by Laura Hamby
Beth's fingers flew over the loom. A fascinated family gawked at her from the other side of the small room as she explained what she was doing. Outside, more people lined up to come in and watch her weave. It was a heady feeling to be so successful at a task no one really had to do in the modern day world.
At last the crowd dwindled enough for her to leave the loom in order to tend to the midday meal. After the relative warmth inside, the cool November air invigorated her. People still milled around, taking in the sites, sounds and smells of the exhibit.
She found Caleb in the blacksmith shop, hard at work and explaining, as she'd recently done, just what he was doing. "Hungry? I'll have your dinner on the table within the hour."
He paused in his monolog long enough to nod in her direction, and she continued on her way. A definite skip bounced her stride. A group of people fell in line behind her. As usual, she'd have an audience while she prepared the largest meal of the day. Today she had fish, courtesy of the teenaged boy who lived in the modest midling family home just an eighth of a mile to the west of her cabin. An entire family complete with seven homeschooled children and their parents were having the time of their lives living history, just like Beth.
"Fish. Goodman Merriwether is fond of fish," she began her out loud stream of consciousness as she entered the cabin. "The oldest Oterel lad brought me a couple fish he'd caught this morning. Apparently, the boy wasn't supposed to be out fishing. 'Tis likely a sin for me to aid and abet his mischief, but the fish is a welcome change. His secret is safe with me, if you'll all keep it along with me. He saved me some trouble by gutting the fish. Not my favorite chore."
A roll of laughter greeted her confession.
"What else will you eat?"
"Since this is the biggest meal of the day, I'll roast some potatoes in the coals, simmer some vegetables I put up this summer and for a special treat, apple cake. The cake will bake while we eat and be ready to be served directly after the main meal."
True to her word, dinner was on the table within the hour, and Caleb showed up as if on cue. He kissed her forehead by way of greeting on his way to wash his hands.
Eating in front of the museum visitors still bothered Beth, but she knew she had to eat at some point. Most folks did tend to wander away, but this group just wouldn't leave. She'd stopped looking directly at the people during the first week: it was easier to do what she was there to do if she just lost herself in her day-to-day tasks.
They made small talk over the meal, discussing their days thus far. Beth grinned when Caleb recounted his morning adventure. "...the horse didn't want to be shod. The rock in his foot did not bother him as much as it bothered Goodman Oterel. Getting it out was easy enough, but the beast reared back when I reached for the shoe. Good thing Goodman Oterel was still there and his oldest boy with him."
Beth coughed into her hand. "George certainly is busy today."
Caleb winked at her. "I shall let him know the fish was excellent. Back to work for me." After another smooch to her forehead, he was gone, leaving her flushed and happy.
She hummed while she cleaned up from the meal, not bothering to explain this very mundane, self-explanatory chore. Then back to the loom she went.
Dusk came quickly it seemed, and the visitors slowly trickled away. Caleb came for her and they walked back to the cabin together.
"Die-hard group, that one," Caleb said, nodding towards a knot of people hovering together under the tree that towered over the cabin.
Beth took a good look at them, not easy to do in the growing dark. She had the funny feeling she should recognize them. One of the women stepped forward as they came closer, and Beth knew why this group of folks had waited.
Taking a look around to be sure no other visitors remained, Beth said, "Good evening to you, Mother." Then to Caleb, "Hope you do not mind fried potatoes again, Goodman."
To be continued...