Chapter Eight – Unfortunate Development
The next morning during tea time, Charella is carrying the tea pot to the room when her stepmother corners her in the hall.
“Charella ? I’ll be getting the tea ready for tea time this afternoon and I’d like you to join me.” she says with a smile, taking the tea pot from her.
Charella is shocked and suspicious of her stepmothers behavior. “Why would you do such a thing?” she asks concerned.
“Oh my dear, because you are with child of course, you shouldn’t be working so hard. Here, let me get you a nice hot cup of tea. It always eased my stomach when I was with child.” Treshara continues.
Charella is overcome with emotion. All it took was her getting pregnant to be accepted by her stepmother? No. Charella can’t believe it. Her stepmother has not so once as brought her a cup of water since her Father passed, and she refuses to believe anything has changed.
“My stomach is fine Step mother.” she says in protest.
“But of course, but of course, Charella, I think it’s time you called me Mother, after all I am the only Mother you have ever known. We both know that to be true. We don’t want to confuse the child once it’s born now do we?” Treshara asks turning around to pour the tea and load the cups onto a tray.
Charella’s mind is racing, how can she get out of this situation. What can she do. Surely her stepmother who hates her would never sit and have tea with her.
“Here we are!” Treshara says excitedly, hurrying to the tea room where she sets down the tray.; taking her seat at the table. She picks up Charella’s tea cup and hands it to her.
“Here dear, drink this.” she says soothingly.
Charella stands near the table, she glances from the parlour into the hall.
"Where are my sisters this afternoon Stepmother?" she asks curiously.
"Oh. Dear. I've sent them out for the afternoon! We needed some time to catch up! So much has happened!" Treshara says soothingly.
Charella takes a deep breath and joins her at the table; taking the cup from her stepmother's outstretched hand. She breathes in the aroma, It doesn't smell poisoned
she thinks to herself. Her stepmother sips her tea curiously watching her over the top of her own cup.
“But what’s wrong child? Don’t you like tea?” Treshara says with an annoyed laugh.
“Oh yes Mother.” Charella forces herself to say, “But could I have some sugar in mine?” she asks with a smile.
Treshara’s smile fades and turns to annoyance, “But of course, I’ll go and put some in it for you.” she says reaching for Charella’s cup.
“Oh but Mother, I don’t know how much I want,. “Charella protests. “Why not just bring the bowl into the parlour?” Charella asks sweetly, holding her cup away.
Annoyed, Treshara forcefully gets up and leaves the tea room. As soon as she is gone, Charella switches the cups. Treshara appears just a moment later with the sugar bowl.
“Here you are child, sugar, just as you requested.” Treshara says setting it down near her.
“Thank you mother.” Charella says with a wide smile.
Treshara picks up her cup and begins to sip, watching Charella closely as she puts sugar into her cup and stirs it. But as Charella puts the cup to her lips to drink, Treshara falls from her seat to the floor.
A sigh of relief washes over Charella as she realizes her instincts were right. She goes over to her step mother, she is not breathing. With shaking fingers, she reaches for her stepmother's wrist to find a pulse. She has none. Charella now has to think fast. Quickly she switches the cups back and rinses the other out. She washes it and puts it in the cupboard, then she pushes in her chair and leaves the tea room.
She goes into her room and waits until the carriage pulls up with her sisters. As they get out, she hurries downstairs, and once they are entering the home, she takes a deep breath, then walks into the tea room and screams. Her scream brings her stepsisters into the room, and there on the floor, lying breathless is their mother.
“What did you do?!” Chlorinda demands angerly.
“I was just coming in to clean up. I didn’t do anything, she was like this when I found her.” Charella pleads.
“I don’t buy it for a second, You’re responsible for this. I just know you are.” Andra says angrily, pulling her mother into her lap, tears pouring from her eyes, while Chlorinda sobs silently next to her, and Charella stands helplessly nearby.