Seasoning – Part 28
The closing bell that Henry dreaded finally chimed. “I could stop by the pub, grab my dinner there, but…” he argued with himself, “no Henry. Be a man. Support the woman you love and face your sister.” He cleared his desk, grabbed his coat and walked out the door without saying a word.
Charles who watched him pass, glanced at a group of fellow clerks engaged in the latest gossip; namely, Henry and his so-called “housekeeper”.
“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall at that house this evening!” he chimed in.
Everyone nodded in agreement, snickering.
The taxi pulled up to the curb but Henry lingered.
“Am I at the right address sir? Maybe I…
“No, thank you, this is the place.” Henry paid the driver his fee and walked slowly toward the front door.
“Thank you sir. Have a good night!” The cabbie called from the car.
Henry turned with a nod, “Thanks mate.”
As he entered the parlor the aroma of roasting beef, fresh bread and cinnamon hung in the air like incense. Candlelight flickered from the dining room and jovial conversation and laughter echoed from the kitchen. “What is all this?” he wondered.
He walked into the kitchen to an astounding sight. Helen was tossing salad and Hannah whipping potatoes…together! He stood in the doorway, mouth agape for several minutes before Helen noticed him.
“Ha! You’re home Henry!” she exclaimed as she turned around wth the salad bowl. “Be a dear and make yourself useful, little brother. Grab the roast and carry it into the dining room if you please.”
Without thinking Henry complied, with Helen in tow. He had hardly noticed before that the table was impeccably set with the good china, crisp cloth napkins and crystal that sparkled in the candlelight. He placed the roast in the middle of the table and looked up at Helen who was beaming from ear to ear.
“What in god’s name is going on here?” he whispered in dazed disbelief.
“Shhhh Henry,” Helen chided, “it’s been a wonderful day, a magnificent day! Don’t you dare spoil it!”
“Spoil what? I have no idea what is happening here. When I left this morning…”
“When you left this morning…” Hannah interjected, joining them with a steaming bowl of potatoes in one hand and fresh bread in the other, “and I must say I was quite cross at your abrupt departure! When you left, or should I say escaped, I imagine you thought you were leaving a swarming beehive behind. In fact, Helen and I have had a wonderful day. We went shopping and had the most enlightening conversation.”
“Oh good god Henry, shut your mouth and sit down,” Helen chortled.
As he lowered himself into the chair clutching the arm rests for balance he noticed Hannah. She was removing her apron revealing a beautiful yellow dress; her hair was delicately swept up into a cascade of curls that draped her face, slightly flushed. She was stunning.
“Hannah is lovely in that new dress, don’t you think, Henry?” Helen clucked as she joined him at the table.
Befuddled, Henry stumbled over his words, “Uh yes, Helen, lovely.” He gazed at Hannah who posed proudly in her new dress, eyes sparkling as she looked at him for approval. “You, Hannah, are lovely.” His face softened.
Hannah blushed and sat down next to him. “We should eat everyone, before it gets cold.”
Helen reached over patting Henry’s hand. “It’s alright Henry,” she said reassuringly, “Hannah and I talked.”
“Talked about what? Forgive me you two, I am quite confused by all of this,” Henry pleaded.
“I know Henry,” Helen said.
“She knows Henry,” Hannah added, smiling.
Hannah and Helen answered him in unison, “the letter.”
To read previous installments of Seasoning, click HERE.