“A Romance of Love and Fortune,” that is the subtitle of a light romance about a woman who becomes the maid of her ex-maid. The book is Miss Million’s Maid (1915) by Berta Ruck (Mrs. Oliver Onions). In addition to love and fortune, it includes class snobbery, Irish royalty, theater, crime, and the Great War.
My story begins with an incident that is bound to happen some time in any household that boasts—or perhaps deplores—a high-spirited girl of twenty-three in it.
It begins with “a row” about a young man.
My story begins, too, where the first woman’s story began—in a garden.
It was the back garden of our red-roofed villa in that suburban street, Laburnum Grove, Putney, S.W.
Now all those eighty-five neat gardens up and down the leafy road are one exactly like the other, with the same green strip of lawn just not big enough for tennis, the same side borders gay with golden calceolaria, scarlet geranium, blue lobelia, and all the bright easy-to-grow London flowers. All the villas belonging to the gardens seem alike, too, with their green front doors, their white steps, their brightly polished door-knockers and their well-kept curtains.
From the look of these typically English, cheerful, middle-class, not-too-well-off little homes you’d know just the sort of people who live in them. The plump, house-keeping mother, the season-ticket father, the tennis-playing sons, the girls in dainty blouses, who put their little newly whitened shoes to dry on the bathroom window-sill, and who call laughing remarks to each other out of the window.
“I say, Gladys! don’t forget it’s the theatre to-night!”
“Oh, rather not! See you up at the Tennis Club presently?”
“No; I’m meeting Vera to shop and have lunch in Oxford Street.”
“Dissipated rakes! ‘We don’t have much money, but we do see life,’ eh?”
Yes! From what I see of them, they do get heaps of fun out of their lives, these young people who make up such a large slice of the population of our great London. There’s laughter and good-fellowship and enjoyment going on all up and down our road.
Except here. No laughter and parties and tennis club appointments at No. 45, where I, Beatrice Lovelace, live with my Aunt Anastasia. No gay times here!
Thus begins the tale of the great-granddaughter of Lady Anastasia. In the days of her great-grandmother the family lived in Lovelace Court. Since that time, the family has “come down in the world” and our heroine lives with her aunt as hermits, because the aunt believes “Better no society than the wrong society.”
Beatrice’s only friend is a naive maid. So when the maid inherits a fortune from a distant relative, our heroine decides to flee her hermitage by entering the employment of her maid. What follows then is a series of adventures as our heroine tries to protect her friend and show her the advantages of her new-found wealth. And, of course, what follows is also romance and plenty of humor along the way.