Monday, August 8, 2011

Chapter 10

     Angus found Mrs. Drayton seated in the drawing room covered with a blanket and leaning against a pillow. Her face was pale and drawn, and her eyes an expression of incurable sadness. She had not bore the grief well, for her dress swallowed her petite body and thin dangling arms. She did very little for herself, had to be served and waited upon for least thing. Angus began rubbing her icy shivering fingers. She was chilled the bone and coughing. Not a spring chill, but a lingering winter flu.
     "What can I do to help you?" He asked.
    "I shall manage," she answered in a coughing spasm. "My overseer is planting the crop that the Colonel ordered last year. That is all that I need; for everything to be as he wanted. I do not want anything changed, Angus. You will see to that, look after the planting for me?"
    Catherine came inside and made a cup of tea from a boiled sassafras root. "This will calm your throat," she said gently.
     "You are good to me."
     Angus observed Catherine's kindness and consideration. She was a good companion. He was wrong about her motives. She was needed at Drayton Manor. As he stood to his feet and said his goodbyes, he found himself saying "Mrs. Drayton I would like for you and Catherine to come and visit me at Ashley Loche, to have ye opinion of the construction of the rice paddies. What with the Colonel gone, I could use some helpful suggestions."
     She smiled sweetly. "Yes, I should like to see your place."
     Angus did not waver in his decision to have the visit. For the next several weeks, as spring burst into full bloom and the fragrance of the honeysuckle vine entwined the trees at Drayton Manor, he studied the colonel's crop inventory, ordered seeds and tools, measured the depth of the paddies and studied the mechanism which opened and closed the flood gates.
     When Mrs. Drayton gave the word, he sent his surrey to deliver her trunks to Ashley Loche. He intended that she stay awhile. It was the only way that he knew to help her shed the doldrums. That morning a family of red cardinels were fluttering down on the bird feeder and depositing a mess of feathers on the porch. The agitated Catherine shooed them away with her hands. "No, no, Catherine, they are just little birds, and this is their home."
     Angus brought up the carriage. He would drive the ladies himself.

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