Lady in Waiting Book 2 Part 1

Book 2
Lady in Waiting Part 1
Lady in Waiting 3.jpg

Note: for those that have read this story before this is a slight re-write of the original chapter 12.

This is the year that Charlotte departs England for a short while with her brother who is working for the government she is to all intents a young lady of quality. They are accompanied my Charlottes Ladies maid Anna and bound for Portugal.
Charlotte decides that Anna is more suited to be a companion rather than a ladies maid but before this could happen poor Anna undergoes a fate worse than death – she has a full body bath!

The year continued and soon it was Christmas this year we would spend it with Lady Beaufort as usual Lady Ffinch and darling Annabelle were there now they were virtually family to me Annabelle and I were like sisters but no matter how close the two of us were Clarissa was as much loved by the both of us.

The festive season was not as happy as all the brothers were abroad waging war but we made do and enjoyed ourselves as best we could.

Then it was 1811 and the was dragged on in this year news from America spoke of a slave revolt outside a place called New Orleans where the slaves lost and a great amount were executed and their heads displayed on posts as a warning to others – there were some grisly pictures in the ‘Thunderer’

Also after much hard fighting the French were finally driven out of Portugal! I thought that with this William would be coming home - but no the campaign then went into Spain.
So 1811 comes to a close this year we spent Christmas at Lady Ffinch’s estate in Leicestershire but it was quite a sombre affair as Clarissa’s youngest brother had been killed. Henry was a lovely man when I first met him all those years ago he was 15 years old now he would never see his young son that Gloria (his wife) had given birth to the child was now 18 months old.
Needless to say Clarissa was grief stricken and we tried our best to soothe her.
I believe it was because there were no remains to inter made things harder.

1812 began; maybe my William would be home this year – but again no as they were still in Spain bogged down in a period of small skirmishes.
Then in February a letter from my beloved told of the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo this was a bloody battle with the English loosing some 318 poor souls but the captured an entire French siege train as well as some 1500 prisoners as William seriously informed me the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo opened up the northern invasion corridor from Portugal into Spain. It also allowed Wellington to proceed to Badajoz on the southern corridor.
I wish that in his letters he would simply tell me that he loved me and missed me. All this military stuff simply made me worry that I would be a widow before a bride.

My next letter arrived in May from the tone of it my William was both despondent and proud of his men.
As the storming of the city of Badajoz was one of the bloodiest so far and was William told me it was a costly victory with some 4,800 soldiers killed in a few short hours of intense fighting during the storming of the breaches as the siege drew to an end.
Enraged at the huge amount of casualties they suffered in seizing the city, the troops broke into houses and stores consuming vast quantities of liquor with many of them then going on a rampage.
Threatening their officers and ignoring their commands to desist, and even killing several officers the troops massacred about 4,000 Spanish civilians. It took three days before the men were brought back into order.

William was sickened by this mindless slaughter of the Spanish but was proud that his men did not take part in the looting in fact they were part of the army that restored order and for this good work William received a battlefield commendation.
My letter back to him was very loving and I hoped comforting I told him how much I missed him, how I missed his loving touch and couldn’t wait for him to hold me and kiss me. (Mama would be scandalized at my forwardness) But I felt that this is what William needed to hear.

July and I was sitting daydreaming when a servant entered and asked me to go to my brother Edward’s study. In truth this was a pleasant distraction as I was sitting there wondering when I would next see William – it had been so very long.
When I entered mama was also there so I thought the worst and started to move from foot to foot. Mama chided me saying, “Charlotte how many times have I told you! A lady does NOT fidget!” Eyes downcast I murmured, “Sorry mama -------but”

“Charlotte” my brother started, “With my work for the government I have been asked to sail to Portugal.” “Oh Edward will you see William” I gasped.
“Child let me finish” Edward said smiling. “Sorry Edward it’s just...........” I tailed off not knowing what to say.
He smiled sympathetically saying; “I know it has been a long time for you. But maybe just maybe we will see William.”

It took me a while to understand what he had just said and when the candle was lit and it dawned inside my head I gasped and stammered, “W, w, we? You said we! What do you mean?”
“What Edward means dear it that you are to accompany him to Portugal I think it will broaden your outlook on life and maybe - just maybe you will see William.” Mama told me with a gentle smile.
I flew to my brother hugging him thanking him – I was so very excited this would be a great adventure – little did I know.

We were leaving in 3 weeks taking a ship to Lisbon so for me it was a flurry of activity packing.
As we would be away for at least 3 months Mama made sure that I packed accordingly.
Sensible dresses which were slightly shorter and made from lighter material than what we wore in England some evening gowns, skirts and blouses. Also included were sensible shoes and boots as well as riding habits.
My ladies maid Anna was even more excited than I as this was a real adventure for her being a country girl.

Finally it was time for us to leave home the first part of the journey was by a ‘yellow bounder’ as it was commonly called this was to take up to London where Edward was to collect his orders and dispatches from the Admiralty.

The real name for this type of transport was a Postchaise these were rented, as were the teams of horses so we could make London in 2 days as the teams were changed regularly.
From London we took the fast mail coach to Plymouth where we would be boarding our ship for Portugal.
In Plymouth we acquired rooms at the Minerva Inn for the night as we were boarding our ship HMS Hydra in the morning. This was the first time I had ever been in a common tavern and I found the sights and smells overpowering and fascinating it was a mixture of tobacco smoke, cooking, stale sweat and ale.

The clientele in the part we entered seemed to consist of Naval Officers some of whom Edward knew though with his ravaged face and one arm they didn’t recognize him.
We sat at a table for some food Anna was very uncomfortable sitting with Edward and I but my dear brother put her at ease telling her that this would be a common happening and to enjoy her adventure. She looked at me and I added that not only was she my maid but my friend so for this trip why should she not dine with us.

The food was very basic consisting of mutton stew, minced collops, mutton chops and assorted pies served of course with beer.
As people recognized Edward and of course the attraction of two comely girls our table was soon surrounded by a group of officers.
After we had eaten the company grew a bit noisier as more brandy and ale were consumed.
Much to my disappointment and certainly Anna’s (as she had the attention of a very handsome young officer) we were packed upstairs with the admonishment from my brother to dress sensibly for tomorrow.

We went and laid out our dresses for the morning; mama realizing that Anna’s wardrobe was very Spartan had insisted that some of my older clothes be altered to fit Anna’s frame – she is slightly more buxom than I.
The result for this was that her wardrobe was similar to mine though a bit more worn.
All our dresses were made from light cotton, lawn or linen suitable for the climate of Portugal. Our underwear was similar the main difference being that Anna wore the open style drawers where I mainly used the ones closed.

The next morning I dressed in a lavender dress with long sleeves made from the finest lawn it was gathered under my breasts and came to just above my ankles. My shoes were black ankle boots with a small heel.
Anna tried to dress herself but couldn’t fasten the dress at the back so I helped her dress despite her saying, “T’aint right miss I’s supposed to be your maid not t’other way round.”
“Anna dear” I explained, “We are the only two girls here we have to help each other now for goodness sake stand still so I can fasten your dress – then I’ll do your hair!” I added as an afterthought.

This started her arguing again, “But Miss t’aint right you serving me you’re a lady.”
“Oh Anna” I sighed, “Please be quiet if you are going to be my companion you are going to look presentable.”
“But Miss Charlotte I’m your maid not your companion.” I had made my mind up on this for our adventure Anna as going to become my companion we would help each other and I would teach her the basic rules of being a companion.

As I brushed her hair out I found that it was greasy, dirty and a bit smelly, “Anna when did you last wash your hair?”
She looked at me amazed, “Why never Miss water is bad for you – everyone knows that.”
“Fiddlesticks” I snapped we are going to wash your hair now and no argument!
“But Mistress” she pleaded, “I’ll catch’t fevers and die!”
“Absolute rubbish” I snapped as I called for several buckets of hot and cold water.
When these had arrived I grabbed the unwilling Anna and proceeded to wash her hair with my mixture for hair cleaning totally ignoring her squeals and protestations.

There was a knock at the door, “Come” I shouted and Edward entered looking at the scene with amazement.
“Charlotte what on earth are you doing?” I glared at him snapping, “It must be obvious even to you! I’m not having my companion smelling like a midden!”
“”Companion?” he queried. Again I glared at him with steely determination, “Yes Companion” I snapped ready for an argument.

With a look of amusement he commented, “You are so like mama – companion it is then. Please haste as we are leaving in an hour or so.” Then in a slightly raised voice he finished with, “Anna! Stop your squalling next you will be getting washed all over – if I know my sister!”
“What an excellent idea Edward please have a tub and more water sent up.” This elicited another wail of despondency from Anna and a grim smile from my brother as he departed.

I had finished washing her hair and started drying it this was a long process as Anna had thick black hair down to her waist.
A tub was brought along with more hot water and a distraught Anna was stripped off and I made her get into the tub.
Shivering in fright she pleaded with me telling me she would die from the water.
“Nonsense” I snapped I have a bath every month and so will you from now on!” With another wail she sat down and I handed her my soap instructing her, “Now WASH your self girl!”
After she was thoroughly clean I rinsed her off, trimmed her hairs under her arms then she towelled herself dry.

Looking fresh and rosy cheeked she dressed again her dress was yellow with coloured flowers gathered under her voluptuous breasts. This time when I sat her down to do her hair she smelled clean and fresh her hair shining with health.
After I had finished she looked at herself in the small mirror and in a voice full of wonderment she gasped, “Miss I look’s like a Lady!”
Smiling I told her “Yes you do now I have to teach you to talk and act like a companion.” I passed her the yellow bonnet that went with her dress and as we made ready to go a knock came on the door.
“Come” I shouted Edward entered and looking at Anna with amazement said, “I gathered from the lack of sound that either you had finished or Anna had died from the water!”

This set Anna off again, “See Miss I told you I would die; I told you!” This annoyed me and I snapped at my brother, “Edward! I have just calmed her down – now please tell her you jest then we can leave!”
With a trace of a grin my brother assured Anna, “Anna, Charlotte is right I only speak in jest – we bathe regularly and we have not died so can we now leave?”

Anna left with some baggage Edward looked at me and asked, “Charlotte what is this companion? Anna is your ladies maid. What will mama think?”
“Edward Anna and I have been together many years for this adventure it feels right to me – as for mama I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
My brother smiled grimly adding, “You and mama are so alike I would like to be there when you two lock horns.”

With that we left the inn and walked the short distance to the harbour wall and the steps that would let us board the boat.

In my ignorance I thought the ship that was taking us to Portugal would be alongside the quay – but no!
As we reached the head of some steep and very slimy looking stone steps my brother shouted, “HYDRA”.
“Aye, Aye Sir” came the call from a small rowing boat amongst the throng of small boats. (I found out later that this was named a barge and one of the larger boats a ship carries)

The rowing boat came alongside the steps and with a frightened look at me Anna descended the slippery steps and into the bobbing boat -with the help of a very brawny sailor. I followed assisted by the same sailor finally Edward.
For a man with one arm and eye he was amazingly agile on his feet and his co-ordination was excellent.
The boat pulled away I noticed that the person driving it was the same handsome officer that had noticed Anna last night and then we sped towards the ships that were at anchor in the sound.
It was very bouncy and I felt decidedly unwell, looking at Anna she was a strange tinge of whitish/green.
But before either of us could be ill we rounded the back of this what to my new eyes looked like very large ship and I saw the name Hydra – this was to be our transport!

The wooden sides of this ship seemed to tower over us “Edward how on earth are we going to board? We can never climb up those steps in our dresses?” I was somewhat alarmed at this as the steps were little more than protruding pieces of wood all the way up the ships side with a rope either side.
The young man steering the boat spoke (I found out later he was what was called a Midshipman) “Never fear m’lady we have a chair to lift you on board.” As he said this he nodded towards a contraption hanging from one of the masts – actually as I later found out this was called a ‘yard’ which the sails hang from.

I looked at this decidedly flimsy looking thing hanging from a rope and swallowed. Anna clutched my hand and begged, “Miss Charlotte I b’aint going on that thing!”
I felt as much terror as her but knew I mustn’t show it so putting a brave face on I said in a steady voice, Don’t worry Anna I will go first then you will follow!”

Historical Note:- In the 1800’s the difference between a Lady’s Maid and a Lady’s Companion was vast. A maid was usually from a lowborn family and took care of the needs of her mistress. A maid had no rights at all and could be punished for the slightest misdemeanour.
A Lady’s Companion on the other hand was from a middle class family like a vicar or doctor she was educated and could attend functions with the Lady and converse like a Lady.
Charlotte has to teach Anna everything and even so if Charlotte’s mother does not agree Anna could be dismissed.

HMS Hydra off Ushant

HMS Hydra launched in 1797 was a fifth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, armed with a main battery of twenty-eight 18-pounder guns.
She was built to the design of the captured French frigate Melpomene (taken in 1794).
Ships Boats: - The reliance of sailing ships on the wind for propulsion meant that boats were needed for many reasons - for carrying men ashore, for moving the ship by means of cables and anchors, for communicating between ships (and between ship and shore), and for bringing stores and water aboard.
Several types of ship's boats were required and each had a separate function or use. The largest boat was the launch, which was well adapted for carrying heavy weights. A barge was narrower, and often longer than a launch, and was intended mainly for rowing - and was the preferred vessel for carrying naval officers ashore and transferring officials parties. A pinnace was slightly smaller than a barge, and had fewer oars. Cutters were good sea boats, clinker built, and an indispensable part of every ship's equipment.
Most ship's boats were designed for both rowing and sailing, though, in general, some were more suitable at one than the other. Pinnaces and barges were used primarily for rowing, while cutters were better at sailing. Captains often added other types of boats according to size and availability - these could include a jollyboat (which was essentially a small cutter) and a gig. The larger boats were stored in the waist of the ship, while cutters and jollyboats were stowed near, or suspended from the stern on davits where they could be released easily (and quickly in the case of an emergency).

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