Every Sort of Help: Hammersmith (eleven)
There were two types of men women fell for.
Her weeding partner was of the third. Ralph had been. Inclined on their honeymoon to sit by the window, read the newspaper, and tell his new wife, “Go off, look at the stores, if that’s what women like to do. I’ll be fine.” Aimee recalled having a different way of explaining things to herself, eight years ago. Of course, like Nico’s poorest of the poor, out there might be another layer, buried, a male type never encountered, and so never considered.
She shook her head. The point she was making was only this: Bladon Shaw, a fellow competent and busy (though not so much so as to have gone far in the world), was also quiet-natured and secretive. In his own words, he didn’t need anything. He was not a poor lamb, like Carey…not a bold talker, like Vic, or like—
She ought to call him Monty. She was getting an idea about Mr. Hogben…a last sortie, before she called the battle lost.
She hadn’t yet succeeded in having much to say to him. He seemed to have nothing unprompted to say to her. He had come out to the garden on her heels, after she’d surrendered her kitchen to Minnie.
Minnie, making good on her promise of fixing lunch. “No, goodness, Aimee, put your feet up!”
And on this day, had her company been wanted anywhere, she might have. She could hear Mrs. Frieslander telling her story to Monty and Biyah, the three of them in the parlor, waiting the gong—that one about the man whose passage to America her father had paid, on condition of his marrying her eldest sister, and who had come married already, instead, to a girl he’d met in steerage.
Bidding for solitude, Aimee had begun this chore, that Shaw would like to take away from her…because she hadn’t been able to go up and sit thinking, in a chair at Carey’s bedside, while he slept. Ruby, for having at the creek taken up nursing him, was still at it.
And her nephew being well suited temperamentally to omitting Jane from his calculations, bedazzled as he was with Ruby’s birds (Aimee was a bit, herself), she had put her head round Hogben’s door, meaning to say something pointed about a telegram.
Ruby touched a finger to her lips, then in a loud whisper, said, “I’ll stay, if you don’t mind…unless you tell me I’ll be more help in the kitchen.”
Aimee beckoned her to the threshold, trying anyway.
Every Sort of Help
More of this piece on Hammersmith page
(2017, 2018, Stephanie Foster)