“You are so sweet,” she’d said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Yes. I can go home with you. But… No love. I’ve never been like this.” Then her hands scrubbed her face vigourously. “No..lovemaking, I mean. I’m sorry. I can’t be this weak. I’ve too much to do.”
It is disquieting in the extreme to see her friend Scarlet so overset. She’d not been eating much and drinking rather too much laudanum. The strain was clearly beginning to rattle her apart from the inside.
“Oh Scarlet… Love doesn’t make you weak. It’s what makes you strong.” That Merri could say such a thing after Henrik should have been adequate on its own, really. “Just come home with me. We don’t have to do anything you don’t wish to do — but blast it, you need to rest! Let me take care of you as a sister would, then. Let’s go…. ”
And go they had, Merri so concerned for her friend’s state that she hailed a cab to take them both back to her townhouse. Esther hadn’t expected her mistress back so soon, but rolled with the changes as any professional in her position would, accepting the requests for food and drink, and to not be disturbed otherwise. Merri whisked Scarlet up the stairs, one arm about her waist tenderly, then seated her on the divan with care before moving about the room to start the victrola, gather pillows, and otherwise make her dearest friend as comfortable as she could.
If Scarlet ever had any doubts that Merri’s “mothering instincts” had been fully activated, they’ll likely be put to rest immediately! “We’ve just gotten some fresh surface food, Cook should be preparing us a good luncheon. I guess it’s fall in England, the apples are ripening. Here,” she says, pressing a cup of hot tea into her friend’s hands.