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The cold seeped into Cyn’s body. The stone floor she lay on was a poor bed. She woke exhausted. Each morning required that she get up and move around to warm up her body and chase away the aches from the night. Once she was awake and moving, her groans only heard by the mice running off from their nightly foraging in the kitchen, she set more wood on the embers burning low in the kitchen’s hearth. She swung the large cast iron pot over the flames to heat water for the morning ablutions of those above floors. They’d remain abed for hours yet.
Peeking out through the shutters, Cyn watched the chicken in the moon drenched yard peck for worms. Tossing them corn would be her second task of the day. She’d pluck warm eggs from their nests for human breakfast while they ate their own breakfast. Cyn often wondered if the chickens knew their eggs were gone when they came back into their coop. Wondered if they mourned their missing offspring. She never ate eggs. Not because of this wondering, though, but because she wasn’t allowed.
She ate creamy, runny soft eggs as a child. Things were different now. What she once took for granted as hers belonged to someone else. She had a new understanding for those who had washed her nappies, darned her stockings and prepared her bread and honey. Her stomach grumbled. She had at least an hour to go before she’d get some thin gruel.
Removing warm eggs from her apron and placing them in the cook’s favorite wooden bowl, Cyn thought about running away again. She didn’t know where to go, though. She had never been anywhere except her father’s holdings. He had told her stories of far off fantastic places when he came home from his excursions. He swore he’d always come back for her but he wasn’t ever coming back. He was dead and she didn’t know what was true anymore.
The family lands were heavily mortgaged and she had no living relatives. The property was sold along with her freedom. She went from pampered pet to destitute drudge in a single breath. She took a deep breath. Dwelling on what she didn’t have wasn’t helping her.
The next three hours went by quickly. She lit the bedroom fires, filled water pitchers, gulped down bland porridge, milked a cow and plucked herbs from the garden. The sun was up as were all of the servants. And she was off to perform her favorite summertime task.
She grabbed her basket and went in search of berries and mushrooms. This time spent in the woods was her saving grace. She suspected that the cook gave her this task because Cook felt sorry for her. She still remembered Cyn as the precocious mistress everyone doted on. While some of the servants took pleasure in Cyn’s downfall, Cook went out of her way to ease some of Cyn’s hardships when she could. Cyn headed for her favorite spot in the woods.