Tea and biscuits
“Time for tea Muriel,” said Hazel. “And make sure the milk is not curdled. Yesterday the milk was curdled.”
Muriel shuffled to the icebox. She took out the small carton of milk and sniffed. “Oh bother, you’re right. It has gone bad, Hazel. I don’t have the energy or time or money to get more til tomorrow. We’ll have to make do without. Just a biscuit and maybe a lemon with our tea today.” She filled the kettle and set it to heat and gathered the tea cups.
“Oh stuff and feathers. I hate when we don’t have milk for the tea. And do you have the biscuits we like Muriel? You know we like the lemon curd ones. They are the best. And the Earl Gray tea goes best with them. And make sure you use the tea cups from Great Aunt Betty. They are the ones she gave us before she passed to the great tea party in the sky.” Hazel watched as Muriel prepared the tea.
“Yes, yes, Hazel. I do know how to do the tea. Would you please quit being so bossy. You would think I had never done this before. Tea will be ready in a few moments my dear.”
Muriel readied the biscuits on a china plate that matched the china cups. She placed a few lemon wedges on the plates that matched each tea cup. The kettle whistled a tune and Hazel yelled.
“The water is ready! Hurry Muriel before it cools! And don’t forget to turn off the gas. Remember you left it on yesterday and I had to remind you.”
“Alright Hazel, I hear it. I hear it.”
Muriel shuffled to the stove and turned off the gas, took the kettle to the teapot and poured the water under Hazel’s critical gaze. All was now ready and waiting as the tea brewed.
Hazel and Muriel sat at the kitchen table and waited for teatime to begin.
In the parlor, Jake stood and listened to this. He’d snuck into the house through the front door. It had been unlocked and he thought the house was empty until he heard voices from the kitchen. Now he stood quietly and pondered his next move. There were two women in there. He had no weapon. How would he get out of this? All he wanted were a few pieces of silver or jewelry or some money. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, least of all women.
Jake tiptoed to the kitchen entrance. He peeked in. Sitting at the table was an old woman. On her lap was a striped orange and white cat. He looked around the rest of the kitchen. Where was the other woman? Maybe she went down to the cellar, or into the pantry or just around a corner. He stepped back and thought about how to proceed.
“I think the tea is ready, Muriel. Time for tea. Let’s have tea.” Hazel’s strident voice woke Muriel from her short cat-nap.
Muriel shuffled to the counter and brought the tea tray to the table. She placed the cups and plate and teapot on the table.
“All is now ready, Hazel. We can now start our teatime.” Muriel sat back down and Hazel joined her.
Jake now heard the woman talking again. He looked into the kitchen again. He again saw one woman and a cat at the table. Where was the other woman? He had to find out, weapon or not. He rushed into the kitchen.
“Hold up your hands! No funny business!”
Muriel yelled and dropped her cup. Hazel screeched and lunged for Jake’s throat.
“Get this cat off me!” yelled Jake. He tried to pull off the striped orange and white cat. But the harder he tried, the more Hazel’s claws dug into his neck.
“Hazel! Let go of the young man!”
Hazel let go of Jake and jumped down. She hissed and ran under the table.
“Yikes, lady. What in the world. Where is the other woman you were talking to?” Jake rubbed his neck and wiped off a bit of blood.
“There’s no one else here. Who are you? Why are you in my house?”
“I came to rob you.”
Muriel laughed. “Young man, I have nothing here of any value. I don’t even have any money to buy milk for our tea.” She pointed to a chair. “Why not have a seat. Hazel and I were just about ready to have our tea before you interrupted us. Let me just get another cup.”
Jake sat down. Soon he was drinking tea with Muriel, sharing stories, and petting Hazel the striped orange and white bossy cat.