A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter XXV

From the ongoing novel A Daisy for Hannah Jane.

Art+by+Rachel+St.+Louis.
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A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter XXV

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Rachel St. Louis

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Rachel St. Louis

Rachel St. Louis

Art by Rachel St. Louis.

Rachel St. Louis, Executive College & Career / Creative Writing

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A Daisy for Hannah Jane

Chapter XXV

FOUR MONTHS LATER •DECEMBER 1917 •

I woke to Harriet’s soft singing, her own harmony mixing with the fragile melody she sang. Blinking my still-heavy eyelids open, I saw Harriet dancing across the room to open the curtains. They bare windows revealed layers upon layers of heavy, dense snow outside that stuck to the pine trees and hugged the window pane.

Oh soul are you weary and troubled?

Not light in the darkness you see?”

I listened for a few more moments while Harriet fixed things around the room. Eventually, the beautiful ballad came to a close.

“Harriet?” I rasped.

“Oh, dearie, you’re awake.” She hurried to her single bed, where I lay on top of the covers.

I sat up slowly. “What time is it?”

“Past breakfast,” Harriet laughed. She touched my face, whisking some hair behind my ear and away from my dry eyes. “You feeling all right, Lulu?”

I nodded but was hindered by the pit in my stomach. “I’m better,” I admitted, “but I feel as if Raymie died all over again.”

“You poor thing,” she said, squeezing my shoulder. “Maybe some eatin’ will make you a bit cheery.”

“I don’t want to go out of the room.”

Harriet sighed, standing now. “Your grandmother was plumb tuckered out last time you spoke with ‘er, so don’t you worry about anythin’ she said.”

“But…”

“Git up, child.”

I obeyed.

“Now run a comb through that tousled hair of yours. You should’ve been up awhile ago, Janie, and Mrs. Chauldings is to ‘er wit’s end. So don’t go mopin’ around, because if Jamison didn’t care about you, he — ”

“I understand.”

Harriet sighed. “Sometimes I wish… Oh, never mind, it’s nothing really worth saying,” she concluded, taking up her comb and running it through my snarled hair. “If I do say one thing to you, Janie, it’s that you shouldn’t throw your life away now. Of all times, please, don’t.”

• • •

I wondered what Jamison was doing at Bosney’s, the mercantile he worked at now. I could picture him smiling at some nice young lady, her hair in a shiny bob, and handing her a neatly wrapped parcel with a smile. And that made me angrier than hornets arguing with the bees.

“Goodness’ sake, child, don’t stab your food if you can help it,” Grandmother huffed, sipping her second cup of tea. “Forks are for eating, not for impaling sausages.”

I bristled in my seat and tried not to hate her. “Can I get a job, Grandmother?”

She raised a poised brow. “At Bosney’s? I should hope not.”

That wasn’t what I meant, but I said nothing else and continued to stab my sausages. Finally, I told her what I’d been trying to. “Then you’ll have to kick me out if I can’t pay for rent.”

She actually spit out some of the hot herbal water. Ethel came by to sop it up with a cloth as if her life depended on it. “Hannah Jane!” Grandmother spluttered. “Whatever do you mean?”

“Our deal, the one you forced, was that I had to marry by December if I want to live here. I’m single, and that’s only a few weeks away.” Then I held my breath.

Grandmother put her trembling hands on the white tablecloth in seriousness. With the palest face I’d ever seen, she whispered, “The deal’s off. You’re in charge of my estate now. The papers should be signed tomorrow.”

My blood all but stopped flowing. “Wh-what?”

“I am fatally ill.”

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