Chapter 7

Written by: Joe Labrum

Mary heard a rush of footsteps scamper up to the entrance. She took the last breakfast dish from the drainer and began wiping the rinse water with a white cotton towel with purple daisies in the corners that her grandmother had embroidered. The sound startled her. She moved to the kitchen door for a better view through the small living room. Lace sheer curtains covering the window disturbed by rising air from a small steam radiator obscured her view. Her anxiety grew. Then a knock, not as stern a summons as one would expect from a man of authority, though it did rattle the dusty lead-set beveled glass.  Despite the urgency in the frequency of the rapping, Mary relaxed a little and crossed the room to greet the visitor. Her spirits rose at the sight of the familiar tartan cap.

Opening the door just enough, Mary invited her new friend inside. She gestured him to a small round oak table surrounded by three chairs. It, like the other furnishings in Mary’s grandmother’s home, demonstrated station in the community. Now the hand-carved detail was chipped, and the finish cracked and peeling. The home, like the old woman who occupied it were showing their age.

“I’ll fix some tea. Fancy a biscuit?” she asked.

“No time,” Matthew said, shaking his head.

He pulled the cap from his disheveled rusty crop and used it to mop the perspiration from his brow as he pushed the curtain aside and nervously peered up, then down the street. He tried without much success to hide the dread consuming him. A quiver in his voice betrayed him.

“We need to leave at once to avoid the patrols. They’ll be searching this street within an hour.”

It took no more than five minutes to gather her few things together but to Matthew it felt more like an eternity.   As she methodically scurried from room to room, he nagged her to hurry, telling her that she did not need whatever it was she was looking for. At last she was at the door with a faded floral-patterned carpet bag that was bursting at the seams.

Matthew snatched the bag from her hand and with his other one almost dragged her from the house out into the fog shrouded close that was just beginning to awaken. They walked briskly with purpose but without betraying the alarm that rushed through each of them as they made their escape. Mary felt reassuring strength as he helped her into the carriage. Matthew’s hands wrapped her tiny waist and effortlessly she floated to the seat next to his. He jumped aboard, and they were off.

*****

It was about an hour past dawn when Phoebe stepped from the wagon where she had just spent the last nine and a half hours. She had slept some during the trip but very little. Rapid footsteps approached from the village square. She turned, and her eyes met Richard’s. They melted in to each other’s arms.

 

Comments

The house has history and you show that in your description. You run the two narratives side by side seamlessly. That's a good technique.