“Do?” Cor asks. “You’ll hop in that bed and let Mrs. Wiley and the others spoil you for a bit so they can feel like they’ve taken part in your rescue.”
Raising one eyebrow at him despite it causing a small scratch on my forehead to sing out I asked him, “Rescue? Really?”
“Really,” he said trying to make it sound like something wonderful.
I sighed. “Just how bad is bad Cor? The cabin …”
He walked forward then clumsily reached and tugged me into a hug. I don’t know who was more startled, me or him for me letting him. “Uh … er … It … um …”
He sounded so much like he had when I’d first come to the estate that I relaxed and smiled. Pushing back so I could see his face I told him, “You still say uh, um, and er more than any man I’ve ever met.”
He started guiding me towards a bed that was fancier than any I had ever slept in. It had a real canopy and mosquito bar and bed curtains. In fact I was beginning to notice the whole room was a lot fancier than I was comfortable with but Cor wasn’t giving me any choice because when I slowed down he simply picked me up and carried me the rest of the way and then placed me on the bed. “Humor everyone Fel. It won’t cause your reputation irreparable harm to allow us to spoil you just this once. And tomorrow, rain or shine, I promise we’ll go look at the cabin together. Just give Jonah and I a chance to look things over properly so we can answer all of your questions.”
I was beginning to wonder if I even wanted those questions answered if it was as bad as he was obviously trying not to say so I nodded my acceptance. And apparently just in time too. There was a no-nonsense knock on the door and Mrs. Wiley marched in with a mug and a tray and after setting it down on the bedside table she said, “I expect both ter be clean before I get back. And mind yers, not a crumb left. Peoples are wanting ter know how yer be but I told ‘em they’re to wait til after yers have had a nip and a tuck in as yers hadn’t had a bite since suppertime. But they won’t wait much longer.”
Cor gave a small smile and whispered, “Told you.” Then he left the room hurriedly followed my Mrs. Wiley. That was the last bit of alone time I had for hours.
Finally after a supper tray, that several of the village ladies stayed to oversee that I ate it all properly, was taken away I managed to escape any more visitors when Lollie declared that I needed to rest and that she was sure I’d be up for more visitors the next day. She told them if I rested properly I might even come down stairs for a bit.
I had reached my tolerance level for all the fuss and bother long ago but was too tired, sore, and … and appreciative … to complain more than mildly that none of it was necessary; that it certainly wasn’t necessary for them to come out in the rain and take time away from their own needful things.
No one listened. Most of the time that is how my life went anyway so I wasn’t sure why I should have been surprised. But the quiet that was left in their wake was a wonderful thing and I soaked it in. The Captain and Winnie coming to tell me goodnight was the only interruption and it was minor as they were both tired. The excitement of having such a ruckus going on had set Rachel off and then on top of it all the women insisted on holding her to “give Miss Winnie a break” which of course only added to her acting spoiled rotten which everyone but Winnie thought was just as cute as cute could be.
The problem was I had rested about all I could all day long and now though I was worn out sleep was elusive. I also wondered where Cor was. Topher had brought me things throughout the day saying, “Mister Cor said to be sure you got this.” Or “Mister Cor was just sending me to check to make sure you didn’t need anything.”
Of course that caused a bunch of twitters and knowing glances from my visitors and I could have just sunk into the floor boards. They were rewriting history again and it was awfully uncomfortable to be handed a script one line at a time and not knowing the direction the play was going to take. I kept wondering if I had been given the part of the fool but no one had the heart to tell me.
I got up and wandered quietly about the room noticing things to keep my mind off the fact that I had gotten used to Cor being around at night. There was a glass cabinet with books on recipes, herbs, poetry, and a few other titles. I opened the case and took out a pretty little book without a title or author on the cover that had made me curious but then I slammed it shut and put it back quickly with a blush and a gasp after seeing a few pictures that finally explained the cover page which had read “managing the many moods of your husband.”
With that rather discombobulating bit of surprise roaming around in my head I quickly went looking elsewhere for distraction. There were three doors off the room. Behind the first door was a rather ornate indoor outhouse with a large tub bolted to the floor in addition to a smoothly carved sitter – no splinters in the bottom for the one that used this room – and a real mirror that hung above an ornate porcelain wash stand. A towel rack hung conveniently on the wall and then there was a whole little cedar closet that held drying clothes that looked like they hadn’t been aired out in quite some time.
Back in the room I walked passed a poofy little high stool that was tucked under a small table that held old coloring pots full of dried powders and a few ornate perfume bottles. The top of the table obviously lifted open but after the incident with the book I was less easy in getting that much of my curiosity satisfied.
An open shelf held some delicate figurines and other useless objects several of which looked like they might have come from before the Dark Days. I shrugged and then opened the second door. This one led into a small room that was too dark to see in but when I felt around I realized it was the empty version of what Francine had called her clothes closet. There were racks and drawers in there meant to hold clothes, shoes, hats and underthings and after walking out I realized that was why I hadn’t seen a wardrobe or chest in the bedroom proper.
I shut that door and then debated whether to open the third door but decided against it. All I was doing was delaying the inevitable. There was no way Cor was going to come be with me tonight. He would come to the cabin – there was enough distance between it and his memories of Francine – but he wouldn’t do it here where her ghost still lingered. If I felt like she was looking over my shoulder and the woman was hardly dead, it would be next to impossible to expect him to not notice it. I’d just received a letter from Hazel telling me how Francine had started to revert to again believing that her time with Cor was just a half-remembered dream. She was still making Elder Lathrop’s life uncomfortable though as she kept trying to take her turn at her “wifely duties” never quite understanding why he kept saying maybe next time. But that wasn’t a problem I would touch with a ten foot tent pole; it was hard enough having Hazel give me the details that my imagination then took to the next level; no way was I going to involve myself further. Shudder.
I sighed and then bent to bank the fire in preparation of trying to sleep figuring maybe if I pretended hard enough eventually I really would. The house was dead silent and depressed me even more. At the cabin I could hear the outside world through the eaves and shudders, in this room I felt shut in and muffled from everything; uncomfortable in surroundings I didn’t think I belonged in.
I had just taken off a slipper when there was a quiet knock on the door. I turned and walked over and just before I reached it the door knob turned on its own and the door slowly opened to reveal Cor standing there with “his” rocking chair.