Ruby followed Mrs. Reinhardt—expertly managing the tea tray in hand—-out of the little parlor, through the central passage, and into another room similar to the one they had just left. This one, however, had a dining room table and several wooden chairs with cushioned seats around it. Tall candles sat in the middle of the table and on top of the mantel shelf of the fireplace. The plaster ceiling was elaborately decorated, and the walls were painted a pea green.
“This room is the small dining room and where we dine for the evening meal,” Mrs. Reinhardt turned her head and looked back at Ruby. “Precisely at six.”
Ruby was not sure she wanted to eat with the others; she would not know the proper way to use the silverware and other manners needed for a formal meal. Actually, she would feel more at home helping the maid in the kitchen.
Then Mrs. Reinhardt exited the room and appeared to be leaving the house, but instead walked into the protected covered walkway of a colonnade that connected the kitchen with the mansion.
“You do a lot of walking,” Ruby said, admiring both the clear and stained glass panels between the long sequence of columns leading to the attached building.
Mrs. Reinhardt did not reply as she walked into the kitchen. While modern, with a large refrigerator and stove that would be at home in a restaurant, it also had remnants of the old cooking area. A massive fireplace that could have roasted a hog skewered on a spit took up the vast expanse of one wall while antique pots and pans—fit to be on display at a gallery—hung on the wall. The yeasty aroma of baking bread filled the space.
Gently setting the tea set on a counter, Mrs. Reinhardt turned to Ruby. “Ms. Rush, typically visitors are not allowed in this building, but Lady Beth said that when you had downtime, it was okay if you assisted me with my duties.”
What? Maid duties were not listed in the contract. But then, she thought, it may get boring if she had to sit in her room all day waiting for Lord Andrei to call. “You don’t need to call me Ms. Rush; Ruby is fine.”
“We have formalities, Ms. Rush, and I prefer to follow them.”
“Of course. And I don’t mind helping you.” After all, Ruby knew that Mrs. Reinhardt was the person who was to relieve her when she wanted to go into town and visit Ethel. Not to mention the fact that getting the maid upset would certainly hamper her ability to find Alan. No need to get on Mrs. Reinhardt’s bad side.
“That door there,” Mrs. Reinhardt said, pointing to a closed wooden door, “leads into the storehouse and another building where Mr. Miller does a lot of his work. They are off limits unless Mr. Miller gives you permission to be in there.”
“Now I will show you the rooms in which you may find some leisure,” Mrs. Reinhardt said, leading Ruby back through the enclosed passageway.
As they walked back to the house, Ruby looked out the windows to the expanse of the lake surrounding Monks Hill to the north. “We’re up so high; I didn’t expect that.”
“The cathedral itself sits on the highest point of the island. I have never been inside it, but I am sure the view is even more spectacular.” Mrs. Reinhardt stopped before entering the dining room. “The cathedral and all the buildings in both the outer and inner wards are off limits. You may only occupy the rooms I show you in this house. Is that clear?”
Ruby could not believe how she was being treated like a child who needed to be put in her place. She was there as a professional nurse, not someone in need of a babysitter. Six months. She could tolerate their rules that long, Ruby told herself. On the other hand, Ruby thought, if she believed Alan was inside Castle Moldovan, she would find a way to enter it without anyone knowing. But she would never tell them her plans to investigate the disappearance of her brother, for fear they would keep a closer eye on her whereabouts. Ruby nodded in agreement.
Mrs. Reinhardt seemed satisfied as she walked into the main house. “As I said before, this dining room is available to you, as is the small parlor where you and Lady Beth had tea.”
They walked back into the central passage and into a room on the other side of the staircase.
“This is the north parlor and is where the lord and lady, along with Victor, entertain visitors. You are allowed in here, except when there are guests.”
In Ruby’s mind, it was the blue room and was absolutely gorgeous. Wealth and status oozed from its Prussian blue painted walls and through the elegant carvings, ancient family portraits, and a family coat-of-arms.
“Through that door is the ballroom, it attaches to the little parlor, and there is no need for you to be in there.”
Ruby followed Mrs. Reinhardt out of the north parlor, back into the foyer, and to a room next to the small dining room.
Mrs. Reinhardt opened the door to the room enough for Ruby to peer inside. “This is the downstairs bedchamber and is not your room. Beyond this room is the study, and that is absolutely off limits. It is where Victor spends much of his time. Another room on that side of the house is the butler’s pantry and as you may expect, is also off limits. There is also another wing to the house, but it is seldom used, and is, as you may expect, off limits to you.” She closed the bedchamber door.
Ruby did not envision herself spending much time downstairs, in fact, she did not remember even seeing a television set. Reading would be her entertainment during her stay. Then she looked at the back door. “What about outside? Am I allowed out there?”
Mrs. Reinhardt walked past the staircase to the back door and opened it. They both stepped out onto the open porch.
“You may spend time on the piazza and the yard near the house. You may not venture down the walkway to the gardens below or anywhere near the inner ward. I have been told to tell you that if you venture past the inner stone wall and into the old Monastery of the Holy Ghost, that it is immediate grounds for dismissal. Is that clear?”
“Yes, perfectly,” Ruby said, looking at what the ordinary people called Castle Moldovan. It was massive and dizzying as it towered over Lucifer’s Island. The medieval Gothic architecture seemed so out of place—much older than she thought—in a country that had only been around since the seventeen hundreds. Pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses made her think of the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying winged monkeys, sent out to capture Dorothy and her friends.
The dark gray granite—almost black—of the ornate exterior, along with its large windows, spires, and pinnacles seemed to lure her. Even with the ominous fortress-type towers, cast with arrowslits and placed at the inner wall’s corners, she still felt drawn to it. “It’s like a fortress.”
Mrs. Reinhardt gave Ruby a queer look. “Do not even think about going near there. I mean it. Now, let’s finish our tour.”