Among my other duties, helping the cook with breakfast was something I needed to do every day.
“Girl, get over here and stir the porridge, we can't have it clump now can we?” The cook, a rotund woman with frizzy brown hair, waved a large wooden ladle at me. I had learned from experience that the ladle was not a cooking tool, but a formidable weapon. It was known to land on heads hard if any mistakes are made in preparation or serving of the food. I grabbed a long-handled stirring spoon from beside the roaring fire and started stirring the contents of the large cauldron hanging above the flames.
The two maids came down some time later, chatting happily about something. My ears were pretty good, and they perked up to listen.
“Another one? They seem to be coming one a week.”
“The Lady Galfrey is highly thought of. I hear even the Prince may ask for her hand.”
“He’s highly eligible, the most eligible suitor in all the land, and he needs to find a wife soon or his crown may be forfeit.”
“And you think Lady Galfrey has a chance?”
“If she makes it, we may all get to live in the palace.”
“Oh, that would be so exciting!”
A new voice entered the conversation. “Girl, are you listening?” It was the cook. I turned to face the boisterous woman. “Get those bowls up to the dining table, now.”
I scurried up the stone steps to the dining room, laden with a tray of steaming, covered bowls of porridge, flavored with cinnamon and cream. I could smell it in the steam that floated through the covers. Carefully, but quickly, I tried to float across the room to the table, not jostling anything. Lady Galfrey was there, with her father, Lord Galfrey, and a young man I didn’t recognize. He had dark hair, cut in the highest fashion, and wore an equally fashionable outfit. Obviously, the suitor the maids had been talking about. He must have come in the night.
I served the porridge, bobbed quickly in a curtsey and practically ran out of the room. Other servants were coming down the hall now, bearing other breakfast items, fruits, pastries. I dodged them and kept going to my attic bedroom, trying desperately to calm down enough to walk slowly. Since the suitor was here, I might actually be able to make it out of the Manor and into town without anyone noticing.