Sarah was awake the instant the cold water hit her face. If Chester had been any closer he’d have been pinned. Ready to attack, Sarah stood crouched. Sunlight warmed her back and it slowly dawned upon her that she was no longer in her cell.
“You’re safe for now.”
Chester snorted as Sarah turned to face the female speaker. She was the one James had handed her clothing to the day she’d arrived. Straightening up, Sarah smiled.
“And you are Sarah,” the woman shrugged. “You’re to bathe,” Sharon indicated a filled tub, "and then to cook.”
A bath sounded heavenly, cold or hot, however, Chester still stood by the closed door. “Do you mind?” Sarah asked him.
“General’s orders,” he snarled at her. “I’m here to watch you, make sure you don’t try anything.”
“And what am I going to do? Drown myself in the bath?” Sarah rolled her eyes.
Chester stepped forwards and Sarah’s hands clenched into fists. His face was inches from hers.
“I don’t know who you are,” he hissed, “or why you’ve been spouting nonsense. But, you can’t shake me.”
“Fine. Watch if you like,” Sarah retorted back, “but you can’t touch; pain of death per the General’s orders.”
Chester shrugged and leaned back against the door. Stripping, Sarah felt Chester’s eyes roam over her body. She seriously hoped that she’d be able to keep the willow cloth rags. It wasn’t that she minded being naked, but losing contact with Jason was disconcerting. She suddenly wondered how the troops were faring; hopefully better than her.
“Playing weak will keep you alive longer,” Sharon whispered as she helped to scrub Sarah.
“I wish I could,” Sarah sighed, “but I’ve got issues with authority.”
“Then you best take care or you’ll be forced sooner rather than later,” Sharon remarked.
Sarah would have replied but the woman poured a bucket of the cold water over her head.
“She’s had enough,” Chester looked bored. “Get her out and dressed. General will want something to eat soon.”
Sarah picked up the pants on the bed.
Sarah? Jason’s voice echoed in her head as Chester exclaimed, “That ain’t a skirt.”
“Couldn’t find anything else suitable,” Sharon told him as Sarah slipped on the pants.
Doing fine, Sarah responded to Jason. I just got a bath, and someone is on our side as I’ve just put my Willow pants back on.
Chester glared at Sharon as Sarah donned the shirt and vest she’d been given. Once she was dressed, Sharon led them through the Great Hall. There were men there, sitting at the tables. A few of them looked up and called out to Sharon. She walked them past the empty dais and through the opposite door. There. Sarah found herself in a mirror image hall of the one they’d just left.
“East Kitchen,” Sharon opened a door on the left, letting Sarah and Chester pass.
Despite the high ceilings, the kitchen was dark and dirty. Not much light came in through the windows, which slanted upwards through the wall. A couple servants looked up from chopping vegetables.
“You have the left hearth and sink,” Sharon informed Sarah. “Cook for four, as good as you can make it. Alice and Betty will fetch anything you need. And you,” she turned to Chester, “Senior Captain Chester can sit there and watch. Get in her way and I’ll personally tell the General it was you who messed up his dinner.”
Well, Sarah informed Jason, I’m Wholawski’s cook again.
Good, Jason’s relief echoed her own.