Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter Thirty-Six



I was off my foot for not one day but two drat it.  The whole of both Luna and Martis were a hard lesson in patience and humility.  Everyone was most kind of course but that only made me feel worse.

They also seemed to enjoy putting me in my place which I must say was not enjoyable at all, especially every time I heard the phrase "it makes no sense".

"Widow, it makes no sense.  You do the schedules and I'll have the boys here move the trunks about so that they can be got to and emptied."  That was Mrs. Talbot and "the boys" were her older son Joel and a couple of his peers all of whom were roughly the size of a full grown buffalo.  I am sincerely grateful that the foundation of the house is of stone or surely their walk would have rattled the dishware in the cabinets and the sconces upon the wall.  As it was when they took the empty trunks to the third floor for storage dust from the ceiling fixtures drifted down reminding me of the chore I had not quite gotten to yet.

Mrs. Limpkin is the Head Laundress and she has her many daughters distributed amongst her department and under her sister in law's tutelage in the Stitchery House.  The two of them came over and I watched helpless as they attacked and clucked over my wardrobe.

"Widow, it makes no sense.  This may have sufficed back in your birth town but you are now returned to Linderhall.  Where are you to find the time to whip us all into shape if you at the same time are trying to wash and mend your widow's wear.  Besides, while you've done a fair job maintaining what you've got you'd best let someone at them that knows a bit more what they're doing ... begging your pardon I'm sure."

It's not that I cannot stitch - I never would have gotten my competency levels to get my certificates had that been the case.  It is that the dratted fabric that most of my wardrobe is in simply isn't proof against everyday normal wear and tear.  Those two ladies are also the ones responsible for placing unused garments and linens into containers so that the moths and silverfish cannot destroy them before they can be made useful for some other person or project.

At their instruction all of Ceena and Tonya's clothing was removed from the dressing room and taken away.  However I suspect that they've been used to adjust my wardrobe accordingly because I must say some of my pieces have gone out in one style and come back completely made over into something different.  Frayed cuffs have been replaced with either the latest fashion in the turned up style or taken off entirely and replace with lace in both fitted and loose styles.  I've seen the inserts changed from a common and solid cotton to more intricately pleated panels.  My buttons have gone from serviceable to decorative.  And while I more than appreciate their efforts it is a bit unnerving.  I've no reason to turn myself into some fancy bird and the only response I get when I say such is a blank face as if they do not hear me at all.

At every turn I've had people under foot and it has smarted my pride a great deal.  The carpets have been taken out and beaten, the floors polished with the buffer, the glass removed from the lamps and cleaned.  I've had workmen come in and check the gas lines and plumbing ... without asking for them to mind you ... and any number of other things.

For instance, the bed chamber that I had chosen was deemed inappropriate and somehow all of my belongings were relocated to a room upstairs - not Ceena or Tonya's thank the saints - and a young woman about my age installed as my helper taking up the bedchamber beside the kitchen.  I was ready to blow a gasket at that point but could not when I looked into the girl's eyes and saw the pride she had at getting the appointment.  Apparently Mizz Marta had hand-picked her as ready to advance in her status and having no such opportunity within the Hall was placed with me.  She won't be about all day as I don't need that much "help" but will split her time between the Dower House and the Hall where she helps Kate Cummins - the doctor's wife - with the housekeeping in their suite.  Her name is Darla and she told me proudly her income helps her family, her mother being a widow of some years with no desire to remarry.  She is the eldest of eight so I can well imagine the income helps enormously.

I had managed to behave with some aplomb despite my growing consternation at the changes that were occurring without me agreeing to them when the Sheriff came to ask me a few questions and twitted me about it all.

After catching him off guard by flinging a pillow at his head he had the temerity to make it worse by laughing at me and asking me what had my tail feathers burning.

"Why you ... !  You try being managed in this fashion and not being able to say yea or nay for fear of offending someone's feelings.  I feel as if .... ooooooo ... I feel caught up in a game not of my making and while knowing the rules also knowing that all of the other players are circumventing them to the point of complete destruction of my peace of mind!"

He finally sat in the other padded chair that had been placed in the library and said with a chuckle, "Feel better for letting it out?"

"No," I pouted mulishly.  "It's worse than when Nat manages me.  I'm terribly grateful but have no way beyond words to express it and it is driving me mad."

"Serves you right."

"I beg your pardon?"

He chuckled again but beneath it I could see real fatigue.  "You're cursed independent and knowledgeable for your age regardless of your widowhood and drive a person mad because of it.  You've also created a place to use your talents to everyone's advantage so fast you've relieved a lot of people of an anxiety they had no way to express much less rectify and seeing you harmed simply because of your stubborn independence recreated what you were trying to repair.  But this time they've a way to express it at the same time ensuring that you continue in the capacity that was serving them best.  Let them flutter and manage you, it makes them feel better, like they've some power in assuring that things will get set right after being so wrong for so long.  Many of them knew you when you first came as a bride and are proud at how well you've turned out despite the circumstances.  They felt badly that they couldn't do more for you while your husband was alive."

"You're making up a faradiddle just to ease my nerves."

He shook his head and stretched his legs out like he was ready to stay a while.  "Actually Widow I had it from Mr. Tosh himself and I was amazed he actually unbent as much as he did to tell me.  You're well-liked and I gather it is because despite your status you've not used it against anyone and have always been willing to learn or lend a hand even with Ceena and Tonya pinching at you.  I gather that some suspect that is why your husband didn't quite know what to make of you; you reminded him of some of his wives from his younger years and never seemed to blame him personally for the place you found yourself in."

That was a discussion I really didn't want to have with the Sheriff.  "I'll not speak of it as none of the three are here to present their side so let us avoid the topic and instead you tell me what brought you out of your way?"

"It isn't out of my way Widow," he said with a smile.  "Besides I've come to discuss some of the same topics that we've covered in the past.  Do you mind if I shut the door and window?  I don't want to be overheard."

"I suppose but please tell Darla that is why the door is closed.  I don't need people getting ideas.  They already grin an inordinate amount when you are around, no need to give them even more reason to talk."

All he did was smile mischievously but he did as I requested and when he came back the discussion turned quite serious.

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