“Take your time to choose, madam. And once you have made your choice, they will contact Ardenne mansion again.”
Once the report was done with, Lovis signalled and the attendants waiting out in the hall approached. They presented an endless stack of brochures that showcased a wide variety of items, from the latest furniture and decoration fashions, to generic household goods. There was enough here to fill a mansion.
Odette gazed at the brochures with some amount of confusion that she could not hide. The interior decorator had left and Bastian entrusted her with refurbishing his villa in Lausanne.
“Has there been any messages from Countess Trier?” Odette asked calmly.
“I can not say, it is not within my authority.” Lovis avoided answering the question directly.
Odette sighed and turned to stare out the window. She was still forbidden from using the phone and couldn’t send any letters.
“I have a list of servants to attend you at Lausanne. If you could give your final approval, we can reflect on it.”
“May I have some time to think?” Odette said. Lovis nodded.
Once the butler left, the bedroom fell into silence. Margrethe, who had water dribbling from her jowls, circled around Odette, urging her to play, but Odette remained fixated on a single spot.
Bastian was unwilling to budge in his stubbornness. If she was not careful, she would find herself trapped in the villa in Lausanne. She desperately wanted to talk with Countess Trier, but in her current state of isolation, it was near impossible to get in touch with anyone.
“Madam, this is Lovis.I’m sorry, I forgot to give the most important thing.”
Lovis returned, handing over the colourful catalogue. It was full of themes and ideas for decorating a nursery. As she flipped casually through the pages, barely registering the brightly coloured designs and over sized decorations, she came to a bright room of a fairy tale design.
“Master asked for special care in designing the nursery,” Lovis said gently.
After pausing for a moment, Odette turned the page uncertainly. Her eyes deepened as she realized that she had never put any thought into decorating a nursery before now.
“Master, despite his difficulty in expressing it, I believe, harbours a special love and care for his family. I know I have no right to interfere, but I hope you will consider my master’s sincerity.” Lovis pleaded as he bowed his head.
The word Family scrawled across her heart. Odette silently repeated the word to herself, a word she was unfamiliar with. Her throat welled up and formed a harsh lump. The sunlight flashed off the cover as she closed the catalogue filled with beautiful baby items.
Molly quickly stashed the bag of ragged clothes behind the garden shed. She knew that in winter time, no one came out this way, so they were unlikely to discover her disguise.
She straightened her maids uniform and fixed her hair which had been ruined by the pressed bonnet. She was glad she decided not to throw away her maids uniform. The rich K on the crisp apron was a detail that could not be overlooked.
With a cold expression, Molly glared up at the mansion. That woman had ruined everything. Molly had once been filled with determination, when Odette plunged into the darkest depths of mourning. She wanted revenge without lifting a finger.It seemed unimaginable that she would be blessed with luck now.
Is Theodora really trying to kill her?
Molly pulled out the flask of tea from her bag. All she had to do now was exchange this for the tea Odette usually drinks and that was it. She got passed the main gate, that was the biggest obstacle, she was halfway done already.
Molly quickly grasped the situation when her aunt sought an apothecary; it was unexpected that it was a gift for Odette.
It was funny to see Theodora Klauswitz take her anger out on her opponent, but it had nothing to do with her, she wanted her own revenge and that’s why she was doing this. It didn’t seem like a bad strategy if they wanted to destroy Odette. Bastian was blinded by a beggar princess and to be so obsessed with that woman, to try and play the hero, but in the end he was nothing more than an obviously boring guy.
Molly had no intention of being Theodora’s servant all her life, like her aunt. She wanted one thing; the promised reward for success. It was clear who was going to win this battle and Molly didn’t want to be close to either side when the big guns came out. They were going to destroy each other and Molly wanted her money before Theodora Klauswitz went bankrupt.
Checking her wrist watch, Molly made for the mansion across the snow covered paths. Odette had a pretty routine schedule each day. She got up in time to see Bastian off to work, had breakfast, then handled the affairs of the mansion.
Then came tea time.
“I mean that maid there, the one carrying the tea, don’t you think she looks a bit like Molly?” the servant said, observing a maid hurrying up the stairs.
Dora paused in her job of checking the inventory of the pantry and looked, narrowing her eyes. She caught sight of a maid heading up the stairs. She looked flawless and neat, like she was a brand new maid.
“I think you might have drunk too much last night,” Dora laughed. As noon approached, she checked the newly delivered ingredients and then left for a maid interview.
“Did any of the new kitchen staff look like Molly?”
While passing the user lounge, Dora overheard more nonsense and stared at the head cook.
“I’m talking about the maid who brought the tea caddy earlier. I heard she looks just like that girl.”
“Maybe, at least, similar in stature, but none look like Molly. There’s no way that snub-nosed girl is here, I think you must have been imagining things,” the cook said.
Tea was stored in a special cupboard in the pantry, always locked, and Dora is responsible for the key.
Dora felt a sense of unease, and her mood shifted to uncertainty. She meticulously inspected the bundle of keys on her belt and found that the cabinet key was still in place. Moreover, she couldn’t recall seeing a maid who resembled Molly in the pantry.
So where did the maid get the tea from?
Dora contemplated the question as she looked at the staircase the maid had ran up. Refreshments for the master and his wife was usually prepared up on the third floor, so that was the maids likely destination.
Without further hesitation, Dora rushed up the stairs.
Molly hide in a broom closet, peering out of a crack in the door as it stood ajar. Soon, a maid appeared that Molly did not recognise, to prepare the tea. It must be a new maid that was brought on after Molly left.
Molly watched patiently from the broom closet for the maid to come out of the little side room with a tray of tea and fresh cookies. As the maid glided down the hall, Molly slipped out of the broom closet. She had succeeded in changing the tea leaves, so all that was left to do now was sneak out of the mansion without getting caught.
Heading back the way she had come was going to be too risky, there was a highly likely chance of running into familiar faces along the side passages, so Molly decided to head straight for the main stairs. She had just turned a corner when she saw another maid coming toward her.
It was the maid she had shared a room with. Molly quickly turned around and heading back around the corner. The other maid had not seen her yet.
Molly hurried back down the hall and made for the broom closet again. She would lay low in there until the coast was clear, but before she could reach for the door handle, a dog barked.
Molly looked down as she had almost tripped over Odette’s stupid dog. It looked up at her with a pine cone in its mouth and its tail wagging furiously.
Molly tried to shoo the dog away, but Margrethe followed her as she hurried down the hallway. There was no way she was going to be able to hide in the broom closet now. Molly grabbed the pine cone from the dog and threw it down the hall, the dog gleefully chased after it and just as Molly was about to turn and run.
“Molly?” The familiar voice of the head maid called out to her.
Molly ignored Dora and carried on down the hallway, keeping her head down. The stupid dog that had ruined her getaway bounded back to her with the pine cone in its mouth again.
“Oh my god, Molly.”
Molly decided that she could not hide herself any longer and bolted for the exit. The sound of shouts rose to a clear din and by the time Molly burst from the entrance, the bells were ringing clear and loud.
The tranquility of the mansion was shattered by the maid’s frantic scream, as she called for their Madam as if struggling to catch her breath.
Molly quickly tumbled down the stairs and successfully escaped the mansion, but the emergency bell was already ringing. It would be difficult to put the disguise back on and blend in. That’s even if they would allow anyone to head out of the gate.
So she turned toward the forest, running at full speed, with a white dog barking fiercely and pursuing her.