Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Still more of The Servant Girl

It's late on Wednesday. I had thought about writing this all day, but one thing after another came up and I didn't get to it. I'd love to say that I've had an interesting day, but I'd have to lie and then come up with interesting things to talk about.

I am still working on The Servant Girl. Still enjoying it, too, when I get a chance to really leap in and work. That hasn't happened very often lately, but I hope to get back to that stage soon. I've had too much real world work the last couple weeks, and I'm still deep into that work, unfortunately. Maybe by next week I'll have a bit more time again. I hope so!

Meanwhile, here is another little bit from the novel. Beth (Eliza) has just been introduced to the scholar in Westmark Castle.

He blustered and frowned, and then gave up the act with a shrug. "It's good to see young minds turned to knowledge. It's what makes us different from the barbarians. Anyone can pick up a sword and swing it -- albeit it takes training to swing one well. But no one can pick up a book and read it without training. No one can do numbers without learning what they mean. We live in a dangerous time, when the barbarians could win if only because we become too much like them."

She nodded, and recalled Lord Terrance's words about speaking about the war, and decided not to pursue that conversation any farther. She thought Master Noah might feel the same way.

"What would you like me to do?" she asked, looking around the room again.

"The books on the higher shelves -- they haven't been dusted in quite a while," he said. "I can't climb the stepladder any more, and bringing the maids in here to do the work makes me far too nervous. They don't understand about fragile books."

She nodded. "You have a cloth or feather duster, perhaps?" she asked, looking around again.

"There in the cupboard," he said, and pointed to the right. "You don't mind dusting, like a maid?"

"This morning I was scrubbing floors," she said with a shrug. "This is much better work."

"Why would you scrub floors?" he asked, startled.

"For a place to stay, a meal, and a few coppers each week."

"To survive," he said with a nod of understanding.

She nodded and said nothing more. They worked in silence for a while, and it was such a wonderful, calm morning that she looked with shock when someone arrived at the door with a basket, disturbing their day.

"Your lunch, Master Noah. Lord Terrance said you had a new helper, so I brought enough for both of you," the young woman said as she hefted the basket onto the table.

"Thank you, Millie. Most kind of you."

Millie looked up, apparently surprised by the words. Beth suspected Master Noah wasn't always in such a good mood.

The girl nodded and left, casting one last appraising look at Beth as she slipped back out the door. There would be talk in the kitchens this afternoon. It even made her smile at the thought of it.

"Come on, girl. Put down the cloth and come have lunch before it goes cold."

He had started unpacking the basket. There seemed food enough for ten inside, and she stopped at the edge of the bookshelves, staring in disbelief at bread, cheese, meat, a decanter of some liquid, goblets, plates, apples already sliced --

Master Noah looked at her again, impatient at first, and then with a look of understanding. He patted the chair beside him, drawing her attention again. "Come and sit down. We'll have a nice, leisurely meal because the brain works better when the body is well fed. Don't you agree?"

"I ... yes, sir. I think so."

"Good. Then let's have a companionable meal together. I eat alone most days, and I grow weary of it -- but it's a long walk down to the hall and the talk there is so often crude. We'll take lunch together and you can take breakfast and dinner with your friends."

"I have no friends, sir."

"Well make some. You'll be a more interesting person for it. And you'll be able to tell me the gossip. All I ever hear about is what the children tell me, and the Gods know they aren't the most reliable sources."
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