Jah, I can do the dishes.” Silas looked at her, not sure why she seemed so terribly angry, bewildered by the sense that it was somehow his fault.

“Good!” snapped Dorcas. She felt doubly defensive now, because she misread his hesitation as reluctance to stay and get involved with the chores. Andy Whichart had come across to help him during the morning on some work in the stables, where Silas had a new stall under construction, to house a colt ready now to separate from its mother.

Dorcas knew he would not want to keep Andy waiting on him, and she felt the home chores were really her responsibility.

She watched him for a moment, as he began quietly stacking dishes, avoiding her eye. Dorcas thought he was making a point: in reality, Silas was concentrating on staying out of trouble.

“Oh! Leave it!” she exclaimed in exasperation. “Leave it! I can do it! We didn’t get the bread set this morning is all, because Florence had to go down to the sewing room. So If I’m not done before baby wakes up, that’s short rations and stale bread for supper. Still never mind it; you go. Go on! Go!”

Silas looked at her. The idea of going seemed suddenly most attractive.

Jah,” he said quietly; “maybe it’s best I do.”