“I suppose,” she hedged. She wondered if being in trade was a good thing in his eyes or not. “He had a sort of import business, though it was more of a hobby than anything.”
Her father had imported British produce to Spain for the ex pat population and she used to work in the office when she went to visit him every summer. That wasn’t how he had made his money though, he’d been retired in Spain and he had only started the new business because he missed his local produce while living out there. His main business when she was young had been car dealerships. He’d owned a Jaguar, a Mercedes and a MBW dealership in London.
Unlike her mother, who thought that money should be married, her father had had no compunction about his daughters earning their living. The brother she had mentioned was fictional.
“That’s very progressive of him,” Mr Thornton said.
“Yes, well things were easier in Spain.”
“I thought Spain was a Roman Catholic country; very traditional in it’s views.”
“Well, yes, I suppose they are.” How was she going to get out of this one? “But I was unmarried, you see. It’s fine for a woman to work until she gets married.”
“Right.” He knew something was off with her stories, he just didn’t know what. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yes. And thank you again, Mr Thornton. I really appreciate this.”
Carrie breathed a sigh of relief as she left the office. She suspected he knew that she was lying about her past, but she was keeping as close to the truth as she she could without sounding insane. She could hardly say that she was from the future, could she?
She gathered her wits about her once again and was about to walk out of the yard when she felt eyes on her and turned to Mr Thornton’s house. Mrs Thornton was standing at the window, staring at her. She didn’t look away as Carrie spotted her and though she tried to stare the other woman down, it was Carrie who looked away first.
She suddenly didn’t envy Margaret one jot, because having her as a mother in law really was a cruel and unusual punishment.
She made her way out of the yard and decided that she would visit the stationers today rather than tomorrow morning, that way she wouldn’t lose any time tomorrow and could crack straight on.
Speaking of cracking straight on, she really had to try harder to cut down on her use of modern vernacular.
She arrived at the stationers and purchased some card files, some index cards and other general office supplies but the closest thing she could find to an inbox and outbox were wooden letter trays. She supposed they would suffice though and bought four of them, though they were a little expensive. Since they were also rather bulky items she asked for everything to be delivered to Marlborough Mills. Then with her receipt and very little change in hand, she headed home.
For the first time since she had arrived, she felt relaxed. Finally she had a purpose, she was doing some good by being stuck in this place, and she an income which gave her a sense of independence.
Mr Hale was in the middle of a lesson when she got home but she brought him some tea as soon as the lesson was over.
“Ah, how lovely,” he said as she set the tea tray down on his desk. “How was your walk this morning?”
“Actually I wanted to talk to you about that.”
She poured their tea and once they were settled in the chairs by the fire in his study, she began.
“I didn’t go for a walk this morning. I went to see about a job.”
“You’re leaving us?” he sounded surprised.
“Actually no. Well, that is if you don’t mind me staying here.”
“You are a most congenial addition to our family, Carrie. You will always be welcome here.”
“Thank you.” She blushed. “Anyway, the job isn’t a governess position or anything like that. I am helping out at Marlborough Mills, in the office with administration,” she hastened to add. “And just for five hours a day.”
“Well, that is unusual work but I suppose if it gives you pleasure.”
“It does. It also means that I have an income now and I would like to give you a portion of it.”
“You don’t need to pay for your room, Carrie. Besides, you don’t even have your own room, you share with Margaret.”
“True, but if I am a member of this family, then my income should benefit this family, no?”
“Please, Mr Hale. You and your family have been so kind taking me in and looking after me, but I know you cannot really afford one more mouth to feed. Let me help. My wage can not only save you the allowance you give me, it could pay for another servant to help Dixon. I know you don’t like Margaret and I helping her as much as we do, so use this money and employ help for her.”
“Well, when you put it like that, how can I refuse?”
“You can’t,” she said, smiling.