His Christmas Bride
“Annabelle! What do you think you're doing, girl? If Bernard finds you peeping in there again he's liable to banish you to below stairs,” Sarah said.
“I was only trying to get a peek at the master. I haven't seen him and everything I've heard makes him sound so mysterious. Tilly said he has not left his rooms since he arrived, but I heard Bernard say he met with him in the study. He has to come out sometime,” Annabelle said as she turned and followed Sarah to the back of the townhouse.
“All I’m saying, missy, is you had better take care or you’ll be finding yourself banished to the nether regions of this townhouse -- or worse, looking for new employment,” Sarah continued.
Annabelle smiled behind Sarah’s back and shook her head lightly. The plump house keeper had been a mother to her since hers had died, leaving Annabelle an orphan ten years earlier.
Sarah had woken her in the morning and given her the news of her mother’s death. She had dried Annabelle’s tears and then helped her get dressed and made her a list of chores to make herself useful around the townhouse. Her manner was always brusque, but Annabelle knew it hid a big heart.
Annabelle grabbed her cloak and basket and headed out the back door for her daily trip to the market. While she loved being out of the house, the smells that assailed her once she was on the main streets were overwhelming. The refuse, waste, and unwashed bodies made her wishing this was another’s duty.