the storm of the night had abated, but dark clouds still held sway in the sky when babette, the housekeeper, approached the comtesse, who was staring out the front window at the leaves and branches scattered on the wet grounds.
"i am going to the village now, madame. the storm looks as if may return, and i would like to go and return before it does."
"i am sure you know best, babette."
"would madame like me to obtain anything extra, for our guest?"
"who is, i assume, still asleep?"
"jeanette and arette tell me she is still in her room."
"and who has, therefore, given no indication that she wants anything to eat at all."
"arette said she looked healthy enough when she arrived. i assume she has at least a normal appetite."
"maybe she is a werewolf. in that case she will no doubt feed herself."
"madame is pleased to be droll."
"her appearance seemed to partake somewhat of the miraculous and mysterious to me. jeanette was skeptical. what do you think?"
"the mysterious is quite outside my purview, madame. as to the supplies from the village..."
"oh, use your own judgment. for one or two days i don't suppose she will bankrupt us. if she wakes up and wants a whole roast oxen for her lunch, we can always send one of the boys out to find one, eh?"
"indeed, madame." babette took her leave. the comtesse continued to look at the window and through the trees at the darkening sky. presently babette appeared on the path, accompanied by one of the kitchen maids with a basket on her arm.
"excuse me madam, " a squeaky little voice behind her interrupted the comtesse's reverie. she turned and saw the young maid referred to by the other servants as "little margaret" with her hands clenched nervously in front of her. behind her, in the wide doorway of the drawing room, stood a woman of about thirty years, of medium height and haughty bearing, wearing a plain blue dress.