Charmaine and Merry Scene
“You asked to see me, Madame?”
Charmaine smiled kindly at Merrigold. The girl didn’t look nervous – the two had something of a rapport, more than just an employer and employee – but she did look somewhat confused. It wasn’t often that the madame called the girls into her office. “Come in, my dear, have a seat. Would you care for some tea?”
“Thank you, Madame.” Merrigold seated herself across the desk from her, carrying herself with the same grace she always did. Charmaine was somewhat envious of that, she had to admit. Though she knew that she was possessed of charm and beauty in spades, Merrigold was more naturally lovely than Charmaine herself could ever be. It was the first thing she had noticed about the girl when they had first met, and part of the reason why she had been determined to bring her to the Lion.
Charmaine handed Merrigold a delicate teacup and saucer, and watched as she took a sip. “How have you been, my dear? Everything is going well, I presume?”
Merrigold smiled. “As ever. You’ve always been so kind and taken care of me, so I really have nothing to complain about.”
“I’m so glad to hear that, Merrigold. I do care deeply about you.” Charmaine paused for a moment. “How is that young nobleman who is so taken with you? I’ve noticed there have been a few evenings he hasn’t been in, I hope everything is alright.”
Merrigold started a bit. “Lord Tanessen? He hasn’t really shared but I think he’s had something going on with his family.” The girl was obviously lying, Charmaine could see it in her eyes, but she got the impression that Merrigold was making something up to mask the fact that she had no idea what was going on.
“Well, I certainly hope that it gets resolved soon. You’re lucky to have such an affectionate friend, my dear – he always speaks very highly of you.”
Charmaine could see the slightest blush start in the tips of Merrigold’s ears. “Thank you, Madame.”
The girl was already caught off guard by mention of Corthos, so it was time for Charmaine to play her hand. She stood and crossed to the window, looking out into the streets of Old Kintargo. “I’ve been wondering, Merrigold, have you ever considered what you will do when your debt is repaid?”
Merrigold looked surprised, but she considered the matter. “I suppose I would like to return to Redroof, since that’s where I grew up. Perhaps I could get a job in a tailor’s shop – I’ve always enjoyed sewing.”
Charmaine nodded. “I think that would suit you wonderfully, my dear. I believe you’ve made many of your dresses, am I correct?”
Merrigold smiled. “I actually made this one myself.”
“It is a beautiful piece of work,” Charmaine assured her, returning her smile. “It’s important to have a skill for when you leave the Lion – I’ve known quite a few girls who have relied solely on their beauty, but I always knew you were cleverer than that.” She pursed her lips and furrowed her brow in a show of thought. “I have a few friends, seamstresses and tailors, to whom I can recommend you when the time comes.”
“I…Thank you, Madame.” Charmaine could hear the surprise in the girl’s voice. “Isn’t that some way off, though? From what I recall, there is still a large balance to be paid off.” A hint of sadness.
Charmaine shrugged. “It’s never too early to start thinking about one’s future. Lath sulevin, lath eraval ena.” It was an old elven proverb about hope and never giving up, one that Lastriel would certainly have taught to her daughters. Perhaps it was overkill, but Charmaine just wanted to be sure that Merrigold knew who really cared about her.
Would Corthos Tanessen speak Elven to her? Did he care that much? Would he help her to build a life after the Lion, or would he simply abandon her once he had been satisfied? Charmaine had seen it happen before, to girls far more beautiful and charming than Merrigold. If Corthos truly managed to raise the money – and it seemed at this point that he had a fairly good chance – Charmaine had to do everything in her power to make sure that Merrigold was at least still hers in spirit.
Merrigold started a little upon hearing the familiar cadences, then nodded, determination in her eyes. “I won’t let you down, Madame. Ma melava halani.” You helped me. She certainly had.
“Good.” Charmaine crossed back to the desk and eyed Merrigold affectionately. “I hope you know how highly I esteem you, Merrigold. It’s important to have friends in this world, especially when so many people are simply trying to take advantage of women like ourselves. You should know that you can always trust me.”
Merrigold smiled. “Thank you, Madame.”
Charmaine could not repress her own smile. “No my dear, the pleasure is all mine.”