I started checking the orchard and around the barn with my gun every morning and William checked it every evening. The whole time he was down there, I was on pins and needles hoping nobody would get him and then come up here for us. Lola was scared, but didn't show it. She spent most of her time fussing over the children. Samuel was tiring me out. He cries and fusses often. Even after just nursing. I end up holding him on my lap and falling asleep in the chair with him. During the day, Lola does what she can for me. Since Samuel is still nursing I am the one who has to feed him. I can't wait for Avery to return home.
All of a sudden I heard hooves, and ran to the window knocking over a bucket of apples on my way to it. I looked out and saw Ruth dismounting her horse. I started picking up the apples as she came to the door. I opened it with a smile, but saw she was flustered and out of breath.
"What is it, Ruth? You rode here like the town is under siege!"
"It is, in a way," as she bent down to help me pick up the apples which had rolled all over the floor.
"Sit down, I'll get them. I spilled them by jumping up so quickly. I was hoping William was coming and jumped up to see if it was him I heard."
"Sorry to disappoint you," she replied, "but I had to talk to someone. And you are elected." Ruth laughed lightly, her old self again.
"What is it?" I asked, intrigued and welcoming something to take my mind off the matters around here and Lola's crazed husband.
"It's Mr. Bentley!" Ruth sat down in the chair and put her cup out as I poured some hot tea in it. "He is after me."
"You mean old Mr. Bentley? Your lawyer?" I smiled thinking of the old man I knew from around town. He seemed too old for such things.
"Yeah, you'd think so. Not at all. He wants me to marry him so I can keep running the hotel."
I knew Ruth's husband had died leaving the hotel and restaurant to her, but had to be under the guardianship of someone, a man, and had his lawyer agree to do it. He agreed to let her keep running it but he oversaw it since a woman could not run a business on her own. I took my cup of tea to the table and sat down, "What are you going to do?'
"Rachel, I don't know. I don't want to give up my home and business. I know people talk about me running a business. Being woman, and especially that type of business. But I like doing it."
"Ah, who cares what those old coots think? They are just jealous that you are making money and their husbands aren't," thinking about rumors I heard around town.
"I am trying to figure out what my next step is. I can't lose it. What can I do?"
She looked up me and it was the first time I ever saw Ruth show any type of fear. I sat there thinking, and all of a sudden I had an idea, "Ruth, I know! I know what you can do."
"What Rachel? I need to do something soon!"
"You need to get married."
"Married? That is what I am trying to avoid." She looked miserable again.
"No, marry someone with the understanding of you running the hotel. Like a partnership. Some marriages are like that anyhow."
"I don't know any man who would agree to that arrangement."
"Not yet. But we will find one." I knew there must be some man somewhere who would not mind a pretty wife and a thriving business to boot!
Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole