Forgive me. I have been receiving donations and I am feeling mellow and fine. I need to share. This is from the Fifth Man, my present book - never mind where in the story.
Through the day, Ruchel slaved more for Zygmunt than she did for me: baking, sorting and spinning yarn, weaving and boiling tallow, among other tasks. She worked from before I would wake in the morning until the moment I was ready to sleep at night; and I suspect that after she had me asleep that she would rise and work even then.
While something of a taskmaster, demanding that if I insisted to reside in the cottage that I spend my time wisely with books or pen, or at least in thoughtful pose, she did not hound me as to what I did with my time if I stepped beyond the lintel. She only concerned herself with me if I were underfoot. If I rose to seek a bowl of tea, I would be soundly abused until I had retreated to my chair where I must wait to be served. If I dared pick at a meal she was making, she would not hesitate to rap my knuckles with her spoon. If I showed any dissatisfaction with something I’d read or something I’d endeavoured to write down, in minutes afterwards there would be something to nibble on or drink down intended to heal my spirits. In many ways, I was as much a slave to her as she to me – except that I did in nowise task myself to work as hard as she did herself.
She did ask me after a week, humbly and with an expression of desire that she struggled to conceal, if I would mind very much to let her whistle or sing as she worked. Fawnia Mortmont had never allowed this but Ruchel had had a master in Dawdling that enjoyed it when Ruchel was a young girl. By this time I would have denied her nothing; it was rare she would ask for anything. I begged her to do as she pleased and thereafter I found she had a very pleasant voice and knew many light-hearted working songs. After a day I had learned some verses of these – but if I tried to take up with her she would stop singing in a fit of laughter at the sound of my voice. This disarmed me terribly. After one or two attempts, I resolved not to try again – but I would find myself muttering one of her songs as I hunted in the wood, rather enjoying it.