I hope everyone has had as wonderful a summer as I have.
I can’t believe it’s almost over!
Here’s the fourth installment of my book, Sorrel’s Story. If you haven’t seen the first installment, click the link below.
Here’s Chapter Three!
Sorrel followed Mrs. O’Keily up the creaking steps to the second floor and shadowed her until they reached the door numbered five.
Mrs. O’Keily pulled out a key and unlocked the door. Handing the brass object to Sorrel, she said, “Here is your room, and here is your key. I hope you will be happy here.” With that, the lady whisked off to some other task.
Sorrel slipped the key in her dress pocket and gently turned the doorknob.
If this were a fairy tale, she would have found a lovely, homey little room, snug and cozy. If she were the imagining type, she may have found even this to be a comfortable place to be. Having neither, she let out a small cry of dismay at what she saw.
The cramped room was dark and stuffy, with a faded quilt spread over a large bumpy bed in the corner, and an empty fireplace. A chair sat wedged in the corner, and a slightly chipped pitcher and basin made their appearance near the door.
“It’s the smallest room I’ve ever seen,” Sorrel lamented. And she sat down, a bitter expression on her face.
The girl’s doting grandmother had all but spoiled the young thing, but Sorrel didn’t know it. She fancied herself to be a wonderful girl in unbearable circumstances, and the world around her to be spiteful and cold.
She sat for quite a while, pitying herself in this strange place, before realizing the time.
Shutting the door, she hurried to the window and opened the heavy drapes. Light poured in, illuminating the dusty air. She coughed and hastily threw open a window, hurrying to wash her tear-stained face in the basin.
It was almost five o’clock, when all the boarders would come down for supper. Sorrel was expected to meet each and every one.
There was no mirror, but Sorrel knew she needed to change her dirty appearance, and looked around for a tool. She then remembered her luggage, hidden in a bush, and quietly opened the door.
She heard voices, and shut it abruptly. Eyes darting, she looked for some way to get her carpet bag. The open window allowed a breeze to flutter past her, and she ran to it and stuck her head out.
A brick building was about three yards away, and below that, dry grass and dirt peeped up her. She considered it.
She was on the second floor, but a good climber. She heard people in the hall, and knew it was very close to supper time. She threw her leg over the sill, and judged that she could do very well. She swung her body out of the window, and hastily found herself in a predicament.
She could no longer get back inside, and found that she was hanging there, a good ways above the ground. She struggled for something to hold, and found that she was losing grip. Panic seized her, and embarrassment. She hoped Mrs. O’Keily would not come out and see her this way. But she also hoped that she would not fall and crack her head.
While she was pondering these things, she heard a boyish whistle, and craned her neck to see a lanky youth striding up the front walk. He caught sight of her, and his eyes opened wide. “Need help?” he called, running toward her. Her face colored. Not a boy! Here she was, almost fourteen years old, hanging from a window sill because she was scared of meeting people in the hall. Not only that, but the only one to witness her predicament and help her was a boy.
She bit her lip as she felt her hands slipping. “Yes,” she said shortly. “I do. It’s farther down than I calculated.” With that, he laughed and said, “Sorry, but you’ll have to jump. I’ll catch you.” Sorrel sighed inwardly, but felt her grasp loosen. All at once, she was sitting on the ground, where the boy had put her once he caught her.
“Sorry,” he apologized. “Good way to meet. S’pose I should ask you why you were hanging from a window on the second floor?”
Sorrel didn’t answer. He laughed. “Oh, if that’s how it has to be. Well, nice meeting you.” And with that, he walked away.
Sorrel sat in the grass a minute, mortified, until she realized that she was late for supper. She sprung up and darted toward the bushes to find her carpet bag. But when she had given every bush a thorough search, she couldn’t find even a trace of it. After a few angry words, the girl tramped up to the porch, and slipped inside.
Everyone was at the long dining table in the kitchen. Everyone looked up at the dirty “girl with the sad brown eyes,” as they called her from then on.
Sorrel stood there, her face red, her stockings ripped, as she was introduced by Mrs. O’Keily to each of them. Sorrel winced as she saw the boy sitting there placidly by his mother. So. He lived here. Inwardly, Sorrel groaned. Surely her folly would be the gossip of the boarding house by tomorrow.
She sat down, firing a daring look at the boy, as if to say, “Don’t dare tell what happened.” He just smiled, a twinkle in his eye, as he subtly nodded his head.
Sorrel ate little that night, as she felt that she was being watched. And she was. But she thought everyone was gossiping about her.
What were they truly thinking?
Well, Mrs. O’Keily was thinking what a good little cleaner she would make, and how strange it was that she did not talk of her family. Out loud she said, “Sorrel, you haven’t met Mrs. Wakefield yet. She eats in her room.”
Hank Campson, a tall, well-built man, was thinking about Miss March. Miss March, a quiet mill-girl, was thinking how pretty Sorrel’s eyes were, and wishing she had pretty eyes so Hank might notice her.
The boy, Willie Oliver, was thinking of the funny escapade that afternoon, and how strange it was for a girl to hang out of a window and not be afraid. Margaret Oliver had also noticed Sorrel’s deep brown eyes, but she had a faraway look in her eyes, and was dreaming of a man she had loved. He used to have the same deep brown eyes, and had died only two years before, leaving her widowed, and with a boy to raise.
Sorrel was thinking of her grandmother, and her parents, and her misfortune. She was feeling alone, and depressed, and angry at Willie, who suppressed a smile every time their eyes met.
“Why did that aggravating boy have to come along?” she thought miserably. “Why did he have to see me hanging from a window?”
Sorrel envisioned how she had appeared to Willie, hanging limply from the window sill, high off the ground, feet dangling. She wanted to laugh. In fact, she began to. Then she remembered that she was alone, penniless, and that her loved ones were dead.
The next time she caught Willie’s eye, she scowled. He cocked his head, confused, but said nothing. Shrugging his shoulders, he joined in the conversation at the other end of the table, leaving Sorrel to eat in seclusion.
That is what she wanted. At least, she thought she did. But she felt ignored and abandoned as soon as Willie turned his head. She pushed her plate away and ran out of the room.
All conversation stopped as the boarders peered after her. But she didn’t hear the silence. She was already bolting her door and stomping to the window, shutting it with a bang.
That’s it for Chapter Three.
Thanks for reading!
I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
– Ellie 😀