Why did they leave me?
The thought resounded around her head as she went about the rather distasteful task, scrubbing and sponging and dousing with water. Why? Of course it wasn’t business that took them away, that had imprisoned her here, first as a boarder, now for life. She had known it wasn’t business, and they had known that she knew; and that made it worse, that they had prepared to abandon her in the full knowledge that she was expecting it, and that they had abandoned her anyway, without a second thought. It was hateful of them, utterly hateful, and she didn’t think she would ever stop being angry with them. She began to wonder why she hadn’t run away before they could do it again. Surely that would have been less humiliating? What could be worse than this – thrown on the charity of a stranger, trapped here in this little valley, at the mercy of foreign prefects and unable, now, even to make a stand against their authority? For she would have to behave! No more monkey tricks, no more trying to get one over Madame and the prefects. That warm summer’s evening when Madame had received her father’s letter, everything had changed. She was no longer part of a family. She was one, all alone, no-one in the world to rely on but herself; and she had wit enough to know that the best way to secure her future was to make herself as indispensible as possible.
Oh, she hated them! She had hated them for so long, and now she could never forgive them. The anger bubbled in her and she burned with her fury, and took vengeance in her scrubbing.
“Did I hurt you?”
“No, oh, no, Juliet! And it’s very kind of you to bath me. Thank you so much.”
Kind, indeed. But who would not be kind in response to such kindness from another? As much as she hated her parents for this…this disposal of her, so much did she trust Madame. How astounding, that someone to whom she had been nothing but trouble could extend the hand of forgiveness, give her a second chance! Her parents had never given her a second chance, though she had given them one. When they had left her at the Hills, they had wrecked her. To abandon a child – what person could do such a thing? How awful must that child be, for its parents willingly to abandon it, exposed upon the rocks, left to the predations of the vultures and the other wild creatures? She had been shattered, baffled, left utterly without foundation. To have loved them, and for them to treat her thus?
But they had taken her back, and though it was unwillingly and though she was made quite painfully aware that she was nothing but an encumbrance to them, she had forgiven them. She had given them another chance.
And now this.
No more forgiveness. Henceforth her allegiance was transferred. If she could not have parents who loved her, if she could not be part of a family, at least she could have a guardian who trusted her. And she would work. Oh, she would work. She wasn’t about to let them blight her life forever.
She saw Grizel and Joey whispering, and knew they were talking about her. Let them. She had a life to live. She was angry, but mostly she knew that she was going to succeed. How could she not? She had nothing left to lose.