“We should call this place the cottagette.” Malda said.
“Why not? It is for too small for a house, too pretty for a hut, too unusual for a cottage.” I said.
“Cottagette, by all means,” said Lois, seating herself on a porch chair. “But it is a larger than it looks, Mr.Mathews. How do you like it, Malda?”
This so called Cottagette looks like it going to be a cozy and comfortable environment for them to work in. Malda and Lois should be able to have fresh clear thoughts on coming up with great ideas for their work. This should help their artistic minds flourish.
“How about meals?” said Lois
“Its just over yonder, not two minutes walk,” I said; I showed them a little furtive path between the trees to the place where meals were furnished.
As we walked and talked, it seems like Lois was a little skeptical about the place. Like she was not use to this particular environment and is still stuck in the urban area. However, Malda seem to be very fond of this place and adapted to this environment so quickly, as if she has been here for ages. I think she’s really going to like here.
I remember being with them at “High Court”. It was a place that was a summer school of music.
Malda always show a way of how passionate she was as an artist. When I use to sit and watch her come up with her creative idea in “The Calceolaria” to show Lois, she was so amazed with her work. Her eyes was wide open with a smile for ear to ear. However, there would be times that it look like she had doubt in herself and something was holding her back.
Lois was there to help push and guide her through. But it never seems like that was enough. There were times Lios, Malda and I would just use music to help us keep our minds focus on our work. We all like music, which was a powerful statement to us.
I asked her if she would work with me on a piece for a project about her interest in art. But, it never came about.
I would come over to their place and sit with them on the porch to discuss ideas. Also during the daytimes, I would go on long walks with them. We would find our way back to my cave for tea, made on a gipsy fire.
In spending time with Malda and Lois, I became very interested in Malda. I thought she was interested in me too. She started to ask me things such as what are my goals in life, the work I have done, and what were my accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, they are accomplishments but only the beginning. I told her this was all like cutting steps in the ice-wall. It had to be done, but the road was long ahead.
Malda did not think of her work as it was important like Lois’s. She considered it more as a hobby or as if she was doing it in her spare time. I thought her work was exquisite. Someone would consider it as a simple piece but my eye saw something else with Malda’s work that was extreme.
One afternoon Malda and I were talking in my cave while we were drinking tea.
“Where are you from?” Malda said.
I replied. “My family are good western farming people. They’ve been there for many years, so technically we are considered as ‘real Americans’. Growing up on a farm I helped my family feed and clean our animals. By growing crops and catching water from the well. Many days I spent time herding the animals and gathering the many vegetables and crops for supper.”
She was so enthused looking into my eyes, cherishing every word I said. As if she was amazed of where I came from. I had a strong feeling that she was falling for me-and I was falling for her.
I realized the feeling was mutual for me too because I became comfortable with her and talking about my life. I thought to myself what it be like to have a relationship and home with Malda being I did not know a home since I was eighteen.
Later on, I ran into Lois on my way to food court.
She said, “Does this remind you good home cooking and doesn’t it make you slightly feel home sick?”
I told her, “I never known a home since I was eighteen.”
One day when I came over to the cottagette and I noticed a kitchen was installed into the place. Ever since then, I was able to go over to the cottagette for a home cooked meal. It was pleasant to know that I was able to drop in knowing there would always be food. But I noticed Malda was only paying attention to cooking and cleaning. Her artwork ethnicity started to change and was not desirable as it was before.
Malda was an excellent baker, I especially liked her whole wheat bread, hot rolls and gems. I really liked them and other people seem to like them too. There were so many other people coming over to eat supper. There would be so many dishes, I would purposely not help her, hoping it would stop her from cooking and baking. For some reason this never deterred her from making another meal the next evening.
The cottagette was a place that always seem to be busy, full with people and food. Lois mom came over to visit assisting in keeping the place in order. She would have the broom in one hand and duster in the other. Constantly going over the place which seemed quite unnecessary.
I started to come over more and became very close to Malda.
I told Lois, I really enjoyed spending time with her, she is great at cooking and cleaning but most of all I cherished her artistic view.
“Do you really really care for her?” Lois asked inquisitively.
“I really do!” I said without hesitating.
One day I came over early and asked Malda to go up Hugh’s Peak with me.
“But what’s today? Monday. Isn’t it washing day? Theres much to do.” Malda said.
“Never mind that,” I said, “what’s washing day or ironing day or any of that old foolishness to us? This is walking day–that’s what it is.”
The walk took the whole day, Malda enjoyed herself which I was hoping she would.
It was a refreshing day with a slight cool breeze from this summer night. It wouldn’t have been a better day to go.
“Come along!” I said. “We can see as far as Patch Mountain I’m sure. There’ll never be a better day.”
“Is anyone else going?” Malda asked.
“Not a soul. It’s just us. Come.”
She came happily, “Wait, let me put up a lunch.” She said.
“I’ll wait just long enough for you to put on knickers and a short skirt.” said I. “The lunch is all in the basket on my back. I know how long it takes for you women to put up sandwiches and things.”
Malda was pretty pleased with my cooking.
“It tasted better than my own cooking.” She confessed.
I took her down to the spring on a broad ledge to make tea as we normally would do. I wanted her to see the beauty of the sun set, while the moon rises into the sky. And then I turned to her.
“Would you be my wife?”
She looked ecstatic.
“But there’s a condition!” I exclaimed. “You mustn’t cook!”
“What!” said she. Mustn’t cook?”
“No,” said I. “you must give it up–for my sake.”
She looked dumbfounded.
“Yes, I know all about it,” I told. Lois told me. I’ve seen a good deal of Lois since you’ve taken cooking. And since I would talk about you, naturally I learned a lot. She told me how you were brought up, and how strong your domestic instincts were–but bless your artistic soul dear girl, you have some others!” I smiled, “surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.”
“I’ve watched you, dear, all summer,” I went on, “It doesn’t agree with you.”
“Of course the things taste good– but so do my things! I’m a good cook myself. My father was a cook, for years–at good wages. I’m used to it you see.”
“One summer when I was hard up I cooked for a living and saved money instead of starving.”
“O ho!” she said shockingly. “that accounts for the tea and the lunch!”
“And lots of other things,” said I. “But you haven’t done half as much of your lovely work since you started this kitchen business, and you’ll forgive me, dear, it hasn’t been as good. Your work is too good to lose; it is a beautiful and distinctive art, and don’t want you to let it go. What would you think of me if I gave up my long hard years of writing for the easy competence of a well-paid cook!”
She said there quietly as if she was thinking and processing everything I have just said. “But you want to marry me?”
“I want to marry you, Malda,–because I love you–because you are young and strong and beautiful–because you are wild and sweet and fragrant and elusive, like the wildflowers you love. Because you are so truly an artist in your own special way, seeing beauty and giving it to others. I love you because of all of this, because you are rational and high minded and capable of friendship,–and in spite of your cooking.
She asked, “But–how do we want to live?”
“As we did here–at first,” I said. “There was peace, exquisite silence. There was beauty–nothing but beauty. There were the clean wood odors and flowers and fragrances and sweet wild wind. And there was you–your fair self, always delicately dress, with white firm finger sure of touch in delicate true work. I loved you then. When you took to cooking it jarred on me. I have been a cook, I tell you, and know what it is. I hated it to see my wood-flower in a kitchen.”
“But Lois told me about how you were brought up to it and loved it and I said to myself, ‘I love this women; I’ll wait to see if I love her even as a cook.’ And I do, Darling: I withdraw the condition. I will love you always, even if you insist of being my cook for life!”
“O I don’t insist!” She cried. “I don’t want to cook–I want to draw! Drawing is my absolute passion. But I thought Lois said– How she has misunderstood you!”
“It is true, always, my dear,” said I, “that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; at least it’s not the only way. Lois doesn’t know everything,she is young yet!
And perhaps for my sake you can give it up. Can you sweet!?”
She sat there in silence.
And that for me was a thousand words.