He is smartly dressed. He is in good shape, with a handsome face (clean-shaven). Dark hair and blue eyes. However, he has a frown carved into his face, which spoils him entirely. I don't see any one bow or curtsy and forget to, which draws his attention to me. "Something wrong with your knees, girl?" he says with a deep voice. I notice everyone staring at me, particularly the two girls who had given me instructions today who were giggling and snickering. I look back at him, annoyed at him humiliating me.
"No." I say.
"Then why is it you do not curtsy?" he says. Instead of answering I just incline my head and curtsy. Before I finish, he is already past me and walkng up to the house to greet his father walking out of the door. I look back at the girls who were giggling. They were now staring at Bastian's back adoringly. Besotted.
After completing a few chores, I am called to the study, where I find, not Lord Neville, but Bastian sitting in a big arm-chair. I curtsy. "You is it? Hmm. I was told that you were the one who made up my room." I nod. "Yes well, I don't like flowers and the sheets you put on, were the ones the other servants had just taken off." It takes me a moment to realise that it must have been those girls trying to get me into trouble. Well, I know who to stay away from now. "Well?" I look back to him, remembering that he is there. "Aren't you going to justify yourself?"
"I am new. I arrived today and when I turned to others for help, that's what I was instructed to do, so pardon me, but maybe you shouldn't be questioning my capablities, but rather the character of the people your father employs." He looks both angry and confused by my tone and how outspoken I am.
"I do not care about who they are, but how well they work. However, you seem to be the exception here, for right now I do care about your personality miss,"
"Ethelreda." I supply.
"miss Ethelreda and I must tell you to remember that I am your master and am important and that you must treat me so. Get out." he says with barely a wave of his hand. I curtsy and leave, infuriated.
I sit down for dinner, quite far away from the head of the table than what I'm used to. I hear the master and one of the men-farmers talking about expenses and of how the sheep have no where to go after their field was flooded. They discuss how expensive it would be to have a new plot of land bought and fencing too and despite the master having lots of money, whether it would be worth it seeing as the field would dry out for spring. They go into this with great length, until I have an idea. "Excuse me, Master, but might I be granted permission to speak?" Everyone turns to me.
"Of course, my dear." he says with amusement playing on his lips.
"I do believe you own cows." he nods. "Well then, all you need to do is put the sheep in with the cows." the farmer-man intervenes now.
"If only it were that simple, there wouldn't be enough grass for them both."
"But it is that simple," the farmer-man frowns. "The cows eat the grass down to a certain length, the sheep are then able to eat the grass too short for the cows. We had to do the same thing at my father's when there was a hole in the fence. This means you do not have to waste any money." The master turns to his son.
"This is my friend Thomas Montague's daughter, Ethelreda." Bastian frowns, somehow deeper than normal.
"Your father is Thomas Montague? Well then, that explains your lack of propriety." forgetting my place, I say.
"By all means, sir, insult me. But don't you ever-EVER-insult my father." his face remains the same, which angers me most. Then I realise my stupidity and keep my head down until I hear the master speak.
"I was about to tell him that as well, however I couldn't think of the right words." he chuckles. Everyone stops staring at me now and continues eating.
After dinner, I just go straight to bed unable to think anymore.
The next morning, I wake before dawn to dress and start chores. I am called at first light to the master's room for him to tell me to order the servants to make him breakfast. I then carry on with my chores until just before lunch when I find a crack of time to read something of my father's.
I hear footsteps coming down the path to where I am sat in a stable. A skullery maid pops her head round the corner, her former expression of concern turning to relief when she sees me. "I have been looking for you, miss." I place my papers on my lap noting where I finished. "The master wishes to see you. I have been looking for you for the past fifteen minutes.
"Lord Neville?" I ask, hoping that it would be him and not the arrogant son, the rumours of who all seeming very informed.
She shakes her head. "The master Bastian, miss."
Papers in hand, I walk to where I was informed Bastian is waiting.
I find him in his father's studyroom again, usual frown still lining his face. He could look young if he weren't always frowning. I curtsy. "You sent for me, sir?"
"Yesterday, you showed a lack of manners and managed to humiliate me infront of the whole household. Remember your place, girl, or I will show you it." I simply curtsy, the only thing stopping me from tearing him apart piece-by-piece.
"Will that be all, sir?"
"What is that?" he inclines his head to the papers. "In your hand?"
"Something my father wrote. Nothing of any importance, sir." I say moving my hand further behind my back.
"My father tutored me, sir." he studies me for a minute, then waves his hand; my cue to leave.
For the rest of the day, I do my chores in silence. I don't even talk to my fellow maids. I go to bed and sleep a restless night.
YOU ARE READING
A Tudor Girl named Ethelreda lives as a maid in a grand house. But things do not go to plan. The master's son- a spoiled, arrogant, rude man with no regard for anyone but himself- and two mischievous children make her life extraordinarily difficult...