Her hunger forgotten, Rosalie bolted down the wide corridor that ran past the kitchen and the servants’ hall. She wanted to speak with Greta, but her friend would be with the other servants. And the malicious note—it felt like a burning lump of coal in her apron pocket—wasn’t something Rosalie could share with just anybody.
The door to the delivery room—right by the service entrance—caught her eye. She could go in there.
She barged through the door, shut it firmly behind her, and leaned against it, her eyes closed. Her breath came in short, sharp gasps. She was beginning to calm down when a voice rang out close to her ear.
“Oh, there you are!”
Rosalie couldn’t help herself; she uttered a little shriek as her eyes flew open.
“Greta!” she gasped, turning to where her friend sat at the far end of the long table. “Why didn’t you say something? You gave me such a start.”
Greta—a buxom girl with blond hair pulled neatly into double buns on either side of her head—grinned. “I didn’t hear you come in, silly! It was only when I turned around that I saw you.”
“You’ll never bel—?” Rosalie began
But Greta, peering eagerly at the basket dangling from Rosalie’s wrist, broke in, “That’s a lot of paper. Is that all of it?” Her blue eyes moved toward the door. “Where are Ulrike and the others?”
“In the kitchen, I expect.” Rosalie sighed. Was there no getting Greta’s mind off any matter that didn’t concern Karl? “I said they should have a bite to eat while they can.”
Rosalie pulled herself away from the door. She’d also suggested the maids go out to the lake to catch a glimpse of the bride sailing in. But she knew it wasn’t the whereabouts of the other maids that Greta was curious about.
“Don’t worry. Ulrike gave me the papers she gathered.” Rosalie set her basket on the table with a heavy thump. “And I have Frida’s as well. There’s plenty for Karl—some of it might be wrinkled or stained with ink.”
“Oh, Karl doesn’t mind,” Greta assured her, poking through the basket. “He just needs scraps to scribble short notes about his characters or any idea he comes up with for a story.”
Rosalie sighed. How was she to tell Greta about the note? Her friend seemed oblivious to everything else but the paper.
She watched as Greta withdrew some thick sheets, inspecting them carefully. “Such nice thick paper! Isn’t it?” She glanced up at Rosalie, who stood frozen behind a chair. “Why don’t you sit down? Are you hungry? I brought you some sweet rolls and coffee.”
Greta pushed a tray with the food and a pot of coffee toward Rosalie.
Rosalie pulled out the chair next to Greta, but she wasn’t in the mood for rolls or coffee. Greta was nattering on—something about the paper the musicians had discarded. It was all covered in staves—but maybe Karl could use it.
Finally, Rosalie couldn’t bear it.
“Greta!” she said sharply. “There’s something you need to see.”
“Wha—?” Before Greta could finish her question, Rosalie pulled out the note and placed it before her friend.
Bending her glossy chestnut-colored hair next to Greta’s blond head, Rosalie perused the note a second time. It sent a chill down her spine, the words were so venomous.
Do what needs to be done. Or your shameful secret will be exposed. Have you no thought for the child you’ve fathered—or the poor woman left to bear your sin as well as hers? Don’t think you can get out of this without paying.
“God have mercy!” Greta gasped, her blue eyes as round as saucers. “Who could’ve written that?”