Chapter 1 - an afternoon snack - pt. 1"'ere you are - the miss's afternoon snack," the chatty young chef quipped, plopping a rather large tray of pastries onto the countertop. "Though I would 'ardly call it zat."
Delia pursed her lips, trying not to blush. "Oh, I'm sure she doesn't eat all of it..."
"Ah, but she does, mon chere! The platter comes back completely empty each day. If she keeps zis up, she will eat 'erself right out of 'er dresses! And who will be at fault when she can not find a suitor? Zat is right, poor Collette will! What a cruel place zis is, zis New World..."
Delia felt the heat rising to her cheeks as she looked about anxiously for anyone who might have overheard the chef's gossiping. "Uh, well, thank-you Collette. See you later."
The young maid refused to look Collette in the eyes as she hurried away, staring instead at the contents of the heavy platter. The cook was right - there was a lot of food. Delia counted twenty different pastries - fried dough glazed with a thick coat of frosting, syrupy cakes dusted with powdered sugar, and tarts filled with a heavy fruit jelly. They weren't especially large, but each was rich enough to constitute a whole meal. She felt her stomach tighten into a fearful knot.
With a shaky breath Delia took to the halls, walking swiftly down long carpeted corridors studded with Grecian urns and Italian portraits. The Wellington family was rich, very rich, and their manse reflected as much. The family owned a lumber business, clearing swaths of untapped forest and selling the wood to the British government for the construction of ships-of-the-line. This arrangement had gotten Mr. Wellington both money and connections, which he used frugally to assure his wealth would continue to grow.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wellington's business was doomed to fall out of his family. He had but one child, a daughter, and so loved his dead wife that he refused to remarry. He lavished his daughter with the best schools, clothes, and pleasantries to the point of spoiling her. She was nearly eighteen years old, a budding beauty with big blue eyes and luscious blond curls. With the promise of both her beauty and her father's wealth, there were no shortage of suitors for her hand. Young bachelors from the most noble families in both the New World and England came from great distances to court her, yet she always seemed aloof of them. Each one spurned with a dry amusement that distressed her father greatly. Her name was Catherine.
To Delia, Catherine was the image of beauty. When she helped the young heiress to dress in the mornings, she observed the generous curve of her breasts and the gentle flair of her hips with glum envy. Half a year younger and a whole head shorter, the young maid felt ashamed of her plain brown hair and childlike stature, a reminder of her difficult childhood in the slums of England. Even now, she wore a dress that had belonged to Catherine when she was but fourteen years old, and it was only a bit small on her.
Delia found Catherine in her usual nook, a small screened sunroom from which one could look out onto the rolling green of New Hampshire. She was seated at a round glass table set with two small plates and a pitcher of chilled milk, golden hair flowing down her back as she gazed out at the country.
Catherine turned when Delia entered the room. Her face was as marble; firm, white, and smooth. "It's such a beautiful day" she noted, her accent that of the highest British nobility. "Come and sit down, Delia."
The maid did as she was told, placing the silver platter onto the table. Delia clutched her hands in her lap nervously. This had been going on for several days now, and she knew what was coming.
Catherine smiled prettily. Her eyes, blue as the summer sky, examined Delia's downcast face carefully, as if searching for something. "It really is so nice to have a friend to share a snack with," she said, soft as sunlight. "A real friend, you know. I think we count as friends now, don't you?" Her dainty hand waved over the platter, searching for the perfect pastry. Delia's oak green eyes followed it carefully - here it paused over a fruit tart, there it lingered over an �clair. Finally, it paused over a slice of French silk pie.
"Ooh, French silk. The French make the best food, you know. Especially desserts. That's why I had Collette brought in." Catherine reached down and plucked up the treat, dainty fingers wrapping around the crust. "Don't tell father" she giggled as she lifted the wedge to her lips, fork forgone in favor of dainty digits. Her pearly teeth sunk into the soft chocolate pudding and crumbly graham crust, snipping off the tip of the slice.
"Mmm" she murmured. Her eyes closed in ecstasy, as if to prevent any other senses from competing with the taste. Delia watched timidly as her master's daughter slowly chewed, eyelids trembling with delight. She swallowed carefully, with a deliberation that suggested intent in every movement.
"Goodness," she breathed, "Collette is a master, truly. And she's hardly older than myself! I feel more inadequate with every bite." She cast a mournful glance at the slice in her hand as she reached across the table to set it on Delia's plate.
"Could you please, Delia? I truly can't overeat today. Adam VanderMolen has come all the way from New Amsterdam to see me this evening. Father thinks he is an exceptionally suitable match." Delia saw amusement flash in her mistress' eyes. She knew that Catherine couldn't care less about how she appeared to poor Mr. Adam VanderMolen.
Those sparkling blue eyes that had scorned so many young men now watched intently as Delia picked up her fork. She had not eaten breakfast, and her stomach was aching with hunger. Yet she delayed.
Catherine noticed her young maid's hesitancy. "Please," she said with a confident grin, "for me? You know I can't resist unless it's gone. Eat it."
"Yes, miss Catherine." With a shaky breath, Delia scooped a mouthful of chilled chocolate pudding into her mouth. The chocolate flooded her mouth with flavor, but all that she could focus on is how heavy each bite felt as it found its way into her stomach.
As Delia worked on the French silk, Catherine was slowly chewing a single bite of syrupy sweetroll with the same loving care she'd given the pie. By the time she had swallowed, her little blond servant had finished her share of the pie. Catherine smiled, plopping the roll onto Delia's plate and sucking the stickiness off of her fingertips as she reached for an apple strudel.
And so it went. The golden-haired heiress would take a solitary bite of each and every pastry on the platter, leaving the rest to her servant for disposal. Catherine watched carefully as Delia chewed, only occasionally pausing for a sip of milk. After the strudel came a frosted eclair, then a custard tart, then a choux � la cr�me. Fried dough, cr�m brȗl�e, flaky fruit tarts of every flavor - apple, strawberry, peach, grape, lemon. After five pastries, she felt quite full. After ten, she could feel her stomach began to bloat uncomfortably. Yet every time she finished a tart or roll, Catherine would place another on her plate.
13 chapters, created 8 years , updated 2 years
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