Sisters of String and Glass, Part 14

Chapter Six

I thought Camille’s first adventure would be to go through the gateway. While our grandfather crossed back and forth regularly, neither of us had ever been. Mother’s books tantalized us with the other world. But Camille didn’t head for the Spindle. She went hunting a myth, a legend, a god. Generations ago, the God of Time, maker of the worlds, vanished, sending us into something of a time tailspin. Camille has always been fascinated by that story, always wondered if she could find him. Or course she would head for The Wilds, home of the strangest time warps in the world.

Abigail was surprised by how much Madeline knew in the kitchen. Knowing her mother, she didn’t think Muriel would let her daughter sully her lily white hands, but Madeline had admitted to sneaking off to the kitchens of her childhood home. After her father’s death, she’d spent even more time there, until her mother had found her and forced her out of it.

Helene loved having Madeline around. While Abigail helped with the baked goods, Madeline was more than happy to help with the mid-day meal and supper.

Abigail watched as Madeline licked a tasting spoon, her own hands busily mixing a cake batter. Where Madeline was, as Camille called her, awkward in daily life, always nervously flitting behind Abigail, she really looked like she was in her element when cooking. She showed no promise when it came to baking, but whipping up delicious entrees seemed to be her forte.

“Is there any honey?” Madeline asked, her voice strong and confident.

Abigail, the only one around to hear her, made a face. “I think Helene had me use the last of it yesterday for the sweet buns. Do you need some?”

Madeline’s face fell. “It would make the sauce a bit sweeter, but I think it’ll be fine without.”

“Nonsense,” Helene said as she bustled over to them from the other side of the kitchens, wiping her hands on her stained white apron. “The markets are here today.” She smiled. “That’s the one nice thing about the nobility streaming back in for the engagement. The markets are weekly instead of biweekly.” She made a shooing motion in Abigail’s direction. “Miss Abigail will go.”

Abigail started. “Me? Why not Madeline?”

Helene planted her hands on her hips. “I need Madeline. The cake batter is done. I can finish it up. If Madeline wants honey, you can escape this manor and get it.”

Abigail offered a weak smile, idly wondering if she would run into Adrian again. Or even Andalissa. But she agreed with Helene. It was only a matter of time before Muriel found her way to the kitchens. Madeline could withstand her mother’s fury; she’d done it before. Abigail likely wouldn’t be as lucky as her stepsister, if Muriel’s treatment of Camille was any indication.

“Just honey?” Abigail asked, lifting her cloak from where it hung near the door to the back gardens.

Helene frowned and her gaze swept around the kitchens. “Well, I can never have too much cinnamon. If there are any fresh herbs from The Wilds or the other world, we could use them as well. A duck, too, for tomorrow.”

Madeline’s face brightened at the mention of a duck. “I know a fantastic preparation for duck. You’ll love it!”

Helene nodded briskly. “Right. Get two ducks, Miss Abigail. Miss Madeline, do you require anything else?”

Madeline shook her head. “I believe the gardens have everything I need. Father’s head cook taught me how to make duck. She only used what was available in the gardens. Father was such a skinflint.” She grimaced. “Mother is certainly enjoying the comforts being married to Lawrence has afforded her.”

“Yes,” Abigail said dryly. “I noticed.”

Madeline’s head drooped a little. “I’m sorry, Abigail.”

Abigail only offered a small smile and shook her head. She pecked Helene’s cheek before making her way for the door. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

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