The Twins

How long had it been since the twins had come it seemed like days on end. She tried to count them but struggled to keep track.

THE TWINS

JOHN AND RUTH

 

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The twins never cried not ever. They never cried to be fed or to be changed or to be cuddled. Instead, they just stared at Ruth with those creepy golden eyes and demanded to be fed or changed, or cuddled. Poor Ruth, she was rushed of her feet. If wasn’t one twin demanding something then it was the other. And of course, John was no help at all. He’d come in and take one of the girls and hold them clumsily, and the baby would turn to Ruth and stare, silently demanding that Ruth come and rescue her from this great clumsy brute. And Ruth would take Charlotte or Clementine or whichever twin it was, Ruth couldn’t be entirely sure which was which, and see to what they wanted.

What is the point of men, Ruth asked herself crossly as John would hand back the child. If it was left to them we’d all die of neglect.

But to be fair to John, every night he would take his violin out and play soft melodies to the girls until they slept. Ruth had to admit he was very talented, and in his own way very caring with the girls. Especially as they were not his. It’s not every one that would take on two children that didn’t belong to them even considering how pretty Ruth was.

Thank goodness for Aggie. The twins seemed a little afraid of her, and when they stared at Aggie in that way, she would say, “Dinnae glower at me like that, lassie.”

But she was good and kind to the girls, and to Ruth. She would take away the soiled napkins and boil them over the fire, then dry them out on a line over the kitchen garden. She made Ruth bone broth and mutton, and oatmeal porridge for the babies.

“Here, lassie, have a mouthful. It will keep your strength up and goodness you need it with those two.”

How long had it been since the twins had come it seemed like days on end. She tried to count them but struggled to keep track.

Goodness, she thought to herself, six months, that can’t be right.

But when she asked Aggie, it turned out it was. She had barely set foot out of John’s mother’s cottage for six months.

“The girls are getting big,” Aggie said. “When spring comes you’ll be wanting to take them out. I hae John git ye a perambulator. Then ye can go oot up to Blackheath or over to Vauxhall gardens.”

The thought of Vauxhall Gardens was quite appealing. Spring wasn’t far away. In Aggie’s garden the snowdrops were just pushing their heads out of the bare soil.

“That’s a great idea,” said Ruth.

“Or mibbie John will take ye tae yon race course he spends so much of his time at,” suggested Aggie.

“So that’s where he’s been going every day,” said Ruth.

John would get up every morning and get dressed, kiss her on the forehead and then head off out. She always meant to ask him what he’d been getting up to but somehow she always forgot, what with all the work she had to do with the twins. But it seemed to be going well whatever John was upto. Every night when he came back, he’d be grinning and jingling coins in his pocket. And frequently smelling of beer.

“Ye best put them somewhere safe,” Aggie would tell John.

“Hush mother,” John would say. “I’m a grown man and can look after myself.” But Ruth knew that money was like water in John’s hands. Every night when he went to sleep, she’d go through his pockets and put half of whatever money he had into an old chanty pot that she kept under the bed. I just hope he never decided to use it during the night, Ruth thought. Most of the time, John never noticed, but if he had only a few coins left he would count them and look quizzically. Ruth remained stoic faced. Well, she told herself, someone needs to be responsible, besides he doesn’t think all of his dinners come for free surely.

Once the chanty pot was full, Ruth needed a better place to hide their savings. She told herself that’s what they were; savings not stealing. I’m doing it for his own good, besides, what’s his is mine

Ruth decided to ask Aggie where to hide the money. Perhaps she has a good stout box to put it in.

When Ruth told Aggie about the money she had saved, Aggie laughed out loud.

“I kent you were up for that laddie. He can haud his drink, but he cannae haud his coin. Ye hae the right idea. No doubt it will come in handy.”

“But have you something to put it in?” asked Ruth.

“There’s a kirst wie some o’ John’s auld things in it by the stand. Pull it over and we’ll clear room for it in there.”

Ruth tried to lug the chest over to the bed, but it was too heavy.

“Oot the way,” said Aggie, and with one hand, lifted the chest. Aggies muscles flexed and bulged.

My goodness, thought Ruth, she’s like an Amazon. I would not like to get on the wrong side of her.

Aggie opened the chest which was full to the brim with all sorts of stuff. Mostly it looked like old clothes. And sure enough, the chest contained several old army uniforms from John’s army days, a drum and a set of medals.

“That one’s for bravery,” said Aggie. Pointing to a golden one. “He got that for his part in the relief of Mafeking. He was always a daft boy, running away to the army for a shilling. Him being a Stuart and aw’ he should have had a commission.”

“So what will we do with his old uniforms?” Ruth asked. “There’s no point in keeping them; he’s clearly grown a lot taller since he was in the army.” Ruth help up a soldier’s tunic that would have fitted a twelve year old boy.

“Aye,” said Aggie. “It’s been a while since he left and I’ve no had the heart to throw them oot. He was a braw wee laddie for sure. Still, as you say there’s no point keeping them.”

Aggie lifted the uniforms from the trunk and there at the bottom of the trunk was the strangest thing.

“What’s that?” asked Ruth, but before she could look closely at it, the twins began to cry.

End of part Ten

Part 1: First Class 

Part 2: Closer Aquinatence

Part 3: The Serpent Ring

Part 4: The Violin 

Part 5: The Moving Picture House 

Part 6: The Savage and The Ape

Part 7: HISSSSS

Part 8: He’s Not Coming Back

Part 9: The Arrival

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