Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter Thirty-Three

Sabbath Day.  Nat would certainly have something to say if he saw me at the moment.  He'd say my bruised foot and bruised pride was just desserts for my actions.

I attended worship with the Linder family and found with real pleasure that the Brother installed in the rectory was not some flighty bird that only cared to make everyone feel good but actually knew the Scriptures and spoke with authority; even when he pinched my toes. Should have taken the sermon as a warning as it was on the need to rest body and mind on a regular basis in order to be more receptive to His guidance ... and to keep our commonsense from taking a vacation.

It was with surprise that I had learned the entire Hall practically shuts down on the Sabbath.  The staff have the day off except for the most basic of duties and those they take turns with.  Marta and I had quite the conversation about it while I quickly reworked the schedules.

"I'm sorry my dear, I should have made certain someone had spoken with you about it."

Curious I asked, "What did the staff say when Mrs. Linder requested the change?"

"A little confused at first, worried that it was a trap of some kind, but eventually very open to it.  It is the Widows that ... well not you of course but ..."  She stopped and stared at her hands and the confusion I saw on her face nearly broke my heart.

"Yes, I can well imagine that Ceena and Tonya would have quite a bit to say about it."

She blinked and then smiled, "Yes, but there was no fight like they would have done before.  No, unlike in the past this time they used techniques similar to what they did to you."

"Heavens," I muttered in sympathy.  "No wonder The Linder's wife grew so protective of her status.  And the stress just caused it to stick into habit once the effects of the plague began.  From what little I've had to do with her she seems a reasonable woman if a little ... stiff."

"Yes, stiff.  Perhaps she will relax in time but we must accept that she may not and treat her with respect regardless.  Some of the Guardian's ... your husband I mean ... some of his wives were quite nice despite the day-to-day struggle of their position.  And not all of them were as young as you were when you came.  Some were quite mature and secure in their status.  It was those that your sister wives fought the worst.  I often wondered if it was their own tragic upbringing that caused it.  Sad how so many of the wives died so young.  Youth did not protect them from the inherent dangers of a woman's lot.  I believe that as much as age is why your husband had stopped trying for a younger woman to begat an heir.  I wish it had been different for you my dear."

I had a hard time not blurting out what I'd learned about my husband's apparent problem with begatting but Mizz Marta was loyal to the family if she was nothing else and had a sort of filter when she looked at them.

After leaving her side so that she could rest - and she was better but some of the lingering effects such as the memory lapses remained worrying - I headed off to yet another list making meeting when I heard voices and not wishing to be waylaid by anyone else I slipped into an alcove and hid.

As a result by accident I heard Mrs. Kinsey and one of the new staff speaking.  "I thought you said there'd be none of this nonsense here."

Mrs. Kinsey answered, "Shhh.  We must watch our tongues.  This foolishness will not last.  It is only a temporary show to impress those Vanburens and the other families in the area that think too much of themselves."  The statement was followed by what sounded like a spit which I thought extremely uncouth.  "Have you made any headway?"

"No," the other woman snarled.  "What were those two thinking?  They had years to set up and all they did was see to their own pleasure."

"It was their nature and one of the reasons they were chosen in the first place.  Who are we to question the damned?"

I added that overheard conversation to the sum total of what I had been thinking and all it did was convince me that I was right.  I had tried to take my concerns to the Sheriff but he and Mr. Tosh are gone for a few days.  I think in part due to the fact that they finally found the staff files and were following up on something under guise of Mr. Tosh's job ... similar to what they did when they came to Waverly.

I was glad that The Linder took the initiative and explored on his own so I wouldn't have to reveal any more of my knowledge ... the knowledge that I'd rather not have.  I suspect he located the files in the secret room off his private office.  It seemed the most logical location but I'm certainly not going to ask.

After worship I had a quiet muncheon with Mizz Marta and Alyce and recited the content of the service for their pleasure.  Alyce sticks like a burr to Marta and in truth has taken a great worry off my shoulders.  She also brings a great deal of pleasurable company to Marta who enjoys teaching her talents to others.  She told me Alyce is coming along nicely despite never having any training beyond the absolute basics before coming to Linderhall.

After it became apparent that Marta needed to rest I took my leave once again and having nothing else pressing decided to finally get serious about doing something about the Dower House.

I started with the disgusting upstairs privies.  It took a great deal of boiling water and scrubbing to whip them into shape.  They still don't shine but at least they are hygienic.  I took a swipe at wiping down all of the other privies and bathing chambers as well and at least got rid of all the foulness and most of the filth.

Leaving those rooms open to air out I turned to the kitchen but first I changed my outer wear and apron.  I could not abide the idea of cleaning that room still covered in filth from the others.  I tossed the items over the outside line and one time when I went outside to dump a bucket of dirty water I found Mrs. Talbot taking them down.

"Now Widow, I know you're fond of keeping up your housewifery skills, but it makes no sense to waste the water when tomorrow is laundry day at the Hall," she told me in a scold when I told her that there was no need to add to the burden of others, that I was certainly capable of taking care of my own clothing.

I let it go because in truth I had a tub full of underthings that needed attention as well.  She snatched those from me with another scold.  "You're here to help the Housekeeper, not to house keep."

You know I tell myself that cleaning is relaxing but in point of fact it is actually how I exercise.  Sometimes my mind gets in twists that the physical labor enables me to exercise away so it does not interfere with my concentration on my thoughts.  I know that sounds counterintuitive but my mother was the same way.  She excused it by saying work was good for the soul and didn't hurt the body neither.  Either way I am less frazzled after exercising whatever demons bedevil me.

Once the kitchen was clean I stopped for a light snack and had almost decided to put the work away and start a letter to Nat but then I thought with the kitchen clean why not unpack at least some of my housegoods and put them away.

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