||The Beauty And The Tragedy Part Eleven
Chapter Eleven: March 30, 1857
Benjamin hadn’t come to see Claire since he had caught Eva and Eli alone in his shop. Even though Claire had said the things she did, she still expected him to come the next day. He never did. If he had left the country again like he had when he went with his family to Germany, Claire would’ve heard about it. She hadn’t heard anything for the past three days. Three days might not be that much time but in this house, it felt like a week. Luckily, Joseph must’ve sensed the distress because he’d given her a break for these past few days.
Claire left the house to buy the groceries in the afternoon but she stopped at Eli’s shop before she began her shopping. Eli was speaking with a customer when she entered and he quickly acknowledged her with a nod while his customer was talking to him. Claire sat down in a chair by the door while Eli finished with the man. When he left, he sat down with Claire, “Good afternoon Claire. What can I do for you?”
“Has Eva stopped by at all?” Claire asked. Eli’s friendly smile fell when she mentioned Eva and he stood up sadly, “No unfortunately. Three days feels like an eternity doesn’t it? Or is it just me being foolish?”
“No,” Claire mumbled, “I have thought the same thing.”
“I heard what you had said to Mr. Weston,” Eli said, “You know, about you and I being very different. I don’t know where you get the idea that I’m better than you.”
“You’re a hard working man Eli,” Claire said with a chuckle, “You are essential to this town. Without you, farmers wouldn’t have their equipment. I don’t do anything to help anyone. I help married men with families perform unfaithful acts and I’m paid to do it.”
“Claire, work is work,” Eli countered, “You’re an honest worker just like me. You’re doing what you must just like me. You’re an independent woman Claire. You’re just fine. Unfortunately, because of the lives Mr. Weston and Eva were born into, you and I will never be good enough. But we cannot blame ourselves. It is difficult trying not to tear yourself apart, looking into the worst parts of ourselves but we must fight it and move on.”
Claire got on her feet and held Eli’s face in her hands, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re good enough. Don’t let people like, like Eva’s mother say anything different. They don’t know us,” she got up on her toes slightly so she could give him a small kiss on the cheek, “I must be going now. If Eva comes, be sure to tell me.”
“I will,” Eli nodded and Claire left his shop and finished her afternoon errands. Normally, she brought little Christopher with her on these shopping trips. Anything to get him out of that house, away from the chaos but she needed the alone time to think and get everything done quickly. Christopher’s mother, Susanna had actually been willing to care for him today so Claire had some extra time to do what she wanted. She just wished Joseph would pay attention to him once and awhile but he never did.
“I’ve returned!” Claire called, holding up the groceries. One of the girls, Violet took the bag from her and went into the kitchen. Claire went upstairs to check up on Christopher and Susanna. Susanna was fine with Christopher but Claire had become attached to the little boy and the feeling seemed to be mutual since his eyes lit up when she poked her head in. Claire had wanted to give him some kind of normal upbringing but it was also something she hated acknowledging. She’d never be able to have children of her own and Christopher was the closest thing she would ever have to a child.
“He always loves seeing you,” Susanna said, sounding a little gloomy, staring at her son. Claire nodded, not wanting to touch that subject. She didn’t feel any sympathy for Susanna since she rarely ever cared for Christopher other than the times she had to feed him when he was just an infant. Once he grew out of that, she left him to Claire.
Claire went downstairs and she saw the front door open. Her heart skipped a beat and she was hoping and praying that Benjamin would walk through that door. But her heart sunk when she saw that it wasn’t. John Seymour removed his hat as he entered the house and Claire attempted to hurry back up the stairs before he saw her.
“Claire, how wonderful to see you,” Claire had made it a few steps away but he still recognized her, “I was hoping I would.”
“I-I’m a bit busy right now,” Claire said, turning her head to look at him over her shoulder, “There might be another girl who will have your undivided attention.”
John frowned, “If I wanted another girl, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. Mr. Hayward wouldn’t appreciate you turning away a customer.”
“I’m not. I’m just…” Claire stopped, knowing John had officially lost his sense of humor. John approached her and held up what would be Claire’s payment, “I pay you good money Claire. You used to work without hesitation. I normally don’t have to speak with you this much. Has Benjamin softened you?”
Claire turned her head away and shook her head, “No. No of course not. My apologies.”
John helped up Claire’s money and she took it, dropping it into her pocket. John’s hands squeezed Claire’s shoulders as they walked together to her room. As John closed the door behind him and began undressing her, she thought about what Eli had said. She felt like she was outside her body, watching everything that was happening and she realized Eli was wrong. How was this honest work? Claire had always thought this was an act that only married couples did because they loved each other. She’d done this a hundred times but she hadn’t thought about it until now. There was no love in what she was doing. Her back was to John Seymour the entire time. There was no eye contact, no affection, nothing. And he got dressed and left without saying anything to her. Once he was gone, she felt like she had slammed back into her body and she curled up in her bed.
“You’re wrong,” she spoke as if Eli was standing there, “I’m no good.”
It was a coincidence that Claire had come into Eli’s shop asking about Eva. Eli had to make some horse shoes for the horses the Weston’s owned. The old ones needed to be replaced. Eli had forgotten about them until one of their servants came in to get them. Eli was about to hand them off but then he stopped, which earned him a confused frown.
“Why don’t I go with you and put these on myself?” he offered.
“Why? We have a stable boy for that,” the man said.
“Free labor,” Eli came up with that quickly and hoped the man would believe that and allow him to do this. He did think about it for a minute and then finally shrugged, “If you want to do more work, then I guess no one would mind. The stable boy can help you I suppose.”
“Wonderful,” Eli said with a grin as he followed the man out of the shop, quickly locking up before getting into the carriage with him to head to Eva’s home. He’d never been inside a carriage that was as comfortable as this one. He didn’t want to get too comfortable in his seat but he couldn’t help it and he let his body relax a little. He didn’t realize how far the house was from town. The house was huge and Eli stared at it, trying to think of a reason to have such a large house and he couldn’t really think of any. But that didn’t stop him from wanting to be able to live in such a house anyway. The man led him towards the stables where the horses stayed and put Eli to work right away.
“Mr. Weston,” one of his father’s servants came into the sitting room where Benjamin, his father, and Eva were sitting together, “I’ve returned. The blacksmith wanted to come along to put the horseshoes onto the horses himself. I didn’t understand it but he’s not forcing us to pay him extra to do it.”
Eva lifted her head from the book she was reading but she didn’t say anything. Benjamin did look up from his own book to look at her but he looked back down at it without giving her a disapproving look she was expecting. She took that as permission to go to the stables at the first available opportunity.
“I suppose if we don’t have to pay extra, I don’t mind,” Robert shrugged, “Though I don’t understand why he would want to give himself more work.”
There was silence again until Eva closed her book and got out of her chair, “Excuse me father. I’d like to get some fresh air for awhile.”
Robert nodded, not really paying attention. Benjamin quickly stood up with her as she headed for the door, “I’ll go with her. I’d like to stretch my legs.”
Eva didn’t say anything until they were far enough away that Robert wouldn’t hear, “I don’t need you following me Benjamin. I have no intention of doing anything inappropriate.”
“I know Eva,” Benjamin replied, “That’s not why I’m going with you. If someone came into the stables and saw you with Eli, my presence would get rid of any suspicions they may have.”
Eva stopped walking once they were outside and she shook her head, “I don’t understand. A few days ago, I was sure you didn’t want me near Eli.”
“I don’t. But I’m not going to stop you,” he said, “If you’re going to see Eli, I’m going to keep you from getting into trouble.”
Benjamin and Eva went into the stables and Eva immediately saw Eli sitting on a stool placing the horseshoes onto one of the horses. Eva stopped Benjamin from walking any further. Eli didn’t know they were there yet and Eva loved watching him work. His sleeves were rolled up and her eyes moved up his arms to his broad shoulders, then up his neck and face, glistening with sweat and she bit her bottom lip, not even trying to erase the bad thoughts entering her mind. She was glad Benjamin couldn’t see what she was thinking, because he wouldn’t want to see. Eva stepped forward and Eli looked up when he heard her heel click on the ground and he smiled a little, “Ms. Weston, how lovely to see you.”
Two updates in one day. I've missed writing. Haha, I was going to end it after Claire but I felt that there wasn't enough Eli wink so I threw him in there haha!
· Tue Dec 17, 2013 @ 08:24am · 0 Comments