Cordelia Bright and the Headless Orphans: Chapter Seven – Tears at St Justus’

The story so far: Sir Jasper De Jasper has vowed to close down the St Justus Home, sending the Headless Orphans to the workhouse, due to massive rent arrears. However, he has promised to spare the home if young Cordelia Bright will agree to be his wife…

When she got back to the St Justus Home, Cordelia found Matron and Sister Odium funnelling potato soup down the necks of the hungry young orphans. The scene was one of such domestic contentment, love and care, that the thought that the place may have to be closed down filled her with an overwhelming sadness and she burst into floods of tears.
Matron Blessed rushed over and put her arms around her. “Why, whatever is the matter dear?” she asked. Cordelia took a deep breath and there in the room with Matron, Sister and the orphans around her, told of everything that had passed between her and Sir Jasper that morning. Young Matthew held her hand and Jemima stroked her arm as she spoke. At the end of the story, she broke down in tears again. “I just don’t know what to do for the best”
“There, there dear,” soothed the kindly Matron. Only you can decide that. Of course, we do not have the money to meet Sir Jasper’s demands, but no one could ask you to marry such a man. We must pray for providence to guide us to a more satisfactory solution. Behind her, Sister Odium scowled and rolled her eyes.
She did more than scowl and roll her eyes half an hour later, when the Matron had left them to wash the dinner things and take pipe cleaners to the funnels. Then the wicked sister’s eyes flashed and she hissed as she addressed the girl.
“Matron might not be able to see through your little plan, but don’t think that I am fooled for one minute lady! I knew that there was something shady about you, the minute that you walked into this place, and now I know. Your nothing but a little gold digger!”
Cordelia shook her head vigorously, denying the charge, and pleading with Sister to stop. But the older woman pinched her junior’s cheek hard as she continued.
“Well.. I’ll see to it that your little plan comes to nothing, see! This place would make an excellent sludge treatment facility, and treated sludge and hard work is no more than those little headless wretches deserve. And when it is a sludge treatment facility, Sir Jasper will marry me! Not you. I shall be his bride, and help him to enjoy the fortune accumulated through his solid business acumen. Sir Jasper needs a real woman as his wife, not a mewling, scrawny kitten such as you. So just think on. If you decide to go ahead with this marriage, I will destroy you!” With those words, Sister Odium released Cordelia’s cheek and strode out of the room. Cordelia sank to the floor in despair, to find herself surrounded by sympathetic young headless orphans, who gave comfort by stroking her hair, drying her tears and holding her hands.

Can things get any worse for Cordelia? Will the Orphanage have to close, or will she marry the wicked Sir Jasper? Come back tomorrow for the next thrilling instalment.

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