Chapter Thirteen

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"Whilst the party is ongoing, I would like you to stay down here and clean up, I'll be cooking for most of the day, so I will need this kitchen spotless for the next day. After that, you can do whatever you see fit just make sure you stay down here. Clear?" Miss Jenkins said, not even looking up from her scribbling.

"Crystal," I replied, pinning my hair up with one final hairpin.

"I know this isn't the best of situations, but it's Miss Matilda's wishes and we cannot go against them."

"I understand. I don't mind staying down here, had she not demanded it, I may have suggested it myself."

Miss Jenkins didn't reply, she continued to lean over the table in the middle of the kitchen and scribble out the remaining items on the shopping list. I had been shaken awake early that morning to join Dr Ealing, Robert and Zachariah on a trip to London City in order to purchase whatever Miss Jenkins didn't have for the party. Why she had chosen me and not Esther was a mystery seeing as my reading wasn't particularly good and I would have to rely on someone else to make sure I was getting it right. I wasn't too keen on the idea of leaning on someone else to make sure I didn't make a mistake but, as I found out later, it was the only job I could have done that morning.

The party was to take place the next evening and Miss Jenkins was running herself ragged trying to make sure everything was perfect. When she had heard that Dr Ealing would be taking Zachariah to the City to buy Matilda a gift, she had jumped at the chance to ask if I could tag along in order to get her missing food items. I had not been told that I was going until that morning when I was woken at the crack of dawn and asked to get dressed. I was still bleary-eyed, half-asleep and wishing I was anywhere but standing in the middle of a relatively cold kitchen waiting for Miss Jenkins to hand me the list. Although the idea of being up so early wasn't ideal, I was glad to be getting out of the house for the first time since I had arrived.

"Make sure you get everything on this list if you can't read something, ask Robert. I can't change my menu so double check it before you get into the carriage. Here is the money." She handed me the list and a small bag of coins that rattled around. "It should be enough, but if not, Dr Ealing has gladly said he would cover whatever shortages there are."

"This is one thing I don't think I can get wrong," I said, smiling.

"We shall see. Dr Ealing should be waiting for you in the hallway, so I won't keep you. Just make sure you check the list and try not to get distracted too much, remember, you have a job to do."

Nodding in response, I tucked the list and the money into the pocket of my apron and left the kitchen, taking the stairs two at a time before stumbling out onto the landing. As I walked towards the front door, Miss Jenkins last words spun through my head at a rapid pace. She had been unhappy with me for listening to Robert playing the piano on the day I pulled Zachariah from the river and had been frustrated that I had paused for an hour to play with Charlotte. Although I knew that was what she was getting at, I couldn't help but wonder if my arm was causing her more hassle then it was me. All my jobs had to be worked around the burn and the bruising, even if that was starting to heal. If the Ealing's kept me on I would have been surprised, if Miss Jenkins had turned around and said she didn't want me, I wouldn't be surprised.

I hated how much the burn was ruining my life. It was like the foreman was haunting me, forever reminding me of the life I had hated for so long. All I wanted was to forget about him, forget about that life, but the burn stopped me from doing that. It was the burden I had to carry and the reminder I never wanted. Although it had been a few days since my dismissal, it felt as though I was never going to leave that life behind. It was always going to be part of me.

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