The Bradford Legacy Chapter 11Presentation Transcript
Welcome to Chapter 11 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. Last time,
generation 4 heir Matthew and his twin sister Henrietta both married, with differing results. Babies were
born and brought joy and sorrow. And Robert and Matilda eloped, eliciting very different reactions from
their two families.
Without any further ado, I give you Chapter 11 of my little tale.
“This is a fantastic dinner, Mama,” commented Alexander Bradford.
“Thank you, dear,” replied Carolina. “Is Jan feeling any better, Matthew? I‟m worried about her in her
“She‟s just tired, Mama,” replied the young man. “You remember what it was like when you were with
Carolina sighed, knowing all too well what Matthew was talking about. “I‟ll make some soup for her and
bring it up.”
“I‟m certain that Jan will appreciate the gesture.”
“Are you excited to become a father, son?” asked Thomas.
Matthew‟s face was apprehensive as he answered. “I‟ll feel better about it once the baby‟s arrived and Jan
is safely recovered. After what Anne‟s gone through…”
Thomas nodded, fully understanding Matthew‟s concern. Anne, his eldest daughter, had given birth to
twins practically a year ago, and she was still very ill.
“The doctor is on standby, and your mother and Phily will do all they can for Jan after the baby comes. I‟m
sure that Jan won‟t have the same troubles that Anne has.”
“Thank you, Papa.”
“How is Anne doing?” queried Thomas.
Phily‟s shoulders slumped. “She‟s a little better, but you can‟t tell it for looking at her. She‟s still far too
thin, and looks as though she hasn‟t slept properly in weeks.”
Carolina made a disapproving sound. “The girl can‟t learn to follow orders and just rest.”
“Unless someone is watching her,” interjected Phily. “I sat with her for a few hours today and read to her.
But her heart is in the nursery with the babies. Esther is doing well, but Eldon is still lagging behind.”
Carolina shook her head. “I‟m sure that Joseph and the nurse are doing all they can. Anne just needs to
stay in bed.”
Thomas looked at his wife. “When have you known our Anne to sit still for more than five minutes?”
“I know, dear. But she really must. It‟s what‟s best for her.”
“Can we please talk about something else? Anything?” demanded Matthew.
“Of course, dear. How insensitive of us. Alexander, how did your University examinations go today?”
Alex grinned. “I think I did a bang-up job. There were only a few questions I‟m not sure I got right.”
“It gives me great pride to see my sons carry on the strong academic tradition of this family,” beamed
“Matthew, I was wondering if you could help me out with something. Andrew and I were talking on the
„phone, and we wanted to know if you could pull some strings so that we could move into the Bradford
Society house straight away.”
Matthew considered for a moment. “I suppose I could call in a favor. It‟s not typical to let freshman live in
the house, but where both of you are legacies, I can probably get them to make an exception.”
“That‟d be swell if you could. I‟d owe you one,” nodded Alex.
The next morning, Jan was feeling well enough to pass the afternoon in the library reading. Alex was busy
cramming in all the studying that he could, and he barely noticed his sister-in-law‟s entrance.
“Oh! I‟m sorry, Jan. I didn‟t hear you come in.”
“You don‟t mind my being in here, do you?”
“Nope. Say, is that a new dress?”
“Thank you, Alexander.”
“What are you reading?”
Alex grew weary of trying to engage Jan in conversation, and returned his focus to his book. A few hours
later, Thomas came into the library.
“Alex, Andrew is on the „phone asking for you. Something about a ball game in the city this weekend…”
“That sounds swell,” said Alex as bolted out of the room.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Thomas asked Jan.
“I believe the way you are styling your hair now is very flattering,” complemented Thomas.
“Thank you. I found this way has fewer pins and doesn‟t cause my head to ache as much as it used to.”
Thomas nodded, not quite knowing what else he could say.
After much awkward silence, Thomas rose. “Well, I have things to attend to. I hope to see you at dinner,
On the other side of Simsfield, Eliza Bradford Alcott McCarthy was conversing with the elder of her twin
“I just don‟t understand, Lawrence. Your brother has settled down with a lovely woman, and soon I‟ll be a
grandmother. Why can‟t you consider finding a bride and starting a family of your own?”
“Mama, I don‟t see why you‟re fussing so much. I haven‟t met anyone that I want to ask to marry me yet.
What‟s the rush?”
“I‟m not getting any younger. I want to see all my children happily settled.”
“I will get married, Mama. Eventually. I want to get settled into my job first and make sure that I‟ll be able
to provide for my family.”
“Your lax attitude worries me, son. Do you really want to put your happiness for so long?”
“I am happy, Mama. Why can‟t you see that?”
“Well, couldn‟t you at least ask your friends to introduce you to some nice young ladies that their families
are acquainted with?”
Lawrence sighed and got up from the sofa.
“This conversation is over, Mama. I have work to do.”
“Lawrence, I didn‟t mean to upset you.”
“But you did, Mama,” he muttered low enough so that Eliza didn‟t hear him.
Lawrence hid in the library, sinking down into the chair at the desk he still thought of as his father,
Why can’t Mama just let me be and stop meddling in my life. I know I should get married, but I haven’t met
anyone that I would even consider asking.
“Lawrence, is everything okay?”
Lawrence looked up to see his half-sister, Amelia, looking at him with worried eyes.
“Can I help?”
“Unless you know how to get Mama to stop meddling, no.”
Amelia choked back a laugh as she sat down in one of the well worn armchairs.
“Is Mama giving you a hard time about not courting anyone?”
“How did you know?”
“All she talks about lately is weddings and babies. With all of our cousins getting married, it‟s all she can
think of. She‟s even begun lecturing me about „catching‟ a husband when I go to Mrs. Seymour‟s and it‟ll
be years before I‟m ready for that.”
“I don‟t want to get married just because. Sure, I want to have a wife and family, but I‟m not ready for that
“That won‟t stop Mama from sticking her nose into your business.”
“Any words of wisdom, little sister of mine?”
“Why don‟t you go to the dinner that Aunt Sophia‟s throwing?”
“How did you know about that? Have you been reading my mail?”
Amelia shrugged. “If you‟re going to leave invitations sitting out where anyone can see…but you should
go. You haven‟t seen Cole since he graduated, and I thought you and Lorraine were good friends too.
Besides, you can fib and tell Mama you met someone.”
“When did you become so devious?” grinned Lawrence. “Thanks. I‟d better reply that I‟ll be coming.”
Lawrence found himself in Portsimouth a week or so later, gathered around the table in dining room of the
“It sure is nice to get out of Simsfield for a while,” he commented.
“I‟m glad you could make it. It seems like ages since we last talked,” said Cole.
“It is good to see family,” agreed Jimmy. “I trust that everyone in Simsfield is well.”
Lawrence nodded. “I‟ll be an uncle soon, and Mama can‟t wait to be a grandmother.”
“What about you, old chap? Any plans to make some lucky young lady „Mrs. Alcott?‟”
“Not you, too,” groaned Lawrence. “Mama gives me nothing but grief about finding a bride.”
“Being married is great; you‟ll see.”
“I guess I‟m just not ready to think about that yet.”
“Maybe not,” agreed Cole. “When you are, let me know. I introduced your cousin Matthew to his wife.
Maybe I can do the same for you.”
“I‟ve already got my mother trying to playing matchmaker for me; I don‟t need my friends to do so also.”
On the other side of the wall, in the parlor, Sophia Phoenix was interrogating her daughter, Lorraine.
“I don‟t understand why you refused Mr. Tellerman‟s proposal, dear. He‟s a perfectly suitable match.”
Lorraine looked at her mother with confusion and disdain.
“Do you truly believe that, Mama? If you do, allow me to enlighten you. He‟s a vile human being. I would
never stoop so low.”
“Lorraine! I brought you up better than to speak ill of others.”
“It‟s the truth, Mama. All of my suitors, Mr. Tellerman included, care only for my good looks or my
generous dowry. Is it wrong of me to want more than that?”
“No, I suppose not,” Sophia sighed.
“I‟m sure that Lorraine will find a suitable husband before it‟s time for her to leave Mrs. Seymour‟s,”
interjected Katerina, Cole‟s wife.
“I hope you‟re right,” agreed Sophia.
“For goodness sake,” said Lorraine. “I didn‟t come home for dinner to be lectured. Excuse me.”
“Lorraine,” began Katerina.
“No,” interrupted Lorraine. “I do not wish to hear anymore. When Papa‟s ready to take me back to my
boarding house, I‟ll be in the study.”
The men were still engaged in conversation when Lorraine stomped up the stairs.
“What‟s that all about?” asked Cole.
“Your sister refused Mr. Tellerman, and I‟m sure your mother had something to say about it,” replied
Jimmy. “She‟ll be in one of her sulks from the lecture.”
“I‟m glad to hear that she refused him; I‟ve heard some very unflattering things about his character,”
“I am in agreement with you on that,” said Jimmy, “But Lorraine has had half a dozen proposals and she‟s
refused them all. At this rate, she‟ll never get married.”
“She‟s rather picky…I‟m afraid that she‟ll end up as an old maid,” interjected Cole.
“Excuse me,” said Lawrence, rising from the table, “It‟s been a while since Miss Lorraine and I have had a
chance to talk. I think I‟ll go catch up with her.”
“Be careful,” warned Jimmy. “She can be quite vicious when she‟s riled up.”
Lorraine‟s face contorted in confusion as she moved the chess pieces around on the board.
Why can’t I attract a man who is interested in marrying me for a reason other than my family name, fortune
or good looks? I have no desire to be anyone’s trophy.
She sighed. Lorraine knew that she was developing a reputation of being too picky, and that she would
more than likely have to settle for whoever her next suitor might be.
I suppose that’s the only option I have if I don’t want to end up as an old maid.
She heard the door to the study open and turned to see Lawrence entering.
“Do you mind if I join you?” he asked.
“Not at all. It will be nice to have a decent conversationalist as my opponent for once,” she smiled.
“I understand that you‟ve recently refused a marriage proposal,” he said.
“Oh, not you too! I have to listen to Mama‟s lectures about needing to get married, and I don‟t need to hear
it from anyone else.”
“Lorraine, that‟s not what I meant at all! My Mama‟s giving me the same speech as yours, and I‟m not
about to give it to someone else.”
“I‟m sorry,” she said. “I‟m just so frustrated with all the young men who try to court me. They aren‟t
interested in me; just what my name and fortune and face can offer them.”
“That‟s horrible,” he replied. “You obviously haven‟t had any young men of character calling on you.”
“They‟re not a bad sort, mostly. I just can‟t bear the thought of being thought of as a possession.”
Lawrence smiled. “You sound like our cousin Anne. Did she manage to pull you into the suffrage
“No, but I think suffragettes have the right idea.”
“So you don‟t want to get married?”
“No, I do. I want to have a family and house of my own, and to not be a burden to my family. I just don‟t
want to get married simply to be married, if you know what I mean.” A tear welled up in her eye. “But now
I‟m afraid that I‟ll have to accept the next proposal I get, or no one will ever ask me again.”
Lawrence reached across the chessboard and took Lorraine's hand in his.
“Don‟t settle, Lorraine. You deserve better than that.”
“Thank you,” she said. “You‟ve always been such a dear friend to me, Lawrence. I hope that we can
“Of course we can,” he said. “I won‟t wait so long before visiting you again. May I call on you at your
“Please do. I‟m allowed guests on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”
Back in Simsfield, Diana Bradford Pasang sat in her parlor late one night, her nose in a book. Her
husband, Lee, arrived home and was surprised to see his wife still up.
“Diana, is something wrong? Is Amos unwell?”
Diana looked up from her book. “What? No, Amos is fine. I couldn‟t sleep, so I thought I would read for a
while, but I must have lost track of time.”
“Why couldn‟t you sleep?”
Diana sighed as she closed her book and placed it back on the shelf.
“I‟m worried about Anne,” she confessed.
“Why? Has she taken a turn for the worse?”
“No, but she‟s not any better either. I wish there was something more that I could do to help her.”
“Diana, you can‟t be with her every minute of every day. You have your own home and family to worry
“I know that, Lee. But she‟s my sister. My twin at that. I can‟t help it. If something were to happen to
Lee stopped his wife‟s words by pulling her into his arms. “Diana, I know how much you care about your
sister. But if you keep worrying about her like this, you‟ll make yourself sick, too. I can‟t have that.”
“I know, darling. You‟ve been so patient with me. I promise to do my best to stop worrying so much.”
“Thank you. And I spoke with Joseph earlier today. The doctor is very pleased with Anne. He thinks that
she‟ll start showing rapid improvement soon.”
“Oh, I do hope so.”
“What‟s this, Joseph?” asked Anne.
“Well, if you won‟t stay in bed in your own room, I figured I‟d just have to purchase a bed to put in the
nursery for you to rest on,” he replied, as he gently placed her onto the soft coverlet.
“This is a wonderful idea. I can rest, and be near my babies at the same time.”
“That was the idea. Let me get Esther and Eldon for you.”
Joseph place their son, Eldon, in Anne‟s arms, and their daughter, Esther on the bed at her side.
“My babies,” she smiled. “This is the best medicine that I could ask for.”
“The nurse will be in shortly, and she‟ll make sure that you and the twins are well taken care of for the day.”
“Thank you so much, Joseph,” she said as she cuddled Eldon. “This is exactly what I needed.”
Joseph smiled a knowing smile as he left the nursery.
Anne and Eldon and Esther would pass many days like this, as Anne continued her long recovery.
Robert and Matilda Alcott were passing a pleasant afternoon at home. Matilda was due to give birth to
their first child any day now, and Robert didn‟t want to be too far away from his wife.
“He‟s kicking again,” commented Matilda.
“Really? Can I feel?” asked Robert, jumping up and putting his hand on Matilda‟s middle. He waited
several moments, but the baby was still.
“I guess he doesn‟t want to talk you right now,” Matilda smiled.
“I‟m going to go take a nap,” Matilda said, giving her husband a quick peck. “Don‟t let me sleep too long.”
“I‟ll wake you up in plenty of time to watch me burn dinner.”
“Thank you dear.”
Matilda lay down and managed to get an hour or so of her nap in before she awoke to the pains of labor.
“Oh,” she moaned. “I guess it‟s time.”
“Matilda, are you all right?” Robert called.
“The baby‟s coming,” she replied. “Call the doctor!”
A sharp pain ripped through her body, and she screamed in agony.
“Tell him to hurry!” she ordered.
Matilda was tired, sore, and she desperately wanted a bath. But as soon as the midwife handed her the
small bundle, her only thoughts were of the dark-haired baby in her arms.
“Hello, little one,” she cooed. “It‟s so nice to finally meet you.”
A soft knock sounded at the door. “May I come in?” asked a very nervous man, who had been pacing in
the parlor for hours.
“Of course,” Matilda smiled. “Come meet your son.”
“Our son?” he sputtered, coming into the room and tripping over his own feet in the process.
“Yes, our beautiful son. He‟s the most amazing thing I‟ve ever seen in my life.”
Robert approached the bed and leaned over to see the baby. His heart melted as the small, dark blue
eyes gazed into his own.
“What are you thinking?” asked Matilda.
“I‟m in awe of this little…person. He‟s a miracle.”
“I know,” she replied, kissing the silky hair on the top of the baby‟s head. “My wee little man. Have you
given any thought to a name?”
Robert took the baby from his wife and cradled him in his arms. “Would you mind if we called him for my
“Not at all. Horace is a little old fashioned, but…”
“No, I meant to ask if we could call him George.”
Matilda paused for a moment before she smiled. “What about George Horace Alcott?”
Robert looked at his wife, wonder written all over his face. “Perfect.”
Robert held his son close to him, rubbing small circles on his back. “I‟m going to go get him settled, and
then call Mama to let her know that she has a grandson.”
“I can get him settled.”
“No, you‟ve done your part for the moment. You rest. George and I will do just fine.”
True to his word, Robert was able to get George settled, and he went to check on Matilda. Finding her
sound asleep, he headed downstairs to call his mother. Mercy answered the phone.
“Mr. Robert! To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Mercy, can you please tell Mama that she is the grandmother to a healthy baby boy?”
“Mr. Robert, that is fine news indeed. You a father! I remember changing your nappies, and now you‟re
doing it for your son. How time does fly.”
“Yes, Mercy, it does. Tell Mama that she can stop by to meet little George Horace tomorrow.”
“I‟ll do that. You have a good night, Mr. Robert.”
“Who was that on the „phone, Mercy.”
“Mr. Robert. Miss Matilda had the baby.”
“She did! I‟m a grandmother? Is she well? And the baby?”
“Slow down, Miss Eliza. Yes, you‟re a grandmother to a baby boy. Mr. Robert says they named him
George Horace, and that Miss Matilda will be up for callers tomorrow. So I‟d guess that she and the baby
are just fine.”
Eliza had not heard much of what Mercy said after she heard the baby was to be called “George Horace.”
She thought it was a fitting way for Robert to pay tribute to his two fathers. She rose from her chair and
hugged the woman who she regarded as one of her best friends.
“This is a happy day, Mercy.”
“Any day a baby comes is a happy day, Miss Eliza.”
“Of course I‟ll call and meet little George tomorrow. Where did you put that nightshirt I made? And the
booties I knitted?”
“I‟ll pull them together for you straight away, Miss Eliza.”
“Thank you, Mercy. Do you want to come with me tomorrow?”
“No, thank you, Miss Eliza. I‟ll call in a few days when Miss Matilda‟s fully up and about.”
Eliza headed for the Alcott home as early as was socially acceptable. There she found Matilda in the
parlor, playing with little George.
“Shouldn‟t you be resting, dear?” asked Eliza.
“I feel wonderful,” replied Matilda. “And I was eager to introduce you to your grandson.”
“He‟s adorable,” Eliza cooed. “My hair and Robert‟s eyes and your skin.”
“The midwife seemed to think that he‟ll have curly hair too, though I‟m not sure I see it.”
“Curly locks do run in the Bradford family, and little George here has it on both sides of his family tree.
You‟ll just have to wait until he grows up a little more.”
The two women and the little man passed a pleasant morning. When Eliza left, she hugged her daughter-
“If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.”
“Thank you,” replied Matilda. “Robert has been very helpful, and little George is such a good baby.”
“I‟ll be by frequently to spoil him rotten,” warned Eliza.
“What else are grandmothers for?”
Across town, Rebecca Thompson Ryan was in a foul mood. She had thought her golden years would be
spent traveling abroad with her husband while her daughter's husband ran the family businesses. Matilda‟s
elopement had spoiled those plans.
As Rebecca took her frustrations out on the grand piano, now horribly out of tune due to its lack of use, she
noticed the butler come in with the daily correspondences and the newspaper. She rose to deal with her
Flipping quickly through the letters and cards, she decided she wasn‟t in the mood for replying at the
moment. Instead, she picked up the paper, intent on reading about the latest goings on of society.
She quickly flipped to the announcements page, seeing who had become engaged or married. Her eyes
came to a sudden halt when she saw the name “Alcott” in the birth announcements.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alcott are pleased to announce the birth of a son, George Horace Alcott.
Rebecca folded the newspaper and placed it on the sofa beside her. She was a grandmother, and she
hadn‟t even know that her daughter was pregnant.
George Horace. What a common sounding name. Not even a hint to her side of the family, just that boy’s
disgraceful Confederate father and his shopkeeper stepfather. That ungrateful girl.
Rebecca sighed. A grandmother. I wonder if I’ll ever get to see the child.
It was there that Timothy found her when he returned home from work.
“Is something wrong?” he asked when she barely looked up at his arrival.
“We‟re grandparents,” she stated without fanfare.
Timothy sat down beside his wife. “She called, then?”
Rebecca shook her head. “The announcement was in the paper today.”
“So that’s is what all the stares at work were about.”
“What are we going to do?”
“What do you mean what are we going to do? She made her choice. She wants no part of us.”
“But our grandson…”
“Rebecca, see reason. You heard what she had to say after we called on her. She has made her choice
to live without us in her life. You will not call on her or acknowledge this event in any way.”
“No „buts,‟ Rebecca. She will do this alone.”
“I‟m not talking about offering her financial support. I agree with you completely on that point. But this is
our grandchild. Our grandson at that. Don‟t you want to know him at all?”
Timothy hesitated for just a moment before he replied. “If circumstances were different, I would love to
know the boy. But they are not. I have no intention of getting to know the child, and I forbid you from it as
“I cannot believe that you won‟t even let me send a note to her. But if that is what you command, I will
“Good,” he said, rising.
“Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes,” she said to her husband‟s retreating back.
Timothy nodded in acknowledgement.
If he thinks that I’m not going to find a way to know my own grandchild, then he’s got another thing coming,
thought Rebecca. I’ll just have to be discreet about it.
At the Bradford farm, Jan had awoken early. As was her routine as of late, she wandered into the library to
read. This morning, it wasn‟t long before the near-constant ache in her back became unbearable. She
rose and headed for the stairs, thinking that a long soak in a hot tub would ease her discomfort.
Before she had made it upstairs, the pains became more intense and she doubled over with the force of
“Ow!” she screamed. “Someone help me!”
Thomas heard Jan‟s cries and came running.
“What‟s wrong? Oh!” he said, as the realization of what was happening hit him. “Carolina! CAROLINA!!!”
“What is it, dear?” she called.
“Baby!” screamed Jan.
“Oh, my,” said Carolina. “Everything will be just fine, dear. Try not to panic, and remember to breathe.”
“I‟m trying, Carolina!” replied Thomas.
“I‟m not talking to you, you ninny!” she growled at her husband. “You go call the doctor. Now!”
“Yes, Carolina,” said Thomas, hurrying to the phone as Jan screamed again.
“Now, Jan. Let me help you upstairs. The doctor will be here shortly, and I‟ve done this before. You‟ll be
Several hours later, Jan brought her daughter and son down in turn to meet their grandfather.
“This is Elizabeth,” she said, introducing the baby girl with brown hair, blue eyes, and fair skin.
“And this,” she beamed, “is my son Jefferson.” Jan cooed at the little boy who looked exactly the same as
his sister, just with a slightly darker complexion.
Thomas and Carolina were both pleased that the babies and Jan had come through the delivery with flying
Matthew had been at work while all the excitement occurred, and when Carolina saw him arriving home
she rushed out to meet him.
“Is something wrong?” he demanded.
“Not at all, son,” said Carolina, barely able to contain her excitement.
“Well, what is it?”
“You‟re a father, Matthew. Jan had the babies while you were at work today.”
“Babies?” he said.
Carolina nodded. “Twins. You have a daughter and a son.”
“I have a son!” he said, a pleased grin creeping over his face. “And a daughter,” he added, somewhat as
an afterthought. “My wife?”
“Resting comfortably. She‟s tired, but the doctor thinks that she‟ll be back up and about in no time. The
babies are strong and healthy.”
Matthew pushed past his mother and into the house, determined to meet his son and heir.
Thomas had gotten the second crib out of storage and set it up in the nursery. Matthew made a beeline
for the one on the far wall, the one that was trimmed in blue.
“Hello, my son,” he said, looking into the baby‟s eyes.
He picked the boy up and looked him over. He was strong and healthy.
“I‟m very pleased to meet you,” Matthew said. “I‟m going to go check on your mother now.”
Matthew placed the boy back into the crib, and exited the nursery without a second glance at his daughter.
Matthew found Jan resting in their room.
“I can tell that your mother told you about your son by the glow on your face,” she commented.
Matthew smiled. “He‟s perfect. You have done well, Jan.”
“You had a hand in it too, I believe,” she replied.
“How are you feeling?”
“I‟m tired, but other than that, quite good.”
“I‟m glad to hear it.”
“I had thought to call our daughter Elizabeth, but wanted to get your approval first.”
Matthew nodded. “That sounds quite refined. I trust you remembered that I was thinking of Jefferson for
Jan nodded. “Jefferson Bradford. That‟s such a distinguished sounding name.”
“I thought so. I was thinking – should we look into hiring a nanny?”
Jan shook her head. “Your parents have offered to help with them for now. Perhaps when they get older.
Elizabeth will need a governess at least.”
“Very good. I‟ll leave you to rest then. Should I have Mama send a tray up later?”
“Please. That soup she made me a few weeks ago was quite good. I‟d like some of that again, if it‟s
“Anything for the mother of my son,” replied Matthew, kissing his wife‟s forehead.
Eliza was sitting in her parlor, lost in thought. She didn‟t even hear the front door open and her husband‟s
“Eliza, is something wrong?”
“Yes. Lawrence is being so difficult.”
“That‟s a change,” he muttered, coming into the room and joining her on the sofa.
“He refuses to consider marriage! Why can‟t he be like his brother and settle down with a nice girl?
“I wasn‟t even aware that he was courting anyone.”
“He‟s not. That‟s the problem. How is he ever going to meet his future wife if he spends all his time with
his nose in a book?”
“Give him some time. When he meets the right girl, he‟ll know. I did.”
“You‟re not at all worried?” she asked.
“Not a lick. Lawrence is something of a late bloomer, I guess. When he does get married, it‟ll be to a
steady, reliable girl. No whirlwind romance for him. But he‟ll be happy, just the same.”
“Would you talk to him?”
“No. And if you ever want him to get married, I suggest to stop nagging him about it.”
“I‟m not…all right. I‟ll leave him be. For now.”
Later that night, Lawrence called George into the library.
“I need your advice on something.”
“Anything. What do you need, son?”
“I‟ve been thinking about what Mama said about me getting married. Why does one decide to do so?”
George sighed. “There are lots of reasons. For love. For money. For alliances. Out of necessity or fear
of being alone.”
“What about for friendship?”
“I suppose that could be a reason. What are you thinking?”
“All I hear about is how much in love you and Mama were when you got married, and how much Robert
and Matilda adore each other. I‟ve never felt that for any woman, and I guess I‟m afraid that if I wait for
that, I‟ll end up old and alone.”
“So you‟ve decided that marriage to someone you consider a friend would be your best option?”
“Do you have a lady in mind?”
Lawrence smiled. “Lorraine Phoenix.”
George thought for a moment. “You two have been friends for years, and you seem to understand each
other well. What‟s brought this on?”
“We were talking at her parents‟ party…she‟s afraid of getting married to someone who wants her only for
her name and money. I don‟t need either. We like spending time together, so why not?”
“If that‟s what you‟ve made up your mind to do, I suggest you go see Jimmy and ask his permission.”
“I‟m taking the train tomorrow. If he says yes, I‟ll stop by Lorraine‟s boarding house after that.”
“Good luck, son. I hope that everything works out for you.”
“So do I.”
Lawrence had walked from the train station to the Phoenix apartment, trying to figure out what he was
going to say. Far too quickly, he found himself walking up the front steps and ringing the doorbell.
I hope that Mr. Phoenix agrees with my proposal.
Katerina answered the door.
“Mr. Alcott! To what do we owe this pleasure?”
“I was hoping to speak with your father, if he‟s home.”
Katerina nodded. “He‟s in the study. Up the stairs and straight ahead.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Phoenix,” he said, turning and headed up the stairs.
Jimmy looked up from his book when he heard the door open.
“Lawrence, my boy! I didn‟t expect to see you again for ages. What can I do for you?”
“I‟m sorry to call unannounced, Mr. Phoenix. Do you have a few moments for us to speak?”
“Of course. Pull up a chair.”
“Now, what can I do for you?”
Lawrence decided the best thing to do was to be direct. “Mr. Phoenix, you know that your daughter and I
have been good friends over the years.”
“She speaks very highly of you,” he agreed.
“I am here to ask your permission to marry Lorraine.”
Jimmy smiled. “Do you love my daughter, son?”
“I care for her happiness deeply. She is one of my dearest friends, and I think that we are very well suited
for each other.”
“She can be difficult.”
“As I know.”
“And she has a temper.”
“I‟ve been on its receiving end several times. Mr. Phoenix, do you not want me to marry her?”
Jimmy chuckled, and shook his head.
“Not at all, Lawrence. In fact, this is a great weight off my mind. You have my permission.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lawrence replied sincerely.
“You‟re welcome,” Jimmy replied, shaking the younger man‟s hand. “Welcome to the family.”
“Please excuse me. Lorraine is allowed callers today, and I‟d like to see her before I leave the city.”
“Good luck, my boy.”
Lawrence bounded down the stairs and out the front door. He passed Cole on his way home from work.
“Lawrence! Come in again and join me for drink.”
“Sorry, old chap. Not today. Places to go and people to see,” he said, hurrying down the street.
What was that all about? thought Cole.
Cole went upstairs and found his father in the study.
“What was Lawrence doing here?”
“Asking for permission to marry your sister.”
“Seriously?” When Jimmy nodded, Cole said, “Well, I‟ll be! That‟s great news. Have you told Mama yet?”
“That ought to be a good conversation. Let me know when you‟re going to have it so I can get out of the
Later that night, Sophia was still upset at the news of her daughter‟s pending engagement.
“I still don‟t understand why you gave him permission,” she lamented.
“It‟s a good match, and I think that she‟ll say yes this time.”
“But he doesn‟t love her! You asked him, and he said that he didn‟t.”
“I don‟t think he loves her, no, but he does care about her deeply. They‟re great friends. That‟s a better
foundation than most marriages start out with.”
Sophia waived her hand dismissively.
“Did you love me when we were first married?” he asked, knowing what her answer would be.
“No,” she admitted. “But I learned to love you as the years went by.”
Jimmy put his arm around his wife, and she snuggled up to him.
“I‟m certain that‟s what will happen with Lawrence and Lorraine. He‟ll be able to take care of her, and she‟ll
be happy to have someone who respects her. It will all work out in the end. You‟ll see.”
“I do hope you‟re right.”
Lawrence had arrived at Lorraine‟s boarding house, and the pair were enjoying a visit in the front garden.
“I‟m so glad you called today, Lawrence.”
“I always enjoyed passing the time with you when we were younger, Lorraine. Why wouldn‟t I like it as
“You seem nervous about something. What is on your mind?”
“Lorraine, how long have we known each other?”
“Years. Since we were small.”
“And we‟ve always been good friends.”
“Yes. Lawrence, where is this conversation going?”
“I‟ve been thinking about what you said to me at your parents‟ dinner party. About how you‟re frustrated
with all your suitors caring only for the material things that you can give them. What would make you say
„yes‟ to a proposal?”
Lorraine thought for a moment before she answered. “I‟d need to know that the gentleman in question was
a man of good character, who cared about me and my happiness.”
Lawrence nodded. “As you said before, we‟re both good friends and have been for years. I respect you,
and I have my own fortune to draw from. Both our families want us to get married. I was thinking, maybe
we should get married to each other.”
A shy smile bloomed on Lorraine‟s face. “That is one of the smartest ideas I‟ve heard in a long time. I
can‟t believe we didn‟t think of it before.”
Lawrence returned her grin. “So, is that a yes?”
She nodded. “Yes, Lawrence. I will marry you.”
A few weeks had passed since Lorraine and Lawrence announced their engagement. For the first time in
almost two years, Anne felt well enough to do her hair up and put on a real dress in honor of her children‟s
“Are you sure you‟re up for this, Anne?” asked Joseph for what felt like the hundredth time.
“I am. I slept all afternoon, and didn‟t get ready until a short time ago. I‟ll be sure to stay seated most of
the time. Besides, it‟s just Mama and Papa coming over. I can‟t miss Esther and Eldon‟s first birthday.”
“If you say so. I‟ll go make sure that everything‟s ready, and then come back for you and the twins.”
While she waited for Joseph to come back upstairs, Anne leaned over and scooped up her son. He was
exactly the same age as his sister, but while Esther had grown, Eldon was still as small a newborn.
“My poor baby,” she said, kissing the soft blond fuzz on his head. “I‟m going to do everything I can to make
sure you grow up big and strong. Just like your Papa.”
Joseph had ordered two cakes from the bakery, and he and Anne each took a baby and went to stand
before them. Carolina and Thomas cheered as the young parents blew out the candles for the infants.
The grandparents were pleased that the babies were celebrating their birthdays, but the were also amazed
to see that, at long last, Anne was finally beginning to show signs of improvement.
The Bear twins were an adorable pair. Esther was an outgoing, serious little creature, and so was her
brother Eldon. Both also shared a short temper, which would lead to many tears over unshared toys.
As the night wound down, Carolina insisted on helping to clean up while Anne lounged on the sofa. Before
Thomas and Carolina took off for home, Anne hugged her mother tightly as her father looked on in
“Take care, dear. Be sure to keep resting so you don‟t suffer a setback.”
“I will, Mama. Now that I‟m finally starting to feel normal, I‟m not going to risk anything that will make me
feel like I did.”
“That‟s my good girl.”
After seeing the elderly couple out, Anne turned to Joseph.
“Do you think you and the nurse can get the children settled? I‟m more tired than I thought I would be after
“Of course. Go take care of yourself, and leave the twins to me.”
“Thank you. I‟ll see you in a little while.”
Joseph watched his wife walk slowly up the staircase, and he couldn‟t help but smile. Anne had finally
learned that she needed to pace herself, and that Joseph and the nurse were perfectly capable of handling
the twins. He knew that it couldn‟t be long now before she made a full recovery.
Henrietta Bradford Hutchins‟ pregnancy progressed uneventfully. Her husband, Professor Leonid, had
finally agreed to the hiring of a maid-of-all-work when Henri‟s increased girth would not allow her to clean
as she had before. Henri spent the last few months of her confinement reading to pass the time. She was
lonely. Her mother couldn‟t call frequently because of the distance, and Henri had few other female
friends. She was looking forward to the baby‟s birth and the chance to have some to talk to, even if that
person wouldn‟t be much of a conversationalist.
Late one night, Henri awoke to the pains of her labor beginning. She did her best to stifle her moans, not
wanting to rouse her husband from his slumber.
“What‟s going on?” mumbled Professor Leonid as he awoke.
“I‟m sorry I woke you. The baby‟s coming.”
“I don‟t suppose you thought to call the doctor?”
“No. It all started so quickly…”
“I‟ll go do that now,” he grumbled, heading down to the hallway where the phone was located.
Just before dawn, Professor Leonid was allowed back into his room to meet his son.
“What do you think?” smiled Henri as she waited to see her husband‟s reaction.
“He looks like me, at least,” he muttered. “I suppose an heir is a good thing to have. We‟ll call him Victor.
I‟ll leave you to get him settled; I want to try and get a few hours of sleep before I have to teach.”
Victor began to fuss, and Henri quickly shushed him.
“Your father needs to sleep, so you need to be quiet. Let‟s go get you put in your crib.”
The baby made a content noise, and Henri‟s heart melted.
My sweet baby. I want you more than anything in the world. Your Papa will see that too, with time.
After putting the baby to bed, Henri sank down into the chaise lounge that was in the nursery next to the
crib. She fell into a fast sleep, and didn‟t awake until Victor began to cry.
Henri was the only person in the house who tended to Victor‟s needs. The maid would tell Henri if the baby
needed something, but Professor Leonid had never set foot in the nursery. Henri changed the wet
nappies, fed the baby his bottle, and tucked him in at night. Still, she never complained. Victor had
completely captured her heart, and she would gladly do anything that he wanted.
Before long, it was time for Elizabeth and Jefferson to enter toddlerhood. Jan hadn‟t wanted a big party,
so it was just the household that gathered to mark the occasion.
Jan tended to Elizabeth while Matthew, still the proud papa, assisted Jefferson. The babies seemed more
interested in the candles than they were the cake. The entire family waited to see how the twins would
Both children strongly favored their mother in the nose and mouth. Elizabeth was a shy, playful little thing.
Jefferson‟s strongest traits were his neatness and his sweet nature.
Most days, Carolina and Thomas could be found in the nursery, playing with the twins and teaching them
how to walk and talk.
“Carolina, do you know where Jan is today?”
“She said that she had to make a round of calls.”
“Grandpa, wanna play please,” interrupted Jefferson.
“Lizzy play too!” demanded his sister.
And so the grandparents abandoned their conversation in favor of playing with the toddlers.
That fall evening was almost summerlike, and Thomas and Carolina decided to take a turn in the garden.
After, they sat on the bench overlooking the small pond.
“Carolina, do you think it‟s strange the Jan really hasn‟t taken an interest in the children?”
“A little. You could barely drag me out of the nursery when our children were young. But each woman is
different. You know how much I dreaded keeping up the social obligations at first, but I learned to do it.
Perhaps Jan is just the opposite of me, and she just needs to get more comfortable with the children.
Besides, Matthew dotes on Jefferson like nothing I‟ve ever seen.”
Thomas chuckled. “That is true. He spoils the boy. But despite that, Jefferson is one of the politest
creatures I‟ve ever met. Elizabeth is a sweetheart too, just like her grandmother.”
“She is quite a sunny little girl, and so eager to please. I‟m sure that Jan will start to pay more attention to
the children as they grow and their personalities develop. Now that they can talk a little, perhaps they‟ll
hold her interest a little more.”
It was soon time for Amos Pasang to celebrate his childhood birthday. Diana decided against throwing a
big party, and decided that a cake and her husband would be all they needed to mark the occasion.
“Alright, little buddy. Are you ready to grow up?”
“Do you need me to help you blow out your candles?”
“No, Papa. I big boy. Do by myself.”
“Alright then. Let‟s see you do it.”
Diana and Lee may have been biased, but they thought that their son was one of the handsomest children
the Bradford clan had ever seen.
As Esther and Eldon grew, so did Anne‟s strength. The hollows in her cheeks filled, and the shadows
under her eyes faded. Soon, she was able to pick up her children and play with them. The little ones
flourished under Anne‟s care, and before long, they were ready to grow up into children.
The morning of their birthday, Anne was reading Esther and Eldon a story. For the first time in years, she
felt like herself.
“Well, my darlings. The story is finished. What do you want to do now?”
“Read again, Mama!” demanded Esther.
“Again? What do you think, Eldon?”
The boy looked at her with big eyes. “Mama pretty,” he said.
“Thank you, dear. Now, let‟s get you two ready for your birthday cakes.”
While Anne got things ready for the birthday, Esther and Eldon played in the nursery.
“Wanna hug?” he asked, opening his arms.
“Hugs!” she agreed.
“Me loves you, Esther.”
“I loves you, Eldon. I share my cake with you.”
“I share my cake too! Cake for ev‟body!”
The twins were still hugging when Anne came back upstairs to fetch them for the cake. Anne held them
each for long moments, committing their chubby cheeks and tiny features to memory. She and Joseph had
never discussed more children, but somehow Anne knew that Esther and Eldon would be her only babies.
She wanted to remember these days always.
The two remained close, even as children. Anne couldn‟t help but dress them in a matching sailor suit and
“My sweet children,” she would mutter when she thought they couldn‟t hear. She was most pleased that
Eldon seemed to be growing stronger as the years passed. She hoped that his illness, like hers, would
pass with time.
Early one morning in late fall, the Bradford family had gathered to send Alexander and Philomena off to
SimHarvard and Mrs. Seymour‟s, respectively. As they waited for the carriage to arrive to take the pair to
the train station, Alex and Phily squeezed in one more chess match.
“I can‟t wait, can you Phily? This is going to be fantastic!”
“I‟m eager to continue my education, yes. But it seems so far away from home. I won‟t be able to call on
Anne and Diana as much.”
“No,” agreed Alex. “But you can call on Henri more. I imagine she‟ll be pleased to see a familiar face.”
Phily smiled. “That‟s true. Oh, I‟ll get to spend time with her and Victor. He‟s such a cute baby.”
“I guess,” replied Alex. “I‟m more excited about living in the fraternity house with Andrew. We‟re going to
have such a great time in college.”
“Alex, college is about furthering your education, not just having a good time with your friends,” interjected
“You should listen to your father,” stated Matthew, winking at his younger brother.
Thomas nodded. “Your brother knows what he‟s talking about. He practically had perfect grades.
Remember to work first, and then play later. That advice will take you far.”
“Aw, Papa, there‟s plenty of time for both,” whined Alex.
“Alexander Bradford, your family has a strong tradition of academic excellence at SimHarvard that goes
back to your grandfather Elias. I expect that you will take it just as seriously as your ancestors have.”
“Yes, Mama,” agreed Alex begrudgingly.
“And Philomena, I expect that you will take your studies seriously as well,” continued Carolina.
“Of, course, Mama,” the girl replied.
“You will also need to take advantage of the social aspects of Mrs. Seymour‟s so that you can find yourself
a suitable husband.”
“Really, Mama. Is that the only reason you‟re sending me to school?”
“It‟s one of the reasons. Philomena, you need to find a husband. Do you want to end up as an old maid?”
“It‟s not the worst thing that I can think of,” she muttered, thinking of her sister Henri‟s fate.
“Philomena!” admonished Carolina.
“I‟m sorry, Mama.”
“That‟s better. You will do as you are told, and attend the various social events that Mrs. Seymour‟s
sponsors. I expect that I will hear good reports of you.”
“Yes, Mama,” relented Phily.
“Don‟t worry, Phily. Andrew and I will come to the socials, and we‟ll bring our friends. We‟ll find you a
good husband in no time,” winked Alex.
“Thank you, Alex,” she replied.
At that moment, they heard the sound of carriage wheels on the cobblestones outside the house.
“Guess it‟s time,” said Alex, getting up. “I‟ll go help Papa and Matthew with the trunks.”
“Guess so,” answered Phily in a voice so soft that no one else could hear it.
After the trunks were aboard the coach, Phily hugged both her parents tightly. She would never admit it,
but she was terrified of going so far away from home for so long, and the thought that it would possibly
never be her home again terrified her.
Thomas seemed to sense his daughter‟s fears, and he patted her back reassuringly. “Everything will be
fine, Phily. You‟ll see.”
“Take care, dear,” said Carolina. “Do your best and don‟t hesitate to call us or your brother if you need
Alex, on the other hand, could hardly wait to get into the carriage and on his way to college. He and
Andrew would have the best time while they were at SimHarvard.
“Alex, have a good time, but remember what I said. You are at school to learn, not party with your friends.”
“Yes, Papa. I know. I promise that I‟ll study a little bit.”
“More than a little bit, Alex.”
“Alex, you listen to your father,” said Carolina. “Remember to study, and take care of your sister.”
“I will Mama.”
After Phily and Alex had departed, the remaining adults sat back down in the parlor.
“Do you think that either of them heard a word we said?” asked Carolina with a sigh.
“Some of it, I imagine,” said Thomas.
“It was sound advice you offered them, Papa. They‟d both be wise to take it,” said Matthew.
“It was,” agreed Jan.
“I‟m still worried about Philomena. She is still insisting that she doesn‟t want to get married,” lamented
“Don‟t worry about that. I have some friends in the city, and will see that they invite Philomena to some
parties. She‟ll be introduced to some very suitable matches through them, and will be engaged before you
“Thank you, dear,” said Carolina. “You‟re so thoughtful.”
Matthew and Jan exchanged a knowing smile. Jan‟s willingness to introduce Phily to the city‟s eligible
bachelors had nothing to do with caring about the girl‟s happiness and everything to do with making sure
that she didn‟t move back home after school. After all, Elizabeth would need her own room shortly.
A few hours later, in Portsimouth, Margaret Turner came downstairs into her husband Patrick in the parlor
of their apartment.
“Andrew‟s all packed, and chomping at the bit to go,” she commented.
“He can wait a few more minutes. Have a seat; you look exhausted.”
“Thank you. I am. He‟s been impossible for the past few days, wanting to get to SimHarvard. I‟m worried
about him. Is he going to do any studying while he‟s there?”
“I imagine he will. I‟m not expecting him to graduate with honors. He will do just fine. I don‟t recall
spending much time studying while I was in school, and look at me.”
Margaret raised her eyebrow at her husband.
“All right, I was a bit of a mess for a while. But in the end, I turned out just fine.”
That you did, Patrick. That you did.”
A few moments later, Andrew bounded down the stairs.
“Can we leave now? Alex was to take the seven o‟clock train, and that was hours ago.”
“Wasn‟t he supposed to get Phily settled before he went to register at school?”
“Yes, but he‟s had plenty of time to get her settled into her boarding house. Please? I want to make sure
that Alex and I get into the same room at the fraternity house.”
“Very well. We‟ll get going.”
Andrew kissed his mother and hugged his father.
“I‟m going to be just a few miles from here. I don‟t know why you‟re making such a fuss,” he protested.
“You‟re my only child, Andrew, and I‟m your mother. It‟s my job to make a fuss.”
“Come on, son. If you‟re so eager to get going, we‟ll be off as soon as the carriage gets here.”
Andrew looked out the window, and saw the carriage approach.
“It‟s here! Let‟s go!”
A few hours later, Patrick returned home. Margaret looked up from her sewing when she heard his
“Andrew is all settled, then?”
“Yes. He and Alex are sharing a room. I must say, the fraternity has improved greatly since my time there.
I‟m sure he‟ll have a great time.”
“So we have this house to ourselves for the next four years?”
“We do. Do you know we haven‟t been alone for more than a few moments for the past eighteen years?”
“I was somewhat aware of that fact,” she smiled.
The pair embraced.
“What do you say that we pretend we‟re newlyweds again?” asked Patrick.
“We could,” smiled Margaret. “Would that include going on a proper honeymoon?”
Patrick returned her smile. “We should. Why don‟t we go up to the mountains for a while? It‟s far enough
away that we‟ll have some time to ourselves, but close enough that we can get home quickly if Andrew
“That sounds lovely. You make the arrangements and I‟ll start packing.”
Phily surveyed her room at the boarding house. It was nice, but it just wasn‟t home. She sighed. Alex had
left her hours ago to get settled in at the fraternity, and she felt more alone than ever.
I suppose I should go and be social, she thought. She sighed. What she wouldn‟t give to be on the train
steaming back towards Simsfield.
As Phily headed towards the parlor, she nearly ran headfirst into a blonde lady.
“Oh, please excuse me!” she cried, “I didn‟t see you there.”
“Do not worry about it,” the stranger replied. “I wasn‟t exactly paying attention to where I was going either.”
Phily smiled, feeling a little more at ease. “I‟m Philomena Bradford, but everyone calls me Phily. I‟m from
“My name is Meadow Thayer, and I‟m from here in Portsimouth.”
“Are you excited to be here?”
Meadow face broke into a wide grin. “Very much so. I‟m looking forward to my studies. Anything to help
pass the time before my grand tour.”
“You‟re going on a tour of SimEurope! You‟re so lucky,” sighed Phily.
“Mother and Father promised it if I successfully complete my studies here. I think they‟re hoping that I‟ll
make a better match there, but I‟m looking forward to seeing the sights.”
“I wish I could to abroad, but I don‟t know if I‟ll ever have the chance.”
“Who knows what our futures hold? Maybe you‟ll get lucky and meet someone who takes you there for
“I‟m not sure if I ever want to get married,” admitted Phily, fully expecting her new friend to be shocked.
“Neither am I,” said Meadow, “but I don‟t know what else I can do. There aren‟t many other options for
women, are there.”
“I suppose not, but that‟s not fair.”
“No, it‟s not. Let‟s not talk of such unpleasant things. Tell me about your family.”
Phily‟s face lit up. “I‟m the youngest of six. My twin brother, Alexander, is attending SimHarvard right now.
He‟s promised to visit lots, so I‟m sure you‟ll get a chance to meet him.”
“I look forward to that. Why don‟t you join me for lunch? I‟m starving after getting unpacked, and you must
“I‟d like that a lot, Meadow.”
Meadow smiled. “We‟re going to be great friends, Phily. I can tell.”
“It‟s good to see you, again, cousin. Have you gotten everything unpacked?”
“Mostly. I claimed a room for us on the second floor. We‟ve got a great view of campus from our window.”
“Thanks. Help me with my trunks. I want to get unpacked and explore. You‟ll come with me, right?”
“‟Course I will, Andrew,” replied Alex as he grabbed a handle of one of the trunks. “What did you pack in
Andrew shrugged. “Mama is convinced that I‟d need the entire contents of my room. Come on, you wimp.
They‟re not that heavy.”
“Says you,” grunted Alex as he struggled to drag the trunk up the front steps.
As fall was drawing to a close, the Alcott and Phoenix families gathered in Simsfield for Lorraine and
“You look very nice today, Lorraine.”
“Thank you, Lawrence. You look quite fine as well.”
“Well, then, shall we get the ceremony started?”
Lorraine nodded. “I‟m ready whenever you are.”
The couple exchanged vows and rings in a short and simple ceremony. The guests present rose and
cheered for the newlyweds, and moved into the house to continue the festivities.
As the merriment continued, George found Matilda and Robert playing chess and enjoying Amelia‟s piano
“I trust you two are enjoying your afternoon out.”
“We are, George. Thank you,” smiled Matilda.
“And how is little George doing?”
“He‟s growing more adorable by the day,” smiled Robert. “I practically have to drag Matilda out of the
nursery when I get home.”
“Oh, and you‟re not just as bad,” she teased right back. “A new toy every week. You‟re going to spoil him.”
The elder George laughed. “Who‟s watching him today?”
“Anne‟s baby nurse,” replied Matilda. “She was kind enough to offer her so that we could come today and
enjoy a grown up day.”
“Matilda, do you mind if I talk to Robert for a moment?”
“Of course not! I‟ll go find Eliza and see if she needs any help.”
“Robert, I have a little something for you.”
“Thank you,” the young man replied, taking an elaborately wrapped box from his stepfather. “What is it?”
“Do you remember that conversation we had years ago about you taking over the store when I was ready
“This is the deed to the store. I plan on retiring as soon as I‟ve had the chance to show you all the ropes.”
“I hardly know what to say. Thank you, Papa.”
“Thank you, Robert. Knowing that the business my father founded will stay in the family is a great weight
off my mind.”
The two men hugged.
“I‟ll take good care of your store, Papa. I promise.”
“I know you will, Robert. And when the time comes, you‟ll teach little George how to run it as well. I
imagine that it will be in the family for generations to come.”
After the guests had departed, Lawrence took Lorraine on a quick tour of her new home.
“And this will be our room,” he said, gesturing. “I hope that you like it. Mama helped pick out the wallpaper
and the furnishings.”
“It‟s lovely, Lawrence.”
“Are you certain you like it? We can pick something else out if you‟d like.”
“Lawrence,” she said, gently placing her hand on his arm, “This is perfect. You don‟t need to try so hard,
“I just want you to be happy.”
“I am happy. I‟ve got a good husband, a fine home, and I can‟t wait to start this new chapter of my life with
“You‟re such a sweet woman, Lorraine. You deserve the best of everything, and I want to be the one to
provide it for you.”
Lorraine smiled. “You‟re the sweet one, Lawrence. You‟ve been so kind to me, and such a dear friend. I
don‟t know how I‟ll ever be able to repay you.”
“There‟s nothing to repay me for, Lorraine. This…arrangement, if you will, benefits both of us. I‟m certain
that we‟ll both be happy as the years pass.”
“I think so, too, Lawrence,” she smiled.
The bride and groom had not kissed at the end of their wedding, and Lorraine thought that it was time to
remedy that. Lawrence was caught off guard by his wife‟s outburst of affection, but he was delighted.
After they parted, Lawrence left his wife to finish unpacking her things while he put the furniture downstairs
to rights after the party.
“Catch it, Eldon!” called Esther to her brother.
“I‟m trying, Esther, but you‟re throwing it too hard.”
“No I‟m not! Stop being such a sissy.”
Eldon and Esther continued to play catch for a while, until Eldon suddenly dropped the ball.
“Esther, I feel funny. I think I should go inside now.”
“Already? We just got started!”
“I really don‟t feel good,” he complained.
“Okay then. You go into the parlor, and I‟ll get Mama.”
Esther and Eldon parted ways in the foyer. Esther went and banged on the door to the kitchen until Anne
“What is it, Esther?”
“Mama, Eldon and I were playing, and now he says he don‟t feel too good.”
“‟Doesn‟t feel too well,‟ dear,” corrected Anne gently. “Where is your brother now?”
“I told him to go into the parlor and I‟d find you.”
“Well, let‟s go check on your brother,” said Anne as she walked toward the parlor.
Upon entering the parlor, the two ladies found Eldon collapsed on the sofa.
“Eldon!” cried Anne, rushing over to his side. “Are you all right?”
“Don‟t feel good, Mama,” he muttered.
“My poor darling,” said Anne, smoothing his hair.
“I‟m sorry I didn‟t believe you, Eldon,” worried his sister.
“S‟allright, Esther. I‟ll be okay. Just really tired.”
“Of course you are. Let me help you up to bed. Esther, you go upstairs and get started on your bath. I‟ll
be in to tuck you in once I‟ve gotten Eldon settled.”
“Yes, Mama,” said Esther as she took one more scared look at her brother as she headed upstairs.
Later that night, Anne found that she couldn‟t sleep.
“Joseph? Are you awake?”
“I am now. What‟s bothering you, Anne?”
“I‟m worried about Eldon. He practically collapsed after he and Esther were playing outside today for
barely a half hour.”
“That‟s not good. Do you think we should have the doctor come and take a look at him?”
“We really should. If he‟s going to need special care, I‟d like to know about it. I can‟t bear the thought of
something happening to one of my babies,” she chocked.
“Shh,” soothed Joseph. “I‟ll call the doctor first thing in the morning. I‟m sure that Eldon‟s just a little
delicate, and will have to be careful about any sort of strenuous activity.”
“I hope you‟re right dear.”
“Come here,” he said, pulling Anne into his arms and kissing her forehead. “You need to sleep.”
Alex, coming out of his room one morning, nearly ran over a dark-haired woman he hadn‟t noticed before.
“Excuse me, miss! I didn‟t see you there.”
“That‟s all right, Mr. Bradford. I was just going to see about tidying up the rooms up here.”
“I‟m sorry, but I don‟t know your name.”
“That‟s not important, Mr. Bradford. I‟m just the maid.”
“Do I detect a hint of an accent?” asked Alex, trying a different tactic.
“Yes, my parents are immigrants from SimIreland.”
“So you‟ll tell me about your family, but not your name?”
She sighed. “My name is Kaylynn Langerak.”
“Well, Miss Langerak, it‟s nice to meet you.”
“Please excuse me, Mr. Bradford,” she said.
“Is something wrong?”
She sighed again. “It‟s my mother. She‟s not well, and I need to get home to check on her.”
“Has the doctor been to see her?”
“We can‟t afford a doctor. I‟m the only one working any more, and I don‟t make…she‟s really not that bad.”
“Here,” said Alex, reaching in to his coat pocket and handing Kaylynn a wad of bills. “Is that enough?”
“Mr. Bradford,” she stammered, “I can‟t accept this.”
“Yes, you can. Have a doctor come see your mother, and use what‟s left to help keep her comfortable.”
Kaylynn looked at Alex, tears in her eyes. “Thank you, Mr. Bradford. This is most kind of you.”
Alex made a dismissive gesture. “Don‟t worry about it, Miss Langerak. Let me know how things go with
your mother. I‟ll leave you so you can finish up your duties.”
Kaylynn smiled at her as she headed into one of the bedrooms to continue her cleaning.
In Portsimouth, Victor Hutchins was growing like a weed. He looked greatly like his Papa, with Henri‟s
coloring. He was a forthright little boy, with his father‟s short temper. Still, he had eyes only for his mother,
and she could always coax smile out of him.
Henri spent her days and evenings with her son, teaching him how to walk and talk. He was a fast learner,
and he was tearing around the house, talking to himself and anyone else who would listen before long.
“Mama, Mama, Mama,” he would sing.
“Yes, my sweet boy,” she would reply, and then indulge whatever request he had. Professor Leonid
claimed she was spoiling Victor, but she didn‟t care. For the first time, Henri knew what it felt like to have
someone who needed her that she could care for.
“Now, my little man,” she said early one morning. “Your Aunt Phily is coming for a visit today. I need you
to be a good boy for me.”
“I‟s good boy, Mama. Very good boy.”
“I know you are, precious. Let‟s get you fed and washed so Mama can enjoy some grown-up time with her
Phily arrived later that morning, and the sisters settled into the parlor for a long visit. After a somewhat
strained conversation, Phily couldn‟t take it any more.
“Are you happy, Henri?”
“Of course I‟m happy,” the older sister insisted. “I‟ve got a husband, a good home, and a lovely baby boy.
What more could a woman ask for?”
“I don‟t believe you, Henri.”
Philomena Bradford‟s sympathetic green eyes surveyed her older sister. They weren‟t that far apart in age,
but Henrietta seemed much, much older as of late. Despite Henri‟s insistence that she was happy and
everything was fine, Phily knew better.
“Henri, you can snow Mama and Papa all you want, but this is me. Your sister. We used to stay up all
night sharing our dreams, but now,” the younger woman paused before continuing, “now I feel like we‟re
perfect strangers sometimes.”
Henri‟s brown eyes filled with tears at her sister‟s words. “Sometimes I think that I don‟t even know myself
any more,” she whispered.
“Oh, Henri,” sighed Phily, taking her sister‟s hands in hers. “Don‟t bear your burdens alone. Talk to me.
Please. I may not be able to solve your problems, but I‟ll certainly try.”
Henri was silent for a long time, lost in thought. “I hardly know where to start. I‟m afraid you‟ll be
disappointed in my when you hear my story of how I got here.”
“Henri, do you remember what you told me before you left for Mrs. Seymour‟s?”
“‟Sisters are forever,‟” the elder one replied with a watery smile.
“Exactly. Nothing you tell me will change that. Now, what‟s going on?”
Henri nodded. “I just wanted someone to like me,” she began.
“Why don‟t we go into the dining room, and discuss this over a cup of tea?”
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” agreed Henri.
“I guess the best place to start is at the beginning,” sighed Henri. “I‟ve always felt like I‟ve lived in
Matthew‟s shadow. When I got to Mrs. Seymour‟s and finally got to be known as someone other than
Matthew‟s sister. I was having so much fun at all the socials and parties. I guess I took my flirting a little
“Henri, that all sounds innocent enough. I don‟t know why you think I‟d scold you over that.”
“It goes beyond that. I…there were…many of the gentlemen I flirted with started calling on me at my
boarding house. I loved all the attention, Phily. It was so nice to feel appreciated and admired.”
“But all you did was flirt,” the young adult protested.
“I may have done a little more than flirt with some of them.”
“I kissed several of them, Phily. I‟m ashamed of my behavior. If I had managed to restrain myself a little
bit, I might be in a very different situation.”
Phily cocked her head to the side and looked at her sister. “What do you mean?”
“My reputation turned off any potential suitors. I married Professor Hutchins because he was willing to
overlook my indiscretions.”
“Henri, how exactly did you come to marry Professor Hutchins?”
“Matthew had Papa, the Professor, and I over for dinner. I guess the Professor had been looking for a wife,
so Matthew took the opportunity to introduce us. Papa advised me to accept the Professor‟s offer, saying it
was what was best for the family. He was right, Phily. I did what I had to do to save my reputation, and
that of the family.”
“Henri, you‟re so brave. I don‟t know if I could have done what you did.”
“Thank you, Phily.”
“How did Matthew know Professor Hutchins anyway?”
“Oh, he was one of Matthew‟s drama professors.”
Very interesting. Very interesting indeed, thought Phily.
The two sisters rose and hugged.
“Don‟t lie to me any more, Henri. If you need anything, anything at all, you let me know. Promise?”
“I promise,” agreed Henri. “Now, why don‟t we go upstairs and play with my beautiful little boy?”
“That sounds like an excellent idea.”
The two women spent a much happier afternoon in the nursery with Victor. They laughed at his antics and
attempts at conversation. By the time Phily was getting ready to leave, the two sisters felt closer than they
had in ages.
Phily was getting ready to leave just as Professor Leonid arrived home.
“Oh, dear, he‟s home early,” muttered Henri.
“It will be all right. Watch. Good afternoon, Professor Hutchins!”
“Good afternoon to you, Miss Bradford. I hope you and my wife had a pleasant visit.”
“Very much so. It had been so long since we last spoke that we lost track of time. I apologize for keeping
her from her household duties for so long.”
“Nonsense. Henrietta needs to visit with her friends. Do you want to take this carriage back your boarding
“That is very generous of you, Professor. Thank you. Henri, take care, and I‟ll call again next week.”
Professor Leonid assisted Phily into the carriage, and with Henri, waived goodbye. As soon as the
carriage was out of sight, he turned to his wife.
“I suppose this little visit of your sister‟s means that dinner won‟t be ready at six like I ask of you,” he
“Dinner will be ready on time as it always is,” she replied, shocked at her husband‟s anger. “It‟s barely four
now. If you‟ll excuse me, I‟ll get started on it right away.”
“Henrietta, you know that I like an orderly household. Ever since the baby, it has been nothing of the sort.
I‟m dismissing the maid tomorrow. If you have all day to gossip with your sister, you have more than
enough time to resume all the household duties.”
“Professor…”she began, but he cut her off.
“No, Henrietta, I am not finished. You are a wife first, a mother second, and a sister third. If you have
completed your duties related to the first two satisfactorily, you can visit with whomever you wish. But not
before, Henrietta. Not before.”
Henri‟s eyes filled with tears as she listened to her husband.
“You‟re not going to start crying on me, are you? I can‟t stand emotional women.”
At that comment, something inside Henri snapped.
“No, husband, I will not get emotional. I will be your maid, your cook, your ornament to show off at
University functions, and whatever else you require. But know, husband, that it I had to do it all over again,
I wouldn‟t have married you. I‟d rather have faced the public scorn that be treated this way. I hate you. I
hate you more than I ever thought it possible to hate anyone.”
“Is that how you feel? Well, it seems for once that we agree on something. I wish that I‟d never listened to
your brother. He was completely wrong about you and your character. Now, go get my dinner started. It
had better be ready by six.”
“Of course it will. I know my duty, and I‟ll do it.”
The pair stormed into the house, the Professor to his room and Henri to the kitchen. Neither knew what
came next, but Henri at least, was relieved to have her true feelings out in the open.
He’s old, remember that, she thought. He can’t have much time left. Just wait it out, and you’ll be free.
And that is the end of chapter 11. Uma‟s started haunting, and she loves to check out her portrait. I
wonder what that‟s all about. And she looks so sad. Worried about what‟s happening to her grandkids, I
Coming up in Chapter 12: What will Phily do with the new information she had on her brother? What kind
of mischief will Alex and Andrew get into while at University? How long will Henri have to put up with
Professor Hutchins? And will Matthew ever get what he deserves?
Thank you very much for reading. Please leave comment on the thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!