“Why not put those gloves aside for a minute, Jenny, and have a breath of air before tea? I’ll lay the table.”
“I can do it,” Jenny said, pushing the laundry away from her face as she stood up. “Dad and Davey might prefer your cooking, but I guess I can put the plates on to their liking!”
“Oh, Jenny, I didn’t mean it that way . . .” Sarah bit her lip. She’d hoped that her presence in the house would be welcomed, that she’d provide a bit of comfort to the little ones while keeping them in line, and be a calming influence over the friction that so often arose between Joseph and Davey. As for Jenny, though, it seemed that Sarah’s efforts to share the work and make friends with the girl often backfired.
She turned to Beth.
“You’d better wash your hands as well, after being with that . . . with Velvet. Your dad and Davey will be in for their tea any minute. Go with her, Johnny. Here, take this clean piece of sacking to dry off with and bring me back the dirty one.”
“Yes, Sarah.” Johnny went off as bidden, scowling as he opened the low door. He wished it were still the harvest holiday. It was awful at school again, back to all the routines.
“Velvet’s not dirty,” Beth said. But she followed her brother. Then she turned.
“Emmy said, next time she comes, she’ll try to bring me a piece of velvet, and some ribbons that Lady Florence doesn’t want any more. Won’t that be pretty? Oh, I can’t wait for Emmy’s next visit!”
Jenny clanked down the knives and forks.
“I think I will just go for some air.”
Sarah glanced out of the tiny lead-paned window, watching for a moment as the three children made their way across the yard to the wash house, Jenny walking apart from the younger two.
Then she spied her husband’s short, thickset figure trudging toward the cottage, with lanky Davey beside him. She felt her heart skip a beat. How she loved that man!
She didn’t want to remember his grief-stricken face when his wife had died. Elizabeth Callow had been as close to an angel as any woman could be, it had been said, though Sarah hadn’t known her well at all. Jenny had got her looks from her ma, and Emily her spark, though perhaps without the calm gentleness. The older girl’s pride and defiance clearly came from her dad!
Now the children would have to wait their turn in the wash house, and this would mean Sarah might have a moment with Joseph when he came in, though Davey would be there as well. They needed to discuss when to tell the children about the baby. But she’d known she’d be marrying the whole package, and would have to make her peace with that.