Soon John was back and they could still hear the big stallion kicking and protesting in the stable. First he showed Meg and Anna to the big room that was attached to the back of the summer kitchen and informed them that this would be their living quarters and he suggested that they retire for they had all had a long day and he would show them around in the morning and then he would instruct them on what their duties were to be.
After he left, they both stood there and surveyed the modest room. She lit another candle for more light and was pleased to note that it was a clean room with one big bed and a small fireplace, several chairs and a large cupboard. She turned to see Meg still standing there with her blanket rolled and held tightly that John had given her.
"Well Meg, I guess we have to call this home for the next six years," she said with a deep sigh.
"Aye, I think it grand too," was Meg's reply.
It took Anna a moment to answer---"Yes I guess I just forgot for a moment." It wasn't that she didn't want to share a bed with someone else but longed to have her own room back and be surrounded by her things. She shook her head as to clear her mind back to the reality that lay before her.
After assigning the men and their families to their new quarters he stopped briefly to check on the big stallion and he seemed to have calmed down some. He then entered the house through the back entrance and noted that there was no evidence of a light on in Meg and Anna's new quarters. Yes, he had pushed them hard today and he understood they would be tired, as he too was exhausted but pleased with the way things had went so far.
Anna woke and stretched out and took a deep breath of the fragrant air. She had to admit it felt good to sleep in a bed again even though Meg had taken most of the space but after all she was a large person. Maybe later and at the proper time she would ask John if she could have a small cot put on the other side of the room for there seemed to be ample space in the sparsely furnished room. It was then when she heard Meg moving around in the kitchen and she hurried and slipped her only day-dress over her head. She was glad that she had taken Meg's advice and hung it up last night on the pegs on the wall. Wearing a wrinkled garment was something that she had always prided her self as not to ever do but the circumstances were different now. Still she would have given anything at that very moment--- to just slip into a hot bath.
Meg smiled when she entered the kitchen. "I hope that ye slept well last eve for I can't remember when I have slept so sound and in such a fine bed."
"Yes, I think that we both were so tired that we didn't even move," she replied.
"Anna, I know that this is not what ye is use to but I can't remember how long ago it has been that I actually slept in a---bed," she said as she handed her a cup of hot tea.
"Yes---yes, I know you are right because we could still be in Newgate and I should be more grateful---I'm sorry---it's just so hard for me."
Meg reached out and patted her on the arm. "Yes I remember how hard it was for me at first but we will survive and this man John Blake seems to be a fair man---so far."
"Of course you are right and I just hope that I can be as strong as you are."
"It tis time for us to fix breakfast for the larder seems to be well stocked and I will start teaching you some of the simple ways to cook."
She watched as Meg sliced bacon from the slab of meat and put them in the sizzling pan on the big wood stove. The aroma of the meat cooking was as inviting as the fresh air that she was still enjoying and she closed her eyes for a moment as to hold on to it. She was startled at hearing Johns voice behind her.
"Good morning ladies, I'm glad to see that you are up so early. I too am an early riser," he said and added a devastating smile.
"Sir, I did not know what you preferred for ye breakfast or how many to cook for so Anna and I were just preparing some bacon and eggs with buscuit but I---I."
He held up his hand to cut off her words. "No, that is just fine and you will only be preparing meals for me and I am not particular as long as it is fresh and hot. I will tell you if I don't like something and until then, I am sure what ever you put in front of me I will enjoy. Right now what you are having is fine with me as long as you serve it with hot strong coffee and plenty of it, as I have lost the taste for tea as I am sure the two of you prefer."
"That is fine sir, where would you like Anna to serve it?"
"Oh here, in the kitchen would be fine and if you don't mind I will eat with you for that will give us a chance to discuss your duties," he said as he watched the look of concern that appeared on Anna's face. He checked his grin that wanted to surface. Yes, he was sure that this one was coming from a different social status then she was in now. It probably would have been a disgrace to even think of eating at the same table as ones servants.
Anna could only sip her tea and try to not make eye contact with this man that sat across the table and obviously was enjoying his meal. Meg was busily scurrying around the kitchen and stirring something in the big pot on the stove.
After he had wiped his plate clean and told them how much he enjoyed it. Meg refilled his coup with coffee. He then told them that he expected his breakfast and his evening meal to be ready at six in the morning and seven in the evening and each day he would inform them where he intended to be for one of them would be expected to bring him his noon meal.
He looked straight at Anna and paused, then he went on to explain that many days he worked in the fields with the men when it was time to cut and prepare tobacco or gather the cotton. He also expected them to keep an eye on the vegetable garden and when they needed any digging done there, they should tell MoJO and he would send some one to that type of work. He also expected them to preserve the products from the garden and see that the root cellar was kept clean to accommodate it.
Finally she had to aske, "Sir you said that there would only be yourself to prepare meals for---do I understand correctly that there is no mistress here at Blakefield to attend too?"
"Yes, that is correct, I am the only one that you have to serve. I want you Anna to more or less serve in the house as to keeping it clean and seeing that the wash woman takes care of the laundry and such as you implied that you did before. I see no reason to impose on either of you by telling you how to do it. If you have any questions or problems then of course, come to me and I will attempt to solve them."
With that said he headed for the door and then turned back. "Oh please feel free to explore the house on you own and make yourselves familiar with everything and today I will be at the stables at the noon hour."
They both stood there and looked at the closed door. It started with Meg chuckling and they both ended up giggling like two school girls. "Anna all I can say is the good Lord has answered me prayers," she then grabbed and roughly danced them both around the kitchen. For they had both worried and wondered if there had been a mistress of the house how they would have adjusted to this new land that they were now in.
Next they slowly and cautiously checked the house. They both agreed that at one time it might have been more charming that it was now. It was definitely in the need of a scrubbing from top to bottom. The rooms were all so dark nothing was bright and cheery. Meg said that she would start on the main kitchen and she suggested that Anna start on the dinning room for they didn't know if John would be entertaining anyone but they should be ready---just in case he did.
They stayed very busy and she was surprised that she actually enjoyed this menial job that she had never given much thought to before. The only thing she balked at was when Meg tried to get her to go down in the root cellar with her. She had only taken three steps down into it when she walked into a spider web and she saw something move by the apple barrels. Meg just laughed and told her it was almost like stepping into the cell at Newgate prison.
Meg sliced pieces of ham and had somehow found time to make two large loafs of fresh bread. She fixed a small basket which she had found in the main kitchen and packed two ham sandwiches and filled a container full of coffee and told Anna to slip one of the apples in that she brought up from the root cellar. She slipped one into her apron pocket and headed for the stables. She was anxious to see that big stallion again.
Stepping cautiously in the stable door and looking around, she saw several stalls and they had fresh straw and there back windows were open so as to keep the air circulation. There were two mare's stretching out their sleek long necks to greet her as she passed by each one and she took a moment to rub their muzzle and talk softly to them. She felt a tear come to her eyes as she thought of the beautiful horse that she no longer had. She yearn to just get on one of them and ride fast and free as she use to do. Smiling now, as she thought of how she would always wait until she was out of sight of the house and then she would ride astride.
Before she got to the last stall she heard the commotion out side the door. Cautiously she peered around the door. MoJo was standing by the fence and warning John that it was not safe to be in there with that stallion until he got use to things. "Mister John, you's jest got to give him more time to gets use to his new home." he shouted.
The big stallion was pawing the ground and eyeing the man that stood there several yards in front of him with a rope coiled up in his hands. Suddenly the stallion charged straight at him and wisely John dropped the rope and heaved himself over the top rail of the fence in the last split second.
MoJo was laughing as John gingerly got up out of the dirt and was attempting to dust himself off as he too joined MoJo in laughter. "I think you are right MoJo, he certainly needs more---time.
It was then that he spotted her standing there. "Ha Anna, I hope you brought me some of Meg's strong coffee because I certainly am in the need of some right now." He was still trying to wipe some of the dirt off and retrieve his hat at the same time.
"Yes, I was glad to see you make it over the fence in time too," she said and added a giggle.
She handed him the basket and turned to observe the horse as he had become very quiet and was just standing next to the fence with his big black eyes fixed directly on her.
To be continued: