The Lady of the house was not well. She had been ailing for eighteen months. Her doctors were mystified. Her husband, quietly terrified.
The kitchen staff had been instructed to prepare only the most thoughtful of menus. Everything had to revolve around the health of her ladyship. Nothing left to chance.
And so Wendolyn, the cook-apprentice, searched the forest every day for fungus, roots, and fruits. She had been taught what was good to eat, and what was not.
Her mother, the head housekeeper, had schooled her. Wendolyn would never forget the day she died, from asthma, slumped beside the laundry basket. But Wendolyn had to mourn on her own time; there was housework to be done.
That was two years ago. Now she worked late each night, preparing special recipes just for her ladyship. And yet things did not improve; instead, the woman only grew more ill.
One day, a request came from upstairs. Her ladyship was coming to the end of her life. She had asked for dark-cherry pie, her favorite, one last time. So Wendolyn prepared it with great care. She tasted its juicy sweetness, before adding the final ingredient, a secret one, just for her ladyship: small, ground flakes of Destroying Angel, the most poisonous of mushrooms. Wendolyn had been mixing it into her ladyship's meals for eighteen months. Slowly, gently, deliciously killing off her organs.
Her ladyship, who had worked Wendolyn's mother to an early grave. Her ladyship, who had beaten a weeping Wendolyn and called her a 'stupid little peasant'. A peasant, perhaps, but little no more and as it turned out, not so stupid after all.