We were mute. Carved puppets of ash, or perhaps soapstone, we danced for our betters’ amusement. The oh-so-familiar resentment washed over me. I glanced sidelong at Louisa. “Why is love forbidden, ma’am? Why must we, who have no recourse, be expected to toil for our board, perform sexual feats daily, yet be denied the comfort of close companionship in the night?” I heard the synchronous soft intakes of snake-like hisses. I fully expected to be tossed bottom-up over Mrs. Cleanknockers’ knees; instead, she exhaled several deep breaths. “You will report to the Gun Room, Ruby, tomorrow morning, after your discipline.”
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