Beautiful People - Aikaterine

"I could not get on without her - or Tabby.  
I dare say they are my two hands together."
Plenilune,  Skander Rime

I had a deuce of a time trying to pick a character to do Beautiful People for this time.  I feel I've rather done Margaret in; since she is the main character of Plenilune, naturally she should get the lion's share of the Beautiful People posts.  All the same, it gets dull using the same character over and over, so I decided to dig out the incomparable, invisible Aikaterine instead.  While Aikaterine is only a maidservant, and a young one at that, she plays a vital role in story: there may be a front seat and a back seat and a window in between, but I dare say those in the back seat wouldn't get very far without the driver in the front.  So Aikaterine, while only a maid, is a very important figure in the workings of life in Lookinglass.


1. What is her favourite type of shoe?

A calfskin boot of fawn-colour brown, turned over at the top and with a two-inch heel.  They are well-padded so as to be comfortable, as Aikaterine walks miles from the beginning of the day to the end of it, pretty yet demure, and the heel gives her a mark of class without attempting to be pretentious, and also a firm grip on a stirrup.

2. Does she journal? 

Aikaterine’s life is too busy to journal; even if she did have the time it would be dull reading, for her days are fairly similar, and as she is a key figure in her master’s life she would consider it a breach of faith to write about her master’s business.

3. What is her favourite animal? 

Anything that does not shed.  She is a pretty good hand with any animal—be it a pet or a meal—but she is not ardently fond of them.  She does have a little chestnut palfrey which Skander Rime gave her especially, but it is not part of her duties to care for it.

4. What does her average day look like?

Her morning begins promptly with a bath and cup of tea, after which she goes into Skander Rime’s study to clear up from the night before.  An hour before Skander rises she sets the kettle on and begins mixing the oatmeal which forms the main dish of his breakfast.  Like clockwork she adds an egg (over easy) and seasonal fruit to the tea and oatmeal and then goes up with the breakfast to wake her master.  While he is eating she goes down and has her own breakfast (the "blue-jay man" runs the bath and lays out Skander’s clothing), and then sets Skander’s coffee on before taking it through into the study.  Unless Skander is very busy she usually spends the rest of the morning tidying or cleaning his chambers and overseeing the list for supper.  At eleven promptly she makes up Skander’s lunch and takes it up to him at noon sharp.  If he means to go out she goes up to lay out boots, crop, and cloak while the blue-jay man tends to the horse.  She has a little time in the afternoon for a sit-down and some reading, and afterwards spends time running over lists for Skander and writing off messages to friends, merchants, and those in fief to him.  Her handwriting is, unfortunately for Skander, rather better than his.  She makes Skander’s tea with unflagging punctuality and often takes her own with him while he gives her updates and bounces ideas off her between bites.  Between tea and supper Aikaterine makes a tour of the whole house, including the grounds if the weather is fine, and then oversees supper and the preparation of the dining room.  She takes her own supper in the servants’ hall and then goes up with the blue-jay man to make sure the study and bedchamber are ready for the evening.  Her last act of the day is to pop in on the pantry and make sure there is fresh fruit for tomorrow morning.

5. Night owl or morning person? (Optional: What time does she usually wake up? Go to bed?) 

Aikaterine wakes up every morning at five o’clock sharp and doesn’t lie down again until 9:30 in the evening.  She is always on the go when she is awake, so as soon as she hits the pillow she is out like a light. 

6. Does she have a sweet tooth?

She is passing fond of bread pudding, which she will eat as often as she can get it; her high metabolism and active life allow her this indulgence.  Otherwise she is content with fruits and tends to have a very healthy diet. 
7. What colours are in her bedroom? 

It is almost embarrassing that Aikaterine’s room at Lookinglass is fancier than the room Margaret is put up in.  But Skander is very fond of Aikaterine and has a habit of absent-mindedly lavishing her with this and that fine thing.  Aikaterine has a room on the ground floor in the northeast section of the house near the Ilex Lawn; it has only one window overlooking the walk, but it is smoothly stuccoed and panelled in cherry with a fresco-work of wine-country on the far wall.  She keeps a cherry four-poster and a matching set of drawers and an enormous, violently colourful rug on the hardwood floor which Skander Rime took as spoil from a war with the Carmarthen.  The prints on the bedclothes and curtains are of heavy purple and beige, which draw out the more subtle hues in the carpet and make it a little less overpowering.

8. Can she cook? 

“…But the meals were nicer, and as for the sweets, I won’t tell you how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water in vain.”  Aikaterine is an excellent cook; Skander jokes a little that she uses witchcraft, but her food is generally so good that he seriously wonders from time to time if there isn’t something unnatural about it… 

9. What is her favourite household chore? 

Setting out her master’s riding things.  Nothing looks so smart to her as to see the two polished boots standing side by side on the hearth rug with their spurs shining, the long leather crop lying longwise across the carved arms of his bog-oak chair, and the heavy, weather-stained folds of his leather doublet hung on the tear-drop corner of the chair’s back.

10. Favourite kind of tea?

When Aikaterine pulls out the tea-ball she most frequently fills it with a kind of black chai, which brews strong and is very invigorating.  Its lingering scents are always appealing to anyone who catches them on her, too, which is an added advantage since it is Aikaterine’s goal to be both invisible and charming to those “upstairs.” 

"Does Tabby not also go? I am my Lord's maid and I go with my Lord. Now stand aside, or I will knock you down!"
Plenilune, Aikaterine

11 ripostes:

  1. She seems like such an interesting character! You described her personality so well, I feel rather as if I know her. O.o

    Just of curiosity, how did you come up with the name Aikaterine?

  2. "Aikaterine" is simply the Greek form of the name "Katherine," which is a name of which I am fond. So, no great exertions of the mind on that score. I yoinked that name. But I am very glad you like her. I am rather fond of her myself, but, like any good maid, she is rather hard to know.

  3. So is this from a book that you are writing? If so; Bravo! I can never sit myself down and come up with these things. Hence, I admire people who can!

  4. Charming character, Jenny. I am sure I would find her hauntingly elusive--one of those beautiful household spirits that make a house what it is, and yet shimmer off as soon as you've a mind to catch hold of them. Yes, I like Aikaterine very much indeed. :)

  5. She sounds lovely! I love her name!

  6. Ye-es. If I'm allowed to say so, I think Aikaterine is pretty awesome myself. I think you've hit it rather soundly, Rachel; though Aikaterine rather takes Margaret under her wing since Rhea (who has the Evil Eye and can curdle the soup in one's belly just at the witching sight of her) is not a very friendly maid toward the poor girl.

    And yes, Mad Poet! This is my current work-in-progress, as they say.

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  8. Aikaterine, though I've never heard of her until now, is a character that has me already captivated.

    Sorry, I removed my former comment, I was going to ask how old she was, but realized that you'd said "young" :).

    Thanks for sharing...

  9. What a fascinating glimpse of such a mysterious, gentle, steel-lined character! I think I would like to know her, though that would be something of a lifelong task. "Background" characters have such a presence about them, even when they're not being noticed. Maybe because they're not being noticed.

    HER ROOM THO. Oh my goodness. I want it for my own.

  10. Don't you? I was trawling through Pinterest today looking at stone staircases, and I saw a lovely one done up in pale flags with a stucco wall, pretty plain, no gilding, but still clearly expensive (it's stone, for crying out loud) and I thought, "Oh, no, pssht, that's just the servants' stair," in the most serious mindset. And then I paused to listen to myself. :P

    Not a bother, Joy! I've said silly things myself because I didn't read carefully - and you weren't silly. And anyway, I'm always getting confused by Aikaterine. She's a young girl, quite Margaret's age, if not a little younger, but she is so grown up and responsible that I forget and think she's older. You can be excused with graces - you only just met her. I'm supposed to be writing her!

    I really ought to pull together some decent pictures of my current cast. It keeps growing, and it is so hard to find pictures that look just right. I'm so particular about that sort of thing. Blast!

  11. Wow, she sounds fascinating! Hehe, I bet she's a nasty shock for anyone who thinks they can push her around!

    Hehe, I think I envy her cooking ability too. I can't cook for the life of me :P