A beautiful song filled the house as she was cleaning it up. It was a classical song, one usually well known, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Was this one of Beethoven’s symphonies? Somewhere hidden in nostalgia she was reminded of the days where she would constantly listen to the fifth symphony’s third movement, her favourite piece he had written. Ah, those were the days.
While the piece she was currently listening to certainly wasn’t an original song, the one playing it was giving it great justice, rendering it with the fingers of a master. That young man was certainly talented for his age. Every day the lady would place big hopes into him, and now Kassidy could see why. She wasn’t one to pay attention to someone’s colours, as she was more interested in their heart, and how their personality worked out. The colours of the soul always were the most beautiful ones, she’d tell her husband, who would simply look up from his paper, nod and smile at her, before going back to reading.
The sound of broken glass came to her ears and she felt sorry for the new slave. She was so clumsy and nervous; how many dishes had so broken so far…? She let her broom rest on one of the walls before going to check on Rosa and see if she was alright.
The girl was crouched down in the middle of the kitchen with hands on her head, one of her arms bleeding next to her rolled up sleeve, yet she barely seemed to have noticed it. She was trembling and looked terrified.
-Are you alright, child?
-This song… His brother would always play it…
-Did he, now?
-Yes… but it’s so much softer when Life plays it.
Her eyes seemed to soften a little, as if she calmed down and started to enjoy it. The maid smiled softly as she too crouched down to be at the same height as her. Over the last month or so, she had learned to understand this girl better and how to deal with her.
-Now, now, does your arm hurt? You cut yourself and it’s bleeding, we should check on that.
-H-huh…? Did I?
She looked at it and her eyes showed no particular emotion, as if she was looking at someone else’s injury. It didn’t seem too deep, but just looking at it and Kassidy felt like she could feel the girl’s pain, shivers running through her cheeks.
-No, I… I don’t even feel it. It doesn’t hurt at all.
-Well, let’s still clean it up, just in case. We wouldn’t want that infected now, would we?
She nodded and they both got up. She walked to go get the broom and, on her way back to the mess, noticed the girl poking her own injury, and she had to look somewhere else as she walked by. Please don’t do that, it hurts to just look at it…! She sighed a bit as she started cleaning up the broken glass and realized, not without relief, that it was one of Davis’ old mugs, and not something important that the lady would notice right away. Upstairs, the beautiful melody went on and on, giving some kind of light and slow feeling to the whole day.
-Let’s take a look at this, now…
She put the broom back on the wall and grimaced as she heard it fall on the ground, sighed, shrugged and threw away the porcelain shards, clapped her hands together to get rid of the dust on them and looked at the wound. The cut was fresh and clean, just like the ones glass had a habit of doing. Thankfully, it didn’t seem like it would get infected any time soon if they covered it properly.
-Let’s get you some bandages for that.
A small tingling sound mixed itself up to the day’s soundtrack with every step they did in the stairs. It wasn’t the first time Kassidy had noticed that the young slave was wearing a necklace, but she never had managed to ask much details about it; now seemed like a pretty good time.
-So, who gave you that?
-The pendant you’re wearing. What is it?
-Oh… Life gave it to me.
She looked down and grabbed it in her hands to look at it. The maid took this opportunity to turn heels and take a glance at it as well.
A delicate and long chain was holding two wings carved into steel. The whole thing didn’t look all that expensive, nor did it look too cheap; something just right so the lady wouldn’t get suspicious and ask for it to be thrown away. The young girl’s eyes seemed lost in thought as she went on.
-He said it was because Laurel burned my clothes and he couldn’t do anything against it.
-Ah, yes, the lady probably thought they were dirty and worn out. She does have a habit of burning things that fit this description.
She quickly turned away and made her way back to the bathroom, hoping the girl wouldn’t see her sorry smile as she grabbed the pile of bandages. From what she had heard, even the girl’s shoes had been burned; nothing was left from her former life anymore, save from her body, obviously. The boy must have thought she would feel lonely, so he had given her this necklace. Still, something told her that wasn’t the whole story, with the way she looked at it, half lost in thought like that. The song upstairs suddenly stopped as she started covering the wound, and Rosa stared at the ceiling.
-I wonder why he stopped in the middle of it like that.
-Maybe he did a false note and the lady is scolding him.
-I didn’t hear him make one.
-I’m pretty sure what he was playing was straying away from the original song, though.
She smiled softly, wondering what was going through his mind. Did he feel that the song wasn’t quite alright as it was, that he should let his creativity go wild…? Sure enough the melody was starting again at the place where it had left off, just as she was finishing patching up the girl’s arm.
-There we go, all done! Be sure to wash off your sleeve, before the lady sees it.
-Oh… thank you.
-I’ll finish up in the kitchen, why don’t you go tend to the dogs? They need food and fresh water, and I’m sure a little brushing would be welcomed.
She nodded, before getting up, pulling on her sleeves and briskly walking away. Kassidy nod to herself as she replaced the remaining bandages on the shelf, dusted the place and walked to the kitchen, humming the same song Life was playing to herself, and was surprised to realize Alexander was standing there with his coat on, just as he was about to take off his gloves and hat. She hadn’t seen him go away, but she guessed he must have decided to breathe some fresh air outside.
-Oh, Kassidy, perfect timing. Please do give me a cup of wine.
-Sure thing, sir. How was the walk?
-The walk…? Oh, right. It was quite enjoyable, such a nice day outside.
-But I thought you hated summer…?
-Yes, and as a matter of fact, autumn is slowly coming back, and I enjoy the cold wind.
He smiled at her, and she could feel he was hiding something else; however she was simply a maid, and not some kind of detective; whatever was on his mind, it wasn’t her place to judge and she certainly wasn’t allowed to pry. The less she knew about his personal life, the safer she was in a way.
-Would you like some red, or white wine today, sir?
-Red, please. Why don’t you give me some of that Du Corbeau?
She was slightly surprised by his request; the specific wine he had asked for had been in his collection for quite a few years; as everybody knew, the older the wine, the better its taste. She wondered if he had learned some good news and was feeling up for celebration.
-As you wish, I’ll get right to it.
-Thank you, my dear. Oh, have you seen Davis today?
-Last time he was by the garden.
-Then this is where I’ll take my glass. Oh, and please do bring an extra one.
He bowed to her slightly, before putting back on his gloves and hat, opened the door and disappeared back outside. Was that extra glass for her husband? Now curiosity was slowly gnawing at her, with something else; worry?
She made her way to the cabinet, where she slowly walked up to where the red wine started; even here, the lady would make sure that everything was properly organized; the bottles were neatly placed by colour and, more importantly, year, with the oldest ones to the complete back. As far as she remembered, Du Corbeau was an old wine, something made around 1876… Ah, there, in that row, that’s where he should be.
Only, as she got there, a gasp of surprise came out of her mouth as panic took over. She was certain nobody other than her was allowed in here. The first thought that came to her mind was that somebody must have stolen it, because the bottle was missing. But why this one in particular, and who…?