|Mended by Moonlight|
So far, all she had been required to do was nod and attempt to smile, and drink sweet tea as she nibbled on a cookie. Then Mrs. Costain turned her body slightly in Ella Ruth's direction.
"Have you been widowed for long, my dear?"
Ella Ruth's hand shook and she hastened to set down her tea cup. "More than six months, ma'am."
The woman smiled brightly at her. "Oh. Isn't it about time you looked for another husband?"
The woman's words sent shock cascading through her body until it left her numb. Ella Ruth attempted to subdue the anger that followed. She drew in a large volume of air, then answered slowly. "I do not feel haste is in order, ma'am."
"But six months! If you wait much longer, all the eligible men will be snapped up."
"Many of our men have died, ma'am," Ella Ruth pointed out, her back so stiff that pain radiated into her.
"Oh, but I expect many a young man from the North to arrive presently, seeking a new place to make a start. My husband has several excellent properties to offer. Who else can afford to buy them?"
Although she tried to master it, Ella Ruth's outrage must have been apparent to her mother, for she quickly gave an answer.
"I'm sure my daughter will seek a husband when she is ready, Mrs. Costain." She set down her own cup and brushed at her lap. "I thank you for the pleasant visit. We must be on our way." She rose and beckoned to Ella Ruth. "Come, my dear. We have other visits to make."
Departing as rapidly as she could, Ella Ruth waited on the stoop for her mother to bid Mrs. Costain farewell, then accompanied her to the buggy.
"The nerve of that woman," Momma said, tossing her head with enough force to make the feathers on her hat dance.
Ella Ruth took her hand and pressed it. Momma had some sympathies for her after all.
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