Three long days of doubt and mental flagellation passed before a caller came. Ashen faced, her attendant stood at my door and handed me a letter then turned heel. Outward calm deserted me once he turned away and I closed my door to read the scented page. I hadn’t felt panic since Luke and I were in the camp, but as my hands opened that gilded page tremors surged and broiled within me. Never one to delay, I opened it with haste and had to sit down and stand and then sit down again when the Madam’s words evaporated my dread. As of that moment she was my patron. I would live in her house, at her disposal at all hours. The wage was sturdy but irrelevant. And furthermore, she would be entertaining in two nights.
It was my time. My hour had arrived. And I was about to hurtle into a blizzard of culinary marvel, outdoing myself again and again. I didn’t waste any time in bundling my meagre possessions into a satchel and leaving my humble life behind. Outside, the Madam’s attendant was waiting to bring me to Sabine Manor in the Madam’s carriage. As he took my satchel he revealed his name to be Peters. I nodded. He nodded. I got into the back seat and he got into the front. Then we drove in silence, my mind swimming with the possibilities ahead. I can’t remember if it was cold or warm that day, all I can remember of the ride to the Manor was the image of the dusty ladder leaning against the tiles. For some reason I was fixated on it, I longed to use it to employ all the accoutrements of that kitchen, my kitchen. My kitchen. Oh, how that thought conjured all the vindication I had sought for so long. How it made all that Luke and I had suffered in that camp worthwhile.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey