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.She’d smile and add, “He’s with us always, forever watching over his beloved.”Hannah forced herself to walk away.The warmer temperatures that had graced the morning turned chill.Huddling inside her cloak, she tried to walk with a determined stride as she headed for Ruby’s.When Hannah was little, she’d spent many days at Ruby’s house.The kindly woman always seemed to be baking.Hannah’s favorite treat had been her special bread.In a rhythm, she’d roll the dough and press it down with the heel of her stout hands and then form it into perfectly shaped loaves.Hannah would wait while it rose and then was baked.She could still smell the sweetness of it as it came steaming out of the oven.Ruby would cut a piece for her to eat while the loaves cooled.Ruby’s home had always seemed close, but today the distance felt like a journey.As she neared the house, Hannah slowed her steps.What would she say? She’d kept many of her troubles to herself, not wanting to worry her friend.Now she wished she could retreat from what she would see in Ruby’s eyes when she told her what had happened.She didn’t want her pity nor the guilt her friend would feel at her inability to help.There simply was no room at Ruby’s.Her cottage was smaller than Hannah’s, and her daughter and grandchildren lived with her.They were already squeezed tight.And Percy, Ruby’s husband, was an unfriendly type.Having a houseguest would not sit well with him.If Ruby defied her husband, she’d bear the brunt of his displeasure.Hannah needed to help her friend understand that she could care for herself.She only hoped that Percy would allow Jasper to stay.When she reached Ruby’s, she didn’t knock right away.Instead, she stood on the stoop and tried to work out what she ought to say.An acceptable explanation eluded her.Summoning courage, she raised her hand.Just then she heard tapping at the window and looked up to see Ruby’s friendly face gazing out.She waved her in, but before Hannah could grab the knob, it turned and the door swung open.“What ye doing here standing out in the cold? Come in.Come in.” Ruby opened the door wider.Hannah stepped inside.“Good day to you.”“Afternoon.” Ruby eyed Jasper and the satchel hanging from Hannah’s shoulder.Hannah still couldn’t think of anything to say.“So, they kicked ye out, eh?”“Yes.I had to come and say good-bye.I’m not sure where I’ll be just yet.I considered the Bakers, but they have six children, and the widow Barnett is on the verge of being evicted herself.” Hannah gazed at the floor, mortified.Ruby’s brow knit, but she managed to smile.“Well, could ye do with a bit of tea? Got some just this mornin’.” She placed an arm around Hannah and ushered her to a chair.“Ye sit and I’ll make it.” She moved toward her kitchen and then glanced back at the cat.“Ye can put him down too.He’ll be fine.” She got cups from a cupboard.“Good thing my daughter took the children with her this mornin’.Give us some time to ourselves.”Giving Jasper a pat, Hannah set him on the floor.“I was wondering if I might leave Jasper here with you.He’s a good mouser so he won’t need much in the way of food.” Hannah sat on the settee.“He’ll be fine for now.” While Ruby poured the tea, she hummed a folksy tune.“Glad I had some brewing,” she said, handing Hannah a cup.She sat in a straight-backed chair.For a few moments, the two women sipped their tea in silence.“So, do ye have a plan?” Ruby finally asked.Feeling miserable, Hannah looked at her friend.“I haven’t a notion.I’ve been praying and praying, but nothing seems clear to me.What do you think I ought to do?”Ruby thought a moment.“I’d be more than happy to let ye stay ’ere, but ye know how Percy is.He’d never stand for it.He’d make us all miserable.”“I don’t expect you to take me in.That’s not why I came.” Hannah set her cup on the table.“I need a place for Jasper, and I couldn’t go without saying good-bye.”The two women’s eyes met, and silence settled between them once more.Ruby interrupted the quiet.“What about the.no.That won’t work.The Johnsons just moved in.That means there are four families in one tiny house.I’m sure they won’t allow anyone else.” Ruby sipped her tea, making a slurping sound.“What about that Mr.Walker, the magistrate? Perhaps he still needs help.”“Do you think he might?” Hannah felt hope stir.“Maybe.All ye need do is ask.” She grinned.“Oh, that would be lovely.I hear he has a grand house.And there are children.Wouldn’t that be nice, to live with a family?”Inside Hannah quaked at the idea of working for someone as prominent as a magistrate, but she said, “That would be excellent.”Ruby smiled.“That’s it, luv.Ye’ll go and see them tomorrow.It’s a bit late today.I have a friend, Lucille.Her daughter works for his neighbor.I’ll find out if they’re still needing a maid.”Hannah stood on a walkway leading to the front door of an imposing three-story brick home.The Walker estate took up nearly half a block.The house stood close to the street and was squeezed between two other lavish homes.In spite of the crowding there was a small yard with a tiny flower garden [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]