Reminder: All stories on my blog are drafts. I do my best to have the spelling and puctuation clear but there will be errors. Please bear with me as I decide if this serial should be in 3rd or 1st person.
After a restless night, I rose just as the sun began to brighten the eastern sky. The clouds were pink and blue, changing gradually to yellow, then orange as the sun came up over the city towers. I washed in the cold water left me and put on a blue dress from the wardrobe. It fit me perfectly and I idly wondered how Lady Traford knew my size. The dress had a subtle dark green design woven into the fabric and I found shoes to match. Dressed, I rang the pull next to my bed and went into the sitting room.
I opened the curtains there and watched the sun rise until a soft knock sounded at the door. “Come in.”
The door opened to reveal a young woman. She was discreetly dressed in a dove gray gown, a white apron over all, her black hair pulled back and put up in a bun at the back of her head. She stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. “You rang, Princess?”
I had to recover at the honorific. It was still too strange. “Yes.” I swallowed, unaccustomed to giving orders. “What’s your name?”
“Pricilla, Princess.” She bowed her head.
“Pricilla, I’d like breakfast served here. Something light. I’ll attend breakfast with the Lady, later.”
“Yes, Princess.” She turned to leave.
Pricilla turned back to me, hands folded in front of her. “My Lady.”
“Have you been up all night waiting for a call from me?”
“No, My Lady. I came on duty an hour ago. Lady Traford thought you might rise early, this being a new place to you. I’ll be your personal maid for the time being.”
I stared at her. She hardly looked old enough. “How old are you, Pricilla?”
“Twenty, My Lady.”
She seemed so solemn. “Thank you, Pricilla.”
The girl turned and left. I sat in the window seat and watched the city wake. When Pricilla returned, she had a tray with her. “On the window seat, Princess, or on the table?”
“The window seat, please.”
She carried the tray over and placed it at the opposite end of the cushion. “Shall I pour, Princess?”
“No, I can do it. Please, pull a chair over and sit with me.” I saw an eyebrow twitch but she nodded and carried over a small chair and placed it near the tray, facing me.
“Good. Thank you. Tell me how long you’ve been in service here?” I poured tea for myself. Then selected some cut fruit, a square of orange cheese and a roll and pulled them all over in front of me.
“Three years, Princess. My father indentured me to Lord Traford.”
“I see.” I blew across the tea cup and sipped. It was a nice dark tea, with a floral and citrus undercurrent. Perfect for breakfast. “And what do you do here?”
“I worked in the kitchen, at first, scut work. Then the House Keeper moved me to cleaning rooms. She must have liked my work because later I became Lady Traford’s, third maid. Occasionally I served visiting ladies. Now I am your maid.” She studied her hands, folded in her lap when she finished.
“You must be very clever or they wouldn’t have promoted you so quickly.”
Pricilla shrugged. “So it seems. I do my work well and keep what I hear to myself.”
I nodded. “Discretion is a valuable characteristic.” I knew from keeping Master Corbet’s counsel how much it was valued. “Would you rather not be my maid?”
“I do as I’m told, Princess.” Her eyes stayed on her hands.
“And what have you been told to do?” I wondered if she was a spy for Lord Traford. If she was, would she tell me?
She raised her head to face me. “Follow your orders for your care and well-being. Keep your apartment clean and tidy. Care for your clothing and person. Run errands for you if needed.”
I broke off a bit of cheese and bread and chewed them while I thought. “And what are you supposed to report to Lord Traford?”
“I’ve been given no instruction on that, Princess.”
Whether she had or not, sooner or later the Lord would want to know what I was thinking and saying. I nodded to her. “I don’t have any instruction for you except to come back at nine and escort me to breakfast. I don’t know my way around the house yet. After breakfast, I’m to meet a tutor. I have no idea how long that will take, or if lessons will begin immediately. In any case, if you can determine my schedule, I’d appreciate you being there at the end of the meeting or the lesson, to bring me back here. Eventually I’ll know my way around and won’t need that type of hand-holding.”
“I don’t require a lot of care, Pricilla. Mostly escort until I learn my way around and caring for my apartment and clothing. I suspect I won’t have time to do those things myself.”
Her eyebrows rose at the last statement.
I chuckled. “I’ve been caring for myself for a long time, Pricilla. Trust me that I do know how.”
The girl nodded. “Yes, Princess.”
I wiped my hands on the linen napkin and placed it on the tray. “Have you eaten?”
I waved at the tray. “Help yourself. You brought more than enough.”
Her eyes went wide. “Oh no, Princess. That’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t even be sitting in your presence.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Of course not. Standards must be maintained. I looked her in the eyes. “I apologize, Pricilla. I won’t presume again.”
I could hear a tiny sigh of relief as she did a small bow. “Thank you, Princess.”
“I’m finished. You can take the tray away and go get your breakfast.”
She rose from the chair and put it back where it belonged. Picking up the tray she said, “I’ll return at nine.”
“That will be fine. Thank you, Pricilla.”
She bowed and left the apartment. I leaned back against the wall, staring out over the city. Sunlight touched the high points, inching its way down the walls to the streets below where early morning vendors were beginning to open shops and pull carts into the streets. I could feel my stomach knot with stress over what the morning would bring.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 7.