Hammersmith: More Peaceful Pursuits (chapter thirty-seven)

Posted by ractrose on 21 Dec 2021 in Fiction, Novels

Pastel drawing of 1800s farmhouse

Hammersmith

Chapter Thirty-Seven 
More Peaceful Pursuits

 

 

 


 

 

This Mr. Curach, whom Ruby well accepted, being Aimee’s friend, as a perfectly suitable escort, was also…so she found him…a fine and forward-coming fellow. He might be not so much older than herself. Not so very much. He was jaunty of step, and no taller; they matched well, side by side. He had a bit of a cast to one eye. This (she was sure she’d heard), was lucky in a husband.

Well, there…people said so.

Carey dragged behind them; and talking, they had forgotten him for the third time.

But a natural pause led Curach to call: “Now, lad, should I give you my arm?”

“No, sir. Take Ruby on, and I’ll make my way. We’re on the road back, aren’t we…and there isn’t another?”

“True enough.”

This came modestly repressive. But Curach did not offer his thoughts.

Instead, he said: “At about your age, lad, I was just setting up in life. Mr. Piggott would have me go out to strengthen the voters, there being always the small want to be supplied, and the simple folks so like to be swindled into debt. Or expecting a new mouth to feed. Or a myriad of troubles to prey on a man’s mind and make him tardy to the polls.”

Carey, after a silence, tried: “That’s not legal. Not on the up and up, is it?”

“Why, what do you think I’m saying to you?”

“I don’t know.”

And to this avowal, something wondering in Carey’s voice gave piquancy.

“Why, suppose I’d had a lovely little wife at home, instead of being the bachelor I always have been?”

“And children running about?” Ruby seconded.

She felt it right she should, though she knew no more than Carey what Curach’s point would be, when he’d made it.

“Say there had been children running about, that would never worry you much…? They are all grown now, and keeping their own houses.”

The implication was rather fraught for Ruby, and she moved away from the men. In the fading light of Curach’s lantern, she found the post of the bridge, cupped its finial between her hands, and on these rested her chin.

Over the rise another walker came silhouetted, brisk paced, creaking a rhythm…of baggage, she thought. A hinged case.

“Is that Miss Magley?”

 

 

93

 

 


 

 

“Is that Mr. Hogben? I can’t tell you what’s become of Minnie and Aimee… Oh! Mr. Curach!” The idea flashed that Hogben would escort her home, Curach free that way to give his arm to Carey…

The guilt, that she could say to herself home, when it was not hers, and Aimee was far too generous, flashed a close second. Curach reached her side.

“What if you were to call me Declan?” The question was soft, for Ruby’s ears.

“Mr. Hogben,” she said. “Could you lend a hand to Carey? His feet are troubling him again…after he’d insisted on walking down with us to McKeefe’s. Minnie said…”

“Here. Best if you take this lantern.”

Hogben rested his case on the ground.

Curach gestured to the glow on the horizon, of Mossbunker’s factory lights. “You were never leaving, sir? If any train would run at this hour…still, they have everything closed, you know.”

“What’s been going on, exactly?” Hogben might have read these words off a card.

Ruby began to suspect he was trying to leave them…that a thing as large as an insurrection, as calling in the militia to put it down, as whatever new trouble made that billow of smoke, that whuffing sound just now trailing after, could make only nuisance for Hogben—as soon, he would pass it by.

“Shaw,” Curach said, “will be your man to tell all. Now, sir, what with the chill of the night, I’ll beg your farewell, and see to the lady.”

On they walked, and when Hogben with the lantern had recessed them under night’s blanket, Ruby commented, “It’s well dark, isn’t it?”

“But as the lad observes, there is only one road.”

“Declan.” She said it to say his name, because it struck her polite…not forgetting he’d given permission.

“You’re wondering where next. I will ask Mrs. Krabill to make available one of the better rooms. I know she has the wherewithal. My own house is yours, of course, but we’ll have a proper courtship first. Will you stay on the stage?”

“I think I won’t.”

“And… It’s the Roman church?”

If he put it that way. “Orange, are you?”

A pause of eloquence.

“Religion is for the shaping of the young. The very young. If there were to be any more of them. Then, my girl, as you think best, and nothing to do with me.”

 

 

94

 

 


More Peaceful Pursuits

Virtual book cover for novella HammersmithMore Peaceful Pursuits (cont’d)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2019, Stephanie Foster)

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: