Another prompt from Tess over at Magpie Tales
“Yeah, you go right ahead Joseph. Go on. I’ll manage. We’ll get by … somehow”.
“But Ruth you know I’m doing it for us, all of us”.
“All of us, when did you figure that one out? Was that before or after SHE declared that she just ‘had to have you’ to look after her precious estate? Was that before or after she smiled that sweet demure smile in church, the one she thought I didn’t notice?”
Her mimicking of Connie Cunningham’s soft accent was most effective. Joseph noted.
“Ruth she was only being civil. Come on that didn’t mean anything. You must believe that”.
“Don’t take me for a fool Joseph. I saw that way you smiled back and how uncomfortable you were when you realised that I had noted that little moment of tenderness between you.”
“For goodness sake Ruth, there’s nothing between us. An offer of work, that’s all! We need the money. I haven’t worked for months and with recent forest fires it could be some time before work comes my way again. You know that”.
He walked out and slammed the door behind him.
The noise woke the baby. He cried.
Ruth picked him up to soothe him. He snuggled against her chest into the clean gingham apron. The smell of fresh home baking seemed somehow to placate him. Tuesday - pies made with great creativity, lots of pastry and meagre scraps of meat in gravy, enough to last a day or two she hoped. Heaven knows where the next meal would come from. He did need that job and she knew that deep down. Shouldn’t she consider herself fortunate to have a man like Joseph who did want to look after his family? A part of her felt afraid. What if the wealthy Connie Cunningham did entice Joseph away from her and leave her and the brood here abandoned in the charred and smoldering forest? What would become of them?
She recalled an earlier time when she too smiled at a certain Joseph Wainwright in church and he smiled back. Five babies later and a home with a farm were beginning to take its toll. She was so tired. Somehow the excitement of living miles out of town had waned and rarely seeing anyone for days reinforced the loneliness she felt. But her duty was here with the family, she knew that. At least Joseph could escape for a day or two if only to work the land and tend the roses on the neighbouring Cunningham estate.