Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Servant Girl

This is a picture I did a few years ago. I forgot all about it. I would like to do more portrait type work like this. I really enjoyed it!

The Servant Girl is going wonderfully the last few days, even if everything else is kind of nuts. I'm trying to work on Vision, but that's just not going all that great. I'll get there, but it's kind of an annoyance right now to try and get it put together.

Just too many other things going on, I guess! End of the month and a ton of stuff I need to get done. So what do I do? I work on The Servant Girl because it's going to well and I really enjoy it. I'll pay for that later, I'm sure.

I don't really have time to try and come up with anything interesting to say. It's just not going to happen tonight. So here is a snippet of the novel and I'll just get back to work!

The Servant Girl

Beth leaned down against the scrub brush and pushed, forcing an ugly paste of brown mud up from between the stone tiles of the floor. It came reluctantly, and as she swiped at it with the cloth from the bucket, she again wondered how long it had been since anyone did this work. Mrs. Wynith hated her -- she knew it -- and always sent her to do the worst jobs in the castle. Beth had been working in this long, drafty hall for two days already, cleaning the area from the practice yard to the soldier's quarters in the lower level of Westmark Castle. People tracked from the yard through the building and out again, rarely glancing at the girl who so diligently worked to scrub away the signs of their passage.

She rested back on her heels a moment, listening to the din of sword practice beyond the half-arched windows to the left. For a moment two of the soldiers paused there, a man and a woman, leaning back and resting from the exertion.

"It's going to be damned crowded in quarters when the new recruits get here," the man said with a shake of his head. "Damn I hate preparing for war."

"We all do, except for a few of the really crazy ones. Or the children who don't know any better. It's going to be trouble --"

"You two! Off your lazy asses and back to work!"

They moved away. Beth would have liked to have heard more about the new troops and the war. She had heard talk of it before-- but she never learned what side of the war they meant, or even if they talked about the civil war that wracked the rest of the country. Here, far on the western edge of Ranas, the war sometimes seemed far away.

She reached the end of the hall again, and paused to look at the work. It did look better, and she took some little pride in the work, even as she watched three soldiers track more mud through again. No matter. She could do the work and at least here in this hall she had time to herself, away from the rest of the gaggle of servants. She'd gotten too used to her own company out there during the months she travelled away from Teloris.

Sometimes the memory of everything that had happened made her weep, though in an odd, displaced way, as though someone else really cried and she only looked on. She had lost touch with her emotions and didn't try to reconnect . Better to feel numb in this place filled with strangers who never even saw her. Better not to suffer anger at Mrs. Wynith's petty cruelty. She had a job. She could clean floors if it meant a meal each day and a bed -- no matter how hard -- to sleep in at night. She'd suffered through worse.

She did sometimes worry about the cold in this far western province. It was not even winter yet, which made her shiver a little in anticipation. She and Sondra had gone on a spring journey to the mountains when they were thirteen, and Prince Regent Perin still alive. They'd walked in snow in a high meadow -- amazed and cold, and pleased enough to go back to the lowlands and the warmth of a good fire.

The food ... the food had been wonderful that night.

Beth purposely turned back to the work at hand and buried such thoughts of the past away behind the mechanics of the work: push the brush, swipe with the cloth, rinse in the cold, gray water of the bucket. Push the bucket forward, crawl a little along the cold, wet floor, and start again.

Thoughts came again at the far end of the hall when she paused once more. Beth knew she could have borne this new life without much complaint if only she knew what had become of Sondra. News came so late to this little place and none of it reliable -- at least what the servants heard.

Lord Melton had apparently won followers among some of the Lords, but out here on the edge of the kingdom, people worried less about the civil war in the east and more about what their foreign neighbors would do. What she heard about Sondra was contradictory and sometimes so far fetched that she almost laughed to think anyone believed it. The worst rumors said Melton had Sondra and kept her in prison, or that the ship she had taken to leave port had been caught and sunk. That one frightened her, knowing it might be true. But she also heard that Sondra had given up the throne and taken vows as a priestess of the hearth, to live secluded away from all worldy connections, or that Sondra had reached one of a dozen foreign ports (it changed with each telling) and fell in love with a local prince who pledged himself and an army to help her win back her lands.

A shame Beth no longer believed in fairy tales.
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