"How much do you get paid?" asks our kind little Norma Rae, and Gwyneth says, "Eight pound a year," which comes out to...I don't even know. Weren't some of the annuities in E.F. Benson around that? Doesn't that equal like a billion dollars? Rose is like, "Excuse me?" And Gwyneth nods, gratefully: "I know. I would've been happy with six." Maybe this conversation would have more impact on me if I knew what those amounts mean. I mean, I get it, I'm not an idiot, but if they were in America and were talking about eight dollars a year, I would know that these are sub-Tremaine wages for the amount of shit Gwyneth gets done for the old goat. ["All I know is that people in Jane Austen novels -- set, like, fifty years earlier than this -- are always trying to land the girl who has 'ten thousand pounds a year,' and even though they're noblemen, eight pounds a year still doesn't sound like very much." -- Wing Chun] "So, did you go to school or what?" Rose asks. I like the parallels here, because to Rose, being poor and indentured is not unlike working at the butcher's or whatever, and she blames everything on her dropping out. And that makes me sad. "Of course I did," says Gwyneth. "What do you think I am? An urchin?" I would have winked at her: "Nope, just Welsh." (I'm Welsh mostly, if you're wondering, which is why all the Welsh-mentioning.) Gwyneth says she went to school "every Sunday, nice and proper," and Rose's jaw drops for like the hundredth time. Rose! It's 140 years ago! With exponential technical advancement, that's like hundreds of years! School takes second place to stuff like eating! Gwyneth, again thinking Rose's amazement is downward instead of up, nods excitedly and confidingly: "We did sums and everything. To be honest, I hated every second."
Rose and Gwyneth bond over hating math, because math is hard, and Gwyneth cops to cutting one Sunday and running "down the heath," all on her own! Don't tell! Even Marianne from Sense & Sensibility is like, "Rebel yell, girlfriend," but Rose doesn't bat an eye: "I did plenty of that. I used to go down the shops with my mate Shareen. And we used to go and look at boys!" Gwyneth slaps those lips together faster than shackles on Hester Prynne, but Rose has not a care for her provincial morals: "Come on, times haven't changed that much! I bet you've done the same." She bugs her and bugs her until Gwyneth admits that she is totally crushing on "the butcher's boy," and his lovely smile, and Rose asks about his ass, and it's about now in the sleepover that I realize Gwyneth is going to die horribly. Rose advises her on asking him on a date or whatever, and Gwyneth says, "I swear, it is the strangest thing, miss. You've got all the clothes and the breeding but you talk like some sort of wild thing!" Which I love. She is! I love her! Rose thinks, "Maybe I am. Maybe that's a good fing. You need a bit more in your life than Mr. Sneed." Gwyneth protests that Sneed's not that bad, besides the twice-weekly rapes and working her to death all the time, because after all, her mum and dad died of the flu when she was twelve. Rose apologizes for their deaths, and Gwyneth looks at her face with gratitude (So dead!): "Thank you, miss. But I'll be with them again, one day. Sitting with them in paradise. I should be so blessed. They're waiting for me." (So very, very dead.) "Maybe your dad's up there waiting for you too, miss." Whoa.