Oh please, call me Phoebe. Phoebe smiled kindly at Franiel. Have you come a long way? Well really, I forget my manners. Sit down and I will prepare you a drink and some food. Then you can tell me your story and what has bought you here.
And so it was that just a short while later Franiel found himself ensconsed on the settee sipping hot mulled wine from a huge mug. What strange twists and turns life may take, he mused.
And whether it was the wine that loosened his tongue, or the kindly look in Phoebe’s eyes and the attentive way in which she nodded her old head so wisely, but he found himself telling her the most surprising things, as though she were an old friend he had known and trusted all his life.
Thus it was that it had soon been agreed that Franiel’s proposal would be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
It is as though you are an angel, laughed Phoebe, sent by God to help me, for it was weighing heavily upon me that there is much that needs doing. Dear Lydia who you met on the path, well what would I do without her, but she is not getting any younger, and Derwent …. her voice trailed off.
Well you are the second person to call me an angel, for I met Derwent earlier who also mistook me for an angel, but I am afraid I must disappoint you both, for I am a very ordinary mortal.
Oh I am not the slightest bit disappointed, smiled Phoebe. Here, she said, delving into the top drawer of a huge oak dresser, take these keys. I keep most of the rooms locked, for the place is so big and there is no need for all those rooms. Feel free to have a look around as you will. You will find your room prepared for you on the second floor, third room on the right.
Franiel was surprised and it must have showed on his face.
It is the room I keep ready for visitors. She chuckled. Most of the visitors I have here have no need of a place to sleep mind-you.
These are the others you spoke of earlier? asked Franiel,curious. At that moment though Phoebe’s attention was distracted. She looked towards the window, which was wide open though there was a chill in the late afternoon air.
Ah! there you are my lovely one! she cried, her face lighting up in delight as a large and colorful parrot flew in the window and landed on her shoulder.
The bird squawked and cast a steely gaze on Franiel.