The Terrible Tide
The Terrible Tide
FAN ENTERTAINED HERSELF ALL the way home wondering whose husband Claudine Parlett was sneaking out to meet. Since all the husbands in Jugtown dressed pretty much alike in tweed caps and plaid shirts, she had a wide-open field for speculation.
Holly, not knowing any of the men and not giving a hoot anyway, sat gritting her teeth against the lurches and yearning for the hot bath she wouldn't be able to take. The Howes still hadn't been able to afford indoor plumbing.
When they'd made their decision to sell out of the Establishment and move to the Good Life, Fan and Roger had been dismayed to find they really hadn't much to sell. They'd played the status-symbol game like their neighbors even though Roger's salary at the bank had been barely adequate to keep them afloat. Their equity in the Westchester house had been next to nil. Furnishings they couldn't afford to ship had been sacrificed for whatever they'd bring. They'd practically been down to living on roots and berries before Roger landed his first and only customer.
They were still struggling to make ends meet. Holly's contribution to the weekly housekeeping money was already making a difference in the standard of living at Howe Hill. It was as well Fan and Roger didn't know how little was left of that fabulous model's income she'd supposedly been making. Holly had a pretty clear idea of how welcome she'd be once her cash ran out. If she was forced to leave before she healed, though, where could she go?
At least the hideous ride was over. Fan swung the rattling truck into the weedy, unkempt dooryard. Holly tried to heave herself out of the van. The deep slash on her left thigh, kept unhealed and inflamed by overexertion, gave such a wicked twinge that she fell back on the seat with a yelp.
"Hold on, let me give you a hand."
That was Roger's lone assistant, Bert Walker, the only one around here who ever appeared to remember that Holly was a human being with genuine medical problems. In fact, for an old gaffer who looked, smelled, and often talked like a hobo, Bert could show surprising gallantry. Holly sometimes wondered what his history had been. In any event, as long as she managed to keep upwind of him, Holly enjoyed Bert's company more than anyone else's she'd met so far in Jugtown.
Bert was her authority on local history. According to him, the first settlers were Loyalists who fled Boston around 1776. Among them were potters who sailed up the Bay of Fundy looking for a clay pit at which to establish themselves as makers of fine chinaware. They'd found some clay; but soon learned nobody in this wilderness cared about fine china, only heavy crocks to salt down their food in, and sturdy jugs to hold their drink.
Since the growing season was shorter than the drinking season, jugs sold better than crocks. Within a few years, the potters were concentrating on this one profitable item, and their settlement had become known as Jugtown.
The clay pit had been worked out long ago, but Jugtown hung on. Nowadays some of the locals were trying to capitalize on its quaint name, hoping to attract more tourists. So far, they hadn't. The antique dealers, the knitters and weavers and rug hookers, the whittlers who carved little sea gulls and perched them on bits of driftwood still had to rely on shops in more popular resort areas as outlets. Right now, Roger Howe seemed to be the only craftsman around who wasn't worrying about where he could sell his products.
Fan took credit for the recent upturn in the Howes' fortunes. It was she who'd pawned her engagement ring to pay for advertisements in a couple of antique collectors' magazines, and it was through one of those ads that they'd got in touch with Mrs. Brown.
Mrs. Brown, according to what Holly had been able to gather from Fan, was an interior decorator who specialized in doing period rooms for the rich and the even richer