The story so far:
“Tommy, will you go down into the basement and check the furnace. I think it went out again.” The frail looking woman did not look up from her knitting as they entered the room, her hands fairly flying through the bright blue yarn.
“I’ll take a look at it for you, Mrs. Shoes.” He winked at Renni, his deep voiced louder than usual. The others had gone their separate ways when they entered the camp, all promising to check up on her shortly.
Renni took in her surroundings, awed at the difference from her nights in the hotels back in the city or even her small camps in the mountains. The tent was a fairly large space, peaked in the center and tall enough for Thomas to stand without having to duck. There were two cots, one on either side, at the end of which sat a footlocker. Dividing the two beds was a wooden crate used as a sort of table. On it sat a small tin cup of steaming liquid and a half finished bowl of something Renni couldn't quite make out. Above her, a lantern hung from the center of the ceiling, swinging back and forth in the cool breeze that wafted through the open tent flaps behind them.
Mrs. Shoes sat on one of the cots, surrounded by mounds of different balls and skeins of yarn. Wisps of white and silver bobbed up and down as her hands moved, the hair having escaped the tight bun on her head. Renni smiled, thinking how warm and welcoming a picture her roommate looked. She half expected to see a rocking chair in the midst of the tent and felt slightly disappointed that it wasn’t there. She felt that Mrs. Shoes would feel far more comfortable working in a chair than sitting on her cot.
Mrs. Shoes’ locker was open revealing more yarn, knitting needles, and a few books. Renni noted the gilded pages of a well worn bible amongst the woman’s possessions. There was also a small photo album, what one might have considered a brag-book. On the other cot, Renni saw a few folded blankets and a pillow as well as a deep green knitted throw, most certainly a gift from the aged but lovely woman working adeptly with the two long knitting needles.
“Thank you, dear. If you can’t fix it, try asking Carter. He’s a wonder with things like that.” She finished a row and finally looked up, pale blue eyes flashing with spirit and life. “Oh, you must be my Marshal’s girl.” The elderly woman stood slowly and extended her arms to Renni. She accepted the hug, encouraged by Thomas’ half smile.
“Marshal’s girl?” Renni asked, her voice barely a whisper so the elderly woman could not hear.
“I’ll explain later,” Thomas whispered back, accepting his own grandmotherly hug from the woman. “What’re you working on now, Mrs. Shoes?” he asked, speaking loudly once more. He picked up the bright blue mass of yarn that had yet to take any discernable shape or form.
“Tommy, where are your manners.” Mrs. Shoes slapped his hand gently with one of her knitting needles. He dropped the blue yarn, his face a mix of mock hurt and barely restrained laughter. “Offer this lovely young girl some refreshment. I would get it for you, my dear, but my old joints do ache in this cold.”
Renni smiled sweetly. “That’s alright, Mrs. Shoes. I just had something on our way here.” She sat on her cot and Thomas sat beside her. Mrs. Shoes picked up her yarn and again hands and needles flew with amazing speed.
“Keeps me busy, my dear.” She paused long enough to point out the green blanket. “Marshal didn’t know your favorite color but the way he talked of you I supposed it would be green. It is green?”
“Yes, it is.” Renni did have a fondness for green. “Marshal talks about me?” she asked Thomas, half skeptical.
Thomas nodded. “In his own way. He told us about you when he rescued us. Like I told you earlier, he’s quite taken with you.”
“Yes, and who wouldn’t be?” Mrs. Shoes interjected. “Just look at the dear, Tommy. It’s a pity Marshal snatched her up. You need to settle down, the both of you.” She turned to Renni. “Ruffians my Tommy and Marshal, always getting into trouble. Good boys but they need a woman by their side. I’m so glad Marshal found you. Now we just need to get our Tommy a good girl.” Her hands paused. “You don’t happen to have any sisters, do you?”
Renni stifled a laugh. “I have two sisters, both younger. But they’re pretty far away.” Her face fell at the thought of her family. “I haven’t seen them in so long. It’s been a little over a year now, I think.”
“That’s too long to go without family, dear.” Mrs. Shoes leaned over and patted Renni’s hands. “But you have family here now. My Marshal will take good care of you now.”
“Is it alright that Renni stay with you a while, Mrs. Shoes?” Thomas asked. “At least for the time being?”
“Of course. It is only right and proper, seeing as the young couple isn’t married yet.” Renni nearly choked but managed to compose herself. Again, Mrs. Shoes patted Renni’s hands. “Now, my dear, what size do you wear? I have this soft moss colored cotton that is just the thing to bring out the light in your eyes.”