“My grapes, orphan!” Madame Margaret shouted, “Where are they?”
Friedrich felt indignant at Madame Margaret’s (or as he liked to call her, Mad Maggot) constantly calling him ‘orphan’. Trying not to sound rude, he called back, “They’re coming!”
Sensing the subtle tone of resentfulness in Friedrich’s voice, Madame Margaret scolded, “Haven’t your parents taught you about not being rude to others? Wait, I forgot: You haven’t parents—ha, ha!”
Before entering Madame Margaret’s room, Friedrich swore distasteful words. When he handed her the grapes, she snatched them and shooed him away.
Friedrich never knew his real parents. Every day, he hoped they would come and pick him up from the care (or rather torture) of Mad Maggot, but they never came. All of the days in his life were filled with chores, unreasonable scolding, more chores, more unreasonable scolding, even more chores and even more unreasonable scolding. Most of his chores were done in the Hair Saloon, in which Mad Maggot worked, where he would sweep the hair on the floor, wipe the mirrors, wash the shavers and clean the toilet.
When Friedrich got back home at 7 p.m., sorry, it’s supposed to be, when Friedrich got back to hell at 7 p.m., he would immediately start cooking supper. Mad Maggot ate at 7. 30 p.m. and when she finished her dinner at 8, she would toss Friedrich the leftovers. But even during his dinner, Friedrich did not get rest. While he ate, the Maggot would tell him to do things for the fun of it.
Tonight, as you read in the beginning, he was told to bring grapes for Mad Maggot. As he went back to eating dinner, the doorbell rang, ding dong! Friedrich never saw who it was at the door before he opened it for each time he did so, he hoped a robber would come in and rob the house so that he could get a good laugh at Mad Maggot. Or if it was a kidnapper, Friedrich might go to a better place (anywhere was better than Mad Maggot’s house). But suppose the person at the doorstep was a killer, then Friedrich thought his misery would end. He opened the door and found that it was neither a robber, a kidnapper or a killer but Mademoiselle Annabelle, the Maggot’s boss. She was very friendly to Friedrich.
“Hello Friedrich,” she smiled.
“Mademoiselle Annabelle! Please, do come in.”
“Who is that, Friedrich?” Maggot asked. “I have told you many times not to let anyone in without my noti-” She stopped at this when she saw her boss sitting on the big red couch at the living room. “Oh,” she said reasonably delicately, “Monsieu- I mean Mademoiselle Annabelle; please to h-have you here.” Mad Maggot had always been terrified at her boss.
“Her name is Mad Maggot,” Friedrich whispered.
“Go away, Friedrich!” Mad Maggot shrieked.
“I have come to talk to you not about the way you speak to our customers (though I will walk to you about that tomorrow) but to talk to you about the way you treat Friedrich. Your colleagues notified me on how you frequently tell Friedrich off for no reason. I guessed that if you could treat him like that in public, you would treat him worse at home.”
Friedrich crept up to Mademoiselle’s ear and whispered, “She does, alright.”
“Shut up, Friedrich,” the Maggot shouted, “Go back into your cage!”
Maggot smiled awkwardly, “His- his room I meant.” She watched him walk to make sure he went away. He winked cheekily at her before he was out of sight and the Maggot pointed her middle finger at him.
Her boss clicked her tongue in disagreement and continued, “So I decided to find his parents. Sadly, we found that his parents died last twelve years in a shipwreck. I then thought of bringing him to another home, but nobody in France wanted him (I cannot adopt him as I already have four children to look after). Now, since there is no more hope for Friedrich, I warn you: If ever again you ill-treat Friedrich, I shall sack you and send you off to the police officers—they will jail you for child abuse.”
Mad Maggot trembled on her knees and cried, “Most merciful boss, I confess that I have sinned against Friedrich in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved him with my whole heart- to hell with that: I have not even loved him at all! I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of my job, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name, Amen!”
“Good,” she said.
As Mad Maggot waved her boss goodbye, she called after her, “For thine is the Hair Saloon, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen!” She saw her boss walk away till even her screaming voice could not be heard, and then slammed the door shut. “Glad that was over,” she said and rubbed her hands. “Friedrich, come here this instant! You have behaved terribly during Mademoiselle Annabelle’s visit. Bow on all fours!”
Friedrich bowed and was terrified to see that the Maggot had brought a cane. His suffering from her had always been verbal, never physical. Nobody noticed, but Mademoiselle Annabelle, at this moment was running back with the police because she knew this would happen. The Maggot raised the cane to strike Friedrich. He shut his eyes tightly closed. The police banged the door open and shouted, “You’re under arrest!”
Friedrich sighed with relief. The police dragged the Maggot away and he heard her dying screams, “NOOOOO! I hate you! Curse you Annabeeeeeelle!”
“Come, Friedrich,” Mademoiselle Annabelle sighed tiredly, “From now on, I am going to take care of you despite having four children at present.”
“Don’t worry, Mademoiselle, I will not be trouble.”