As Jacob and Clara entered the small and steamy laundry room Arabella was practically dangling off the legs of the pantalettes trying to pull them out of the mangle. That thing had never been the same since she’d tried to put one of Mammy Cookie’s corsets through it.
“Howdy Reb.” Proffered Jacob in greeting, relieved they’d lost the scary in-charge lady. Arabella didn’t flinch as she yelped “Gimmi a hand here, y’lunk!” But Clara’s voice made her let go of the bloomers with a yelp and spin round, positioning herself in front of the offending articles of underwear. It was odd that she didn’t mind Lutz seeing how shabby, patched and, frankly stained, her underthings were, but the thought of the wonderful Clara Anne Redmond seeing these awful exhibits? Lord no!
“Hello, Arabella,” she left it at that.
“Clara!” exclaimed Arabella, wide eyed in shock. She pointed dumbly at the tiled floor “In my laundry room!”
“Never mind her” Jacob hissed urgently “Where the heck can we get hold of that Father-Reverend-Pastor Reed feller, we need to see him!”
Arabella rolled her eyes. “Oh, Brother Thomas! is that all? That’s easy, he’s in his Love Shack Mr Ryker built him at the back of the church. It ain’t love like hearts and flowers, it’s like the love that Jesus Christ Our Saviour has for all of us, even Mrs Devereau. Course it’s only me what calls it that and…”
Suddenly the penny dropped. Arabella looked at Clara, then at Jacob, then back at Clara and her eyes narrowed and she pointed at Clara’s stomach and mouthed the words ARE YOU PREGNANT?
The reply was irrelevant. Arabella had already put one and one together and gotten three, which, in this case, was the correct answer.