Manners cost Nothing

In the dimly lit corridors of Manners Manor, whispers swirled like shadows, spreading tales of Lady Mary Manners and her diabolic manners. She was a tempest in a teapot, a storm dressed in silk, wreaking havoc wherever her whims led her. With a demeanour as cold as the winter wind, she terrorized her staff, ruling over them with an iron fist wrapped in velvet gloves. Lady Mary had grown accustomed to commanding blind obedience with a mere flick of her wrist or a disdainful glance. Her maids trembled at the sound of her footsteps echoing through the halls, each step a foreboding omen of impending displeasure. Her demands were as unreasonable as they were arbitrary, and the household staff lived in constant dread of her capricious whims.

Among them was Polly Pepper, a maid with a heart as kind as Lady Mary's was callous. Polly had witnessed the tyrant's reign of terror firsthand, her gentle spirit recoiling at the injustice inflicted upon her fellow servants. But Polly harboured a quiet courage, a resolve to confront the darkness that enveloped Manners Manor.

One fateful evening, as Lady Mary descended upon the servants' quarters like a vengeful spectre, Polly found herself unable to remain silent any longer. With trembling hands and a voice steadied by conviction, she dared to speak truth to power.

"Milady," Polly began, her tone gentle yet firm, "your words wound deeper than any blade, and your actions sow discord where there should be harmony. Is this truly the legacy you wish to leave behind?"

Lady Mary's icy facade faltered for the briefest of moments, surprise flickering in her eyes like a fleeting flame, but was quickly extinguished by the fires of her indignation.

"How dare you presume to lecture me, you insolent little wretch!" Lady Mary seethed, her voice a venomous hiss. "Know your place, or I shall see you cast out into the streets where you belong!"

Polly stood her ground, undaunted by the tempest raging before her. "I serve not only you, milady, but the greater good of this household," she countered, her voice resonating with quiet resolve of a mongoose. "If it is your wish to cast me out, then so be it. But know that tyranny will never triumph over decency, and kindness shall always prevail in the end."

Lady Mary's rage reached its zenith, her features contorted with fury as she unleashed a torrent of vitriol upon poor Polly. Yet beneath the mask of anger, a seed of doubt had been planted, a whisper of conscience that refused to be silenced.

In the days that followed, Lady Mary found herself haunted by Polly's words, a spectre of doubt that lingered in the corners of her mind. She began to question the righteousness of her actions, the cruelty of her demeanour laid bare before her like a festering wound.

And so, in a moment of rare introspection, Lady Mary resolved to mend the broken pieces of her soul, to seek redemption for the sins of her past. With each act of kindness bestowed upon her weary servants, she felt the weight of guilt begin to lift slowly from her shoulders, replaced by a newfound sense of dignity.

But old habits die hard, and the phantom of her former self still lurked within the shadows of her heart. When confronted with her own shortcomings, Lady Mary's temper flared once more, a reminder of the darkness that still dwelled within. And so it was that one fateful evening, as her patience wore thin and her temper reached its boiling point, she turned her wrath upon poor Polly Pepper, the maid who had dared to challenge her reign of terror.

"You insolent fool!" Lady Mary spat, her voice dripping with disdain. "How dare you presume to lecture me on matters of propriety? You are nothing but a lowly servant, unworthy of even the air I breathe!"

But Polly met her gaze with a steady resolve, her eyes ablaze with a fire that matched Lady Mary's own. "I may be but a servant, milady, but I serve a greater purpose than you could ever comprehend," she declared, her voice ringing with conviction. "For it is not titles or wealth that define a person's worth, but the kindness and compassion they show to others."

Enraged beyond reason, Lady Mary delivered her final decree, her words a death knell to the fragile peace that had begun to bloom within Manners Manor. "You are dismissed, Polly Pepper," she declared, her voice laced with finality. "Cast out into the darkness from whence you came, and may you never darken my doorstep again!"

With a heavy heart but head held high, Polly Pepper departed Manners Manor, her spirit unbroken and her resolve unwavering. For though Lady Mary Manners may have turned her back on kindness, Polly knew that the light of compassion would never be extinguished, shining bright in the hearts of those who dared to defy the darkness.

(From a writing prompt about manners)

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