Story for the Day: The Scullery Maid
The Scullery Maid
Though Diras was a city of good character and tolerable wealth, there were yet a few among the denizens who lived in lesser style. Housing was more than affordable for a capital city, the cost of living was generally low, salaries and compensation was on the high side in comparison with those of Ker-Benn in Gallei, and though there was a minimum wage to which every artisan and master must adhere and agree to give their apprentices and employees, not everyone was able to suffer a style living that kept them well.
Those poor young women who were in quest of making a small fortune in little time applied to the pleasure houses: one purse was opened for the contents of another, and a few silver- and even a few gold- were to be made by inviting an eager young man to delight themselves between a pair of lithe thighs. As everything in Frewyn was regulated and thoroughly examined, the women of the houses were treated well, given protection by guards and the care of a cleric if there was need for one, and though the more disposed and less inhibited of Frewyn had come in the hopes of making an excellent living and then retiring to a small house in the countryside, many of them remained in the capital houses to continue amassing their largess and build a firm clientele. Some became the most desired women in the kingdom, fixing their own prices and turning away any client whom they did not fancy. Some were elevated by gradations to the more fashionable houses that served more affluent patrons, and those who had made names for themselves amongst the wealthy graduated to houses that boasted of a royal clientele. The Frewyn nobility, with all their fine repute and fastidious manners, delighted in visiting their exclusive houses, where butlers hastened about the front room, maids were employed for their every need, and only the most stunning of women were paraded about before them in neat queues from which they could chose their preferred partners for the evening. A young lord should never mind spending his inheritance or father’s fortune in so estimable an establishment, and by the end of one evening, every women was claimed, every pocket was emptied, and various sounds of pleasance resounded from behind every door.
The women who stood outside displaying their wares and those who were pageanted in the front room were well-paid for an evening’s exertion, but there were a few under the auspices of such a house who were considered well-looking enough to work within but not enticing enough to be classed with those in the exhibition. It was one such woman of slender figure and lean face who was forced to find employment at the house when the sudden death of her father plunged her and her mother into poverty. The father had passed, leaving his affairs dreadfully involved, and the collectors had come to take the house and every copper of their savings. They thought to appeal to the Royal Court for assistance, but as the late husband and father’s practices had been hardly legal, as they had discovered upon his death, the mother and daughter were left to find work and comfort where they could, the mother finding employment at a haberdasher’s and the daughter working as a scullery maid in the highest priced pleasure house in Frewyn.
The daugher’s name was Meralliegh, and though she had told her name to her employer several times, he had never taken the trouble to learn it. “You, girl,” was often how she was addressed, and though she did not mind his careless and brusque commands, ordering her to clean this table and wipe down that seat and take these dishes into the kitchen, the snickerings and sneers of the nobility at her plain clothes and crooked glasses were the worst of the two evils. She kept her eyes low, muttered her Yessirs, tried not to cry, and did as she was bid until the sun rose to end her work for the day. Fair compensation for her hard work had softened their jeers but could not repress them. The chief of her sorrows lay in seeing every other woman in the house admired and gawped at whilst she was forever disregarded and expelled to the scullery. An upright figure, regular features, and dark eyes were not enough to convince her of her mild beauty. She hid behind the screen her large glasses and long hair afforded, and said little to the other women. They were always kind to her, as they were cordial with everyone, but she, feeling so unequal to be their acquaintance, shrank back from notice and was silent while performing her duties.