Expecting to see a plate of goodies on the table, or the bench, I was surprised the wire trays were the only signs of the baking marathon. Wasn't it only a few minutes previous Hester had called us in? Knowing, as we did, she had spent much of the morning baking, was it abnormal for us to expect a small sample?
Instead Phil stood near his wife, a look of helplessness across his features. Glancing towards him I opened my mouth to enquire what was wrong when suddenly I noticed tears rolling down Niece's cheeks, running into a rivulet on her chin, and dripping onto the bodice of her dress. No sound erupted from her; just the tears which showed no sign of abating. Phil shrugged his shoulders inferring he had no idea what the problem was, and indicating he didn't know what to do. Men! So often they abdicate the real emotions of life. It was plain to me. Niece had a particularly emotional week or two, culminating with the showdown at Mrs Over-the-Street's afternoon tea soiree. I could have informed him that women can hold themselves together in times of family crisis; often it is a matter of having to! Once the dust settles the 'little woman' allows herself to relax, and it is at that stage the happenings of the recent past flood the mind and tears are needed to wash the hurt away. But I didn't tell him. He wouldn't have understood.
Instead I flicked the electric kettle on, suggested Phil find cups and coffee, or tea, and perhaps put a couple of those delicious gingernuts on a plate and take the lot into the dining room. We would sit at a table; we would work through this situation. Phil realising he was roped in to an emotional moment, abdicated faster than a greyhound at the final post. He grabbed his cup, placed two biscuits on the saucer, and headed out to his shed; his escape.
Oh well, Dear Diary, it seemed that this morning was one for the girls. I steered Niece into the dining room, placed the biscuits in the centre of the table, moving the crystal bowl full of apples and oranges and bananas to the far edge, returned to the kitchen for a tray with milk and sugar, the tea pot and two good cup from the tea set. This morning was not going to degenerate into a slap-up cuppa.
Niece pulled herself together, as I knew she would. She played mother, pouring the tea with aplomb, and smilingly passed a cup and saucer to me that I accepted with thanks. There are occasions, Dear Diary, when a display of culture over-rides the most painful of life's experiences. Why tea and biscuits falls high in that category I have no idea.
Niece sipped on the tea, nibbled on the biscuit. "Go on Hester," I said, "dunk it!"
She looked shocked! Dunking gingernuts had not become commonplace in this household! It was funny Dear Diary, but Niece dunked those biscuits like an old hand! To my mind it appeared she was an old hand at dunking! Each day brings a new discovery!
Later, completely recovered, Niece haltingly tried to explain her tears. I halted her explanation, assuring her that recent days would make anyone weepy. She reached over the table and clasped my hand ... there was no need for further words.