Chapter Eight (part II)

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Mr. Woolsey worked the rest of the day in utter silence -- he didn't even ask for tea. At 6 o'clock, he locked the front door, then he came into the kitchen and helped himself to stew, taking it at the kitchen table. Afterward, he just sat, staring into the hearth fire, the kitten purring in the crook of his elbow.

I did my best to ignore him, to go on about my business and leave him to his thoughts, whatever they may be. I did the washing up, chopped some vegetables and set out groats to soak, and then, at length, when all my chores were done, I settled on the stool by the fire with my knitting -- a baby's cap I hadn't quite finished by market day.

Mr. Woolsey grunted suddenly. He said, "You are always working," apparently unaware of the irony.

I shrugged, not certain how to respond. "There's money in it, sir. I do find myself wanting money."

"I don't pay you enough..."

I shook my head quickly. "Oh, no, sir, I didn't mean that. I shouldn't think to complain." In truth, I had earned more as a spinner than I ever would working for Mr. Woolsey, even if I did take my full salary, but I didn't think he needed to know that. "It's good to get a bit stashed away, that's all."

Mr. Woolsey nodded slowly, but he said nothing. A pang of doubt struck me. "Of course, if there's something else you'd like me to do, sir..."

He huffed a quiet laugh, dismissing the thought with a flick of his hand. "No, no... Feather your nest."

Silence fell round us, but not for long. I'd hardly worked five stitches before Mr. Woolsey asked, "What are you making?"

"A baby's cap." I held it up for him to see. It was a simple thing with an edging of lace that looked far more impressive than it was, really.

"It's beautiful..." Mr. Woolsey leaned forward and plucked up the edging of it, rubbing the lace between his fingers. "And beautifully made. Your stitches are very even."

I murmured, "Oh... Thank you, sir," not really knowing what to say. I was warmed by his praise, but all the same, it made me feel so very bashful. "I have a had a lot of practice."

I tensioned the yarn and worked to the end of the row, feeling Mr. Woolsey's eyes still on me. He soon grunted a little huh. "You put on your knits and purls in different directions."

"I do..." It was habit I'd acquired somehow, and neither Mrs. Burke nor Mathilde had managed to break me of it. I eyed Mr. Woolsey sidelong a moment, then I held up my left hand, with the yarn wrapped all round it. "And I suppose next you'll tell me I knit like a Wyrm."

Mr. Woolsey smiled -- it was a small thing, of course, but amusement glittered in his eyes. "In truth, I was thinking you knit like a man."

"Do men knit differently?" I laughed, even as I frowned.

"In my village the men knit, and the women spin."

"You knit." I struggled to believe this, though in truth, I had no reason to doubt him. I simply could not imagine a pair of needles in his hands.

"I knit these socks." Mr. Woolsey stretched out one long leg and tugged at his trousers, lifting the hem a few inches.

"Did you now..." I knew these socks -- I had washed them often enough in the past few months. They were very well made. "Well. In my village, the women spin and knit, while the men drink and talk about business."

Mr. Woolsey huffed a quiet laugh. "What a waste."

I didn't quite know what he meant, but I shrugged. "I reckon I got more done than the men ever did... I made yarn, and I learned quite a bit about business."

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