Thursday, January 24, 2013

Short Story by Faith "The Young Novice"

This is a short story I wrote when I was 16, for our former magazine His Wonders. If you'd like check out the site for back issues.

"The Young Novice" by Faith Grubb
copyright 2008

His kingdom was the most superb in the world. He had as many servants as he wished but his lowest, an uncommon and not-so-fair maiden of the many 16 year-olds, worked as the housekeeper’s apprentice.

It was cool still, before the sun had rose to turn the grey sky golden, and Eliana had already scrubbed the floor and was throwing out the water although her King nor the cook, Mrs. Chester, were even up- as far as she knew.
And up in that royal room His Majesty’s scarlet robe was lying on the amour near his bed, as usual, and his crown was up on the mantelpiece. His guard was clumsily sleeping near the door and the end bed curtains were still closed but his Majesty was not there! …A man, with a black cloak and hood, stood near the edge of the highest castle wall. His hood’s shadow covered his keen eyes but anyone fool could see he was there without leave. Just then one of the King’s archers came ‘round the bend of the Castle wall, coming up behind the man. Suddenly as the guard drew upon him the man quickly spun around…

     “Eliana!” Back down in the servant's area the young novice looked up, hearing her name softly whispered. It was Gabriel, the stable ‘boy’ coming up to her as she was about to go back in. She blushed in the greyness and thanked heaven it was still very dark out. He was older than she and he was very handsome too. Eliana knew it was wrong of her to think of him romantically. She knew also her hormonal feelings and desires were God given. But still God’s desire of her was that she surrendered these precious emotions to him first, her heavenly Husband. “You won’t guess who I saw up on the Castle wall.”
“What are you up so early for?”
“Eliana, if it is only to be awake, as you get up this early, would you care?” He suddenly became serious and looked into her hazy eyes.
“Gabriel, how dare you! If you mean anything further than what you said straight out you’d better say it… I can’t waste m’ time ‘ciphering every word I hear!”
“Well, Eliana, will you marry me? You’re young I know but I’m Nineteen and you can keep a house. My work will pay for what we’ll eat and we could raise a big family on my pay alone…”
He stopped seeing her choke back her tears.
“I’m so sorry Eliana, what did I do?”

“Eliana,” the older woman called, later that morning.
“Yes, Mrs. Chester?” She came to her, at once, as was her habit.
“Come, my dear, here is a test for you. You must bake the scones for His Majesty's tea while I start on all the delicacies for tonight’s banquet.”
“Yes, Mrs. Chester,” she curtsied.
“Here’s the recipe and you must be quick. Tea time is in half an hour!”
The older woman bustled off, her large skirts bouncing with each step. Eliana looked blankly at the card given her. She had no earthly idea how to read and Mrs. Chester knew that.
Soon with the help of Betsy, the scullery maid, Eliana found where everything was and soon the scones were in their place- cooking in the oven.
Mrs. Chester soon came by, flying about the kitchen, hardly noticing the thin creature she passed more than forty times, Eliana was sure.  The tops of the scones were soon brown and Eliana, after asking Betsy if it were time, removed them from the hot stone's oven.
“Eliana!” Mrs. Chester called, “you must set those scones on the tray for Maria, but in the finest silver bowl…”
Maria, hired only for the purpose of serving the scones every mourning, came and watched Eliana, with arms crossed. Eliana slowly and carefully placed them one by one into the silver bowl, careful not to bruise nary a one.
“You slow dunce!” Maria scolded as she grabbed the tray, leaving Eliana but then she dumped the butter, preserves and jam on top. Smashing down the scones so they were crumbs and then she turned to leave the kitchen.
Just then Mrs. Chester came with instruction, “Now, Eliana, you sweep this horrid kitchen.”
Reaching for the broom Eliana turned to Mrs. Chester one last time before she began her chore.
“Mrs. Chester, did I keep them too long in the oven? Surely I did for as I put them in the bowl they seemed to lay upon each other without even crumbling.”
“Oh Eliana that is exactly as they are to be! Thank you so much!”
And Mrs. Chester lightly kissed her apprentice’s cheek and hurried to her own chores, as Eliana began to sweep. Only half an hour had passed since Maria had gone to serve the scones but she quickly ran in, all out of breath.
“Mrs. Chester! Oh, Mrs. Chester! I told you Eliana wouldn’t amount to much!” she said as she threw a cold glance at Eliana.
“What is it child?” the lady inquired.
“Mrs. Chester, she smashed all His Majesty’s scones in the bowl!”
Every servant glanced at Eliana.
“Yes, Mrs. Chester! When the King noticed they were so, he looked at me so severely as it were my fault!
“Oh, Mrs. Chester! I do not see how this could happen!” Eliana was horrified, “I made sure to do them slowly, one by one, so as not to smash any! How on earth they turned to be so I can’t understand!”
Just then, old Paul, the head butler and King’s favored servant, came in also out of breath.
“Mrs. Chester, who cooked those scones? This Maria says it was your apprentice, is this true?”
“Yes, sir.”
“His Majesty will see the creature. Which is she?”
He looked about the kitchen so full of girls 16 years that he could not possibly begin to find her.
Maria spoke up at once but was cut short by the old man.
Just then a small voice was heard.
“I am she.”
Eliana stepped forward.  Mrs. Chester was too surprised to answer and looked angrily at Maria knowing she had started it.
“Is it she?” Paul inquired.
“Yes!” Maria sneered.
Slowly, as the two neared the king’s quarters, Eliana began to feel angry in her embarrassment. She knew for certain Maria had done something and would get her wish— to send Eliana away.

To Be Continued.  Coming back for part two on the 31st next week!

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