"It is as quiet as an old maid's bedroom around here today, Hanna. Where is everybody?"
Hanna wiped her floured hands on her apron, turned bright red, and pushed stray strands of curly brown hair off her forehead. "Well, it is one of them days, ain't it? More like winter outside than summer, if you ask me, Mr. Patterson. Makes everyone want to stay in their rooms, I suppose. Mr. Howard is still under the weather. The Doctor has ordered him to his bed for the day."
"I just had a word with him. Where is Lucy?"
"Miss Lucy is reading in the library," a Howard maid answered as she joined them in the kitchen. "She said she has a headache and is going back to bed. Mrs. Howard is down with another migraine. I had to give her two of her powders. She'll be out like a light for hours."
"Makes for an easy day for you, though, right Jane?" Peter Patterson smiled at her, "Whatever do you do with all your free time, I wonder?"
Jane ignored him and poured a cup from the teapot.
"It is the weather!" Hanna nodded knowingly towards the window, "Cold, rain, and fog! Puts us all low, it does!"
"Yes, well, some of us have to be out and about ... unfortunately!" Peter said, adjusting his hat and taking an umbrella from the stand.
"You ain't never going out in that, are ya?" Hanna asked.
"Things to see to, my dear. I will not be here for luncheon. Eventually I have to go into town so I am not too sure about dinner either. Good day, ladies!" He smiled, took a ring of keys from a peg on the wall, and went out into the inclement weather.
"Oh, he is a sweet one, he is!" Hanna laughed, "All that yellow hair and that lovely smile! If I weren't married and ten years younger, I'd have a go at him."
"Twenty years would be more like it," Jane sneered.
"Not that much, Jane."
"Then have a go at him, Hanna! From what I can tell, Mr. Peter Patterson doesn't mind much just as long as it's female."
"Jane! That is a terrible thing to say. He has always been a right gentleman with me."
"Well, that says a lot, don't it, Hanna? Guess he ain't at all interested in you. Can't tell you how many times he has tried to feel me up. The man is a pig, take it from me, I know," Jane sniffed and left the kitchen.
"Cow!" Hanna muttered, turning her attention back to her floured worktable.
"Bloody weather!" Peter exclaimed as he closed the cottage door behind him. He dropped the umbrella, hung his coat on a wall peg, and stepped into the dimly lit sitting room. "You here?" he called out, "Oh, there you are! Look, it is damn freezing in here. There is some coal in the hearth so I am going to light a fire. No one will see the smoke with all this fog." He took a box of matches from his jacket pocket and knelt in front of the fireplace. "Then you and I are going to have a much needed talk. I cannot tell you how tired I am of your .... "
Peter did not see the iron poker as it came down with force across his forehead. He did not feel any pain as it shattered his temple bone. There was just a sudden nothingness; the world went silent, cold, and dark.
After a brief moment that seemed to him to be ages he stood, stumbled slightly, and squinted in the semi-darkness. Peter did not like what he saw. Something was not right. He decided he would not be a party to it at all. "It is the fucking weather! It is always the fucking weather! Why is it always raining and cold in this damn country? It messes up my thoughts. I am confused right now but when my mind and the weather clear, I am just going to go back to my room and sleep for a bit." He turned away from the ghastly scene and moved to the sitting room window. "I will just stand right here, watch the weather, and wait for things to get back to normal."
He was still standing there the next day. It was sunny and warm but Peter was still confused and waiting to feel normal again. He saw Jane and Hanna walking across the Howard garden towards the cottage. Hanna was shaking her head and Jane was talking. He did not like Jane. She was always saying something stupid. She was still talking when Hanna opened the cottage door. There was something wrong with his ears, he could not hear them, and he was glad for that.
He watched as the two women stood briefly looking down at the floor. Then it seemed as though Jane was screaming. Thank God his ears were not working. Hanna pulled Jane out of the cottage. They ran back to the house. "Good! Now they will get someone here to clean up this mess. Just as long as they leave me alone. All I need to do is watch the weather and wait for my thoughts to clear."
More people came and went; Samuel Howard, red faced and angry, Helen Howard crying and leaning on her oldest son. There were strange men with sour expressions, writing in notebooks and stiff looking policemen. They all seemed to be looking for something. "Why did they need cops? All they really needed to do was clean up that mess!"
He saw them coming with a stretcher and a blanket. They put the mess on the stretcher, covered it with the blanket, and took it away. Peter nodded as they moved across the lawn. It was about time that someone did that. The gardener came, rolled up the carpet, and took it away. "That is better, much better. Now I be alone and have time to think."
Days turned to weeks and they passed into months. The shade of Peter Patterson stayed at the side of the cottage window watching the weather, waiting for his mind to clear and to feel normal again.