“That’s nice, Nadi,” Flora told her daughter, all the while feeling apprehensive that her daughter had seen the place where fishermen supposedly vanished. Flora hugged her daughter and kissed her head thinking of what she would do if her daughter suddenly disappeared. Flora knew that she could not live with herself if something happened to her daughter. “Did you enjoy your walk to the vegetable patch?”“Yes, Mommy!” said Nadi. “I picked leaves and flowers for Kay.” Nadi then showed Flora the bunch of small different colored flowers.“Oh, they’re beautiful, Nadi!” said Flora and smelled the flowers being held out to her by her daughter. “And they’re very fragrant!”“Fragrant!” repeated Nadi.“Yes, fragrant,” said Flora. “I have to go back inside, Nadi. Can you stay here and play with Dolly while I work?”“This is Kay!” said Nadi, hugging her doll.“Oh, sorry, I thought you said before that her name is Dolly,” said Flora.“No, this is Kay,” insisted Nadi and then she got off from Flora’s
The guest finished his lunch with Pablo taking over most of the tasks of serving him, whether it was refilling the guest’s glass with water or taking out his used dishes and utensils. Pablo would immediately go to the guest’s side, just as the latter had drunk halfway through his glass of water or had taken the last morsels of the food served him. Pablo would signal to Flora to return quickly to her station after she had delivered the food on the table.Flora was confused as Pablo worked quickly and tried to prevent her from staying too long beside the guest. When the guest finally left the kitchen after a ‘thank you’ and a fleeting smile, Flora got to clearing the table and arranging the chair that the guest had left.Pablo approached Flora and she felt nervous, anticipating another admonishment from Pablo.“How many times do I have to tell you not to talk to our guest?” Pablo asked, his eyes practically blazing as Flor
Flora looked at Eva as she untied her apron at her back to replace it with a clean one from the drawer. Eva seemed relieved to be going out of the kitchen and her face was beaming as she went to the food cart to push it towards the dining room. Just before she got out the door, she glanced at Flora and smirked as if finally liberated from a prison where Flora was just about to start her sentence.Flora asked Rosa for permission to get food for her daughter and herself and Rosa gave her assent without looking. Flora took out two small servings of the dinner reserved for the servants and carried it to the anteroom. She saw her daughter role-playing with her doll and a broomstick, pretending to feed them using the leaves and flowers she had picked earlier. The plants had been battered and torn into smaller pieces by Nadi and placed in thin sticks to create her version of shish kebab. Nadi quickly turned when she heard the kitchen door open and her face brightened when she saw her mother
It was already late when Flora was able to finish her work with the dough. She placed the last container of dough in the refrigerator and closed the appliance door. It was hard work, but she was used to it and reminded herself that she was doing it for her daughter. She looked behind her at the table that had already been cleaned and emptied of pots, containers, and cooking implements. The vegetable trimmings had been placed in bins, ready to be collected the following day by Emil.Flora sighed as she felt her tired muscles from an extended day at work. It had been peaceful in the last couple of hours when Rosa had left her alone in the kitchen to finish preparing the dough. Eva left much earlier after she had done washing the serving plates and utensils used by their lone guest. Flora did not like being alone much and wanted to have someone to talk to as she worked, but it seemed that she would need to get used to working with superiors who frown at her for talking.Flora remembered b
It was the first time for Flora to see the master’s other guests, having seen only Mr. Renan in the two days that she had been working on the island. The only sign that there were other guests at all were the flowing dresses that Flora saw in the laundry. Dresses that she noticed were unusually soiled as if whoever wore them had slept on the ground. Then, Flora remembered that that was after she saw that dreadful shirt that was all bloodied except for the sleeves. Flora recoiled at the memory. Seeing the master’s other guests awake at night and moving about, albeit at a distance, made Flora realize that the mansion was indeed inhabited by people whom she was serving. She had not seen the master since she had come to Orsica which felt unusual for her who had closely served masters and mistresses of small households in Malen. Seeing Mr. Dante’s guests in the flesh had substantiated the thought that the work that she was doing was really for the comfort and convenience of the master and
“Oh! Did he?” said Flora, recalling seeing Emil’s back as he stood in front of Eva’s door.“Yes, he did!” Eva giggled softly. “I was lying in bed and I was crying my eyes out because of the awful way that Pablo treated me. I happened to look at my door and saw something block the light from under it, like there was a person standing just outside my door. I got an uneasy feeling as to who it might be at that hour, and I walked towards the door to take a peek from the peeping hole and see who it was. I was taken aback when I saw Emil’s face looking so pitifully sad with a distant look in his eyes. He seemed deeply confused and pained, or maybe it was just that he was looking at my door wondering if he was going to knock or not. So, what I did was I wiped the tears from my eyes and quickly burst my door open without saying anything,” said Eva.“What did he do? How did he react?” Flora wanted to know.
Flora opened the door to the anteroom and let Nadi ran inside. Then, Flora gently closed the door behind her daughter and remained outside as she continued her conversation with Eva. “Emil did not seem to be lying when he told me that.”Eva looked at Flora in disbelief. “I can’t believe you’re sticking with that story of yours, Flora! Emil already told me the truth. How can it be possible that his wife and daughter are here on this island?”Flora paused for a while and said, “I don’t know, Eva.”“Exactly! Have you seen any little children running around or even heard them these last few days that we’ve been here?”“No,” replied Flora.“Me neither. As far as I know, Nadi is the only child living here on this island. As for the wife, why would even Emil bother kissing me when he knows that he could easily get caught cheating on his wife!” Eva blurted
After a while, Pablo knocked on the door again. Flora looked at Pablo’s face that had started to look strained. When there was still no reply nor any sound of movement coming from inside the guest’s room, Pablo turned to Flora.“Go back to the dining room and wait for me there.” Pablo’s voice was hushed, but it was stern and commanding and Flora knew that she needed to go at once.Flora immediately turned back and went down the corridors and the staircase without looking back at Pablo. As she walked, she could not help but think what could have happened. Is Mr. Renan sick or had he overslept? It did not take long however before her dim surroundings and the pale faces of the portraits hanging on the walls made Flora uneasy and all that she could think about was getting back to the dining room as fast as she could. Soon, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief when she opened the door to the dining room. Not knowing what else to do, she jus