I hugged my mother for a last time as she kissed my head and smoothed the skirt of my only dress. She tucked the favourite of her few necklaces, a locket, into my hand. A tear rolled down her cheek.
"I'll come back and visit," I promised as the driver grasped my bag, surprised by how little I owned to pack in the leather case. I glanced at the old man, and then looked back up towards my mother and the weak smile she gave me.
"I'm sure you will, my darling Sarah." She kissed my forehead, her secret way of reminding me I was a smart girl.
"-And when I'm older, I'll have a good job and I can bring you and dad money, then the boys can go to school like me," I hurried to tell her as the chauffer strode back. I kissed her cheek and brushed away the tear from the other side. I took her motherly look in one last time then pivoted around and walked over to the horses. I slide into the cab of the black carriage as the grey haired man closed the door, fixed his suit and jumped up to the driver's seat. I looked out the window and watched my house disappear behind me. The houses got larger and the people walking about them looked richer.
After a confusing drive through the city and a short way through the city and a shirt way into the country we passed through two stone pillars. There were several large stone buildings each with a cluster of boys of different ages, outside staring at the fancy carriage.
The thought of where all the girls were did cross my mind, but then I saw a sign that confused me more. Town School for Boys. Though the carriage kept driving so I thought nothing of it. The dirt road turned into a long narrow driveway which we made our way down. The drive was surrounded by beautiful, flowering gardens, and at the end stood a large house.
Another man in a suit came out of the front doors as the carriage approached the stairs and the driver halted the pair of horses. The man, who I would soon find out to be the head butler, walked over to the carriage and pulled my suitcase off the driver's seat before opening my door and helping me out.
"I apologize for the lack of the servants, we expected you much later and they are all having lunch." I only managed to give a small gasp in response. However could my parents afford to send me to a place with servants?
"This house is where the headmaster lives, but he allows a few girls to study and live here with him, you shall share a room with the only other girl on a scholarship, Jessica, and she is quite a bit younger than you though. We walked up the stairs and I watched the carriage drive away by the side of the house. The butler closed the door behind me and talked as he led me to my room.
"You are lucky to be here, Sarah. You are here because the master is paying for you to be educated because he is an old friend of your family, you must do what he asks, and do what you can to please him." We came to the door, which he opened and put my case on one of the two beds. It was a plain room, with simple furniture, a dresser, a wardrobe, the two beds, and a bedside table between the two, but it was far nicer than my bedroom at home.
"The other girls are in class with their tutor, you will not join them today though, you will be fitted for some new clothes and uniforms in the design room."
We headed off straight away, before I could remember where my room was. The butler, Mr. Johnston, let me into a room, before swiftly closing the door. I heard his footsteps disappear down the hallway as another door opened and several young women came out. They looked me up and down and gave a disgruntled look at my plain dress. I stood as they watched me, and took in the grandeur of the room, the polished furniture, and the painted walls.
"Could you please change out of your dress, but leave you shift on, miss?" I didn't own a shift, not even bloomers, only knickers. The one who had spoken stared at me blankly.
"I don't have one." My statement was met by a variety of "oh" s, shortly followed by one of the younger ladies being sent for a shift.
The lady came back, and handed me the silk garment and pointed me towards the fabric screen. I undressed as I heard their hushed chatter. I slipped the fabric over my head. It was far softer than my scratchy hand-me down, smoother than anything I had felt before. I came out from behind the screen, embarrassed by my lack of clothes. They measured me all-over, even my growing chest, which I silently objected to.
After they were done, I changed back into my dress, and left the slip behind reluctantly. I was led back to my bedroom by one of the women where my dinner lay waiting on the bed.
I finished the hearty dinner and unpacked the few things I had; pajamas, my wash bag and some clean knickers. I put my things in the un-used side of the dresser and then went to sit on my bed. I unclasped the necklace from around my neck and opened the silver oval locket. I looked inside at the picture of my family on one side, and on the other, where my mother's name had been, "Sarah".
The door opened and I snapped the locket shut back around my neck. A very petite girl stepped around the door and closed it smoothly.
"Oh, you're here already. My name is Michaela, but you can call me Mickey." She was a small girl probably eight or nine, wearing a pale blue rough silk skirt and a cream shirt with ruffles down the front buttons and long tapered sleeves. Her dirty blond hair was pulled back into a half ponytail and a dab of rouge had been added to her tanned, freckled cheeks.
"Hello, I'm Sarah.