Uncle Ford was grinning at Clary when I came into the kitchen, bumping her shoulder all friendly-like and leaning in to whisper. She shoved him away when she heard my step on the stairs and turned to me. "Kitty! What are you up to today?"
Yes, it was strange having my friend date my uncle. Aunt Maud would never let Ford forget that he was thirteen years older than that Johnson chippy. After all, (disapproving sniff) what would the neighbors say? I think if she didn't have such a broad and obvious sweet spot for Ford, Maud would have hassled him until he agreed to give up the foolishness of dating a local girl. But he was the son of her favorite son, so she grumbled and tight-lipped and yet did nothing concrete to stop his budding romance. If she'd cut off his allowance, he'd have straightened up. Uncle Ford was very comfortable having his life financed.
After all, what was worth more - independence, or free room and board?
I smiled at Clary. "Just finishing up the dishes, then I might have a walk down to the wharf. There might be some bluefish in."
Uncle Ford mugged at Clary, winking at me. "Never mind her, Clara. Let's take a drive."
I dumped the dishes in the waiting water, trying not to be a little hurt that I wasn't the one Ford wanted to take for a spin (I loved riding in his convertible!) and blocking out most of the noise they made giggling at each other before they left.
Finished at last, I took my book into the front parlour and was just getting comfortable when Aunt Maud's bell went off. It wasn't three seconds later that I heard her call for me. (Maud was never a patient person.)
Grumbling a little, I got up. It wasn't until I was right outside her door that I remembered I'd forgotten the tea. On the off chance that she wanted something else, I stuck my head in. She was scowling down at her mail and barely looked up. "Tea, Katherine. My tea. Stanton will be home soon, and he doesn't have time to wait."
I made a face at her grey curly head and went back for her cup.
The front door slammed just as I got back upstairs. Grand-dad's voice boomed along the halls. "Where's my girl?"
"Just a second, Grand-Dad. I'm up with Maud."
A minute later, he pushed the door open himself. "Hello, Maudie." His voice was soft. Grand-Dad was always very gentle with his sister, even when she was being her worst cantankerous self. I'd only heard him raise his voice to her once. He winked when he saw me.
"What are you doing inside on such a beautiful day, Katie-girl?"
Aunt Maud harrumphed. "Katherine is finishing up in the kitchen, and then she is taking me to my bridge club. As she usually does on Wednesday afternoons, Stanton."
Grand-Dad coughed and sent her a chiding look. "I thought Katie might like to come out with me this afternoon. I don't have any appointments this afternoon, so I thought she and I'd get a breath of fresh air. Perhaps Ford would take you to the club."
Maud grumbled, but agreed. I hurried to change out of my dungarees and jerk a quick comb through my hair. Where were we going to go today?
My grandfather knew everyone in town. As we strolled along, he'd point to a house and tell me stories about the people that lived there. Or, even better, stories about the people that used to live there and how things were when the town was thriving and new.
And sometimes - sometimes, I could get him to talk about my mother.