Drea was ordered to scrub the yards. Even though the chore was muscle wrenching, at least she was out of sight and not drawing attention to herself.
"Drea! In here!" Madame Chez's loud rasping voice grated from the yard door. Drea got up from her knees and her stomach sank. This couldn't be good. Master Ray was bound to be furious at being put in his place by Lord Jasper, infront of Drea. Drea felt a lump forming in her throat as she picked up her water pales and trudged into the kitchen. She doubted her body could take another beating so soon.
"Drea Silver?" Drea looked at Madame Dabbs in surprise. This tall, elegant woman looked very much out of place in the kitchens. Madame Dabbs was a Lady's attendant and therefore not below stairs very often. Drea nodded and glanced at Madame Chez.
"Are you sure you have the right one, Madame Dabbs?" Madame Chez sneered at Drea. "Look at the little horror!"
"Is there another Drea Silver down here?" Madame Dabbs asked aloofly. "I think not. Ah Master Ray." Master Ray was on his way over like a whirlwind.
"What is this? You again girl! Why must you be a constant thorn in my foot?!" He yelled in Drea's face. "Madame Dabbs! What is your business here?" Madame Dabbs' jaw tightened, even though her eyes remained downcast. She was clearly not impressed at being spoken to in this way, nor was she accustomed to it.
"My business is to inform Drea Silver that her position will be changing." Madame Dabbs said stiffly.
"Says who?" Master Ray seethed. "And into what?"
"She is to assist in chambers as a lady in waiting." Madame Dabbs stated and Drea almost fainted.
"A what?" Master Fox erupted. "Don't be foolish, woman!"
"Lady Maya found her suitable three years ago, I believe." Madame Dabbs informed him. "Her young age at the time went against her. Her name was mentioned again and Lady Maya's memory and opinions were revived."
"Ridiculous!" Master Ray spat. "With all respect, this proves a woman's inability to appoint appropriate staff. I'll see Lord Hellion ... "
"Lord Hellion mentioned her name to begin with." Madame Dabbs interrupted smugly. "Lord Jasper, but still a Lord Hellion." Drea almost fainted again after only just recovering from the last episode. Master Ray was utterly dumbstruck, for a change, and Drea felt a wonderful smugness melting her astonishment like a warm glow. "I have appropriate clothing for you, Drea, in that bundle on the table. You must also wear this at all times as a token of your status in the household." Madame Dabbs handed Drea a gold cuff that would be worn round her upper arm. "I'm asked to tell you that it's Brightplain gold." Madame Dabbs shrugged and Drea had to lower her head further to hide a smile. "You have one hour to tidy yourself up and report to me on the first floor. Use the back stairs. I'm sure Master Ray is as proud of you as you are of yourself."
"She'll be back." Master Ray snapped. "Get out of my sight girl." Drea nodded obediently and scurried off to get ready for her new job.
Three weeks of sheer bliss passed for Drea. She was given her own room with a proper raised mattress instead of a wooden board. She had a table with a mirror and three cupboards and a wash basin of her very own. Her absolute favourite luxury were the carpets. Her own room had a mat covering but Drea loved the feel of that too beneath her bare feet. The rooms of the Ladies Hellion, and the younger children, were all on one floor and all carpeted with a thick pile that was a delight to walk on in slippered feet. Drea now had to wear beautiful red trousers that were loose and flowing and trimmed with a gold hem. Her tunic was replaced by a soft red vest that was light against her skin and her matching red cloth cap was threaded with gold strands that matched her trousers. In Drea's eyes, she was a Princess rather than a lady in waiting. She soon made friends with another girl of similar age and in a similar position. Mayte was a native Demiholder and was raised in an orphanage until she was sold to a family when she was eight. The family hit some sort of financial crisis during dealings with Lord Cassidy Hellion. Lord Hellion had 'relieved' his associate of Mayte, knowing that as a native Demiholder she'd also be able to speak Northhold, Demihold's original native tongue.
"Did you really ask that?" Mayte giggled as the girls sat on Drea's bed, awaiting the hour of their working day. Mayte had been helping Lady Gidra with needlework and her and Lady Maya had been talking about their first meeting with Drea at the orphanage.
"I did and it was unforgivably rude of me." Drea smiled. "By the Stars, Master Fox would have whipped my skin off if he'd got the chance." They'd refered to Drea asking Lady Maya her age. "Come on, we'd better get to work." Drea hopped off the bed and opened the door. Lord Jasper almost knocked on Drea's head. "Eep! Er ... forgive my clumsiness Lord Hellion." Drea backed into her bedroom and Mayte jumped to her feet in panic.
"No worries." Jasper said. "Actually I'm pleased you're both here. Part of my college ... Bah! Look, both of you look at me. OK? This really does irritate me. Look wherever you like and speak as much as you like. Got that?" Drea and Mayte looked up but remained quiet. Poor Mayte was on the verge of a swoon. "Anyway I need to correspond with another college student and he's from North Demihold. The dratted man speaks more Northhold than anything else. Basically I need a crash course in the language. Mayte?"
"Begging your pardon sir, I'm sure there are finer teachers than I. I'm only a servant, and a girl." Mayte blinked in astonishment.
"And a Demiholder. I'm sure there are other teachers too but they'd charge a fortune and I simply can't see the sense of trekking around Brightplain when I have someone born speaking the language, right here in the house. I could sort out your duties with Lady Gidra, so that won't be a problem. I'd be very grateful Mayte." Jasper nodded encouragingly.
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