The train ground to a halt. Nervously, I picked up the small case that held my few possessions and got up, walking towards the dors. I pushed it open and climbed out.
The station was noisy. At first I was bewildered. I did not know which way to go to get the house and as far as I knew, nobody was there to meet me. My best bet was to get out and calculate my bearings from there, so I pushed my way through the crowd until I was outside in the street, thought it was not much better there.
At least now I knew where I was. They had described the route from there to the house to me, and I knew where I was going. At least, I thought I did.
Half an hour later, tired and confused, I found myself outside a large house. The front door was bright, shining green; the knocker was brass and in the shape of a lion's head. I had seen knockers like that before, though we did not have one at home because nobody ever knocked when they came to visit us.
I was about to tap the knocker when somebody hissed. "Hey!" they said in a piercing whisper. "Are you here to work?"
I looked around to see that I was being addressed by a girl of about my age, wearing a black dress and greyish apron, and nodded gingerly. "Don't knock on the front door, then," she told me. "Don't you know anything?"
To which the honest answer was 'no'. Fortunately, she took me under her wing: showing me where I was to sleep, introducing me to the other maids, and to the cook and the butler. It was all very bewildering. "What would have happened," I asked quietly, "if I had knocked at the front door?"
"They would have sent you away," she said. "Servants use the servants' entrance and that's how it will always be. You've never done this before, have you?"
"No," I said, quite honestly. "I'm only thirteen. My name is Arianna. What's yours?"
"Claire," she said. "Now, Arianna, I'd better show you how to do your jobs. You don't want a punishment on your first day!" That I did not. I had no idea what sort of punishment would be inflicted here, and I asked her. "Oh, this and that," she said airly. "They might beat you, if you do something really bad."
I could not tell if she was joking.