Together Apart

Together Apart by Dianne Gray Read Free Book Online

Book: Together Apart by Dianne Gray Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dianne Gray
job, then tightened the bolt to the arm as firmly as I could.
    "Once again," I said. That time, when Eliza set the beast in motion, the arm didn't jerk to the side.
    Eliza plucked the page from the press and passed it to me. "We're in business. See here, the page printed perfectly."
    The ink was damp, but the letters were as crisp as the notes of a meadowlark's song. Words, sentences, neatly arranged thoughts—a thing to be reckoned with. Before the ink had dried on the first, Eliza had printed a second and a third. A thought multiplied. Eliza stepped away from the press. "Needless to say, your trial period is over. I'd like you to stay on permanently."
    I focused my eyes on the floor. "I'm honored, ma'am, but I cannot accept your offer. That's what I wanted to tell you earlier."
    "Nonsense, you must stay. I wouldn't be able to manage the resting room without you."
    I wanted to tell her the truth, that my papa would never approve of my living and working in the same house as Isaac.
    "I'm needed at home."
    "Its me being here, isn't it? I'm the reason you've told Eliza you can't stay."
    I spun toward the door, where Isaac was standing.
    "Oh, no. It's not you. I truly am needed at home."
    Isaac strode toward me, stopping only when his face was inches from my own. He smelled of leather and fresh air. "Then why did I find this pillow cover stuffed with your belongings on the kitchen stoop?"
    I hiccupped.
    "Is there something I should know?" Eliza asked.
    "Yes, ma'am, there is," Isaac answered.

Issac
    C OME S ATURDAY NIGHT , H ANNAH'S RESTING ROOM WAS READY. In ones, twos, and threes, depending on the heft of a piece, we'd toted furnishings from the house to the resting room. I'd have set these things down any old way, but not Eliza. We'd place a piece of furniture against a wall, Eliza would stand back, look hard, then say it wasn't right, and we'd drag it across the room only to have her decide the first way was better. Almost every room in the house had taken a hit in Eliza's hunt. The parlor was minus its velvet settee, the front hall its parson's bench, and the Judge's study its mahogany library table, which Eliza had said was old and rickety. Rickety, my eye. The tabletop didn't have a scratch, and its legs were as stout as a lumberjack's.
    Getting the word out about the resting room was the only thing that still needed to be done, and that's what Hannah and Eliza were fixing to do that Sunday morning. Seeing as how Eliza didn't feel welcome in the Reverend Cobb's church, and seeing as how Hannah was planning to spend the day at home, Eliza had asked if she might tag along, meet Hannah's family, and, as she'd said, "discreedy distribute" handbills to the ladies at Hannah's church.
    Before they rode off in the surrey, I'd begged a favor of Hannah: If she could get my ma alone after church, would she tell her my whereabouts? Hannah had said she would try.
    I spent most all of the day with my nose buried in a boat-building book I'd found in the judges library. It was head-scratching complicated—the soaking and bending of boards, the watertight caulking. But, along about dark, I put the book aside and headed outdoors, which had be come my habit. Lying low in daylight and going out only after dark, like an owl or a raccoon, had solved a couple of problems.
    The first problem being Sheriff Tulley. He'd come to Eliza's door not three hours after I'd returned from the Ice Works, saying that there was a thief on the loose, a thief who played the harmonica, a thief by the name of Isaac Bradshaw. Seems the sheriff had been asking folks around town if they'd seen me, and the proprietor of the Ice Works had told him a suspicious-looking boy had been seen driving Eliza's surrey. Lucky for me, I'd been in the print shop when the sheriff had come nosing around, so I'd heard the story secondhand. Eliza had twisted the truth and told the sheriff that she'd hired a boy to go for ice that morning, but that the boy had made himself

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