Hampton House Jenny Dooley - chapter 2
The Lady in Room 16
The Old People’s Home was outside the town. When they arrived, William parked at the main entrance. He went to the back of the van and pushed a big trolley of books out of it. Kathy took the smaller trolley.
“I’ll go to the main room downstairs and you take your trolley round the rooms to the old people who can’t get out of bed. The matron will give you the room numbers.”
Just then the matron arrived.
“Hello, William. They’re waiting for you… but who’s this?”
“Hello, I’m Kathy. I’m new at Helping Hand and William asked me to come here.”
“Thank you for coming. They always like to meet new people from the town. This is the list of room numbers. Leave the lady in Room 16 last, because she likes to talk and feels lonely now that she has to stay in bed.”
William pushed his trolley into the large, sunny room on the left of the hall. Kathy pushed her trolley down a narrow corridor with doors on each side. The old people were happy to meet her and asked her lots of questions.
At last Kathy arrived at Room 16. She knocked on the door, and when a gentle voice called “Come in.” Kathy opened the door and pushed the trolley into a pretty room, which at that moment was full of sunshine. An old lady, with bright blue eyes behind round, metal-framed glasses was lying in bed. Her hair was soft and white, shining in the sunlight. She smiled at Kathy. Kathy smiled back at her.
“Good afternoon. My name’s Kathy Watson and I’m working at Helping Hand. I brought you some books. Do you want one?”
“I am Miss Emily. Nice to meet you. May I ask how old you are, Kathy?”
“Now, come here and let me look at you. Yes, you do remind me of a girl I knew long ago. She was very pretty, too. But enough of that. Please come and sit down on this stool beside me as I have many things to tell you and there is very little time left.”
Kathy sat down beside the old lady. She felt calm and peaceful, but curious too. The old lady began to speak softly.
“I am very old now but when I was young I went to work in a big house. I worked in the basement doing the washing and ironing. Lord Hampton, the young master, lived alone, but many rich friends came to visit him and his parties were famous in the town. Hampton house was beautiful then. Bright lights shone in all the rooms. They made the wood on the furniture shine and the silver sparkle. The carpets were so thick your feet disappeared inside the wool when you walked on them… I was lucky. The cook let me have some food after Lord Hampton’s meals came back to the kitchen, but his other servants were often cold and hungry.”
“Lord Hampton wasn’t a bad man, he just thought servants… No, he didn’t think about servants at all. Rich people and his work, that was all he thought about.”
“Do people still work there – cleaners, gardeners and maybe the young people from Helping Hand sometimes?”
“No. The house is old and needs lots of repairs. Nobody ever goes there now.”
“And Lord Hampton?”
There was no answer from Miss Emily. Her eyes were shut and there was a smile on her lips – the kind of smile children have when they are keeping a secret, thought Kathy.
“Do you want a book to read?”
“No, thank you. Come and visit me again another day, Kathy.”
Kathy stood up and quietly pushed the trolley to the door. She opened it, went out of the room and back into the narrow corridor.
“What took you so long?”
“Miss Emily. She told me about the days when she was young.”
“Who’s Miss Emily?”
“The lady in Room 16, the one you told me to leave last.”
“But the lady in Room 16 is called Karen Black.”
“That’s strange. Maybe I got the name wrong.”
“Come on then, we have to get back to work.”
Back at Helping Hand, Joan asked Kathy to answer the telephone for a few hours. William left to help Mr Fisher paint his house.
At 2 o’clock, everyone returned to the office. Joan gave each of them a brown envelope with their name on the front. Joan gave Kathy an envelope, too. Inside, there was a five-pound note.
“Oh! What’s this?”
“You didn’t think you worked today for nothing?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Joan started Helping Hand so the young people who don’t have much money could find work and at the same time help people who can’t do things by themselves. You see, we help the town’s people and they help us, then everyone is happy! Do you want to come to the dance here tonight?”
“Oh, I didn’t see any notices about a dance. How do you know there’s going to be a dance here tonight, William?”
“There’s a dance here every Saturday night for the people from Helping Hand and any other young people who want to come. It’s fun and you’ll meet new people. So, will you come to the dance?”
“OK then, I’ll come. Thank you for asking me, William.”
“See you at 8 o’clock outside the office, then.”
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