Readers; He is this afternoon’s installment from the book. Thanks for reading. Ed
It was not finished. Though she had dismissed Brad Dawson and all the work that would be done had been done, three of the upstairs bedrooms had not been touched. She would scrub the walls and floors herself and then close and lock the cherry doors to each of them and be satisfied with the elegance of what had been done. The bathrooms were all replumbed and refitted, the fireplaces, all eight of them, had been put back into working order. She had tested them all. The formal dining room with its west-facing windows and walnut cabinets and counters now shone. The kitchen had been reworked with full ventilation for the eight-burner gas thermador and the Aga. It was not finished, but the money, almost all of it, was gone. How often, she thought, had this been the case in her life? Where the goal is not completely achieved, but time or resources have been exhausted and all effort must cease. The last corner, it seemed, was never turned.
This was not the end she had imagined or hoped for, but it was, she knew, the end. The three untouched rooms would stay as they were, probably as long as she lived. Nonetheless, she felt like this ship ought to be christened. Something should be done to mark the closing of the project. She had six hundred dollars left in the house account, not enough for a single day more of the contractor, but enough for something.
She drove to Charleston and to the street there where the clothing merchants catered to the carriage trade of the folks in the better parts of town: the oldest, brick neighborhoods in the hills to the south and the grand new constructions a few miles east of the city. She had never been inside the stores there before, but on this day she found the dress that would mark her entry into her new life as mistress of Hill Grove. It was simple, with definite lines; off of the shoulders and hemmed at the knees. The perfect, little black dress. And then shoes to match and then home to Walhonde. She drove not to her present residence, but to Hill Grove where she hung the dress and set the shoes in that long, empty closet that would soon be her dressing place.