Not by Sight
matched them together, she slipped an edge of the fabric beneath the needle and flipped some kind of metal guide into place.
    “Just like this,” she said, and began working her feet back and forth against a metal square bracket beneath the machine. The needle came to life, penetrating the burlap. Lucy guided the fabric forward as tiny even stitches followed in its wake. “Now, you give it a try.” She rose and made way for Grace to sit down.
    Lucy Young had patience in abundance, guiding Grace through the steps until she’d completed her first sack.
    “You’ve got it,” Lucy said. Then she crossed the room to begin the task of mending tarpaulins. Companionable silence followed, interrupted only by the noisy treadle.
    “Lucy, you mentioned you’d seen my father’s tea room,” Grace said finally, hoping for a bit of conversation while they worked. “Are you from London, then?”
    When Lucy didn’t respond, Grace glanced up and caught the woman’s wary look. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “Da’s always telling me it’s not ladylike to be nosy.”
    “He’s probably right.” Lucy softened the rebuke with a wan smile. “We all have our secrets.”
    Grace’s face grew warm. “I’d just like us to be friends.”
    Lucy’s caution eased. “Me too,” she said. “I am from London, but I grew up a long way from Sterling Street. In Deptford, near the d-docks.”
    Grace stared at her while Lucy bent her head to make anotherperfect stitch in her canvas. Deptford was among the poorest slums in southeast London. “Did you . . . attend school?”
    “For a time, but then my mum got sick. I had to g-go to work at the slaughterhouse.” She grimaced. “I hated it, but I had six brothers and sisters all younger than me. We needed food.”
    “What about your father?”
    A shadow crossed Lucy’s expression. “When he wasn’t working, he was at the pub. Those were the good days,” she said. “Days he was g-gone.”
    Grace couldn’t imagine feeling that way about her father. They did often frustrate each other, she with her modern ideas and “improprieties” that might jeopardize the tea room’s reputation, and he with his conventional views on marriage and how young ladies should comport themselves. Yet Da would never sit in a pub, getting drunk while she starved.
    She was grateful he had always taken such good care of her and Colin, even after their mother’s death. “Is this your first time away from home?” she asked.
    Lucy wet her lips. “No, I left home at seventeen. My youngest brother could f-fend for himself by then. I went to work in the city . . . here and there.”
    “Did you enter into service?” Grace hoped she wasn’t stepping on another verbal land mine as she had with Mrs. Vance about her husband. But writers did have to ask difficult questions in order to gather research for their stories.
    “Service . . . yes.” Lucy’s voice held an edge. “For a time anyway, before I had the chance to get out of the city. M-my health,” she added. “I heard they were looking for women to help on farms in the Women’s Forage Corps.” Her turquoise eyes brightened. “I wasn’t sure they would take me, but I’m glad to be here.”
    “I feel the same way.” Relieved to change the topic, Grace noticed Lucy stammered only when she was anxious or upset.The sewing machine treadle rocked beneath her feet as she stitched another seam and said, “My brother, Colin, joined the cavalry, and I wanted my chance to serve in some way. Since both our horses are now Army property overseas, I’m happy to work with the WFC to make food for them.”
    “I didn’t have such grand ideas,” Lucy said. “I just wanted to escape.” A desolate look swept across her features and tore at Grace’s heart. “I learned early on that women are p-powerless to the whims of the world, and to men. To f-fathers . . .” She bent her head and began to stitch furiously.
    While Grace couldn’t decipher

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