Morning dawned bright and Sarah and Ryan were set to work to as soon as they had broken their fast. Ryan was given the important job of keeping the wood supply in the kitchen full and making sure the fires in the Manor Hall burned at a constant rate. Sarah was given the job of helping to prepare food and set tables.
“Keep that cap on, or we’ll never hear the end of it.” Madam Vivian warned her. “Always wear one those aprons,” she gestured to the hook by the hall door. “And,” she continued her list of instructions as Sarah donned an apron, “never speak to a guest!”
“Never?” Sarah asked very puzzled by this.
“Better yet,” Madam Vivian seemed to change her mind as knock sounded on the back door, “just don’t go into the Manor Hall at all.”
“Okay,” Sarah responded curiously. “So what should I do?”
Lady Vivian pursed her lips as she opened the back door and let in two women. One of them was Margaret.
“Thank the Gods!” Margaret embraced Sarah. “The Lady was fearful for you, though she worried about her son more but...”
“You know Goodwoman Sarah?” Madam Vivian looked from the young girl with whom she’d been speaking.
Margaret was startled by the question. “That I do. I’ll put her in charge of soup unless, of course, you wanted her to do something else.”
“Better than having her serve without prior instructions,” Lady Vivian stated, “which she apparently hasn’t had.”
“Leave me to it,” Margaret assured the Madame, “I know whose coming up to help, you go attend the ceremony.”
“To think,” Lady Vivian’s hands wrung as she left the kitchen via the front door, “A Knight’s memorial.” Her voice sounded near tears.
“Now,” Margaret looked about as two more women appeared, “Sarah, you’ll be in charge of soup. Make it as fancy as you can for as many people as you can.”
“Right,” Sarah saluted the woman gaining odd looks form the others.
Not minding that she instructed Ryan to get the fire nice and hot in the fireplace that was obviously meant for soups. Unsure of how to make a soup fancy she turned back to Margaret
“Would a cream soup be okay?”
“A what soup?” Margaret looked up from her discussion with the others.
“A cream soup,” Sarah stated. “You know, a thick rich soup made with cream?”
“I can’t say I do know, but see what you can find in the root cellar and then tell me what you need. As soon as Hickory is here I’ll be making a market trip for the meat and anything else we want.”
Sarah nodded and headed down with the young girl. Thankfully, the girl had brought down a torch and lit a couple others that lined the wall, or Sarah wouldn’t have been able to see a thing. Unlike at Griffon’s and Bear’s the light did not pour in from the kitchen and illuminate what was there. It wasn’t hard to tell that the fall harvest was in full swing.
Deciding upon carrots, potatoes and peas Sarah brought an armful up to her station. Hickory, she noted, was standing by the door and Margaret quickly joined Sarah.
“All right, what do you need for this soup of yours?”
“Just cream or milk even, but” Sarah looked into the pot, “I guess I’d need a gallon or so.”
“A gah what?”
Sarah smiled. Apparently, gallon was another word she could toss out the window. “How about a milk pail’s worth?”
Margaret furrowed her brows in thought for a moment. “Annabelle bring me the empty milk jug.” The young woman immediately did so. “I can get you about two of these with the Ceremony money, but I’ve got to save the rest for the meat and cheese.”
“That,” Sarah nodded, “would be perfect.”
Margaret nodded and left with Hickory. The other women realized Ryan’s usefulness after Sarah had sent him out for water and wood. Soon the little boy was darting to and fro, fetching things from outside or down in root cellar. Sarah had boiled her first batch of potatoes and carrots when Margaret and Hickory came back from the market.
The meat was skewered and roasting, the breads were baking and Sarah’s soup simmered. The kitchen became filled with pleasant chatter and the smell of good food. They all took turns at the meat spit, keeping the whole pig rotating at an even rate.
Taking a break from the meat, Sarah checked her soup and banked the fire. The coals would keep her potato, carrot and pea chowder warm. Margaret handed her a dozen soup tureens to warm in the ashes. Not long after, Annabelle removed the bread from its oven to cool.
A triple knock on the door interrupted their chatter and the kitchen was suddenly a flurry of activity again. Two of the women hoisted the roast from the spit to the table. The bread was sliced and Sarah began to ladle her soup into hot tureens.
“Sarah,” Margaret spoke to her. “Since, I presume, you’ve never served at a Ceremony before, I ask that you stay in here and refill any platter or tureen that is brought back empty.”
It wasn’t long after the first load was served that a platter came back for refill. Sarah was kept busy for the next couple of hours carving meat, slicing bread and dishing up chowder. Finally, Margaret came back in. Shaking her head she stopped Sarah from piling more meat on the tray.
“Time to clean up.” Margaret held the door to let the other women through. “Bundle up the leftovers,” she called over her shoulder. “We’ll bring them to the Orphanage tonight.”