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.It was just hot enough to warm her insides a bit.The ritual reminded her of better times with friends and family.She closed her eyes, yearning for those days.Hannah shivered and looked about the tiny, shadowy room.The darkness felt oppressive.She was allowed only a candle, no lamp.It could be worse, she told herself.I could be on the street.Stretching out aching legs, Hannah wiggled her toes and tried to think on things she could be thankful for.Instead, she held up her left hand, turned it over, and studied the palm.It was chapped and blistered.She’d only been at the Walkers two weeks, but the days had been grueling.She labored from first light to last.And the children never tired of pestering her.It seemed nothing Hannah did satisfied Mrs.Walker.Her work was always viewed as insufficient.And the cook was even worse.She seemed a miserable person, forever complaining about something or other.She had no pity for others and in fact went out of her way to make others as miserable as she.Just that afternoon, she’d made a point of addressing Hannah’s lowly position and what was out of reach for scullery maids.Hannah had been cleaning dishes when late in the afternoon the cook, Mrs.Keller, walked into the scullery.She sniffed.“Ye smell that? It’s fine veal.Whitest meat I’ve seen.” She grinned.“I can nearly taste it—the juiciness of it and oh such a delicate flavor.” Eyes alight with viciousness, she poured hot water into the washing tub.It was too hot, but Hannah fought to keep her hands beneath the surface, refusing to give the woman satisfaction.“I’m sure it will be quite tasty,” she said agreeably, continuing to scrub a greasy pan.“Course ye’ll never know how delicious it is.It’s not for ye and yer kind.” With a smirk, she continued, “I’ll let ye know how it turns out.” She chuckled and walked back into the kitchen.Oh, she’s hateful, Hannah thought.Lord, why have you placed me here? What is it you’re doing? She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to staunch hot tears.She felt alone.Holding back a sob, she whispered, “Oh, Mum.I miss you so.I need you.”Hannah forced herself to think about the present.At least she had work and wasn’t living on the street.It did no good to dwell on the ugliness of others.She sipped her tea and wished she could feel her mother’s presence.But the oppression and hopelessness pressed down, and she felt as if the weight and darkness of the house above rested upon her.Feeling faithless, she thought, God most certainly is displeased with me.But, Lord, my circumstances seem too much to bear.“Father, may your presence overshadow the hatefulness I feel,” she prayed, knowing that Jesus had endured so much more than she and from people he’d loved.With a small sense of tranquility, she set her cup on the table beside the bed and rolled onto her stomach.She hugged her pillow and burrowed beneath the blankets.She thought back to the lovely days when she and her mother had worked together creating fashions for the best-dressed women in the city.If only she could have those days back.She would treasure every one.When she’d come to work for the Walkers, she’d hoped to be able to use her skills as a seamstress to serve the family.Instead, she scrubbed dishes and woodwork and polished the silver.The children were unbearable little monsters who seemed to delight in dirtying what she’d cleaned.Mrs.Walker was not a permissive mother, but she did have difficulty keeping track of the children.Mr.Walker was rarely home, but Hannah was grateful for that.She didn’t like the man.He watched her and often sought her out for no good reason at all.He’d come upon her and ask an absurd question or inspect her work, and although it had been done respectably, he’d insist she do it again.And there were times when he’d touch her.The contact was always brief and seemed accidental, but Hannah knew it wasn’t.She’d seen lust in his eyes.The thought sent a shiver through her.“Ah well,” she told the empty room.“Time for sleep.Tomorrow will be here much too soon.” She blew out the candle and pulled the covers up around her shoulders.Lord, please deliver me from this place and from these people.Is it too selfish of me to ask that you restore my life to what it once was? And if that is not your will, I pray that you will create a new life for me.She closed her eyes.As she sought sleep, she thought she heard something at the door.A light cast beneath it and then a shadow passed.She stopped breathing and listened.She heard a noise, as if something were being pressed against the door.Someone was there! Her heart battered wildly.Who could it be? No one used this part of the house.Should she have need, no one would hear her scream.5Afraid to breathe, Hannah clenched her blanket tightly under her chin.Her heart pounding so hard it felt as if it would beat out of her chest, she stared into the darkness.Again, she saw a glimmer of light along the bottom edge of the door.She sat up, still clutching her covers.Who would be down here at this hour? Wetting dry lips, she asked, “Who is there?” Her voice wavered.“Pray, tell me.” There was no reply.“Is someone there?” she asked more forcefully.She remembered the oldest Walker boy, Peter.He was always up to some sort of mischief.It must be him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]