Still Hard To Say

October 26, 1896
Sarah Waters

“Most people are the decent sort. They are good in their hearts and in their souls and that’s really where it matters cause we all make mistakes sometimes but if the intentions are good then it is easy to understand and easier to forgive. Now run along Sarah and make up with your friend.” My father said.

It was a long time ago but I still remember the day. It was warm in the sun but summer was coming to an end. Laura and I had spent the morning and the better part of the afternoon playing under the watchful eye of Jasper. Laura took a bite out of an apple and then decided to give the rest to Jasper. Jasper didn’t like it too much as he decided to spit it out on the ground and when I looked at it I realized why, it was rotten.

I started the fight. In my view she started when she tried to give Jasper the rotten apple but when you look back at things you did when you were younger, your perspective can change and sometimes you see a little clearer. I was angry at the time and Laura took a beating from my hands not to mention the fistful of hair I pulled out of her head before Sam and Dad broke it up.

I did not much like it at the time but Dad was right, nobody had bad intentions that day. A single instance of poor judgment does not make a person bad and as far as the poor judgment went, I was just as guilty as Laura. Before the sun went down we were the best of friends again and until today I had never given the incident another thought.

Miss Bowen provided the venue in her room for our meeting. Sitting down in a civil meeting with Edith, Elizabeth and Penelope feels more comfortable than I would have imagined. Dad’s words rang true of these women and once again it was my turn to apologize for assuming the worst. It may be easy to forgive those with good hearts but asking for forgiveness never comes easy.

I looked at the floor because it was less daunting than the faces looking back at me. I wrung my hands together in my lap as though the action would extract my guilt and unburden my conscience. Thinking of my dad I found the courage to lift my head and say the words weighing down upon me.

“I am sorry for how I have acted toward you, toward everyone here. It is not an excuse but the things that have happened to me this year have left me cynical. That is not who I want to be and I should have remembered that it is the truly evil people who are rare and not the truly good ones.” I said.

Edith nodded at me. It was her turn to wrestle within herself and find the courage to speak. This was no more an everyday occurrence for here than it was for me or for the others, but we all agreed the air had to be cleared. Trust must be earned.

“I am sorry. I should have been more open-minded and not assumed the worst because of appearances.” Edith said.

I nodded to her my acceptance and then we turned out attention to Elizabeth. She blushed a little as we looked at her and shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“I’m sorry I’ve behaved irrationally around you because I allowed myself to be jealous.” Elizabeth said.

It was not only I who was shocked by this revelation. Knowing my own life as I do it is difficult to believe anyone could envy me for anything, but perhaps there is something alluring about my life from the outside looking in.

“Jealous? Of me? Why?” I asked.

Elizabeth showed no signs of a weight being lifted for her apology. In fact she appeared infinitely more uncomfortable as her cheeks blushed a vibrant red and she stared down at the floor avoiding our questioning gazes.

“It’s not important. It was silly and I am over it.” Elizabeth said.

Coming to her rescue, Penelope cleared her throat and drew attention to herself. She spoke quickly and unlike the rest of us, showed no sign of discomfort.

“I am sorry for treating you as a servant. It wouldn’t of happened if you would have taken just a little time with your appearance but I should not have been so judgmental.” Penelope said.

“I think we can agree all is forgiven?” I said.

Three heads nodded in agreement.

“Then I think it’s about time we got down to the real business. After what has happened here recently I don’t think the trouble Mr. Howe was talking about will be gunning just for me. It’s time we figure out what we know.” I said.

A knock on the door stopped us from going any further.

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