Chapter Four - Tea Time
The next morning, Charella is awoken by her step mother pounding on her door.
“Charella! Get up you lazy girl, why haven’t you started breakfast!” she demands angerly.
Charella sits up and rubs her eyes, she can’t decide if her meeting with Augusto last night was a dream or not. She gets out of bed and realizes she is still in her work clothes, and they are covered in dirt. She quickly realizes it wasn’t a dream, she has a friend. Thankfully Treshara doesn’t enter Charella’s room or else she might notice the dirt on her clothing and begin asking questions.
Charella hurries to change her clothes, taking care to hide them from view. She catches her glance in her mirror on the wall and can’t help but admire herself for a moment. Then she rushes to get started on her daily tasks.
All day Charella is beside herself and happy. Just having someone who she can talk to has made her feel like there is hope in the world for her. She finishes her chores early and then hurries to make the tea for the afternoon tea party. Charella no doubt, absolutely not invited, doesn’t mind, because as she pours the tea. Charella’s stepmother and step sisters gossip and she can listen to them and quietly mock and laugh at them.
This afternoon is no different, and they are talking about the ball. Charella hangs her head in anticipation of what she might hear. As she enters the tea room carrying the tea pot. She sets it down on the table and stands nearby, waiting quietly and patiently should anyone request more tea.
“But he wasn’t even there, I don’t understand why he wasn’t there.” Andra says again.
“Well then who was I dancing with all evening..” Chlorinda argues.
“Girls. Let’s not argue now, this is a nice tea session, now let’s not ruin it.” Treshara interrupts them.
Time seems to pass by more slowly than ever before. Charella finds herself day-dreaming about the young man she met in the forest. During her days at the market, she always keeps an eye out for him. Her efforts are futile though, she never does see him.
Before long, its Summer, and the annual Summer ball is upon them. Charella has already gotten everything ready for her stepsisters and is finishing her stepmothers gown. She works quickly and efficiently. For the past few days something has kept her quite happy, possibly the fact that she might see Augusto again tonight. She is hopeful.
After her stepmother and stepsisters leave, she races to the forest, and sits upon the same log as last time. She hums quietly to herself as she waits.
It’s nearly midnight, and still Augusto has not shown up. Charella’s hope is starting to dwindle. She feels a tear streak down her face. Getting herself so excited for something and then having it not come true is like a dagger through her heart. She hears the clock toll midnight and she gets up to walk home. Suddenly something crumples beneath her feet. It’s a note, she picks it up and begins to read.
It was my intention to meet with you tonight, but something has come up and its kept my time away from you. I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me and agree to meet during the next ball?
Charella holds the letter to her chest. She smiles wide to herself and feels her cheeks blush. Although she didn’t get to see him tonight, it matters not. She thought he had forgotten about her, that their meeting was a one time occurrence, but clearly he thought of her those past 3 months as she thought of him and he wants to see her again.
Charella is forced back into reality as she hears the last toll of the bell. It is midnight. She rushes quickly inside.
Charella hears the carriage pull up outside, and hurries to her bedroom. She is conflicted with herself about the note, on the one hand, she wants to keep it to remind herself that someone cared. And on the other hand she is fearful her stepmother or stepsisters will find it. She decides for now to leave it outside, hidden under a flower pot.
So it is, every 3 months, twice per season when the palace holds the annual celebration of the season, Charella would sneak from the house and meet with Augusto in the woods.
Each meeting, is like a dream. They would chat of themselves, of what they hope for, and what they dream. Charella pretends her life is almost perfect. She pretends her Father was still alive. She pretends she isn’t a maid, that she enjoys walks outside with her Father, and that overall she is happy. Augusto tells her of his past as well. How his mother is pushing him to find someone to settle down with, and how he isn’t ready. How his Father’s death has left a hole in their family and how things are all together different now that he is gone.