Mr. Freeman speaks in Faed's painting.

I'm standing here in my best jacket.

Livery, it's called.

Buttons on both sides,

a red shirt beneath.

 

Look at my face. How unsure I look.

Can't you see my situation?

 

There's the children, white, free, happy.

I know there's one behind me, right now.

Mocking me.

Best to say nothing.

Don't upset the Master and Mistress.

They're patrons, see. Rich.

Don't get me wrong. They're good. Caring.

Shoes for the girls. Frocks.

Books, slates. Soup if they need it.

 

We'll catch the little boat home.

It's tied to a rusting iron ring

down by the river bank.

Home we'll go. And then my work will start.

 

'Fetch the tea. Bring more coal.

Fill the log basket. Light the lamps.

Polish the boots. Take my bonnet to the maid for starching'.

Endless. And all the time I smile.

I must.

 

Questions sit silent on my lips.

When will I be free?

Am I doomed to be their manservant

till I'm old and frail?

I want to leave this Estate.

Venture out, back to my own country.

A free man. No-one to boss me.

 

I'll call myself Mr.Freeman.

 

Note: a replica of the Faed painting, 'The visit of the Patron and Patroness', can be seen in Cally Woods in front of the old school. See the map of Cally Estate for its location.

 

Liz Niven

 

The Temple: Diary


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