Open All Hands On Deck
When Meril spied the white fury, she thought she must be dreaming; still away in anxious phantasm of the past. But it was genuine Yorkshire snow, the heaviest she'd seen yet. At the door, a good foot or two blocked the way. Still, for now, one could still come in and out if he were to mind his ankles and dry his socks by the kitchen fire. But she knew if it didn't slow down, the poorly prepared English would have to rely on her Canadian expertise.

It was just after luncheon, and she knew the gardeners would be soaked through. They weren't nearly dressed enough. Though the scarves could cut down the power of autumn's red and gold wind, it would hardly do for snow.

In her opinion, panic was not yet necessary. But the locals seemed to think otherwise. Several of her girls ran to the windows in excitement. How quaint to have to wait so very many months before seeing the stuff. And then it all would melt away before January's end. Hah. 

A few were more perturbed; she consoled a hall boy (or at least she tried) who seemed worried he mightn't make it to his mother's for the night. "Uh, there-there. It is nothing for a boy to cry over." But she was preoccupied with getting a head-count. 

"If you are coming from the cold, do remove your shoes. Please." She said, as two stable boys already began to trek mud through the hallway
Her mother had snapped at her for getting underfoot in the kitchen, so Daphne grabbed "Romeo and Juliet" and her shawl, and headed out for a walk around the manor grounds. She was frowning for three reasons:

One - She had already read "Romeo and Juliet" two summers ago, but her teacher had told her to read it again because "this class is a fundamental unit, Miss Crale, and there are no special rewards to be earned for advanced reading."

Two - Mercutio had just been wounded and he was her very favourite character.

Three - She had left her spectacles on the kitchen table and it was awfully difficult to read without them.

It had grown rather cold. She pulled her shawl more closely around her and held the book close to her face. "That gallant spirit hath aspired the clouds / Which too untimely here did scorn..." Did scorn what? Daphne squinted to no avail, finding it harder and harder to read. In half a moment she realized that this was because it was snowing.

Soon it became quite impossible to see not only the words on the page, but even the book she held in her hands. Daphne looked up with a start to find the frosty downfall blowing around wildly, and all the human-shaped figures dashing for the nearest building. She snapped the book closed, tucked it under her shawl, and followed suit.

She followed two young boys through a doorway which must have led into the castle. Daphne had never been inside before, and at once her mournful feelings for Mercutio were replaced with bright curiosity. There was a tall woman by the door who was addressing the youths who had entered before Daphne. Obediently she unlaced her boots, revealing mismatched woolen socks which seemed to have been made for a person with much bigger feet.

"Hello. That is, good day. Am I allowed in here? It's rather awful outside all of a sudden, you see."

Perhaps she would ask the woman the way to the castle library. The Madswittes had to have a library, didn't they? How lovely it would be if the library were open to visitors, just like the grounds. This seemed like exactly the thing Daphne's older siblings would know about but not tell her, just to make her cross.
The girl was not in uniform, who on earth? Meril closed her posture with folded arms and looked down at her. It would be cruel to turn her away. But ever was she suspicious. “Very well, girl. Who are you? Why are you about the staff door anyhow?”
Oh dear. Perhaps she shouldn't ask about the library just yet.

Daphne shuffled in her socks and hugged her book a little closer. "I beg your pardon, ma'am. The storm got stronger all of a sudden, and I saw those two make for this door, so I just followed them. I didn't know it was a-- a staff door or anything." Even if she had not tried to look particularly abashed, her brown hair was rather bedraggled and the shoulders of her shawl was heavy with sodden snow.

"I was reading while I walked about the grounds, you see. For school," she chirped, holding up "Romeo and Juliet" as if in evidence.

Then she remembered that the woman had asked another question, and her mother was always nagging her to develop some manners and state her name clearly when asked. With a bit of a snap to attention, she added, "My name's Daphne Crale. Pleased to meet you."

Perhaps Ms. Benbow would recognize the surname of Crale; the local postmaster's efficiency and surly temper were well known throughout the village.
"Postman Crale's girl?" Her eyebrows went up. "This is no time to be wandering." The matter seemed settled to Meril in seconds. A poor dim village girl, 'twas all. Exhaling frustration, she dropped her arms to her sides and nodded as she turned on her heel. "Very well, come by the fire. We can't have anybody catch her death of cold and wet.

At the hearth, several soggy servants already had hung some of their stockings to dry. She told them to budge up and make room for Daphne Crale. It wouldn't do to have the village think Madswitte's staff to be unmannerly.
Daphne let out a quiet sigh of relief as the woman admitted her into the house. "Thank you, ma'am," she murmured as she followed Meril within.

She was glad at this point to have forgotten her spectacles, as they would have just fogged up. Taking a spot near the fire and murmuring her thanks to those beside her, she craned her neck to and fro to look all around her at the basement servants' quarters, utterly fascinated. Like many residents of the village, she had long admired the castle from afar, but had never had a reason to actually go inside. Why should she, postman's daughter, have business within the fabled manor house? Oh, Josie was going to be so jealous.

"This is cozy," she said genuinely, swinging one foot back and forth and continuing to gaze about her in curious admiration. "Anything I can help with?" That was another thing that Daphne's mother was always laying into her for, disappearing with a book when there was work to be done.

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