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Today, at lunchtime, I finally understood. We had finished eating our soup, when Angelica dismissed the servants. I thought it was very strange, but I didn’t say anything. Why bother? My new step-mother has made it clear she’s boss around here now.
‘There’s something I wanted to tell you, Cindy,’ she said. I noticed she was enjoying herself immensely.
‘What is it?’
‘I’ve decided to fire all the servants to save money.’
‘What?’ I couldn’t believe my ears. I have had servants all my life, after all.
‘It’s a waste,’ she continued.
‘But who will light the fires and do all the cleaning and cooking?’
‘I thought you’d never ask. You will, of course.’
What was she speaking about? Had she gone crazy or something? I didn’t want to show her how hurt I was, but tears streamed down my face and I could do nothing to stop them.
‘But I don’t know how to do any of those things…’
‘Don’t worry. You’ll learn. The servants are staying on for a month. They’ll use that time to teach you. You can sleep in their quarters from tonight.’
‘But even if I learn, I’ll never find the time to do the work of five people.’
‘You’d better… And by the way, I have laid out some clothes on your bed. They are more appropriate for your new duties.’
While Angelica and I spoke, my step-sisters laughed non-stop. How could they be so evil?
I left the dining room and went upstairs. On my bed, I saw a grey cotton dress and a blue apron and on the floor by them a pair of black slippers. Looking at these terrible clothes made me start crying afresh.