I find being around Millicent, Charles and the group that my sense of what is right is changing. Maybe “right” isn’t the word I am looking for. Maybe what I really think is what is acceptable is changing. When one is in the service, one accepts everyone has his or her place in the world – and nothing will change that. I worked in the downstairs. I answered to the head butler and the head maid. Someday I might be the head maid, but that was the limit of my ambitions then. I no longer believe that I should remain downstairs.
By some miracle of liberality, Mr. Barrow sponsored Michael to the University. But the head butler made it clear he did not approve. The head butler felt that those of our class had no business putting on airs. I suppose it was the same thing that John’s father felt. I see now the head’s feared that Michael would become better than him. Jason and Rachael understood that Findley and Winifred resented the presence of “charity” cases at the University regardless of their talent. Such is the world of London, England in my time.
I am told that the States boast about people going from poverty to riches. Yet that country is torn apart by a war over a barbaric practice – slavery. A practice England condoned and supported until just 30 years ago. It chills me to think that Eleanor had little to look forward to except serving others and having no will of her own. Even a land of freedom, not all are free. Even here in England.
As enlightened as we seem now, we must seem primitive to Millicent and Charles. Millicent embraces Abigail and Alice and their love joyously. Yet Abigail and Alice could lose Athena if someone reported them for their “unnatural tendencies”. I find I am not longer shocked by their life. And if Eleanor and Simone find happiness together, I am happy for them. Eleanor could not get a job on the continent because of her skin color. Rachael could not find a job because of her last name. I am appalled at that our world would waste such talent. We women would be doomed to lower pay even as we work harder in our enlightened country. I know that was true of the head maid. I want to scream when people act as if Rachael must be some dullard because she is a wheel chair. Years later men still resent women can vote and work.
When I asked Charles about other places he almost sighs. Some places claim equality, but people are starving or others are treated poorly because they are the wrong religion, race or gender. I was shocked but I guessed that they must be like us and not so advanced in technology. Charles sounded sad as he said that technology advancement does not mean equality. Some advanced civilizations have vast freedoms and yet wealth accumulates only in a small number of families. In their advancement, they forgot some people. In their abundance, they couldn’t find a way to help those who need it most. But there was hope as some places are shining beacons of equality and tolerance when no person wants for food or justice. Such a place seems like heaven when I walk along the streets of London past the beggars and constables who are more interested in hustling them on than finding a safe place out of the cold. Charles tells me that too few of those places exist, but I find remarkable hope that such places even exist.
I hope any who read this work for a world of equity, justice, tolerance.