Marblestone Mansion (Scandalous Duchess Series) Book 1 (Chapter 5, page 1 of 27)

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Cook Halen and cook Jessie sat across from each other at the table in the kitchen glaring at one another. It was almost time to start the noon meal; the servants were nearly finished with their morning chores, and drifted in and out without either of the cooks noticing.

"We must come to some kind of arrangement," said Halen. She was a stout woman in her late forties, and of average height, with graying hair tightly pulled back in a knot under her white cooking bonnet.

Just as stout, yet a few years younger with blond hair and brown eyes, Jessie was determined to win the argument. "Aye, but not that one. I rise up early in the morn, always have. 'Tis only right I should be the mornin' cook."

"I get up early too, Jessie, and I wager I make better biscuits."

Jessie's eye shot up. "Who says?"

"Everyone, just ask them."

When Jessie glanced around, the room was oddly void of people. Then she smiled a mischievous sort of smile. "Care to place a wager on that?"

"I do, name your price."

"The winner takes breakfast."

"Agreed," said Halen. "Tomorrow, we shall make breakfast together. You bake half the biscuits and I'll bake the other half."

Jessie nodded. "'Tis a fair proposition."


The next morning, while Halen wasn't looking, Jessie added just a touch more salt to her batch of biscuits, while Halen secretly added a bit of sugar to hers. Nevertheless, the residents of Marblestone Mansion claimed they couldn't quite decide and nothing got settled. That afternoon, Jessie baked a cake and so did Halen, sharing little in the kitchen except a few stern looks. By the time the pies came out of the oven that evening, half the servants were afraid to taste either one. It was never a good idea to get on the wrong side of a cook.

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