Monday, December 09, 2002

Gather around, children, let's snuggle under a quilt, shut away the snowy hustle and bustle of the outside world, and think back on another day in the life of our ancestor 14th great-grandmother Elise, who is just waking up on this cold winter day. Remember that she lives in beautiful, vine-covered castle in a far away land.


As luck would have it, our beautiful little gal is warmly ensconced in her curtained four poster bed, under 7 downy quilts. Her white Angora cat, Mimi, is curled, up by her side. As dear little Elise stretches and pulls back her bedcurtains, sunlight is peeking though the folds of the tall window draperies at each of the five windows on the far side of her room. The fireplace still exudes warmth from last night's stoking, but the new day's logs have yet to be set. Shivering cold will be the name of the game for while.

Shivers of excitement also runs through Elise's veins, for she remembers her quest for today:

leading past her bedchamber doors.

This question has plagued 14th great-grandmother Elise for the better part of a fortnight, and has raised the ire of at least two of the upstairs maids. It won't be long before Elise's parents return for the annual holiday festivities. Any irregularities such as missing food and messy corridors are sure to be reported to them. And with the holiday presents close at hand, Elise definitely wants a good report. To be sure, our little heroine gets into enough mischief, without needing to take on the added responsibility for things like cookie crumbs that occur through no fault of her own.

Gingerly, Elise climbs down the steps leading to her high bed. Finding them cold from the brisk morning air, she scurries to find her rabbit-lined silk morning slippers. As she throws her robe around her and tightens the sash, Mimi has completed her morning stretching ritual -- jumping off the bed to find an exit to attend to the morning necessities. Cats being non-human are not about to use the chamber pot, how ever fancilly decorated with floral motifs. Giggling, Elsie opens one of the double doors leading into the upstairs hall of her wing of the castle, and the cat bounds away happily.

"And what would the little mistress desire for her breakfast this morning?" asks Marzie, the first of the upstairs maids to begin the rounds. "As usual, you're up before most of the house, little one. It will be at least an hour before Miss Templeton arises."

Giggling, our little gal gives a little hug, and swishes on by with a "Don't worry, I'll stop by and see cook in a moment."

"Now be a bonne petite fille and be sure to..." but the words fall on deaf ears. Elise has slipped away, in her skipping, floating little girl way of making it from point A to point B. Never two feet on the ground at the same time -- definitely a happy, carefree sort of a getting around.

The inner corridors of this wing are dark, dimly lighted by candles, except in the ante-ways with tall clerestory windows appearing in triplets every 30 or 40 feet. But since this hallway faces north west, the emerging daylight hasn't penetrated the frosted beveled glass of the lead-lined windows.

The sound of a door closing in the anteway to the left startles 14th Great-grandmother Elise, brings her to a tiptoeing halt. Who would be up this early? This part of the castle is not inhabited. Elsie only uses it sometimes as a shortcut to the kitchen -- avoiding the grand staircase and the central receiving hall on the ground floor.

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