Immediately after she succeeded, the noise level dropped significantly.
“Come and sit,” I said and pointed at my gear. She seemed wary, but finally did as I proposed. I saw her shivering and wondered if I could start a fire in the small fireplace on the wall built into the wall opposite us.
There were spilt logs, and a stack of dry kindling. I did what I’d seen online created a cone shaped assembly of logs with broken up kindling in the middle. There was a long box, that when I slid it opened, I found old time matches. “This may not work,” I said. “They look old and ready to disintegrate.”
“They’ll light,” she spoke quietly her voice quavering from her being wet and cold. “We left them here when we passed though some months ago.”
I looked at her face, and nodded. “Well here goes.” I did as I’d seen and dragged the tip with a blue ball shape across the abrasive surface. A flame sprang to life and I lowered it and lit the kindling. A minute later, heat wavered off the now burning logs. I rubbed my hands in front of the fire, and then again turned to my guest, or host. I couldn’t decide which.
“If you’ll let me, I’ve a spare set of clothing in my pack. You’re welcome to change into them and that way dried your stuff.”
She frowned and really seemed to be attempting to study me, and then she nodded and stood.
I removed jeans and a woolen long sleeve red shirt, handed them to her and went to stand by the window alongside the front door. I watched wavering screens of rain, heard her undressing and dressing behind me.
“Okay,” she said and when I returned to the fire I watched her suspend her things in hooks set into the wood beam mantle.
“I’m Stanton,” I told her, resisted the impulsive need to hold out my hand.
“Stanton? That your last name?”
“No first, it was some forgotten ancestor’s surname, I was told once.”
She nodded almost dismissively. “I’m Margaret and I grateful you were here.”
“You said you and others were here before now. Is that recently?”
She kind of scrunched up her face and shook her head. “We came through the gate at least a year ago. No one could decide where to go so we’ve been wandering around doing whatever needed to earn enough money to survive.”