“Oh goodness, where’d you pop up from.” Margaret nearly bumped into Sarah as she entered the kitchen. “Never mind, since you look set to work, I might as well put you to work.”
“But she...” a confused Annabelle began to say.
“She’s here as Lordling Jason’s fiancée, Annabelle,” Margaret explained kindly. “She’s also the same Sarah that was here a month ago for Madame training.”
“Oh?” Annabelle looked even more puzzled.
“And with Lilly sick,” Margaret continued, “I can use the extra hands. If Lord Robert knows she’s up for work, then he might be a bit kinder to her.”
“We can only hope.” Hickory entered from the yard with a load of wood. “Heard him arguing with Lordling Gregory late last night when the boy decided to stumble in.”
“Oh, I wish some girl could straighten him out.” Margaret sighed. “He’s going to be the death of our Lord someday.”
“Why?” Sarah asked as she set to work slicing bread.
“He’s got two bastard children by two different women and if that weren’t drain enough on the finances, he spends his allowance as if he was drinking water. He’d just as soon bed a pretty girl as he would look at her,” Margaret fussed.
“So you just watch yourself around him,” Hickory advised. He leaned in close to Sarah as Annabelle passed by to whisper the rest. “When Guinevere was here, before her Tri-Luna, he tried his moves on her. Thankfully the other boys were around and put him in his place.”
Sarah chuckled as she could imagine Jason’s reaction to that sort of thing. “Don’t worry about me,” Sarah whispered back. “It wouldn’t be the first time I had to put a boy in his place.”
Hickory looked at her one eyebrow raised. “Now that would be something I’d like to see.”
“What would you like to see?” Margaret asked as she returned from the root cellar, arms loaded with cheese.
Hickory leaned over and whispered in her ear. Sarah watched the elderly woman’s eye widen and then twinkle with amusement as she looked to Sarah. “Aye, that would be a sight to see. Should think she’d be the one to do it if anyone could, given everything.”
“Do what?” Annabelle asked as she filled a pitcher a third time.
“Start the fire in Lordling Gregory’s room dear,” Margaret quickly answered, taking the pitcher from Annabelle. “Be a dear won’t you?” She handed the pitcher to Sarah. “Just go up to the second floor and across the hall. He’s likely snoring, if he was out drinking last night.”
“Should I wake him?” Sarah asked noticing that breakfast was nearly ready.
“Tempting,” Hickory smiled, “but you may as well leave him to sleep.”
“Alright.” Sarah shrugged and took the fire tender and water up to the second floor.
Sarah smiled. She could have found Lordling Gregory’s room by the loud snores without any other directions. Entering the room she resisted the urge to pour the water on his face rather than in the basin. In his sleeping state he resembled Jason as much as a cow. Not that he was ugly, but his face was much more finally set giving him a dandy look. At least, it would be dandy, if his mouth wasn’t hanging open.
Sarah laughed to herself as she got the fire going. How attractive the girls must find his line of drool. She started as he emitted a loud snort and the bed creaked, but he was only shifting in his sleep. Gathering the pitcher and fire tender Sarah stood and left.
“Goodness child! Soot on your skirts already?” Lady Abigail chided as soon as Sarah set foot in the kitchen.
“She came down asking to help,” Margaret stated. “I must have forgotten to give her an apron.”
Sure enough when Sarah looked down there was soot going up her skirt. She brushed it off as best she could with Margaret’s help.
“Never mind the soot.” Lady Abigail flourished a hand making Sarah smile. “Breakfast is ready to be served, come help me set the table, child.”
Sarah followed the gliding petite figure across the hall and into the dining room. There they gathered dishes from the built-in cupboards and set the table for seven.
“Not that I think Gregory will be joining us this morning,” Lady Abigail sighed.
“I did offer to wake him up,” Sarah mentioned as they walked back to the kitchen.
“Good gracious,” another hand flourished in Sarah’s direction, “no need for that.” Lady Abigail sighed. “He must lie in the bed he made. Gods know I’ve tried to help him.”
As Sarah and Lady Abigail ferried dishes to the dining room table while Annabelle moved down the hall. They had just set the last dish down when a bell rang out. It startled Sarah slightly, but only Margaret noticed her reaction.
“Bell by the stair well to let them all know that breakfast is ready,” the elderly servant commented quietly.