Ellen Asked if She Can Work in the Book House


It’s good to go off the track in life sometimes. Work on yourself, improve yourself. Even if those around you are disconcerted. You often stick to the main road, but sometimes you could set off across the quicksand. It’s dangerous, but you do it because you believe that there are stepping-stones below the surface.

This is the story of Ellen, a damaged girl, who hoped that her feet would find the hidden stepping-stones.



The local carter had helped Ellen by modifying one of the heavy wooden serving trays. Straps had been nailed onto the underside of the tray, into which she could push her forearms. She could then carry it, without having to reveal that where she should have hands, were merely stumps.


At the meal that evening, she strode through the hall, holding the tray aloft and her chin up. A kitchen worker loaded her tray, as she stood by the board. Then she circled the long noisy table, letting people help themselves.

This worked surprisingly well - until a diner nodded rudely towards a dish of food. Then there was an awkward pause, which ended when he grabbed what he wanted himself, looking annoyed at her.


She suddenly noticed that the distance between her and Father Simon was enticingly small. He was standing in conversation looking down at a group of clerics, all wanting his attention. So, she mentally kicked herself into action, and walked right up into middle of them, proffering what remained on her tray.

“Father Simon, would you like . . .” she faltered.

One of the young, but overdressed, students had spun round. A quick glance by him revealed that she had only empty pots and dregs left. He stopped in surprise – his hands and eyes seeking something to take from the tray - and said irritably:

“Don’t bring the leftover crap to us. What are you doing? Do you think we eat bones already thoroughly toothed by others?”.

He turned his back, cutting her out of the circle.

Ellen blenched. Her best chance of success had closed up!

She lowered her arms in despair, letting the pots clatter to the floor.


Reacting to the culinary crash ,...

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Nonita Thomas
Aug 29 2020

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