10.9

After lunch Elizabeth quickly volunteered to take Mr. Sutro back to his room, practically hauling him out the door. Sarah started clearing the table, only to find Rebecca had vanished as well.

“Jessica, Sam, put your dishes in the kitchen. No running!” She scowled as the pair scurried into the kitchen and disappeared, leaving only Mr. Jerret at the table. She took his plate and stacked it with hers, ignoring the flashing on her wrist as she got close to him. He was still sitting there when she came back out, staring out the window with a grim look.

“Would you like to go outside for a bit?” She asked.

He twitched in his chair, eyes focusing on her instantly. For a moment she regretted the question, as his heart beat had risen again. It settled down after a moment of silence though and he half-grinned. “It looks like rain.”

Sarah walked over to the window and looked up at the ominous gray clouds, “So it does… Seems like a good day to enjoy a good book then. How about I give you a quick tour of the library?”

His grin faded and he seemed to stare through her for a moment, “That… would be nice I guess.” The grin returned but with visible effort this time.

“Come on then, I’ll give you a quick tour. We still have to get you a proper haircut for dinner but until then there’s free time.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my hair.” He grimaced but got out of his chair to follow as she headed for the hallway. She glanced back at him as they crossed the long hallway.

“Are you afraid of scissors?”

“No.” He frowned at her and she couldn’t help a sharp laugh.

“Then stop worrying about it, it’s just a haircut.”

“I’m not worrying…” He trailed off again as they entered the library, his gaze going upwards to the tops of the shelves.

“So we have it arranged by topic, the first floor is how-to and instructional books in the far corner…” She gestured towards the corner nearest the door to the other wing, “autobiographies, biographies, and history in general over there,” She gestured to the opposite corner, then to the shelves immediately in front of them, “And this half of the room is general fiction. The shelves are labeled with the genre. Upstairs is poetry, joke books, and other miscellaneous books that didn’t warrant an entire section. We also have a digital library you can access from a tablet we keep on the table there.” Sarah pointed to the table and chairs towards the center of the room.

He was still staring at the books, looking a bit lost.

“Do you have a certain type of book you like?”

“I… uh… um…” He looked at her and started gesturing with his hands uncertainly.

“What kind of book did you have on the ship?” She asked, hoping he’d know.

“It was a… a lot of things people said. Quotes.”

“Would you like to read another book like that? Or do you want a story or something educational?”

“A… it… I’m not very good at reading.” He finally admitted, deflating a little, “I mostly read that book because nothing’s too long or hard to read, and it’s mine.”

“Well…” Sarah waited a moment to see if more was forthcoming but he was frowning at the books now, “I’d recommend the poetry and miscellaneous section. There’s a lot of books there that shouldn’t be too difficult. Feel free to browse until you find something you like. I have to go see to some things but someone will find you when it’s time to get ready for dinner.” She gestured up to the stairs up to the second floor and he stared at them, brow furrowed. She put a hand on his shoulder and he jumped, his heart rate spiking again. Instead of saying anything else she shoved him towards the stairs and walked away towards the main house again.

The storm broke hard as she walked toward the front door and Sarah sighed, changing direction mid-stride. Trying to make it to town today would be a waste of time, nobody would be out in the foul weather for her to hire. Instead she headed downstairs to the cellar to take stock of the food supplies.

***

Her mother’s sudden appearance in the stairwell made Sarah finally look at the time and she grimaced, quickly putting the last few items in place with a quiet curse.

“I can’t believe I lost track of time. Did anyone start dinner?” Sarah started up the stairs but her mother but a hand out to stop her as they met at the top.

“It’s being seen to by the other girls, dear, slow down for a moment.”

“Which girls?”

“Sarah, it’s being seen to. I wanted to speak to you about our guests.”

She relaxed a little and followed her mother to a couple of chairs next to a window. The rain was still beating down hard. Her mother sat down and gestured to the other chair, which she sat down heavily in.

“Mr. Calvin is making good progress, he’s mostly gotten the hang of speaking again, even if it’s a bit slow still.”

“Yes, I hear Elizabeth has been taking advantage of that to pick his brain. did we get back the testing results yet?”

Sarah hesitated, trying to remember if she had checked this morning, “Not that I’ve seen but I’ll check again after dinner.”

Her mother held a hand up, “Don’t worry about it right now. I was just wondering. How about our other guest?”

“Mr. Jerret?” Sarah realized she was making a face when her mother chuckled, “There’s nothing wrong with him physically, he’s a bit malnourished but that’s not surprising. The only trouble we’ve had is the one panic attack and his discomfort around me.”

“I thought Sam said something about him not liking to be around women. This isn’t exactly the best situation for him.”

“Not all women… He had no reaction to Rebecca or Jessie or Elizabeth. So far it’s just been me.” She frowned out at the storm. Lightning flashed in the distance but there was no thunder.

“That is odd, but I wouldn’t take it personally dear.”

“I’m not taking it personally, it’s just problematic.” Sarah huffed a little and her mother smiled, putting a hand on hers.

“Why don’t you go make sure our guests are ready for supper, hmm? We’ll see how they handle a little more crowded situation.”

Sarah stood up and brushed herself off, “You’re sure the girls have things under control?”

“Go, it’s fine dear.” Her mother shooed her off towards the library as another flash of lightning light up the windows. This time thunder rumbled shortly after.

 

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