A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter XIV

From the ongoing novel A Daisy for Hannah Jane.


Rachel St. Louis

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Rachel St. Louis , Copy Chief

Hannah Jane entered the study and smiled. Jamison, Jamison, Jamison. He could be an odd man, that’s for sure, but he always meant well. What he’d wanted stared up at Hannah Jane ominously, a thickly bound book lying on the freshly dusted desk.

Walking back to the parlor, she felt silly. What was it that he wanted to show her from an old book? She strutted through the fully furnished hallway, frowning. Her grandmother hadn’t ordered any servants to take the Easter decor down, apparently. She’d have to speak with Harriet about that; the sight of baby blue, pale yellow and pink made her stomach turn. Because Mother wore a baby blue silk dress every Easter.

Hannah Jane walked faster. She would not be a baby. She would not think of what her life could’ve been. She would be thankful for the now, for Jamison. But she would not think about who he was related to.

“Is this the right one?” she asked as she held it out to him, although she felt she knew it was the right book. She just knew.

Jamison nodded, smiling. “Thank you.” He didn’t bother to add a “sweetheart” or “honey” afterwards, even if they were alone together. He loved her, but she hated the sappy stuff. He couldn’t really blame her, after growing up hearing his mother scream at his father over “Jamison this” and “I wish” that. Besides, the only “sweetheart”s she’d heard was when her parents had still been alive.

Hannah Jane sat slowly, her gaze never wavering from the book. “This is a book I cherish very dearly,” Jamison explained. “I wanted to show it to you.”

Uncertainty worked around the edge of her mouth. “What’s so special about it?”

“This book contains many great stories, instructions on living, and most of all, how we humans can get freedom.”

“It’s a Bible, isn’t it?” It was more of an accusation than an actual question.

Jamison ran a hand through his hair. “Well, yes. Maybe. The point is, you have become very special to me, and this wonderful book has always been special to me, too. I figured you deserved the specialty.”

“I like you too, Jamison. A lot.” She frowned when she said, “But I don’t need it.”

Jamison was taken aback. “You refuse my generosity? This is the greatest gift I could ever give you.”

Her eyes misted. “No,” she whimpered, “it is not.”

She sat upright and looked at Jamison’s face with longing, her eyes tracing all of the lines on his disappointed face. It killed him inside. He only wanted the best for her, to make her happy, to bring the torch of truth to her eyes to warm her.  

He opened his mouth, but his voice was taken captive. She bolted from the room in a rush of emotions and Jamison was left there, sitting in the chair facing the parlor’s biggest window, in what  seemed to him as the dark.

  • • •

“I’m dreadfully sorry for your loss.”

The nun spoke plainly, her voice refusing to tremble with the wind like the other old ladies’ did. Mother gave her a nod and the nun left her dish of baked potatoes on the long table of food. Then she turned her scary, beady eyes on Mother while she pointed to me, saying, “May God have mercy on your son.”

Jamison would never forget that fateful day. The nun haunted his every nightmare and tantalized his thoughts whenever he saw Mrs. Chauldings squinting at him.

Maybe he was a man who needed God’s mercy every day. And for what? Because a creepy old lady said so?

“Have mercy on me, Jesus, please, and on Hannah Jane, too. Please, she still doesn’t understand Your way. She needs Your direction. Oh, please, have mercy.” He prayed night after night. But that old, withering nun and her claw-like hands fixing Father’s tiny headstone near an empty casket would not leave him.

They had had a burial service for Father, despite his missing body. Maybe they would never find the truth.

And what of Raymond? His killers were still alive somewhere. They were still breathing under the same stars that seemed to imprison Jamison. Were they really the brothers of Lisa? Were they all the same men?

Jamison balled his hands into hard fists. He had to find those men who had captured Hannah Jane and killed Raymond.  Maybe Hannah Jane would appreciate his Savior then. If only she had faith, even to believe…

Would she ever?

Jamison mustered up the courage to seek out Mrs. Chauldings. She was reprimanding a cook’s gravy sauce in the biggest kitchen, her mouth flapping faster than the wings of a hummingbird. The poor chef nodded, his scrawny neck barely holding up a shaking head. She began to ridicule him because of his skinniness.

Well, what could he say? He was but a servant. Oh, no, he was her servant, her head chef. She expected much more from him, Mrs. Chauldings said in many more words.

“But, ma’am, I’m trying. This year’s produce supply wasn’t lasting due to the war, and wheat is getting more expensive, ma’am, I haven’t enough to thicken the sauce without asking for an extra dime,” he babbled on nervously.

“Oh, too bad. Find a suitable beet broth and mix up something delicious or I’ll hire a new chef.”

“Yes, of course, ma’am, sorry, ma’am.”

“I am not one for charity…”

The conversation continued and Jamison was fed up. He cleared his throat. The chef’s eyes darted to him, but was then scolded by Mrs. Chauldings about how breaking eye contact with your employer could lead to serious consequences…

Jamison stepped forward and cleared his throat so obnoxiously anyone could’ve thought there was a real frog stuck in it. Mrs. Chaulding’s hair wiggled against her pasty neck and her eyes found another soul to crush. But not today, Jamison thought smugly.

He sauntered past the threshold and entered a world of scents to delight any person’s nostrils. Well, all except for Mrs. Chauldings, whose nostrils were smuggled by the scent of power. He tried not to resent her for overlooking the little things.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I would like to speak to you privately, please.” He tried not to bounce on his heels.

“Whatever you can say the chef here will pay no regard to,” she snapped. “You mustn’t be bothersome to me, because if you are” she pointed a claw-like finger at him, “my granddaughter would be upset with the outcome.”

Okay then. “Fine. I would like to ask you a favor, ma’am.”

Something flashed across her face. Anger? Or mere frustration? “Get on with it, boy! I have important business that I must get done.” She lifted her chin, but her neck trembled a bit.

“Ma’am, do you need to lie down?” Jamison stepped closer, seeing her wide eyes and trembling hands. “You look like you need some rest.”

“Do not!” she exclaimed. “Do not come near me, and do not touch me!”

He had never laid a finger on her, but he could visibly see her pulse beating wildly in a vein shouldering her white temple.

“Away! Get away with you and your questioning!” she raved, shaking to the bone. She looked like she was having trouble swallowing.

Jamison’s ears rang with the shrillness of her voice and his request to hunt down the cruel men slipped his mind. Something was wrong with Hannah Jane’s grandmother. Something very wrong.