The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 10

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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 10

  1. 1. Welcome to Chapter 10 of my legacy! Quite a bit has happened since John Bradford first landed on the shores of Massimchusetts, so I suggest you read the previous chapters to get the full story. In the last chapter, Anne and Diana found husbands and married, while Phily voiced her objections to the institution. Matthew continued to manipulate his family to suit his needs. Henrietta found herself in a jam due to her flirtatious nature, and was force to accept a proposal to save her reputation. And Robert and Matilda escaped from Simsfield to school, and now must figure out how to be together. And now, on with the story.
  2. 2. It was time for yet another Bradford family meal. The number of people at the table had shrunk considerably over the past few years. Anne and Diana, the eldest two, were now married and had homes of their own. Henrietta and Matthew were away at school. Alexander and Philomena, or Phily as she was affectionately called by all but her mother, were the only two children left at home, and they had quite a few years to go before they would be off on their own. “I cannot believe that Henrietta‟s wedding is only a few months away,” sighed Carolina. “I don‟t see how we‟ll have her dress ready in time.” “With Phily‟s help, I‟m sure you‟ll manage,” replied Thomas. “When will we get to meet Professor Hutchins?” asked Phily.
  3. 3. “Probably not before the wedding. I understand that he has much to keep him busy with grading and such until then,” Thomas replied. Phily sighed. “Will Henri be home soon, at least?” “Yes. She was quite insistent on having the wedding here and not in Portsimouth.” “I‟m glad,” interjected Carolina. “The garden will be in its full glory by then. It will be a most picturesque wedding.” “Yes, dear,” agreed Thomas, a troubled expression crossing his face. He still had a lingering unease about his daughter‟s impeding wedding.
  4. 4. “I can‟t wait; I do love weddings,” smiled Phily. “And yet you are so adverse to having one of your own, daughter,” chuckled Thomas. “Papa, just because I don‟t want to marry doesn‟t meant that I don‟t like weddings. I imagine that Matthew will be getting married soon, as well?” “Yes, he will. He has received permission from Mr. Danaher to ask for Jan‟s hand, and I believe that they will be announcing their engagement any day now.”
  5. 5. “Miss Danaher, it is a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for meeting me for dinner,” said Matthew, planting a kiss on Jan‟s hand. “The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Bradford. I have been looking forward to our meeting since you invited me,” she simpered in return. “Splendid. I took the liberty of procuring us a table. Shall we?” he asked, offering his arm. “Oh yes,” she replied, taking it.
  6. 6. “Is the salmon to your liking, my sweet?” “It is some of the best I have ever had. But then again, Londoste has quite the reputation for its food.” “I know. It is one of the reasons that I wanted to bring you here today.” “Only one of the reasons? What, may I ask, are the others?” she asked coyly. Matthew chuckled. “In good time, dear. In good time.”
  7. 7. The waiter cleared away their plates and went to fetch the dessert cart. Matthew took advantage of the moment to pull a jewelry box from his coat pocket. “Miss Danaher, as you know I have recently graduated from SimHarvard with top marks. I will soon be returning to Simsfield, and I am hoping that you will join me there as my wife.”
  8. 8. Jan gasped with surprise, even though she had known a conversation like this would be occurring at any time. “Have you spoken with my father, Mr. Bradford?” she asked. “Of course, Miss Danaher. I would not be asking you to marry me without having spoken with him in advance. Are you amenable to the proposal?” “I am, Mr. Bradford.”
  9. 9. Matthew leaned back in his chair, an air of casual confidence overtaking his being. He had known all along that Jan would agree to marry him, but it was still something of a relief to actually hear her say the words. “Don‟t you want to take a look at the ring?” “Oh, yes!” she squeaked, flipping the box open.
  10. 10. Jan pulled the diamond out of the small box and held it up to the light. “This is old,” she commented. “It has been in my family for generations. It was a parting gift that my great-grandfather received from his mother before he came to Massimchusetts in the early eighteenth century.” “Splendid,” she muttered. The Bradford family had become, if possible, even more appealing to her.
  11. 11. “Well, does it meet with your approval?” he asked. Jan smiled. “I would be honored to wear such a family heirloom.” “My parents will be pleased; every Bradford bride since my great-grandmother Chris has worn that ring.” “I suppose that I will have to give it up to our son when the time comes,” she grumbled. “I‟ll buy you an even bigger one to take its place,” Matthew promised.
  12. 12. The happy couple enjoyed the rest of their evening, planning out their wedding. “Can we go somewhere splendid for our honeymoon? I‟ve never been further than New Sim City.” Matthew nodded. “What do you think of Simpan?” Jan gasped. “I have always wanted to see the far east.” “I‟ll arrange it. We can take the train to San Fransimsco, and a steamship from there. We‟ll take a nice, long, leisurely trip.” “I look forward to it.”
  13. 13. Summer was soon in its glory, and Henrietta Bradford found herself in her parents‟ room, preparing for her wedding to Professor Leonid Hutchins. Henrietta was the picture of a radiant bride. Phily and Mama outdid themselves with this dress, she thought. She then sighed, and tried to shake the feeling of dread that was settling into the pit of her stomach. The door clicked, and she turned to see Carolina coming into the bedchamber.
  14. 14. “Oh, Henrietta, you are a vision,” said Carolina, her voice thick with emotion. “Mama, don‟t cry.” “I can‟t help it. Three of my babies are all grown up, and not really mine any more. And one of them will soon follow suit.” “Oh, Mama.”
  15. 15. The two women embraced. “I will never be so grown up that I can‟t find comfort in my mother‟s hugs.” “Thank you dear. I hope that you and Professor Hutchins will be happy.” “So do I, Mama.” The tender moment was interupted by Thomas, who opened the door after a gentle knock. “Henri, it‟s time.” The women both dabbed at their eyes with handkerchiefs, and went down to the garden for the ceremony.
  16. 16. The Bradford family, including Anne and Diana, gathered in the garden for the ceremony. A hush fell over the crowd as Henri came out of the house and began her march down the aisle. With her family around her, she found herself smiling. It was a lovely day, and Professor Hutchins seemed like a good man. Perhaps this wouldn‟t be so bad after all.
  17. 17. The ceremony was short, but sweet. In the scope of an hour, Henrietta Bradford ceased to exist, and Henrietta Hutchins came into being.
  18. 18. After the ceremony, there was cake and much merrymaking. Matthew was particularly happy that day, but Henrietta soon felt that same sour feeling creeping back into her stomach as the hour of her departure approached.
  19. 19. Henri and her new husband took the afternoon train to Portsimouth. From there, a carriage took the couple to a modest house on the edge of the public gardens. “This is my home,” said Leonid, unlocking the door and entering. Henri followed, a step behind. “It‟s very nice,” she said in a small voice. “Thank you. I have worked hard to make it what it is. Now, if you will excuse me.” “You‟re leaving?” “Yes, I have some work that I must attend to.”
  20. 20. He turned and kissed his bride. “I will not be late. Get yourself settled in while I am gone. I am accustomed to having dinner at six o‟clock. The kitchen is well-stocked, and I‟m sure that you‟ll manange.” “Of course,” said a bewildered Henri. “I will see you when you get home.”
  21. 21. After Leonid left, Henri took the opportunity to explore the small house. It was not quite what she had pictured it to be, but she could find no fault with it. The parlor and dining room held her attention only briefly, but the bedchamber at the top of the stairs gave her pause.
  22. 22. Can I really do this? she wondered. It’s not too late; you have a few hours before the professor gets home. You could make a run for it. She contemplated the thought for a moment. She could run west and make a fresh start for herself. “No,” she said aloud. “I can‟t. It would bring such disgrace to the family. I‟ll just have to bear it as best I can.”
  23. 23. She filled her afternoon with books, until she reluctantly found her way into the kitchen to prepare dinner for her husband.
  24. 24. Henri had never been one for plain cooking, preferring to spend her time with pastries and other sweets. She was regretting that now, and hoped that the turkey would taste all right. Still, Leonid had been living on his own for some time now. She imagined that her cooking could be no worse than his was. She heard the front door open. “Wife, is dinner ready?” “In just a moment. I was keeping it warm in the oven for you.”
  25. 25. Leonid smiled at his wife over their dinner. “It is nice to have a woman in the house again. You have done an excellent job with dinner.” “Thank you,” she replied. “Did you get your work accomplished?” “I did. I will be teaching a few classes over the summer, so you‟ll have to find ways to fill your mornings.” “I‟m certain that I will be able to manage.”
  26. 26. The pair lapsed into silence. Leonid, accustomed to dining alone since the passing of his first wife, was used to the lack of noise, but poor Henri, one of six children, found the stillness unnerving. She was used to the hustle and bustle of family at dinner. After what seemed like a ridiculously long time to Henri, Leonid rose. “I will leave you to tidy up. When you are finished, please join me upstairs. There is one more item that we must attend to before our wedding day is over.” Leonid rose and exited the dining room. What is he talking about? she wondered to herself as she cleared the dinner plates from the table.
  27. 27. A short time later, Henri found out exactly what her new husband meant by the “item” that needed to be attended to before the day was out.
  28. 28. After the marriage had been consummated, Leonid rolled over and fell into a deep sleep. Henri found herself unable to do the same. She felt her husband‟s hand groping at her naked body in his sleep, and she practically jumped out of bed and pulled on a dressing gown.
  29. 29. Leonid did not seem to notice her absence as he rolled over and began to snore. Henri could not help the look of disgust that crossed her face. That man is the exact reason that Anne is campaigning for suffrage, she thought. A yawn then escaped from her lips. It had been a long day, and she was tired. After making sure that the buttons on her dressing gown were firmly fastened, she crept back into bed with, keeping as far away from Leonid as she possibly could.
  30. 30. About a week after Henrietta‟s wedding, Jan Danaher arrived at the Bradford farm for her marriage to Matthew. “My darling,” he greeted, politely kissing her cheek. “Thank goodness that is over. The porter misplaced my trunks! Can you believe it!” “I will get it sorted out at once. Now, would you like to go in and freshen up before you meet my parents?” “Very much. I must look a fright.”
  31. 31. Jan soon came back into the parlor after washing her face and fixing her hair. “You look stunning, my dear.” “Thank you. You have a very fine home.” “It is very comfortable. Mama had what will our room redecorated; I hope that you will approve.” “Did she decorate this room?” Matthew nodded. “We seem to have similar tastes. I am certain that it will be agreeable.”
  32. 32. Thomas had waited a while after hearing the carriage arrive before he entered the parlor. “Matthew, is this your fiancée?” Matthew rose from the sofa. “Yes, Papa. May I introduce you to Miss Jan Danaher, soon to be Bradford?”
  33. 33. Thomas crossed the room and gave his daughter-in-law to be a peck on the cheek. “Welcome to the family, Miss Danaher.” “Thank you, Mr. Bradford.” “Is Miss Danaher arrived?” called Carolina from the dining room. “Yes, Mama. Come in to the parlor and meet her.”
  34. 34. Carolina pulled Jan into a hug, catching the younger woman by surprise. “I have been most anxious to meet the woman who captured my son‟s heart. I look forward to getting to know you better in the years to come.” “Thank you, Mrs. Bradford. I am certain that we will become fast friends with time.”
  35. 35. The morning of Matthew‟s wedding dawned cloudy, but by the time for the ceremony rolled around, the sky had cleared to reveal a beautiful azure sky. With the family seated, Matthew took his place at the alter. How perfect everything has turned out, he mused. It will be even better when Phily and Alexander leave for school.
  36. 36. Before long, Jan came into view and those gathered nodded in approval at the sight of the bride. Her gown was of the latest fashion, covered in hand-embroidery and lace. Jan surveyed those gathered, her soon-to-be family. I cannot wait to be lady of the house. I have hoped for years to make such an advantageous match, and I intend to make the most of my new position.
  37. 37. Jan soon reached the alter, and turned to face her bridegroom. They then exchanged the vows that so many others before them had. “I, Matthew Bradford, take thee, Jan Danaher, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.” “I, Jan Danaher, take thee, Matthew Bradford, to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”
  38. 38. After they were pronounced husband and wife, Matthew pressed a chaste kiss on Jan‟s lips. “Are you happy, Mrs. Bradford?” “Very, Mr. Bradford,” she replied. “Shall we retire to the parlor to commence the festivities?” “Yes, let‟s.”
  39. 39. Matthew and Jan‟s wedding was one of the most fashionable seen in the small village in years. There was dancing…
  40. 40. …an exquisite wedding luncheon, and a delicate, delicious wedding cake. The Bradfords were all impressed with the family‟s newest member.
  41. 41. The only person who did not seem to be enjoying the festivities was Henri. She had come alone, as Leonid had excused himself owing to the fact that he had a class to teach. “Well, big sister, have you any words of matrimonial wisdom for me?” “I think that you should speak to Anne or Diana if you are looking for advice,” she replied. “Please excuse me; I must be getting back home. Professor Hutchins does not like me to be out late in the evenings.” Even better than I imagined, Matthew thought as his twin left the room. He’s got her on a short leash so there’s no chance of her disgracing the family name.
  42. 42. The coach arrived early the next morning to take the newlyweds on their honeymoon. “I do hope the rain stops,” complained Jan as Matthew helped her into the carriage. “It will ruin my new dress if it does not.” “You won‟t notice it once we‟re on the train,” replied Matthew. “True. How long before we reach Simpan?” “It will take about a week by train to San Fransimsco, and then another week on the ship. We‟ll be gone for two months, my dear.” “I hope I packed enough.” “Judging by your three trunks, I would say you have. Driver, onward!”
  43. 43. The train trip and the steamship journey were fairly uneventful, and before long, Matthew and Jan had arrived in Simpan. After disembarking from the ship, the first order of business was to get settled into the hotel. “Please sign here, Mr. Bradford. The porter will have your things taken to your room directly.” “Thank you. My wife and I are rather famished after our voyage. Have you a recommendation of where we can find a decent meal?” “Right across the way is a restaurant that specializes in local cuisine. Our guests have found it quite enjoyable.”
  44. 44. “What exactly is this that we are eating?” asked Jan. “I could not understand a word our waiter said.” “It is chirashi, some sort of fish dish,” replied Matthew. “How does one eat with these things?” “With much difficultly. It is rather good, but I would prefer to dine at an establishment that uses actual silverware from here on out.” “I am in complete agreement with you, Jan.”
  45. 45. The two weeks of travel soon caught up with the pair, and they returned to their hotel. Both collapsed into bed, thoroughly exhausted.
  46. 46. The next morning, Jan and Matthew rose early. While Jan readied herself for the day, Matthew ordered breakfast sent to their room. “What would you like to do today?” he asked as they enjoyed their meal, complete with knives and forks. “I can hardly decide! I know! Let‟s go to the gardens we passed on our way here yesterday. I believe they had a tea room.”
  47. 47. “And after that?” “Shopping, of course! I cannot go home from the far east without a string of pearls and some new silks.” “Whatever the lady wishes,” Matthew replied.
  48. 48. After strolling through what Jan pronounced some of the loveliest gardens she had ever seen, Matthew ordered tea for them to share, which was served on a private balcony. “I‟m not certain I‟m doing this right,” said Jan as she poured tea for Matthew and then herself. “I‟m certain that you‟ve done it fine.” “Perhaps we can go to one of those tea ceremonies later on; it looks fascinating.” “If you wish,” responded Matthew with indifference.
  49. 49. Matthew drew the small cup to his lips. “It doesn‟t smell like the tea I‟m used to.” He took a tentative sip, and nearly spit it back out. “Nor does it taste anything like the tea I know.” Jan took a sip as well, and wrinkled her nose in disgust. “It needs sugar.” “Quite a bit of it,” agreed Matthew. “Shall we forego our tea and head towards the marketplace?” “I think that would be an excellent idea.”
  50. 50. The couple elected to take a rickshaw from the gardens to the marketplace. Once inside one of the shops, Jan made a beeline for the silks and other fineries.
  51. 51. Matthew looked over the many souveniers. “What are you looking at?” asked Jan, as she admired a particularly intricate kimono. “I should probably get a few things to bring home to my family. I believe my little sister would like this doll, and I think my brother would enjoy the pagoda statue. What‟s that you have?” “Just a kimono. I‟m very impressed with the handwork on this one.” “If you like it so much, why don‟t you try it on?” “Maybe I will.”
  52. 52. A short time later, Jan emerged from a back room wearing the kimono. “That shade of blue is quite the complement to your eyes,” noted Matthew, his eyes roaming over his wife‟s figure appreciatively. “It‟s very lovely, but I can‟t think of why I would by such an item.” “If you like it, buy it. We can afford it, and I‟m sure that we can find a seamstress to make it into a useful dressing gown.” Jan turned and smiled at Matthew. “If you insist.” “I do. Now, go put your dress back on, and we‟ll head towards the jewelers so you can buy those pearls you have your heart set on.”
  53. 53. After dining at the hotel‟s restaurant, Matthew elected to join several gentlemen staying at the hotel for a drink in its smoking room. Jan returned to their room to wait for her husband. Matthew returned to the room to find his wife waiting for him in nothing but her under things. “What is this all about?” Jan patted the bed, an inviting look on her face. Matthew quickly complied with her silent request.
  54. 54. “I thought that we could get started on the process of providing you with an heir to the Bradford name,” she said. Matthew did not need to be told twice.
  55. 55. Matthew smiled to himself as he drifted off to sleep that night. Being married certainly has its advantages. Jan‟s final thought before she slipped into dreamland were somewhat different. I hope that he appreciates what I’ll have to go through to give him a son. At least if I can have my babies while I’m still young, I might not loose my figure entirely.
  56. 56. The Bradford newlyweds passed a pleasant month in Simpan. They learned local games of interest…
  57. 57. …met interesting people and encountered strange new customs…
  58. 58. …discovered how to appreciate the simple beauty in things…
  59. 59. …participated in ancient traditions…
  60. 60. …and found plenty of time and ways to relax.
  61. 61. Before long, it was time to prepare for the trip back to Simerica and Massimchusetts. “I trust that you had a enjoyable stay with us, Mrs. Bradford,” said the concierge as Jan checked out while Matthew saw to their trunks. “It was lovely. I do hope to return someday.” “Jan, we‟re all set. We need to hurry if we‟re to make the ship.” “Yes, Matthew. I‟ll be right there.”
  62. 62. While Matthew and Jan were away, a very anxious little girl was preparing to celebrate her birthday. “You promise to come tomorrow? Mercy‟s baking a cake and everything.” “Amelia, I promised you that Lawrence and I would be at your party tomorrow, and we will be. Now I really must be going, or I won’t be able to finish my assignments before class tomorrow morning.” “All right, Robert. I just miss you.” “I know, sweet pea. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
  63. 63. Eliza McCarthy and Mercy Alcott were at the chess board, discussing the events of the morrow. “Did you finish Amelia's new dress?” “Yes, Miss Eliza. And it‟s mighty pretty too. I can‟t believe how fast she‟s grown up.”
  64. 64. The young lady in question entered the parlor at that point. “Who were you talking to, Amelia?” “Robert. I wanted to make sure he was coming to my party tomorrow.” “Mr. Robert‟s busy with school, child. You shouldn‟t bother him so much.” “I miss him,” the girl replied, shrugging her shoulders. Eliza smiled at her daughter. “I know you do, dear. Now go wash up and get ready for bed. I‟ll be up to read you a story in a moment.” “Yes, Mama.”
  65. 65. The next day, Mercy baked one of her famous birthday cakes. Eliza shook her head as she placed the candles on it. My baby girl is practically a woman. I feel so old right now.
  66. 66. Amelia fidgeted as she waited for her brothers to arrive. When the front door opened, she jumped of from the sofa and ran to them as they entered the parlor. “You‟re here!” she exclaimed. “That we are,” said Lawrence as he kissed his sister. “I missed you!” “We missed you too, sweet pea,” said Robert, hugging his sister tight. “Now that we‟re all here, I think we can start the party, said Eliza, rising from her seat.
  67. 67. Eliza lit the candles, and Amelia stood before her cake, contemplating what she should wish for. I want my family to always be close by. Especially Robert. He’s my favorite brother. She leaned forward, took a deep breath, and blew.
  68. 68. Amelia was a striking young woman with her dark hair and eyes and finely crafted features. Like her cousin Henri, Amelia was interested in the affections of many suitors, though Amelia‟s interest in them was for more than simple flirtations.
  69. 69. Far too soon in Amelia‟s eyes, it was time for the twins to return to school. “You‟ve hardly been here, and now you‟re leaving,” she sighed, hugging Robert. “I know. I wish we could stay longer, but we have our senior exams soon and we need to start studying.” “Come home soon. I feel like we never see each other any more.” “I will; I promise.”
  70. 70. Amelia then found Lawrence, and gave him a good bye kiss. She wasn‟t as close to her other brother, but she still missed having him around just the same. “We‟ll be graduating and home in a few short weeks, sister.” “Of course. Mama will be so happy to have everyone home for a little while, and then I‟ll be off to school myself.” “See you soon,” he replied.
  71. 71. Amelia retired upstairs to ready herself for bed, while Eliza and George said goodbye to the boys. “Study hard. I am certain that you will graduate at the top of your classes.” “We will, Mama,” they replied. “Excuse me,” she said. “I want to make sure Amelia gets to bed.” Lawrence headed out the front door, but Robert held back.
  72. 72. “What is it, son?” asked George. “I was wondering if you could help me with something.” “Anything. What do you need?” “Do you know of someone who would be willing to marry Matilda and I? I don‟t think that most ministers would look too fondly on an elopement, and I need to find someone soon. We don‟t have much time left.”
  73. 73. George thought for a moment. “Your Uncle Patrick mentioned something years ago about how young Judge Long married him and your Aunt Margaret. I‟m sure he‟s not young any more, but he might be a good place to start. He lives in Portsimouth; I‟m certain you‟ll be able to find him without too much difficulty.” “Thank you, Papa.” “Things are still going according to plan?” Robert nodded. “As soon as I‟m done my finals, we‟re running away.” “Good luck. And let me know if there‟s anything else I can do for you.” “I will,” replied Robert, clasping his stepfather‟s shoulder in a farewell gesture.
  74. 74. Not far from the Alcott house, Matilda Ryan had returned home for a short break. “I am very pleased with the reports I have received from your teachers, Matilda. They are very impressed with your progress in music.” “Thank you, Mother.” “I hope you are devoting as much energy to more practical things,” grumbled Timothy. “I do, Father. I have become quite adept at flower arrangement, and I am also studying household management.” Timothy nodded in approval.
  75. 75. “And Sullivan? How are the two of you getting along?” “He calls nearly every Tuesday and Friday evenings. We have even been to the theater once or twice with his mother.” Timothy nodded again, liking what he was hearing. “Have you had any other gentleman callers, Matilda?” asked Rebecca.
  76. 76. “My cousin Abraham called to make sure I was settled at school, and I have seen him a few times since then.” “Is that all?” “If you are asking me if I have seen Robert, yes, I have seen him around the city a few times with his brother Lawrence. He has tipped his hat to me, and I have nodded in acknowledgment. But we have not spoken with each other.” “She‟s telling the truth, Rebecca. I can tell.” Matilda let out a breath she didn‟t realize she had been holding. Thank goodness that I’ve learned how to fib convincingly.
  77. 77. A few weeks later, Robert was in the Portsimouth Library trying to find a book to help him with one of his final classes. A discreet cough caused him to turn around.
  78. 78. “Hello,” he said in a low tone, a smile crossing his lips. “Hello yourself,” Matilda replied. “Can we go somewhere to talk?” Robert nodded. “Let‟s go to the public garden; we should be safe there.”
  79. 79. “Is everything set?” Robert nodded. “I spoke with Judge Long yesterday. He‟s willing to marry us.” “Thank goodness. I was beginning to think that no one would do so.”
  80. 80. “Are you absolutely certain that this is what you want to do?” Robert asked, taking Matilda‟s hands in his. She nodded. “I love you. I don‟t care if we live in the smallest house in all of Simsfield. I want to be Mrs. Robert Alcott more than anything in the world.” “I‟m glad to hear it.”
  81. 81. Robert dropped to his knee and pulled an engagement ring out of his coat pocket. “I know it‟s not much…” he began, but Matilda cut him off. “It‟s perfect. I‟d be honored to marry you, Robert.” “But I hadn‟t even asked you yet,” he pouted. “You were going to, though.”
  82. 82. Robert slipped the ring onto her finger, where it stayed for a few moments. The pair kissed, and then Matilda sighed. “I can‟t risk anyone seeing this,” she said, reluctantly taking the ring off her finger and putting it into her purse. “I understand. You‟ll be able to wear it whenever you want soon.” “I‟d better get going; I won‟t be able to explain my absence much longer.” Robert nodded. “I‟ll be at your boarding house before dawn next Friday. I‟ll see you then.”
  83. 83. On the Friday in question, Matilda was up before the sun. She dressed as quietly as she could, and packed a small carpet bag with a few cherished possessions. She waited in the parlor, unable to keep from tapping her foot.
  84. 84. Before too long, she heard the sound of hooves and carriage wheels on the cobblestones. She ran to the window, and smiled at what she saw.
  85. 85. Robert had rented a horse and buggy to take her away. As he climbed down, Matilda snatched up her bag and hurried out the door.
  86. 86. “Robert!” she cried, dropping her bag and jumping into his arms. “Shh!” he said. “We don‟t want anyone to hear us.” At that moment, a light came on in one of the upstairs windows. “Quick,” he said, grabbing her bag and throwing it into the buggy.
  87. 87. Robert helped Matilda into the buggy, climbed in after her and grabbed the reins. As they drove away, Matilda heaved a sigh of relief. “What time are we seeing Judge Long?” “At ten o‟clock. And I found a small house for us to rent in Simsfield.” “Oh!” she cried happily. “I can‟t wait.”
  88. 88. On the other side of the city, Phily Bradford and Margaret Turner were conversing in the parlor of Margaret and Patrick‟s townhouse. “Are you certain that you don‟t want to come to the milliner's with us, Phily? Your mother was hoping to start getting you some things for Mrs. Seymour‟s.” “No, thank you Aunt Margaret. I think I‟d rather stay here and relax.”
  89. 89. “Are you feeling unwell?” “My head hurts a little; I think I‟ve been spending too much time with my books as of late. I‟ll just stay here and enjoy the gardens and the sunshine.”
  90. 90. Margaret regarded her niece with slightly suspicious eyes. She remembered when, not too long ago, another Bradford daughter has used the excuse of a headache to go off on her own and meddle in the affairs of another. Still, Phily had never been a meddler. Margaret decided to leave it alone. “Very well. Your mother and I will probably have lunch in town somewhere, and be home in time for dinner.” “I‟ll see both of you then.”
  91. 91. “You‟re sure that your cousin knew to meet us here?” worried Matilda. “Yes, she wrote to me confirming her attendance. I‟m sure it‟s just taking her a little longer to get away from Aunt Carolina and Aunt Margaret than she thought.” “I hope she hurries up.” “So do I,” sighed Robert. “I‟ll feel a lot better once we‟re married.”
  92. 92. The door to the sitting room opened, and Judge Long‟s maid entered the room. “Miss Bradford has arrived. Shall I show her in?” “Please,” said Matilda. “I told you she‟s make it. Phily wouldn‟t miss a wedding; she loves them!”
  93. 93. The pair rose and greeted Phily as she came into the room. “I‟m so sorry for being late; you must have been fretting!” “You‟re here now, Phily, and that‟s all that matters. Thank you for coming,” said Robert. “Thank you for asking to stand up with you.” “We couldn‟t have done this without your help. If there is anything we can ever do for you, please let us know,” said Matilda sincerely. At that moment, the maid came back into the room. “The Judge is ready for you now.”
  94. 94. The wedding party went into Judge Long‟s study. “Ah, Mr. Alcott and Miss Ryan. I see that your witness has arrived. Are you ready to get married?” “Yes, sir,” replied Robert with a smile. “Well then,” he said, rising, “Let‟s begin.”
  95. 95. With Phily looking on, smiling her approval, Robert and Matilda exchanged vows. Robert pulled a ring from his coat pocket and slipped it on Matilda‟s finger. “You won‟t have to worry about wearing it in public now,” he smiled. “I know,” she said. “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride,” said Judge Long.
  96. 96. The new Mr. and Mrs. Alcott kissed. “I cannot wait to start our lives together,” she breathed. “Me either. First, let‟s get Phily back to Aunt Margaret‟s, and then I can go show you our new home.” “‟Our home.‟ That sounds wonderful.”
  97. 97. After Margaret and Carolina had lunched, Carolina decided to pay a call on her daughter Henrietta to see how she was fairing. Henri was overjoyed to see her mother, and clung to her for several minutes. “How are you doing, dear?” “Oh, I‟m managing, Mama. The Professor is very particular about some things, and I‟m doing my best to meet his expectations. He won‟t stand for a maid, so I have to keep the house by myself. Luckily, it‟s not so big that I can‟t handle.” “What is he so particular about?” “He likes breakfast at seven, dinner at six, and a glass of brandy waiting when he arrives home from work.” “How are fairing with your kitchen duties?”
  98. 98. Henri sighed. “I‟m still fairly helpless there. I never could cook meals well, just fancy sweet things. I‟ve got a few dishes that I can prepare without difficulty, but I keep trying new things. I don‟t want him to complain about the lack of variety.”
  99. 99. Suddenly, Henri‟s stomach lurched, and she clutched at it. “What‟s wrong, child?” “Excuse me,” she managed to get out before turning and running down the entry hall.
  100. 100. Henri made it to the small bathroom on the first floor before she was violently ill. After a few minutes, the nausea passed, and Henri rose. “Sweetheart, can I do anything?” called Carolina. “I‟ll be out in just a moment,” she replied. She took a moment to smooth her hair and rinse her mouth before she walked back into the hallway.
  101. 101. “You still look pale, dear. Why don‟t we go talk in the parlor?” “That sounds good, Mama,” replied Henri. She still wasn‟t feeling perfect, and sitting down was very appealing to her.
  102. 102. The two women sat in silence for a time. Carolina was uncertain on where to start. “How long have you been feeling unwell?” she finally asked. “A few weeks now. Usually after I‟ve made breakfast in the mornings. I find that a quick nap solves everything.” “Do you have any idea what might be causing it?” “I just thought that I was overexerting myself taking care of things around the house. I‟m certain that it will stop once I‟m used to things.” Carolina drew in a breath before asking, “Have you thought about the possibility that you might be in the family way?”
  103. 103. Henri looked at her mother with a confused expression. “I hadn‟t. Do you think…” “All the signs are there, Henrietta. I am not a doctor, but I feel confidant in my diagnosis. I believe that you and Professor Hutchins will be parents before the year is out.” “We‟ve never discussed children,” she muttered. “I have no idea how he would feel about a baby.”
  104. 104. “I am certain that he will be excited about the prospect of a child,” said Carolina. “I suggest that you tell him as soon as possible. You won‟t be able to manage the house by yourself while you are carrying the baby, and he‟ll need to find a maid at least to keep things running properly.” “I‟ll tell him my suspicions tonight at dinner. I hope you‟re right, Mama.” “I was worried when I discovered that I was expecting the first time. I didn‟t know how your father would react. But he was thrilled at the news. You have nothing to fear.” “Thank you, Mama.”
  105. 105. “You‟ve learned to cook something new. I‟m pleased,” commented Leonid that night at dinner. “Thank you,” Henri replied. “I had something that I wished to discuss with you.” “What is that?” Henri paused a moment before she spoke. “I have reason to believe that I may be with child.”
  106. 106. “I beg your pardon?” Leonid asked, a look of disbelief on his face. “I think that I might be with child,” she repeated. “Have you confirmed this with a doctor?” “No.” “Then there is reason to hope that it may not be the case.”
  107. 107. It was Henri‟s turn to be shocked. “You do not wish to have a child?” she asked. “No. I like a neat, orderly house, and a child is neither.” “I see,” she muttered. “Now, if you will excuse me. I‟ll be in my study,” he said, rising from the table. It was everything Henri could do not to burst into tears. He doesn’t want children. What will happen if I am having a baby?
  108. 108. The morning of the same day of the elopement and Carolina‟s visit with Henri, Timothy Ryan was preparing for a trip to Portsimouth. “Are you sure that you don‟t want to come with me, Rebecca?” “I am sure. I have so much that needs to be done here to get ready for Matilda‟s wedding to Sullivan that I can‟t take the time.” “Very well. We should be back in time for dinner.” Rebecca nodded. “I will see the two of you then.”
  109. 109. After the train ride to the city, Timothy hired a coach to bring him to Matilda‟s boarding house. As the coach came to a stop, he thought about how fortunate he was to have a daughter who was obedient and knew her duty to her family. “Wait for me. I shouldn‟t be more than a few moments,” he ordered the driver as he climbed out of the coach.
  110. 110. Timothy arrived at the door to his daughter‟s room and knocked. After a moment or two of no reply, he knocked again. “Matilda, aren‟t you up? It‟s time to go home,” he said, turning the knob.
  111. 111. Her room was empty, the bed neatly made. “Where the devil is that daughter of mine? I told her to be ready by nine for me to come get her!”
  112. 112. He went back downstairs to the dining room. “Excuse me, I am looking for my daughter, Matilda Ryan?” “I‟m sorry Mr. Ryan, but I haven‟t seen Miss Ryan today.” “What do you mean?”
  113. 113. The woman regarded Timothy for a moment. “I only work from seven to seven,” she began, “and Miss Ryan hasn‟t come in for breakfast today.” “So you haven‟t seen her since…” “She had dinner last night with the rest of the girls here in the house.”
  114. 114. What is going on here? he thought. He stood in the dining room for a long time, contemplating where Matilda might be. A feeling of dread settled into his stomach. He suddenly knew exactly what had happened.
  115. 115. “No trunks, sir?” asked the driver. “No, there are no trunks. Take me back to the train station as fast as you can. I might be able to catch the ten-thirty to Simsfield if you hurry.”
  116. 116. Rebecca was working at her embroidery when she heard the sound of a carriage stopping at her house. That’s odd. I thought it would take longer to fetch Matilda and her things.
  117. 117. She set the needlepoint down next to her as Timothy threw open the front door. He was alone. “Where‟s Matilda?” she asked.
  118. 118. Timothy‟s face twisted in anger. “She wasn‟t there. I can‟t confirm it, but I think she ran off with that Alcott boy.”
  119. 119. Rebecca gasped, astonishment written across her face. “She wouldn‟t dare!” “Apparently she would.” “But she swore that she hadn‟t spoken with him since we forbid it!” Timothy chuckled darkly as he sat down on the sofa. “It would seem that our daughter has learned the art of lying.” “What are we going to do?”
  120. 120. “There‟s nothing we can do. By now, they‟ve probably found someone to marry them, and even if they haven‟t, Matilda‟s reputation is ruined. All my hard work for nothing. I hope she‟s satisfied with herself.” “All that money we spent on her wedding,” muttered Rebecca. “What a waste.” “Damn it!” exclaimed Timothy. “I still need to tell Sullivan.” “You shouldn‟t have to wait long; he „phoned to say that he would be stopping by this afternoon.” The doorbell chimed. “That will be him,” said Timothy, rising. “I had best get this over with.”
  121. 121. Timothy greeted Sullivan, and ushered him into the dining room. “Is Matilda upstairs? I‟m anxious to get the final details ironed out.” Timothy‟s shoulders slumped as he looked at the young man. He was not looking forward to this conversation.
  122. 122. “Here‟s the thing, Sullivan,” said Timothy, rubbing his neck nervously. “Matilda wasn‟t there when I went to get her this morning.” “Where is she?” Sullivan demanded. “I‟m fairly certain that she eloped with Robert Alcott. She had a fancy for him years ago, and we thought we had cured her of it. Turns out that she wasn‟t as over him as we thought she was.”
  123. 123. Sullivan‟s face twisted in anger. “My fiancée is now another man‟s wife? How could you let this happen?” “I didn‟t let it happen,” insisted Timothy, his temper rising. “If had known that she was going to run off I would never have let her go to Mrs. Seymour‟s in the first place!” “I knew letting her go to school was a bad idea. You should have let us get married as soon as the betrothal agreement was finalized.” “Well, what‟s done is done and I can‟t change it now.”
  124. 124. “I suppose we have no business together any longer then,” said Sullivan. “Good day, Mr. Ryan.” Timothy raised his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Good day to you, Mr. Pratt.” Sullivan saw himself out. Now what am I going to do? I needed that alliance. He stewed for a while, and then knew what he would do. “Rebecca, I‟m going out,” he called, hurrying out the door and down the street.
  125. 125. Just down the street at the Alcott/McCarthy house, Eliza and George were waiting in the parlor for their sons to arrive home. It was there that Lawrence found them, engaged in happy conversation. “I had expected more of a welcome home,” he laughed. “Lawrence!” exclaimed Eliza, jumping up.
  126. 126. “Hello, Mama,” replied the young man, hugging his mother tight. George looked on approvingly. “I take it you did well with your final exams?” he asked. Lawrence nodded. “Top of my class.” “I‟m so proud out you, dear,” said Eliza. “Where‟s your brother?” “Robert said he had a few things in town that he needed to attend to, and that he‟s be along later. Excuse me; I‟m going to get my things unpacked.”
  127. 127. Later that afternoon, Eliza and George were enjoying an impromptu piano concert. Suddenly, the front door burst open and Timothy Ryan charged into the parlor. “Your scoundrel of a son has ruined my daughter!” he exclaimed. “Amelia, upstairs,” ordered George.
  128. 128. “Yes, Papa,” she said, as she slipped out of the room. She was very curious to know which of her brothers Mr. Ryan was referring to as a scoundrel, and why he would say such a hateful thing.
  129. 129. “What are you talking about?” demanded George as soon as Amelia was out of earshot. “You boy Robert eloped with my Matilda! I told him to stay away from her, but he wouldn‟t listen. Now her reputation is ruined, and the alliance that I forged through her intended marriage is ruined. And it‟s all your fault! Why couldn‟t you control your son?” “I beg your pardon, Mr. Ryan, but our son has not resided under this roof in sometime. I cannot keep track of his day-to-day actions,” said Eliza. “I should have never moved to this sorry excuse for a town. Has she grown up in the city, my daughter would only have associated with suitable families.” “I suggest that you take your leave now, Mr. Ryan,” said George in a deadly calm voice. “I do not appreciate having my family insulted.” Timothy turned and stormed out of the house, slamming the door on his way out for good measure.
  130. 130. “Are you all right, my darling?” George asked, gathering Eliza in his arms. “Oh, George, do you think Mr. Ryan was telling the truth? Has Robert eloped with Matilda?” “Come here, Eliza,” he said, guiding her to the sofa.
  131. 131. “Eliza, Robert has cared about Matilda for a long time. Timothy forbade them to see each other, and they‟ve been plotting in secret ever since. I‟ve know for some time that they were going to run away together. I just thought that Robert would have a chance to tell you in person before something like this happened.” Eliza looked at her husband in disbelief. “Why would he do such a thing?” she asked, tears in her eyes.
  132. 132. George pulled his wife into his arms. “He was afraid of too many people learning about their plans and word getting back to Timothy. You saw how he reacted now; imagine what would have happened if he had found out beforehand.” “And you helped him?” George nodded. “I knew what it felt like to have the rest of the world against your match. I couldn‟t not help the boy.” Eliza sighed. “I hope that he‟ll be happy.” “He will be. He‟s got the woman he loves by his side. What more does a man need?”
  133. 133. Upstairs, Amelia was relaxing on her bed. Mercy came into the room. “What was all that commotion about?” she demanded. “Robert eloped with Matilda Ryan, and her father is furious.” “Mr. Robert eloped with Miss Matilda? Good for him!” “But Mr. Ryan is so angry! I‟m worried about Robert.” Mercy sniffed. “Mr. Ryan won‟t do anything. He cares about his own skin too much. Besides, it‟s good for him to be taken down a few pegs. Getting to think he‟s all important and can get everyone to do what he wants.” The old woman chuckled. “Good for Robert.”
  134. 134. Lawrence soon returned from a few calls he had made. George and Eliza quickly relayed the story of Timothy‟s visit. “Mama, I must confess to being part of Robert‟s plans. I knew about the elopement.” “Yes, George has admitted his role to me as well. I can‟t help but be a little disappointed that I didn‟t get to attend my son‟s wedding. But I still have another son. I hope that you‟re not planning on running away to be married any time soon,” she said with a raised eyebrow.
  135. 135. Lawrence suppressed a snort. “No, Mama. All the studying I did in college left me little time for socializing. I have no immediate plans for marriage.” “Good. I want to see at least one of my sons get married.” “I promise that when the time comes, you will be the first to know. Please excuse me, Mama, George. I start work tomorrow, and I want to get a good night‟s rest beforehand. Good night.”
  136. 136. A month later, the Bradford clan was still buzzing with the news of Robert and Matilda‟s elopement as they gathered to mark the birthday of Patrick Turner, the youngest of the third generation of Bradfords in Simerica.
  137. 137. A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine a party for Patrick with any of his family present. Since his reconciliation, it was hard to picture a party without his family there.
  138. 138. Patrick leaned forward and blew the candles out on his cake with a single breath, wishing that his son wouldn‟t make the same mistakes he had in his youth.
  139. 139. “How does it feel to be gray like the rest of us?” asked Thomas. “I‟m certain that my silver locks make me look even more distinguished,” Patrick retorted. “You‟ve always been the vain one.” Patrick shrugged. “I‟ve always been known as the handsome Bradford. I don‟t see why that needs to change just because I‟m old.”
  140. 140. Thomas looked at his younger brother. “Being an adult is harder that we thought.” Patrick nodded. “I‟m always worried about Andrew and if I‟ve raised him properly. I have a lot more sympathy for Mother and Father and all I put them through now.” “Water under the bridge, Patrick. They both forgave you long ago, as did the rest of us.” Patrick sighed. “That doesn‟t make me feel any less guilty.”
  141. 141. The brothers hugged. “Can you and Margaret do something for me?” “Anything, brother.” “Keep an eye on Henrietta? I have a feeling that she‟s not as happy in her marriage as she lets on, and I‟m worried about her. Professor Hutchins is a decent man, but…” “Say no more, Thomas. I‟ll make sure Margaret calls at least once a week, and we‟ll invite them over to dinner as often as convention allows.” “Thank you. Of all my children, I worry about her the most.”
  142. 142. Patrick soon cornered Eliza. “How‟s Robert doing? Is there anything I can do to help?” “He‟s doing all right. He and Matilda are laying low until Mr. Ryan‟s temper dissipates a little more.” Eliza chuckled. “Is it wrong that I‟m secretly delighted in Rebecca‟s humiliation after all the distress she caused me when George and I were courting?”
  143. 143. Patrick smiled at his sister‟s laughter. “Not at all. I know about how Timothy does business through some of my associates, and I think that this is wonderful.” Eliza shook her head. “Still, I worry about them. I can‟t believe that Mr. Ryan will let his only child go so easily.” Patrick put his arm on Eliza‟s shoulder. “The rest of the family will stand behind them. I think Rebecca forgets that no one every really liked her very much, not ever her brother and sister.”
  144. 144. “Thank you, Patrick,” said Eliza as she hugged him. “I‟m so glad that everything worked out between us. “So am I, sister. I missed you more that I can say.” “Stop that. We cannot apologize to each other every time we meet.” “I know. Take care, Eliza, and we‟ll come visit soon.”
  145. 145. “Welcome home,” said Diana Pasang as her husband Lee came into the parlor. “I thought you‟d be upstairs in bed already,” he commented as he crossed the room to the sofa where she sat.
  146. 146. “I napped this afternoon. You‟ve been putting in so many hours and I‟ve been so tired that we hardly see each other. I wanted to at least be here to greet you today.” “I appreciate that,” he said. leaning over and rubbing her fast-growing stomach. “It won‟t be long before we get to meet our son now, will it?” “Our child will be making an appearance any day now,” smiled Diana. “Please excuse me. I think I‟m going to go rest for a while.”
  147. 147. Diana had barely made it into her bedroom when a sharp pain tore through her abdomen. She screamed in pain, and Lee came running.
  148. 148. “What‟s wrong? Should I call the doctor?” Diana nodded, unable to speak through her clenched teeth. “I‟ll be right back.” “Hurry,” she grimaced.
  149. 149. After several hours of pacing his study, Lee was finally allowed back into the room he shared with Diana. “Darling,” she said, holding up a baby with his father‟s hair and eyes, “I‟d like to introduce you to our son.” “I knew it was a boy!” Lee exclaimed, admiring the newborn. “I‟d like to call him Amos, if you have no objections.” “Amos Pasang is a lovely name for our son. Let me feed him and get him settled for the night.” “Let me,” said Lee, taking Amos from Diana. “You get yourself settled; you must be tired after everything.”
  150. 150. “I spoke with Diana today,” commented Anne to her husband Joseph Bear about two months later. “She‟s very anxious to have us over to meet Amos.”
  151. 151. Joseph smiled at his wife. “Don‟t you think we should wait until our baby has arrived?”
  152. 152. Anne made a face. “I fee like I‟ve been cooped up here for so long. I haven‟t seen Di in forever.” “I know, Anne. But you get tired so easily that you really shouldn‟t be visiting.” Anne sighed. “I know you‟re right. Maybe Diana can come visit me later this week. There‟s plenty of time to meet Amos.” “That sounds like a great idea.” Anne rose. “I think I‟m going to take a hot bath. My back hurts something awful tonight.”
  153. 153. Before Anne got too far, she was overcome with pain. Her hands instinctively flew to her stomach. “Annie, what‟s wrong?” asked Joseph. “I don‟t know!” she cried. “The baby can‟t be coming; it‟s too soon.”
  154. 154. She doubled over with the pain, and gasped when she saw that the carpet beneath her feet was soaked with blood. “Help me upstairs,” she gasped. “And then call the doctor and Mama. Something‟s not right.”
  155. 155. Hours later, Joseph was sitting in the parlor, waiting. The only noises were the crackle of the fire and the occasional cries of agony that crept down from upstairs. At first, Carolina had come downstairs at regular intervals with updates, but it had been a long time she her last report. Joseph hunched forward. I can’t loose Anne. I just can’t. She’s everything to me. He heard the light tread of Carolina‟s feet on the stairs, and he looked up from his despair to see her at the doorway.
  156. 156. Carolina‟s face was grim. Joseph was afraid to ask what news she brought. “Is she…” “She‟s resting now.” Joseph heaved a sigh of relief. “And the baby?” A weak smile crossed Carolina‟s lips. “You have a daughter and a son.” “Twins?” he gasped. Carolina nodded. “Congratulations.”
  157. 157. Joseph could tell that something wasn‟t right. Carolina wasn‟t anywhere near as happy as she should have been. “What aren‟t you telling me, Mrs. Bradford?” Carolina sighed. She then sat down on the sofa next to Joseph, and took her son-in- law‟s hand in hers.
  158. 158. “Anne is very, very weak. The doctor managed to stop the bleeding, but not before she lost quite a bit of blood.” “Is she going to make it?” Carolina shook her head, tears in her eyes. “The doctor couldn‟t give me a definitive answer.” Joseph was fighting back tears. “What needs to be done?” “She‟ll need to be on bed rest for as long as the doctor prescribes. You‟re probably going to need a nanny and a wet nurse.” “Done. I‟ll start looking tomorrow first thing.” He paused. “Can I see the babies?”
  159. 159. Carolina walked Joseph up to the nursery. Two small babies were sleeping there. “These are your children,” she said in a soft voice.
  160. 160. In turn, Joseph leaned over and touched each baby‟s head. “They‟re so small,” he muttered. “That‟s because they‟re early. The girl is strong, but the doctor is concerned about the boy. He‟ll need lots of love and attention.” “Which is which?” “Your daughter has your coloring and your red hair, while your son has Anne‟s blonde hair and fair skin.” “Esther and Eldon,” he whispered. “We had picked out those names, and I guess we needed both of them.” “They‟re lovely,” smiled Carolina. “Would you like to see Anne now?”
  161. 161. Joseph was shocked at how fragile Anne looked. Her skin looked waxy, and there were deep shadows under her eyes. “Oh, Annie,” he murmured. Carolina discreetly left, leaving the concerned man alone with his wife.
  162. 162. Anne rolled over, and Joseph approached the edge of the bed. “I‟ll take care of you, sweetheart,” he whispered, stroking her hair softly. “We‟ll get you better so you can watch our children grow up. I don‟t care how much it costs. I need you here with me.”
  163. 163. Anne awoke the next morning feeling completely exhausted. What happened last night? she wondered. Her hands wandered to her stomach, and she gasped. My baby! Anne shoved the covers off as best she could, and hurried to the room that she had prepared as a nursery.
  164. 164. Esther and Eldon were there, sleeping soundly. “Twins,” she said. “No wonder I‟m so worn out.” She leaned over and kissed Esther‟s head. She then moved to Eldon‟s crib. “Anne, what are you doing?”
  165. 165. “I wanted to see my babies. I don‟t remember much about last night.” “That‟s probably a good thing. Now you need to get back to bed.” “But I‟m not…” she began, but stopped as she grew lightheaded and unsteady on her feet. “Anne, the doctor says you need to stay off your feet for a while. I‟ll find a nanny to help with Esther and Eldon, and I‟m sure your mother and sister will be haunting the place.” Anne smiled a weak smile as she put her arms around her husband to steady herself. “Your remembered the names I wanted.” “Yes, Anne. Now come on, back to bed with you.” “Alright, dear,” conceded Anne.
  166. 166. After Joseph got Anne back into bed, he headed downstairs to make a telephone call. “Hello?” said Diana. “Mr. Bear! You are the last…What? Is she going to be okay?...And the baby…oh, babies!...Of course. Let me tell the nurse that I‟m stepping out for a while and I‟ll be right over.”
  167. 167. Diana was shocked to see her vibrant sister reduced to a sickbed. “Have you seen the children?” Anne asked her twin in a frail voice. “I have, Anne. They‟re beautiful.” “I know. I hate leaving them to a stranger‟s care, though.” “Anne, you heard the doctor. You need to rest, or you won‟t recover properly. Esther and Eldon will do just fine, and you‟ll be back on your feet before you know it. Besides, Mr. Bear hovers in the nursery constantly. I‟m sure he‟ll drive your nanny to distraction.” “You‟re right,” sighed Anne. “I just hate to miss any time with them.”
  168. 168. It had taken a lot of convincing, but Carolina had managed to get Jan to assist her with the garden. It had fallen into a bit of disarray, as Carolina had been spending much of her time at Anne‟s house, taking care of the babies and making sure that Anne followed doctor‟s orders. “You‟re doing very well, Jan,” encouraged Carolina. “Thank you. Have you called on Mrs. Bear today? How is she doing?” “She is not recovering as quickly as the doctor would like. She refuses to stay in bed unless one of us sits and watches her. I also believe that she knows that Eldon is not growing as he should, though none of us have said anything to her.” “I hope that things improve quickly.”
  169. 169. “We all are hoping for that,” sighed Carolina. “Oh!” gasped Jan, dropping the watering can. “What‟s the matter?” “I felt something…kick me.” “Oh my! You‟re in the family way,” cried Carolina, rushing over to examine Jan‟s suddenly expanded midsection. “I had no idea.” “Some women show no signs until they are a few months along. You‟re one of the lucky one not to have the morning sickness that most do.”
  170. 170. “Mama was right,” said Henri as she rubbed her growing belly. “I am going to be a mother.” She had managed to hide her pregnancy from Leonid so far, but there was no mistaking her bump for weight gain any longer. “Henrietta, where are you?” called Leonid. “Out here, on the balcony,” she replied.
  171. 171. “I wanted to tell you that I‟m leaving for the office,” he said. Leonid then saw his wife‟s stomach. “You‟re pregnant.” Henri nodded. “I was right after all.” Leonid sighed. “I never wanted to be a father. I will leave it to you to make sure this does not interrupt my lifestyle.” “Of course not,” she said, not believing what she was hearing. “I will see you tonight.” With those words, Leonid left for work.
  172. 172. Henri waited until she was certain that her husband was gone before she burst into tears. “How can he be so cold?” she sobbed. “He doesn‟t really love me; he just loves the idea of a pretty, young wife that he can show off.” She felt the baby move, and she placed both her hands on her belly. “Don‟t you worry, little one. Your mama loves you, and she wants you more than anything else in the world. I‟ll take good care of you. And maybe your papa will learn to love you once he has a chance to meet you.”
  173. 173. “I‟m headed to the store now,” said Robert. “Do you need anything while I‟m out?” “No, I have everything I need,” replied Matilda. Robert smiled at his wife. “I‟ll see you for dinner. „Phone me if you need me.” “I will. Have a good day, darling.”
  174. 174. “This is the place,” said Timothy as he approached the front door. “It‟s so small,” complained Rebecca. Timothy sniffed. “Probably the best he could afford.” He raised his hand and knocked on the door.
  175. 175. Matilda opened the door, and scowled at who she saw. “What do you want?” she demanded. “Is that anyway to speak to your father?” Matilda scoffed. “You never really cared about me, just what I could do for you.” “Matilda, we raised you better than that,” chastised Rebecca. “I‟d say I‟m sorry, but I‟m not.” “I see that life in a hovel has not improved your temperament.”
  176. 176. “That is enough!” stated Matilda. “I will not have you insult me or my home. It may not be much, but it‟s mine to run as I see fit.” “I thought that I would come here to find you regretting your hasty marriage. But I see you have not come to your senses yet.” “I came to my senses the day I ran away,” retorted Matilda. “Well, in that case, I wanted you to know that I have named Sullivan my sole heir. You will receive nothing when your mother and I pass on.” “I don‟t want your money. I never did. I just wanted my parents to care about my happiness.”
  177. 177. With that, Matilda ordered her parents to leave at once. “You‟ll be sorry, girl. Mark my words,” were Timothy‟s parting words.
  178. 178. As soon as she heard the door click shut, Matilda burst into tears. “Why are they so hateful? Why can‟t they just accept my decision and let me be happy?”
  179. 179. Eliza and George were standing outside Robert and Matilda‟s house. Their thoughts on the domicile were much different that the previous visitors. “What a charming little house!” exclaimed Eliza. “I hope that Matilda won‟t mind us calling unannounced.” “I doubt she will. I‟m sure she doesn‟t have a lot of friends right now.” Eliza thought back to the war, when no one would call on her because she was married to a known Confederate. “We‟ll have to do our part to make her feel welcome.” She went to knock on the door, but paused. “I think there‟s someone in there crying.”
  180. 180. The mother in Eliza took over, and she opened the door. “I told you to go away,” sniffed Matilda. “Matilda, dear, it‟s Mrs. McCarthy. Are you all right?” “Mrs. McCarthy! Forgive me. My parents were just here, and their visit was not a pleasant one.” “I can see that,” soothed Eliza. “Dry your tears, dear. I‟m not here to chastise you. In fact, I was hoping that we could have a nice visit. But if you‟d prefer, I can call at another time.”
  181. 181. “No, please stay. Can I offer you and Mr. McCarthy some refreshments?” “Some tea would be lovely. Would you like some help preparing it?” “I would love the company. The kitchen is right through here,” gestured Matilda.
  182. 182. When Robert returned home from work, he stumbled upon a happy scene. Matilda was conversing with George while Eliza played at chess. “Hello,” said a somewhat bewildered Robert. “Welcome home,” smiled Matilda. “Your parents called, and I convinced them to stay for dinner. It‟s just about ready. Why don‟t we all go into the dining room?”
  183. 183. The entire story of Robert and Matilda‟s courtship and elopement was shared over dinner. “Are you certain that do not mind you were not able to be part of our wedding?” asked Matilda. Eliza looked at her new daughter. “A mother always wants to be part of the milestones in her children‟s lives. But I understand that there were extenuating circumstances in this case. I hope that George and I will be welcome in your lives from here on.” “Of course! As you saw, I do not have hope that I will be able to reconcile with my family any time soon. You and Mr. McCarthy will always be welcome.”
  184. 184. While Matilda tidied up after dinner, Robert said goodbye to his parents. “Thank you for supporting me,” he said to Eliza. “I can see how much the two of you care about each other,” she replied. “Besides, I know something of forbidden love. I would be a hypocrite if I were to do anything else. I also know that Rebecca can be stingy with her affections. Your poor wife must be starved for love. I‟m glad that she‟s found someone who cares for her, and not her fortune.” “I‟m very proud of you, son,” said George. “Let me know if you and your bride need anything.” “We will, Papa. Thank you for everything.”
  185. 185. As the McCarthys left, Matilda came into the parlor. “Your parents are so kind,” she said. “I was very lucky to have them,” he replied. “You look tired. Come on, let‟s go to bed.”
  186. 186. The two snuggled into bed, falling asleep in each other‟s arms. Both knew that they were lucky to have found a way to be together.
  187. 187. Joseph was worried. It had been several months since the twins had been born, and Anne still wasn‟t well. Some days were better than others, but the good days seemed few and far between. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, and smoothed her curls. “Annie,” he said softly. “Hmm?” she asked. “How are you feeling today?” “A little better.” “Do you want to get up now?” Anne nodded.
  188. 188. Anne rose slowly. The dark circles under her eyes and the hollows in her cheeks had not diminished. She avoided mirrors like the plague now, and she couldn‟t remember the last time she had put on a real dress. “I think I‟d like to take a bath,” she said. “I‟ll draw it for you, then bring your breakfast up before I go to work.” “You take such good care of me,” she smiled.
  189. 189. The hot water felt good to Anne, and she took longer in the bath than she intended. When the water began to cool, she reluctantly got out of the tub and dressed in one of the tea gowns that comprised her wardrobe now.
  190. 190. She didn‟t feel like laying in bed again, so she reclined on the window seat in her bedroom. The cool glass felt good against her skin. She stayed there for a while, watching the world go on without her. She heard a cry from the nursery. It was killing her that she couldn‟t be the one to take care of her children. The nurse must have gone in and got the baby settled, because the house grew silent again. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them. A quick trip can’t hurt.
  191. 191. She slowly walked to the nursery. Upon entering, she saw the Esther was sleeping, but Eldon was looking up at her with big eyes. She scooped him up and held him close. “Hello, my little one,” she cooed. “You‟re not growing as fast as your sister. They don‟t say anything, but I know they‟re all worried about you. You need special attention, and I‟m not able to give it to you. What kind of a mother am I?” Anne began to feel funny, and she quickly put Eldon back in his crib.
  192. 192. Her head began to swim, and the room began to spin. “Oh, dear. I shouldn‟t have done that,” she muttered.
  193. 193. She stumbled, lost her balance, and collapsed onto the floor with a thud. “Anne!” called Joseph. “Is something wrong?” He waited for a response, and, getting none, he hurried upstairs.
  194. 194. “Anne!” he cried, seeing her crumbled on the floor of the nursery. He gently shook her, but she was out cold. “Are you trying to kill yourself?” he asked, then sighed.
  195. 195. He gathered his wife in his arms and carried her into their room. She’s a light as a feather, he worried. I’m going to have to do something, or I’m going to lose her, and I can’t have that.
  196. 196. Anne woke up not long after Joseph got her settled in bed. “Joseph, I‟m fine,” she insisted, brushing away the hand that was smoothing her hair. “You‟re not fine, Anne. You‟ve lost all your strength, and you can‟t keep pretending it‟s not the truth. You have to slow down, or you‟re never going to get better. Why can‟t you understand that?” “I‟m missing my children growing up!” she cried. “The nurse brings them in once a day for five minutes. I‟m going to be a strange to them. My babies need their mother!” “If you don‟t stop, you‟re not going to be around to see them grow up!” Anne looked at her husband, shocked that he had spoken the thing that he feared.
  197. 197. “Joseph,” she began, but he rushed around to curl up on the other side of the bed next to her. “Anne, I shouldn‟t have spoken so harshly. But I‟m worried about you. Your mother and father are worried about you, and your sisters and brothers. Can you please, please follow doctor‟s orders and stay in bed until you‟ve fully recovered? I don‟t know what I‟d do if anything every happened to you.” Anne sighed. “All right. But you need to speak to the nurse and make sure she lets me see my babies more than once a day.” “Deal. Now, you rest while I go get you some tea and toast. And while you eat, I‟ll bring in Esther and Eldon for a nice, long visit with their mama.”
  198. 198. ***************************************************************************************************** And that is the end of chapter 10. Chris decided to welcome Henri and Matthew home from college (and horary for Henri‟s decent growing up outfit. I love that girl). Coming up in Chapter 11: More babies! The youngest members of generation 4 head off to college! What will Jan and Matthew‟s child be like? Will Professor Leonid come around to his child? Will Anne fully recover? Stay tuned. Thank you very much for reading. Please leave comment on the thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!

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