Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Chapter 7 - Casa grande

Casa grande

She woke up again the next day when Konu shook her shoulder. They didn’t say anything as they put on their clothes and went outside to be counted. They were almost ready to start walking when the mistress of the house went over to them. She was a short woman. Her dark hair was tied up, leaving some curls to fall over her shoulders. She wore a dark yellow dress, and walked with a lot of energy. She asked the overseer for the weakest hands he could spare, to clean her garden. Kima followed her back to the main house. There the mistress told her to take out all the weeds in the garden, and she gave her a small blade and a coarse sack for the task.

‘When you’re done, remove all the dead leaves and brittle stalks.’ Her skin was pale, and she made her mouth small while she talked, which she did in a strong, clear voice. ‘Once that’s done, come inside the house to clean the halls. We have guests for dinner.’

She left and Kima looked around her. The garden was very big. On the edges there were tall roses and other flowers that she didn’t recognise, and in the centre there was a stone fountain. She started to work. Kneeling down she pulled at the weeds, cutting them with her small blade when they were too thick. Her left hand throbbed when she dragged the thick stalks. She found the sound of the water cascading in the fountain soothing.

After a while she decided she had removed all the weeds. The grass was not very tall, but the woman had shown her how short she had to cut it. This proved harder to do than she thought. The thick rag in her left hand prevented her from clasping the clumps of grass tightly, and the dew made them slippery. She tried cutting the grass using only her left hand, but that just resulted in some uprooted patches. She resigned to cutting very small wads at a time, holding them with the tips of her fingers.

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