As We Are // 4

July 08, 2017


 


It's been quite a while since my last installment of As We Are! But here's Chapter 4. I'll link back to the previous chapters in case you need a reminder of what's going on. :)
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CHAPTER IV

Wherein Mr. Clemens Makes an Appearance


“PHILIPPE!  DINNER’S READY!” CALLED BETH from the doorway of the cottage.  Sitting on the sturdy limb of the chestnut tree in the front yard from which she had climbed to from her bedroom window, Philippe eyed the last word she had read in her book with narrowed eyes and a scowl puckering her lips.  She wiggled her bare stockinged toes and shut her book crossly.
“Philippe, I know you’re up there.”
“Oh, all right. I’m coming,” sighed Philippe.  Taking a last longing look at her novel, she balanced it on the widest part of the limb to retrieve later and shimmied down the trunk of the tree.  As soon as Beth saw the two skinny, pantolooned legs that poked down from the greenery of the massive chestnut tree, she turned, satisfied, from the doorway of the cottage and went back inside.  Philippe made her way into the house.  Beth had just seated herself in the tiny dining room in the cottage alongside Cordelia and Anna. Though the girls called the room they ate in the “dining room” it was nonetheless a bare and scantily furnished room with broken windows stuffed with blankets and splintering floorboards.  The wooden table covered with a handwoven checkered tablecloth took up almost all of the space in the small room.  It was spread with a hodgepodge summer dinner of cold meat and cucumber sandwiches which Cordelia and Anna eyed hungrily.  Philippe sat down at the head of the table in her reserved spot.  With a reverent prayer said by Beth, the girls dig into the dinner with vehemence.
Golly, Beth! These sandwiches are something,” said Cordelia, as she gnawed on her sandwich with zeal.  Philippe and Beth looked up from their own sandwiches which, on the contrary, they had bitten into quite daintily.
Philippe gave her younger sister a meaningful look, presumably for using such an unladylike word.  Cordelia, always cowed by any meaningful look coming from the intrepidly green eyes of Philippe, set her sandwich softly on her plate and shrunk down on her seat.  She stole a pleading look at Beth whom she knew would have let the mistake slip.  However, before either Beth or Philippe could say anything more, a loud knock sounded on the front door.  Philippe’s eyes instantly became alert as she scrutinized the doorway leading to the front hallway.
“Now who could that be at this time of day?”  She rose from her chair, dropping her napkin beside her plate, and made her way toward to door.  
“Wait, Philippe.”  Beth followed her sister and the two walked together to the door, forces doubled.  There were, unfortunately, no windows anywhere near the door giving the two girls a skeptical conclusion of who the visitor was.  Philippe, having more of an imagination than Beth in these matters, drew up a vivid image of a handsome man wearing leather garments.  He would come to escort her out of this dreary house and . . .
Philippe straightened her spine.  Now was not the time for such ridiculous thoughts.  She reached for the doorknob and opened the door.  What the open door revealed was a most unexpected sight.  A man, not dressed in leather but in a loose linen shirt, tan waistcoat, and black pants, stood before them.  His legs were booted to the knees and thick with saddle muscles set far apart in a defiant stance.  His ginger hair was a tousled riot and framed his wise face, and, though his eyes were shrewd, they were kind and had merry wrinkles of laughter at their corners.  He looked to be rather young, only in his twenties.  
“I apologize for zuh interruption; I hope zis is not a bad time to call?  I am inquirink about zuh advertisement in zuh newspaper.”  
“N—no.  Not at all.  Come right in, please.”  The man stepped boldly over the threshold and into the house.  
“My name is Theodore Clemens, but zuh Americans call me Teddy.  I am interested in fixink up your cottage for you.  I’fe a decent hand at carpentry and I hope I can do zuh vork justice.”  Philippe admired the way he got straight to the point with no beating around the bush.  Something we should all work . . ., she thought pensively.  She motioned for Beth to tend to Anna and Cordelia, who, interested in the conversation, stood peering around the doorway at the strange German with wide eyes.  Beth gently herded them back to the kitchen table and sat them down to finish their dinner; however, not one of them could focus on eating long enough to take more than a bite or two, and so went out the back door to pick blackberries while Philippe talked with the man.
“I—We would be delighted if you were to fix up the place for us.”  Then, with a more determined air, she continued, “I said in the advertisement there would be good pay and so there shall.  When will you start work?”  
Teddy looked beyond pleased and smiled brightly at her, his eyes and eyebrows smiling along with his mouth.  “Vhy, bright und early tomorrow mornink if you’ll allow me.”
Philippe grinned crookedly. “Capital.  I’ll show you around.”
Teddy followed closely behind Philippe as she led him through the house, ardently berating the its many blemishes.  He agreed with her that the house was most certainly not in the best of condition, but assured her, as all good handymen do, that he would have it fixed up in no time.
“There’s a— . . . please excuse my language, but blasted hole in the roof here.”  Philippe pointed to the ceiling in her own bedroom.  “Every time it rains, the water comes pouring through and it’s all my sisters and I can do to keep it from flooding the house.”  
“ ‘Blasted’ is not unlikable focabulary at all.  In fact, it describes zee situation you are recountink perfectly.”  There was an assumed wink at the end his remark and Philippe looked at Mr. Teddy Clemens with newfound respect.  Any man who didn’t mind if a lady used the word “blasted” was on her list of favorites.  She wondered if Frederic would have minded, but she quickly pushed the unwelcome thought away.  Best stop thinking of him.  I’ll probably never see him again, she thought with distaste.  
As the cottage was rather small, it took a short time to show Teddy around the entire house.  She noted, as she for the first time saw all of the holes in the walls and rooms and broken windows at once, that the house really was in a despairing state, yet Teddy looked undaunted and confident.  
“I used to lif on a farm in Bonn, Germany.  One of zuh only ways to keep my family from starvink was for my mother to send us boys out to do odd jobs around town which included fixink up some of zuh most run-down cottages you haf ever seen.  I like it much better here, zough I miss zuh farm.”  Philippe listened attentively to his words.  
“I’d like to start a farm here sometime.  I haven’t a notion how to get the animals for it, though.  And I’d like a garden . . . a big, lovely, green one with a fence and neat rows of carrots and cabbages and flowers and . . ..” Her voice was emphatic and excited.  Philippe didn’t know why she was expressing such personal wishes to the German farmer Theodore Clemens whom the Americans called Teddy, but he seemed so compassionate and the words had just slipped out.  Unlike Frederic, who doesn’t give a rap about a farm more than he does ugly girls, she thought.  

Philippe showed Teddy to the door and, from the window in the kitchen, watched him depart on his bay stallion hitched outside the door.  Then, looking down at the dirty breakfast and dinner dishes piled untidily in the sink, the dirtier of which had started to attract flies aplenty, she filled a bucket with cool water from the well behind the house and began to wash them, hands cloaked in foamy, white soap suds.  When Anna, Cordelia, and Beth return, I’ll make a blackberry pie, she thought, and there she let her thoughts tumble and roll over and about each other like the soap suds in the bucket.

9 comments

  1. This was so great! I love the fact that Teddy is making her think of that horrid Frederic. It really shows that she wants to move on, but she's stuck as if half of her is still grasping his hand and the other half is pushing herself away from him. Well done!! I'm so excited to write about Cordelia...LOL that was such a fun line: '“Golly, Beth! These sandwiches are something,” said Cordelia, as she gnawed on her sandwich with zeal' I remember reading it for the first time on docs, and I was just beaming all over after because that is EXACTLY what Anni, you, Dori and I are all like. xD

    Brilliant job,

    Amelia xxx
    <3

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    1. Ahh yes you totally hit the nail on the head! That's exactly why she keeps thinking about Fred.
      I am really really excited to read Cordelia's story! We need to have a group call sometime soon and just sit and write together. :)
      Lol I like that line too. :D It is TOTALLY us. <3
      xx

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    2. GROUP FACETIME YESS!! We seriously need to do that. We can switch this conversation over to chat and debate about times.
      It's so funny how the Woodhouse girls are so much like us. XD <3 <3

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  2. I love the characters, and you're writing style! It reminds of Little Women with some Anne of Green Gables thrown in that I really like. Keep it coming!

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    1. I'm really glad you like it, Mira. That means so much! I like both of those authors so that makes sense. :)

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  3. Dude, I am in love with your fingernail polish color, it's beautiful!

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    1. Lol thanks, Gray!! I just got it last week and love it too! It's a silver with a little hint of pink and very sweet. I'll see if I can find the brand for you . . . :)

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  4. wow gal. keep it up xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Paige!! <3

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