Standing in line, I could see a number of girls from my neighborhood in front of me, waiting to go inside. The trail was nearly four people wide and wrapped halfway around the block. Every girl in the province was signing up. I didn’t know whether to feel terrified or relieved.
He walked away, and I stood there, trying not to feel sorry for myself. Really, it was fair. How did it look that I was the only one getting checks? It would all end eventually anyway. Sighing, I headed toward my room. The least I could do was write home and warn them that the money wouldn’t be coming anymore.I opened my door, and, for the first time, I was completely ignored by my maids. Anne, Mary, and Lucy were in the back corner, hovering over a dress that they appeared to be working on, bickering about their progress.
Lucy, you said you were going to finish this hem last night, Anne said. You left early to do it.I know, I know. I got sidetracked. I can do it now. Her eyes were pleading. Lucy was already a bit sensitive, and I knew Anne’s rigid manner sometimes got to her.You’ve been getting sidetracked an awful lot these last few days, Anne commented.
Mary held out her hands. Calm down. Give me the dress before you mess it up.I’m sorry, Lucy said. Just let me take it now, and I’ll get it done.
What’s going on with you? Anne demanded. You’ve been acting so funny.
Lucy looked up at her, eyes frozen. Whatever her secret was, she looked terrified to share it.In the bathroom, steam was filling the air, and I planted myself in front of the mirror, pulling pins out of my hair. Between the soothing water and Neena’s calming presence, I was free from most of Baden’s harsh words by the time I was ready to dry off.
Do you want to talk about it? Neena asked quietly, pulling a brush through my hair.There’s not much to say. People will throw food at me, people will throw words at me, and I have to be stronger than that if I’m going to survive.
She let out a disapproving sound, and I watched her troubled eyes in the mirror.Neena stopped brushing for a minute, looking at my reflection. For all my problems, I’d never trade them for yours. I’m so sorry.