Almost a week had passed since Warren had unceremoniously put distance between himself and Gilbert. Gil used to spend his free time lounging around his master’s study, occupying himself with chat or picking a random book from the wall. Warren had never noticed how much he enjoyed Gil’s unimposing presence. He was polite and considerate. He never distracted him while he was working on something important and offered just enough conversation to keep Warren from straying from his desk and disappearing from his duties.
Now, with Gil avoiding, him the room felt too large and empty. His worries and anxieties easily bounced off the walls and settled in the center of the room with no one there to act as a barrier. He was forced to realize just how diligent the younger man had been in his duties as an aide. Warren had mistakenly taken advantage of that studious work ethic. Getting a hold of Gil when he was actively avoiding the study meant that getting his work done was harder than usual. There were other aids wondering about the various offices in the Governor’s manor but, none of them knew him and what he needed as well as Gil. He’d just get frustrated with them and he couldn’t risk doing something stupid and making himself seem even more intolerable.
Gil did work for the Lord’s estate. It was possible for Warren to order him to come to collect different documents or perform certain errands. One of the aids had even commented on that to him when he’d needed to get the inspection report reviewed before handing the issue over to his father. Warren was no fool though. Ordering Gil to do something when he was this upset was probably the quickest way to sever any and all communication with him for the foreseeable future, and that was the last thing he wanted.
He groaned to himself, pushing back from the desk and running his hands through his hair. He had no idea what to do to make this better. Maybe he’d think better if he ate something. He had skipped lunch because he was trying to catch up on work that had fallen behind. Without Gil’s help, it felt like he didn’t have time to eat or sleep.
His stomach had finally tugged his attention away from his work and forced him to venture out of his office in search of a snack. The young Lord made his way down to the kitchen. His Father had returned a few days ago so once again the Manor was filled with the bustle of state officials and visiting Lords moving amongst each other in a chaotic dance to keep the State running. He greeted the few other men and women that stopped him in the hall, though he tried to keep the pleasantries as brief as possible. With his father being the Governor of one of the wealthiest areas in the Central States and on personal terms with the Emperor, many visitors wanted to stop and talk to him in the hall. They figured that becoming informal with the son of the Governor would give them a better standing in the bigger political scheme. Right now Warren didn’t have the energy to deal with the theater that was those types of daft and pointless conversations.
The walk from his study to the kitchen took him longer than he would’ve liked. The cook and her help were already starting to prepare dinner. When he popped into the kitchen he carefully moved around the working women to make his way towards the counter that Mrs. Dotty was using to cut vegetables. He gave her his best smile. “Mrs. Dotty how are you?” he asked. The middle-aged woman had an unamused expression as she looked up at him.
“You missed lunch, young Lord,” She said, taking only a brief pause before returning to her preparations.
Warren laughed a little, attempting to charm the woman, but she was married and a mother of several young boys herself. It hardly ever worked on her. “I’ve been quite busy this week, I’ve hardly had time to sleep, nonetheless break midday for a meal. Surely you can take pity on your hard-working young Lord?” He asked hopefully. She just let out a small huff in response. “Lord Salphus seems to be having no problems. It’s hard to believe he’s giving you so much work you’re unable to find rest,” She said between chops of carrot.
Warren was a bit annoyed with her line of questioning and her attitude, but she was one of the servants whose family had served the Salphuses for Generations. They worked hard and took care of the home as if it were their own pride. His father would absolutely destroy him if he let a bit of attitude slip towards her.
“Have mercy on me, Mrs. Dotty, I’m a bit short on help these days,” He said. “Upset Mr. Greaves, have you?” She asked, setting down the knife and going over to the pantry to retrieve a loaf of bread for him. Warren felt a tinge of embarrassment, but could he really be surprised that she knew? He was sure the entire staff knew by now. No one had ever accused the staff of this house of being mindful of gossip.
“You know huh?” he asked, stepping out of her way again as she returned to the counter to slice the bread. “Young Lord, the entire household knows,” She said. “Mr. Greaves wears his grievances next to his cufflinks,” She said. “And he’s normally glued to your side,” She added, setting the sliced bread onto a plate.
Warren sighed a little, running his fingers through his hair anxiously. “I may have crossed a line when I spoke to him… he hasn’t said a single word to me that wasn’t curt business in a week,” He mumbled. “Honestly, Mrs. Dotty, I’m at a bit of a loss. I don’t know what I can do to fix it. I’ve been wracking my brain for days, I feel like it’s starting to make it hard to get work done,” he said, leaning against the counter.
“Did you apologize?” She asked.
“Of course I apologized,” He insisted. “I apologized that evening, but he wouldn’t hear me.”
“But did you REALLY apologize?” She asked. “My boys like to fight. They always have. Ruffians the lot of them. There’s never a problem at the end as long as all of them know it was just their usually rough and tumble. Even if one of them really hurts the other, gives him a bloody nose or the like, a ‘sorry’ works fine because they know it was just one of their fights but, that only works if there was no ill will.” She said, switching the bread for a brick of cheese. “You said you crossed a line, young Lord, and words can hurt just as bad as a fist. Thing about words too, is you can tell when people mean to hurt you with them,” She said, passing him the plate. “A ‘sorry’ isn’t gonna be enough this time, I think.”
Warren let out a long sigh but smiled at the end of it. “Thank you, Mrs. Dotty, I think I understand,” He said, taking the plate she offered him and kissing her cheek. “How will I ever repay you for your wisdom?” he chuckled. She rolled her eyes at him. “Get out of my girls way and don’t ruin your appetite,” She said, shooing him towards the door. “And get Mr. Greaves out of that mood. The atmosphere between you two at dinner could suffocate the rest of us,” she called to him as he left.