Florence Gets Up Late

“D’you know, I’ve not seen Dorcas in an age,” said Harriet, as she sat at the table peeling vegetables while Florence ate her porridge.

“I think what I’ll do is take these vegetables over to her along with some herbs, so she has them ready for the family meal, and stay a while to help her with the chores. You could have a morning off, Florence.”

Florence looked puzzled. “What would I do with a morning off?” she asked.

“Well . . . maybe something will come along. You could read a little, or maybe you have some stitching to do.”

“I didn’t bring any sewing,” said Florence, “because I came to help Dorcas. I guess I’ll walk across with you, and – ”
Somebody knocked at the back door; quite a timid knock, it sounded; not entirely sure of itself.
Florence jumped to her feet, crossed the kitchen and opened the back door. “Oh! Eb, it’s you! My, you’re about early today. Come on in: I believe I owe you a big ‘thank you’ for helping out at Dorcas’ place this morning. I was all dormouse when you came by. We’ve some coffee on the stove here still hot, Eb. Shall I pour you some?”

“Danki, I’d love some. “ He kicked off his boots and came in to the kitchen.

Harriet smiled at him as she swept her vegetable peelings off the board into the bucket, and gathered up the chopped carrots, parsnips, squash and sweet potato into a cookpot to carry across to Dorcas. “I’m fetching herbs to add to these and then I’m gone,” she said. “Enjoy your coffee and, mind Florence, this morning is a holiday! You’re a hard-working troll and we don’t want you worn out too early on in life! ”

She slipped on the pair of leather clogs by the kitchen door, and set off purposefully, leaving Eb and Florence to their own devices.

Flo brought them both a big mug of steaming coffee, set Eb’s down before him and carried her own to a seat at a modest distance along the big table – but not too far away.

“Smells good,” said Eb. He drew breath to speak then, and Florence looked at him enquiringly. His own gaze was riveted down to his hands, folded before him on the table.

“Flo,” he said; stopped. She waited. “Yes?”

“Flo, may I call on you? Will you walk out with me?”

He would not, could not, look at her. She beheld his absolute stillness, the set of his mouth that showed her how much this mattered to him; and she knew herself loved.

“Eb, gladly,” she answered him. For a moment his breath came in and out shaky, in relief of tension, and in the joy of her answer. Then he grinned at her, speechless, and she laughed to see the shining delight in his eyes.

“I’m under strict instructions of a morning off,” she said. “We can go for a walk now when we’ve finished our coffee, unless you’re wanted on the hof?”

Eb shook his head. “There’s work to be done, but nothing that won’t keep an hour or two. I think you’ve never seen my cottage. Shall we go up there, and maybe have a wander along one of the woodland tracks?”