No Place to Go
Eleanora shivered under the thin blanket and turned over on the tiny cot. Hester had set it up for her in the corner of the kitchen, promising to move her into one of the maid’s rooms once one had been vacated. She mourned the change in her circumstances—barely over the death of her father, she was now reduced to this—a no-consequence maid in her own home.
It hadn’t been like this in her father’s day. Servants then were treated with respect, and he’d often been known to roll up his sleeves and help when it was needed.
Eleanora couldn’t stand the idea of being her stepmother’s kitchen rat. She knew her stepmother to be vindictive and both physically and verbally abusive to the servants. She wasn’t sure she could bear to live like that. She sat up in bed, throwing off the thin blanket. She’d run away. She dressed quickly, laced her boots, and threw on her cloak. She drew back the large bolts and flung open the door.
Large flakes of snow drifted on a freezing wind that bit into her exposed cheeks. She couldn’t do this. She had nowhere to go and would freeze to death before the night was over.
She sank down onto the doorstep and wept.
As her tears fell, Eleanora thought back to the good times she’d had with her father.
They used to play chess together—he started teaching her as soon as she was old enough to understand the rules. She remembered getting very upset on one occasion when she thought she was in a good position, but then she lost her queen.
Her father had embraced her. “You have to accept that sometimes bad things happen,” he’d said. “You lose a piece, and the game turns out much harder than you expect.”
Eleanora lifted her head, a streak of defiance running through her, a determination to fight back. She’d lost Papa, which wasn’t fair, and bad things were happening. But she was still in play. She’d learn to cope and get over it. She’d get strong again.