Her mother still feared she had plans to escape the marriage. An Unlikely Arrangement.
May 29, 2013
A VG Serial: An Unlikely Arrangement
The commotion downstairs woke her, and for a moment, she couldn’t remember the surroundings. The dream placed her in a grassy clearing, bodice torn, and lips bruised with the desire of Peter Kirby. Her breath came in gasps as consciousness returned.
“Ruth, Ruth, wake up. Are you ill? Why are you moaning? You feel hot, fevered. I knew I shouldn’t have let you out in the night air last night. Mr. Kirby was out of line. He should have sent you home in the auto with Ginny instead of riding atop the milk wagon like a common girl. You probably cost me my job, Ruth. Now wake up.” Sarah shook her, hard.
“Wait, Sarah, wait. I’m not ill…a dream, that’s all, nothing to worry about. What is all the commotion downstairs?”
Sarah reached for a blue robe draped across the bedpost. “Get up, it’s your folks. They returned with your wedding trousseau—boxes and boxes. Oh my! There will be fittings and inventory. You must get up. Don’t let them catch ya still abed.”
“Oh, my gosh, my wedding trousseau…they’re home. I can’t wait to see what they bought.”
“What change of heart is this? Last night’s dinner was that good was it? Did Mrs. Kirby put some potion in yer food to make ya change your mind?”
“Well, no, I mean, no…I don’t want to marry, but Peter is a likeable sort, and Mrs. Kirby is very entertaining. You know as well as I do, when Mother makes up her mind about something, there is no turning her around. So, I might as well accept it, make the most of it. Besides, think of all the new clothes. You know I can’t resist new clothes.” She turned around in the front of the mirror laughing.
Sarah walked to the doorway. “You best be careful, Miss. Your mother won’t know what to make of your sudden compliance to her wishes. She’ll think you’ve somethin’ up your sleeve.” Sarah descended the stairs in response to Mrs. Squire’s summons.
Mother sounds jovial enough. I don’t hear Papa. I wonder what he really thinks of all this.
The large clock on her dresser chimed the hour.
Eight o’clock! My goodness, I should’ve been up an hour ago.
The blue robe landed on the floor, and she ran to the closet to find a dress. She wiggled into the navy blue housedress, brushed her hair, and swept it into a ponytail. After a hasty toilet, she gave her hair one last pat, and walked slowly down the stairs. “Sarah’s right. I must not be too agreeable. Peter warned me, too.”
“Mother, Father, you’re home. How was your trip?”
“What are you doing out of your room, Ruth? I told Sarah to keep you in there while we were away.”
Ruth smiled. For some reason, she assumed Mother would look different, less severe. Alas no, still the same plain dress, her hair again pulled sharply back in an unflattering bun, an ever-present scowl a permanent fixture on her face. “I have been in my room, Mother. But you’re home now, surely you trust me enough to come and greet you and Father.”
Priscilla Squire’s frown deepened, but she nodded her approval. “Well, I suppose you may have a little freedom, now. Nevertheless, don’t try anything, young lady. You’ll be married in month, and I’ll hear no more about it.”
“As you wish, Mother. Remember, I’ve met Mrs. Kirby. She is very kind and helped me see the error of my ways. I’ll not fight you on the matter.”
“Well, at last, you are showing some sense. Mrs. Kirby is a lovely woman with a good head on her shoulders. I can only hope she will have a positive influence on you. I certainly haven’t.”
Ruth looked around for Father, but only saw the door of his study close behind him.
He’s not speaking to me. He’s either angry or sad. I wish I could speak to him alone.
The two delivery men teetered under the load of the boxes, bounced off the doorway, but finally managed to deposit the last of the cargo on the floor of the parlor.
“Oh goodie, I can’t wait to see what’s in the boxes,” Ruth squealed.
“Stop at once, Ruth. I must organize things. You will not try them on or fuss with them until I tell you. Is that clear?”
“But Mother, how will I know if they suit me? Have I no say in anything?”
“Ah, I see rebellion is still prominent. I was beginning to wonder what came over you. I’ll have them sorted out and hung in the guest room in short order. You can wait until then.”
When she heard guest room, she froze.
Do I want my wedding clothes anywhere near that room?
Maybe what happened in the guest room was like a premonition, a version of herself getting ready for her wedding. When she thought of it that way, she relaxed, and began to think she imagined the whole thing, dreamed it. “What shall I do in the mean time, Mother?”
Mrs. Squire paused at the foot of the stairs, a large box in her arms. “I want you to help Sarah. The crystal needs cleaning. The house needs to be put in order for the guests and parties, and Sarah can’t do it alone. It will keep you occupied and out of trouble. Besides, you will need to get use to caring for your own home and belongings. I doubt very much Mrs. Kirby has a maid.”
Chapters of the novel appear on Monday and Wednesday.
You can learn more about An Unlikely Arrangement on Amazon.