Ruth invited me to lunch again. I told her I could not come as I did not like to take Benjamin out in the cold weather unless I had to. Her hired man, Mr. McCleary had driven out to give me her message that she would be coming tomorrow and would bring lunch. I looked forward to the company. I hadn't seen Ruth since she came to visit when I was pregnant. Avery was out on a freight run that was taking longer than usual. I was trying not be worried about him as I knew sometimes things happened to the wagon or the horses. He has been gone almost two weeks now.
When Ruth arrived I had just put Benjamin down for a nap. I figured we could talk and eat while he napped. I had made some maple oatmeal cookies. When someone comes to visit I like to be the one preparing the food and feel that I needed to have at least something to offer Ruth. Ruth came in with Peanut running in alongside of her. She had two large canvas bags of food from her hotel.
"Hi Rachel! How are you doing?" she said as she set her bags down on the counter.
"Oh Ruth, you did not have to bring our lunch! I could have made it." I exclaimed as I looked at the gorgeous oranges that fell out of the bag.
"I wanted to do it for you. I understand perfectly about not wanting to take your new baby out in the cold weather. I wanted to see him."
"Well, you will have to wait.........he is napping." I added as I unpacked the bags.
Ruth had outdone herself this time. She brought us a magnificent feast and what we did not eat she made me pack away for my supper. By the time Benjamin was crying for me, we were ready for him. After he ate, she held him and petted him and talked to him. I could see a sadness in her face as she looked down on him.
"I am sorry Ruth if he makes you sad." I said.
"Oh, Rachel it's not him that makes me sad. It is just that my husband died before we could have any children. I really wanted some but he was older than me, you know? Then he got sick and we never could have any. I kept hoping but it got where he couldn't even leave his bed and I knew I'd never have his child. Now I fear it is too late for me."
"It's never too late. You could meet someone new and get married again," I looked at her and could see she didn't believe that.
"Well, I did see someone I considered. But he married someone else," she looked at me straight on to see if I knew what she meant.
"Not Avery?" it had never crossed my mind that they had ever been involved or even close.
"He is the best looking man for miles around. And he is my age. So I did try to get him interested."
"He wasn't? I did not even know him before our wedding. Not really."
"He told me right off that he had plans and he needed a special wife. One that could put up with him being away and still able to raise children and run his house and farm. It sounded too tall an order for me. I did not want to give up my hotel."
"Did he tell you that if you did, he would marry you?" I was interested to know what took place in my husband's life before me.
"He was being kind. He knew I was not his kind of woman. He would talk to me and come into the hotel for a hot meal occasionally and ask me to join him. But was he interested in me? As a woman? Not even a little."
"Wouldn't you have given up your hotel for a husband?" I asked finding it hard to believe that a woman would rather run a hotel than to have a family.
"Let's put it this way. My hotel gives me a lot of freedom that a wife does not get. I own my hotel and if I had a husband it would go to him. Right now it belongs to me, but I have a trustee, a lawyer who oversees it for me as set up by my husband for me. But basically I run it and he doesn't do anything but keeps it that way so it is legal."
"I see. I guess I never understood all that legal talk."
After Ruth left I looked at my son and felt thankful that my life is turning out this way. I have to admit I was scared when I first married Avery and was alone with him those first few days. Now I treasure those days. I think about him all the time and wish he was home. Ruth had a husband too and she never thought he'd die when she married him. So she had been interested in Avery. I imagine there were many young women who had been interested in him. I didn't even know about him then. I was not even thinking about marriage or anything like that. Now my life is all changed. Babies, horses, housework, growing and preparing food, sewing, so many jobs needing my attention.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole