How One Looks – Chapter 12

Chapter 12

For two weeks, the Matheson household waited for the inevitable.  McClure had stayed for a few days, but had to leave for business in Saint Louis.  Mr. Matheson went into work every morning and came home every afternoon during that time.  The doctor came every other day the first week, and then said that he’d come in a week’s time.  He was fairly certain that Lucy wouldn’t make it through this bout.  Shae slept little, staying by Lucy’s side. She had finished reading “Little Women” to Lucy, and had started on “Treasure Island”.

Then one morning, as she slept slumped on Lucy’s bed near her feet, Shae woke to a little hand on her head.

“Shae, could I have some breakfast?”

She looked at Lucy.  Her eyes looked brighter than they had in several days.  Her breathing was less labored, and her lips were no longer blue.

“Yes, let me go tell Mrs. Klein. What would you like?”

“I would like some hoe cakes with molasses. Do you think Mrs. Harrison will make that for me?”

“I’m certain that she would walk all the way to Davies in a blizzard, just to get the ingredients, if she had to.”

Lucy smiled, her green eyes twinkling.

“I don’t think she’ll have to, though,” Shae assured her. “The Matheson pantry is always well-stocked. I’ll go find Mrs. Klein right away.”

Shae gave Lucy a kiss on the forehead, and much to her heart’s delight, Lucy put her arms around Shae’s neck in a hug.

“Thank you, Shae.  I– I love you.”

Shae teared up at the unexpected affection.

“I love you too, Lucy.”

They smiled at each other, and then Shae walked quickly out the door.  Running into Mrs. Klein in the hall, she informed her of Lucy’s request.  With a thanks to God, Mrs. Klein squeezed Shae’s arm, and hurried downstairs to inform the cook.

Shae headed to Mr. Matheson’s bedroom door to let him know the good news.  She knocked quietly, and waited for several seconds before knocking again, slightly louder.  The door swung open moments later, revealing her husband with wild hair, and no shirt.  There were times when Shae was shocked at how handsome her husband was.  But at the moment, with this bit of untamed wildness that he usually held in check, she never felt so befuddled.

“Yes?” he demanded. “Is it Lucy?”

“Yes, Husband, she has taken a turn for the better. She has asked for breakfast.”

He grabbed her in a wild embrace, squeezing her close.  He was like hot iron.

“Thank God,” he said, swinging her about.

Shae didn’t know what to think.  So much affection in one day, when she’d lived her life in constant absence of it, was enchanting and alarming at once.  Matheson gently pulled away, still holding onto her shoulders.

“And thank you, Shae.  We’ll talk later- after I see Lucy.”

With that, he left her in the hallway, standing in shock, overwhelmed by the love she had missed all of this time.  She had Lucy’s love. Her husband’s gratefulness wasn’t exactly love.  It definitely wasn’t romantic in any way, but it was a genuine respect, she thought.  At least, she hoped so.

  A few hours later, she sat in the study with her husband.  Lucy was resting.  The doctor had come by right after Lucy ate and was elated that he had been wrong about her living through this spell.  He maintained that Lucy was to be on strict bedrest for a month.  Then he had drawn Mr. Matheson aside and talked to him in low tones about further instructions.

Now, Shae and Matheson sat in the chairs by the fire to talk.

“It has been a long fortnight,” he stated.

“Yes, but worth every lost minute of sleep, since Lucy is on the mend.”

“Quite so,” he paused. “If Lucy has another bout, I don’t want her out here in the country so far away from the doctor.  I also don’t want to be working so far away if she has another one of these spells. To remedy this situation, I’m asking the workers on the house to double their efforts to get the mansion done in Davies. Have you finished with the décor by any chance?”

“I’m nearly finished.  When Lucy was resting and I wasn’t in need of sleep, I would work on ideas.  Would you like me to retrieve the book from upstairs?”

“No, that isn’t necessary.  If you could finish it up by tomorrow morning, when I head back to town, I’d appreciate it.  This way, the house can be done in a month’s time. We can move in then.”

“That’s an entire 6 weeks sooner than anticipated.  Do you think Lucy will manage the journey?” Shae exclaimed.

“The doctor expressed similar concern, but also felt that to move her to Davies would be beneficial for all concerned.”

“I hope she is feeling well-enough by then.  Do you think the excitement will weary her too much?”

“Perhaps a little.  We can only pray and hope for the best.”

“Yes,” Shae agreed.

She started to get up, but her husband put a hand on her arm, signaling her to wait.  She sat back down.

“I also wanted to express how sorry I am about my treatment of you when I first arrived home a couple of weeks ago.  I let my concern for Lucy, and the haunting of the past cloud my good judgment.  I should have stopped to inquire of your health.  McClure had some strong words for me about it, and he was right.  I was careless.  Will you accept my apology?”

“Of- of course.”

Shae was bewildered by this turn of events.  She wasn’t expecting an apology from her husband, nor did she expect anyone to inquire after her well-being during Lucy’s illness.  She was touched that McClure had noticed.  She also was grateful for her husband’s apology.

“Thank you,” he said, standing.

“You’re most welcome.  I’m going to go and work on the décor book for the mansion.”

That evening she handed the finished decor book to him.  He looked at it for a few minutes, and approved.  The month following, he put a rush on the furniture, paying extra for it to get done on time.  He worked the men at the house double so that they could get it done by the middle of March.  He traveled daily back and forth from the farm to Davies.  He lavished Lucy with extra attention when he was home.  And in the evenings, although the talks with each other were only several minutes long, they were no longer awkward.  Instead the atmosphere was filled with thankfulness and contentment. The camaraderie that had been lost was retrieved.  By the time the move came about, Shae felt that she had a friend in her husband again.

The day of the move was rather uneventful, as the farm house was to remain as it was.  They would return in June, because the breeze in the country made life more bearable in the heat of summer.  Really, only their clothes and personal items were packed up to go to the new house.  There was new furniture at the mansion, as well as new décor from the silverware to the painting on the walls to the books on the shelves. Shae was looking forward to free time in the library to explore the new titles.

The most crucial moment was moving Lucy to her new bedroom.  The ride to Davies was painfully slow, as to not stress her.  She had made a lot of progress in her health in the past month, but she still got weary quickly, as well as short-of breath with even walking about the nursery.  Her father carried her to the carriage and gently sat her beside Shae. When they arrived at the mansion, he carried her up to her new bedroom.  It was a lovely shade of pastel purple, much like the color of lilac.  The bed was solid cherry, with a bedspread of royal purple and pillows of various shades of purple.  There was a window seat that looked down into what would eventually be the garden.  Placing her on the bed, she talked delightedly about her new room.

“My room looks like you smell, Shae,” Lucy giggled.

They all laughed, albeit Mr. Matheson a bit uncomfortably.

“I’ll have Mrs. Klein send you up lunch in an hour. You had best take a rest.”

“What are we having?” she asked.

“Broth with noodles.”

Lucy made a face. She was tired of bone broth, but knew it helped her recover her strength.

“Aaaaaannd roast chicken with green beans,” Shae continued, smiling. “Also, a surprise. Chocolate cake for dessert!”

Lucy smiled at this, as she wiggled off her coat.

“That sounds delicious.  Thank you, Shae!”

“I’ll let you prepare her for her nap, and meet you downstairs so I can take you through the mansion,” Mr. Matheson said to Shae.

“Very well.”

When he left, Shae helped Lucy change into her nightdress. And got her settled for her nap.  Then she headed down the staircase, which was of finely-carved mahogany and carpeted in scarlet.  Coming out of a room connected to the hallway, Mr. Matheson met her at the bottom of the stairs.  He offered his arm.

“Shall we?”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.”

“Most women wouldn’t have trusted a man to see to the fine details of such an undertaking as decorating this giant house.”

“We both know that I’m not like most women,” Shae laughed.

“Thank heavens,” he replied, sincerely.

The first room they looked at was the parlor.  It was done in an emerald green with mahogany paneled wood and trim.  The couches and chairs were done in deep golden velvet.  The rug was a fine one, with a green, gold and cream rose pattern.

“This is lovely.”

“Yes, it turned out very well.  Shall we proceed?”

And they did from the cobalt of the library filled with shelves of books, to oak-paneled study, to the black and white tiled kitchen.  They meandered through the downstairs.  On the third floor, the small ballroom was rose-colored and gilded, it had been a pet project of Claire.  Shae hadn’t wanted to change anything that she had envisioned, especially considering it was probable that Claire knew more about what was necessary for a ballroom than Shae did. There were many rooms that they went through, inspecting them and finding themselves more than happy with the results.  As they were finishing, they heard the front bell ring.

Mr. Canton answered the door while they descended the staircase.  It was Mr. McClure.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Matheson. I’ve come to welcome you to the city, and seek after the well-being of the fairy princess.”

“Hello, McClure,” Matheson answered. “When did you arrive in town?  And Lucy is sleeping at the moment, but seems to be dealing with the excitement rather well.”

“So good to hear.  I arrived just this morning.”

“Will you stay for luncheon, it is about to be served.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t.  I have to be somewhere across town in less than 30 minutes.  I merely came to offer a quick congratulations.  I can’t even stop in long enough to take a peek at it.  I’m looking forward to seeing it, though.”

“Can you come for the evening meal, then?” Shae asked.

“Yes, I can.  Thank you for asking me. Until then.”

He tipped his hat and then made his way out the door again.  He always seemed in a hurry.   Shae smiled at that, before she noticed her husband looking at her intently.

“What do you think of McClure?”

“What do you mean?” she questioned.

“Do you like him?”

“Of course, he’s quite funny, and seems a good friend to you.”

“I’m glad that you like him.  He’ll be around for many years, I’m sure.”

That was all he said before he also left to go to work on a difficult case that he had.  Shae hadn’t realized how empty and large the house seemed until Mr. Matheson left.

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