Van shoved Floyd toward the saloon's storage room door. "That's why I was filling the buckets. For us to start cleaning." He leaned down, never taking his eyes off Floyd and poured water from one pail into the other and then removed the lid on the barrel, dipping the second pail. "Who delivers the water?" he asked, replacing the barrel lid.
"Martin Canter," Floyd hissed through clenched teeth and clutched one arm to his chest.
"I'll contact him today and ask him to bring more water." Van picked up both pails and motioned with his head to the back shop door. "Let's get to work."
Tessa nodded and hurried ahead of him, opening the door, she quickly passed through her room. She heard him stop and returned.
"Soon as the cleanings done and I've made the work benches, I'll make a partition back here so you have privacy and no one snooping will see your things." Van nodded to her carefully made pallet. She'd tucked away unmentionables and items she didn’t want him to see before she left the room earlier.
"I'd appreciate that, but I'll only be here until February." She walked into the larger room. She'd taken a broom to the ceiling, beams, and walls while Van went for water. The windows were next.
He set the pails on the floor and surveyed the room. "You work fast. Why are you only going to be here until February?"
"Idle hands are the devil's work." Tears burned at the back of her eyes. That had been her mother's favorite phrase. One that she made sure her daughter knew well and never became acquainted with the devil.
"February?" He grabbed the broom and started in a corner sweeping toward the front door.
She opened the door for the debris and the cloud of dust he created to escape. "In February I can take the exam to become a teacher."
"You mentioned teaching last night. I thought you already had your certificate and waited for an opening." He moved gracefully and worked the broom expertly for a man of his size.
"I'll have to wait for an opening after taking the exam…" Something she hoped didn't take too long.
"Then that's all the more reason I should make the partition, you may need to work here until an opening comes up." He smiled and swept the last of the dirt out the door.
She glanced at the well oiled wood floor and the dirty windows. "Windows or floor?" she asked, placing a rag in his hand.
"Floor. And let's leave the door open a while, I like the cool fresh air when I work." Van shed his jacket, rolled up the sleeves of his chambray shirt, and knelt by a pail.
Tessa picked up the other pail and applied her attention and elbow grease to the windows. She was sure he would have left her to clean while he ran errands, but here he was on his hands and knees scrubbing the floor. A job she had been sure was hers.