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The Secret Countess. View PDF. book | Fiction | World → Pan Macmillan. Originally published as The Countess Below Stairs, The Secret Countess tells the story of a young Russian countess, Anna. After the Russian Revolution turns her . A Countess Below Stairs - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly overwhelmed by her. Eva Ibbotson - A Countess Below Stairs - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), to the secret. was curled up in an armchair reading The Brothers Karamazov.

The Secret Countess Pdf

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the secret countess is available in our book collection an online access to it is set as public so [PDF] Download è The Secret Countess | by ☆ Eva Ibbotson. Get Instant Access to The Secret Countess By Eva Ibbotson #fc EBOOK EPUB KINDLE PDF. Read Download Online The Secret Countess. A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson After the Russian revolution turns her world Desperate to keep her past a secret, Anna is nearly.

While sick during the war, he was attended by a nurse Muriel Hardwicke. By the end of his time there they are engaged, though Rupert later realises that he does not remember actually asking Muriel and assumed this was due to painkillers and sickness causing memory loss. He slowly realises that Muriel is after his title and falls in love with Anna, though he refuses to jilt Muriel.

He loves his dog Baskerville and his mother, uncle Sebastian, and personally knows every one of Mersham's staff.

Muriel Hardwicke[ edit ] Muriel Hardwicke is an orphan, engaged to Rupert after she tended to his injuries in the war. Though she is actually very rich her father was a millionaire , she is above all a grocer's daughter after a noble title.

She conceals her family from Rupert to keep her lies about her money and history a secret. Muriel is very interested in eugenics and represents this perfectly with her perfectly formed body and skills, which she is quite proud of. She is very afraid of marrying into a family with history of strange deviations or biological defects. This is why she runs away from Rupert in the end—his first cousins are paid to act like insane and malformed creatures, and she refuses to marry into a 'tainted' family.

She is very proud and expects nothing but the best for herself, at any cost. Proom[ edit ] Mr.

Fortman and Bittlestone's reputation as 'England's Premier Department Store' rests on a

Proom is the devoted butler at Mersham. He treats every situation with calm and is responsible for all servants at his workplace. He is kind but firm in his ways. It is said that others don't envy Rupert for Mersham, but instead they envy him Proom! He once saved Susie Rabinovitch's life, and so her father Leo lends him money to have Muriel fooled and frightened away from Rupert.

His bedridden, schizophrenic mother lives in a cottage on Mersham grounds. Bassenthwaite[ edit ] Mrs. Bassenthwaite is Mersham's housekeeper. She is kind and does her job well, and also relatively close with the dowager.

She is reluctant to hire Anna at first, seeing her nobility in her movement and speech, but does not regret it after seeing how hard Anna works. The housekeeper contracts appendicitis and while in the hospital, Muriel sees her chance to take control of Mersham and to make her own changes to the employee line-ups and actions. The Dowager[ edit ] Rupert's Mother's name, Mary, is seldom mentioned in the book.

She left the running of Mersham to Proom and then Rupert after losing her husband and then her son within a year of each other. She is very close with Minna Byrne and strives to see the best in everybody. She is the ancient Sebastien's niece by marriage.

Sebastien[ edit ] Sebastien lives in a corner of Mersham, alone with his music. He played when he was younger, but seldom does so in his old age. He is said to be old and rude and annoying before Anna first begins to serve him, but is particularly nice to her, even having her stay to chat and listen to records with him. Sebastien is said to have had an attraction to maidservants in uniforms since his youth, and gropes them and touches them when they bring him his meals but he leaves Anna alone, treating her instead like a daughter.

The Byrnes[ edit ] Minna Byrne is Mary's best friend and beloved stepmother to 8-year-old Ollie and three lusty, red-headed sons—Tom, Geoffrey and Hugh. Ollie contracted tuberculosis of the hip at a very young age and has one leg shortened and on calipers—though she was born prematurely and has spent 3 or 4 years of her life in hospitals.

Anyone speaking ill of her within 50 miles of Heslop her home or Mersham would be found lying face down in a ditch with a bloody nose.

However, Muriel seems to escape this fate when she humiliates Ollie in front of the other bridesmaids at the dress fitting. Little Ollie is comforted when Anna takes her to the Russian Club, where she falls head over heels for Russian culture and from then on, she insists that she wants to be Russian. Her oldest brother Tom is Rupert's best man, a handsome heir to the viscount title, and in love with Susie Rabinovitch who finally agrees to marry him after possibly his 17th or 18th proposal.

Geoffrey, the middle brother, was killed at Paschendale. Hugh is only 12 or 13 and goes to school with Anna's younger brother Petya or Peter , who is a good friend of his. Viscount Byrne is reserved and enjoys hunting or camping, has little interest and running the household, and married Minna out of need for a lady to keep house—within a year of his wife's death.

His sons instinctively dislike her and he does not love her at first, though unexpectedly all four grow completely devoted to her as she modestly runs the house, seeing its needs and disreputing wicked stepmothers from the beginning of time. Mersham Employees[ edit ] Louise is the head housemaid.

Described as young, frizzy haired and short-tempered, she speaks bluntly but does her work well. Two under-housemaids are the giggly sisters Peggy and Pearl. Park, the cook, is like a mother figure to the other employees who meet in the kitchens with her optimism, friendliness and culinary skills, though she feels she lacks in the latter.

She is especially important to Win, a kitchen help who is stated to have an unspecified disability, though it is mentioned that part of it is the inability to speak. Elsewhere in the house, James is a short but muscly footman who has devotedly worked at Mersham since he was quite young and small.

Sid is the second footman. Sergei[ edit ] Described as being tall and incredibly handsome, and a few years older than Anna, Sergei works as a chauffeur for one of Muriel's "friends". All five of the daughters of his employers are in love with him. Olive Byrne also develops a crush on him when he treats her like a princess at the Russian Club.

Sergei is a prince in Russia, first cousin to the Tsar and also to Anna, whom he grew up with as a sister. As the shortages and hardship grew worse. The countess.. Although Anna was too young to enrol officially as a nurse.

Mademoiselle Leblanc. Miss Pinfold increasingly took over the housekeeping. The old woman never arrived at their rendezvous. They waited as long as they dared. They had been too close to the court and. In March they reached Sebastapol. When the revolution came and the Bolsheviks seized power from the moderates.

It was only when Petya was stoned on the way home from school that they finally acted and joined the stream of refugees fleeing northwards through Finland. The Grazinskys went south. They had entrusted the bulk of their jewels to Niannka. Mersham is a very beautiful house. English households are not free and easy like Russian ones.

I cannot remain here. Miss Pinfold put down the countess' last pair of silk stockings. And they can be very cruel to an outsider. It is out of the question. It is monstrous! It is the only job they had vacant at the registry office. I must.

There's a great hierarchy below stairs: If you and your mother stayed here all your lives. Even so.. I've never heard such nonsense. But not as a housemaid. But I don't think they will let women—' 'No. Or a doorman at the Ritz like Uncle Kolya. I need to work. Pinny's sister. She isn't well and she's no longer young.

But I. I could never repay the kindness your family has shown to me. Much rather. There must be something else. I understand that. Soldiers back from the war. I don't think they will either. Already I have found a most beautiful book in your sister's room. For a young girl. Virtually penniless. The Grazinskys had arrived in London two months earlier. But for herself Anna would take nothing. Miss Pinfold tried to smile. Anna had always been in possession of 'a most beautiful book': The countess had caught typhus in the squalor of the transit camp in Constantinople and was too weak to do anything but rest.

The last year had aged and confused the countess. Mama won't notice. If you would only wait. The job is not permanent. I'll say I've been invited down as a guest. I shall be back before Petya comes home from school. For a crock of gold? Her latest suggestion. I certainly shan't tell Petya. The comical dusky down.

But Pinny had had enough. Short hair will be easier under a cap and Kira writes that it is becoming very chic' Kira. Then she cast a sidelong look at her governess. He only agreed to go because he expects to support you in luxury the day he passes his school certificate. What the Torah was to the dispersed and homesick Jews and the Koran to the followers of Mahommet. Mrs Strickland's three-volume tome. The day was hot and the suitcase heavy. Anna trudged up the famous avenue of double limes towards the west facade of Mersham.

Definitely I shall curtsy to the housekeeper! Even the slight air of neglect. There was no doubt about it. The next moment. There was a central block. Mersham was honey-coloured. Wide steps ran up from either side to the great front door. The avenue had been curving steadily to the right. Built for James Frayne. From this centre. Suddenly Anna had come upon the house as abruptly as William Kent.

For a while. When she picked up her case again he followed her. Only when he saw that. Anna put up a hand to his muzzle and began to scratch that spot behind the ear where large dogs keep their souls. There were places where. Surely you can see that I am not a burglar? Anna scratched on and Baskerville.

An English mastiff with a black dewlap like sea coal and bloodshot eyes. Mrs Bassenthwaite was a frail. She crossed the grassy courtyard and found a flight of stairs which seemed to lead towards the kitchens. But then. Their expectations were low. They had already received.

Mr Proom. There could have been nobody more worthy. Cyril Ploom was in his fifties. But now she was old. Once she had prowled the great rooms. An avid reader of encyclopaedias and other improving literature.

She was a relic of the splendid days of Mersham when a bevy of stillroom maids and laundry maids. The austerities of war. Mersham had given its life's blood to the Kaiser's war. It was during those years that Proom. To this epoch. Upstairs it had taken Lord George. And if the men left to fight.

More than most great houses. Below stairs it had drained away almost every able-bodied man and few of those who left were destined to return. A groom had fallen on the Somme. Jean Park the soft-spoken head kitchen maid. With the rigid protocol of the servants' hall abandoned.

He was coming. Rupert was alive. But though his plane had been shot down. Lady Westerholme had done what she could to ease the pressure on her depleted staff. Lord George's younger brother. He was about to be discharged from hospital.

Mr Sebastien Frayne. She shut up the main body of the house and retired. The shrouded rooms through which only the dog. For the whole hope of the House of Frayne now lay in the one surviving son. The new earl had spent four years in the Royal Flying Corps. But for good? Or only long enough to put his home on the market?

Remembering the quiet. And hence this agency. And as they studied her. Nor were there any clues in the instructions the new earl had sent from his hospital bed: Neither of them would have found it easy to describe the characteristics of a housemaid.

Proom knew. It threw light. The saints on Russian icons. Though Anna had attempted to skewer her hair back into a demure knot. But I will work very hard and I will learn. For the girl's accent. During this time no formal training would be given and you would be expected to make yourself useful anywhere: Tweenies had loomed large in the English novels of her childhood: Proom and Mrs Bassenthwaite exchanged glances.

It was not. Neither of them felt equal to explaining to Anna that nothing so mundane as a tweeny would have been allowed within miles of Mersham. I promise it. If there is one thing dreaded by all experienced servants. Miss Grazinsky. Then Anna Grazinsky produced a single word. A governess. Mrs Bassenthwaite looked at Proom. It was stuffy with its one small window.

It was very hot there. You can have a month's trial. Another uniform. And suddenly. She nodded and Proom said. After all. A brown print dress and two starched aprons were laid out for her with a white mob cap. She unpacked quickly. Your salary will be twelve and six a week -and there's no need to keep on curtsying'. If she pulled herself up she could actually climb out on to the ledge that ran behind the balustrade.

She could smell freshly cut grass. Her father's well-remembered voice came to save her. Mersham's roof. On her left were the walled gardens and the topiary. The view was breathtaking. It's always better underneath the open sky. A moment later she was standing there. Facing her was the long avenue of limes. It was a foolish and unproductive quest. It was too large. Since the lovely Palladian house had first been built. The cap. Anna Grazinsky addressed the absent and unknown earl: You will see!

Standing there. Whatever angle she put it on. The kitchen at Mersham was a huge room. Under the. No cook ever had less 'temperament' or more skill. Standing at the table now. Unable to pronounce the French names of the exquisite dishes she sent to the table.

The fact that she was in every way unworthy to succeed so great a man was Mrs Park's continuing despair. Everyone loved her and she had made of the kitchen. Signor Manotti. Beside Mrs Park sat the first footman. Since then. James had never looked back. James had worked himself up from lamp boy to his present eminence.

Even Proom. The state of his gastrocnemius and the progress of his wondrously swelling biceps were matters of continuing concern to the maids. He had started life as a scrawny and undersized Cockney and it was Proom. Next to James sat Louise. The servants exchanged glances. It was work such as she had not known existed: Whatever was going to be wrong with the new housemaid. Between the myriad. Anna smiled with pleasure. Light footsteps were heard coming down the flagged stone corridor and Anna appeared in the doorway.

The next day Anna began to work. It was to the spring cleaning of these rooms. Here were the great state rooms: Peggy and James. There'd been a sort of look about the Russian girl. Mersham's library was world-famous. That first day Anna rose at five-thirty. A sumptuous. Its satinwood bookcases. Next came the overmantel depicting scenes from Dante's Inferno.

When Anna had rinsed and dried the poet's face. I hate the stuff. She was crossing the great hall again when Fate dealt her an undeserved blow in the form of Baskerville. The photograph. Aristotle and Cicero in a niche above the door. By lunchtime Anna's back ached and her hands were sore but she persevered and she kept. It was late in the afternoon when.

Nor could James. Proom appeared silently as was his wont and took Louise aside. The other. Mr Rupert. Just before it was time to pack up for the day. He's much quieter like. Got a lovely smile. The older was strikingly handsome with regular features. I think. Seeing her pallor and the circles under her eyes. She's as green as they come. Mis Park had sent her out to the kitchen garden with a message for the undergardener.

She had spent the whole day in the windowless scullery washing. And I must say you don't have to tell her anything twice.

Anna was on her way back. I don't need you. Why are you dressed like that? Where's Cyril? I want my tea! Mrs Proom's appendix. Half an hour later. Be quiet. Mr Proom is decanting the claret and I will bring your tea if you permit. Retrieving the remains of the shattered pot and going to investigate. It being Louise's day off.

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Only when Anna had left did she ask again: Why is she dressed like that? If it's that stuff all loud an' wailin' an' women shrieking and that.

Mersham had for many years provided sanctuary for the present earl's great uncle. Specially there's one called the Libby's Tott or something. In addition to the Lady Mary Westerholme. If he's playing that you want to keep the tray between you an' him and put it down and run.

Anna was instructed to take up his tea. Not that it's ever more than a bit of a pinch and a grope. Mr Sebastien's eyes gleamed. Anna knocked and entered. He was close on eighty and seldom left his room.

Mr Sebastien Frayne was reclining on a large Chesterfield. But if it's that stuff that sounds like church. A new maid. At first.

There was egg on his dressing gown and his white hair was dotted with cigarette ash. Isolde was dying and she was dying hard. In fact intriguing. Suddenly the music surged and gathered force. Anna was standing in the middle of the room. Anna advanced. Not Tettrazini. The best Isolde in the world.

Anna gave a deep sigh and said. I think? How did she manage to get a dimple in a face so thin? Now she was right beside him. But the music held her and. The music was mesmerizing her. Sit down. He found it too excited. She came forward and put down the tray. When it was over she sighed deeply and turned to him. He could put an arm round her waist. I know. I would be delighted to play you anything you choose. But they wouldn't let me. I wanted so much to be a ballet dancer and they would not let me.

I think young Rupert gets his love of music from me. In those days. The Russian girl was flushed and she was muttering beneath her breath. One must be modern! The Sleeping Beauty. Selina Strickland notwithstanding. I warned you. Anna's cry rent the air. Is it recorded already? The Rite of Spring? I do not. For a moment it looked as though. And Mrs Park. Just drink your tea. Though somewhat lacking in intellect. The dowager was a small.

A Countess Below Stairs

Then the full impact of what she had just said hit her. Of late. Her own mother's apartments had contained just such a clutter of occasional tables. And as often ' as not. Anna found herself in a familiar world.

I know she was because. It's strange how these things seem to go on mattering. At least I think it must be his wife. Only planchettes and astral charts were different. The poor woman really sounded desperately worried.

For some reason she cannot bear the idea of him giving away his top hat. Now I want you to take a very important message. I'm sure I can. It's for Mr Firkin. It's just opposite the church with the walnut tree in the garden. You're the Russian girl. Can you find his house. Now I want you to tell him that a message has just come through from his wife.

She was rewarded by a charming smile which changed. Really that is most remarkable. Like candlelight. It's something my father used to call me. Anna fled. Anna went to stand by the window. Like starlight. But a very gentle flame. You can be very.

What is the matter? What have I said? It's one of the purest and most beautiful I've seen. Only it isn't orange so m uc h as flame.

I will go and find Mr Firkin straight away. Especially the orange. Just stand over there. The silver table pieces. You can come. Ted brought tubs of poinsettias and lilies into the house. The shutters were thrown open to the light. Mersham yielded to the energy and attack of its staff and grew more beautiful. And so. The men took their liveries out of mothballs. Rupert's three years at Cambridge had seemed a glorious preparation for just such a life.

That being so. Rupert had neither wanted nor expected to inherit Mersham or the burdens of the title.

A Countess Below Stairs

Shadows are cool and peaceful places for those whose minds are overstocked with treasure. The high. He took a First in history and was invited by his tutor.

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Rupert had seen his beautiful home as a place of refuge to which he might occasionally return. It was George who had had all the makings of a landowner and a country gentleman: The resulting crash landed him in hospital.

The chance that he would survive to inherit Mersham seemed so remote that he scarcely thought of it. Rupert was in command of a squadron flying Camels and Berguets against Immelmann and the aces of the German Reich.

Two years later. Some time in the months of pain that followed they gave him the DFC for bringing his plane back across the lines in spite of his wounds.

Do your damndest.

Eva Ibbotson - A Countess Below Stairs

It was only the memory of George on the last leave they'd spent together. Thinking with an upsurge of gratitude of the person. Yet as he pored over the documents they brought to him in hospital he saw no way of bringing the estate. And then.

Compared to prewar days they were a mere handful. He was home. On either side of the grand staircase with its Chinese carpet and crystal chandeliers. He broke off: Now the old woman who had known him since his birth saw in the new lines round his eyes. They had read about him in the papers for.

I've assembled the indoor staff. How well you look! He went forward. One arm flew gracefully outward and up like an ascending dove. He walked on slowly. For here was homage made. She is from Russia and has joined us temporarily. He had reached the half-landing and Proom.

All the girls had bobbed curtsies as he passed. Panic gripped Rupert. For the new earl was nice. She had thought he might be from his photograph and his dog.

Seventh Earl of Wester-holme. I see. An intelligent. Thus had Karsavina sunk to the ground after her immortal rendering of Giselle. Rupert recognized the origin of his new housemaid's curtsy. For unlike Proom. Rupert instinctively looked round for the red roses that should have been raining down from the gallery. And so she smiled at him — into him. I hope? We were very slow. Fighting desperately to turn this routine encounter with a new domestic into normal channels.

But you are happy here. Everybody is most kind to. I'm afraid. She liked the lines etched into his face to give it maturity and strength. Rupert said. My father died at Tannenberg. Only about the bathrooms am I not happy. Perhaps you did not know this? Had he known it? Had he ever been in the attics in which his servants slept?

Rupert moved on up the stairs. Not anywhere in all the attics. I'm so happy for you! So terribly. Colonel Forster's promised to rent me the Mill House and I shall be very happy there. I can't imagine a more suitable mistress for Mersham. Where did you meet her? But you know I've always meant to move into the village when either of.. Mrs Park. Not that she will want to oust you.

With it they had drunk the Leitenheimer which Proom had saved for just this day and now the family was alone. Now tell us about Muriel.

She was a VAD and truly. The other nurses were sweet but they all seemed to be straight out of finishing school. I think she saved my life. And an intellectual! She has this passionate interest in eugenics. Fiona Fitz-Herald who had dropped a scalding hot water bottle on to his gauze dressing and tiny. You've no idea what it meant to me. She wants to see to the indoor running costs straight away. That's why I asked you to engage only temporary staff. Truly golden-haired with deep blue eyes.

And where? Because I must go at once and call on her parents. Muriel's an orphan. So much so that he couldn't actually recall how they had got engaged. You see. Now tell me. I don't know if I'd ever have dared to propose with Mersham in the state it's in. He'd just woken from a disturbed and pain-filled sleep and she'd been there beside him.

There's so much to do here and nothing to wait for. The poor. I don't see why not. You can't imagine how pleased everyone will be. But the thing is. And the servants too. In fact. Rupert there's nothing in the world I'd love more. If it's not correct for me to stay in the. But we both feel a quiet country wedding is what we want and very soon. In the village church.

How dreadful! Perhaps just the night before the wedding. I'm sure there's no need for that. We must have an engagement party straight away so that she can meet her new neighbours. You know her. But Muriel says she'd be very happy for us to choose another one — maybe a little girl to act as flower girl and carry her train. What about the bridesmaids. I expect? I want him for my best man anyway. I believe she nursed with her. And there's a schoolfriend of Muriel's: Cynthia Smythe.

Rupert's route took him down the terrace steps. Baskerville left the path to chase rabbits. It was a night to dream about: Here his ancestors had planted exotic.

A girl was standing by the edge of the lake. She had her back to him and her dark hair fell in a loose mantle to her waist. A goddess invoking in the darkness some magic rite? A gypsy girl up to some incomprehensible trick? With one arm she pulled back the mass of her hair. The girl in the lake was methodically and dedicatedly. Rupert passed the Temple of Flora. As he watched. He had come to a little grass-fringed bay..

Sir Montague Frayne. Chivalry now dictated. Sa diss! Anna had finished washing now and. She swam easily and somehow.

It was when she finally turned for the shore that Nemesis overtook her in the form of Baskerville. And as soon as he realized this. Rupert's voice. And sit! Rupert left him. But get dressed quickly. I will not dismiss you. And I do not understand..

I mean. Rupert put out a hand and felt hers. It is very kind but it is not correct.. Then he took off his coat and draped it over her shoulders. I'll turn round.

Anna nodded. But here -' So she had had a governess. Still barefoot.. Hot baths. And surprising himself by the fervour with which he lied. Anna covered her face with her narrow. Suddenly he felt.

Miss Tonks and Miss Mortimer. Now her head came up and she peered at him through tragically splayed fingers.

El Greco hands. Mrs Park's anxiety had been for Win. Proom had secretly had no doubt that they were refurbishing Mersham only to put it up for sale and. Mrs Bunford. As for the Mersham servants. Tom Byrne. The first person to call and congratulate Rupert was his friend and best man.

She made lists of the relations she was going to invite to the wedding and the acquaintances she was going to inform of it. She made lists for Mrs Bas-senthwaite about the catering and lists for Proom about the disposition of the houseguests. Yet out of the fluffy cloudiness of her mind and the chaos of her boudoir there emerged the design.

Heslop was less than ten miles from Mersham. The Byrne children had played with George and Rupert. A wedding in which everyone in the house and the village would most joyfully share. As for Ollie's father. The baby. It was natural that Tom. The Byrnes had already had three lusty.

Ollie Byrne was just on eight years old and anyone speaking ill of her within fifty miles of Heslop or of Mersham would have found themselves lying flat in a gutter with a bloodied nose.

She only lived long enough to give birth to a premature and hopelessly delicate daughter before she died. But both Rupert. Viscount Byrne.So when, at the age of five, she contracted tuberculosis of the hip, the blow was shattering. What have I said? Tweenies had loomed large in the English novels of her childhood: But really it was ridiculous to blame herself. Whatever angle she put it on.