Despite the fact that she had been given the afternoon off, Alice continued working. Though in something of a more relaxed manner. It was only when she saw her mistress come down the hall to the doors of the Chapel that she stiffened. Yet, the Duchess said nothing, with her head lowered she simply entered the sanctum, door closing behind her. Once the door was sealed Alice exhaled deeply. Something was amiss, she suspected that the meeting of the sisters, two sides of the very same coin had not gone as she had expected.
It was equally surprising when she saw John coming down the same corridor. He looked like a man on a mission. It would be in his nature, Alice thought to attend to mid-day prayer. He was one of the most religious in the house. It was no wonder the Duke and Duchess were so fond of him. That and his breeding, one of class and substance made him an ideal candidate for his position. Alice still found him to be the most odd duck. After all he had lost, how could he possibly be so humble, so without bitterness. All he wanted to do was the please the lord, the same lord that had taken everything from him.
He moved with still more determination, it was almost as though he saw through her walking down that hall. Alice held out her hand and pressed it into his chest as he almost passed her way. Alice shook her head and assuming he had been going to the chapel. "Don't. Her Grace is at prayer." Realizing that her hand had remained for far too long she pulled it away quickly. "I apologize... did you need something?" Alice took a step back as the message that her Ladyship had called for her. It was odd. Or rather rare. It was generally frowned upon for Alice to attend to someone who wasn't her mistress. But, with her mistress being indisposed she imagined it would be acceptable.
Without delay Alice left John to his own devices and found herself at the door to the drawing room, knocking on it she announced herself and entered. "Your Ladyship, blessed day." Alice spoke as she approached. In her short time her, she had come to understand that Alexandra was far kinder than Arabella. Alexandra usually had reasonable requests and tended to allow them all to speak somewhat freely. There was no risk of bodily harm, which was always a positive thing in her book. "Shall I clear up?" Alice looked to one of the small tables which held the bowl of bloodied water, a bit of other cloth and of course, the Duchess' bloody gloves which could not truly be cleaned and would simply need to be replaced. Alice diligently gathered everything up, placed it all on the serving tray that had been used to bring the supplies in the first place. Alice wanted to say something about how the Duchess seems to be more regularly injuring herself... but thought that would be a line much too far.
"By chance, did something happen to John? He seemed white as a ghost when he found me?" Alice didn't really have an opportunity to talk to nobility, and being new not just to this house but to the work of ladies maids more generally, perhaps spoke a bit too freely with those she best not. She would be spared no such luxury of the ducal couple. The Duke often rolling his eyes at some of the things she did. Though, to her credit, one Miss Alice Sutton was learning a great deal and had largely improved in her role over the last few months. The Duchess seemed to go through ladies maids and other servants at an alarmingly high rate. Though it was an honor to work for this particular family, it was generally acknowledged as a difficult assignment.
The Duchess meanwhile had collapsed before the altar. It was clear at this point that the stress of her predicament was causing her to begin to unravel. The tears flowed like rivers from her eyes down her pale cheeks. Through the tears she prayed, and prayed, and prayed. What had her sister done to her? She allowed the pathetic girls manipulations and attempts at kindness to blind her, to sway her. And for what? A pathetic excuse of a ladies maid? One who had disrespected her sister? No, Alexandra had little respect for her. Arabella was after all, a Duchess. Who was she to change the course of a Duchess? Arabella was distraught. Though she really was making excuses for her own struggles.
"What have I done to displease you so?" With eyes cast toward the massive cross and stained glass windows that adorned the front of the chapel. She spoke directly to God now. "Have I not led the life you wished me to? In your image. According to every last one of the teachings?" For once he questions were genuine and she longed for an answer, for a sign. It had legitimately never occurred to her that she was not the problem. Rather, it was her husband who was likely barren. It was her, she had angered God in a such a serious manner that in all these years he had not forgiven her and granted her the child, the son she had always longed for.
Surrendering to her own emotion, the Duchess lay against the cold floor. She must have spent hours there, unmoving. Her lips simply moving, mouthing the prayers she said each and every day. There was almost nothing that could stop her, or really phase her in any way shape or form. Even the familiar pang of hunger no longer bothered her. She was so used to going without. She was used to suffering. When she regained her composure, she rose to her feet and straightened her dress. Wiping her eyes she sighed and forced a smile on her face. She left the Chapel and noting the hour made her way to the Duke's study, where she knocked gently on the door.