I’m afraid I’ve gotten behind on the installments of our story. So this week, two installments. Happy reading!
Seasoning – Part 26
“Charles Dickens” a painting by William Powell Frith
Henry could not get away quickly enough. He’d had his fill of his sister’s meddling. He hated leaving Hannah alone to fend for herself, but he had learned firsthand that she was quite capable speaking her mind when it was necessary. Still it troubled him, imagining Helen grilling her relentlessly as he knew she could and would.
“She’ll ruin everything,” he muttered to himself as he bounded the stairs to his office. “At least I have work to occupy my mind.”
Charles was waiting for him. In a small town it is impossible to maintain any sense of privacy. News of Helen’s early arrival was already buzzing through town. She rarely visited. Two times in a week was certainly something that required further investigation!
Charles glanced nonchalantly at Henry when he walked in the door; nodding with a smile. He noticed that Henry was clearly flustered and slightly disheveled, which was not at all like Henry who has impeccable taste when it comes to grooming and attire.
“You look a bit bothered, Henry. Is everything alright?” Charles queried with all the concern he could muster, so as not to be found out for knowing the answer before he asked it.
Henry never looked up as he rushed to his work station, but he growled in passing, “Helen.”
Taking the invitation to delve deeper, for a busybody like Charles a simple whimper was an open door, he followed Henry, “Oh, your sister, am I correct? I do hope…”
“Oh, she is very much alive and well. Save your worries, Charles, and she is in my house this morning as we speak.” Henry fumed.
“Not that I notice such things,” he lied, “but you have never mentioned her before this week and I thought you said she left to go back a home days ago. She’s back?”
“Oh yes! She is definitely back and meddling as usual. She infuriates me.”
“Hmmm, meddling, you say?” Charles couldn’t resist., “is everything working out with the housekeeper? I think I remember you mentioning it was Helen who hired her. What is her name again?”
Hannah, Hannah is her name,” Henry was growing impatient with Charles and his questions. “Hannah is perfect.” Henry stopped himself, refocusing, “What I meant to say is that she is doing a splendid job. There is absolutely no reason why Helen needed to barge in the way she did.”
Charles curiosity tweaked, “Barge in, you say?”
Henry glanced at Charles. He looked like a cat poised to pounce on a mouse. “Oh, never you mind Charles,” he brushed him off curtly, “Helen was just being Helen. Don’t let me keep you from your work.”
A deflated Charles turned to walk away, “I was just worried for you my friend. You looked…”
“Rushed is all. I have a full day ahead of me.” Henry countered as he picked up his pen and scribbled on a piece of paper on his desk.
Normally counting the hours until the closing whistle, Henry hoped today would linger as long as it pleased. He dreaded facing what waited for him at home.
Image from fashion-era.com
Seasoning – Part 27
Helen patted Hannah’s hand. “What have you got planned for the rest of the day Hannah? I don’t know about you, but I could use a shopping trip to help all of this settle.”
Hannah thought for a moment. “Well, I have completed my household chores, and dinner is prepped and ready. I have been meaning to go into town to get a new dress. Henry arranged for me to go to Stephen’s Tailor Shop to find a replacement for the one that got ruined in the fire. Do you know the place?”
“Oh indeed I do. I love Jonathan. He is an artist with fabric and thread. It’s settled then. Go put yourself together. We shall have a shopping spree.”
Filled with excitement, Hannah giggled and hugged Helen before skipping happily out of the room.
Helen smiled as she watched her leave. “I like her. I like her very much.” she thought. Then directing her comment to the vaulted ceiling, she spoke aloud, “Well Alice what a surprise this has all been. My my, you were right, my dear. She was out there somewhere just as you suspected. I do think you’d like her. She’ll be good for our Henry.” Helen blew a kiss into the air and gently tapped her chest over her heart before leaving to join Hannah in the parlor.
The market was bustling with activity when they arrived. Hannah couldn’t resist pausing at each shiny storefront dressed with a variety of wares. There was a bakery shop displaying stacks of crusty bread and pastries, a hat shop, with velvet, feathered wonders and an emporium with household odds and ends.
Helen chuckled at her shopping companion, “Hurry along Hannah. We have a dress to find!”
When at last they had arrived, Hannah’s eyes grew wide as she gazed at the most beautiful gowns and dresses she had ever seen.
Helen took the lead as a slim well-dressed man with a measuring tape draped over his shoulders met them at the door. He wore round black-rimmed spectacles and had a thin mustache and slicked back straight black hair. “Jonathan my dear! How very nice to see you. We’re looking for the perfect dinner dress for my friend here. Hannah, meet Jonathan, the best tailor in the region and our good friend for many years!”
Jonathan eyed Hannah from head to toe, as if calculating her measurements in his head. She extended her hand to shake his, “So nice to meet you,” she smiled.
Jonathan took her hand in his and gently cupped it with his other hand, “We meet at last Hannah. Henry mentioned you would be coming. Let’s see what we can find.”
Jonathan directed the ladies to a rack of wispy frilly dresses in silk, chiffon, crêpe, and satin. He slid hangers left to right, glancing frequently over his shoulder at Hannah. At last he stood back with a sigh and turned to present his find to Hannah and Helen. “Let’s try this one on you my dear,” he said with a wink and a smile directed at Helen.
“Oh Jonathan! You have outdone yourself. This one is exquisite.” Helen gushed.
Hannah gingerly took the dress from Jonathan’s hands and turned, stopping for a moment.
“The dressing room is just ahead to your left dear,” Jonathan instructed. “We’ll wait for you here. Don’t keep us in suspense too long!”
Hannah slipped the yellow silk chiffon dress over her head letting it cascade in a whoosh around her ankles. It fit perfectly. She gazed at herself in a full-length mirror feeling like a princess.
Helen and Jonathan were waiting in a sitting area chatting and snickering over the latest gossip when Hannah appeared in the doorway.
“Oh my dear! You are stunning! Jonathan you are a genius! Of course we will take it!”
Jonathan beamed proudly.
Hannah giggled, twirling full circle, “Really? Oh I do love this dress. Thank you. Thank you so very much!”
“Absolutely my dear. Now hurry along. We have an important dinner to prepare.” Helen turned to Jonathan, “As always it has been a pleasure my friend. You are a genius. I’ll say it again! You are a genius!”
“Thank you ladies. The pleasure has been all mine,” Jonathan called to them as they walked out the door. “Come back soon. And enjoy your evening!”
To read other installments of this fiction series click HERE and scroll down to the story entitled Seasoning.