by Lady Charlotte
3. Question Three
‘Tell me, Julia,’ said Signora Moretti, ‘back when you were the youngest ever Professor of History at Cambridge, what did Mark Fitzwilliam mean to you?’
I tottered at the question, clutching at the desk. Perhaps it was my exhaustion. The Signora, who had rescinded her instructions that I join the university cleaning team the moment I had begun going to church, had reassigned me to it for the whole of the past week. I stood before her in my hideous yellow housekeeping uniform, my long black hair pulled back into a ponytail and threaded through the gap in my baseball cap. Naturally, I was standing.
I blinked back tears.
‘Address your comments to Professor Carpio.’ She indicated the stout and bespectacled Filipino sitting behind the desk in front of me. It was his office in which I was standing, having been summoned there from mopping the main hall of the Psychology Department. The Signora had introduced him to me as the psychologist who had been translating my Tagalog for her. I remembered what else she had told me about him – that he was fascinated professionally by my case. And now, here I was, standing before him: an exhausted, dirt-smeared cleaner.