This week's edition to our Olympia Extracts is the fantastic fantasy, Gladstones by M.J. Manley.
Chapter 1 – In the Beginning.
Doris had worked for Lord Bertie and Lady M. Wakefield forever, it seemed like it was going to be for an eternity. Doris was the backbone to this fine establishment; she had started as girl Friday and worked up to housekeeper, then house manager. Doris became very much hands-on, knowing how his Lord and Ladyship liked the house to be run and Doris fitted in accordingly, making sure that her Lord and Ladyship’s every need was met. Being two steps ahead at all times was a must. If they needed extra staff, travel arranged, extra flowers in the drawing room, or a cake to be made for a special occasion, Doris was the person ready to fulfil these tasks.
His Lord and Ladyship lived at a place called Gladstones Manor, taking its name from the very stones the estate stood on, Gladstones. The Manor stood in the most picturesque grounds. The grounds extended as far as the eye could see and stopped just beyond the stones, where the smooth, sharp stones ended the carpeted moor began. Buddy never came here very much, not in the early years as it was forbidden, though she was always allowed to venture out with Betty when it was time for her to go home. They would walk together through the gate that was reached at the far end of the garden, between the wall of the Butterfly Garden and the boundary of the Manor. The gate was very high, and concealed by a high privet hedge which had been overgrown on purpose by the head gardener, but the gate was always kept locked, to keep them all safe and to keep unwanted intruders out! So they would walk through here, known as Gladstones’ Side, through Gladstones, and once they reached the beginning of the moor, Betty and Buddy would embrace and say goodbye. Buddy would then make her way back, either on her own or with Glitter. But then she, was never ever on her own really, believe it, because someone was always with her in spirit. Anyway, if she needed Glitter he was never too far away – if she was in danger or just needed some company. It just took a little imagination and he would be right by Buddy’s side.
Everybody that came here was totally enchanted by this place, it certainly took Buddy’s breath away when she first saw it and did the same to everybody else’s breath..
Anyway, let’s get back to those stones! “Stones?” Buddy can hear them say. Yes, the famous Gladstones that covered the earth flat like the soil. Yet, for some reason, a few had gathered together like shards of glass pointing bolt upright, like soldiers standing to attention, ready for a guards inspection. This was one of the most famous landmarks, conspicuous, yes, but not to everybody and everything. Hard to believe, but what somebody perceived to be there, others could not always see, even if it was right under their noses or staring them in the face!
Equally, the Manor was exceedingly impressive; it dated back to the early sixteenth century.
An early Elizabethan Manor built in the shape of the letter E. The exterior of the Manor was made of the fine, honey-coloured ham stone, which glowed even more when the sun shone! Inside, the Manor was opulent in every detail, but it was very much a family home and was treated as such.
His Lord and Ladyship were more like family than employers, but Doris never forgot her place and always remained professional, knowing where and when to draw the line.
Doris was married to Horace, who tended to the magnificent gardens. They were so impressive, many smaller gardens within the one whole garden. The garden was divided up into split-levels, with a rock garden, a woodland garden which led into the woods, and a woodland walk. Borders and borders full of perennials that grew year after year. There was the kitchen garden that kept the house filled for most of the year with herbs for eating, but herbs were also grown for medicinal purposes for Buddy, her extended family and her kind. A vegetable garden and a fruit orchard where all the fruit was grown for their consumption and any surplus produce was taken to town to the local fortnightly farmers market to be sold. All the proceeds would later be equally split by Doris and sent to M’s favourite charities. Or even to the beggar that was seen on the pavement in town. M just despised the government at times for not doing more for the homeless. It was so very wrong how the government earned so much yet they seemed to turn a blind eye and let this poverty continue day after day.
Buddy had spent endless hours here, playing in the gardens, exploring with her friends – Glitter, Gooey, the family and her extended family, which were always found in the Butterfly Garden and in the woodland. The gardens were formal, yet with so many focal points, including a sculpture of a cast-iron butterfly (she was her favourite), a bare lady made of stone and a summerhouse; they filled you with a sense of joy. It was a fun, intriguing place that was enticing and captivating.
Horace’s attention to detail certainly showed, and of course the location of the property always helped. The gardens, which were situated all around the Manor, created a safe haven for them all. With the Manor and gardens combined it looked more like a palace or a museum then a simple family residence. It was just that, a simple family home.
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