Chapter 6.2 – Day 1 – Afternoon
The lunch was grand. The bread, fruits, stews and meats to choose from were abundant, and it wasn’t like the waste buckets filled that quickly so I could relax quite a bit… As long as it wasn’t building up too much. Even if it did, there were at least seven spare buckets (in light of the chambermaid’s position being vacant for so long) in case one was filled too quickly, so if it rained, I could simply store the filled buckets at the garden shed temporarily.
The dishes were lying on the servants’ hall and countertop in a messy buffet-style arrangement, but there was too much food and not enough furniture to display them all on one table anyway. It was far from the eyes of the Greyfields so personally I didn’t think the presentation mattered too much. Besides, it was good. There was little to complain about good food that was vastly better in quality than my usual meals.
If anything, it exemplified clearly why Etoile was able to secure the role of chef. The cheese and bread, probably simple foods purchased from the towns nearby, tasted incredible! The soft bread was toasted not just on the surface, but also on the small cuts beneath! It had a heavy bread smell like it was fresh off a bakery. The way she captured the taste and aroma was already comparable with gourmet foods. Even the grain crumbs tasted a lot better than the barley bread I usually had.
And the bacon, oh, the fragrant smell of bacon! Crispy on the outside and chewy within, the grease amplifying the fragrance, it was great to finally have a meal that had meat for once. I wouldn’t be able to rake up enough to eat it every week, yet the Greyfields could enjoy it every day if they wished. A slight tinge of envy welled up within me, but nevertheless I could get used to this sort of extravagance. It’s hard to imagine the buffet before my eyes as leftovers of the masters.
Would there be similar foods in Salel? I didn’t know. From what I’ve heard, it was more of a post station town rather than a formal city, so there shouldn’t be segregated quarters for the nobles or commonfolk. With any luck, the mushroom-shaped meat bun stall vendor would be there somewhere selling his food. Or maybe some other cuisine would show itself and I’d have more to tell Chaunne. Geez, what was I doing thinking about food again? Alnus would call me a pig for wanting to eat more after I just had my fill.
It was strange how Lady Linvelle seemed fine with me having more free time compared to the other maids. Or was there something in my work I missed? It gnawed me back into tension, and I carefully inspected the privies once more while sweeping the floor and topping off the sconces with oil. But I almost smashed the glass cover with the broom’s handle by accident.
The merits of the tainted glass sconces were offset by the dangers of breaking it by accident, so that’s something to consider when buying one. Maybe I should buy a kind of basket-weave rustic steel shielding for my house instead? That would darken the room a bit, but it was better than having a sconce shielding prone to breaking.
Not to mention that having to sweep broken glass when it broke in the dark was dangerous as well. That would be counter-intuitive, and defeat the purpose of getting shielding in the first place. And the cost, oh dear, the replacement would also cost a fortune. The best choice would be a basket weave shield, then. I’ll have to ask around when I returned to Prot.
After making my rounds, I poured back the excess oil from the pitcher into the pot and set it upside down so the remainder would drip with time. As a support, I wedged the pitcher in place with a knife rack nearby to keep it from falling. Huh? Wait, the utility room… It looked like a worn-out kitchen, with walls lined full of crockery and ladles. I never noticed that in the morning, since the door was closed and the place was much darker. Was this the old servants’ kitchen before the manor underwent restructuring? I guess it also doubled as a delivery door, given the parcel lying at the doorway.
The merits of having a kitchen for servants’ meals wasn’t that relevant with the current structure of the Greyfields, but what about future events or parties? If the other nobles caught onto the fact that their children were all here, wouldn’t it leave a sour impression on both the accomplices and observers? I might be reading too much into that, maybe they’ll revive the kitchen when the time comes.
Pots, buckets, pans, cutlery and ladders, it was practically littered with miscellaneous stuff. There’s also a long sword hanging from the wall! Was that a real sword?! Well gee, it’s anybody’s guess why Lady Greyfield would be afraid of servants who could just dismount it and stab anyone they see with the blade!! What were they thinking, placing a sword in the middle of the servants’ kitchen?!?
Okay, calm down. Think about it logically. It might have been placed or mounted during, or after the restructuring. But it was strange how an exquisite sword was placed here in the utility room. Why wasn’t it in the hall, or the dining room where it could be displayed as a trophy for others? The sword was by no means plain, it had an oak-coloured body with intricate gold embellishments around the locket and chape, so using it as decoration would be a good idea. There was also the possibility that it was purely décor, and not an actual weapon, but it seemed too expensive to be wasted on a trophy… Or maybe that was the point.
It wasn’t like my opinion could be easily implemented anyway. Even if I did request for the sword to be placed in the hallway, where would it be displayed? How would it be displayed, on the wooden plaque like the one mounted here? They would need to tear down the walls and prepare a mounting to hang the plaque from. Something like that was best done before the furniture was carried in, or the risk of soiling the carpet irreversibly was too risky.
If it were on a display rack, then space had to be allocated to present it in a way that did not obstruct the pristine design and layout of the various baubles already present in the hallway. Strictly speaking, it was not necessary for the sword to be displayed in the hallway; the master’s bedchambers were just as viable. But having never entered the room myself, I dared not imagine how cluttered their walls already were for an ornate piece to collect dust in the utility room.
I finished tidying up the buckets and pitchers I used before heading back to my room for a proper closure of the day. Frankly, the laborious task had taken more out of me than I wished it did. Trudging down to the forest, helping with the buckets, walking about for hours on end, the fatigue ingrained itself on the arch of my feet. As though someone tying two large smooth stones beneath my soles wasn’t enough, the calves of my feet were also throbbing from overexertion.
The difference between an active job as a maid and a sedentary job as a tailor was as pronounced as the soreness was to me. I was single-mindedly compelled, with a vigour I never knew I had, to rest in my room and rub out my feet till daybreak. Geez, many would prattle that the first day on the job was the most tiring, but it felt to me that the days to come would only grow longer.