Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production and not mine
The Trials of a Maidservant
About two hours before the arrival of dawn, servant girl Beth Chavez stood before the mirror in her quarters at Collinwood. She tied up her working white bonnet straight on top of her curly blonde hair. With natural early morning light filtering into the room, accompanied by a faint glow from a flickering candlestick, Beth gazed at her reflection in the mirror. She examined her blue and black-striped uniform complete with white apron. With her bonnet in place, Beth was ready to perform her day of labor.
As she continued staring at her reflection, the maidservant recalled the comments she received over the years of how she was rather unusual. Beth had a slender figure, with crystal clear blue eyes, and quite a dignified face. The mysterious and newly arrived Barnabas Collins recently remarked to her she had a very aristocratic appearance for a servant. Over those years, Beth also had to dodged some rather intrusive questions of why a fair skin blonde hair girl like herself carried the rather foreign and exotic name of Chavez.
Truth be told, Beth was not a normal servant. Her daily tasks were far from ordinary, and she had her work cut out for her. Collinwood had been bustling with excitement as of late.
The matriarch Edith Collins lay on her deathbed and all of her grandchildren were waiting on pins and needles for what they could possibly receive from this. Even those gypsies the old woman was so fond of played a special role in this. What more, the matriarch's soon-to-be demise even resulted the return of him coming out of exile.
Beth tried not to think of him for he was the least of her worries, though he was deeply involved in all the deception going around despite him being oblivious about it.
Beth just hoped she could continue to maintain the Collinses secrets in the midst of all the excitement about the manor. She swiftly snuffed out the tiny flame from her candle, and promptly stepped out of her quarters. There was a particular task she wanted to attend to. She wanted to get it done quickly for she was nearly caught when she tried to perform this duty just the other day.
But as soon as she stepped out of the servant quarters, a familiar cocky voice called out to her through the early morning shadows.
"Good morning, my darling."
Beth froze. By the window of the wide corridor stood the outline of a man she once knew intimately well. She could make out his tall lean features through the early morning light.
"Quentin," Beth bit off indignantly.
"What? I don't get a good morning?"
Quentin Collins stepped out of the shadows, and slowly approached her. He graced the maidservant with a wide wolfish smile, which went real nicely with his long groomed pointed sideburns. Even though there was very little light, Beth could see Quentin's striking blue eyes gleaming sharply down on her, sizing her up, as if he could see right through her.
"Am I supposed to really believe you got up this early just to say good morning to me?" She cast him a severe scathing look.
"You actually find that hard to believe?" Quentin snorted amused.
"I want you to stop prying into my affairs!" Beth shot at him. "I am not harboring any secrets, and I'll greatly appreciate it if you stop breaking into my quarters and stalking me around!"
"Beth, you obviously are harboring secrets," Quentin smoothly countered. "Otherwise you wouldn't be living in Collinwood."
"I have a proper job here," Beth stated, snootily lifting her nose at him. "After all, your family have treated me well. It's only logical I remain with them after Jenny departed."
"My family are treating you well," Quentin conceded with a stiff nod. "I've seen how much they're paying you. My wife must've had quite a conniption losing her own maidservant to my family of all people."
"Leave me alone, Quentin," said Beth miserably. "Why don't you spend these wee hours pestering your family with that dreary brooding music out of that wretched gramophone of yours."
Quentin used his massive six-foot frame to block the maidservant in her tracks.
"This isn't over, Beth," Quentin whispered lowly. "Not with what is going on around here, and certainly not with us."
He said that last part rather seductively, leaving her cheeks hot. He strided out of the corridor, heading in the opposite direction of the servant quarters. Beth sincerely hope he'd stay away from there. She scurried her way into the kitchen, trying her best to forget that unfortunate encounter. Quentin had surely become more of a boorish rake ever since his brother Edward kicked him out of Collinwood a couple of years prior. Beth certainly didn't care much for this side of him.
Turning her thoughts to something else, Beth began cracking some eggs, and warming a ham in the oven. Even though it was too early for the Collinses to awake for breakfast, this particular meal was for a special member of the family. Just as the sun gently rise over Widows Hill, casting its weak raze on the turrets of the manor, Beth neatly placed the eggs and the freshly cooked ham on a plate sitting on top of a dinner tray. She covered the meal in a white cloth, and exit the kitchen. She carefully stared around vigilantly for Quentin. Thankfully there was no sight of him, and Beth hurried her way up to one of the most notorious rooms in this historic house: The Tower Room.
Legend has it that a woman took her own life up there over a hundred years ago. Now the room served as a prison. Beth balanced the tray on the crook of her arm, and gingerly unlocked the door. Inside was one of the saddest and most pitiful sights Beth ever laid eyes on. It always gets to her every time she comes up here. In the center of the room, Beth's former mistress (and Quentin's wife) Jenny Collins, sat on her knees on the hard dusty floor rocking a baby's cradle lovingly. She softly coo at the cradle while humming a melody from yesteryear.
Beth shut the door, causing Jenny to look up in alarm with her mad eyes.
"Be quiet, you fool!" hissed Jenny. "You will wake the babies!"
"I'm sorry," Beth sincerely apologized. "Your breakfast is ready."
Jenny didn't respond. She continued gently rocking the cradle humming.
"Aren't you parch, ma'am?" asked Beth. She stood stiffly with her back toward the door, holding the tray firmly in her grasp.
"I don't want to leave the babies," Jenny replied, plastering a crooked toothy grin on her dirty face. Her wild and matted red hair sticked up at all angles.
"I will tend to the babies," Beth assured her.
Jenny suddenly shot up and eagerly took the tray from the maidservant's hands, gulping down the glass of milk that came with the tray.
"Thank you, my dear!" Jenny smiled madly at her with milk on her dirty lips. "I am quite parch!"
Jenny went to her small dusty bed, and gorged herself on her eggs and ham. Beth sat on her knees on the hard dusty floor and gently rocked the cradle. Gazing down, Beth found the dolls were unharmed. She had to replace one of them the day before after Jenny destroyed it.
As her former mistress ate her breakfast, Beth tried to keep the sadness in her heart at bay. Not too long ago, Jenny was a wonderful and content person. She was a musical entertainer, and happily married to Quentin. But when Quentin deserted her, and her twin babies were taken away, Jenny went dangerously mad. Edward and Judith Collins decided to lock her in The Tower Room instead of sending her to the asylum in order to avoid a humiliating public scandal. As absurd as it sounds, Beth agreed to this decision. She and Quentin had quite a passionate and romantic love affair without Jenny's knowledge, and the maidservant felt responsible for her mistress' downfall. This way Beth could at least take care of her. Beth hoped that maybe one day she would be forgiven for her sins.
To Beth's great relief, Jenny ate her breakfast without incident. The maidservant managed to carry the empty tray out of The Tower Room, and reported how the confined prisoner was doing to the master of the house. As usual, Edward didn't cared for Jenny's well-being. As long as she was detained and forgotten was all that mattered.
"Have you forgotten she's the mother of Quentin's children?"
Beth instantly bit her tongue. She surely haven't forgotten her place, but she couldn't help but to find Edward's cold demeanor over this situation completely reprehensible.
"Come, now, Miss Chavez," Edward scoffed dismissively. "We both know Jenny and Quentin are irresponsible people. I mean, Quentin will make an appalling father!"
Beth tried not to glare at him. What gave Edward the right to deny Quentin his children, let alone that his wife had not actually left Collinwood? But Edward was the master of the house, and Beth was only a mere servant. She also needed a roof over her head, and someone had to take care of Jenny. Instead of arguing with Edward, Beth nodded to him and continued on with her duties. Edward headed straight for the dining room to have breakfast with his family.
As the morning proceeded, Collinwood became bustling with excitement. Edward's children Jamison and Nora were bundles of energy as usual. They'd spend the morning racing the corridors giggling, and pestering the servants with the games they'd just learned. All the while, their governess, Rachel Drummond, chased them about, trying to make them settle and concentrate on their learning. Even more rambunctious was Carl Collins, Edward, Judith, and Quentin's jester brother. Before noon, Carl managed to place a fake fly in Judith's tea, replaced Edward's tobacco with shoot-up confetti, and pulled a squirt flower trick on Rachel and the children. He even scared one of the servants half to death when she found a dead rat that was actually fake. Edward and Judith predictably scolded Carl for his childish behavior, and Carl predictably responded by pouting. Personally, Beth never really cared much for adult children such as Carl, but even she had to admit he was certainly more pleasant than the stuffy and uptight Judith, and the dominating and controlling Edward. At least Carl never broke her heart like Quentin did.
By mid-afternoon, the gypsy lady Magda Rakosi arrived at Collinwood in the hope of visiting the dying matriarch Edith, whom she was very good friends with. But Judith vehemently forbids it. But Magda made herself feel welcome anyway.
She read the fortunes for the bemused Jamison and Nora, and while dusting some portraits by the entrance of the library, Beth witness the gypsy lady going into that room with Quentin, who promptly shut the door behind him. Alone outside that door, Beth assumed her former lover was seeking some advice on dark mysticism, for it was one of his hobbies. Or to have his fortune told to see if he would inherit anything of great value out of his grandmother's will. It might've been the latter.
When Magda emerged from the library an hour later, she came up to Beth who was cleaning the floors in the foyer, and outlandishly remarked in that thick accent of hers, "Zee's Collinses a're v'ery amusin', huh? E'ven w'hen one of zer own is dyin', zer greedier zan e'ver."
With a hearty laugh, the brightly colored gypsy woman exited the Great House. Beth scowled as she watched her go.
Magda was Jenny's sister, and Jenny used to be a gypsy, too. Beth started out working as Jenny's servant, and for a time lived that gypsy lifestyle. Beth wasn't bothered by that at first, but over time, she'd grown to deeply regret it. Like Quentin, Magda and her husband, Sandor, knew nothing about Quentin and Jenny's babies. Nor had Jenny actually left Collinwood. With this thought Beth's heart suddenly grown numb. She may not like Magda, who she viewed as being one of the crudest people she'd ever met, but she still didn't like playing a role in keeping a family apart. But then Beth had to soberly remind herself she had a job to do.
As she continued scrubbing the floor, making her way toward the old and elaborate grandfather's clock on her knees, Quentin emerged from the library's direction. He and Beth locked eyes. Quentin grinned at her as he made his way up the staircase. Once he was gone, Beth recalled how Quentin used to give her that grin whenever she was doing her chores.
Granted, Quentin would put on a dashing smile for every pretty girl who came into view, but he always reserved a special grin he would only save for Beth and no one else. Not even to Jenny during the height of their marriage.
It was the same special grin Quentin just secretly gifted the maidservant. Beth needed to keep her heart from fluttering. She knew Quentin suspect she was keeping something from him. And he was right. But despite all the lies and deception, a special spark still shimmer between the two. Beth desperately wondered if that spark would ever be diminished.
By four o'clock, Beth completed dusting and scrubbing some rooms in the West Wing. After briefly checking on Jenny, Beth met up with Edward in one of the many deserted corridors, where he secretly handed her an envelope with no comment. Beth took it, and scurry on her way.
Coming up was her favorite time of day. The best part was even though she was about to perform some errands, Beth doesn't feel remotely like a servant while doing them.
She went down into her quarters to put on her cloak. She gladly took off her working bonnet, and replaced it with a stylish blue hat she took so much pride in. Beth didn't possess many fashionable items like so many in the Collins family. Grabbing a wicker basket, and placing the envelope inside, Beth hurried her way out of the servant quarters.
After checking to make sure Quentin was not around, the maidservant exit the Great House. Gathering up her skirt, the stroll to the village was heavenly. The salty air was crisp, and the late afternoon sun settled upon the Great House. With the relaxing nearby rhythm of the waves crashing onto the rocky shore, Beth was able to forget her responsibilities, at least for a brief time. For a glorious few hours she could forget being a servant at Collinwood. She didn't had to think about the Collins family or their sordid secrets, or that wretched house with its hauntings and horrid tales of death, ghosts, and destruction.
Upon entering the village of Collinsport, Beth headed for a nearby little house, and smiled broadly. She eagerly rapped on the front door, and it was answered by an elderly woman with a warm friendly face.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Fillmore," said Beth pleasantly.
"Good afternoon, Miss Chavez," the woman, Mrs. Fillmore, replied welcomely.
She allowed Beth in her house, and shut the door. Beth pulled out the envelope from the wicker basket and handed it to the old woman. As Mrs. Fillmore pulled out the money and began counting it, Beth softly stepped toward the baby cradle in the center of the room. She gently gazed down upon two infants lazily staring up at her. Beth smiled brightly down on them. This was the only time of day in which Beth actually smiles. She was never the sort of servant who smiles and sings while doing chores. Of course, she was a servant at Collinwood, not the most chipper place on earth. Even though these twin babies were the only thing that made Beth happy, a sadness also shadow them.
Obviously, the twin boy and girl didn't belong to Mrs. Fillmore. They were Quentin and Jenny's. When Quentin abandoned Jenny, he was oblivious that she was carrying his children. As time went on, Jenny went completely mad, and was too fragile to handle Quentin's transgressions. Not sheepish about wanting to control the situation, Edward and Judith placed the twins under the care of Mrs. Fillmore, a local woman. It was the perfect situation as far as Edward and Judith were concerned. Jenny could go on thinking her dolls were her children, Quentin needn't know of his babies existence, and Edward and Judith could contently not accept the babies as Collinses. The two Collins siblings never liked Jenny, and loathed her for marrying into the family name. Beth wondered what would happened if they'd found out Jenny used to be a gypsy, and Magda was her sister. Their facial expressions alone would've been interesting to witness. Maybe they would drop dead from shock. Beth found it despicable Edward and Judith didn't accept Jenny solely because she was a singer.
As the maidservant cooed down on the babies, Beth realized the girl Lenore was beginning to sprout some red hair. Red like her mother's. And the boy, who shared his father's namesake, gazed up with striking blue eyes. The same blue eyes as Quentin's. That made Beth's heart ache. In a perfect world, Beth would be raising these children and would not need a small sum from the Collins' mass fortune to do it. But Beth didn't lived in a perfect world.
"They are most precious, aren't they?"
Mrs. Fillmore came up to Beth's side, and gleamed down on the precious sleepy forms drifting off into a nap.
"They always warm up my day," Beth murmured softly.
"Would you care for some tea?" Mrs. Fillmore offered her.
Beth jolted, and replied, "I can't. I need to collect some things and hurry back to Collinwood."
"Am I to expect you're return soon?" asked the elderly woman, knitting her brows.
"Well, of course," Beth assured her.
With one last look at the sleeping infants, Beth hurried her way toward the door. Mrs. Fillmore closely followed, and opened the door for her.
"Goodbye, Mrs. Fillmore," said Beth.
"Goodbye, Miss Chavez," replied Mrs. Fillmore.
With that, Beth exit the tiny house. She went over to some shops to pick up some vegetables and spices. By the time she returned to the Great House, the sun was setting over the wavy sea.
Upon entering the front entrance, Beth overheard the unmistakable joyous laughter of young Jamison pouring out of the drawing room. The double doors leading into that room were wide open, and from the foyer, Beth witness the boy and Quentin sitting on the settee together.
"You really saw pyramids in Egypt?" Jamison said in awe.
"And ancient ruins, artifacts, and even some mummies," Quentin proclaimed with a shrug.
"I really wish I can come with you on all your adventures," said Jamison.
Quentin wrapped his arm around his young nephew, and whispered, "Someday, my boy, someday."
Upon seeing this, Beth's heart shattered. She instantly hurried her way to the kitchen. She thought of those two beautiful babies she just visited, and how she herself was helping to deprive them of their father. Even though Quentin Collins was one of the most unreliable men she had ever met, it always touched her heart of how loving and loyal he was to Jamison.
The friendship between the two ran deep, even when Quentin was thrown out of Collinwood. Edward was severely wrong when he stated Quentin would make an appalling father. Beth knew otherwise. Quentin and Jamison formed a bond that the boy didn't achieved with his own father. Beth knew in actuality, despite all of his faults, Quentin would make a wonderful father.
Even though it was unwise on her part, Beth couldn't help but to fall in love with Quentin because of it.
By seven o'clock, the Collins family gathered at their family table. As they discussed their dying grandmother and bickered about various subjects over dinner, Beth rocked her former mistress' plastic babies in their cradle in the notorious Tower Room.
Jenny munch on her soup and bread on her small dusty bed. She was in a strangely withdrawn mood, which made Beth feel greatly nervous.
"The next time I see him, I will kill him!" Jenny suddenly growled.
Beth looked at her from over her shoulder on the floor by the cradle, and asked warily, "What did you just say, ma'am?"
Jenny roughly sat her tray aside, spilling some soup on the blanket and floor as she did so. She shot up from her bed.
"Oh, it's Quentin!" she shrieked in distress. "He won't let me be!"
She clawed her fingers through her wild matted hair.
"He keeps taunting me and taunting me!"
She looked she was about to scream. Beth rushed over to her side, placing a gentle and reassuring hand on her back shoulder.
"Quentin is gone," Beth told her soothingly. "You have the babies to look after."
At those words, Jenny's body ease up at once. She slowly gazed over at Beth with some of her matted hair falling over her eyes. The former gypsy placed a rather deranged smile about her dirty mouth, her eyes wide and mad.
"Yes. The babies," she whispered.
She rushed over to the cradle, and began rocking and humming at it at once. Now Jenny was calm and distracted, Beth took this opportunity to gather up the dinner tray, and silently leave the prison. Beth was used to Jenny's sudden and unpredictable mood swings, even the violent ones. But the maidservant was worried. What if Jenny somehow learned of Quentin's return to Collinwood? She could escape and really tried to kill him! Beth decided to express this concern to Edward and Judith. But she didn't get the chance that evening.
By the time Beth was through with her chores, she served herself some dinner of cabbage soup and bread. She then went to her quarters to retire for the night. She needed to rest up for another day of trial and labor. But upon entering her quarters, her gaslight lamp was on. It cast a dim light on the room. Deep shadows forming from the furniture sinisterly stretch out on the walls. But most of all, the next sight really got Beth's blood boiling.
Quentin laid stretch out upon her bed lazily. His mischievous eyes gleamed as soon as she entered the room. Beth cast her former lover a murderous glare, and roughly shut the door behind her.
"This ploy of yours is rather quite contemptible, Quentin," she sneered, keeping her back straight toward the door.
"Why, yes, you said something along those lines the last time I waited for you here," said Quentin smugly.
He kicked up his heels, and pulled himself off the maidservant's bed. He came up to her slowly, almost as though he was advancing. His patented wolfish smile played about his flirtatious mouth.
"Quentin," Beth sneered, giving him a warning look.
"Take it easy, I didn't rummage through your belongings," Quentin insisted lightly, drawing himself ever nearer to her. "I'm here to see you."
"Quentin, I am not hiding anything from you," Beth lied through clenched teeth. Her blue eyes seethed in a icy glare.
"Beth, you are keeping secrets from me," Quentin said dismissively. "But that doesn't really matter now. It really occurred to me we haven't properly spoken since early this morning."
"We have nothing to say to each other," Beth stated steadily.
"After the looks and the secret smiles we shared, particularly this afternoon during this wretched day, are you really going to ignore that there is still a little spark between us." He cast her a challenging look.
"Even if it's still there, I work for Mr. Edward and Ms. Judith now," Beth exclaimed.
"Oh, Beth, give me time," Quentin said softly. "I will win you over. Especially from them."
A surprised look etched across Beth's face, both unnerved and a little in awe by Quentin's audacity. She would probably never admit it, but she loved this side of him.
"Would you please let me pass?" Quentin asked her. "I like to retire to my quarters."
Not disagreeing with that, Beth gladly stepped aside so her former lover could exit through the door. Before he turned the knob, Quentin cast Beth one last daring look, and said, "You are welcome to join me if you wish."
He swiftly left, and Beth defiantly glared after him on his way out. She then heaved a deep sigh, and took off her working bonnet.
She slowly moved toward her mirror, and her haunted reflection was certain of three things; one, Quentin was right. No matter how hard Beth wished it wasn't so, there was still a spark between them. No matter how shiftless Quentin was, he still own her heart. Beth knew they'd shared a peculiar love. He probably would win her over in time, but Beth was uncertain of the outcome. That greatly frightened her. Two; the secret about Jenny would not be a secret much longer. Quentin will learned the truth about his wife's imprisonment, and would likely learned of the revelation of his children. Beth feared that would be a rather nasty fall out. And three; this may be completely irrational on Beth's part, but she couldn't help but feel a really brutal curse would soon strike Collinwood.