~I've been working on this for a little while now . . . even sent it off to Sophia's great-great-grandaughter (Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall). She liked and sent me a little letter to let me know :) . . . maybe one day I'll get to do more than just post it to facebook and my Blog!!~
Sophia sat looking out her bedroom window. The world outside was white with snow and she wanted to go out and play in it with her sister Minnie and their dogs, Fin and Finette.
Sophia ran to her Papa, who was sitting in his study reading.
"Papa please may Minnie and I go outside to play?" She pleaded. Her Papa looked up from his book and replied, "Sophia, it is much too cold outside for you to go out and play. A snow storm is on its way and it will be supper soon." Sophia sighed as she folded her arms across her chest.
"Maybe tomorrow will be better" Papa said as he got up from his chair and walked over to his young daughter, "for now why don’t you go back to your room and play with your sister. Later tonight I will read you a story before bed." Sophia’s Papa gave her hug and a kiss on the forehead and sent her back upstairs.
Halfway up the staircase Sophia stopped and wondered what fun she could have inside. She didn’t really want to play a boring game with her sister. Maybe the servants in the house had something more fun for her and Minnie to do. Sophia ran up the stairs back to her room where her sister sat playing with a doll.
"Come Minnie, let’s go see what Cook is doing downstairs." Sophia said excitedly.
"But Sophia, we are not supposed to go downstairs. If Papa finds out he will be mad, and Cook doesn’t like us in her kitchen." Minnie was hardly able to finish her sentence when Sophia took her hand and led her to the opening of their bedroom door.
"Well then Minnie, I guess we will have to make it our secret mission to get downstairs without Papa or Cook knowing." She grinned as she led her sister quietly down the servants’ staircase.
Sophia had forgotten that to get to the basement she and Minnie would have to get passed their Aunts room. The girls Aunt was very strict and would be very cross if she caught her nieces playing around the servants stairs to the basement and even more cross if she found out they had gone down them.
The servants were always busy working. Going up and down the stairs with hot water, trays of food and dishes. If Sophia and Minnie were to get in the way of one of the busy servants they could be hurt accidentally, or accidentally cause one of the servants to be hurt.
Sophia turned to her sister as they came closer to their Aunts sitting room door and slowly raised a finger to her mouth, "Shhhh" she whispered to her sister. Minnie pretended to place a button over her mouth and the two tiptoed passed the door. Inside the room Sophia and Minnie could hear their Aunt singing Christmas carols softly. A floor board creaked as they made their way around the corner passed their Aunt’s door and the singing from inside the room stopped. Sophia and Minnie pressed their backs against the wall around the corner from their Aunt’s Room, just as their Aunt opened the door.
"Hmmm" said their Aunt as she looked around suspiciously and then stepped back into her room closing the door behind her.
Sophia and Minnie breathed a sigh of relief and continued to make their way to the top of the basement stairs. Sophia peeked over the railing and Minnie peaked through them as they tried to see or hear any of the servants.
Besides the Cook there were three other servants who worked in the house; the butler, a footman and a maid. The Butler Sophia thought, must be in his room, the footman was probably in the stables tending to the horses and Bridget the maid was likely nearby in the basement helping cook prepare supper. Christmas time was fast approaching and guests would be arriving to stay at the house for the holidays soon. Cook was very busy preparing whatever she could for the upcoming holiday parties.
As Sophia and Minnie began to take their first few steps down the basement stairs they could hear the sound of pots and pans clattering and then the sweet and savoury smells of the kitchen began to fill their noses. The two girls smiled at each other and in unison quietly said "Mmmm."
Once they reached the bottom of the basement stairs the girls quickly and quietly peeked into the kitchen. They could see that Cook and the maid Bridget were busy tending the kitchen fires and gathering water from the pump. Their backs were turned to Sophia and Minnie and the sounds of the pump, the crackling fires and the clanging pots and pans made it so that the girls were free to make a little bit of noise as they moved down the hallway to the dairy. The dairy is where cook would be storing the sweets and desserts for supper that night, as well as anything she could store ahead of time for Christmas.
Sophia opened the door to the dairy and she and Minnie stepped inside. The sight before them was one of magic! The sweet smell of sugar and cinnamon filled the air.
There were cookies, tarts, meringues, chocolates and right in the very middle of it all the most wonderful Christmas cake covered in marzipan icing. The cake must have stood three feet tall and had four very thick layers. It was decorated with holly and ivy made out of icing and at the very top was a sparkling star. Sophia and Minnie stood in wonder, mouths open and eyes wide. If only they could have just a small taste . . .
Sophia began to make her way closer to the cake and as she did she heard Bridget ask Cook loudly if she wanted three or four more pounds of butter. There wasn’t much time, so Sophia and Minnie quickly hid inside a cupboard out of sight. Bridget entered the room wondering why the door to the dairy was open. She shrugged her shoulders and continued on her quest for Cook’s butter.
Inside the cupboard Sophia and Minnie sat perfectly still until Minnie saw movement on a shelf behind Sophia’s head. Minnie was just about to scream when Sophia reached out her hand and covered her sister’s mouth. Sophia slowly turned her head just in time to see a little mouse scurry behind some butter moulds and jars in the cupboard. She took a deep breath and closed her mouth and eyes tight in hopes that Bridget would leave soon and she wouldn’t end up with a mouse in her hair!
Bridget finished measuring out the butter for Cook and when she left the dairy she made sure she closed the door tightly behind her. She didn’t want Cook to be mad at her for letting any warm air into the dairy that might spoil anything.
Sophia and Minnie quickly but quietly emerged from the cupboard hiding place with their eyes again staring at the beautiful cake. A butter knife lay on the counter and Sophia quickly picked it up.
"Oh no Sophia you mustn’t do that!" cried Minnie. "If we are caught we will be in such trouble, and it is so close to Christmas!"
"Minnie, don’t be so worried!" Sophia replied. "The cake is so big, no one will notice just a little piece . . . or two missing."
Sophia cut down into the cake taking a slice for her, a slice for Minnie and one for each of their dogs Fin and Finette. Placing the slices inside a cloth from the counter Sophia secured her prize and reached for her sister’s hand.
The door to the dairy was stuck and Sophia would need all her strength to open the door. She handed the cake over to Minnie and she pulled on the door with all her might. The door gave way and popped open throwing Sophia and Minnie to the floor behind them. The two girls did not make a sound and waited to hear if the sound of footsteps from the kitchen were on the way.
Everything sounded quiet, so they checked their cake and it too had survived the fall. Standing up and brushing themselves off, Minnie and Sophia made their way out into the hall and back to the basement stairs, making sure to close the Dairy room door tightly behind them when they left.
As they passed the kitchen they saw that Bridget and Cook were still very busy, so they continued on toward the stairs. Just as they were about to head back up the stairs they heard the floor creak at the top. At the same time behind them in the kitchen they heard Cook ask Bridget to go again and bring even more butter from the dairy.
What would they do - Sophia and Minnie felt trapped with no place to hide! The only place for them to go was inside the cupboard for the dumb waiter. The dumb waiter was a sort of elevator that was used to bring food from the kitchen in the basement to the dining room on the main floor. When Cook had food ready in the dumb waiter, she would ring a bell and the Butler would come in and pull on a rope bringing the dumb waiter up to his pantry. After the food had been eaten the leftovers and the dirty dishes were sent back down on the dumb waiter to the basement to be stored and cleaned.
Sophia and Minnie quickly stepped inside the cupboard of the dumb waiter and closed the doors behind them. As they shuffled to find a place to sit down on one of the shelves inside, they noticed a few covered trays next to them. Sophia felt the covers and they were warm.
"Oh no" she whispered to Minnie. Just then the bell rang in the Butler’s pantry and they heard the Butler walk into the room above them.
Sophia and Minnie stared at each other in fear, if they were caught they would be in a lot of trouble. The Butler would surely tell their Aunt and Papa if he found them in the dumb waiter. That would certainly put them on St. Nicholas’ naughty list. Sophia closed her eyes and imagined only getting coal in her stocking for Christmas!
Slowly the dumb waiter began to make its way up from the basement to the main floor just inside the butler’s pantry. Sophia held tight to her sister’s hand as they waited for the pantry doors to open and for their fate to be sealed. "This is it" Sophia thought as she braced herself for the worst!
Then it happened. A scream came up from the basement that was so loud and piercing that it stopped everyone in their tracks. The butler left his post by the dumb waiter doors and hurried down the basement stairs. Sophia and Minnie also heard their Aunts door open and then footsteps racing across the floor from their Papa’s study.
Soon all the grown-ups were downstairs tending to Bridget, who had found when she returned to the dairy for more butter, a mouse eating away at some of the desserts.
Sophia and Minnie were in luck as they found themselves in the dumb waiter on the main floor, away from all the grown-ups in the house and still in possession of their prized cake. The girls quickly flung open the doors of the dumb waiter and stepped out into the pantry on the main floor of the house. In a hurry they closed the doors behind them and ran up the stairs back to their bedroom. Once inside the girls laughed and jumped under the covers of Sophia’s bed.
Fin and Finette, had been curled up by the fire in the room, but as the girls made their speedy entrance the two dogs made their way to the bed to join them.
Sophia took her package of cake and neatly unwrapped it for Minnie, Fin, Finette and herself to enjoy. The cake melted in their mouths as they ate it, it was so sweet and full of fruits and spices and the icing was so sweet and creamy. In a matter of minutes the cake was gone and Sophia and Minnie lay back in the bed with full and satisfied bellies.
The two sisters grew tired as they lay there thinking of their adventure. All the thoughts that Sophia had earlier of playing outside in the snow had left her and she and Minnie drifted off to sleep.
Downstairs Papa wondered if the commotion in the basement had frightened his two girls, so he made his way up to check on them. He opened the door and saw them sleeping peacefully together in Sophia’s bed. How sweet he thought as he went to tuck them into the bed. As he drew closer he saw the cloth that Sophia had used to carry up the cake. Crumbs were scattered on the bed and icing could still be seen in the corners of their mouths.
"A mouse indeed" he said smiling to himself. He leaned in and tucked his two little princesses into bed for the night then stood back and thought that tomorrow, to keep them out of trouble they would certainly all go out to play in the snow!