When C.C. woke up, she found herself in a strange room. Light and airy, sunlight shimmered in through the large windows and warmed the cozy bedroom. The bed she lay upon was soft and cradled her in its feathery goodness, and as she sat up and looked around, saw that the rest of the room’s furnishings were, while sparse, were made with care and honest handiwork.
“It took some time for her to realize where she was, but when she finally did, immediately ripped back the thick blanket that had been so carefully lay on her. Bare feet hitting the wooden floor, she moved to hop out of bed, when instead, she was suddenly overtaken with dizziness. Closing her eyes, she held her breath as she tried her best not to topple over. What was wrong with her?
Faintly she noticed a quiet knock on the door but was so indisposed, she could do little to hide or answer or even lay back down to pretend as if she were still sleeping. Bright red making her head spin, her visitor’s hair was barely hindered by the kerchief on her head as it cheerfully greeted her.
Setting down a small tray on the dresser, she turned round and placed her hands on her hips as she sternly said, “Before we begin, should you ever need to vomit, please do so in the chamber pot.”
But before the young lady could answer, there was another knock.
“May I come in please?”
Mr. Weinberg stepped inside. His head brushing the ceiling, he bowed slightly before her. “Good afternoon, Ms. C.C. I’m relieved to see that you’re doing much better than the last I saw you.”
“I haven’t got anything to repay you with.”
She saw his smile fade and couldn’t help but feel triumphant. How many times had she told him she had no way to repay him? He had ignored her concerns time and time again, but now, at last, he had finally acknowledged her reality. She watched as he turned his top hat around in his gloved hands.
“Well, if you really insist. I had previously planned on waiting until you were well again, but I see you’re quite earnest about the matter. If you are telling the truth and really have no way to repay me, then I would like to propose an alternative: you may remain under our employment until you have repaid us in full.”
Though it was in no way unheard of for half a dozen scones to fetch such a high price, the fact that the cost was so exorbitant, it would require some form of employment appalled her. Just what kind of a monster was as greedy as this?
“It wouldn’t take long, and it’s not difficult work. Wouldn’t you agree, Kallen?”
Dust settled before Mr. Weinberg clicked the heels of his smart shoes together. “Well, I’ll give you some time to decide. I understand how much of a monumental decision it is. In the meanwhile, please do be kind to her, Kallen. I fear she’s been to hell and back, and kindness comes at no cost.’
Bowing again, he smiled at her briefly before quietly closing the door behind him. Once they were left alone, Kallen brusquely walked towards the windows to rip the curtains aside and open the windows.
“Come on then. We got lots to do before the day ends.”
. . .
“It’s wonderful to see you again, Nunnally. How have you been?”
“Things are so much better now that you’re here.”
“You’re too kind.”
She giggled as he bent down and kissed her hand. Smiling at the young woman, he handled her gently as they made their way towards the imperial mahogany staircase where the master of the house was busily descending, his coattails flying behind him.
“We’re late,” he hissed. “Where have you been?”
“Sorry. There was something I had to take care of before coming here. I’ll explain on the way there.”
His business partner throwing him an expression of annoyance, he turned his back on him as he bent down to kiss his younger sister on the cheek.
“I’ll be home late, but Milly’s due to arrive in a matter of minutes.”
“Don’t worry about me. Good luck with your meeting! I’m sure it’ll go excellently.”
And with a tight squeeze of her thin hands, the businessman accepted the overcoat and hat offered by the maid and slammed the door behind himself. Left alone, Nunnally sighed to herself wistfully; if only her brother approached the task of marrying with as much eagerness as he tended to his company. Perhaps he’d be happier than he was now – no matter the front he may put on before her.