Four months later, I received a new job. “The Mistress needs a new personal servant to help her,” Martha explained. “Serah says you’ll do just fine, now that you know our language well enough.”
“Me?” I asked nervously. “But I’ve never done anything like it before. What if I do something wrong?”
“Tirzah—she’s another servant—will teach you until you are ready,” Martha answered. “Just do what you’re told and you’ll learn quickly.”
“But I’m only eight.”
“Mistress said she wants a young girl,” Martha explained impatiently.
“She thinks she can train you up right if she gets you before too many habits have settled and you’re determined not to change. Besides, she says she likes Jewish girls best because they’re more obedient than other girls. Now come on.”
She turned and led me through the magnificent house at a fast pace. I was overwhelmed by the fancy furnishings I caught glimpses of in rooms I hadn’t seen yet. I didn’t have long to think about it, though, because soon Martha was knocking on one of the doors. A woman dressed in servant’s clothes opened the door. “This is Tirzah,” Martha whispered quickly before we stepped inside.
There was an expensive bed to the left, covered in beautiful white blankets. The windows in front of us had their white curtains pulled back, flooding the room with sunshine. The room also contained a dresser, wardrobe, and small table opposite the bed. The table bore a mirror before which a beautiful lady sat patiently. Tirzah stepped back over to her and continued arranging her lovely golden hair. Noticing me, the woman said something to Tirzah and stood up. I gazed in wonder at her lovely, fancy blue dress that matched her blue eyes brilliantly, then lowered my eyes like Martha did.
“My lady,” Martha murmured, “This is the new servant you asked for.”
“Thank you, you may leave.” As Martha lowered her head and obeyed, the woman turned to me. “What is your name?” she asked in a voice that was quite lovely, yet conveyed control.
“Elizabeth,” I answered.
“Have you had past experience as a servant?” Mistress asked.
“Not until I came here, ma’am.”
“Where do you come from?”
“How old are you?”
Mistress seem satisfied after that. “You are to be my personal servant. You will help me in the morning and follow me around all day, attending to all my needs. Tirzah will teach you what to do.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I answered, though in a hesitating voice.
“Is something wrong?” Mistress asked, frowning.
I became a little frightened under her disapproving look, but I had to ask. “It’s just that, I was wondering if I would have to work on the Sabbath. Serah never made me do it, since God tells me to not work then and my Mommy and Daddy want me to obey God.”
“Yes, you may,” Mistress answered, “As long as you are obedient and hard-working throughout the rest of the week.
“Thank you,” I said in relief. I stepped forward to stand by Tirzah to watch as she finished arranging Mistress’s hair.
When Mistress was done preparing for the day, she went downstairs to eat breakfast. Tirzah and I stood hidden to the side, ready to help her when she asked.
I quickly learned not to talk at times like that. “Mistress shouldn’t be able to tell you’re there,” Tirzah explained.
After that, Mistress spent some time reading in a comfy room decorated with cushiony couches, chairs, fresh flowers, books, and other strange decorations. When she took a walk in the gardens, Tirzah and I followed a little distance behind her. Some neighbors visited in the afternoon, and Tirzah and I again waited nearby, watching silently. During supper, we stood nearly hidden from view. Finally, we helped her prepare for bed. When she dismissed us, Tirzah and I went into a small room next door. We were to sleep in there, ready to help Mistress if she called.
I had found that helping Mistress was not any less exhausting then working in the kitchen, but it was more boring. As I finished up for the day, I wondered how long I would be her servant. For the rest of my life? Was I ever going to escape and go home?
“God,” I whispered, like I had before, “What is your plan? Why are you keeping me here? Why don’t you help me go home?”