Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kippered Herring and Eggs

I do so love kippered herring and scrambled eggs for breakfast, but Mother finds the flavour a little strong.  Nevertheless it was a fine breakfast; a surprise especially in the light of the fact that Mother had been a little testy over what she referred to as “this faith business”.

Mother seemed to be in very happy mood, so happy that Pippa, the frou-frou dog, had climbed up on her lap and had fallen asleep.  I should have expected something; there often is when Mother does something apparently out of character.

I poured myself a second cup of Lapsang Souchong, thinking how fine it would be to smoke an Arturo Fuente Rosado Magnum after such a fine repast of kippered herring.  The two things seem to go together, however wisdom is the better part of valor and I decided not press my luck.

Mother looked at me in a contented fashion, and said, “I’ve been thinking, Alfred . . .”

“Yes, Mother,” said I, inwardly wincing.  Even I can add two and two together and not come up with three.  Something was indeed up, as they put it.

“Well, Alfred,” said Mother, “I’ve been thinking.  It has been a long time since our old housekeeper Ada retired, not that I mind doing the housework, but as I said, it has been a long time since Ada retired and I would like to have someone come in twice a week.”

“That seems reasonable to me,” I replied, “but it is very difficult to find someone reliable; after all the two or three housekeepers you tried after Ada left really were atrocious, and why twice a week?”

“Well, Alfred, that’s just the thing.  Grace Whittington has a marvellous housekeeper who comes in twice a week, and Grace asked me if I would also be interested in having her for two days a week.  Apparently she was working for another family but they have moved, and she is available.”

In a way, I was relieved. After all when Mother has been thinking it could turn out to be almost anything.  So I said, “Have you talked with this housekeeper?”

“No, I haven’t¸ but I have made an arrangement for her to come this morning after breakfast.”

With that the doorbell rang Westminster.  Mother left the room to answer it, and I thought, “Fait accompli! I didn’t really have a chance.  What if I had said, ‘No’?  I hope it’s worth one breakfast of kippered herring.”

A broad Scot’s brogue sounded in the next room, “Missus Montrose, so pleased to meet you.  I’m Agnes Findlay.  Missus Whittington told me you might be looking for someone to help at bit with the housework.”

Their voices faded off into the distance and I could hear them going from room to room.  Eventually they circled around to where I was sitting in the breakfast nook.  Agnes Findlay was a square set stocky woman with a broad smile and an air of obvious competence about her.

            Mother said, “Agnes has agreed to work for us on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Mondays and Wednesdays she is at the Whittington’s.  Grace tells me that Agnes is an accomplished cook.  Isn’t that marvelous?”

            “Mr. Montrose,” said Agnes, “verra pleased to meet you.  Ever since I heard from Missus Whittington that you might be needin’ a housekeeper I’ve been prayin’ for you both.  I’ve always kept Horace and Grace Whittington in my prayers; It’s been my custom to pray for the families I work for.”

            I thought to myself, “Isn’t it wonderful the way the Lord works.  Now what will Mother do?”

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” [1 John 5:13-14].   

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