The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 15Presentation Transcript
Welcome to Chapter 15 of my legacy. What happened last chapter? Well, Jan and Lizzie fought,Jefferson tried to persuade Matthew to do something he wanted and was unsuccessful, Carolina tried tomake her grandchildren happy by buying Lizzie a dog and telling Jefferson that he would be a good headof the family, the Hutchinson/Thayer family went on vacation, and Henri “found herself” again after herhorrendous marriage, Jan began to spouse hunt for her children, Carolina died, and Matthew continued tobe a general tyrant over his family. Oh, and Jefferson met Marsha Bruenig, who has him quite smitten.Okay, there was actually quite a bit more than that. For the fully story of the Bradford, go check out the first14 chapters. You can also check out the interludes as well, though they‟re not integral to the main story.Here you go – Chapter 15 of the Bradford Legacy.
A crisp, early fall chill had taken over the air that night. The Simsfield village schoolmaster, Edward Simon,thought about the long walk home in the cold that was in store for him after dinner at the Bradford house.Still, he had been hoping for this meeting for some time. Ever since Elizabeth, one of his brighteststudents, had come to school practically in tears because her parents only wanted to send her to finishingschool, not college as she wanted, he knew that he had to speak to her parents.As he and Matthew sat in the parlor, waiting for Jan to call them into dinner, he thought about the best wayto broach the subject. After all, Matthew was known for his stubbornness, and one wrong thing said wouldruin Elizabeth‟s chances for a spot at SimRadcliffe.
“I trust that the reason for your visit this evening is a good one, Mr. Simon.”“Of course, Mr. Bradford. Jefferson and Elizabeth are two of the best students I have. Both are verycourteous, and often help their peers when they are having difficulty with assignments. I am privileged tohave them as my pupils.”“Well, as you know, the Bradfords have a proud tradition of academic excellence.”“Yes, I am well aware of your family‟s emphasis on learning,” the teacher replied. He had taught Matthewin his younger years, and he well remembered that Matthew had not been the most apt of scholars.At that moment, Jan came through the doors of the dining room. “Gentlemen, dinner is served.”
“Thank you again for dinner, Mrs. Bradford. It looks delicious.”“Oh, it‟s really nothing Mr. Simon. I imagine that a bachelor such as yourself doesn‟t get a meal like thisoften.”“No, it is true. Still, you didn‟t need to go through so much trouble for me.”“It was no trouble at all. Elizabeth was a huge help; she‟s been practicing in the kitchen as part of herpreparation for finishing school in a few years.”
“Yes, Elizabeth told me that she was to be attending Mrs. Seymour‟s when Jefferson headed off toSimHarvard.”“As all of the Bradford women have,” replied Jan with a smug smile on her face.“Were you aware that Elizabeth took the entrance exam for SimHarvard, and that she scored better thanseveral of the young men in the class?”“Why would she do such a thing?” demanded Jan.“Because I asked her to. She is one of the brightest students I have ever had the privilege of teaching, andI wanted to see if she could do it.”“What did she score?” asked Matthew, his features sharp with interest.“A 94, one point less than her brother.”“Hmm…” muttered Matthew under his breath as Jan gapped in disapproval. “Mr. Simon, perhaps youwould join me in my study for a nightcap?”
When dinner had completed, the two men retired to the study. Matthew opened a fresh bottle of whiskey,and poured several fingers into two glasses. Offering one to the elder gentleman, they clinked glasses andtook long sips.After a few moments, Matthew spoke. “My daughter is smart.”“Quite. It‟s almost a shame to send her off to study flower arrangement when she could be learning aboutthe classics, studying Latin, and advanced mathematics.”
“Do you really think that women can study and understand such things?”“I do. The world is changing, Mr. Bradford. It gets smaller every day. It looks like the suffragettes will besuccessful and women will have the right to vote soon.”Matthew sighed. “I never thought I‟d see a world like this.”“I don‟t think that it‟s necessarily a bad thing, Mr. Bradford. It‟s just another stage of our great country‟scontinuing evolution. As things change, we too much adapt to them. Just like your daughter‟s educationalneeds. I‟m not sure that finishing school will prepare her for this new world.”“Do you think that sending her to SimRadcliffe would be better than Mrs. Seymour‟s?”“I do. After all, the Bears have decided to send their daughter there, along with the Gavigans and theThompsons.”
Matthew finished the last of his whiskey in one gulp. He set his glass down on the bar, and turned back toEdward.“You have given me much to think about, Mr. Simon.”“Thank you for a lovely evening, Mr. Bradford.”“Just out of curiosity, is it too late to put Elizabeth‟s name in for SimRadcliffe?”“No, Mr. Bradford. If you decide to send her, let me know and I‟ll get you the necessary paperwork.”
Matthew had a restless night of sleep after Mr. Simon‟s visit. The next morning, he rose and wentdownstairs to find Jan in the dining room.“What are you doing, Jan?”“Trying to finalize my shopping list for Elizabeth‟s school things. She‟ll need quite a bit when she heads offfor Mrs. Seymour‟s, and while I don‟t want to get everything now, as the fashions will change, it will behelpful to know what we need.”
“Actually, I would like to talk with you about Elizabeth‟s schooling. Mr. Simon made quite a few interestingpoints about sending her to SimRadcliffe,” said Matthew as he took a seat.“Why send her to college? She‟ll just be getting married and running a household, and all the educationand money would be wasted.”
“Yes, it does seem like a waste on the surface, but think about this – as a better educated and more worldlywoman, she may be able to attract a better match.”“Do you really think that a man wants a smart woman for his wife? No, they want someone who can runtheir household efficiently, and provide them with a comfortable life. I still think that it would foolish to sendElizabeth anywhere but Mrs. Seymour‟s.”“Jan, there is something else to consider. All of the other families from the village, including the Gavigans,Thompsons and Bears, are sending their daughters to SimRadcliffe. Would you have us be the only familyin Simsfield who doesn’t send their daughter to college?”Jan pause for a moment. “Truly? Everyone else with daughters is sending them to SimRadcliffe instead ofMrs. Seymour‟s?”Matthew nodded, and Jan sighed.“I suppose we don‟t have a choice then,” she relented. “I don‟t like it, not at all.”“I‟m not exactly a fan of the idea either, Jan, but you‟re correct – we really don‟t have a choice. I‟ll not bethe only family who refuses to send its daughter to college this fall.”
The two sat in a defeated silence for some time.“Well, do you want to be the one to tell her, or should I?” asked Matthew with a flat tone.“You may.”
Miles away from Simsfield in the city of Portsimouth, Meadow Thayer and Henrietta Hutchins filled theirdays. As Philomena became more respected as a teacher, she was often called upon to stay late and tutorher students. As a result, Jane‟s piano lessons often fell to Henri‟s watch. Meadow would paint well intothe afternoon, her brushstrokes often in time with the tunes that Jane played. All in all, it was a pleasantexistence.
Before long, it was time for Jane to become a teenager. As the family gathered around to celebrate, Philyand Meadow couldn‟t help but marvel that their little girl was growing up. It seemed that just yesterday shehad arrived on their doorstep, wide-eyed and full of wonder at her new home. Now, she was practically ayoung woman.
“Make a wish, Jane,” smiled Meadow.Jane looked at Victor, and she felt a faint warmness spread across her face.
Victor had been a central figure in Jane‟s life since she joined the family. He was her most frequentteacher, and champion at school.I wish that Victor and I will always be as close as we are now, she thought silently as she blew out thecandles.
As the family sat down to enjoy birthday cake, the elder women of the household couldn‟t help but smile athow wonderfully Jane had turned out. Like her mother, she wanted to make family the center of her world,and thought that it would be a wonderful thing to have all her children graduate from college.
Later that night, Victor stopped Jane just as she was about to go to be.“Did you have a nice birthday?”“It was lovely. Thank you so much for my present,” she smiled, touching the broach that she wore at herthroat.“I‟m glad you like it,” he smiled.The two stared at each other for a long moment, before they both broke the silence at the same time.“It‟s late –”“I really should…”Victor smiled again. “Ladies first.”“I was going to say that I really should be getting to bed.”“I was thinking the same thing.”
Victor leaned forward and kissed Jane on the check, as he often had before.“Good night, Jane.”“Good night, Victor,” she replied.
Jane stood outside the door to her room and watched as Victor went into his. Her hand went up to hercheek where Victor had kissed it. Involuntarily, she sighed.With one last glance towards Victor‟s closed door, Jane turned into her room.
That night, Victor occupied Jane‟s thoughts. She worried that a „nobody‟ such as her was unworthy of theaffections of a gentleman such as him.
Had she walked down the hall, she would have found that she was the primary focus of Victor‟s dreams,and that he was not worried in the least about her background.
Over the next few days, Jane found excuses to be in Victor‟s presence, hoping to catch his attention. Shewould practice the violin while he and Henri played billiards, or read in the library when he was playingchess.Her plan did not appear to be working. Victor‟s brain seem occupied solely with his impending departurefor SimHarvard.
Often, the only time she would see him for more than a few moments at a time was at meals. There, shewould at least have his attention for an hour or so, but even then he was distracted.
“Phily, have you noticed a change in Jane lately? She seems so…mopey.”“I hadn‟t noticed, no, but I‟ve been putting in so many hours lately with exams coming up.”“Maybe I should talk to her. What do you think?”“I think it might be better for us to watch, and wait for her to come to one of us. She is a teenager, after all,and will be wanting to assert her independence.”“You‟re probably right,” sighed Meadow. “Still, it‟s hard to accept that she keeps things to herself. I used toknow everything that went on in her head. Now, I barely know what she‟s thinking.”“You‟ve done a good job raising her, Meadow,” said Phily, taking her partner‟s hand. “I‟m sure she‟ll cometo you when she‟s ready.”
At that moment, Jane, fed up with Victor‟s distance, had entered his room without knocking.“Jane! I‟ve got a few more books I need to review before I leave for college next month. Can you comeback another time?”“Victor, we haven‟t talked in ages. All you do is study, study, study. Can‟t you spare a few minutes forme?”The young man sighed. “You‟re right, Jane. I‟ve ignored you horribly as of late. Of course, we can chat.”
Now that she had Victor‟s attention, Jane hardly knew what to say.“I‟ve missed you,” she confessed.“I‟ve missed you too, Jane. But you must understand how much pressure I‟m under. There‟s not a lot ofmoney for my schooling, and I have to keep my grades up so that I can get scholarships and such.”“I know. But you‟ll be going away soon, and then…”“And then what, Jane? Do you think I‟ll forget about you? SimHarvard is just on the other side of the river.I‟ll be back to visit you loads.”“But you‟ll be a college boy then, with lots more important things on your mind than me.”“Jane, he said, taking a step towards her, “Do you honestly think that I could forget about you?”
At that moment, Jane made an impulse decision. She closed the gap between them and kissed Victor.
After they stepped back, Victor gaped silently at Jane. Neither of them knew what to say, and neitherwanted to be the first to break the silence.After a very long, very uncomfortable pause, Jane turned and fled the room.
She hurried to the sanctuary of her room, and collapsed onto the bed. As she stared at the ceiling, waitingfor tears that did not come, she worried.What have I done? Victor obviously has no interest in me, and I’ve gone and ruined our friendship. Stupid.I’m so stupid.
She lay there so long that she didn‟t notice the sun had set. Meadow came into the room, and Jane turnedher head.“Dinner is almost ready, dear.”“I‟m not hungry,” said Jane, turning her head back to studying the ceiling.
Meadow crossed the room, and sat down on the other side of the bed.“Are you unwell, Jane?”“No, Meadow. Just dreadfully foolish. I really don‟t feel like going down for dinner – can you please makemy excuses?”Meadow suppressed a sigh. “You know, you can talk to me if something is troubling you. It may not looklike it, but I do have some experience in dealing with life‟s problems.”“I don‟t think anyone can help me now.”“Try me,” suggested Meadow.
Jane dragged herself across the bed, and put her head in her hands.“Victor and I have had a misunderstanding.”“What about?”“How we feel towards each other.”Meadow desperately wanted to say something at that moment, but stayed silent.“I…I kissed him today, Meadow, and he didn‟t say anything. I‟ve ruined everything! Now, he‟ll never speakto me again, and I‟ve lost one of my dearest friends.”“Did it ever occur to you that he was in shock and didn‟t know how to react?“No,” admitted Jane. “But why didn‟t he say anything?”“Perhaps you rendered him speechless, my dear. He may have been so pleasantly surprised by youractions that he didn‟t know what to say.”“Or he is so disgusted by me…”“Now, Jane. You know Victor better than that. Do you really think that he is disgusted by you?”After a long pause, the girl admitted, in a small voice, “No.”
Meadow pulled Jane to her feet, and put her arms around her daughter. “The course of true love never didrun smooth, Jane darling. Now, put on your brave face and let‟s head down for dinner.”“Thank you, Meadow. Do you really think that Victor cares for me?”Meadow laughed. “Just because I never married doesn‟t mean that I don‟t know how to tell when a manhas feelings for a woman. Give Victor a little time; he‟ll come around.”
While Meadow was comforting Jane, Henri went in to call Victor to supper.“I‟m not really hungry, Mama,” he replied.“Victor, that‟s not like you at all. What‟s really wrong?”“Come in, Mama. Here, you take my chair; it‟s much more comfortable. This is going to take someexplaining.”
“Well, what is on your mind, son?”“I made a horrible mistake this afternoon, Mama. Jane…well, Jane kissed me, and I didn‟t know what tosay, and I know that was wrong, and now I think she hates me.”
Henri struggled to keep her expression neutral. “Victor, you‟ve always cared about Jane a great deal.What changed? I would think that you would have been happy to know that Jane saw you as more thanjust a friend.”
“I do care about her a great deal, Mama, and that‟s why I‟m worried. I care about her too much to have herbe miserable by marrying me.”Henri gaped at Victor‟s remark, but he held up his hand to stop her from speaking.“I see what marriage does to people – look at you and Papa. You were happy, and then it disintegrateduntil you couldn‟t stand to be around each other. I don‟t want that to happen to Jane and I. I…I love hertoo much to do that to her.”
Henri‟s heart broke at her son‟s words. She had hoped that he would not be scared by her disastrousmarriage to the late Professor Leonid, but it seemed that the damage was done.“Victor, I must confess something to you: I never loved your father.”It was Victor‟s turn to gape in shock, and Henri‟s turn to hold up her hand for silence.“It‟s true. I was a bit of a flirt in my younger days, and it turned off many of my marriage prospects. Yourfather made me an offer, and I knew that it would more than likely be my only chance for a home of myown. If I had it to do over again, I would have refused him. You were the only good thing that came of thatunion.”
Victor sat, lost in thought for a moment.“I‟m sorry to have to tell you that,” said Henri. “Perhaps I should have been honest with you from the start.”“So,” said Victor slowly, as if he was trying to formulate his thoughts as he spoke, “All marriages aren‟t likeyours and Papa‟s.”“Goodness, no! I wish we hadn‟t been so isolated in your youth. Your aunts, Anne and Diana, are happilymarried, as is your Uncle Alex. If you love and respect Jane, the odds are in your favor, Victor.”
Victor rose, and pulled his mother into a hug.“Thank you, Mama. Please excuse me; I need to find Jane and beg her forgiveness.”
As soon as Victor had gone off in search of Jane, Henri headed downstairs to the study where she knewthat Meadow and Phily would be engaged in their nightly game of chess.“Can I speak with both of you? I think there‟s something that we need to discuss.”
The three women gathered in the dining room, and Henri began the conversation.“It seems that Victor is quite taken with Jane. He behaved in a rather ungentlemanly way after she madeher affections know, and is attempting to correct the situation as we speak.”Meadow smiled. “That is excellent news. Jane is rather taken with him, and it is good to know that thefeeling is mutual.”
“Jane‟s too young!” blurted out Phily. “Why, she‟s barely more than a child. How does she know what shewants?”“Phily, your daughter is a young woman now. She‟ll be off to college before you know it,” said Henri gently.“But to have her thinking about marriage already…”“Phily, Victor is a good young man. Jane could do far worse. And she loves him. Would you deny yourdaughter the chance to be with the one she loves?”“I could never do that,” relented Phily. “And Victor is a good man. Still, it will be a long wait for the both ofthem. Victor‟s almost fully grown, and she‟s just become a teenager.”“I think that they will be able to make it work,” said Henri.“I agree. We should encourage them – discreetly.”
“This is truly wonderful news,” said Henri. “At last, you will truly be a part of the family, Meadow.”“I can think of no greater joy than calling you my sister,” said Meadow.
Later that night, Phily was still thinking about her daughter‟s budding romance.“What‟s on your mind, sweetheart?” asked Meadow as she lay down next to her partner.“We‟re getting old, Meadow. Henri‟s practically an elder, and time continues to remind me that I‟m not achild any more.”“What do you mean?”
“For one, Peter and Lenora had their teenage birthdays, like Jane.”
“Alex wrote that Peter has money on the mind, and Lenora just wants to make friends. He, Katie and Isaacare thinking about sending them back East for college, but they haven‟t made any decisions yet.”
“Then there‟s my cousin, Lila Gavigan. She just announced her engagement to Samuel Wilkie.”
“And my cousins Alonzo Phoenix and Myrtle London just got married.”
“As did my nephew, Amos Pasang. He got married a few weeks ago to Kea Centowski. My nephew,Meadow!”
“And all of Grandmamma‟s contemporaries are gone now. Sophia Thompson Phoenix, and ReneeJohnson Thompson...”
“…Aunt Margaret and Uncle Patrick…”
“…and my Aunt Eliza. Everything is changing,” Phily said with a sigh.
“That‟s what happens,” said Meadow. “Babies are born, they grow up, fall in love, get married, have babiesof their own, and then they get old. It‟s been happening for thousands of years. Your nostalgia isn‟t goingto change that.”“I know. It‟s just hard to think that our little girl is in love.”“It‟s hard for me too. But Victor is a good young man. They‟ll be very happy together.”“If he makes her half as happy as you‟ve made me, it will be an excellent match.”
Time seemed to fly that fall, and before long, Lizzie and Jefferson were waiting for the carriage that wouldtake them to the train station, and then on to Portsimouth, SimRadcliffe, and SimHarvard.Lizzie had been ecstatic when Matthew had told her she was to go to SimRadcliffe, though she did her bestnot to let her emotions get away from her. It was clear to her that Matthew, and Jan, through her refusal tospeak about the topic, did not fully approve of the decision despite the fact that they had made it. Familygatherings had become an uncomfortable affair, and everyone was looking forward to the arrival of thecarriage.
When the carriage arrived, Matthew and Jefferson went to see to the trunks. Jan held Lizzie back.“I still think that you should be going to Mrs. Seymour‟s instead of SimRadcliffe,” she began, “But I havebeen overruled. Still, I expect that you will find the time to learn how to be a good wife, so that you caneventually find a decent match.”“Of course, Mother,” Lizzie replied. “Are there any books that you recommend?”“Several, and you will find all of them in your trunk. When you come home for breaks, we will discussthem, and you will put what you have learned from them into practice so I‟ll know if you are not keeping upon it.”“Yes, Mother.”“And Elizabeth, I expect that you will use your time at college to find a suitable husband. Your brother‟scircle of friends will be an excellent place to start. After all, your four years away will be a failure if youdon‟t catch a husband.”
Before Lizzie could reply, Jefferson and Matthew returned, the coach all ready to go.Lizzie kissed her mother briefly, and then turned to her father.“Thank you for letting me go to college. I will do everything I can to be a credit to the Bradford name.”“See that you do. Don‟t make me regret my decision.”
Jefferson‟s goodbyes were much warmer.“My boy, my boy,” proclaimed Matthew. “I‟m sure that you will have a wonderful time at SimHarvard.Learn all you can, and find yourself a good wife.”“Yes, Father.” He turned to leave when Jan‟s voice stopped him. “Don‟t you have a goodbye for yourmother?”Jefferson turned and gave her a quick peck. “See, that wasn‟t so hard, was it? Do as your father advised,and you will do quite well.”
While Jefferson was saying goodbye to his parents, Lizzie was giving Jacques one last belly rub.“Be a good boy. It will only be a few years, and then we‟ll have a new home to go to.”Jacques licked Lizzie‟s hand, and she blinked back tears. “I‟m going to miss you greatly.”
Their goodbyes said, Jefferson and Lizzie headed out into the rain to meet their carriage. Jeffersonoffered Lizzie his hand up into the coach, and then alighted after her. Soon, they were off to Simsfieldstation, to the train that would take them to Portsimouth.
In Portsimouth, a similar scene was playing out. Victor was preparing to make the much shorter trip acrosstown to SimHarvard. Henri was feeling sentimental, and kept hugging her son.“Mama, stop being silly. I‟ll be only a few miles away. You had better make sure the pantry‟s well stocked– I imagine that my friends will be wanting to come over for a home-cooked meal.”“You and your friends will always be welcome here, son.”
There were also farewells to be said to his Aunt Phily and Meadow. Both women wished him well, andthen made themselves scarce so that Victor and Jane could have a few moments alone before the carriagearrived.
Victor took Jane‟s hands in his. “You really are the sweetest girl I know. I‟m going to miss youtremendously.”“You had better come and visit whenever you have the chance.”“I will. You‟ll hardly know that I‟m gone.”“I doubt that,” she sighed, a tear escaping to slide down her cheek.
“Hey, now,” he said. “None of that. Everything is going to be just fine. Please trust me.”“I do trust you. It‟s just…it will be years before I‟m old enough for Meadow and Phily to think about megetting married. What if you meet someone else? What if I meet someone else? What if…”“Shh. That won‟t happen. You‟re the only woman for me, Jane Thayer, and I intend on spending the restof my life proving that to you.”At that moment, Henri‟s voice announce the arrival of the carriage. A quick kiss, and it was time for him togo.
Though Jefferson was now away at school, the young man was never far from his mother‟s thoughts. Sheknew that Marsha Bruenig, Jefferson‟s crush, was also at SimRadcliffe with Elizabeth, and she wasdetermined that her son would make a better match.As she sat at the dining room table for yet another morning, racking her brain for ideas, it finally came toher. Her old friend, who she hadn‟t seen in years, had a daughter about Jefferson‟s age.“Perfect! I‟ll invite her to Matthew‟s birthday party. That will be an excellent opportunity for them to meetand get to know each other.”With that, she began to address an envelope, a smug smile on her face.
The evening of Matthew‟s birthday party meant a trip home for Lizzie and Jefferson. As planned, Jan alsohad another special guest in attendance. Jan had introduced her son to Melanie Miller, daughter of her oldfriend, as soon as Jefferson had walked through the door. Once the cake was finished with, she wouldhave to find a way for the young folks to get to know each other.
As Matthew leaned forward to blow out the candles on his cake, he thought about how lucky he was.Finally, he was head of the family, and he was getting his way in nearly everything. When Jeffersonfinished school in a few years, he would be able to take on the responsibility of breadwinner for the family.Matthew would be able to retire and enjoy his golden years. Perhaps he would take Jan on another trip toSimpan, or maybe even on a Grand Tour.Yes, thought Matthew. Things keep getting better with age.
After a moment to study himself in the mirror, Matthew decided that he looked more distinguished thanever. Silver hair suited him well, and the few wrinkles he saw made him look wise. And, for a little whilelonger, he had a pretty young wife to make the other men his age jealous of him.
While Matthew was busy admiring his new look, Jan had sent Lizzie to the kitchen to clean up and pushedJefferson and Melanie into the parlor for a game of chess. Without his sister there as a reminder of herfriend Marsha, Jan was confidant that Melanie would be able to charm Jefferson.
Jan watched her son discreetly from the entryway. Everything was going swimmingly, and the two youngadults were chatting away happily. Melanie was much prettier than Marsha, with her fair hair and blueeyes, and no man could fail to notice that.Before long, Jefferson will be hers, Jan thought with a smug grin.“Mother, why are you standing there?”
“Be quiet!” ordered Jan as she pushed Lizzie back and out of sight. “I don‟t want your brother disturbed.He and Miss Miller are getting to know one another.”“But Mother, Jefferson‟s sweet on my friend, Miss Bruenig. I thought you knew that.”“Well, it would appear that he‟s found a new person on which to bestow his affections.”“Mother, what do you have against Marsha? She‟s a perfectly sweet girl.”“She a village girl, Elizabeth. Your brother can do far better.”“I don‟t believe this,” muttered Lizzie, as she went to pass her mother.
“No, you don‟t,” said Jan, stopping her daughter. “You will not meddle, Elizabeth. This is what I have hadplanned for some time.”“But what of what Jefferson wants?”“He‟s a man – he‟ll jump at the first pretty girl who gives him the time of day. And I want that girl to be MissMiller.”“I shan‟t let you get away with this. I‟ll tell Jefferson!”“If you tell your brother, I‟ll have your father pull you out of SimRadcliffe. He‟d believe me if I told him thatyou weren‟t following my instructions and learning about household management along with your regularstudies.”“You wouldn‟t!” gasped Lizzie.“I would. Now, go into the music room and play something on the piano. I‟ll have everyone join us inthere.”
Afraid of what her mother would do if she didn‟t obey, Lizzie sat down at the piano and began to play.However, instead of one of the many classical pieces that she knew her mother was hoping that she wouldselect, Lizzie began to play one of the new ragtime tunes that were all the rage at college. The rest of thefamily soon made their way into the music room to hear Lizzie play.
The entire family stood and listened to Lizzie play. Jefferson applauded his sister‟s skill. From time totime, he would glance at Melanie and smile to himself. Jan‟s sharp eye did not miss these stolen looks,and she couldn‟t help a smile of her own. Things were working out perfectly. Melanie was well on her wayto becoming her daughter-in-law, and Jan couldn‟t have been happier.
In Portsimouth, Jane Thayer was doing her best to keep busy. Being occupied made the days go faster,and made Victor‟s absence less noticeable. She would fill her time with her schoolwork…
…reading books, both for school and for fun…
...and practicing her music. Before long, Victor was heading home for Henri‟s birthday.
The family gathered in the dining room for Henri‟s cake. She beamed at her family as they cheered her on.After years, Henri finally had the life she had always dreamed of for herself and her son. She was verymuch looking forward to the next stage of her life.
After taking a deep breath, Henri leaned forward and blew out her candles.
Though she had been a widow for many years, and technically didn‟t have to wear mourning any longer,Henri still elected to remain in black. She had enjoyed the freedom she found as a widow far too much togive it up, and if she went out of mourning it might mean the advances of men, even at her advanced age.No, she decided. Black it would be. Anything to keep her from having to be another man‟s wife.
As all of this was going on, Jane and Victor were taking a few moments to get reacquainted. Jane couldhardly believe how much Victor had changed in such a short span of time – he looked so grown up in hisnew suit of clothes. Once again, she felt a wave on insecurity wash over her. Why would he still beinterested in a plain Jane like her?
“What‟s bothering you, Jane?”“Nothing,” she muttered, trying to hide her feelings.“You can‟t lie to me, Jane. Something has you troubled, and I‟d like to know what it is.”“You‟re so grown up and handsome!” she exclaimed. “Why would you ever waste your time with me?”“Silly girl; you‟re not a waste of time at all. In fact, I have yet to see a girl who is as pretty as you.”Jane blushed.“I meant what I said, Jane. Yes, it will be a few years yet, but you‟re worth waiting for.”
Before long, it was time for Victor to head back to school. He hugged everyone in turn, and saved Jane forlast. He held her for a moment longer than was necessary, and then pressed a kiss to her forehead.“See you real soon,” he promised.
Later that night, Meadow cornered Jane.“I see that you and Victor are still getting along well,” she commented.“Yes, we are.”“Have you two discussed your future at all?”“Not in so many words, no, but I believe that he intends to ask me to marry him when I‟m a little older.”“And if he does, what will be your reply?”“Oh, yes, of course! I know that I‟m part of this family now, and I‟m very grateful about that, but a part ofme can‟t help but feel like the poor orphan that arrived on your doorstep.”Meadow smiled at her daughter. “Victor is a good man, and you couldn‟t do much better. I want you toknow that Phily, Mrs. Hutchins, and I all approve of the match.”“Thank you, Meadow. That means a great deal to me.”
“What do you think we should do today, Lizzie? A whole day free of lessons! I scarcely know what to dowith myself.”“I supposed I had better catch up on the housekeeping books that my mother gave me,” sighed Lizzie.“Oh, that‟s a horrible idea. Look out the window at the sky! It‟s a beautiful day – warm as summer. Let‟sgo for a stroll in the public gardens. You have all winter to finish those dreadful books.”“You‟re right,” smiled Lizzie, an air of defiance about her. “Let‟s have our walk. It will be winter far toosoon, and we‟ll be cooped up indoors for such a long time. Come on.”
The two young woman spent almost an hour wandering through the park, admiring the foliage colors andenjoying the crispness of the air.“You see, Lizzie? This is so much more fun than any guide to household taste that your mother coulddream up for you to read.”“Yes,” muttered Lizzie, her mother‟s threat still hanging heavy on her mind. “Why don‟t we go sit downover there for a while?”“Of course.”
Lizzie and Marsha sat down at one of the many picnic tables that dotted the park.“Lizzie, look there, but do it discreetly,” said Marsha in a low voice. “That man has been watching us, Ishould say you, for some time.”Lizzie looked up to see a tow-haired man in a well-cut suit doing his best not to be noticed watching her.“He‟s very handsome,” she muttered, with a blush.“Oh, he‟s coming this way! Do you think he‟ll speak to you?”“Hush, he‟s close enough to hear us.”“Good afternoon, ladies. Would you mind if I sat with you for a while? I‟ve been walking for quite a ways,and I‟m rather tired.”“Of course, sir,” smiled Marsha. “My friend and I would love the pleasure of your company.”
The man took a seat. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Jason Seiff, and I live here in Portsimouth. I amguessing, by the crimson pinned to your blouses, that you are students at SimRadcliffe?”Marsha nodded. “Yes, my friend and I are starting our sophomore year. I am Marsha Bruenig, and this isElizabeth Bradford.”“It is a honor to make your acquaintances, Miss Bruenig and Miss Bradford. Are you enjoying yourstudies?” he asked of both of them, but clearly at Lizzie.Marsha kicked Lizzie under the table, prompting her to speak.“I‟m enjoying them very much, Mr. Seiff.”“What course have you taken up, Miss Bradford?”Lizzie thought to fib for a moment, but changed her mind. “Economics. The business world has alwaysfascinated me. I hope someday to own a shop of my own.”
“How refreshing,” commented Jason. “So many ladies only care about fashion and the like. It‟s nice tomeet one who has a broader view of the world.”
“You really think that?” exclaimed Lizzie with a smile on her face. “I think that’s refreshing. Mother told methat men didn‟t care for educated women.”“Your mother was foolish to try and speak for all men. Not all of us want ladies who are purely decorative;some of us enjoy the company of those that we can converse intelligently with.”
Jason and Lizzie continued to chat, ignoring Marsha‟s presence. She was perfectly content to let her friendand the young man get better acquainted. In fact, she would have been happy to let them chat allafternoon long.Before long, Marsha heard the clock in the cathedral tower strike four.“Goodness, Lizzie. We‟ve managed to pass our entire day away. Mr. Seiff, it was a pleasure to meet you,but Lizzie and I really must be going. We need to get back to our boarding house so we can get ready fordinner.”
Jason rose with the girls.“It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Bradford. May I have permission to call on you at your boardinghouse?”“You may,” she said, fighting back a blush. “We are allowed callers on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mybrother, Jefferson, usually calls Wednesday afternoons, and I would like for you to meet him.”“Than I shall have to call on you on a Wednesday, it seems. Miss Bradford, Miss Bruenig, have a pleasantrest of your day.”“Thank you, Mr. Seiff. I hope you have a good evening as well,” smiled Lizzie.Jason allowed himself one more look at Lizzie, and then turned and walked away.
As soon as Jason was out of sight, Marsha turned to Lizzie.“Lizzie! Do you have any idea who that was? The Seiffs are a well-known family here in the city. And rich,too. Even your mother couldn‟t find fault with them. I believe he intends to court you.”“Me? Are you sure, Marsha? It could just as well me you.”“Lizzie, it wasn‟t me that he spent the past hour and a half talking with. No, Lizzie, I think you‟ve gotyourself a suitor, and a fine one at that.”“You really think so?”Marsha nodded.“He is rather charming. I suppose I‟ll have to see if he calls and go from there.”“Oh, he‟ll call. Trust me, Lizzie, he‟ll call. Now, we really should be getting back.”
As fall continued to move towards winter, Jan Bradford was busy doing her best to forget that her birthdaywas fast approaching. The days somehow seemed longer without the children about, and Matthew busytrying to establish himself as an architect, his latest scheme to increase the family fortune. She used herdays to try out new recipes…
…reading dirty SimFrench novels, playing the piano, painting, and playing chess. And while Jan was busykeeping her mind off of things…
…the family garden fell into disarray. Matthew had hired a gardener, but he only came a few times a week.Had Lizzie been home, her heart would have broken to see the condition that the garden carefully tendedby generations of Bradford women was now in. But Jan had no such worries. As far as she wasconcerned, the family no longer had a need for such a rustic activity.
The day of Jan‟s birthday arrived. Once she had spoken with the maid to make sure all preparations forthe party were underway, she went into her husband‟s study and helped herself to a generous portion ofhis oldest whiskey. She knew that she would need something to fortify her for the events still to come.
Later that evening, with her family gathered around, Jan prepared to join her husband in elderhood.
Jan took a deep breath, more to brace herself than anything, and blew out her candles.
Much to her surprise, Jan found that she liked how she looked as an elder. Her white hair was her favoritefeature, as it no longer prevented her from wearing colors that had once clashed with her red hair.Perhaps, she thought, as she and her family enjoyed cake, being older wasn‟t as bad as she though itwould be.
Later, after Jefferson and Lizzie had returned to Portsimouth, Matthew and Jan found themselves in themusic room.“How goes your scheme to get Jefferson and Miss Miller together?”“Fairly well, I think. I spoke to the Millers a few days ago, and I guess that Jefferson ran into them whilethey were out and about in the city, and he was very attentive to her.”“Excellent, excellent,” muttered Matthew. “Now, how do we get him to take the next step?”“That, I am not sure about. I know that he calls on Elizabeth frequently, and I imagine that Miss Bruenig isalso about during those visits. I don‟t know how to get him to see past her when she‟s constantly about.”“I can‟t help you there. We‟ll just have to trust that Miss Miller will be able to sway him. Of course, wemust think of Elizabeth as well. She‟ll need all the help she can get to find a husband. Goodness knowsthat SimRadcliffe will have spoiled her.”“I suppose I need to turn my attention to her,” admitted Jan. “Though I must admit that I‟m at a loss for whoI can pair her up with. What man wants a college educated woman as a wife?”
Marsha and Lizzie were busy studying for an upcoming exam one Wednesday afternoon. Neither of themnoticed that someone had arrived, and was watching them.
“Good afternoon, ladies.”
“Jefferson!” exclaimed Lizzie as she looked up from her book. She quickly put it down, and jumped up.
“I‟m so glad you came to visit today,” she said.“Aren‟t you always glad to see me?” laughed her twin.“Of course I am. But there‟s someone coming in a little while that I would very much like for you to meet.Come, sit down with us for a while.”
“What have you been up to, Lizzie?”“Marsha and I have been very busy with our schoolwork as of late; exams are coming up, and I amdetermined to lead my class.”Jefferson laughed. “All work and no play will make you a dull girl, Lizzie. Don‟t spend all your time withyour books.”“Oh, she doesn‟t,” interjected Marsha. “I make sure that we take walks in the public gardens.”“That is good to hear,” replied Jefferson.“Miss Bradford?” called their boarding house mistress. “Your guest is here.”“Guest?” queried Jefferson.“Yes. Please excuse me for a moment. I‟ll be right back.”
Lizzie left the parlor, and Jefferson turned to Marsha. “Is my sister‟s guest a gentleman?”“He is, and he is an excellent young man. You have nothing to worry about Jefferson. In fact, Lizzie hasbeen most anxious for you to meet Mr. Seiff.”“Why didn‟t she tell me sooner?”“Jefferson, she‟s nervous. All her life she‟s lived with constant disapproval…she doesn‟t want to disappointyou with her choice.”Jefferson was silent for a few moments, lost in thought. “Mr. Seiff is a good man, you say?”Marsha nodded. “From a good family as well. And it‟s clear that he cares about her greatly. Please, givehim a chance.”
Out in the entryway, Lizzie was preparing Jason to meet her brother.“He‟s really very nice, Jason, but I don‟t know how he‟ll react to you.”“I understand. I would be very protective of a sister as lovely as you, if I had one.”“Oh, Jason, I really hope that you two get along. It would mean a great deal to me.”“I will make every effort to be friends with your brother, Lizzie. Now, why don‟t you introduce us.”
Back in the parlor, Jefferson was gathering his courage. “Miss Marsha, I was wondering…would you careto join me for an evening at the theater?”Marsha blinked, but didn‟t say anything. Jefferson began speaking again.“After exams are over, of course. I know how important your studies are. And,” he said, his voice rising inpitch and speed, “with my sister as a chaperone, of course.”“Thank you for you offer, Jefferson, but I must decline.”Jefferson‟s face fell. He had finally managed to ask the object of his affections out, and she had turned himdown.
Just as Jefferson was about to ask Marsha the reason for her refusal, Lizzie brought Jason into the parlor.“Jefferson? I‟d like to introduce you to Mr. Jason Seiff. Mr. Seiff, my brother, Jefferson Bradford.”
Jason walked up to Jefferson. “It‟s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Bradford. Your sister speaks highly ofyou.”“Mr. Seiff,” replied Jefferson with a nod of his head. “Please, sit down.”
Lizzie sat down, but stayed rather rigid in her chair. This initial meeting was not going as well as she hadhoped. Jefferson was acting rather frigid, even for someone meeting his sister‟s beau.She knew that she needed Jefferson‟s support in introducing Jason to their parents if she was to convincethem that he was a suitable match. She needed to find a way to turn this meeting around, and quickly.
As usual, Marsha noticed her friend‟s distress, and jumped in to help.“Mr. Seiff, it is so nice to see you again. I must say, all of us were rather envious of the flowers you sentLizzie last week.”“It was nothing, Miss Bruenig. Anything to make her happy.”“And I truly enjoyed seeing you at the theater the other night. You were so attentive, making sure we had acarriage home before leaving.”
“Yes, it was very sweet of you,” smiled Lizzie.“As I said before, it was nothing,” he replied with a smile.Jefferson was torn. He felt horrible for treating Jason so abruptly a few moments ago, and wanted torectify that straight away. But he was even more upset about Marsha, as it seemed that she was willing togo to the theater with anyone but him. Obviously, he had been fooling himself in thinking that she mightpossibly care for him, and that was a blow.“Mr. Seiff, would you join me in the foyer for a moment? I would like to speak with you, privately.”“Of course, Mr. Bradford. Ladies, please excuse us.”
“Mr. Seiff, allow me to apologize for my abrupt behavior earlier. You caught me at a bad moment, thoughthat is no excuse for how I treated you. It is quite clear that you care for my sister a great deal.”“She is a wonderful woman,” interrupted Jason. “I would like to court her, formally, but she insisted thatshe wanted your approval, before I went to your father.”“My father can be a difficult man,” agreed Jefferson. “But my opinion carries great weight with him. If I tellhim that you are worthy of my sister, he will agree to the courtship.”“And what will you tell your father, Mr. Bradford?”“Jefferson, please, Mr. Seiff. I will tell him that you are an excellent man, and that you are worthy of mysister.”Jason smiled. “Thank you, Jefferson. And you must call me Jason. It would appear that we will bebrothers before too much longer.”
A few moments later, Marsha and Lizzie wandered into the foyer. Jason and Jefferson were laughing andchatting, and it was clear that they had moved past their frosty greeting.“I‟m glad to see the two of you getting along so well,” smiled Lizzie.“Jefferson and I will be the best of friends, I‟m certain,” smiled Jason. “Unfortunately, that will have to waitfor another day. I really must be going; I‟m meeting a client for dinner this evening.”
He pressed a kiss to Lizzie‟s hand. “Thank you for a lovely afternoon. I‟ll call soon.”“Thank you,” she replied, her face glowing.
After Jason had left, Jefferson turned to his sister.“I really must be going as well; you aren‟t the only one who has exams to study for. Take care, Lizzie.”“Thank you, Jefferson. Your approval means a lot to me.”“Miss Bruenig,” he said, as he nodding his goodbye.
As the two ladies enjoyed their evening meal, Marsha was thinking about Jefferson‟s sudden change inattitude.“Jefferson acted rather oddly when he said goodbye this afternoon, don‟t you think?”“It did seem a little strange,” agreed Lizzie. “But he had a lot to take in today. I wouldn‟t think too much ofit, Marsha. I‟m sure that he‟ll be his old self the next time he calls.”“I‟m sure,” muttered Marsha, a strange feeling settling into her stomach.Perhaps I should have told him that my father was upset with me going to the theater without one of myfamily members present, and that he forbade me from any evening excursions unless he was with me? Ihope that this doesn’t keep him from speaking to me when he calls on Lizzie.
Marsha‟s refusal weighed heavily on Jefferson‟s mind. Here he was, nearly halfway through his collegecareer, and no potential wife in sight. He had thought that Marsha might be that woman, but now…well, itseemed that she wasn‟t interested in him as a husband.What am I going to do? I can’t graduate without a fiancée, and with all the courtship rituals that I will needto go through I’m practically out of time.Suddenly, he remembered Melanie Miller. She was a very sweet lady, and she had been so interested ineverything he‟d had to say at his father‟s birthday party. Maybe he should give her a second look.The fraternity was throwing a dinner party later in the week. He would see that she got an invitation to it,and see where things went from there.
Melanie had accepted the invitation almost immediately, and by chance she was seated next to Jefferson.She was polite to all the fraternity members, but clearly had eyes only for Jefferson.
After dinner, they retired to the parlor for a game of chess. Jefferson spent much of the game observingMelanie. She was sweet, soft-spoken, and clearly thought well of him. Still, before he set his heart on her,he needed to know whether or not she would reject his advances, as Marsha had.
Jefferson took Melanie outside to wait for her carriage. Now was the time to see how she felt about him.“You look positively radiant, Miss Miller.”
“That‟s so sweet of you to say, Mr. Bradford. I hardly feel that I live up to such a complement.”
Emboldened by her reply, he replied. “But you are, Miss Miller. You are one of the loveliest creatures Ihave ever met. I‟m certain that you have many who vie for your affections, and I feel lucky that you chooseto pass your time with me.”
“Mr. Bradford, you don‟t give yourself enough credit. You are a fine man; I‟m certain that you have yourchoice of ladies to pass time with. I feel lucky that you choose to spend time with me.”“Have dinner with me,” he blurted out. “I can get my mother to act as chaperone, I‟m certain.”“I would love to have dinner with you, Mr. Bradford. Name the time and place, and I‟ll be there.”“This Saturday. Does Londoste suit you?”“That sounds lovely, Mr. Bradford. I‟ll see you then.”
Later that night, Jefferson and Eldon found themselves burning the midnight oil. Both had papers due thenext day, and neither had wanted to forgo the dinner party earlier in the evening.As they tapped away on the typewriters, Eldon thought about the scene he had observed on the front porchbetween Melanie and Jefferson earlier that night.“Jefferson, may I ask you something?”“You just did, cousin. But what it is?”“I noticed that you and Miss Miller seemed to be getting rather friendly.”“Yes. Actually, we‟re having dinner on Saturday. I have to call Mother and ask if she can chaperone.”
“Forgive me, cousin, but I thought you had a thing for Miss Bruenig. Why the sudden change of heart?”Jefferson sighed. “Miss Bruenig turned me down.”“Turned you down?”“I asked her to the theater, and she said no.”“That doesn‟t sound like her. Did you ask her why?”“Does it matter? Eldon, you don‟t understand. I have to get married, and carry on the Bradford line andname. I‟m almost halfway through college; that doesn‟t give me much time. I have to find a wife, andsoon. Miss Miller is a good young woman, and she accepted my dinner invitation. Therefore, she caresabout me more than Miss Bruenig.”“Do you care for Miss Miller the way you care for Miss Bruenig?”Jefferson was silent.“I thought not.”
“Don‟t talk about things that you have no knowledge of, Eldon. Besides,” Jefferson said, suppressing asigh, “I‟m certain that I‟ll grow to care for Miss Miller with time. We‟re well-suited to each other. And I can‟twait around forever for Miss Bruenig to change her mind.”
That Saturday, Jefferson and Melanie met at Londoste for dinner. Jan came along to play chaperone, butsat at a nearby table to give the couple a little privacy. From her vantage point, she could watcheverything, and make sure that all went according to her plan.
She needn‟t have worried, as Jefferson was clearly falling for Melanie more as each moment passed.Conversation flowed like the wine they enjoyed with their meal, but the young man couldn‟t fight the feelingthat something wasn‟t quite right. Still, he couldn‟t deny that he was greatly enjoying the evening, and hemade every effort to be as attentive as possible.
He even offered Melanie a bit of his dinner when she comment that it looked good.
Jan smiled as she watched her son. It won’t be long now, she thought. Jefferson will speak to Mr. Millerabout Melanie’s hand in marriage, and I’ll have a daughter-in-law that I can be proud of.
“Thank you for a lovely evening, Miss Miller,” said Jefferson. “I enjoyed your company immensely.”“Please, Mr. Bradford, I insist that you call me Melanie. It‟s clear that you intend to court me, andformalities seem silly.”“Thank you, Miss Melanie. May I…may I kiss you, Miss Melanie?”“You may, Jefferson.”
Their kiss was soft and sweet. Jefferson knew at that moment that he would ask Melanie to marry himwhen he graduated from SimHarvard.
“I‟m going to call on your family, Miss Melanie. I want your father‟s permission to court you formally.”“Jefferson, nothing would make me happier than that.”“It‟s getting late; I should probably see you home.”“You‟re probably right, though I wish this evening didn‟t have to end.”“Patience, Miss Melanie. Soon, we‟ll be able to spend a great deal of time together.”“I can hardly wait.”
*************************************************************************************************************************And that is the conclusion of Chapter 15.Next time, we‟ll see Lizzie and Jefferson graduate from college and what happens as they begin their adultlives. What will happen when Lizzie introduces Jason to her parents? Will Victor and Jane‟s relationshipsurvive a long courtship? Will Jefferson propose to Melanie? And what will happen to Marsha?Thank you for reading. Please leave all comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop.com. Untilnext time!