Hannah sighed, relieved that Helen and Henry had taken their conversation to the parlor. She busied herself clearing breakfast dishes but couldn’t help overhearing them.
“People are talking?” she thought, “What people? Who? And what is it exactly that they are seeing?” Her mind was dizzy with faces and places when Helen hawked at her from behind.
“Well it looks like it’s you and me for the day Hannah! Henry dashed off to work. So, I thought it would be nice to hear about your plans for the garden.” Helen plopped herself in a chair at the kitchen table.
“Coward!” Hannah grumbled to herself, though she couldn’t blame him for leaving. “Why don’t I brew us some tea, Helen. I have a lovely chamomile blend with mint and rose hips.” Hannah hoped its calming affects would keep Helen’s curiosity at bay.
“Oh that sounds wonderful. I’ve never had that particular tea combination. Where did you get it?”
Hannah filled a kettle with water, placed it on the stove and turned to join Helen. “It’s my mother’s special blend. She sent a canister with me. Speaking of the garden, I’m planning an herb garden and various flowering plants to make my own tea.”
“Oh, that is music to my ears!” Helen’s voice softened, “I remember bundles of herbs and flowers hanging from the rafters; the scent of lavender and roses in the air. My mother and grandmother always had fresh herbs and made their own teas. It warms my heart to think you will carry on that tradition. I must say, it’s a far cry from what I walked into before you came! Dust and cobwebs everywhere!”
The water in the kettle had started to boil sending puffs of moist steam over the stove. Hannah prepared the tea for steeping while Helen reminisced. “The house just needed a bit of tending. Do you like cream and sugar in your tea, Helen?”
“A bit of sugar is all,” Helen answered, “thank you. My, but it smells wonderful,” she sighed, as Hannah handed her a warm cup of brew. After taking a sip she smiled, “I hope you have the recipe, this is delicious.”
“I do indeed,” Hannah grinned, “I’ll make you a batch when the garden comes in.”
“Lovely. I look forward to that. So, I take it Henry didn’t scare you off then, and you plan on staying?”
“Here it comes,” Hannah thought before answering, “Well, I agree, those first few days were challenging, but I am determined to see it through…and…” Hannah stopped herself.
Helen, who was watching her intently, interjected, “And…?”
Hannah blushed, “And…what I was was going to say was…just as you had said he would, Henry came around…”
“…and, well, after the fire…” Hannah was stumbling over her words. “Stop now before you say too much,” she told herself, but her emotions were all aflutter.
“Oh yes, the fire. How frightening it must’ve been…” Helen fawned, encouraging Hannah to continue.
Emotions got the best of Hannah as she gushed, “Oh it was! We were just sitting down to dinner when the lightening struck! The lights flickered and everything went black until we realized the the trees in front were ablaze! Henry rushed outside. I tried to call the fire station but the lines were down. That’s when I heard Henry calling me to come help. I gathered up as many blankets as I could carry and rushed to join him. Thank goodness the Gordons were already here. I don’t know what we would have done without their help.” Breathless, Hannah took a sip of tea to quiet herself, fearing she had said too much.
“Well that was quite an adventure, and all during your first few days here, at that! I’m relieved of course, that no one was hurt and that the house was not damaged. I should thank you Hannah.”
“You’re most welcome, of course,” Hannah replied, “I only did what anyone would do.”
Helen chuckled, “Oh Hannah, such a dear you are. You think I’m talking about the fire don’t you?”
Hannah returned a puzzled glance at Helen as her face and neck flushed red.
Helen yawned, quite pleased with herself as she stood up, “Well, I think I’m going to retire for a short nap. I do believe the early morning trip has gotten the better of me. You don’t mind, do you?”
“No, of course not. Is there anything I can get you?”
“No dear. I’ll see myself to the guest room. We’ll talk later. We have some catching up to do, don’t you think?” Helen said, with a wink as she left the kitchen.
Hannah took another sip of tea as she replayed their conversation in her head. “Did I say too much? Why did I keep going on and on? What is wrong with me?! What did Helen mean? Not talking about the fire? More to talk about?” She threw herself into chores, dreading the afternoon. Henry’s return home could not come soon enough!