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Quite Baddeley

November 08, 2019 05:09PM
Baddeley glided down the hall, his mind troubled. Mr. Crawford wanted to speak with Miss Price. No surprise, he had done plenty of that since the Misses Bertram had left for London. But privately- that was cause for rejoicing, in part. Crawford, fickle as he was, had finally made a choice. Baddley did, at least partly, like Crawford. He ignored the servants, not tipping beyond necessity, but not chasing maids as well as Misses, at least. And Miss Price was less afraid of him than anyone besides family. Or servants, but none of them counted. He almost wished that she was able to slip further into the obscurity of the serving rank, but Miss Price was not one of his own daughters, and the half kindness in taking her from her family had stolen resilience from her. Miss Price, he was afraid, would not like the conversation he was calling her to at all.

Entering at the door, he walked with the greatest dignity and purpose he could command past Mrs. Norris as both Miss Price and Mrs. Norris looked up, the one in shock and the other with a satisfied sort of purr at being needed.

He ought to have used an undertone, but the temptation was too great; he spoke, at a quiet but carrying volume, directly to Miss Price.“Sir Thomas wishes to speak with you, ma'am, in his own room.” She looked confused, then a stark fear crossed her face before she rearranged her work basket and started to stand, only to be interrupted by a delicately cleared throat.

Miss Price wavered as Mrs. Norris turned her face, an expression on it meant to convey kindness, to Miss Price. Baddley had to admit that Mrs. Norris knew instinctively, the same way a stoat knew to go after small coneys first, who the best target was in any room. If she were a hen, she would have pecked Miss Price to death long ago.

“Stay, stay, Fanny! what are you about?" Exactly what she needed to be, madam.

"Where are you going?" Where she was wanted, he hoped.

"Don't be in such a hurry. Depend upon it, it is not you who are wanted; depend upon it, it is me," and she looked straight at him with such cool, complacent confidence his breath was taken away. Mrs. Norris actually, truly, believed herself. He missed some of her words with disgust crowding his mind, but they never mattered much, anyway. Mrs. Norris always raised her voice to address him, and she repeated herself often enough he didn't truly need to pay attention while she belittled her shrinking niece.

"It is me, Baddeley, you mean; I am coming this moment. You mean me, Baddeley, I am sure; Sir Thomas wants me, not Miss Price.”

A proper butler did not smirk. Particularly not a younger butler such as himself; entirely unbecoming of the dignity the role required.

Baddley had been promoted from footman five years ago, but he knew, just by looking at her, that Mrs. Norris was remembering the time he had nearly tripped over Mr. Thomas's toy cart and spilled a drop of tea onto her dress. It was mourning black, but from the fuss she made one would have thought he spilled port onto whitework lace after using it to blow his nose or another use which he was entirely too proper to think of at this time. Mrs. Norris had always acted as if all of the servants were mentally deficient, but she seemed to reserve a certain animosity for him after that event. She should have thanked him; her sobs at the dress being "ruined," and her absolute inability to attend the funeral afterwards, had convinced half the parishioners that Mrs. Norris was indeed distraught at her husband's death.

He gazed at her with that blank gaze she particularly despised, unable to completely keep the smile forming off of his face. “No, ma'am, it is Miss Price; I am certain of its being Miss Price.” Someone- Sir Thomas, and possibly even that Crawford- valued Miss Price, despite your meddling. So take that and put it in your precious, parsimonious, purse.

Fanny rose again, her tiny face blushing, and he escorted her silently down to Sir Thomas's study, as Mrs. Norris bustled about, clucking like a wet hen in disapproval. She smiled at him in quiet thanks as he held the door open, and Baddeley felt a pang of guilt for leading her to Crawford rather than Sir Thomas. He hoped she wouldn't buckle under, poor child, in the hope to leap into her proper world or fall into his.

Either way, he decided he would bustle about this hall for a while. Just in case Crawford was more of a cad with Miss Price than he was with the maids. He wouldn't be, probably. But just in case.

Author's Note: All lines are accurate to the novel, but I cut Mrs. Norris's worst lines. Baddeley already doesn't like her, and I didn't want to give her more screen time than required. Comments? Opinions? Better titles?

Blurb: Baddeley, Mansfield Park's butler, explains the motives behind his one unusual action in the novel.

Quite Baddeley

EmelynNovember 08, 2019 05:09PM

Re: Quite Baddeley

Lucy J.January 10, 2020 06:04AM

Re: Quite Baddeley

NN SNovember 09, 2019 01:39PM

Re: Quite Baddeley

Shannon KNovember 09, 2019 01:25AM


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