Sunlight woke Evelyne in the morning, though her room had no windows. She rubbed at her eyes, trying to block the light out for a moment before the oddity made it through the sleep haze of her waking mind, and she peered through her fingers. There was a window in the far wall, large and uncovered by curtains. The wall itself was made of wooden boards, rather than the plaster of her apartment. Sitting up in the narrow bed, she found herself in what appeared to be a room in a cottage, nothing at all like her place in Toronto.
When she swung her feet out from under the covers, she found she was at least dressed in her own pyjamas, though the pink flannel she’d worn for a winter night was stuffy in the sunlit room. The floor was some sort of stone she didn’t recognize and held just enough of a chill to make her glad of the pyjamas, anyway. Evelyne crept across the room to the door in the corner, took the wooden handle in hand, and then held her breath as she pushed it open.
She expected it to be locked. After all, she had been brought here without knowing it, so she must surely be a prisoner, but the door opened with almost no effort and didn’t even squeak. The hall on the other side was narrow, not even enough room for two people to walk side-by-side, but as she was alone, it was no matter. There was another window in the far end, smaller and set up high near the roof, so the sunlight kept the narrow passage from being gloomy and showed her the way to the stairs.
The stairs were low, each one so close to the next they might as well have been a ramp, and they took her down to a main floor dominated by a sitting room with plush furniture and a large fireplace. There was nothing burning at the moment, likely because the days were too warm for such a thing, but the rust-coloured bricks gave the room a homey, comforting air that made her want to sit beside it, anyway. Instead, however, she crept between the furniture, aiming for another entrance on the far side of the room, from which she could hear singing.
It did not surprise Evelyne when it was the kitchen she walked in on, nor that the person singing appeared to be baking as well. It was a habit her grandmother had, singing to keep time with the recipe and the day, and for a moment she had the sudden, heart-breaking, hope that the woman in the kitchen would turn to reveal she was her grandmother, but of course that wasn’t the case. The woman was, however, old enough to be, might even have been old enough to be her grandmother’s grandmother, though the grey eyes set in her wrinkled skin were kind.
“You’re up just in time,” she said. “Have a seat in the nook and I’ll fetch your breakfast.”