Book by: Miranda J Taylor
Genre: Historical Fiction
Kit and the girls spent much of the next day exploring the town while Jimmy slept. He hadn’t come to bed at all during the night, and Kit found him early in the morning making a bench for the girls to sit on in the backyard. She insisted he go to bed for some rest.
When they returned mid-afternoon, Jimmy was entertaining in the parlour. He gestured towards his guest. “This is Maria, rather, Mrs Hennessy, the seamstress who made all your dresses."
A short, wide woman rose and placed her teacup and saucer on the side table. Her thick lips formed a tight smile and she nodded slightly to Kit and the girls.
“Mrs Hennessy, I’m very pleased to meet you,” Kit said. She turned to Clara and Lizzy. “Girls, it’s sunny in the yard, why don’t you go outside and see if you can spot any butterflies.”
The glanced at Mrs Hennessy and giggled before hurrying outside.
Kit smiled weakly at their guest. “I want to thank you for making the beautiful dresses, it was truly exquisite work.”
“It weren’t nothin’. I started sewing when I was just a wee lass. Me mother taught me."
Jimmy grinned at her like a proud parent.
"It gave me an income after me husband passed. The poor bugger, died in the mines he did. Worked himself like a dog for years to support me. We never had no children, but just as well I reckon. Life is hard out here."
Kit nodded politely then slowly turned her head to look at the clock.
Mrs Hennessy grabbed her beaded purse from the side table. “Well, I must be gettin’ along. I got lots of work to be finishin’ before we lose the light. It was lovely meetin’ you, ma’am.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for dropping by so … unexpectedly. Do come again.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” She flashed Jimmy a quick smile. “I will.”
As Jimmy made his way across the room to show her out, Kit noticed the crooked fastening of his shirt buttons. She moved in front of him blocking his way, and keeping her back to Mrs Hennessy. “I hope you enjoyed the company of my husband. I’m sure you can see yourself out.”
Mrs Hennessy turned the knob and in her hurry, wrenched the door open more than it needed. It hit the skirting board with a bang. She scurried out the door and down the front path.
Kit stepped to the door and closed it quietly. She turned back to Jimmy.
“Your shirt is buttoned all wrong, darling.” She moved in close to him and straightened the buttons. A strong scent of floral perfume lingered on his collar. She pressed her lips together and swallowed hard. “There. All done.” She sat on the settee.
“Thank you. I was in a bit of a hurry this morning. I wanted to get the bench finished for the girls.”
“Of course you were." She forced a smile before gesturing to the half-empty bottle on the mantle. "I will have a dram of that whisky."
“I have another bottle in the cabinet.”
“In that case, make it a finger.”
“Right you are.” Jimmy moved swiftly to fetch two glasses and the extra bottle from the cabinet. “I’ll join you.”
When the calming effect of the alcohol started to take hold, Kit fetched the girls and helped them clean themselves in the wash room.
“I don’t like Mrs Hennessy,” Clara said. “She’s ugly.”
“Yeah.” Lizzy giggled. “And she stinks like old flowers in a vase.”
“Come now, girls.” Kit added hot water from the boiler to a bucket of cold water and lifted it to a stool. She handed the girls a washcloth each. “There’s no need to be unkind.”
“I hope she doesn’t come here again." Clara plunged the cloth into the luke-warm water and shivered.
“Well, I have something to tell you girls as soon as you are in bed.”
“What is it?” Lizzy asked. “Are you going to buy us a wash tub?”
“Well, I think we do need one of those, but that’s not what I want to tell you.”
“Tell us now,” Clara whined.
Kit moved in behind Clara and squeezed her long wet hair with a towel. “All right then. You girls are going to start attending school, and so am I.”
“But you’re too old to go to school, Mama.”
“I’m going to nursing school.”
Clara turned suddenly, causing Kit to pull on her hair. Clara seemed not to notice in her excitement. “Does that mean we’re going back to live at the quarantine station, with Finley and Tom? I think Papa would like them.”
Kit smiled. “No, Clara, not exactly. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Now, put on your night dresses and off to bed.”
Kit said goodnight to Jimmy and retired, her thoughts making her unable to sleep for several hours.
When she checked on Jimmy in the small hours, he was asleep on the settee, and the second bottle of whisky was almost gone.
© Copyright 2023 Miranda J Taylor. All rights reserved.
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You need to add "the girls" glanced at Mrs. Hennessy and giggled before hurrying outside.
The tension is there. I'd prefer if she was a bit seductive (not round). And the girls might say, she's fakey or something, not ugly.
Don'tget big headed, but the short abrupt tension worked. Kit has razor eyes, and almost no one else in this story has. You ampfyied her presence in this chapter.
I'm spending my time now sending queries and struggling a billion times to figure out what is going in the publishing arena, but no matter how long it takes, I will respond. Why? This is an important story.
Thank you for your review and kind words of encouragement. I wish you all the best of luck with publishing one of your stories. You have always seemed the sort of person with a lot of determination, (and a huge imagination) so if anyone can get published, I reckon you can.
Hey, Miranda. This was a short, but LOADED chapter. Yes indeed, Jimmy's character has been shredded. I don't think he's necessarily irredeemable, but he's obvious acquired a nest of demons.
Mrs Hennessy being less than attractive shows how desperate he is...then too, maybe the decency that's still part of him is keeping Kit from experiencing his perhaps bizarre approach to romance...
I fear for Kit and the girls! His little devils have a firm hold on him. They've destroyed his "better half." Scary!