The Grimm Expansion Project: Mother Hulda Part 6

That’s right the Mother Hulda story continues. Personally I am really enjoying writing this one out. I am finding that the moral of the story is shifting a little bit as I am writing it. In the original it is the pretty and industrious girl who gets the gold and the ugly lazy girl who doesn’t. Clearly there is a pairing between beauty and usefulness. I suppose there is a background lesson about how even though life is sometimes unfair, you can change things with hard work, if it is hard work in the right places and for the right people. As I continue writing this it feels like it is developing into a tale of both knowing your own worth and of not letting others decide what you are worth. I suppose that generally falls into self-esteem. I’m actually pleased with how this story is developing. I hope you are enjoying it too as I think there will be several moe parts to it before I am through. But for now please enjoy Part 6 of Mother Hulda.

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Part 6

Mother Hulda’s cottage was clean and tidy, everything in its place.  The evening meal was already on the table and as they entered into the kitchen, Mother Hulda beckoned Enid to the table.  “Should I not wait until you have finished?” Enid asked hesitantly.  The scent of the good foods laid out for the meal were drifting towards her tantalizing her and standing as a reminder that she had not eaten since the few bites of pancake and half a cup of tea that morning. Still she held back, Gerta would never allow her to eat with her and Mara and as this small cottage was slightly grander than their farm, Enid doubted it’s mistress would allow such a thing either.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Mother Hulda said.  “If you wait until I am done then the food would grow cold. Besides it isn’t as though this is one of the great houses with battalions of lords dining at my board and an army of servants taking their meals separately in the servant’s hall.  It is just you and me here.  It would be foolish for me to dine alone and send you into the other room to dine alone as well.”

Mother Hulda indicated the chair again and this time Enid took it.  Enid sat across from Mother Hulda and watched her fill a plate with all of the good things on the table.  Crusty rolls fresh from the oven, slices of meat from a joint slowly roasted over the fire, vegetables roasted among the coals, peeled and sliced all topped with a rich gravy.

Enid tried not to watch Mother Hulda loading her plate and hoped that there would be just enough for her to taste each of the delicious morsels.  It was with some surprise that Enid saw Mother Hulda place the plate before her and then began filling a second plate for herself

“For …me?” Enid couldn’t help asking, eying the filled plate before her.

“Of course,” Mother Hulda said with an amused laugh.  “You have done a fair piece of work between helping out the baker, and finishing up the apple harvest, not to mention your long journey to my doorstep.  If you don’t eat well, you don’t work well so it is o my benefit to keep you well fed,” Mother Hulda told her.

“Thank you,” Enid replied.  She picked up the carved wooden spoon and began to eat.  The meat was so tender that the lack of belt knife was not an issue.  The meat fairly melted in her mouth.  The bread had a crispy well baked top and a soft and fluffy interior.  It was warm and buttery and Enid used it to sop up every last drop of gravy from her plate.

“I suppose it helps to have the baker so near,” Enid said.

“We get our bread fresh every afternoon,” Mother Hulda told her.

Enid nodded, her eyes widening at the thought of such luxury.  Their farm was over a day’s journey from town and the bakery.  With no bread oven at the farm freshly baked bread was a rare treat and not usually one shared with Enid.

To her surprise when her plate was emptied, Mother Hulda added additional food to it. “When the farm prospers everyone working it prospers as well,” she said when Enid blinked owlishly at the largess.

“But I haven’t worked yet,” Enid told her.

“But I’m sure you will in the morning when you are well fed and rested.”

Enid nodded and as she slowly ate her second portion she vowed to herself that she would work extra hard while she stayed with Mother Hulda to repay her kindness as well as earn her place in the cottage.  When the meal was through, Enid hastily stood and began gathering the dishes to be washed.  Mother Hulda made no protest and left Enid to her work.

Enid washed and dried the plates, cups and utensils.  She made certain that everything was cleaned and ready for use.  When she was done she looked at the kitchen fire.  At the farm Greta made her bank it each night and then light the fires in her and Mara’s bedrooms before she could retire to the attic loft.  She was not certain what Mother Hulda’s wish would be.

“You may bank it for the night,” Mother Hulda said from the doorway.  “I have already lit the fire in the sleeping chambers so the chill will be taken off of them.”

Enid nodded and set to work, banking the fire so that it would be easy to rekindle in the morning.  When she was done, she stood and turned to Mother Hulda.

“If you will follow me,” her new mistress said.  Enid followed Mother Hulda and found herself in a small chamber just off the kitchen.  “This will be your room while you work for me,” Mother Hulda said.  She held out a small fired clay jar.  There was a cloth serving as a cover.  It was tied on with string.  “This will help heal your hands.  Massage it thoroughly into your skin after you wash for the night and it should do the trick.”

Enid took the jar gratefully.  “Thank you,” she said.

Mother Hulda nodded.  “Have a good night.” She then turned and departed for her chambers.  Enid stepped inside the room that was to be hers and found her mouth falling open at the site.  The room contained a small bed with a well stuffed mattress supported by ropes tied tightly to the stout wooden bed frame.  On one side of the room was a small fire place with a fire burning merrily inside it and a small grate in front of it to keep the sparks from flying out and setting the house alight.  Next to the fire place was a small wash basin.  The ewer next to it was filled with clear water and there was a square of soap placed before the bowl with a towel hanging beneath.  

The items in the room were plain and serviceable but compared to her small straw palette in the attic loft it felt luxurious.  Enid saw that across the quilted coverlet a night dress was laid.  It was plain homespun linen, but it was clean. 

Enid moved to the wash basin and took off her soiled clothes.  They were soot stained and in need of a good cleaning. 

‘As am I,’ Enid decided.  She slipped out of her garments and quickly bathed herself.  She then used the water in the basin to rinse out her garments as best as she was able, hanging them before the fire to dry.  The night dress was soft on her skin and Enid took care to liberally apply the ointment Mother Hulda gave her for her hands before she slipped into bed.  The large meal and the pleasantly warm chamber soon did their work and Enid found herself drifting off into a deep sleep.

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