Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 2

Simon closed the cash register with a resolute snap and turned away from Gideon's disbelieving gaze.
Here was a pretty outcome! He, Simon Thambisa had just disbursed 18.000 Rand for a woman he did not know. Money he would never get back…

Now what?

The woman - Pearl, her name was Pearl! - stood looking lost and frightened in the midst of Simon’s treasures.

“Miss Chabalala, you are free. You can go.”

“I have no-where to go.” The voice was soft, low - and indeed Jonas Katana was a worthless liar, for it was smooth and cultured.

“Mr. Gideon will take you to the bus,” Simon shuddered inwardly at the added expense, “I will buy you a ticket home. You can go home, to your family.”

“I have no home to go to, and I have a debt to you. I will repay you, work it off. As Mr. Katana said, I am strong and healthy. I will be your maid.”

“I don’t want a maid!”

The woman -Pearl! - folded her hands primly before her. “Sir, I am an honourable woman. I repay my debts. You have saved me, Sir. Saved my life, rescued me.”

“Rescued?” Simon Thambisa was astounded. He could not believe his rash and impulsive- and ruinously expensive - act could be construed as a “rescue”. “Rescues” were heroic and dashing, and cost nothing except courage.

“Yes Sir. I will work for you, Sir. Be maid to your wife, or your mother.”

“I don’t have a wife!” Simon had spent years dodging the attentions of several acquisitive and greedy potentially expensive Ladies with their eyes on his considerable assets. The idea of a wife was enough to send him into panic. “No wife! No women in my life.”

“Sir, then you surely need a maid.” Her tone was respectful but firm, and brooked no argument. Simon could not believe this was the same down-trodden, terrified woman of half an hour ago. The woman who had cringed under Jonas Katala’s fists was suddenly deciding on his life.

Gideon snickered behind her, his lustrous face wreathed in a huge grin.

And that was that.

Simon Thambisa led Pearl Chabalala upstairs to his Refuge, his Man-Cave. At the door, it seemed his hands refused to work, he fumbled at the key-hole, dropped his keys, had trouble turning the door-knob with sweaty palms. 

Finally, the door was open, and he stepped back to let a woman - a woman! - into his house and his life for the very first time.

He led her to the kitchen, watched her carefully set her suitcase down, and start opening cupboards, softly humming in approval at the carefully stacked pots and pans, the gleaming piles of dishes.

Pear opened the grocery cupboard and frowned, as she ran her eyes over the sparse contents: a packet of corn flour, tea a few tins of tuna and sausages, a packet of Marie Biscuits, an old tin of Five Roses tea and a bag of sugar.

“Mr. Simon, there is no food.”

Simon Thambisa felt himself blush. “I wasn’t expecting visitors, Miss Chabalala.”

“I am not a visitor Sir, I am you maid. And this is not adequate food for a working man. I will need money for groceries Sir.”

Money! She wanted money! Simon choked on a sharp retort. He reached into his pocket and drew out his wallet. He pulled out a wad of money without counting it and handed it to her. With any luck, she would take it and run, vanish from his life. Pearl accepted it with a graceful bow.

“Where will I sleep Sir?”

Sleep? Simon stared down at her horrified. Sleep? There was no bed in the house but his.

He cleared his throat, “This way Miss Chabalala.” He led her down the corridor to the end room, the furthest from his, with another bedroom and a bathroom in between. He opened the door on the empty room. It was clean and dust-free. There was a chair in a corner and a built in cupboard. That was all.

“I will ask Mr. Gideon to bring up a bed from the store-room, and a mattress. There should be sheets and blankets in the linen cupboard…”

“Thank you Sir, this is very fine.”

Simon stood in the doorway, without knowing what to do or say.

“I must go back to the Shop.”

“Yes Sir, and I will shop for dinner, set things to rights.”

“Oh!” Simon fumbled at his key-chain, “you will need the key. Here, be sure to lock up tight. I have a spare set at the shop…”

“Thank you Sir. You will not regret your kindness to me, Sir, I swear it.”

She smiled, a sweet sunny smile that transformed her face and did something odd to Simon’s insides.
He tramped down the stairs with an answering silly smile wreathing his face.

Simon Thambisa - confirmed bachelor, and a miser to boot  - had just given a strange woman money, the keys to his house, and unequivocal entry into his Spartan life...

Manuela Cardiga


No comments:

Post a Comment