Lucy studied her baby son. His blue eyes were slowly darkening to brown and his hair was growing, a fine dark head of hair. At eight weeks old he was filling out nicely and his fretful behaviour had calmed down. Now he eagerly sought her breast, keen for the milky goodness. Now when he slept, there was no small frown on his little face and he didn't wake screaming. He still had the odd crying jag, but nothing to concern his parents these days. Now Charlie was calmer, Lucy had more time to herself. She and Charlie had got into a proper feeding routine and with the housework organised, Lucy was able to nap gently while Charlie slept. The relief of being able to sleep. Of course, it wasn't her husband's fault he had to work away. A man had to go where the work was, but it always seemed a shame he was away so much. He left early in the morning before either she or Charlie were awake, and returned tired and hungry in the evenings. Lucy felt awful that he was doing these long days to provide for her and the child. But whenever she suggested expanding the farm and living off the land, he dismissed the idea. He was also not keen on moving nearer town, claiming the housing prices were exorbitant and they couldn't afford the rent now they had a baby to provide for.
'How's my little man?' cooed Lucy. Charlie looked up and gurgled at her. He was warm, comfortable, dry and full of milk. He was one contented baby. Lucy carried him into the kitchen and put him in his basket while she got on with her household chores. As she was dishing up the dinner, she heard her husband's wagon pull in.
'Ha!' she said to Charlie with a wagging finger. 'Daddy's home now. All's right with the world!'
Charlie gurgled and giggled in reply. As her husband came through the door, Lucy wiped her hands on her apron and went to meet him. As they embraced he looked over at the basket.
'How's my boy today, then?' he asked with a big smile.
'Oh, he's had a really good day.' Lucy hastened to answer. 'See? His eyes are darkening. They'll be big and brown like yours when he's older. And he has dark hair too. All Daddy and no Mummy!'
'Well, he is a Daddy's Boy,' replied her husband. With a quick chuck under the chin he turned from his son and contemplated his young wife.
'Dinner?' he asked.
'You just caught me serving up. You go and wash up and it'll be on the table when you get back down.'
Lucy got to work as her husband wearily climbed the stairs. She had already put warm water ready for him in the pretty bedroom and he sluiced himself down. Then he dried and put on a fresh shirt. He looked in the small mirror as he combed his damp hair neatly. When he was all finished and pleased with his appearance, he rooted in his pocket and pulled out a small hipflask. He took a brief swig, then a deeper draft before starting downstairs to his family.
Dinner was delicious, as always. It comprised fresh vegetables from the garden and juicy meat that had been swapped for one of the young piglets at the butchers. Lucy had even had the energy to make apple pie, with apples from the wild apple trees in the garden, which she served with creamy milk from their cows.
'That's the stuff!' her husband exclaimed as he pushed his chair back and pulled out a cigar. Lucy went round the table with a spill and helped him light the cigar.
'I'll clear up in here,' she said cheerfully. 'Can you take Charlie into the parlour? He'll sleep for another couple of hours.'
Her husband grunted and picked up the basket, holding his cigar carefully in the other hand. He walked through to the parlour, listening to Lucy clatter the dishes and run the water into the sink.
Having put the baby down a safe distance from the fire, Lucy's husband looked towards the parlour door. There was still the gay clatter of crockery, and, keeping his eyes on the door, he quietly pulled out the hipflask and took another deep slug. And another. And another.
Still Lucy was occupied in the kitchen, while her husband quietly opened a large cupboard and reached into the back. He straightened up with a bottle in his hands, which he then proceeded to fill his hipflask from. He quietly stoppered the bottle and put it back, right at the back of the cupboard away from prying eyes. He took one last swig from the hipflask and then put it back in his trouser pocket. As he finished this routine, he heard Lucy's footsteps tripping down the hallway. He sat down quickly in the chair and opened his book.
'Is he still quiet?' his young wife asked as she entered the room.
'Yep, not a peep,' her husband answered blithely. 'Now, my dear, what are we going to do tonight?'
'I have some chemises to sew up for Charlie, and you need buttons on your other trousers.' Lucy replied picking up her sewing basket.
Her husband grabbed her by the hand and pulled her to him.
'Put that down and come here!' he commanded. 'I've been working hard all day and there's only one thing I want!'
Lucy suddenly looked scared. She smelt the whiskey fumes and knew what had happened. It had been a while since her husband had been properly drunk and he had always been a violent drunk. She tensed herself and shut her eyes, allowing him to pull her onto his chest. He gripped her arms tightly and pushed her to her knees. Trembling, she unbuttoned his trousers. He was getting excited now, and moved his hands so they circled her throat. Lucy made not a single sound as she serviced her drunken husband and her baby slept nearby in oblivion to the violence.