Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hilda XVII: The Butler's Pantry

Well with Christmas round the corner I finally have a few days off.
I hope the opportunity to relax will allow me to find the mindset to get back into writing.
I have been working so hard that when I have a moment not a great deal seems to happen.

I don’t think it is “writer’s block”.
Just exhaustion.

This week’s scene sees Hilda in terror over being summoned to the Butler’s pantry.

Oh and so you don't think I am contradicting myself, I wrote this a few weeks ago...

1912
‘Hilda,’ the butler’s eyes sought her out, ‘I would like you to come into my pantry after breakfast.’
Hilda’s stomach twisted itself into knots. What could it be? Had Leeanne been complaining about her again? Had one of the family seen her when she took the main stair as a short-cut the other morning?
She sat miserably through the rest of breakfast. Being scullery maid was so hard, the endless drudgery grinding at her every day. Being told off for something petty just about made it unbearable.
She was stacking the breakfast things by the sink when Mrs Garraway came up beside her, ‘Leave those now Duck, they’ll wait. Mr Young wants to see you.’
Hilda turned on the tap and held her hands under the stream of water, anything to delay just a moment longer. Rubbing them quickly with soap then drying them on a tea towel. She checked her apron was straight turned toward the butler’s pantry.
More a cross between a sitting room and an office the butler’s pantry was like no kitchen pantry Hilda had ever known. In one corner the heavy barred door that led to the strongroom where the silver plate and other valuables of the household were stored. Hilda’s heart sank to her ankles as she saw not only Mr Young, but Mrs Smither in the pantry.
Were they going to dismiss her?
She hated the job, but being dismissed as a scullery maid would be as a sure sign that she was of little worth as there could be. Then she noticed Monsieur Glanville in the corner, and Mrs Garraway was following her into the room.
‘Now Hilda,’ smiled Mr Young, ‘come and sit here across from me.’
That was hopeful, she had heard that those who were dismissed were made to stand in front of his desk. ‘You’ve been with us for a year now,’ said the butler, ‘how are you finding it?’
Was it a trap?
Was she meant to trip herself up with a disrespectful complaint?
She hesitated, ‘I like it well enough. The work is hard, but I work with a nice bunch, and Mrs Smither is very nice.’
She was too Hilda thought, very strict as a woman in her position had to be, but fair too.
‘Thank you child.’ Said Mrs Smither, Hilda thought she saw her hide a smile.
‘Now Hilda,’ said Mr young, ‘the reason I have asked you here this morning…’ Here it comes thought Hilda, ‘is to see if you would be agreeable to taking an apprenticeship with Monsieur Glanville.’
Hilda was sure her mouth popped open, for a moment she could do nothing but stare at them, she hadn’t imagined anything of the sort being offered to her.
Her capacity to dream had been crushed into a scullery maid’s world, ‘I…’ she licked her lips, what should she say?
It wasn’t something she had ever wanted, or imagined, but one day being in charge of a kitchen like Mrs Garraway? Surely that was better than moving up to a maid? ‘You see,’ interrupted the French chef, ‘since zat day when you ‘elp with ze pastry I have watched when you ‘elp Mrs Garraway. You ‘as strong ‘ands but with a delicate touch, and you are quick and clever. If you work ‘ard I can use you, can teach you.’
Hilda met his eye before turning to the Butler, ‘Yes, Mister Young, yes if I can, yes please. I’ll do my best.’
‘I am sure you will. Now as a matter of course we have to ask your father, and he will have to sign the papers. Apart from that you can start as soon as Mrs Smither finds a scullery maid to take your place.’

1 comment:

John Gray said...

happy christmas al