To The Manor Born...

Submitted into Contest #106 in response to: Write a story about a character who’s secretly nobility.... view prompt


Coming of Age Drama Contemporary

  1. Write a story about a character who’s secretly nobility.

Anna always knew she was different. She was raised in the 1970’s, but more more like the 1870’s, on how to be a Lady. Embroider samples, be musical, be graceful, hold your tea daintily, speak softly, walk with books on your head...ah yes, all important things for a girl to learn during the burgeoning feminist era that was the backdrop of her otherwise upper middle class upbringing in America. Anna dreamed of castles, and made her mother pull the car over for anything she perceived as being one {usually a mock Tudor style home or especially stucco with wrought iron Juliet balconies); those were castles in her mind. Anna cut her teeth on high tea with her grandmother, or on her own fine china and silver sugar tongs, trying to sweeten the taste with seven sugar cubes since she knew she was supposed to like the stuff but her four-year-old palette was not yet sophisticated enough for a strong cuppa. Since that tender age, she was taught to arrange flowers, set a lovely table with silver candelabras and linen napkins for the formal dinner parties her family threw weekly. Anna felt she was born in the wrong era and place ever since she could remember, set against mini skirts and polyester of the 70’s…

There was a family history that had a connection to Nobility. A maiden aunt, who had come over on a ship abroad with her Scottish mother and English father, was keeper of the family history. They were related to the Earl of Strafford, a daunting character woven into English history. Anna stayed with her aunt, even flew to England with her as a child, just to learn this family history at the age of seven. By age ten, she was taught a lot more, and other than sharing it for show and tell, it was merely an interesting factoid. But it still seemed imperative to both her parents that she grew up a Lady. Anna had a lot of other hobbies; she started ballet at age six, designing her own clothes at age eight, and singing in choir at age 11...all these things still carefully selected to keep her ladylike and busy. She was also taught to be down to earth, to approach people and be friendly, largely to do with her mother’s personality. She wanted for nothing, and had a highly shielded, but otherwise normal, childhood, despite the expectations.

Anna’s life didn’t go straight forward as her parents planned. They were having marital and financial problems, caused from extending themselves too far buying properties and her father being forced into early retirement (years later, Anna read in a textbook for a class she was taking that it was because her father breached the moral clause at his company, chasing a much younger woman employee!]. Rather than fix their problems, they took it out on Anna, so she decided a young marriage was the only way out; her mother disowned her for such an infraction and not living up to her standards.  College, a car, dowry...everything she was ever promised as a young woman in her station in life, was taken away...even her belongings. She never could understand it...she was still a good girl, now a good wife and mother. The marriage didn’t last long, and her parents took her and her two babies in, but things were strained. They put the pressure on Anna to work hard. So, for decades, she went to college and worked 2-3 jobs whilst raising children; a far cry from the privilege she was raised with.

This went on for many years, and despite the hardships, Anna always looked pretty and was sweet and friendly. She worked long days and often went without sleep or food, for fear of not providing for her family. She went from relationship to relationship, eve had another baby, but no man would take her on, not for long. So she worked on herself. Around that time, she finally received an inheritance. She had gotten fairly well established, now in her mid thirties, having taught ballet for many years, worked in fashion at high end retailers, and sold her art and fashion designs. But having actual money meant she could afford to give her kids everything she grew up with. She immediately ran out and bought a house, a family car, and nice things for her children they more than deserved. She donated to the Arts, and could now afford good ballet schools for her daughters rather than them tagging along with the classes she taught. But in the back of her mind, there was England; she now could afford to travel. Having led such a hard life, surely her Nobile connection would leave her treated better than men treated her here, just like a poor single mother. 

The first trip was a test run, and she had the kids taken care of back home with a ski trip to entertain then. Anna had never travelled abroad. By now, she worked full time at a law firm, taught dance and still freelanced in cosmetics, so a break to the unknown was long overdue. Plus, she was feeling the effects of 12-16 days all these years; they had taken a toll. She researched the Strafford background, finding an ancient book still in existence. She wrote, blindly, to the estates she reckoned may still exist. After a stint in London, where she noticed people treated her differently than back home, she headed there, and made appointments to see some of the estates. It was remarkable how differently she was treated; part being American and very posh but part due to the family name. It was nothing like how American men treated her, by using and abusing her; people welcomed her with open arms in business and pleasure. Shortly thereafter getting her bearings, she took the kids to see another life she only dreamed about for them. 

Twenty years pass, and back and forth Anna goes across the pond. She raises her kids here, particularly the younger one, who easily adapts to school in England. She builds a business, and is highly respected, not only for her family name but on her own merits….she even gets a Title bestowed upon her due to her charitable acts she does, in th4e manner of her ancestors. Still, in America all she is seen as is a single mom, with no merits despite her many accomplishments. Men in America treat her abysmally, only wanting what they can get from her. The relationships often turn abusive, and the last one especially so. She decides she has had enough, and now that the kids are grown, she flees back to the safety and happiness she adores in the UK.

Anna decides to work for her ancestral home, where her real roots are. She only is allowed to volunteer, so she has to live off her life savings, which are not vast to say the least. When she feels her court shoes stroll the same floor as her ancestors, she feels safe. Anna gets on well with the other staff and volunteers, but there is something about the management. They all like her for her bubbly American personality, but they won’t allow her to mention her family ties, her Title, the accrual family history [a nouveau riche family had taken over the estate in more recent years; mustn’t ruffle their feathers! The secret of her Nobility must be kept at all cost; leaving attention to the downmarket Dame that runs the house and the extended branch of the family that reaps the revenue. Anna ends up meeting the love of her life there, who grew up on the estate and certainly knows and respects her ancestry well. And yet she is punished if she breaths a word about it! And yet her training has her acting like Princess Diana; meeting and greeting each customer with warmth and a smile…

This goes on for a couple years, and despite Anna wanting to make videos and show archived documents from her life there, they won’t allow it. One day, after meeting and greeting customers and feeling more buzzed than exhausted as usual, something extraordinary happens. The company party is happening that evening, and Anna isn’t much interested in it, and tells her partner she will be late. Just as her shift was to end, a couple of young gentlemen walk in. The front desk tells them to go away, despite the website saying they were still open. They had driven a long way, and were very upset. In hearing this, Anna’s American customer service skills pop in. She is not normally a tour guide, but decides to offer them a private tour, with her giving it her family ties...the gag is off! It urns out the gentlemen own a castle, and are having a TV show show there, so a Duke that is a mutual trustee sent them there! And they were going to be refused access?! Not on Anna’s watch...what she lacked in knowledge, she made up for in customer service. She points out her family crest, mentions other estates, and generally turns them around from angry to grateful. They see the party laid in a grand room, so the excuse Anna gave of an event shows true, with all the happy faces of volunteers there. The two gentlemen leave happy...and Anna is offered a job with them, and her skills and position are finally appreciated for once...And with her great love and newfound confidence and respect...she lived happily ever after.

August 12, 2021 08:45

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