“Greetings, Madam,” said Lia, like Betty had taught her.
The Marchioness was sitting on a plush sofa.
She was draped in a blue gown over her nightdress.
Her hair flowed brown and dark over her back.
Her sharp blue eyes looked at Lia.
The noblewoman nodded at the childs greeting.
Lia hesitated at the cold face of the Marchioness.
“You look better after washing, Canillia,” said the lady.
“Thank you for the meal and bath, My Lady,” said Lia, “Please can I see my mother now”
“Hmm,” mumbled the Marchioness and gestured for the child to come nearer.
Betty gave a gentle push to encourage Lia to walk nearer to the sofa.
Lia obliged and walked hesitantly to the Marchioness.
She had Lia sit beside her on the sofa.
Lia found her beautiful but scary and shrunk herself smaller.
“Canillia, Im sorry to say you cannot meet your mother,” the lady declared.
“But why” asked Lia hurriedly.
“Your mother stole something precious,” said the Marchioness.
Lias eyes widened at the answer.
“My mother isnt a thief,” cried Lia.
Her eyes brimmed with tears which streaked down her cheeks.
The Marchioness looked at her damp hair with disapproval.
“Canillia, your mother stole something very valuable from me, and I cannot have it back now.
So, she should be punished at the least.”
“I will find it!” pleaded Lia, “We are poor but my mother is no thief, please believe me.”
“You will find it” said the Marchioness, stroking Bettys cheek.
A maid took out a pair of sharp scissors from a drawer and placed them on the table in front of the sofa.
“Then, give yourself to me,” said the Marchioness coldly.
Lia hiccupped with tears and fright.
“Canillian Vale,” said the Marchioness.
“If you live as Canillian Vale from today, you and your mother will be safe, I promise.”
Lia wanted to say she wasnt aVale but her lips couldnt move.
She was terrified of this lady.
“But…,” she managed, “I am just Canillia…”
The Marchioness gave a cold smile and shook her head.
“No, you are Canillian Vale from today.”
Lia couldnt understand why she had to beCanillian Vale.
Her thoughts were interrupted as she felt the scissor blades clipping through her hair.
“Short hair will suit you greatly,” said the Marchioness as she cut away her hair.
Lia sat there stunned and terrified as the scissors finished snipping off so much of her hair.
Betty sighed in sadness.
“Betty,” called the Marchioness.“Yes, Madame,” said Betty.
“Ask someone else to clean up and send Lian to a room,” the Marchioness instructed, as she lowered the scissors.
Lia brushed her hands through her short, almost boyish hair.
“My beautiful Canillian, how lovely you are,” she said.
Lia missed her mother.
She had brushed Lias long hair every night.
She started to cry.
Betty picked up the child in her arms trying to calm her.
Lia buried her face on Bettys shoulder.
She didnt like it that she had lost her hair and was not being called with a strange name.
She was frightened.
Betty placed Lia down on the bed as they reached the room and sat across from her.
Tears streamed down the childs face.
“Lia, your mother is being treated.
She isnt punished,” said Betty gently, “Madam is just a bit angry, but she isnt a bad person.
So, listen to her to save Laura.”
Lia raised her lowered head when she heard her mothers name.
“You know her” she asked.
“Of course,” said Betty, “This is your fathers house.”
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“My father” asked Lia.
She pointed to a portrait on the wall.
A man with honey blonde hair and emerald eyes.
“You have hair and eyes just like your father, Lia.”
Her eyes glistened in the lamplight.
The man was too familiar for her to not know who he was.
Her mother hadnt stolen an object, she had stolen a person.
Lia looked at her reflection in the dark window.
With her hair so very short and her thin body, she looked like a boy.
Lia mumbled the strange new name as she buried her head between her knees and cried.