“Marianne?” Corrick called for his wife as he ushered his guest into their small parlor.
Soon, she entered, wiping grease and flour onto her apron. He loved her best when she was harried with cookery and gardening. Even now as she scolded him for not being forewarned and complained of her disheveled appearance, she was the loveliest woman he had ever seen, and no man on earth could be more proud of his spouse than he.
“The pleasure is mine, Mistress,” William stated, kissing her fair hand after an exchange of greetings.
Corrick’s kiss was considerably less proper, chasing her blushing from the room in furious squeals. He laughed as he tended to his muddy boots. “She’ll join us again momentarily,” he said, knowing his wife’s habits well.
William smiled warmly, “I’m intruding. I can go for a stroll.”
He laughed again. “It’s true I’m a sailor just home from sea, but we are hardly newly-weds. I’ve a brood about somewhere, hopefully minding their mother.”
“I look forward to meeting them all,” he replied in earnest, settling into a roman-style chaise, his sakret perched upon a pedestal.
“Father,” Matilde whispered from the archway. His eldest daughter was fifteen winters and was as much the bane of his existence as she was his joy. She was fair of face and carried herself with poise, but she had dangerously demure eyes and a wicked desire to be married. Arrangements for bands would have to be made soon.
“Ah, Matilde, Master William leSaber,” he quickly made introductions and bit his tongue to keep from groaning as her eyes fluttered coyly.
“Enchantez, Monsieur leSaber,” she breathed.
William remained stoic, “Enchantez, Madamoiselle.”
“Help your mother,” he commanded, perhaps more harsh than was necessary, but he did not want to be accused by either his daughter or his friend that this was intended to be a match-making introduction.
“Oui, bien sur, Father,” she replied, a hesitation in her curtsy and a long look delivered before following orders.
“She’ll be the death of me, for certain,” he muttered.
“She’s comely and obedient,” William observed. “And she appears to be in the market for a husband.”
Corrick groaned, “Indeed. She’s expressed interest in everyone from the carpenter’s apprentice to my very married first mate.”
He was pensive. “And has anyone approached you for her hand?”
He froze, “You’re not suggesting-”
“Worry not, Captain, I have no such designs,” he replied, dismissing the notion with a small waive of his hand. “I see my sister in her. She was of independent mind as well.”
“Avoid opening negotiations with a soldier,” he answered, intensely serious, “no matter her intention. She will a widow be afore their babe can become a man.”
Corrick allowed a long pause before responding. “And a sailor will only give her cause to be lonely. The carpenter’s apprentice it is then.”
“A wise choice withal,” he agreed solemnly.