Carey Explains Himself: Hammersmith (ten)

Pastel drawing of 1800s farmhouse


Chapter Ten
Carey Explains Himself






Less sticky about being accommodating than she’d feared, Hogben did her the favor of saying, “I might head down with Shaw, when he goes after that salve, and see about a room at Derfinger’s.”

Of course, by that, she’d probably lost him. Why had she ever said it to herself, tempting fate…that Carey would be fine if she could just get a peaceful spell to arrange things?

He’d been at a job site. Meeting his aunt and Miss Leybourne coming up the road, and while propping himself between Ruby and Shaw on a tender toe, he’d gasped out a bit of his story. He’d been hired to help shingle a roof, over down to Springfield. Jane, Carey said, had got sick. Somehow, he said. She was doing pintucking and plackets. It was concentrated work. You could get five dollars a week. But not to worry, ma’am, she was better by now. And the baby, he wanted Aimee, and his audience, to know, wasn’t even there…she was with Jane’s sister.

“Why wouldn’t we get that rocker off the front porch? I bet four of us can carry it.”

That had been Minnie’s thought. They were spared trying by a buggy from Mossbunker’s estate, crossing the bridge, coming up short where the crowd of them blocked passage. Easier off his rescuers’ shoulders, hoisted onto Mossbunker’s seat, and with only the driver to overhear, Carey told his aunt more.

“I don’t know. I put my hammer down and it slid off the edge. I had to go back down the ladder. The first time I did it, I didn’t even think anyone saw. The second time, I was bent over…and a bunch of nails started raining down off the roof. I figured that was me, too. Even though I remembered putting everything in my apron pockets…but maybe they fell out. I figured.”

“Joshin,” the driver commented.

“So the boss came by, and he said, you pick up every one of those, and don’t you let me find one you didn’t pick up.”

The driver laughed. “Sounds like the boss.”

“And then I took my lunch in a sack, cause I didn’t know there was a lunch wagon would come round the site, so I got ragged a bunch about that.”

Aimee saw Carey, cross-legged on the grass, pulling from his sack something sad and inadequate—breakfast’s cold flapjacks, it might be—that poor sickly Jane would have got herself out of bed to pack, to beg, of their landlady’s kitchen.

“And did you miss your train, going back?”




Carey Explains Himself
Virtual book cover for novella HammersmithMore of this piece on Hammersmith page
Every Sort of Help (excerpt)












(2017, 2018, Stephanie Foster)



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