To everyone who enjoyed the first chapter of my Cinderella retelling last week: You are all in luck!!
I was very sick the end of last week and this weekend, so I didn’t have time to work on a blog post (hence the absence of a Candor Fridays post. There were no questions and I figured not posting anything was better than attempting to write something in my fevered state. Though, that might have been fun, actually. You could all see how crazy I am when I’m completely out of it…)
Anyway! Since you all seemed to enjoy it so much, I thought I would post chapter two for you.
I will be posting on Friday, so be sure and get any question you might have to me! And, if you haven’t taken the time to fill out the reader survey, please do. I’ve gotten a lot of helpful feedback, but if I haven’t heard from you yet, I would like to know what you think!!
And, without further ado, the second chapter:
Life at Whitehall grew more and more like a fairy tale every day. Ella could scarce believe her good fortune, that her mother had not only found someone so right, but one so good and kind, to accept her into his family, as his daughter.
Day passed into weeks and then months and she began to accept that this was not a dream, but truly her life.
Several months after she had arrived, Ella found herself quite alone and in need of something to do. She had on a gown of light green linen and felt very much like a princess. And so she determined she must do what she felt any good princess would. She would go exploring.
There were many parts of the grounds that she had not seen and she had never been told not to go. So, why should she not explore them?
Her first expedition she decided would be to discover what was behind the gate at the back of the garden. She had seen a few of the servants coming and going from there, but she had never actually seen what was beyond.
And as soon as the idea entered her mind, she knew she must do it or else go mad with the wondering. So, making sure her boots were laced tight and firm, and set out with determination to make her discovery.
She found, to her dismay, however, that the gate was locked. With a frown, she stood before it, hands on her hips, wondering what she was to do. Climbing the wall would not only prove most difficult, it would no doubt be deemed quite unladylike by her mother.
But, she knew not where to find the key. So, how was she to get to the other side? For, now that she had begun to wonder, she knew she must discover the gate’s secret before the day was out.
Her mother and Lord Bannering had gone out on business and Henry had locked himself in the library, a place Ella had learned never to disturb him. Edward too, was busy doing she knew not what. But he had apologized at breakfast and told her he must leave her to her own devices for at least part of the day.
She stood there a good many minutes, wondering what was to be done, when up came behind her one of the kitchen girls, a basket tucked under her arm.
Ella did not hear the girl until she was right behind her and the presence startled her. She jumped, letting out a cry of surprise as she whirled around.
The girl dropped a curtsy, letting out a little squeak herself. “Oh, miss, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Please, I do beg your pardon.”
Ella too, ducked her head, looking down at her feet and feeling most embarrassed for being discovered in a place she was not entirely certain she was allowed to be.
“I- I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” she hurried to offer as an explanation, though the girl had not indicated any need for one. “I just wanted to know what was on the other side of the gate.”
“Oh, that’s just the kitchen garden, miss,” the girl replied, looking up in surprise, then blushing a deep red and looking back at her feet as she offered an unnecessary curtsy. “And, there’s nothing wrong with you being here, miss. Not that I know of anyway.” She bit her lip and snuck a peek up at the girl. “I’ve got a key, if you want to take a peek in. I’m to be collecting the vegetables for supper, you see.”
“Oh, do you think it would be all right if I looked in?” Ella cried, so overcome with delight she forgot about being ladylike and holding back her excitement.
“I don’t see why not,” the girl replied as she pulled the key from her apron pocket. “Not that it’s much, really. Just vegetables and herbs and the like.”
She unlocked the gate and swung it open. Ella bounce up behind her, standing up on her tiptoes in an attempt to see over the girl’s shoulder. But, of course, it was to no avail as the girl was much taller than she, as she had at least eight or nine years on her.
But then, the girl stepped into the garden and Ella could see it all. The girl had not lied, it was truly just herbs and vegetables, but then, Ella had never seen herbs and vegetables before. And so she stood before the gate, her eyes wide and her mouth open.
Her wonder lasted not long, however, as she realized the girl had left the gate open and she was quite free to enter and explore, if she so desired. Which, she very much did.
She skipped down the rows of vegetables to where the girl was kneeling, pulling orange roots from the ground.
“Are those carrots?” she breathed. “I’ve never seen carrots in a garden before. They’re so beautiful.”
The girl laughed, getting caught up in Ella’s excitement and forgetting this was her master’s daughter and she had no place laughing with her. “I’ve never heard that said about carrot’s before. Here, do you want to pull them up?”
“Oh, may I?” Ella breathed, kneeling beside the girl. She was only vaguely aware of the cold, damp earth pressing against her knees through the fabric of her dress. The girl put her hand over Ella’s to help her and together they pulled a carrot from the ground.
Ella clapped her hands in delight. “May I pull another one?”
The girl laughed. “Just one more and then it’s onto beans.”
“I’m Ella, by the way,” Ella told the girl as she plucked the last carrot from the earth. “What’s your name?”
“Rosemary,” the girl told her. “My name’s Rosemary.”
They finished shaking the loose dirt from the vegetables they had picked and moved onto the bushed of beans.
“How many of these should we pick?” Ella asked.
“We want the basket about so full,” Rosemary replied, demonstrating with her hands about how many they wanted.
And, together the two went to work, both forgetting their stations and the fact that they had no business spending time with the other. The time passed with Ella asked all manner of questions about plants and vegetables and what exactly one did with them all and Rosemary trying her best to answer, even though she was only a lowly kitchen girl and nowhere near the knowledge of such things the cook or the gardeners would.
When all the vegetables were picked, Ella took one handle of the basket and Rosemary the other as they walked it back to the house.
In her enthusiasm, Ella had somehow managed to get dirt smudged on her dress, face, hands, and hair. So, when they returned to the kitchen, rather than either of them being scolded for associating outside their station, the cook merely took in the young girl, frowned, and muttered something about them always hiring help and not telling her about it.
Then she pointed to the ashbin and said, “Take that ‘round back and then see it’s washed out proper.”
“I don’t know how to wash it,” Ella said, biting her lip. She would tell the woman she wasn’t a maid, except, she had nothing better to do, and she was having so much fun. “Might Rosemary help me?”
The woman sighed, muttering again, about how useless the help they hired her was. Then she gave her permission and Ella and Rosemary carted the ashbin outside.
“You really oughtn’t to be doing this,” Rosemary told her, remembering just then who exactly this girl was. “You could get into trouble.” She didn’t mention how much trouble she could get into got helping her.
Ella adjusted her grip on the ashbin handle. “I don’t mind. There’s no one else to talk to and I like you. You’re awfully nice for a servant. Most of them won’t even say hello back when I try saying it to them.”
They reached the place where the ashbin was to be dumped and in her enthusiasm to help, Ella hefted the bin and started the dump it straightaway while Rosemary cried, “Not like that!”
But, alas, it was too late. The ashes puffed up in a cloud and both girls were engulfed in its embrace.
“Oh, I am sorry,” Ella cried through a coughing fit as her lungs tried in vain to find a full breath of fresh air. The ash cloud began to settle and both girls looked at each other. Ella started giggling first. “You’re covered in cinders.”
Rosemary too began to laugh. “So are you. You look a sight.”
“Ella?” The call came. The girls jumped at Edward’s voice.
“Oh, I have to go.” Ella grew panicked. “If they see me like this, I shall get into awful trouble.” She started to dart off but then stopped and turned back to Rosemary. “But, don’t worry, no matter how they press, I shan’t reveal the name of my accomplice. Thank you, for the wonderful morning.”
And then off she flitted, making sure to avoid the path Edward’s voice seemed to come from. Unfortunately, she did not realize Henry too was in the garden.
Not until she ran right into him. Quite literally.
“Whoa there,” he said, grabbing her shoulder as she tried to run away. “Ed, she’s over here. I found her.” He looked down at her, surveying her with a curious expression. “If Lady Bannermen were to see you like this, she would be sure to have a fit.
Ella felt her face grow warm under the layers of dirt and ash and she wished very much to be anywhere but there at that moment.
But, then Henry offered her a grin and said, “Which is why you should be grateful she isn’t here at present.”
Edward came up just then, took in the sight of her and laughed. “Do I want to ask what you’ve been up to today?”
She shook her head. “I shan’t tell you, even if you ask. I’ll not let you get my friend in trouble.”
It was only then that she realized they never would have known she was not alone if she had not told them. She drew in her lips, her eyes wide.
Edward continued to chuckle. “Then we shan’t ask, as it appears it would do no good. But, we must do something about your state before your mother returns.”
“I think we shall have to start calling you Ella of the Cinders,” Henry teased as they led her off toward the house.
“Or, Ella, the Cinder Girl,” Edward offered.
Ella bit her lip and ventured, “Cinder Ella?”
Both boys laughed at that.
“That’s perfect,” Henry said. “I think I like that one the best.”
“It’s settled then,” Edward said with an air of authority. “From hence forth, you shall be our Cinder Ella.”
Ella smiled at that, feeling warm all the way from, the tips of her ears and down to her toes. It wasn’t the kind of warmth she got when she felt foolish or silly or decidedly unladylike. No, this was the kind of warmth one felt when everything was perfect.
Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear from you about what you think of it!! See you all on Friday :D