It would be my pleasure to relate to you the astonishing story of how I came to live in the King’s Castle? This is a story of such wondrous proportions that even yet, this many years later, I still wake up and cannot quite fathom the good fortune that has befallen me. It would be best to start at the beginning of such incredible events.
Strangely after many years my widowed Mother decided once again to marry. Much to my wonder Mother decided to give her hand to a country gentleman. My elder sister, Annabelle, and I were very skeptical. We just could not fathom how marrying someone from the country could or would be beneficial in finding us suitable husbands. Nevertheless, let me assure you, Mother had chosen carefully. Her new husband was situated extremely well. Stepfather was accepted in the best of circles. Even the occasional invitation to the King’s Court had been known to happen. Of course upon acquiring this knowledge we gave our approval whole-heartedly.
There was, however, a wee bit of a draw back. Her name was Ella. Stepfather had a daughter. Like Mother, Stepfather was a widower. His first wife had not been a strong woman, so when the time came to delivery their first child, the poor fragile Lady died. Stepfather, so we have heard, was terribly grieved. So much so, he could not bring himself to look upon this child. It was quite some time later that Stepfather would even find out the child was a daughter; by then he wanted nothing to do with her. This forsaken daughter, who had not even a name, was taken in by the Housekeeper of the Castle. It was of no surprise to anybody that she grew up common and uncultured. The natural consequence of being raised with commoners resulted in well a commoner’s name, Ella; far better suited for a milkmaid. No family of prominence would ever name their child, Ella. Although poor little Ella knew very little difference.
When we came to the large stone castle our new Father owned, it was with some delight to discover that each of us had quarters of our own, and such resplendent quarters they were. Richly embroidered tapestries graced the cold grey stone walls. Heavy brocade curtains of the most deliciously rich colors were hung before the windows barring the searing cold winds of winter and the hot blistering heat of summer from entering. In my bedroom was a large black walnut poster bed, with rose embroidered linens and beautiful gossamer organdy, the color of dawning summer skies. Such a great bed, so tall a stepping stool was needed to get into it. Four or more people could have slept in it comfortably and it was all mine. My parlor, as well as the bedroom, had a large stone fireplace. The rooms of Mother and Sister were just as elaborate and richly prepared.
Where are the rooms Ella occupied? Why, I can tell you. She had none. Ella lived and worked with the servants so she lives in their quarters in the north tower. Never having been a recognized member of the family Mother was not about to start now. Annabelle said we did not need another sister. I failed to fully comprehend what a threat such a young unkempt, unmannered child could be to us. Annabelle however, was quite adamant insisting the little urchin would just add to the competition for husbands. I was astounded, Ella! Why she had none of the graces nor advantages with which we were raised and I said so. Then again, Mother and Annabelle simply ignored my comments as foolishness from one so young.
I admit there was a certain advantage in having a half-sister. My sister, Annabelle, quickly transferred her spiteful attentions from myself to Ella. This meant I was no longer the focus of Annabelle’s horrid and malicious remarks. Nothing could ever satisfy her and before we had servants I was made to comply with every whim and fancy she had. She was the oldest of course.
It was not long before Ella was made to serve us, hand and foot. At the specific request of Annabelle she became our personal handmaid. Why, I don’t know, we had a lady-in-waiting for social functions. It just would not do to take Ella with us. She had no knowledge of the intricacies and delicacies of social behavior.
How did Step-father feel? Don’t you know he cared not a whit. In fact he would be offended, quite angry, if anyone even brought the recognition of Ella before him. This left Mother completely free to do as she wished. Annabelle enjoyed thinking up chores for Ella to do. In fact, the only occasion Ella would have any respite from Annabelle or Mother’s pestering would be the days when we would go calling on our close neighbors
To be continued...