one

Rain poured in buckets out of the dark midnight blue sky, creating a haze in front of the window the young woman was looking out of. She herself was drenched from the sudden onset. Clutching her arms around herself for warmth, she turned away from the window and surveyed the quiet bedroom, candles adding ambiance and light. The bed rested on a raised platform in the corner, the posts decorated with sheer curtains, the blankets silk and fluffy. Inviting, she noted, gazing at it.

The fireplace was cold and freshly swept, two logs placed neatly in the center for the next fire. Two large chairs were placed in front of it, a warm looking rug beneath the seats. She walked over to the the bath and saw an arrangement of soaps lined up at the edge. She bent and smelled each one, not noticing any of the fruity flower scents.

There was a brief knock upon the door before an elderly servant lady entered, holding warm clothes. "Here are some clothes and change quickly," she said, a bit meanly. "The master wishes to see you."

She nodded and changed quickly, shivering more as the cool air brushed her skin. The servent stood there and waiting impatiently for her, tapping a brush upon her leg. As soon as she was dressed, she was forced to kneel upon the ground as she tugged the brush through her long tangles.

"My servant name is Mama C," she told her, a bit more friendlier this time. "What is yours?"

"Arabella," her voice was soft, her eyes watching her hands wring together. "Why does he want to see me?"

"Well why do you think child?" Mama C began to get irritated again, "A complete stranger shows up at his door in the middle of the night and you don't think he wont want answers?"

"Oh," Arabella felt the final tug of her hair and tried to get up, but the elderly lady held her down, smacking her lightly upon the cheek. "What was that for?" she demanded.

"Did I say you were done child?" Mama C gave an exasperated sigh, and began to braid her hair, her nimble fingers working quickly. When she finished she helped the girl up and straightened the simple blue dress she wore, her eyes becoming concerned at the girls' wiry thin body. "I will take you to see him in his study now."

Arabella followed a couple feet behind her, staring at the magnificent art pieces hanging upon the walls, noticing how all the plants were beautiful and lush, and how well kept this mansion of a house was. She was curious how many other serants there were but never got to ask as they came to the end of a long hall. Mama C knocked and upon hearing a confirmation to come in, opened the door.

Arabella slowly entered, her eyes immediately going to the three walls covered with books upon books. Her mouth fell slightly open and she started for it when she heard a man clear his throat. She stopped abruptly and noticed the master of the house sitting in a similar large chair next to the roaring fire place. She gave a stumbled sorry and fell silent.

He stood and motioned for Mama C to leave and she complied, leaving with a small bow. He turned his attention to his midnight guest. "May I offer you anything to drink?"

"Oh, no, i'm quite alright,"she said, a bit nervously.

He studied her for a moment, "What are you doing out wondering around at a time like this? You never know what could be out there."

She opened her mouth to reply but promptly shut it when she realized she didnt have an answer for him. Confused, she looked at the carpet and shook her head, "Honestly, sir, I do not know. I just remember waking up on the side of the road, the wagon tipped over." Memories began to flood back the more she talked, and soon she was talking fast, "something hit our wagon and we tipped over. I remember hearing the horses scream and the driver call out. But I do not know what it was. I-I woke and everyone was gone. Not a trace."

As she spoke, he had turned and looked out the window, his eyes tracing the line of his property. Then there was silence and he turned to face her. "Do you remember who you belong to?"

"Who I belong to?"

"Your clothes, Mama C informed me, were those of a servent." He moved closer, eyeing her up and down. "Again, do you know who you belong to?"

"No, sir, I do not." She responded. Her body tingled at his gaze but she knew that whatever this master made her feel, she must promptly forget. Servants and Masters did not mingle.

He nodded. "Then I will keep you for now. At least until you remember," he added. Again he studied her. "Did you pass all your studies?"

"Yes sir."

"What were you positioned at, with your other masters?"

"I was the Lady's hand maiden," she said, watching the floor, remembering no eye contact was allowed.

"Then you will be my personal servent as well." He walked up to her and lifted her chin. "I do not treat my servents so low. When we speak, meet my eyes."

Arabella looked into his eyes and found them beautiful and navy blue. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest. "I will try, Master."

He released her chin, "I rise with the sun. Make sure you are in my room before then, readying my bath." He turned and walked back to the fire. "Mama C is waiting outside to show you to the room next to mine. Have a good night."

She gave him a low bow and murmered good night.