Eleanora cried out in pain as her stepmother flung her down the last few steps into the dark kitchen. She stumbled and fell into the hearth, the tips of her hair singeing from the heat of the flame.

“There is no longer a younger Lady Ashworth. As far as I’m concerned, she died with her father,” crowed her stepmother. “Only myself and my daughters are of import in this house. And your services are no longer required,” she added, staring between the three kitchen maids.

“You can’t do that,” cried Eleanora, mortified by her stepmother’s behaviour, her tear-stained face streaked with cinders. “This is their home.”

“I can and I will! Your place is down here as a kitchen rat.”

“Look at her,” giggled Dahlia, “she’s all covered in ashes now.” She was always unpleasant when both her mother and twin sister were with her. “Ashy Eleanora.”

“No!” squealed Delilah, a look of spiteful delight on her face, “Cinderella! From now on, that can be her name. Eleanora is dead to us after all, so we can’t keep using her old name, can we?”

Stepmother clapped her hands. “Come, come, girls. We can’t be slumming in the kitchen. If we hold up Cook, dinner will be late.” If she knew that the old cook’s name was Hester, she never acknowledged it.

Eleanora picked herself up from the kitchen hearth and ran to the old cook, inhaling the scents of freshly-baked bread and spiced apple as she was folded into a warm embrace.

“There, there, child,” said Hester, gently, “he were a good man, your papa. I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’ll do my best to care for you.”

Hester looked across at the three weeping kitchen maids. “I’m sorry, girls.” She was grateful they were all local girls and had homes to go to. “I’ll make sure you get good references. Now,” she clapped her hands, her voice falsely bright, “how about some nice apple pie, straight from the oven, to cheer us up? Them lot,” she said, pointing upstairs, “can have left-over tapioca pudding!”

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    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    28 days ago

    So funny that the cook will serve her mistress cold tapioca rather than fresh apple pie!

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    28 days ago

    What a beautiful picture of Eleanora on her 12 years of age. So glad to know that Hester is there to take care of Eleanora. I enjoyed it. Well done. 

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Carrie OLeary
    27 days ago

    I’ll look forward to that, Carrie.

    Thompson Emate
    Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
    27 days ago

    A beautiful read, Carrie. I love your fairy tale retellings. I’ll take my time to read it sequentially.

    N Jungeberg
    N Jungeberg(@n-jungeberg)
    14 days ago

    A new glance at an old tale…how refreshing is that? Loved it…keep going!

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