“You,” he said, indicating Chrissie, “may sit.”
Chrissie sat. He regarded her with his head tilted slightly. Eleanor want to prompt Chrissie, but knew better than to interfere with her Master at work.
Chrissie shuffled around a little, until she was comfortable, and then looked up. Seeing the look on his face, Eleanor could almost read what was happening in Chrissie mind as her thoughts reflected in her face: Why is he looking at me like that? What have I done wrong this time?
Realisation dawned on Chrissie’s face.
“Thank you, sir.”
Eleanor hadn’t realised she’d tensed up until this moment when she relaxed. She’d already been punished for discussing Him with Chrissie, though she had not said much at all. And then she’d been punished for the audacity of asking if she could come along. She didn’t want to be out of favour again for something Chrissie did.
“So just what has Miss Eleanor been telling you about me?” he said, as he stood, and began to slowly pace the room.
Eleanor felt herself tense again, and tried to force herself to relax.
“Well, er,” Chrissie stumbled. “Not very much, really. She just would disappear quickly when you texted her.”
He perched on the front edge of his desk.
“So why did you request audience?”
Chrissie looked puzzled momentarily before answering.
“I was just,” she paused, nervously looking at him. “Curious, I suppose.”
She paused again, as he studied her.
“She’s never said much about you, and I wanted to find out more.”
“You know what they say about curiosity, don’t you?”
Eleanor could tell by the look on Chrissie’s face that she was unsure whether an answer was required or not.
He turned to Eleanor.
She almost leapt out of her skin when he addressed her.
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
“It seems I have done you a disservice. You have not been as indiscrete as I had thought, and for that, I apologise.”
Eleanor looked up at him, wide-eyed, amazed. He had apologised to her. He had made an admission of his own short-coming. Her mouth opened and closed a couple of times before she spoke.
“Thank you, sir.”
Her head was still spinning as he turned his attention back to Chrissie.
“Do you usually present yourself as a street whore?” he said
Eleanor smiled to herself at Chrissie’s reaction. She herself had been subjected to his tactless, yet tactical questions before, and Chrissie had risen to the bait.
“Your display of flesh, your painted face and nails, advertising yourself to all and sundry.”
“I made an effort to make a good impression-” she said, becoming irritated.
“You certainly made an impression,” he countered, nonchalantly withdrawing a cane from a stand by his desk.
“I don’t have to take this-“
“Do sit down,” he said calmly.
Chrissie watched him as looked her in the eye, a slight smile on his face, flexing his cane.
Chrissie paused before sitting, her eyes maintaining eye contact with Him.
“We seem to be getting off to a bad start, don’t we?”
“Can we now begin to rectify these issues?”
Chrissie paused before answering.
“Could you bring me a bowl of water, a towel, a bar of soap, and the face cloth?”
“The-“ Eleanor began questioning.
“Yes,” he interrupted, nodding.
Eleanor went through to his kitchen and filled a bowl with cold water, found the soap and face cloth, and picked up a small towel. She returned to His study.
He took the towel, and placed it over Chrissie’s lap, before placing the bowl in her lap. He dropped the face cloth and soap into the water.
“Now wash your face clean,” he said.
Eleanor saw Chrissie look at her, possibly for reassurance; Eleanor just nodded at the bowl.
Chrissie picked up the cloth and soap, rubbed the soap on the cloth, and then began to wipe her face. Eleanor watched as Chrissie discovered the roughness of the material, and slowed down her rubbing. Eleanor had been through this herself, though she never wore as much makeup as Chrissie did. She wondered if he insisted on using cold water so it would cool the skin from the rough treatment, though she also wondered why he used carbolic soap. Eleanor stifled a chuckle – Chrissie probably wouldn’t have to ex-foliate for at least a week.
As Chrissie uncomfortably wiped off her makeup, He would occasionally point out any missed spots. A few minutes later, she finished by wiping around her neck, and dropping the cloth back into the water. He nodded his approval, and carefully picked up the bowl.
“Miss Eleanor. Could you return these?”
Eleanor took the bowl back to his kitchen, emptied it out, wrung out the face cloth and hung it to dry, put the soap back in the soap dish, and then washed out the bowl, drying it; she knew how particular her Master was.
She returned to the study and caught the last piece of a conversation.
“- and I do not tolerate painted Jezebels.”
Eleanor was familiar with his ways. She also knew who Jezebel was; the ‘corruptor’ of King Ahab, only opposed by Elijah. He looked up and smiled as Eleanor entered.
“Now we shall move on.”
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