Her footsteps echo softly in the hall as the plump-yet-lovely brown-skinned young woman makes her way down the hall in the servants’ wing of Bendis manor this afternoon. She turns a corner and proceeds until she comes upon a door with a plaque on it which reads, “Run a Tight Ship, or Brace for a Wreck,” and knocks on it.
“Come in, dear! It’s open!” a mature woman’s voice calls from within.
And so, the young woman takes a deep breath, pushes up her pseudo-cat-eye framed glasses, and enters the apartment. It is small and cozy, with a little kitchen area off to her left and a door off to her right which is more than likely the entrance to the bedroom. In the main room, the furnishings include a comfy-looking powder blue loveseat, an intricately carved wooden stand with a record player placed atop it, a little wooden table with two wooden chairs, and a display shelf full of porcelain kitten figurines. The table is perfectly set with two porcelain tea cups, matching sugar and cream dispensers, appropriate cutlery, and a tray of delicious-looking butter cookies. Over by the kitchen the source of the voice—a plump, middle-aged-looking elvish woman with auburn hair wearing a blue and white maid’s uniform—is just coming over to the table with a hot tea pot. This is Miss Elliada Amersbey. She greets the young woman warmly as they sit down to begin the interview.
Quick Facts about Miss Elliada Amersbey
Name: Miss Elliada Gadrielle Amersbey
Age: 357 (35 going on 36 in human years)
Birthday: Augusta (August) 30, 686 P.W.D.
Height: 5 feet, 2 inches (157.5 centemeters)
Weapon of Choice: A sharp tongue and a stern look
Favorite Color: Lavender
Danielle Freeman: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Miss Amersbey.
Elliada Amersbey: Oh, don’t mention it, my dear. It’s been quite a while since I’ve simply gotten a chance to relax and chat with someone over a nice cup of tea. Running a household like this with a staff of nearly eighty certainly keeps a lady on her toes.
D.F.: I can imagine. So, as Head of Housekeeping, you are really responsible for supervising the whole staff?
E.A.: Well, since the Head Gardener doesn’t know how to keep his people in shape and the Stable Master retired last month and his replacement won’t be arriving for another few weeks, yes. Yes, I am pretty-much the Chief of Staff here. *chuckles and takes a sip of her tea*
D.F.: Wow. That’s quite the workload. How do you manage to keep everything running so smoothly around here? I mean, I haven’t seen so much as a stray dust speck anywhere. It’s truly impressive…
E.A.: Strict discipline and a good group of employees, for one. If I catch anyone slacking off, they get a stern talking to and if it’s habitual…out they go! Under me, you put your all into your work or you seek employment better suited to your disposition, simple as that. However, I also work very hard to keep morale up and ensure that working conditions are satisfactory and that everyone is being properly compensated. Those who live on-site make a bit less because room and board are part of their pay, while those who live off-site are paid more to keep up with property taxes and rent and so-forth. And, of course, having Mistress Eliza working alongside the maids to keep up the house is a big help as well. It’s good for morale and she is probably the best assistant that I have ever had in all my years in housekeeping!
D.F.: I was just about to ask you about that, actually…having the lady of the house actually stepping in like that. How often has that actually happened? And how do you feel about it?
E.A.: As I said before, Mistress Eliza is a tremendous help and I love working with her. She really is such a hard worker—so focused, so disciplined, always going the extra mile…No other woman who has married into this family during my service here has ever lifted a finger to help with the house, preferring to either continue working or spend their retirement splitting their time between raising and training their children and leisure activities. That is to be expected, of course. When a woman marries rich, she generally expects certain privileges…but not Mistress Eliza. No! She told me once that she could be the very Empress of Nipon and still be keeping house right next to her chamber maids!
D.F.: *laughs* And you’ve been with the family for over a century, is that correct?
E.A.: Yes, since 934. I was but a girl of two hundred and forty eight then, but I had already had experience as the Head of Houskeeping for Lord Minindril’s wing of the Dorlindrelle family’s main estate. My family had been serving his for generations but…I do so hate to speak badly of an employer, but Lord Minindril Askarda Dorlindrelle is one of the most irritating people with whom I have ever been acquainted! *huffs and shudders*
D.F.: How so, if you don’t mind my asking?
E.A.: Well, Lord Minindril and I were the same age. I first met him when I was eighty and had just started as an apprentice maid. I was walking by him in the hall and he had a cup of juice in his hand…and he went and spilled it on the floor. I immediately went to clean it up and as I did he asked me my name. Naturally, I gave it to him…and from then on he would have no other maid clean up his messes but me! He would deliberately smear paint on the walls, stain the drapes with ink, tromp about on the carpet with muddy boots…and would throw a holy fit if I wasn’t the maid called in to clean it up!
D.F.: Oh, dear! That’s terrible!
E.A.: Well, he got sneakier and more subtle about things as he got older…which is, I suspect, how I was promoted to Head of Housekeeping in his wing when he came of age. From then? The outrageous messes started up all over again! But worse! Paint and mayo mixed together all over the floor while he slid about in it like a penguin on a snowbank, a hundred gallons of egg yolk spattered around the entirety of a room, and then there was the feathers and syrup debacle of 921! And always…always…he called me in to clean it and would just sit or stand there and watch me with that stupid goofy grin on his face. It was just so stressful! But, when I woke up one day and noticed that at two hundred and forty I looked almost four hundred…That is when I handed in my resignation.
D.F.: So, the stress literally caused you to age?
E.A.: Oh, yes. For us elves, stress really does put years onto your appearance and only a good vacation can take them off again. I never got all of my youth back—which is why I still look about thirty years older than I really am—but I did get enough back that I don’t look like an old lady before my time. *sighs*
D.F.: So, after you resigned and had a bit of rest, that’s when you ventured out into the wider world? What was that like, being among the first elves in generations to be out and about like that?
E.A.: It was a thrilling experience. I traveled around for a few years seeing the sights before finally going ahead and looking for work. As it just so happened, I had made that decision when laid-over in Berrywood due to track closures a few miles further up the route and that is when I heard that the Bendis family was looking for a new Head of Housekeeping. Naturally, I went for it. As my grandmother used to say—and as I have repeated to generations of staffers and Bendises—if a great opportunity presents itself to you and it won’t compromise your morals or responsibilities to go for it, you’d be a fool to pass it by. So, I gathered up my bags, marched myself up that road, knocked on that door…and was met by the largest man I’d ever laid eyes on! Kitten Bendis. He had to have been at least six-foot-seven or so, big and burly, with this thick black beard and green eyes which seemed to be looking more through me than at me! A great mountain of a man, that one, and it didn’t help that he was so stone-faced and stern with me on top of it all! His wife, Martha, she looked so frail and dainty standing beside him. She was about average height and, if she was standing among other women, you could easily tell that she was no fragile flower. She had a strong, athletic physique and lifted weights every day…but beside that man…she was like a butterfly perched on an ox!
D.F.: That really does sound scary…and it wasn’t easy getting the job either, right?
E.A.: That’s right. Master Kitten did not want to hire me at all. “She’s too young,” he said. Oh, but Mistress Martha wheedled and cajoled him until he finally caved in and gave me an unpaid two-week trial run. The Bendis family is descended from a line of Spartan warriors, and it shows most in their stubbornness and determination. When they have an idea in their heads or a goal in mind, they don’t give up until it is proven beyond a doubt wrong or impossible. It took me that whole two weeks to convince Master Kitten that I was worthy of the position and he gave me the job only on the condition that I would also teach the children of this family basic magic and ensure that they were fluent in Elvish. I think that he thought the extra responsibility would drive me out…but he was dead wrong about that! *laughs*
D.F.: And you have been helping to raise the Bendis children ever since. So, what has that been like?
E.A.: Like raising children in any instance, I suppose: trying and nerve-wracking. Full of joyous and amusing events, to be sure, but also quite a bit of work. The first time that I sat the children down for a lesson…chaos. Master Oak didn’t want to sit still, Mistress Aspen tried to use a bathroom break in order to sneak off, Master Elm tried to use those goofy eye glasses to sleep in class, Mistress Holly just scribbled in her note book and pretended at taking notes…and master Maple was really the only one behaving himself. It took quite a bit of doing to establish myself as one not to be trifled with, let me tell you! …In fact, in this family, I have noticed a pattern with the children. In every generation, there is the sweet one, the tough one, the quiet one, the rambunctious one, the dramatic one, and the rebel. Often, one child will have two or three of those traits together…but it never fails, mark my words.
D.F.: Oh, really?
E.A.: *nods* Yes. For instance, take Master Blade and his siblings. Master Blade was the tough one, Master Spear was the quiet one and the sweet one, Mistress Dagger was the dramatic one, Mistress Axe was the rambunctious one…and Master Mace was undoubtedly the rebel. After he turned five, he refused to pick up a gun and insisted on focusing solely on martial arts, throwing weapons, and the sword. He’d read a book about ninjas, you see, and had decided that that was the way that he wanted to fight—stealth, blades, and shuriken. At ten, on the way to take his hunter’s exam, he snuck off on his own and headed east to Nipon to learn ninjutsu! “Don’t worry about me and don’t go looking for me,” that note of his read, “I’ll come back when I’ve become a great shinobi!” Five years and not a single letter or telegram…and then one day he shows up at the door in this ridiculous black jumpsuit, newly-minted hunter’s license in hand, and the first thing out of his mouth is, “Tadaima!” I wanted to strangle and hug him all at once, I had been so worried about that fool boy…! *sniffles and wipes her eyes a bit* I’m so sorry, dear. Just thinking back on it gets me all emotional again…
D.F.: I can imagine. You’ve been helping to raise the children of this family for over a century. It’s only natural.
E.A.: Yes. This family truly has become like an extension of my own clan. I celebrate each birth and milestone, I worry over them when they are out there fighting, I mourn every death…How could I not? However, I still maintain my professionalism at all times. As an employee in this household, there are still boundaries which I must not overstep and things that I would like to say which I simply cannot. It’s just the nature of the position.
D.F.: And yet you still command a certain respect from everyone around you…
E.A.: *laughs* A good general commands respect by pulling rank and barking orders. A great general accomplishes the same simply with the way that he carries himself…Another of my grandmother’s sayings. If that is true, then I suppose that’s all that I am.
D.F.: *finishes her tea* Thank you for your time, Miss Amersbey. It’s been a pleasure talking with you, but I’m going to have to take my leave.
E.A.: Yes, of course. That article isn’t going to write itself now, is it? I enjoyed having you. Please do come again.
D.F.: Thank you. I’ll try to squeeze another visit in in the future.
And so, the young woman takes her leave.
Did you all enjoy that interview? Wait, yeah, of course you did! Read up on this generation of the Bendis family in The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner, available now on Amazon.com (print and kindle ebook versions available) and Createspace.com (print edition only). Also, don’t forget to come back next week when—
Ignore this insufferable woman’s prattling! It is I, Silver Bendis, elder brother of that fool Wolfsbane. I shall be taking over next week’s blog post in order to tell you the tale of that pest’s birth. The worst day of my life…Feh! Until then, buy the book so that you can read all about me and see exactly why I am superior to him in every conceivable way. If you do not, I will find out where you live, tear your immortal soul from your pathetic excuse for a body, and slice it into confetti with my blade. You have been warned.