Bede set the basket on the table and slumped onto the bench. Unbelievably, the basket was empty. Every mended shirt, every laundered bedsheet, every hand-sewn doll...gone. Bede reached into the pocket that hung from her waist and pulled out the small wad of bills. She counted the money for the first time. It wasn't a lot, but it would help. Straining her eyes late in the evening on a variety of sewing projects had been worth it. The aches in her shoulders from scrubbing laundry had been worth it. She would continue to do it.
"Ah Bede! There you are!"
Bede quickly slid the money back into her pocket.
Elizabeth closed the door with her foot, and glanced at the empty basket on the table.
"How was it?"
Bede felt the weight of the coins in her pocket, could still feel the banknotes between her fingers. She stayed silent.
"Bede?" Elizabeth laughed, settling onto the bench across the table. She tipped the basket. "It's empty, seems like success?"
Still, Bede remained silent. It was her work, it should be her money.
She remained silent, taking too long to consider her options. If she said she'd been unsuccessful, Elizabeth would be disappointed and berate her for her incompetence. If she admitted her success, but refused to give up the money, Elizabeth would be furious and could demand the money anyway knowing Bede had no options. Elizabeth owned Bede. And everything that came with her.
"Bede?" Elizabeth was no longer amused by Bede's distraction.