Olga’s Diary (Continued)
News from Home: I received a letter with a Christmas card in it today.
It was such a surprise when Mrs Hurt handed it to me. It had been on a long journey. Matron, at St Giles, had forwarded it to the Refuge. Miss Franks had forwarded it on to Sister Pateman, who thank goodness, had put it in a fresh envelope, with a little note to me saying she hoped Marie and I were well and please keep in touch with them.
At first I was so excited when I opened the envelope and saw the letter was from Ruby and when I saw the censor and his black pen had been at work again. I cried, there was so little left for me to read. Thank goodness the censor had left the Christmas card alone.
Every year Sydney sends his customers a Christmas card, but not usually one covered with snow. It seems an odd choice really because it never snows in Jamaica, but, anyway, I’m going to keep it. Sydney has three shops now, business must be good.
Everyone is well and sends their love. Darling Mammie told Sydney to tell me that she that she thinks of me all the time. Dolly is getting married to a Syrian gentleman, but the family are not happy about it.
They’re all worried about me because I haven’t written to them for ages but what can I tell them, not the truth. My life has changed so much. I’m not ashamed of having a little girl, but I wish the circumstances were different. I don’t want them to know about my life now.
I couldn’t bear Mammie to see some of the work I have to do, cleaning out the dirty fireplaces every morning in the winter and cleaning silver.
Captain and Mrs Hurt are kind to me and especially Marie, I like them, but I know my place, after all I’m their servant.
Mrs Hurt has an Irish housemaid, named Kathleen Ryan. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her one little bit. I’d been putting away some linen in the cupboard on the first floor landing and I was in a hurry so I came down the front stairs. Servants are supposed to use the back stairs and Kathleen saw me and told me off. I told her Mrs Hurt didn’t mind me using the front stairs now and again and she called me an “uppity nigger with airs and graces”.
I was shocked I can tell you.
“I’m not a nigger, I’m not black”. I told her straight. Judith heard what Kathleen had said and told her mother-in-law. Mrs Hurt was furious.
Kathleen said she’d never worked with niggers before.
Mrs Hurt told Kathleen that if she wanted to continue to work for her, she was never to say that word again and if Kathleen didn’t want to work with me, “you can leave now”. Kathleen was crying and I was unhappy too.
Mrs Attwood was very kind to me and made me a cup of tea and said “best thing that could happen would be for her to leave – good riddance to bad rubbish. I’ve never liked the Irish”. Mrs Attwood and I got on well together right from the beginning, but I was surprised that Mrs Hurt stood up for me.
“She likes you Carmen, she thinks you have courage and so do I”. Wasn’t that a nice thing to say?
Peace at last: The war in Europe had ended, finally. I was in the kitchen when the news came over the radio. Mr Churchill has ordered the next two days to be a national holiday. The village organised a big party and everyone was invited and Union Jack flags were hanging out of nearly every window and on every tree.
There was bunting strung across from one cottage to another and a tea party on the village green where everyone brought cakes, sandwiches, fizzy drinks and there was dancing and singing. Lovely cakes.
Everyone from Hendon Hall went, all the staff and the Hurts and we all had a wonderful time. It was so nice to see everyone so happy, particularly Captain and Mrs Hurt, because their sons would be coming home.
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