“Are you sure Yulee? I could try and talk Mother around.”
I shook my head at Lolly. “I keep telling you there’s no need. Besides, you’re the only one Vaniece seems to want at times. And Jace listens to you more than Lurna. Not to mention you’ll need to be there to make sure Verna gets the truth and not some mish mash of the truth.”
“As Gid would say, but me no buts. I’ve turned the corner. Truly,” I added when she gave me a suspicious look. “I think my blood was just low. I should have thought but … well that’s the way that leads you some times. It wasn’t until Vaniece insisted that I share the liver with her that night that I realized perhaps I’d lost more than I’d realized when … when …”
She gave me a hug and my moment of weakness passed. “You’re really sure?”
I gave a smile … a real one I didn’t have to work at. “I’m sure. And besides, I don’t need both you and Gid watching me like a hawk. One is more than plenty.”
She gurgled a laugh and hugged me again before climbing into the wagon and taking her place. She was the last of the good-byes to make and soon enough Gid and I were no longer able to see them after they’d turned the corner on their way to meet Tad’s Uncle Gerry who’d sent an outrider the day before to say it was time to return to Riverside if they wished his escort.
“Whew … don’t know if I should dance and jig and sing at their leaving,” Gid said with a sorrowful look on his face that quickly turned into a wicked wink. “Maybe I’ll give it another few minutes so they don’t hear me.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “You’ll miss them.”
“I’ll miss the help with the work, but not the extra work that the help made.” He put his arm around me and we walked back to the now very empty house. “What of you. Did you get used to having someone to do the women speak with?”
I shrugged. “I’ll miss Lolly … and Jasmine and Gladys … and even Vaniece. I’ll miss Ned and Tad and Ern … but …”
“But I think we … we need to go back to it being just the two of us … for a bit. They were so anxious to get back to Riverside and to set things back to right that it made it seem they couldn’t wait to be rid of us. It got to be … be …”
Gid nodded in understanding. “Aye, it did. But ask me if I care. Let ‘em go back to the town and rebuild it, the place serves its purpose so I suppose it is only right that there are those that like living there. My only hope is that they can keep the children from going back to being as bad as they were.”
“I don’t think Jace will let that happen. He’s gotten nearly as strict as you when they start to get out of line.”
Gid too carefully pulled me into his arms and said, “’Bout time someone besides me gets called a meany.”
I sighed realizing that regardless of what he said that sometimes he grew weary of always being considered the sour old man. “As they get older, and if they are blessed with any offspring, they’ll appreciate you all the more because you cared enough to do the necessary and were consistent about it.”
“Will they?” he asked walking us back inside since the morning was still full of chill despite the snow all melted and the mud dried. “I know I have the right of it but still …”
“Still?” I asked when he trailed off.
“Sometimes I wonder if they were mine for true instead of just my father’s younger children could I bring myself to do it.”
I put my arm around his waist as we walked back to the kitchen that was finally clean enough to serve as its title. “You’d probably be pulled to do it even more. When God gives us a responsibility it isn’t to make us look a better person but to be a better person. For whatever reason Jace is finally seeing what you’ve always seen.”
“And that is?”
“It isn’t about being liked, it is about doing what’s right.”
“Seemed more like he just finally got as tired of all their noise as I have when it is for no good purpose. My ears are going to take some time to recover.”
I smiled and then had a thought. I poked him lightly in a place I knew him to be ticklish.
“What? Did I trod on your foot?” Gid asked concerned.
I rolled my eyes and poked him again but said nothing. “Did I say something?” Gid asked still perplexed and wondering what I meant.
Finally I sighed, poked him one more time and stepped out of his reach. “I’m just a naughty sprat that needs lessoning.”
“Huh? You haven’t done a thing …”
I took two steps backwards, caught his eye and grinned and then ran up to the first landing.
“Yulee! That’s not bright. You’ve barely been yourself and there’s no need to run up the stairs. What if you trip or fall or …”
I put my hands on my hips and stomped my foot in a fair imitation of what I’d seen some of the youngest girls do when they got frustrated. “Stop treating me like I’m going to fall aparr …. ! Ahhhh!!!”
Gid had caught on and taken a running leap up the stairs and I squealed and had to take off in a hurry least I be caught too quickly. He caught me at the attic door. “Ok, fun’s over. No more running up and down the stairs. You want some attention I’ll give it to you but …”
I sighed in disappointment. “Gid …”
“Don’t Gid me woman. You’re still not …”
“Am too.” I poked him again and he squawk but was unable to hold on to me.
Down the stairs I ran but he refused to follow me and play. I stood there and stood there at the bottom of the stairs but he never came down. I felt like crying and all the sun seemed to go out of the day. I turned and to go to the kitchen to get my cloak and a basket so I could go gather some fresh greens. I stepped into the room and was grabbed from behind but I could tell by the smell that it wasn’t Gid.