The House of Everard: part four
But Peggy’s old bedstead was not a thing Richard wanted in the house. In his father’s dying days, the mattress had been badly soiled, but Peggy had aired it in the garden, turned it over, rather than burn it; and on her marriage bed, she had closed her eyes for the last time. He’d asked them to haul this off, the wagoneer and his helper, who had brought Richard’s new desk.
Peggy’s south-facing bedroom had been crowded, with Old Everard’s chair wedged in amidst the iron bedstead, her blanket chest, wardrobe, table and mirror: tall, weighty pieces borne over the sea from Europe, sent to her from New Orleans by her parents. Her furniture blocked the windows’ natural light and cast shadows of its own; the shadows multiplied against each other, deepening the room’s chill and odor…and in her day had exacerbated Peggy’s isolation.
Richard was clearing it out, all of it. And Micah, six years old, was underfoot. Richard heard a deal of carrying-on, from inside the narrow linen cupboard. But he and the hauler from Chambliss, Mr. Marcus, were tackling the wardrobe.
“I would rather…”
This cry was followed by a disturbing escalation in the level of clatter; nevertheless Richard finished speaking his thought to Marcus: “I would rather you take the door off its hinges. You know your work, of course, better than I…I only say, I don’t like the look of it.”
“You best see to that youngster,” Marcus said.
“Daddy, what’s that?”
He pulled the cupboard door open, wide enough for a grown man to investigate, and found Micah scaled halfway to the ceiling, perilously straddling the shelf boards, his back against the wall.
“That,” Richard said, “is a way in to the loft.” He knew the plea at once to come. “No, Micah, I don’t have time. You get down and out of there.”
But, for safety, as he said these words, he reached up and hauled his son to the floor.
The House of Everard
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)