Novel PASTimes: Can you tell me about your parents?
Novel PASTimes: Do you have siblings?
Abby: Dead, as far as I know, or worse
Novel PASTimes: How would you describe yourself?
Abby: I’m nobody special. I’m too pale, almost sickly looking, compared to that young nanny the Babbitts hired. I’m someone who’s been knocked about by life, but I’m still standing, crooked though I might be.
Novel PASTimes: What are your fears?
Abby: Children are a blessing from God, but after being with child six times in nine years, I’m plumb worn out. My body can’t handle another one.
Novel PASTimes: What do people like best about you?
Abby: I’m a good cook, nothing fancy, just plain, hearty food.
Novel PASTimes: What’s your favorite food and drink?
Abby: Well, who doesn’t love fried chicken, dumplings, dressing, and butterbeans, with biscuits fresh from the oven? Biscuits are probably my favorite, cooked in an iron skillet. Take a hot one off the plate, slather it with freshly churned butter, and add a little apple jelly, and there ain’t nothing better.
Fried apple tarts are a close second. Why, they’re just biscuit dough filled with apples and fried up — almost like that biscuit with jelly.
For drink, I reckon a fresh glass of buttermilk.
Novel PASTimes: Do you read books?
Abby: I never had much time for reading, not with all the work I’ve had to do — cleaning house, doing laundry, taking care of babies. Being pregnant six times in nine years took a toll on me. With young’ns around all the time, pulling on my apron strings, I never found much time to read.
Novel PASTimes: What would a great gift for you be?
Abby: Well, Joshua gave me the perfect gift. After my husband ran off, and the doc wanted me off my feet for the last month of my confinement, I figured I could at least do a little sewing. Joshua bought me a sewing basket. Not only the basket but all colors of thread and lots of needles and thimbles — he overdid it, but it about made my heart burst wide open.
Novel PASTimes: When are you happy?
Abby: I’ve had a rough life but there’s been some happy moments. My husband didn’t like crying children, and I often walked down to the pasture where the horses are kept. Funny thing, those horses quieted down my children, and somehow, quieted my spirit, too.
Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?
Abby: I swung a frying pan upside a fella’s head. He deserved it, but I didn’t kill him.
Novel PASTimes: Do you have a secret?
Abby: Yes, no one knows what happened to me ’cause I ain’t ready to talk about it yet.
Novel PASTimes: Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you.
Abby: My husband ran off with the Babbitts housekeeper. You know how folks are. I heard their whispers, blaming me for not keep my husband happy at home, all except for Joshua and his family. They’ve been dear friends to me.
You can purchase Abby and Joshua on Amazon.
Excerpt from Abby and Joshua
Mrs. Franklin entered her room with a young lady. “I’d brought Miss Williams by to meet you.”
Abby’s heart sank. Miss Williams couldn’t have been more than twenty and had a vibrant beauty. Her aqua-colored eyes contrasted with her dark, glossy hair, mostly pulled sedately back in a bun. Sprigs of curly hair framed her perfect face. Rosy cheeks and naturally pink lips made her a picture of health and vitality. Abby touched her own lips, remembering how pale they’d appeared only a minute before when she’d seen herself in the mirror.
She became aware the two ladies awaited her response. “How do you do, Miss Williams? Please let me know if my children do not attend properly to their lessons.”
“Oh, I’ve met your children! They’ll do fine, I’m sure. And such beautiful children! Your daughter looks so much like you.”
“Thank you,” she said automatically. She wasn’t sure Miss Williams spoke the truth. Susie looked a lot like George as did Tait. Wade favored her the most.
“I’m so sorry you’re confined to bed. I’ll come back to visit when I can,” Miss Williams said.
Abby smiled and nodded. “Your company would be a pleasure.”
“I must hurry back to the children now. We begin our first lesson today. It was so nice to meet you, Mrs. Harrington.” Miss Williams gave a smile, revealing straight white teeth and hurried away.
Mrs. Franklin fetched the breakfast tray and set it across Abby’s knees. “Now, what would you like to talk about?”
“Are you from around here?” Abby asked.
“About ten miles south, as the crow flies. My husband and I had a small place, big enough for the two of us. God never blessed us with children. My husband passed last year, and I moved into town. When I saw this place needed a cook, I knew the Lord truly answers prayer. So, here I am!” She beamed at Abby and without prompting continued. “When I heard children lived here and a baby, with another on the way, my joy could not be contained. I love the wee ones so!”
A nod and smile was all that was needed for Mrs. Franklin to prattle on. Abby ate her breakfast, one of the best meals she’d ever tasted, and thought of Joshua. Miss Williams would be perfect for him. She was beautiful and young, and most importantly, not encumbered with a bushel of children. Why would Abby even think for a moment he’d be interested in her?
Any attention he’d shown was simple pity. Her husband had run off with the housekeeper, and gossip was rampant on the ranch. He’d merely felt sorry for her and tried to be kind. Obviously, he was a God-fearing man.
Anyway, if she did like him, as she admitted she did, she’d only want his happiness at heart. Miss Williams would make him far happier than she ever could. And once he got a look at her, he’d never give Abby a second glance.
About the Author: At the age of ten, Sheila Hollinghead discovered a treasure trove of books hiding in the furnace room of her family’s house. These books, westerns, mysteries, fantasy, and the classics, opened her mind to the power of story.
Being the daughter of a soldier, she lived many places, none home until she returned to south Alabama. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and two cats near the farms where her ancestors lived and loved.