The whole Scene :
While the men went about their business, Jenny and I spent the day in the parlor, she stitching, I winding up stray bits of yarn and sorting the colored silks.
Outwardly friendly, we circled each other cautiously in conversation, watching each other from the corners of our eyes. Jamie’s sister, Jamie’s wife; Jamie was the central point, unspoken, about which our thoughts revolved.
Their shared childhood linked them forever, like the warp and the weft of a single fabric, but the patterns of their weave had been loosened, by absence and suspicion, then by marriage. Ian’s thread had been present in their weaving since the beginning, mine was a new one. How would the tensions pull in this new pattern, one thread against another?
Our conversation ran on casual lines, but with the words unspoken clearly heard beneath.
“You’ve run the house here alone since your mother died?”
“Oh, aye. Since I was ten.”I had the nurturing and the loving of him as a boy. What will you do with the man I helped make?
“Jamie says as you’re a rare fine healer.”
“I mended his shoulder for him when we first met.”Yes, I am capable, and kind. I will care for him.
“I hear ye married very quickly.”Did you wed my brother for his land and money?
“Yes, it was quick. I didn’t even know Jamie’s true surname until just before the ceremony.”I didn’t know he was laird of this place; I can only have married him for himself.
And so it went through the morning, a light luncheon, and into the hours of the afternoon, as we exchanged small talk, tidbits of information, opinions, small and hesitant jokes, taking each other’s measure.A woman who had run a large household since the age of ten, who had managed the estate since her father’s death and her brother’s disappearance, was not a person to be lightly esteemed. I did wonder what she thought of me, but she seemed as capable as her brother of hiding her thoughts when she chose to.