CHAPTER 10: The Spoon
Fernie felt the tension before she fully entered the kitchen. She stayed back and peeked around the corner. Cook was staring hard at the new girl.
“Mrs. MacMillan you must believe me! I didn’t take it, honest I didn’t!”
Cook said, “It was after Mrs. Fitzwilliam’s tea and you were the one that did the clearing.”
The girl burst into tears. “But I didn’t! You must believe me!”
Cook looked at the scared girl and her face softened. She said more gently, “Is it possible you coulda dropped it on the way?”
The girl shook her head violently. “No, I woulda heard it. And I looked! I looked everywhere! It is nowhere to be found!” And she sobbed anew, burying her face into her apron.
“I believe you,” said Cook.
The girl’s sobbing turned into hiccoughs and she looked up at Cook. “You do?” But her relief she felt was short-lived.
“I do,” said Cook. “But that doesn’t matter when Mrs Fitzwilliam doesn’t and says there is no place for a thief in this house.”
“Thief?!” and in between hiccoughs she said, “But hiccough you can hiccough search my hiccough things! hiccough You hiccough will not hiccough find it!” She had hope still that she would be exonerated.
“Believe me,” said Cook. “They already did.”
The hiccoughing returned to wailing. Was she to be sent to prison or a work camp or the poor house?!
“But where shall I go? I’ve nowhere! And who will take me now?!” She dragged the “now” out in a moaning wail that bounced against the kitchen walls.
Cook raised her eyes to the ceiling and muttered, “Lord, gimme patience.”
She put her hands on the girl’s shoulders firmly. “Calm yourself!” she said rather forcefully, which Fernie reflected later, was not at all calming!
“All is not lost. You are right in assuming that there will be no recommendation from the House. However, since they’ve not found it amongst your belongings, you are free to go. Others would not be so lenient.”
Nellie had only just recounted the story of how one of Lady Constance’s servants had recently been sent off for just such an occurrence! While it was indeed unfortunate to lose her means of paltry income and housing, it was not so unfair as to be unjustly accused and punished for a crime she didn’t commit. But still, she was to pack her things and leave immediately. Where would she go? She had only just traveled here a few months ago. She knew no one outside the House. But at least she was free.
Cook sat down and wrote a hasty note. “When you go, take this to Mrs. O’Brien. Perhaps she can be of help to you.”
The girl took the note that she could not read, and said, “Thank you.”
Cook said to her, “God be with you, my dear.”
The girl was dismissed to pack her meager belongings and Fernie knew that this was the recommendation Cook said the girl could not have.
Fernie entered the kitchen after the girl had gone up the back stairs. Cook must think well of her to send her to Mrs. O’Brien, she thought. She had her field satchel and carried it in with her.
“Well now, Fernie Girl!” Cook said brightly. “Off for a jaunt? Lemme just get some tea and biscuits for your outing.”
Fernie smiled. “Thank you, Cook.”
She sat down at the table and watched as Cook busied herself clanging pots and moving things about. Cook sighed. She felt sorry for the girl, but knew that her friend would help her. In the meantime, she was happy that this little incident was behind her and she could go back to her work.
“Here’s your tea, Miss Fernie,” she said.
All would be well.