Friday, April 4, 2014

Peggy's Old China Charger

Peggy's Old China Charger

            Peggy Abbott (see her earlier posts by label) called up two days after Baxter’s visit.  She said she was “coming over”.  I supposed the word of Baxter’s glassware sale to me was moving through the local trade.  Baxter would tell Jim Hutton of it… especially after discovering that the glassware was “better” than he thought.  Hutton, in order to avoid contacting me directly, would speak with Peggy, whose judgment on glassware he trusts.  Peggy would call and say she was “coming over”.
            To see Baxter’s glassware sale.
            I presumed.
            I was wrong:  “OH yes we’ll get to that but first I want to look around.” meaning a wandering tour of the gardens with and without my wife.  That took place; both tours.  When she had settled our garden state and amplified that settlement verbally with my wife, she hunted me down and found me loading a vehicle for the flea market the next morning.  Baxter’s glassware was with the other glassware in the “glass shed”.  I bowed out of the hatchback of the car and said we should go there to see it.
            “No” she says.  “I am here because I have something to SELL to YOU”.
            “To me? What?” I said carefully reminding myself that a “Peggy selling something” …may not be “good”.  Not good as an object or… for me.
            “I’ll show you.  Go sit down.”  Sitting down was a few close at hand and under a maple tree in the shade …old plastic lawn chairs… upon a… very large and soft bed… of moss.  When it is hot on a late afternoon, I sit there and do nothing.  Very occasionally someone such as Peggy “coming by” discovers this can be done and is very pleasant so… forever after… includes this “go sit down” as part of their visit.  I sat down.  Peggy went to her car and then joined me carrying something wrapped in an old bed sheet.
            “Helen Cransmore…you know her…  She says her daughter is going to get married to that boyfriend of hers.  THE DREADFUL NEWS she’s calling it.  I gather it has been developing for YEARS.  All well for her to say I thought for the poor girl has got to escape somehow.  But… I am told by Helen… no one approves of Reggie.  Reginald.  Reggie to all I guess.
            “She says he can’t even sit up straight in a chair.  Just LIES in them she says.  LIES there looking around like an accountant she says.  Tallying everything up she says.  LIES there with his popped collar and smelly old wet boat shoes with no socks.  She told him they SMELL.  Old, wet and SMELLS she told him.  Sit UP she said.  He did she said but then he… BROKE THE CHINA.
            “He didn’t actually BREAK anything but what he said to her about her china BROKE IT FOR HIM.  Now you know how Helen is and even the worst get the best so she’d presented the cookies on her… THIS!” said Peggy rapidly removing the sheet from a brilliant dark blue Staffordshire circular charger of the Boston State House.  She handed it forcefully to me.  I took it.  This is a rare and breathtaking form of American Historical Staffordshire.  Fifteen inches in diameter it blasts the viewing eye with the classic State House scene… including cows AND a wheelbarrow in the foreground …  with the LARGE and in the round form creating an amplified and authoritative proper New England taste… definition.  “Stunning” particularly for serving cookies.

            “When the cookies were gone she asked him his opinion of her charger.  “THAT?” he questioned.  “A dish?” he said to her.  When Helen didn’t respond he asked her “What do you do with it?”… and lay back down she says.  I came by later that day and she was still mad as a hornet.  “DISASTER” she says.  I tried to explain that it will be fine in time but she hears nothing.  “The Dreadful News” she says.  Then she says to me “he’ll never see that again” pointing to the charger.  I say what do you mean.  She says I’m selling it. Well, no I say.  We all love it I say.  WE all know what it is I say.  But THAT is not his grubby little hands and smelly feet she says.  I’ll sell it ALL first she says.
            “And I bought it.  I BOUGHT IT from her.  I got home and looked and couldn’t believe it.  Now I don’t know what to do.  WHAT CAN I DO?  I can’t keep it.  I can’t LIVE with myself if I have to see it everyday.  So I am here to sell it to you.  You must buy it.
            “How much?”
            “Oh you know!”
            “Then let me see your check book.”
            Peggy took her check book from her purse, opened it and turned it toward me.  I looked at the latest entry.  It was a check to Helen; she did pay well.  Saying “Helen’s no fool after all” I took out my check book and wrote Peggy a check for the same amount… plus one hundred dollars.  I handed the check to her.  She looked at it.
            “Now you’ve made me your thief” she said.  She kept the check.  The charger was sitting in the moss where I sat it down.

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