Diana was greeted by a straggly-haired girl in a servants' uniform that she hadn't seen before. The girl had huge brown eyes, and dark brown hair that was floating around her face in whisps. She was very thin, even thinner than Diana, who was considered very thin.
Diana stood staring at the girl by the door, waiting for her to speak. Only when she didn't answer would the girl realise that she was mute, then she would no doubt bombard Diana with questions.
Belle was greeted by a rosy-cheeked girl, with brown curly hair and the greenest eyes she had ever seen. She was very thin for an aristocrat, but then again, maybe there was a new fashion that just hadn't come out yet amongst the poor.
Belle stood staring at the girl standing outside the door, waiting for her to speak. Soon she would realise that she was mute, and would probably bomard her with questions.
The two of them stood silently by the door, watching each other. It was like time had slowed down. Then with a jolt they both realised who the other was.
This must be Madame Diana Le Testhmus!realised Belle. The one who's mute! No wonder she isn't talking!
This must be my new servant girl. I wonder why she isn't talking? Perhaps she is too stunned by me? Diana worried. She reached into her bag and pulled out another slate, but this time it was smaller than the one up in her room.
It's alright, I'm mute, that's why I can't talk. The white words were easily distinguishable on the slate.
Belle stared dumbly at the slate. Was she meant to read it? She shook her head and pointed to her mouth. Then her throat, then she tried to summon up her voice again but nothing came out. She hoped that this would do the trick.
Diana stared at Belle. What is she trying to say? That she's mute? She can't be! Graddy said there was no-one else like me!
Belle shook her head again and acted it out. But this time, when she tried to summon up her voice, tears sprung to her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. She bit her lip.
She really is mute, Diana thought. This can't be a joke because only mute people would know the hopeless feeling. The feeling of losing something and knowing you'll never get it back. Worse, we were born with it, and we never even got to use that something. Tears sprung to Diana's eyes too.
Belle knew that Diana had understood as soon as a fat tear rolled down her rosy cheek. Belle stepped back and allowed Diana space to walk in the threshold.
Diana sat down on the servant's table and put her head in her hands. This wasn't going to plan. What was she to do now? When she had planned to swap with someone, she hadn't planned on the someone to be another mute girl. After all, she had thought she was the only one. If she was to swap with someone and become a servant, that someone would have to be someone with a voice, someone who can manage affairs and the rest. She wanted to have a owner who could pay her wages and take care of her, and if the girl was mute, it wouldn't work because the girl couldn't do what she couldn't do.
Diana sighed. She had planned it out so carefully. All she had to do was get a servant girl, swap places with her - no-one would notice because her great aunt rarely even talked about Diana anyway and hardly anyone knew her - and the servant girl could do all that Diana couldn't do when her aunt died and she would pay her servants and Diana would be paid as well because she would be a servant too. That way she might have more chances of living, instead of being kicked out onto the street when Madame Marryanne Le Testhmus died.
Belle stood staring at Diana. Diana sat motionless at the servants' table, her head in her hands. Belle turned around and closed the door behind her, then she gently went to Diana and touched her shoulder. Diana looked up, worry clearly etched all over her face.
Belle motioned towards Diana's room, and she nodded. Diana stood up and started climbing up the long staircase that led into her room. Belle followed. Instead of going through the grand door on her left that led to her room, Diana went through the right door. It was a small, red door, with etchings on the sides painted gold. There was a small brass handle that needed a small hand to open. Luckily, Diana's hand was small, so the oiled hinges opened quite smoothly.
Diana stepped in through the doorway and then brushed her dress off. Belle stood politely outside, patiently waiting for Diana to come back out. Or maybe she wanted Belle to go back to the servants' quarters. She hesitated.
Diana impatiently motioned Belle inside. Surprised, Belle stepped towards the door and banged her head on the low doorframe. The loud bang echoed down the long stairwell. Diana put her finger on her lips and grabbed Belle's hand. Belle was pulled inside quite forcefully by such a thin girl.
Then Diana closed the small red door. Belle looked around the room. There were two small red couches, embroidered with gold edging and gold swirls. Between the swirls there was red suede, and they looked quite comfortably fluffed. There were two red cushions on each couch, and they too were embroidered with gold. There were no windows, but a small crack in the plaster let some light in. The thin sliver of light filtered through the crack and fell onto a small side table. It was wooden like the one in Diana's room, but less fancy. The walls were painted red with fancy wallpaper. There was no carpet but the floor was painted red too. The whole room was a mass of red and gold swirls.
Diana sat down in the nearest couch and put her head in her hands like she did before. She shook her head once, then again. Diana slowly raised her head and sat there, thinking. If the only way to communicate with this girl is by writing, and this girl can't read, then she will have to learn. Diana scrutinized Belle thoughtfully. This girl was as much as a surprise to her as her next plan, but she would have to improvise on the situation.
After some minutes Diana stood up and went out of the room without waiting for Belle. She had a new plan.