Peas in a Pod: part seven
Peas in a Pod
Her private apartment, like her office, was furnished with articles that pleased the taste of Miss Haws. Embedded in the room’s upholstery, draperies, and carpet, was a scent of lavender, and a winter smell of coke. The newer smell was of coffee, Mr. Horace’s toilet water, and his oiled hair. The hair rolled like a wave to a part above his left ear, and curled there, the sideburns thick and trimmed to a razor’s edge. He was a contemporary of Gideon Haws, not yet forty. From a damascene armchair, Mr. Horace rose to his feet. Haloed by a shaft of sunlight, he regarded the Everards.
“Mr. Everard, and Richard, how do you do, sirs.” Horace shook hands with Richard’s father, gave Gideon a rueful smile, offered a hand to Richard; and Richard, remembering Jasper, had been about to do his father proud for manners…he’d got out as much as, “How do you do,” when Horace turned to the two men, and began to speak: “Miss Haws has followed Kitty down to the kitchen. She has left me acting the role of host. Though properly, now Gideon is here, I ought to give over…”
“Not at all.”
“I do not take coffee. But the coffee is hot. I don’t believe Miss Haws will mind.”
Horace’s gesture included the sofa and the table on which the coffee service had been laid. “Won’t mind, I mean to say, if I mention Mr. Gremot. Mr. Everard―”
Richard’s father had been on the verge of resting his back against the sofa’s.
“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
And as though this declamation had been a shot across the bow, Gideon Haws crouched over the coffee pot, alert and self-effacing; holding this posture, he poured for his cousin’s guests.
“Ephesians, Mr. Everard…of course you know the passage. However, it is not the case merely that the sanctity of the marriage bond is an exemplar; it is one, in its character and essential nature―this vow between husband and wife, this conjugal love―to the love our Savior bears for the body of the church itself. Christendom, Mr. Everard.”
Horace permitted a silence. Neither Everard offered to break it. “It is the case, sir, that no line of distinction can be drawn between one’s duty as a Christian, and one’s duty as a husband. To be of Christ, to be of the church, is to regard the marriage bond as sacred. You have said to Miss Haws that shame drove you to conceal your married state. Miss Haws forgives you. But she cannot harbor you here. Realize, Mr. Everard, that this abandonment of your wife is the abandonment of Heaven’s grace. You cannot suppose, sir, that the broken body will heal of its own accord; nor that the unreconciled, sinners and doubters both, will have time enough to wander by the wayside, until they choose to seek salvation. For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…Hebrews, Mr. Everard…chapter four, verse twelve. You do not have time. You must fulfill the promise you have made. Now, it happens that among the Temperance Fellows…”
Peas in a Pod
(2017, Stephanie Foster)