‘But what can I do?’ Beatrix wailed, angrily kicking a toadstool. Its dust puffed up into the air, sparkling in the sunlight. ‘I need to help somehow. I thought I’d be more use out here, but I’m just completely useless. It’s ridiculous... All I’m doing is being a burden to others who, quite frankly, can’t take care of themselves, let alone anyone else. If only these outlaws were organised enough to be of some use.’
Carla frowned. ‘But, Milady, they are organised.’
‘Huh, they don’t seem very organised to me. All running around in the mud, barely enough clothes, not to mention the ghastly food! And these pitiful excuses for tents! No wonder they’re all half-starved idiots without a sense of decency or personal hygiene! It’s abominable!’
Carla and Beatrix often had differences of opinion, but it had never been Carla’s position to speak out. Before now. Here, they were on an equal level, or as near as dammit.
‘Milady... I hope you don’t think this rude of me... But I think the outlaws are very organised. Everyone has a different job according to their skills. These houses must have taken weeks to build, and yet there are millions of them! And the clothes that you think are worth nothing are a right sight better than those lots of people have. Just because what they have isn’t as good as what you have doesn’t mean they’re useless.’
Beatrix was so astonished she forgot to tell Carla off. How dare she, a serving girl, speak in such a way to her, the Countess of Yild? What did she mean by it? What made her think it was remotely acceptable? If they’d been at home...
But this was yet another sentence she was never to finish. Its ending would remind her of the home she’d lost. And that was too painful for her to contemplate.
A trickle of doubt slid down her spine. Even more painful to contemplate: what if Carla was right?