A Daisy For Hannah Jane: Chapter XII

From the ongoing novel A Daisy For Hannah Jane.

Rachel St. Louis, Copy Chief

A Daisy for Hannah Jane

Chapter XII

The air outside was humid and thick to the lungs. I stood at the door, my hand on the white trim, hip against the other side, my body finally relaxed and no longer tense. My bruises were almost invisible now, and Grandmother smiled a lot lately. A new smile on Grandmother’s usually pained face brought her skinny build and her gray-white hair into a sweeter grace (She finally got a bob cut… I want one!). Maybe she did care about me, whatever had happened all those years ago.

“Years are experience,” Harriet had told me once. “How you look back on them is what matters.”

With countless lessons of patience, I’d finally taken heed to Harriet’s wisdom. She was such a blessed woman to know. Stubborn, yes, but wise when I needed advice.

A slight rush of a breeze sang to me and rested on my cheeks. Closing my eyes, I let the zephyr hover on my eyelids and touch my lashes. I drank in the scent of it, a medley of woodsiness and rivers from far away. Practically heaven.

The old apple tree I used to read under was still standing, all by its lonesome a few yards from where I stood on the doorstep. Clusters of happy panises circled its thin trunk, matching the flowers that grew along the outsides of the big, white mansion. The apple tree, besides Harriet, had been my only friend. I longed to be a child again, laughing freely and playing as I wished. The apple tree beckoned me from the corner of my eye, reading my thoughts. Its branches waved to me and I almost took a step on the lawn. But a rustling sound drew my attention and a figure stepped away from the apple tree sheepishly. How did I not notice her?       

“Harriet, I was just thinking of you.” I beckoned her over. She trudged through the bright, lime-colored grass and tried to shake the invisible pollen from her skirts, sneezing.

“What were you doing over there? I thought it was laundry day,” I remarked, smirking at her.

Her dark hair danced in the wind. The current unraveled her long braid. Somehow, despite her lithe body that was aging and the increasing wrinkles around her wintery eyes, her brows and her hair never wavered in their rich raven color.

“Laundry day is for the youngun servants now, Lulu, ever since your granny put me in charge of the whole household,” Harriet retorted. She put her hands on her back and pushed on her spine to straighten herself, standing up proudly. “Your granny seemed to notice I’m gettin’ too old for child-work. Honestly, Janie, I thinks she’s plannin’ on gettin’ you shipped off on a yacht or somethin’ soon.”

I laughed. “I love your analogies, Harriet, but what are you talking about? Sending me away on a yacht?”

“I meant one of them fancy honeymoons,” she asserted with a smooth roll of her gray eyes.

“Honeymoon? You mean, a private bride-husband vacation, following the wedding reception, and the previous wedding ceremony?”

“Aw, stop talkin’ like a rich lady. It ain’t a s’prise and you know it.”

“What? I’m not ready to be married. That’s changing two lives.”

She stared at me, her mouth stunned and open. Trying to speak, her neutral gray eyes turned from an angry silver to a piercing steel. My hands grew hot and I began to feel sick with guilt. I had been ready for that fusion of two lives, for another man.

“Y-you were ready a couple of months ago,” she finally stammered. “D-don’t you remember?”

“Are you daft?” My anger controlled me as my wrists tingled, hands clenched.

She remained calm, making me feel like a five-year-old about to throw a tantrum. “Mr. Jamison,” she said. “Obvious.”

I said nothing. I know it’s obvious, but that’s why I prompted her. Is it true that the whole household, servants and all, think Grandmother is going to marry me off soon? What a notion. I don’t think Jamison and I are ready for that yet, but Raymie did say that love waits for no one…

My train of thought derailed itself and I looked toward the clouds again, inhaling the scent of June. Two months into the war and I was still alive.

“Shore is purty out here,” Harriet sighed. “Makes you wonder why we people folk were blessed with such beauty of nature.”

Her sidelong glance told me she wasn’t just hinting. I turned away, picking a view of the faraway hills and mountains instead. Every conversation we had was good and sweet until she turned it sour with religion. I was so tired of it.

“Janie,” Harriet murmured, “do you think God saved you when you were in danger?”

My head turned sharply at the sound of nonsense. “What?”

She licked her lips slowly. “You taken hostage by the Henry henchmen, weren’t you?”


“An’ you didn’t wake up till you were in another place.”

“Yes, a dark, damp place.” I shivered despite the warm sun beating down on us. “I think I either fell asleep or became unconscious again soon after I woke up there. It was pitch-black and cold. I couldn’t find any walls anywhere. The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital and Jamison was arguing with the doctor.” I smiled at the memory. “Doesn’t it seem as if it happened last week, when it was really over a month ago?”

“Fear will do that to you when you have no faith,” she replied grimly.


“No, Janie, I implore you to listen to me for once in your miserable life.”

Miserable life? Implore? Harriet had never implored before. I shut my mouth and listened, the horizon deepening with the faraway look on Harriet’s face.

Her gray eyes morphed to icicles. “You have been through three deaths of the people closest to you. You have been endangered, lost, alone, helpless, and everythin’ in-between. You have traded places to call home and you have gone to church, left it, and gone back again. You have loved, hated, and now you’re lovin’ somebody else. When will you ever realize?”

I bristled like an angry fox. “Realize what?” I growled.

“Realize you ain’t a kid no more. You’re a twenny-year-old and you best behave like it. Time for findin’ a place and all that is gone. I’m sorry, Janie, but the roots have to be grown. You’d be a sad adult if you don’t face the truth: You need someone to trust. Not someone mortal, who can cause you pain. Someone you can never lose, Someone you can confide in, Someone who — ”

“Harriet, begone with your speeches! You will never convert me into a religious person! Never!”  

Her pale face and wide, gray irises had shrunk into her white eyeballs. I had almost shouted at the poor woman. Why do I keep hurting her? Do I mean to? No, of course not. So what’s wrong with me?

“I’m sorry.” I hung my head, grass staring up at me. The tiny blades should be ashamed under my feet. “I didn’t mean to be harsh.”

“You haven’t been yourself lately, Janie.” Harriet gave a polite smile and put her hands on my shoulders, rubbing them gently. “I’m a little worried. Is your granny puttin’ too much pressure on you, with this here courtshippin’ Jamison and all?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, feeling like a naive child. “Is it true that she seems to be in a happier mood lately? Have the other servants noticed?”

Harriet snorted. “All the servants are noticin’ is your pining away like a fairytale princess.” She reached a tender spot near my shoulder and I winced. We were silent as the anger built in me again. Pining away? Me? I’m not pining for anyone. Nevertheless, I kept my mouth shut. Maybe I truly was childish.

“You gonna keep that there fancy ring?” She asked softly, taking my left hand and studying the ring Raymie had meant to give me.

“Yes. I believe Jamison will use it as our engagement ring someday.” My throat burned at the words.
She “tsk”ed and ran her workworn fingers over the smooth band of the old ring. “You shore are scared.”

• • •

Jamison arrived that evening, and my conversation with Harriet rang in my ears. It was true I was scared. She knew me better than my own mother could’ve, and I knew I should start treating her better. There was just something still missing in my life. What was it? I wanted to no money, no fame, no fortune…

Jamison brought with him a handful of flowers, bringing me back to the present. I felt a warm grin spread across my sullen face. Daisies.

“Thank you.” I could see a twinkle in his eye and a laugh at his temples. “You know I love daisies.”

He plucked the smallest one and twirled it between his fingers. “A common flower mistaken for beauty.” His smile illuminated the room.

I took the flowers gingerly and put them in water myself, then stopped when Harriet came by wordlessly to take them to my room. Her face showed no emotion and she scurried about like she’d never known me. Like I was my grandmother. I’m so stupid. Harriet was right, like always. I need to grow up.

Jamison was looking at me tentatively. “Are you all right?”

I was about to say, “Yes, I’m fine,” but different words touched my lips and I ended up saying, “No.”

“Is there something you want to talk about?” he asked, sincere and concerned.

“Um… I don’t know.” I shook my head, feeling like a baby. I was so indecisive and dumb and —

Jamison took my hands in his larger ones as if he were my caretaker and led me into one of Grandmother’s majestic parlors. The obnoxiously elaborate tapestries were close to making me flinch.

He sat opposite me on a settee while I settled into a chair. “I want to be able to help when I’m worried over you, but I can’t do that when you never tell me what’s bothering you.” It was a gentle reprimanding.

I had to talk. “You’ve been worried about me?”

He all but rolled his eyes. “Hannah Jane, you have had a churlish look on your face for the longest time.”


He ignored my confusion of the strange word and kept going. “No matter what I do for you, your cheeks still have no color and you seem depressed. Are you missing Raymond, or is there something else I should know about?”

“Something else?”

“Oh, I knew it. I just knew it.” Jamison let his head fall into his hands. “I am a foolish man,” he moaned, his voice muffled behind his fingers.

“Knew what?”

“Of course. Of course she tries to play the innocent game,” he moaned again.

“I don’t have a clue of what you’re talking about.”

He raised his head. “You have another lover.”

“No!” I jumped to my feet, my long braid flying into my face and slapping it. “You think I have no decency? Even if there was another man after my hand, would you think I would drop you like an old stone?”

He looked hurt. “I’m sorry. I assumed too much and am ashamed of myself.” He looked so, too.

I sat. “I apologize for not communicating very well lately.”

“So would you like to tell me what’s wrong?”

“I… I have been told I’m acting like a child,” I admitted, digging my hands into the soft chair. “I know I have been. I’m waiting for something, but I don’t know what. Maybe to wake up in my bedroom as a five-year-old girl with my mother standing over my bed. The sweet smell of sizzling meat and the sound of Father feeding wood to the fire would fill the air, Mother’s sweet smile above me like a halo, my window glowing with morning light. Maybe then I’d feel like I belong at home.”

“We’re never truly home until we leave this earth.”

When he said nothing, I admitted, “I pray to God when I need to. I believe He exists, but that’s plenty. I don’t need to be religious. I’m fine on my own.”

Jamison gave a weighty sigh, folding his hands together until his knuckles were the color of the teacups dejected on the table. “Janie, I’m just not backing you up on that. I have been through a lot lately, and I’m trying to tell you, God is the only One who can give you peace and belonging.”

A muscle tensed in my hand. His words were meant to hit home, but I was done striking out. “You, too? Harriet’s been pestering me about religion enough.”

He blinked.

Heat filled my cheeks like the guilt pouring into my gut. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”

He didn’t defend himself or explain anything. He didn’t even try to soothe me with things I wanted to hear. For once, it was refreshing. But I hated it at the same time.

Jamison stood. Before leaving me to my thoughts, he added, “Apology accepted.”