Excerpt from ‘Once Upon a Fairytale Princess’ (New ebook)

            Ella stopped at the little house that sat near a mine that seemed to go deep into the mountains.  The house itself was quaint; white walls and red trimmed roof.  She noticed a not particularly well tended garden and vegetables in dire need of being picked.  She read the sign again and looked back at the little paper that she held.  This was the address.  As she walked slowly up to the door, she heard a whistle and then a song.

            Ella stopped and cocked her ear.  Surely she was hearing things.  But in a few moments it became evident that she was hearing singing and it was coming from the mountains.  She could not make out the words but the melody was nice and the voices were strong.  She smiled and walked back to the little house and knocked on the door.  She knocked again when she received no answer.  This was the last house on her list and if she didn’t find a job soon, she would have no money for food.

            The door creaked open and Ella looked with surprise at the small, gnarled old woman. 

            “What do you want?” the woman asked, her eyes squinting through her thick eyeglasses. 

            “I am here about the job.”

            “What job?  Why are you here?  Who sent you?  What do you want?”

            Ella stumbled over her words as the old woman threw question after question at her.  She finally held up a hand.  “Ma’am.  I am only here asking about a job.  I saw your ad in town.  You were looking for a housekeeper and a cook?”

            As the old woman thought for a few moments, Ella almost wished this was not the job she was looking for.  She also hoped that her disguise was working.  Her hair was growing back and was in a cute little bob that she kept off her face with a red ribbon.  She had used a mixture of acorn and oak gall, as well as powdered rust from a local blacksmith.  Add a little lemon juice and her hair was a black as coal.  And she had a bit extra in a flask just in case.

            She had rubbed berries onto her lips and with the weight loss of the last few months of rationing her food and money; she had managed to lose some of her curves.  Now she could pass for someone much younger.  She had seen the posters asking for information about her whereabouts, but as she had moved further away from the palace and into other lands, the posters were less frequent. 

            Her thoughts were interrupted as the old woman rapped her legs with a stick. 

            “Pay attention!”

            Ella focused on the vicious old woman.  If she did not need the money, she would tell the old woman to…well, good manners dictated that she would never tell her elders something horrible, but that did not stop her from thinking it.

            “Yes.  I do recall my sons wanting someone to cook and clean.  I’m too old you see.  If I could still see properly, I wouldn’t need anyone, but no matter.  Can you cook and clean?”  She peered up at Ella suspiciously.

            If she had asked this question six months ago, Ella might have admitted that she could clean, but had limited experience as a cook.  In the last two months, however, she had worked as a maid, a serving girl in an inn, a nanny and a farmhand, all to keep food in her mouth.  As long as she found this job, she could see about finding somewhere to stay in the village.

            “I can cook and I can clean.” She indicated the gardens.  “And I know my plants and herbs.  You have a lot of vegetables that need to be picked before they rot.”

            The old woman’s face brightened and she opened the door wider.  “Come, come inside.”

            Ella smiled as she walked into the house.  It was quite cozy.  It held four rooms in addition to the kitchen and living room.  Almost everywhere she looked she saw gleaming pieces of metal.

            The old woman showed her around.  “As you can see, there is a lot to do, a lot to do.”  She bustled around the room and pointed out the different parts of the house.  “Here we have the kitchen and there is a private bath and privy.”  She walked over to another room.  “This is my room and that door over there is the boys’ room.”

            Ella walked over and opened the door.  The room was large and easily encompassed about half the house.  She shut the door quietly.  “Um, how many boys do you have?”

            The old woman beamed.  “I have six sons.  Oh, you should see them.  Young, strapping lads, they are.”  She looked back at Ella.  “Goodness me!  I forgot to introduce myself.”  She held out a gnarled hand.  “My name is Dorothy.  But everyone calls me Dot.  Dot Dorff.”

            Ella swallowed.  Great.  She now had a job working for the Dorffs.  All seven of them.  At least it was better than no job at all.  “I’m Snow.  Snow White.”

            “Well, Miss White, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”  Dot eagerly shook hands with Ella.  “You’re not married are you?”

            Ella shook her head.  As far as she knew.  She wasn’t sure if the monarchy was allowed to marry her by proxy, and she did not want to know.

            “Good, good.” Dot continued around the room.  She pointed to a small door near the exit.  “And that is your room.”

            Ella’s ears perked up.  “I beg your pardon?”
            “Oh, they didn’t tell you?  This job is a live in position.  I trust that is alright with you?”

            Ella nodded.  She thanked the heavens for small favors.  Now, she could save her money and hide out at the same time.  She could think of no better job.  It was also great that she was on the outskirts of town.  She had managed to find a scroll that held a few spells but practicing them was proving to be more difficult than she had imagined. 

            It was all well and good that her mother had not taught her magic, because she might have burned down the forest by now.  She was still looking for the Wolf Lord and she had not heard anything about her grandmother, even though the woman was still alive.  It would not do to ask too many questions, but keeping a low profile was becoming harder by the minute.  She was happy when Dot started chatting; glad to have something to take her mind off her troubles for the moment.

~ by Adrianna Morgan on October 9, 2012.

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