“Hey, wait a minute,” Sarah rounded on the bickering boys. She had to physically separate them before they stopped. Their faces showed pure annoyance.
“How do you normally decide?” Sarah asked.
“He goes first,” said the slightly taller one, “he’s smaller which means he’s younger and bath goes youngest to oldest.”
“Just because you're taller doesn’t mean you’re older than me.”
“You don’t know either because Mother won’t say who was born first.”
“Hold it,” Sarah exclaimed. “What about taking turns?”
“In that case it’s his turn.”
“No it’s not I went first last week.”
“Well one of you has to take a bath.” Martha marched a now clean Ralph past them and up the stairs.
“Okay, how about Rock, Paper, Scissors?” Sarah suggested.
The two boys gave her a blank stare. Sarah made her hand into a fist, “Rock,” she held it out flat, “Paper,” then she made a cutting motion with her middle and pointer finger.
“Oh Stone, Blanket, Shears?”
“He always cheats.”
“I’ll arbitrate.” Sarah suddenly felt like her father sorting out bickering between her and her brothers. She never had truly appreciated her Dad until he was gone.
“I’ll make sure neither of you cheat, alright?” They gave Sarah a hard stare then nodded. “Okay best two out of three gets to bathe first.”
The twins stared at each other, pure determination on their faces. Their fists rested on their palms. The count started. Up and down each fist pumped, keeping the beat; one, two, three. Palms fell away leaving a Stone and a Blanket in their place.
“Round one to,” Sarah paused and laughed. “What are your names?”
“Trevor,” said the slightly taller one without taking his gaze off his twin.
“Travis,” the other replied only one syllable behind his brother.
“Alright round one to Travis.”
The next round went to Trevor, Sheers beating Blanket. Sarah grinned as their expressions became more intense. Tongues stuck out of the corner of their mouths as their hands got ready. One, two, three...
“Yes!” Travis jumped, “I won, Blanket beats Stone!”
“Alright, into the bath you go.” Sarah watched his face fall as his brother smirked. “Go on,” she gave him a gentle shove. “You’re next,” she grinned at Trevor who immediately sat down, glum expression on his face.
Sarah went back to the dishes, this time tackling the pots.
“Good Night Ryan, Good Night Ralph.” Martha came back down the steps. “Gods Thanks again,” she said to Sarah.
“Really it’s nothing,” Sarah felt her face flush at the praise. She already liked this house better than the farm house Jason had first sent her to.
Martha chuckled. “Something is more than nothing, and you’re doing something.” She paused, hand on the back door handle. Her voice projected to the front of the house as she called out “You finish up Travis and let Trevor have his bath. I want you two to empty it when you’re done.” Martha turned back to Sarah. “I’m going to Griffon’s to check on my four oldest and pull out some clothing for you.”
Travis returned to the kitchen shortly after Martha had left. Trevor stayed put on the bench until Sarah gently urged him into the front room. By the time Sarah had dried all the pots he was done. Trevor stood up and started for the front right before his sibling called him. Sarah heard their grunts as they picked up the tub.
“Heave Ho. Watch out below!” Their voices rang into the street. Sarah heard the water slosh outside.
Martha came back with a bundle under her arm. “This’ll do for tomorrow,” she told Sarah as she set it down. “You’ll sleep in our parlor tonight. Tomorrow we’ll make you a room over at Griffon’s.”
Martha refilled the bath and let Sarah have the first go, while she ushered the twins to bed. Sarah would have loved to have sat in the warm water until it went cold, but out of respect for her hostess, she scrubbed herself clean quick as she could.
Climbing out of the tub Sarah dried herself off before throwing the chemise on over her head. Martha returned as she was pondering the clothing. It was slightly different from what she’d worn at the farm. Without a word, Martha helped Sarah don first the belt like item, then the skirt and lastly the vest like jacket, or was it a jacket like vest Sarah wondered.
“Now, don’t you look like you could be Rosaline’s sister.” Martha exclaimed as she studied Sarah in the fading light.
Rosaline, Sarah thought. Jason had never mentioned exactly what had happened.
“If it’s not too personal,” Sarah asked as Martha started to strip, “what happened to Rosaline?” Sarah moved to just outside the room to let Martha bathe in private.
She heard Martha heave a sigh as she stepped into the tub. “That’s a right good question. Better to pose it to Griffon.” The was another pause and the sound of water sloshing. “Though all he’ll likely tell you is that she’s well and that’s all that matters.”