"Euphadora! Euphadora! Where in hells name is that old bat?"
She became aware of a man shouting and opened her eyes. What on earth...? Clattering on the stairs roused her further and she sat up in the chair, blinking. Stone walls, a giant hearth, and two kitchen maids who were staring at her.
"What? What are you looking at?" She asked and then blinked. Her voice sounded strange. Probably just thirsty she decided, and stood. She blinked again. She seemed... taller. What the...?
A man appeared at the bottom of the stairs, half dressed, a pair of trousers grasped in his fist.
"Where's Euphadora?" He asked, looking at the two maids, and then at her. It was his turn to blink. "And who are you?" He didn't say it rudely, not completely, but his tone was fixed between annoyance, bewilderment and flirtation. Flirtation?
"Euphadora." She replied. Her voice still sounded strange. She cleared it. "What's wrong?"
"Euphadora is an old biddy. You're about nineteen I'd say."
Euphadora laughed and rolled her eyes at him.
"Master Edward, what are you doing in my kitchen half clothed? These young ladies shouldn't be seeing you like this." She turned and hurried the two giggling maids out of the kitchen and in to the yard. When she'd firmly closed the door she put her hands on her hips and turned to the young master again. "Now, what's all this about?"
"Euphadora said she'd press my trousers for me; I want to go out in to the town. It's the carnival. Kindly find her immediately."
"Master Edward, stop your foolishness. I won't take it in my kitchen. Hand me the trousers."
"But... how...?" He was lost for words, and seemed rather more confused than angry now.
"Hand me the trousers." He did so, and as Euphadora reached forward she saw her hand. Only it wasn't her hand. Gone were the wrinkles and creases and scars that had been there the night before. Now her hand was smooth, like a baby's cheek, and with well polished fingernails on each hand. She snatched it back and stared.
"Are you going to take the trousers or not?" She glanced up and saw Master Edward had regained his usual couldn't care less attitude.
"Yes, of course." She murmured and took the trousers, still marvelling at her hands.
"And get Euphadora to see me as soon as she gets back! I won't tolerate laziness, especially not this month."
"Why not this month?" Euphadora asked, staring absent mindedly at her new hands.
"Because everything needs to be perfect for when the King arrives."
"The King... oh yes I remember..." Master Edward looked closely at her, eyes narrowed. "I remember Euphadora telling me."
"Well you can tell her I need to see her, and I want those trousers yesterday." He disappeared up the stairs without a backwards glance. Euphadora dropped the trousers on the chair and ran to the small toilet down the corridor. On the wall hung a small cracked mirror which she now peered in to.
"What the-?" Her rough skin was gone, and replaced by smooth, beautiful skin; her eyes were light and bright blue, her lips pert and plump. Everything had been... reworked. Euphadora stared. What in the name of the seasons was going on? She had to be dreaming. But... the dream. The dream... something pushed at the corner of her mind.
"Grandmother?" Someone pounded on the bathroom door, pushing the thought to the back of her mind. She had to think of some excuse to stay here, to figure out what had been going on.
The maid, Ena, backed away from the door as it swung quickly open and the impressive figure of Euphadora appeared.
"Erm... have you seen Grandmother?"
"She's gone to visit a relative. Left me in charge."
"Oh... who are you?"
"Euph... um... my name is Maria... Maria Stockett." She didn't see why she couldn't keep the same last name at least. "I'm her... Granddaughter."
"And she told me everything I needed to know before she left, so don't think that just because she's not here you can start taking those week day trips to see your man in town Ena."
Ena blushed bright red and nodded, obviously having been thinking that she would be able to.
Put your foot down Euphadora she thought, as long as you're in control no one is going to complain.
"Right, I have some trousers to press and you and Jane still have a lot to do before the King arrives this afternoon. Get going." She clapped her hands and Ena scuttled off. There, thought Euphadora, that'll set her straight. Now, to sort those trousers out, and figure out what the hell has happened to me.