The Second Job Interview!
The Second Job Interview!
After a nervous four day wait, I got the telephone call I had hoped would come. It was a call from Mrs. Montgomery, the person in charge of hiring a maid for the 1860 mansion that captivated my thoughts awake and asleep. I had never been what you would call a ‘Southern Belle’ nor did I have that ‘Southern Accent’ but Savannah, Georgia was truly my home. I had intensely searching the employment section of the newspaper hoping to find a job that would not only keep money in the bank but also be enjoyable.
That’s when by fate or accident, I came across the ad in search of a maid at a pristine mansion called Wellington Estate! It was an evening position and that was perfect for me. I followed the directions in the paper and I was speechless. If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that the mansion before me was straight out of the movie called ‘Gone With The Wind.’ From the wrought iron fence to the well manicured lawns to the ivory white pillars it was truly a breathtaking estate.
I made my way to the front door, remembering the words spoken to me “so-matter-of-factly”The lady on the phone said, “Miss Woods. I’m happy to inform you that your application has been accepted for the position of Maid but there is still one more interview to be completed. Could you come by the estate between say three pm and five pm?” Before I let the meaning of ‘a second interview’ sink in, I asked her if four pm was agreeable and she said yes. It was four hours before I was to arrive and the more I thought about this next interview, something kept bothering me.
I was absolutely sure that she said that I got the job, yet why was there a second interview? If I failed this interview, did that mean that now, I didn’t get the job? I didn’t know at that moment if I should have felt excited or mad. So I did what I always did when I felt life was stressing me out. I went to my easel, set out my paint colors and picked up my brush. Painting was my first love and without it, how could life ever be as enjoyable?
Though it was easy for me to let time slip away when I was painting, this time was an exception. I kept a close eye on the time, cleaned up and changed clothes and true to my word, I arrived just a few minutes before four pm. Why was my heart racing? As my eyes looked over the mansion once more I could have sworn I was being watched from one of the upstairs windows. That was when my eyes saw a white curtain move.
Perhaps it was one of the day maids or even Mrs. Montgomery herself checking to see if I had arrived. Well, this was ‘show time” I said to myself as I stepped out of my car and made my way to the front door. Nervously I rang the bell and waited. A maid in a blue outfit with white apron and bonnet opened the door and politely welcomed me inside. Even though this was my second time inside this historic mansion, the main staircase still took my breath away by its craftsmanship.
From the chandeliers to the grand piano, to the four pillars to the hardwood floors, this home whispered elegance. I was shown to what I would call a parlor and sat down nervously on a comfortable chair. A few minutes Mrs. Montgomery appeared and I stood. She smiled and motioned for me to relax and sit back down. “Now I can tell from the look in your eyes, that you’re wondering why I’m interviewing you a second time when I told you on the phone you were hired.” she said with a smile.
I’ve always been told that my face was an open book to my thoughts. “The truth is Emily, this is a quite unusual position and mansion as you’ll soon discover.” she said with a smile. As I sat there, Mrs. Montgomery began telling me about the history of Wellington Estate. She covered the history of the mansion decade by decade as if she had lived in this house every moment. It was as if the house breathed its voice through her lips.
Time seemed to stop at that moment for both of us as I drank in all she shared with me.
Then she stopped and I thought that was the end, but it wasn’t. She lowered her eyes and took a deep breath and when she looked up into my eyes, I saw hesitation, almost fear. “Emily, do you believe in ghosts? You know the spirits of those who have departed. Do you believe they can stay in a physical place if they have unfinished business?” she asked. All that came out of my mouth at that time was two words. “Unfinished business?”
Then Mrs. Montgomery’s concern changed to a soft smile as she began to speak. “Well Emily, this interview is the most important one because you see, well, this house has a ghost, a female ghost. She doesn’t haunt this mansion. She’s just sort of waiting.” Mrs. Montgomery told me. “Waiting?” I asked, “Waiting for what?” For the longest time there was silence in that parlor as Mrs. Montgomery looked for the best way to tell a story I would years later pass onto other maids who also came to work at Wellington Estate.
“In 1981 Mary Wellington lived in this house and on her 22nd birthday she was to be wed to a handsome man named Scott Anderson, a fine boy. He was serving in the Army, stationed in Korea for his tour of duty. He was on his way back to the states when the plane he was on crashed while attempting to land at the Airport. One of its wheels collapsed and the plane tipped and skidded as it burst into flames.
The newspaper said that Scott saved three passengers before going back inside the burning plane to rescue someone else and died.” she said in a sad voice. There was silence in that room for a long time after those words were spoken. Suddenly my train of thought became distracted as I saw a maid watering flowers outside the room I was in. The blue and white outfit looked very nice on her. As I turned my attention back to Mrs. Montgomery, I saw she was opening up a folder and looking through the pages before she looked back at me.
“If you’re still interested in the position Emily I’d like to go through some of the many reports written about sightings of Mary.” she said. I told Mrs. Montgomery I wasn’t frightened of Mary. If anything, I was captivated by her loneliness to stay and wait for the return of the young man she loved so deeply. For nearly an hour, Mrs. Montgomery read to me times when maids, servant, cooks and groundskeepers had seen Mary throughout the past 26 years.
“Mary has been heard playing the piano at the bottom of the grand stairs, seen in the library reading a book and walking up or down the stairs. But more often than anything she was heard.” she told me. I asked Mrs. Montgomery what Mary had said to the staff and she replied, “Nothing!” She saw the curious look on my face and pointed over to the door behind me. I turned and saw the small chime hanging next to the door. “Mary’s never spoken to any of us Emily.
But we’ve always known when she was in a room or passing by us because as you will discover later, the house is filled with chimes. It was my idea to place chimes throughout the house, from the basement to the kitchen to the bedrooms on the second floor. It was my way of letting my daughter know she was not alone Emily. Yes Mary was and will always be my daughter.” she told me with tears in her eyes and mine as well.
“You see, everyone in this house talks to Mary when we hear the chimes ring as she passes near. We all love her and miss her deeply. And most importantly, because she has chosen to stay behind, to wander this house for as long as she chooses too, I want her to know she’s not been forgotten.” Mrs. Montgomery told me. As we both wiped our eyes, Mrs. Montgomery had one last question to ask of me. “So now you know all that I’ve told to every person I’ve hired at this estate since my daughter died.
And I ask you now, the same question I asked each new hire before you. Would you still like to accept the position of maid at Wellington Estate?” Mrs. Montgomery asked. At the same time she asked me, I blurted out the word “Yes!” Tears flowed down my cheeks. It was a time of comfort for both of us and I don’t know who needed that much needed hug more at that moment, me or she? “Well, congratulations Emily.” she told me with a smile.
“There’s much to do before we assign you your first shift Emily. I did tell you it was to be a four-midnight position swing-shift position?” Mrs. Montgomery asked. I nodded yes. “Good. Well, I’ll need a copy of your driver’s license and Social Security Number for tax purposes Emily.” she said. I smiled at her as I reached into my purse and handed her a copy of both documents. As she laughed, I heard her say that I was efficient and that we’d get along just fine.
She excused herself for a moment and asked me to wait. I couldn’t describe the feeling I had at that moment about this house or the ghost of her daughter. I was in awe, was as close as I could try to describe myself. When Mrs. Montgomery returned, she introduced, Savannah to me. She was to be my mentor and friend. “Savannah’s been a housekeeper here for almost five years. She’ll show you to your room Emily and afterwards familiarize you with all the rooms and your duties.
Please don’t think that you’ll be tested or have to remember everything. Welcome to Wellington Estates. Savannah will handle your scheduling when she feels you’re ready for your first shift on your own. In the mean time, I know Savannah will introduce you to all the other staff. Please make sure you let her know when you plan on moving what belongings you have to your room.” she said as she reached out and shook my hand. I shook Mrs. Montgomery’s hand and Savannah nodded her head in respect, and she was gone.
Savannah was close to my age and she seemed excited that I was ‘the new girl.’ She asked me my name again and I told her it was Emily. “That’s a pretty name and you’re going to love working here Emily. And your room, Oh my God, you’re gonna faint when you see your room.” she said as I saw her eyes sparkle. I saw a look of jealousy in her eyes too when she said that. “Mary will like you too I’m sure, though only on a rare occasion do any of us see her. Did Mrs. Montgomery explain about all the chimes in the house to you?” Savannah asked.
I nodded yes and she replied, “Good, then let me show you to your room.” We walked up the beautiful stairs, turned left and stopped at the third door on the right. When she gently opened the door I could have fainted. At that moment I felt like I had to be dreaming. Never before had I seen such a breathtakingly beautiful and spacious room in my life. From the canopy bed to the fireplace to the blue chairs and private desk, everything was absolutely perfect.
As we walked inside, I couldn’t see a single thing out of place and not a spot of dust. “I know the position doesn’t pay that well, but would you ever believe that this would be where you would call home, Emily?” Savannah asked with a grin. At that moment, I hadn’t heard a word of what Savannah had said to me. I was in shock. That was when she touched my arm and said, “Come, let me show you all the rooms. I’ll even show you Mary’s room. Then I’ll introduce you to the rest of the staff. We all live here Emily.
Oh, and if ya need any help moving your clothes and stuff I’d be happy to help if I can.” she said. I thanked Savannah but reassured her that I’d be just fine. Room after room we visited, including Mary’s room. Nothing was out of place and I loved how each one was decorated. I was shown so much stuff that Savannah was quick to laugh and tell me not to worry. “Everyone who gets hired thinks that it’s just overwhelming at first Emily, but it isn’t really.
Everyone will be glad to answer your questions. We all had to learn.” she said with a soft laughter. As we continued the tour, from time to time we ran into other staff busy in their tasks and they stopped for a moment, shook my hand and welcomed me to Wellington Estates. In truth, I had never been made to feel so welcome in any job I had ever had. It was a house and job I hoped I would never give up. At that instant, the chime by the kitchen window closest to Amelia, the cook began to sound and all three of us were silent.
It was Amelia, who greeted Mary first. “Good afternoon Mary, I’m so glad you’re here. It’s a beautiful day indeed. Mary, this is Emily, she’ll be the maid during the evenings in a few days. She’s very nice Mary and I hope you’ll make her feel welcome too.” she said as she smiled at me. Only silence could be heard but there were three smiles I could see for sure in that kitchen. I never heard her leave, so in a way maybe I envisioned her looking out the window at the beautiful trees and fine trimmed lawns.
When Savannah and I left the kitchen, she said, “Well that’s your first tour of the house. When I see you again after you’ve moved your things in, I’ll show you around some more and even give you a map of the house. We eat breakfast, lunch and supper at set times so don’t be late, unless you’re away from the house, seeing you’ll be working evenings. But you’re welcome to drop by the kitchen for a snack if you want to.
Just make yourself at home.” Savannah told me. She gave me a short hug and handed me a piece of paper. “That’s the address of Annie’s Alterations down on 42nd street Emily. They’re expecting you tomorrow so you can be fitted for your maid outfit. You get three sets and don’t worry. Someone will clean them for you each week.” she told me with a wide smile. Just as I was walking towards the front door Savannah asked me one last question. “Emily, is the job all you could imagine?”
All I could say was “Yes and so much more.” We waved goodbye to each other and I got into my car and went back to my apartment. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I drove down the street back to my apartment. I was so excited; I talked with my sister Betty on my cell phone almost all the way back home. It wasn't even 15 minutes after I had opened my front door and opened the windows to let fresh air in that my sister arrived.
The Second Job Interview! Conclusion-
Over two tall glasses of sweet tea, I retold her everything that had happened to me at Wellington Estates, including the chimes moving by themselves. Betty tried to tell me it must have been some kind of prank, but I assured her there was no one near the chimes and no wires. I really saw the chimes move. I really heard them. I asked her if she would help bring over boxes and help me put things in storage. I planned to pay the storage company for 12 months rent.
At the end of that time I was sure I would know whether I wanted to stay on at Wellington Estates. Betty and I discussed my options and plans for my future as an artist. But I assured her that the hours would be perfect for me to pursue my painting career and more importantly, being able to display my paintings in local shop windows. She agreed that I could work and make money which was a win-win situation for me.
But I could see there was a certain level of nervousness in her eyes about my living in a house that was haunted. But I told my sister all that I could remember that Mrs. Montgomery had shared with me about Mary.A part of me shared the same sadnessthat Mrs. Montgomery had. Betty and I had lost our mother and father in 1972 in a plane crash. It was to be a wonderful vacation for them in the mountains of Tennessee.
But the newspapers said they had engine problems and hit the side of a mountain. I hugged Betty andwe said goodbye to each other. Finally I was alone and everything began to sink in. I knew I had to drop by Annie's Alterations to be fitted into my maids outfit. I knew I had to pick and choose what I wanted to take and have room for in my new room. Besides clothes and my paints and easels and such, I really didn't need much.
That night I was surprised to find myself drifting off to sleep so easily. Maybe I was just tired from all my running around. Maybe it was contentment that my life washeaded in a more stable direction. Maybe it was the comfort of knowing I wouldn't have to come up with next month’s rent money or have to pay utilities that made me relax. Maybe, just maybe it was my thoughts about Mary that made me seek my dreams of the mansion.
The next day was filled with pins and needles as Ifinished eating breakfast and headed to the alterations place. Once there, Annie, a smiling large red headed woman with happy eyes greeted me at the counter and her kindness was as fresh as springtime rains. She took my measurements andasked me to return on Friday to pick them up, anytime after 10 am.
I thanked her and began making rounds at all the usual stores that discard boxes and was lucky to get the best sizes I needed. I called each of the four largest storage companies and got their prices forsomething close to a12 x 12 room. Then I drove over to the lowest priced one which was Rent-N-Store on Brownsville Blvd. I was showed the storage room and filled out the paperwork, paying twelve months in advance plus deposit.
Next, I picked up my phone when I got back home and called Mrs. Montgomery and let her know Icould be available to work on Friday afternoon. She told me that was fine. Now all that was left for me to do was to slowly pack up all my possessions one at a time and stack the boxes by the door. I let my landlord know I was moving out on Friday, which by pure luck was the last day of the month. I placed other things I planned to take to the mansion against another wall.
Before I knew it, it looked like I was just moving into this apartment. Betty's brother Bill called me as I sat weary in my arm chair and told me Betty had asked him if he could help transport my things to the storage company. He had always been one to help in any way he could.I asked him ifI wouldn't be imposing on him if he could help me any time on Thursday. He laughed and said he would help on any day I needed his help.
Sure enough, Bill was on time Thursday and in one trip with his truck, all my belongings were in the storage room and padlocked. I thanked him and tried to pay him for his time but he pushed the $50 away and smiled as he said "No charge, Emily." To be honest I felt guilty but didn't argue. When I got back home, my place looked so empty. What once was a very cozy little apartment were now bare rooms and bare walls.
Sleep that night didn't come easy for me. I tossed and turned worrying between what was a great opportunity and what could be a big mistake. I'm just that kind of worry wart when it comes to change. I like my life to be predictable. When Friday morning came, I ate my last breakfastsitting on just a chair. I gave away a few things and the rest of the food in my refrigerator to an elderly neighbor I fondly called, "Momma."
She was on Social Security and her pension barely helped to make ends meet. We shed tears not just because we wouldn’t be neighbors anymore but because she really needed everything I gave her. I promised her I would still visit her. Finally, I was driving to Wellington Estates, to my new home, to a room I had never dreamed existed. I was driving to a job I knew I would love and to maybe, just maybe see the spirit of Mary Wellington.
When I arrived, I didn't know where I was to park. I saw a gardener near the gate of the black wrought iron gate and he met him at the gate. I told who I was as he wiped sweat off of his brow and then onto his pants. His tired face broke out into a smile as he introduced himself. and said he was happy to make my acquaintance. He pointed tohis right to a set of tall black gates and told me that was where I would drive in and out of the estate.
He asked me to wait a few minutes for him and he left. When he returned, Jake handed he a remote gate opener. "Now don't ya be pulling up to close to them gates missy, they swing out wide. Keep this here pretty red car of yours back until it opens all the way. Then ya got 25 seconds to scoot in or out before she swings shut! I'm sure I'll be seeing ya again miss." he said with a smile. He tipped his hat to me and returned to trimming a beautiful red rose bush.
I had never before seen such deep red roses with such huge delicate petals in all my life. I drove over to the corner of the fence and aimed the remote to the gate and pressed the button. Slowly it began to open. Just as instructed, I waited until it was all the way open and drove through the gate terrified that it would close on me, but it didn't. In the rear of the estate there were six cars andten striped parking spaces so I just picked one and parked.
I walked up to the rear door and knocked.It was Savannah who opened the door andsaid, "Now Emily, you're one of us now, so ya don't have to be knocking. Just walk right in like ya own the place." she giggled andher giggling made me laugh as well. She leaned around me and told me I had a beautiful car. "You see that old beat up gray thing next to your carEmily?" she asked. I told her yes. "Well, that's my car."Once again we laughed.
"Boy yougot that car packed don't you? I've got time to help you get settled in if you don't mind?" Savannah asked. I told her only if she wouldn't get in trouble with Mrs. Montgomery. Between the two of us, we had all the things I had brought with me in my new room. It was as if I had stepped back into time, I swear. The room was a mess now, cluttered up and all, but I was done. Savannah looked a bit tired as well, but she tried not to show it as she said she had to be off.
We hugged and I thanked her and she was gone. Now it was just me, alone in this beautiful room complete with my own fireplace. I wondered if it still worked. I looked at my watch and saw that it was after 10 am and I got back into my car, stopped by Annie's shop and picked up my maid’s outfits and returned to what was now, my new home. I was as nervous as a new bride trying on her gown for the first time as I slipped into the maid outfit. As I stood back and looked into the mirror Iwas in awe.
I picked up my hair brush and began to brush my hair and before I knew anything, I could have passed for a maid back in the 1800's. I wondered how old the design was for this outfit. Could this be what every maid had worn since 1860? It wasn't time for me to begin my orientation yet, but I could feel my nervousness building by the moment. None the less, I made my way through the mansions hallways and down the staircase all by myself for the first time.
When I reached the main floor, I stopped and for a moment stood beside the beautiful black grand piano beside an antique mirror. That was when I heard footsteps and as I turned, I saw Savannah and she stopped in her tracks when she saw me. “Emily, you look absolutely beautiful in that outfit, I really mean it. Mrs. Montgomery will be so surprised and so will everyone else. Annie fitted you perfectly." she told me and I watched her smile.
Oh my God! Please tell me that Mary gave you that rose Emily?" she said anxiously. I smiled and shook my head yes as my tears fell upon the rose. "I’ve spoken to Mary Mrs. Montgomery. I know why she’s stayed in this house all these years." I said. Before I could begin to speak, Mrs. Montgomery was urgently pleading for me to tell her. "She's been waiting all these years lingering and hoping that one day, she’d hear you say you forgave her for taking her life." I said.
At that moment, we both needed a hug desperately and we met each other half way across the room. I don't know whose tears fell uponeach other more, hers or mine. For the longest time Mrs. Montgomery cried and sobbed and shook. Finally she took a deep breath and tried to turn away, saying, "Look at me, I'm crying like a baby." as she began to laugh. But I was very quick to tell her, "A mother's love for her daughter is never without tears."
When she had returned to her desk and wiped her eyes with a monogrammed white handkerchief, she looked up at me with hopeful eyes. "Where can I find my daughter Emily? We have so much to say to each other, especially me?" Mrs. Montgomery asked. I told her I had asked Mary to wait for her in Mary's bedroom. Wasting no time, Mrs. Montgomery stood up and picked up thepicture of Mary that sat closest to her on her desk. As she headed for the door, she stopped and whispered in a kind voice, "I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me."
I walked over and touched her shoulder and told her I understood. Then I smiled my best smile and told her to hurry because her daughter was waiting." Before I left the office, I could hear the hurried footsteps of a mother, hoping to see her daughter. I didn't follow Mrs. Montgomery upstairs. This was a moment to be shared between just the two of them. But I will put down to paper what Mrs. Montgomery told me afterwards. “I knocked on my daughter's bedroom door and opened it and stepped inside, closing it softly behind me.
My eyes searched her room anxiously, but I didn't see my daughter. So I sat upon her bed with the framed photograph in both my hands as I began to cry. "I'm so sorry Mary for not saying that I had forgiven you on that terrible day. Maybe in all my grief I thought I had or meant too, but it’s you who I ask to forgive me." she said in tears. Suddenly the part of the bed next tome began to compress and whenI turned,I saw Mary sitting next tome andwe both hugged.
We hugged each other so tightly, I forgot for just a moment that she was no longer alive. As we leaned away from each other she raised a finger to my eyes and pleaded for me not to cry. But a mother's heart needed to cry a river of tears that day. I told Mary she was absolutely beautiful and how I wished I could have seen her so much sooner than now. "I forgave you the day I found you Mary, I’ve forgiven you every day my heart has beat. A mother's love will forgivea daughter for anything.
I know Scott's death broke your heart. But I will always love you Mary and I will cherish every moment, every memory we’ve shared."Those loving words were all my daughter needed to hear before the window behind her turned into the whitest of pure light. Mary looked at me with happiness and sadness as she told me that it was her time to say goodbye." We hugged each other as if we would never let go, but we both knew we had too.
But before she headed toward the light, she handed me a red rose and asked me to keep it for the rest of my days, to remember her by and I promised her I would. I watched her turn and walk into the light as she whispered lovingly, "Bye bye momma, I love you." and the white light had taken her home. She was finally at peace and so was I. That day was closure for a mother and a daughter. I personally took down all the chimes I had placed throughout my house, one tear drop of happiness at a time.”
©2007 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)