I’m going to take my cue from one of Agatha Christie’s novels as my response to today’s Word Press daily prompt. She had such an interesting way with words. And I love her characters’ names!
Amos stood in the hallway watching the young woman hurry down the staircase. Always bustling around, this young lady. Always seemed to know where she was going and why. He liked that. And she was a pretty young thing. His old ticker skipped a beat.
As she passed him in the hall he caught her arm with the hook of his cane. “You. Miss Whats-your name-again?”
“Arthur. Miss Vivian Arthur.”
“Arthur. Yes. Good English name.” Amos drew her closer and wrapped his fingers around her arm. Nice bit of flesh she had, too. Not like some of the scrawny old birds throwing themselves at him lately. “I’d like to have a word with you.”
“Certainly, Sir. Are you wanting your tea already? I should start with dinner preparations soon.”
She took a step backward and he gripped her arm even tighter. “Never mind the tea, girl. I have something important to discuss. Something very personal. Come with me.” He tenderly pulled her into his study. “I’ve been watching you ever since you showed up — has it been a month already? I’ve see what an industrious sort you are. And not a waster, either.”
“Thank you, Mr Swindolthwarp.”
He leered at her lovingly. “To you I may seem like a poor old man, but I assure you, there’s more to me than meets the eye. I’m a lot more robust than my sons think. I’m not about to drop dead and leave them every penny like they wish.”
“No, I’m sure not, Mr Swindolthwarp. You seem quite robust yet.” She looked down at the hand that was clutching her arm.
“I try not to let on, but I do have quite a bit saved up, actually. I could look after you very well. You wouldn’t have to be a char anymore and work so hard every day. Mind you, I wouldn’t hire another cook, since you’re so capable. Having you doing the meals has suited my digestion to a turn. Once we’re married…”
“Married!” Vivian’s eyes opened wide and she turned pale, but quickly regained her composure. “Well. I never expected…”
“Surprised you, did I?” Amos chuckled with delight. “I’ve grown quite fond of you, you know. My wife, may she rest in peace, was okay, but an insipid sort. Not a lively thing like you. I think you could add some real zest to my life.”
“Whatever would your sons say, Mr Swindolthwarp? I fear they would resent me if I…er…if they thought…”
“Who cares what they say? They can go climb the Himalayas for all I care.” He pounded his cane on the floor twice to emphasize his point. “Right now they’re waiting for me to die so they can get their hands on my money and waste it all. But I can see you’re sensible. You won’t be tossing my life savings to the four winds.”
There came a sudden sparkle in her eye. “So this means no honeymoon on the Riviera?”
“Riviera!” The word made Amos gasp and sputter.
Vivian, alarmed, patted his back. “Oh, dear! Are you all right, Sir?”
One last cough and Amos replied, “I’m fine. I’m fine. Don’t fuss. I hate it when people fuss. But, my word! The Riviera. Do you have any idea how much that would cost?”
“You’re quite right,” she replied, her eyes taking in the threadbare carpet, faded wallpaper and the draperies that must have hung on these study windows for thirty years at least. “The money would be far better put into home improvements.”
“I knew you were a practical girl! Think about what I’ve said. You and I could make a delightful match. And I’m not too old, you know…” He ogled her amorously. “There may be snow on the roof, but there’s still a fire in the hearth. We could have a nice little family.”
He saw the hint of a smile flicker on her lips and took it she was delighted at the prospect.
She pulled away from him. “This is all very sudden. I shall have to give this more thought, Mr Swindolthwarp.”
He reluctantly released his loving grip on her arm. “You do that, girl. Remember, if you’re willing to take care of me, I’m willing to take care of you.”
“Thank you, Sir. This is so kind of you. I must start the dinner.” And she dashed off to the kitchen.
Amos chuckled again. He’d bowled the girl right over. But she’d come round, he was sure. Maybe by his 73nd birthday he’d be a married man again. And his sons could go jump off the cliffs of Dover if they didn’t like it.