood. I’d live in the woods if I could. I’d make a hammock out of leaves and string, and I’d live contentedly with all the sparrows and squirrels.”
“Maybe you’d meet the bird that made stained Mother’s dress and made her faint.” Edward said.
“I certainly hope so.” I said, giggling. “I wonder what his secret is.” I leapt down from the tree and landed beside Edward, making him jump.
“Maybe you’re secretly a cat,” he mused. “That’s why you can land on your feet.”
“Oh, I do wish I was a cat. A domesticated cat that gets fed several times daily, and then finds a comfortable, cushioned chair and sleeps all day.” I said.
“How can you be a domesticated cat and live in a tree?” Edward asked.
“I’d spend one week in a tree and in a house the next.” I told him.
“Dream on,” he said.
“That’s what my sister Kate tells me.” I said. Dream on. I know this means don’t dream on, but I think it’s the best thing you can do when you’re working as a parlour maid for nine pounds per year. Dreaming is my secret to happiness. It’s everybody’s secret to happiness.

There you go. I hope you like it.
And by the way, I've told you all about my holiday in Corfu. I'd love to hear what yo're doing this summer as well!
And if you want to, let me know what you thought of this chapter.

LylaStar10 xxxx