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Ian
October 29th, 2014, 03:53 PM
“ She raised herself from the bed, somewhat dishevelled and groggy, not knowing for a moment where she was. She took a moment to reorientate herself and then tried to go to the bathroom. When she looked into the mirror she saw a face that she hardly recognised puffed up bags under her eyes that bulged out from the weight they carried. Trying to walk towards the door she found the floor moving away from her and she sat down on her bed to steady herself. With some effort she crawled down to the kitchen to make herself a coffee and she saw Maria . the domestic help cleaning up.
She’d not realised how late it was but then Maria greeted her and offered to make her breakfast. “You look as if you had a rough night Linda,” Maria said, looking at Linda’s puffed eyes, her smudged lipstick, grubby hair, and sallow cheeks.

“No, nothing to eat thanks. A cup of coffee will be fine. I have a bit of a headache this morning.”

“While you drink your coffee I’ll go and tidy up and make the bed,” Maria said.
When Maria came back down, Linda asked her if she could get her some aspirins from the chemist’s down the road, and she went back to her room to get some money. When she got to her room, she couldn;t find her purse. Everything was in order and the dressing table was clean with just the vase and hairbrushes. The handbag was there, but no purse. “Odd!”She thought, “I could have sworn that I saw it earlier.” She looked everywhere but no purse. She called her friend Steve who'd been with her the previous night and asked him in case she'd left it at the club, even thouigh she was sure she'd seen it just before she went down. Maria was the only person who'd come to the room.

“You’ll have to report the loss to the police if for no other reason than the driving licence and your credit cards. They’ll want to know where you were, with whom, and then they are likely to want to talk to Maria. Leave it to them,” Steve advised.

“ I should mention it to her. See if she saw it when she made the bed, and if she did take it, it would give her a chance to put it back somewhere else in the room for me to find it. “

“I don’t think that it’s a good idea. It would be like accusing her of taking it. Maybe you saw something red in your bag and assumed it was your purse. It could have been a piece of red paper, a napkin you might have picked up from a table at the club and placed it in your bag.”

They called the club but no one knew anything about the purse. Finally, Linda went to report the loss at the local police station. After taking a statement, the police said they would speak with Maria. Everyone knew that Maria was hardworking and honest but this story had its consequences. Rumours spread quickly in such a small town.

Maria had started work at Linda’s house when Linda’s husband was still alive. She did the housekeeping. Whatever Maria thought of Linda, she kept to herself but she did not always approve of her mistress’s way of life. Then again, it wasn’t her problem and she remained discreet and helpful. Linda had a full social life. She could not pass up an invitation to a party. One would have thought she was making up for lost time after the death of her husband. It has to be said, she had suffered a lot looking after him, especially in the end, when he had insisted that she should nurse him because he could not bear being cleaned by strangers. Linda’s husband had died young, but he had left her well provided for, after a meteoric rise in his business affairs, and a very good life insurance that covered the house. It was a big house, bigger than she needed, but it was good for holding parties. As it was, she had the services of Maria who kept everything in order.

The police, having completed their enquiries could not help any further, and the matter was filed. There was little they could do about Maria who left Linda’s house. It was now difficult for Maria to find similar work, but she was quite capable, and took up dress making to supplement her income. Her daughter had finished her studies and soon she would not need to work so hard to make ends meet.

Time passed, and everyone except for Linda had forgotten the matter. Doubts had crept in about her real motives in suspecting Maria for the loss of her purse. She had somehow resented being watched over, and maybe that had played a part in her attitude towards Maria. She felt a little guilty. She knew that the night before she had had drinks and had been very tired.

One day when Steve had asked her to pick him up from the garage where he left his car for a service, they came back to Linda’s house. She took her bag and fumbled inside to get the beeper that opened the automatic garage door. In doing so, the bag tipped over and a few items spilled out. In reaching down to collect the items, Steve dug deeper under the seat. His hands suddenly felt a larger item and he pushed it out. He could not believe his eyes! It was the missing red purse! “Oh!” Steve exclaimed. “Look what I found!”

“Well I never!” Linda said, turning red in the face. "Now how did that thing get there?” Then it came back to her. Having to look for the beeper in the dark, while approaching the house, it did not take much to explain how it got on the floor and got pushed under the seat.

“It’s too late now to rectify the wrong done to Maria,” Steve said. This will have to stay between us, but we’ll have to do something for her.”

“I agree, but what can I do?”

“You can help get her daughter a good job in your husband’s old firm. You are still on the board and I understand that she has studied finance. She could do with a decent starting position. She needn’t know anything about it of course.”