Welcome back! Last time, James became fast friends with his cousin Taddy, Jane and Victor finally gotmarried and had a baby, Eldon died of consumption, James learned why Sterling Alcott doesn‟t like theBradford family, Alex came home to visit, Viola grew up into a budding artist, and Marsha and Jeffersonhad their third child, a boy named Cyrus. Oh, and Marsha stood up to Jan in regards to meddling with thechildren.I should warn you that there is a little strong language in this chapter. Hey, we all say things that we don‟tmean to when we‟re upset, and Jefferson is no different.Please enjoy Chapter 19 of The Bradford Legacy.
“Well, what do you think?” Matthew Bradford asked his only son Jefferson.Jefferson shrugged, not sure what answer his father was looking for. “This is the land across the streetfrom our house. Lizzie and I used to play here when we were younger. The trees made for excellentgames of hide and seek.”“Well, it‟s ours now,” smiled Matthew.“Ours? You mean you purchased it? When?”“Yes. I made the offer a few months ago, and the paperwork was finalized yesterday.”Jefferson nodded. “Well, what plans do you have for it?”“Well, Jefferson, as you know I‟m getting on in years. I‟ve begun thinking about this for some time, and I‟vedecided that it‟s high time the Bradfords have a proper place to be laid to rest.”“You mean to turn this into a cemetery?”“That is exactly what I mean to do.”
“So, you want to be buried here, and not in the plot on the family land as everyone else is?”“Jefferson, you misunderstand me. I mean have all the family graves moved here.”“You‟re going to disturb three generations worth of graves? And for what?”“We‟re one of the founding families of this community, Jefferson! Don‟t you think that we deserve adignified place to spend the rest of eternity?”“I would think,” Jefferson said, in a haughty tone that rivaled anything his mother could have used, “Thatthe land that nearly six generations have called their own would be dignified enough.”
Matthew‟s eyes narrowed. “You overstep your bounds, Jefferson. I am still head of this family, and willremain so until the day I die. I will make the decisions about what is best for us until then. My decision ismade. The Bradfords from here forth shall be buried in this graveyard.”With those words, Matthew left his son and stormed back across the street.
A few weeks after the disastrous conversation with Jefferson, Matthew stood across the street, admiringhis handiwork.
Well, he chuckled to himself, perhaps handiwork was going a bit far, as Matthew had only directed thebuilding of the fence, the planting of the trees and flowers, and the moving of the graves of his parents,grandparents and great-grandparents. He had even commissioned a new replica of the statue that hisgrandfather had erected in the old graveyard, as the old one was fast crumbling.Yes, he thought, this is a much more fitting final resting place for the most prestigious family in Simsfield.
Jefferson and Matthew‟s relationship had grown even more strained with Matthew‟s latest scheme, butthere was still one member of the family who was blissfully unaware that anything was wrong. Little Cyrus,the third of Jefferson‟s three children with his wife Marsha, was very busy learning how to walk and talkfrom his Mama. As she and Jefferson had decided that Cyrus would be their last, Marsha could enjoy histoddlerhood without the stress of a pregnancy. The little boy was always smiling, and Marsha wouldreadily admit that the little boy had his mama wrapped around his little finger.
While Marsha was busy enjoying her time with her son, she didn‟t notice the lines of worry that werebeginning to creep across her husband‟s face.Jefferson was worried about the state of the family‟s finances. Matthew had retired years ago, but stillinsisted on spending extravagantly. New suits for himself, fancy jewelry for Jan, toys for the boys, and nowthe land across the street. Jefferson often found himself staying up well into the night, trying to balance theaccount books and figure out just how he would makes sure that his children had food and clothes withouttheir father having to work so much that he wouldn‟t get to see them grow up.
It was there that Marsha found him one night, pouring over the books.“Jefferson, it‟s getting late. Why don‟t you come to bed?”“I need to finish this ledger first.”“Sweetheart, you have to be at work early tomorrow. Can‟t it wait?” She reached out to caress hisshoulder, but pulled back when he recoiled from her touch.“No, it can‟t!”
Jefferson resumed his scribbling, and Marsha moved to get a better look at the book that her husband wasnow glaring at.“My goodness,” she whispered as she added up the figures in her head. “How…”“My father,” sighed Jefferson. “He‟s stilling living – and spending – like he‟s got a full income. And whilehis pension is a good one, it‟s not enough for his old habits. If I don‟t get that promotion soon, I don‟t knowwhat we‟ll do.” He sighed. “I feel like such a failure.”
“Jefferson Bradford, don‟t you ever let me catch you saying something like that again.”“But it‟s the truth! James will be a teenager soon; he‟ll be ready for college before we know it and I don‟tknow if we‟ll have the money to send him!”“Shh…we‟ll figure it out somehow. I believe in you, Jefferson Bradford. Don‟t you ever forget that.”“But…”“No. The garden will be ready to harvest soon. I‟ll sell some of the excess, quietly, to the store. That willpay for some of the little expenses we have. And we‟ll have your boss over for dinner next week, to helpyou with that promotion you need.”“How did I get so lucky?” he asked.“No idea. Now, come to bed. You‟ve worried over this long enough for tonight.”
Across town in the Bear household, the family was slowing coming out of mourning after the passing ofEldon. Even Anne, his mother, who had grieved harder than anyone at his passing, seamed to be atpeace. As she was approaching eighty, it was easy to understand why. She knew it wouldn‟t be longbefore she saw her son again.
Cordelia, Eldon‟s daughter, was thriving. She was the apple of her mother‟s eye, and quickly showing thatshe had inherited her father‟s brains.“See, Mama! Top of my class again!”“I‟m very proud of you, dear.”
One morning, Cordelia woke up to an oddly quiet house. Grandpa wasn‟t knocking on her door, telling herthat breakfast was almost ready, and she couldn‟t smell the pancakes that Grandma usually made. Shecould tell that something was up.
Just as Cordelia was finishing making her bed, Anne walked into the room.“Good, you‟re awake. There‟s someone here who‟d like to meet you. Come with me.”“Shouldn‟t I get dressed first?”“That‟s not necessary, dear. Now, come with me.”
“Oh!” cried Cordelia, when she saw who Anne wanted her to meet. “The baby‟s come.”“Yes, he arrived last night; we decided to wait until this morning to tell you,” smiled Ericka.“He? I have a brother?”
“Yes, a little brother we have decided to call William Eldon.”“After Papa.”“After your papa,” agreed Ericka.
Cordelia studied her little brother for several moments. “He looks just like you, Mama. Except…”“He has your father‟s eyes.”“Just like me.”“Just like you.”
“Cordelia,” Anne said softly. “You need to get ready for school, and I‟m sure that William wants to take anap.”“Yes, Grandma,” the little girl nodded, before throwing her arms around the old woman. “Are you happyabout William?”“Yes, I am. Now, shoo!”
Everyone doted on little William, but no one more so than Anne. In his eyes, the exact same shade ofEldon‟s, she could see the legacy her son had left behind. By all accounts, William shouldn‟t even havebeen born, but here he was, a little miracle.“You‟ll grow up strong,” prophesized Anne. “And do everything that my boy couldn‟t. You‟ll play ball withyour friends, join on of the sports teams at SimHarvard, and have a family of your own.”
William wasn‟t the only baby in the Bradford clan that was being doted upon. Over in Portsimouth, littleAsher Hutchins had fully captured the heart of his Grandma Meadow. If Asher was not in his cradle or inhis mother‟s arms, chances were you would find Meadow rocking him gently, imparting the wisdom of theworld on to him.“You are the sweetest thing,” she cooed. “I‟m so glad that my daughter has gotten to experience the joysof motherhood in a way that I never could.”
Jane soon discovered that she was pregnant again, much to the joy of the rest of the family. Jane andVictor, both being only children, had always wanted a big family. Jane filled her days at home with hermothers and her mother-in-law.It’s so strange, thought Jane, how much things stay the same. Mrs. Hutchins and Meadow still attend theirLadies’ Aide and suffragette meetings, and then Meadow comes home and paints. Phily plays at hermusic, and Mrs. Hutchins entertains herself. Such is life, I suppose.
Before long, it was time for Asher‟s birthday. As Jane was heavily pregnant, it was just the household thatgathered to mark the occasion.Victor did the honors of bringing his son to the cake that Meadow had baked, and “helped” the baby blowout the candles.
Little Asher grew into an adorable toddler who had his father mouth and his mother‟s nose. Personalitywise, he was exactly like his papa – very nice, very active, very playful, and a rather short temper.
After getting Asher settled in the nursery on the newly finished third floor, Jane went to announce that shewas going to get ready for bed.“I can‟t wait for the baby to come,” she commented. “I‟m so tired all the time.”“I can‟t wait to meet her,” Victor replied.“You‟re so certain that this one is a girl. Why?”“Father‟s intuition,” he grinned.Jane snorted a laugh. “I can‟t wait to prove you wrong.”
It turned out that the expectant parents didn‟t have to wait to long to see who was right about the baby‟sgender. Jane went into labor that night.
Soon, Jane was holding a brunette baby girl with brown eyes in her arms.“I told you it was a girl,” Victor smiled when he was allowed in the room to see his wife and meet hisdaughter.“One of each; how delightful!” cried Meadow.“What are you going to call her?” asked Henri.“Octavia,” Jane announced.
Little Octavia was as doted upon as her brother. Phily, who had rarely been around babies and was neververy comfortable with them, even pitched in to help out, and Henri saw the daughter she never had. With ababy and a toddler underfoot, things were never dull in the Hutchins/Thayer house.
One lovely fall afternoon, Lizzie decided to take her afternoon tea in the garden. As she sipped, shethought about the event that would be taking place that evening. Her son, Taddy, would be celebrating histeenage birthday. Inwardly, she sighed. Just yesterday it seemed, he was the fussiest baby anyone hadever seen. Now, he was on the verge of becoming a man.Wherever does the time go? she wondered. She heard the clock strike four, and rose. There were still afew things she needed to see to before the party that evening.
After Lizzie had finished setting up for the party, she went upstairs to make herself look smart. It was therethat Jason found her. He noticed the frown upon her face, and asked her what was wrong.“Are we really old enough to have a son who is about to become a teenager?”Jason chuckled. “Apparently so, even though we…” he paused as he caught his reflection in the mirror, “orI should say you certainly don‟t look it.”Lizzie shook her head. “My hair is starting to go gray. I‟ve been styling it very carefully so that it‟s notobvious.”“You look exactly the same as you did the day I first saw you in the public gardens. Now, let‟s godownstairs. Your brother and his family should be arriving soon.”
“You excited?” asked James.Taddy nodded. “I‟ll get to go upstairs to the secondary school, and maybe even join the school ball team.”James smiled at his friend‟s enthusiasm, but deep down he was worried. This would be the first time thathe and Taddy wouldn‟t be seatmates in school, and they wouldn‟t be able to do everything together as theyalways had. Still, it would only be a few weeks until James‟ birthday, and then the two would beinseparable again.
With everyone gathered and ready, Taddy contemplated his wish and blew out the candles on his cake.
Taddy turned out to be quite a handsome lad. He decided that romance was what mattered to him most,and that being invited to all the social events of the season was his greatest desire.
“How does it feel?” James asked his cousin.“Mostly the same. I‟m taller, of course, but other than that nothing.”“Good.”“James, you‟re still my best friend, even if I‟m a little older than you.”“But you‟ll be upstairs at school now, and there‟s loads of boys older than me there. You‟ll probably wantto hang out with them more than me,” the younger boy sighed.“That doesn‟t matter. You and me, James. That‟s how it‟s always going to be.”
“I‟m glad. All of the other boys left in our…I mean my class are way too little for me to play with.”“Nothing‟s going to change, James. I promise.”
Little William Eldon celebrated a birthday as well. He turned out to have a personality very similar toEldon‟s: neat and active, though he was nicer that both his parents put together.
Ericka adored her son, a constant reminder of her late husband. She had wanted another baby so badly,and Eldon had obliged, even though he knew that he wouldn‟t be around to see the child grow up.
And Cordelia‟s favorite way to spend her afternoons was playing with her little brother. She could alwayscoax a smile out of him, and she taught him a song that Eldon has taught her as a tot.
Soon, Cordelia grew up. After the loss of her father at such an early age, she realized that family was whatmattered to her most, and after seeing how happy she and William had made Anne, decided that lots ofgrandchildren was what she wanted.
James walked into the primary school room the day after Taddy‟s birthday. His teacher, Miss Kirkman,called him to the front of the room.
“Yes, ma‟am?”“Thaddeus has started his classes upstairs, has he not?”James nodded.“Would you like another seatmate, James?”“Not really, Miss Kirkwood. I‟ll be going upstairs pretty soon myself, so it really doesn‟t make sense to pairme up with anyone else.”Susan Kirkwood looked at James for a moment. James‟ statement certainly had a lot of truth in it, but shedidn‟t like the way that he had delivered it. But he was the oldest male student she had by several years –there really was no one to pair him up with.She nodded. “Since Silas and Orson are still a few grades behind you, you can keep your seat to yourself.”“Thank you, Miss Kirkwood.”
James returned to his desk; the one that Taddy used to use sat next to him unoccupied. He smiled tohimself. He wouldn‟t have to sit with one of the little kids, and soon he‟d get to join his best friend upstairsin the secondary classroom.But even before that, recess would come. Maybe Taddy would play basketball with him. The older boysdidn‟t like letting the primary students use the hoop, but with Taddy grown up, James might just have achance.
Upstairs in the secondary classroom, Taddy was shifting his weight nervously. His new teacher, Mr.Locke, was busy chatting with the other students in SimFrench, and Taddy didn‟t want to interrupt.
“Ah, we have a new student. Welcome to my classroom, Thaddeus.”“Thank you, Mr. Locke,” Taddy replied politely. “Where should I sit?”“Right there in the second row is fine. I imagine that you‟ll want to sit with James when he joins us in a fewweeks?”Taddy nodded eagerly.“Very good. I hope that you‟ll find the subjects here both challenging and stimulating. Now, why don‟t youtake your seat, and we‟ll get started.”
Taddy took his seat behind Harris Gavigan and Sterling Alcott. He could hardly contain his excitement athis luck. Mr. Locke seemed to be a decent fellow, and he was looking forward to studying chemistry,algebra, and SimFrench. And, he noted, there were other reasons to be excited about being a secondarystudent, and three of those reasons were sitting across the aisle from him.Taddy had hardly noticed the girls in the primary class, excepting for his cousin Viola who would often joinhim and James when they played at recess. But these girls were something entirely different. They lookedso different with their grown-up hairdos and clothes. Taddy did his best not to stare, but it was so hard.
At recess that day, the younger children enjoyed the playground equipment. The teenagers gathered onthe basketball court, the boys to play and the girls to watch.James was waiting for Taddy to emerge from the schoolhouse by playing on the monkey bars with OrsonPasang. James wondered what was taking Taddy so long, and he was just about to go back into thebuilding to see what was keeping his best friend, Taddy came around the corner and made his way to thebasketball court to join his classmates.“See you, Orson. Me and Taddy are going to play now.”
Taddy didn‟t notice that James was making a beeline towards him. He had eyes only for a certainredheaded lady, and he was trying to figure out the best way to approach her. Just as Taddy had workedout a speech in his head, he felt a tug on his sleeve.
“Where were you?” James demanded.“I had to speak with Mr. Locke.”“Well, can we play basketball? I really want to play.”
“James, you know that the court is the domain of the older school children. You can‟t use it unless theydecide they don‟t want to play.”“But you’re older now. Why can‟t you convince them to let me join?”“James, I just can‟t. Why don‟t you go back and play on the playground?” Taddy‟s eyes drifted towardsthe girls again, and James‟ eyes narrowed.“You said that nothing was going to change just cause you were older!” he accused.“Well, maybe I shouldn‟t have said that. Now if you‟ll excuse me, I‟d like to get to know some of my newclassmates a little better.”
Taddy walked over to where the girls were watching the game, and approached the redhead he had beeyeing before.“Hi, I‟m Taddy Sieff.”“I know. I‟m Calla Menon – your mom and my mom were good friends when they were at SimRadcliffe.”Taddy smiled. “I noticed that you speak SimFrench really well – do you think you could help me?”Calla blushed. “I‟m not that good, but I‟d be more than happy to tutor you.”
James‟ shoulders slumped as he listened to his friend giggle and flirt with Calla. James couldn‟t believethat Taddy had abandoned him for, of all things, a girl.The bell rang, and the students began to make their way back into the schoolhouse. James followed suit,and decided that he would ask Taddy to go to the park with him to play ball that afternoon, like they alwaysdid. Maybe Taddy would agree if James waited until the older students weren‟t around for Taddy to try toimpress.
After school let out, James waited for Taddy to emerge. He would convince his best friend to play ball withhim, not matter what it took.
“James, is something wrong? Aren‟t you coming home?”“I‟m waiting for Taddy. I want to see if he‟ll play ball with me for a little while.”
“But you and Taddy always play ball after school. Why would you think that you had to ask him?”“Because he wouldn‟t play with me at recess.”“So? He‟s a secondary student, James. They never play with us little kids. Yes, I know that Taddy‟s yourbest friend, but he obviously didn‟t want his classmates to think less of him on his first day.”James frowned, then smiled. “You‟re probably right, Vi. I bet he‟ll agree to play with me if none of the bigkids are around. You don‟t have to wait for me. I know you‟re anxious to get home so that Mama can tryout that new hairstyle on you she saw in her magazine the other day.”“I‟ll wait with you until Taddy comes out. It‟s not that far home anyway.”
At that moment, Taddy emerged from the schoolhouse, Calla Menon at his side.
James marched over to him. “Wanna go play ball with me for a little while?”“I can‟t, James. Calla and I,” he turned and smiled at the girl at that moment, “are going to go overSimFrench at her house. Her mother‟s quite good at it, and she‟ll tutor both of us.”“But we always play ball after school,” James whined.“Not today, James. Maybe, when you‟re older. Now, we‟re going to get going. These books are heavy.”“Why do you have so many?”“They‟re mine and Calla‟s. See you tomorrow, James.”
Taddy offered Calla his free arm, and the pair walked off towards the Menon house, at the other end ofMain Street. Viola had hear the entire exchange, and jumped off of the bench to join her brother.
Viola slipped her hands into her brother‟s. She could feel the devastation coming off of him in waves.“Come on, James. Let‟s go home.”
After Viola had let Marsha rearrange her hair to show off her natural curls, she went off in search of herbrother, intent on cheering him up. She found him sitting on the front steps, examining the scuff marks onhis shoes.“James, will you push me on the swings?” she enticed.James shook his head. “I don‟t feel like playing, Vi.”“Please, James?”“I said no!”
“What‟s going on here? James, why are you shouting at your sister?”“Don‟t be mad at him, Mama,” implored Viola. “James had a bad day at school and I was just trying tocheer him up.”“I‟m very sorry to hear that, but it‟s no excuse for him to raise his voice to you. We‟ve taught both of youbetter than that. James, apologize to your sister.”“Sorry, Vi.”“That‟s better. Now, why did you have such a bad day?”James didn‟t reply to his mother, but Viola moved closer to her and whispered, “Taddy didn‟t want to playwith James at recess, and he decided to walk Calla Menon home instead of playing ball with James.”Marsha shook her head just enough for Viola to giver her mother a questioning look. “Why don‟t you goplay by yourself for a while, Viola?”Viola headed out toward the back yard.
Marsha joined her son on the stoop, and sat silently, trying to think of the best way to approach him. Shehad worried that something like this would happen when Taddy grew up before James, but hoped that itwouldn‟t come to pass. Now that it had, she was at somewhat of a loss as to how to help her son cope.“It must have been hard to see Taddy all grown up and playing with his new friends.”James made no response other than to wrap his arms around himself as if he had a chill.“I‟m sure it‟s not easy for Taddy either, being separated from you.”Still nothing.“But it won‟t be for long. Your birthday is in two weeks, and then you‟ll be running around like you used to,like nothing‟s changed.”
“How can we, Mama? Taddy doesn‟t like me anymore!” James was now on the verge of tears. “Hedoesn‟t want to play with me; he‟d rather spend his time with Calla!”
“James, I know it‟s hard for you to be separated from Taddy; you‟ve been the best of friends for a very longtime now. Can‟t you believe that your friendship will survive this?”“You didn‟t see Taddy today, Mama. He was all…goo-goo eyed, like Papa gets when he looks at you.”Marsha smiled at her son. “You know, someday you‟re going to find a girl who makes you go all goo-gooeyed.”James shook his head emphatically. “No way. And I‟d never put a girl before my best friend.”“You may feel different when you‟re older.”“No way.”“Well, we‟ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Now, do you feel any better?”“A little. Mama, growing up hurts.”
“It does, sometimes. Now, why don‟t you go play with your sister for a while? It‟s going to get dark soon,so enjoy the daylight while you still can.”“Yes, Mama. Thank you for trying to cheer me up.”“That‟s what mothers are for, dear,” she replied, planting a kiss on the top of his head.
James went around the house and joined Viola on the swing set Jefferson had put up for them. Jamesturned to his sister with a smirk, and said that he could swing higher than she could. A furious competitionensued, and in the end, a tie was declared.
Later, they relaxed on the grass, watching as the sky started to turn lovely shades of pink and gold as thesun began to set.“I bet that everything will be better between you and Taddy after your birthday.”“I hope so. But Vi, promise me that you‟ll yell at me if I do something as stupid as pick a girl over my bestfriend.”Viola began rolling around laughing. “Only if you promise that you‟ll remember you gave me permission todo so when the time comes.”
Across town, Sterling Alcott was looking at the invitation to James Bradford‟s birthday party with mixedemotions. He and James had been good friends since they met at Taddy‟s house, and Sterling very muchwanted to go to the party. But he knew that his mother would object to him attending. Sterling neverlearned exactly why, but his mother hated the Bradfords and wanted nothing to do with them.
“What are you looking at, Sterling?” Melanie asked as she came into the room.“I got an invitation to a party next week, Mama.”“May I see it?”
Sterling handed his mother the card, and she read it, a frown growing on her face the more she read.
She closed her eyes. Would it never be over? First, the humiliation of her wedding that wasn‟t, and thenher son announcing that he had made friends with the boy that should have been hers. Now, Sterling wasbeing invited to their house, the house that should have been hers.“Well, have you replied yet?”“No, Mama.”“What do you want to do?”“I‟d like to go.”“Absolutely not.”
“Aw, Mama! James is one of my friends. Why can‟t I go to his party? Loads of people will be going, and Iheard that Mr. Bradford is getting ice cream!”“Sterling, you know that I don‟t approve of your association with that family. They are not the type ofpeople that we should socialize with.”“You always say that about the Bradfords, but you never tell me why! Why do you think they‟re suchhorrible people?”“I have my reasons, Sterling.”
“No, Mama. I‟m not a baby anymore. I‟m almost a man, and I have a right to know why you think so poorlyof my friend‟s family. Mr. and Mrs. Bradford have been nothing but kind to me, and what you say about thefamily just doesn‟t make sense. I want to know why you hate them so much.”“Sterling, that is none of your concern. You‟re not going to that party, and that‟s final.”Sterling made a noise that could only be described as a growl. “I hate you,” he spat as he stormed out ofthe room.
“What was that all about?” asked George as he came into the room.“Sterling is upset at me.”“I could hear that. What about?”“He was invited to James Bradford‟s birthday party, and I told him he‟s not allowed to go.”
“What did you do that for? The two of them have been friends for year. Of course he would want to go!”
“Have you forgotten how he humiliated me?”“Damn it, Melanie! Almost fifteen years, and you still can‟t let it go?”“You expect me to just „let it go?‟ I don‟t believe it!”“No, Melanie, I don‟t believe you. The Melanie that I knew and fell in love with was sweet and kind. I don‟tfully know or understand who you‟ve become. Sterling is friends with James; I suggest that you accept thatfact, even if you don‟t like it. I‟m going to go telling Sterling that he can go to the party. I hope that yourtemperament improves soon.”
George went up to Sterling‟s room. The young man, who had been sulking, smiled when he saw that hisfather had come up to see him.“I understand you had a fight with your mother over James‟ birthday party.”“Mama doesn‟t want me to go. I don‟t understand why she‟s the way she is about the Bradfords. What didthey ever do to her?”
“She‟s never told you the story?” Sterling shook his head, and George made an exasperated noise.“By all accounts, she should have told you long ago, but seeing as how she hasn‟t…”“You‟re going to tell me, Papa?” Sterling interrupted.“Son, your mother was engaged to marry Jefferson Bradford, but he left her at the alter to elope withMarsha Bruenig, his wife.”Sterling let out a low whistle. “That‟s a pretty good reason for hating someone, I guess. But that was along time ago. She‟s really still mad after all these years?”George nodded. “When I married her, so soon after, I thought that she‟d be able to move on. Your motherwas one of the sweetest girls when she was younger. I didn‟t realize that everything she went throughwould make her so bitter.”“Can I go to James‟ party?”“Of course you can. He‟s your friend, no matter what happened between your parents. I‟m sure thatJames will be thrilled that you can attend. Just be polite to Mr. and Mrs. Bradford – you don‟t need to addto the old feud.”
A few days before James‟ birthday party, Esther called upon Lizzie. The two women had been closegrowing up, but had drifted apart of the years. The spent the better part of the late morning catching up.The pair now had something new to gossip about: the fact that Lizzie‟s son was completely besotted byEsther‟s daughter.“I can‟t believe that I didn‟t notice it sooner,” said Lizzie with a shake of her head.“He‟s always over our house after school, under the pretense of SimFrench lessons. Didn‟t you notice thathe wasn‟t home until dinner?”“He always used to play with James after school, so I didn‟t think of it. I wonder how James is copingwithout his partner in crime.”“I‟m sure he‟ll be better once he has his birthday. Now, I really should be getting home; the children will bethere before I know it.”
“Let‟s not go so long with out catching up,” implored Lizzie.“No. After all, if things work out between our children, we‟ll be in-laws!”
Later that day, Lizzie found Taddy in the study, his nose in a book. She sat down on the other sofa in theroom, her son completely oblivious to her presence.“Why aren‟t you over at Calla‟s studying today?”“What? Oh, Mama I didn‟t see you come in. Calla had a headache, so after I walked her home, I cameback.”“I see. Why didn‟t you see if James wanted to play with you?”Taddy sighed. “I think James is mad at me. He doesn‟t even try to talk to me at school anymore.”“Is there a reason for that?”“Not that I…well, I did sort of have blinders on for a while, and I only had eyes for Calla. I think he‟s a bitupset with me about that.”“Are you still planning on going to his party?”“Of course! James is my best friend. Maybe I can make it up to him somehow.”
“So Taddy‟s discovered the allure of the fairer sex, and abandoned his best friend to it?” laughed Jasonthat night over a late dinner.“So it seems, and it‟s not funny, Jason. I‟m sure that James is devastated.”“Well, James will be a teenager in a matter of days, and then the two of them can chase after girls together;with Taddy‟s sweetness and James‟ charm, there won‟t a be a girl in all of Massimchusetts that doesn‟t fallfor one of them.”“Heaven help us all,” muttered Lizzie. “With James being as tenacious as my father, I worry.”“James has never shown that he‟s like Matthew in any other way. You‟ve got nothing to worry about.”“I hope you‟re right.”
It was time for James to become a teenager. He anxiously awaited the moment when he would catch up tohis two best friends in age, both of whom were in attendance.
The entire crowd cheered enthusiastically as James prepared to grow up.
What to wish for? wondered James. I know! I want to be important, so that I don’t get left behind again.James leaned forward, took a deep breath, and blew on the candles on his cake.
James grew up well, and he was very impressed with the new suit his father had purchased for him.James decided that he was fortune-minded, like his grandfather. Unlike Matthew, he thought about usingillegal means to earn his dollars.
While everyone enjoyed cake, Taddy dragged James into the parlor.“Say, I‟ve been meaning to apologize for ignoring you these past few weeks. I guess Calla…” His voicetrailed off, knowing that no excuse could explain his mistreatment of his best friend.“I guess I understand,” said James. “If it was the other way around, I can‟t say that I wouldn‟t have donethe same thing.”Taddy sighed in relief. “So, we‟re okay then?”James nodded. “Just don‟t do it anymore. You can, uh, study with Calla all you want, as long as you maketime for me so we can play ball.”“Deal. Now, isn‟t your little brother having his birthday tonight too?”“Yeah,” sighed James. “Mama thought it would be too much to have people out two nights in a row, so Ihave to share this one time.”“Cyrus isn‟t so bad. Besides, that means more cake.”James clasped his cousin on the shoulder, and steered him back into the dining room for Cyrus‟ childhoodbirthday.
When everyone had returned to the dining room, Jefferson brought Cyrus down from the nursery so that hecould celebrate his birthday as well. It made sense to have a double party, as the invite list was exactly thesame, save for Sterling. But Sterling didn‟t mind, seeing as there was another cake to be demolished.
Cyrus looked a lot like his older brother, save for his fairer skin. He was always smiling, and was verymuch looking forward to starting school with his older siblings.
Over in Portsimouth, were enjoying a beautiful fall day with an impromptu picnic on their back lawn.“You know, Jane, as much as I adore our children, it‟s nice that Mama and Miss Meadow and Aunt Philydecided to watch them for the afternoon.”“I know. It‟s been so long since it‟s been just the two of us, and this is nice.”
The couple cuddled on the blanket Jane had spread out, enjoying the quiet.“You know,” said Jane, breaking the easy silence, “I‟ve been thinking.”Victor chuckled. “What do you want, Jane?”“Why do think that I want something?”“Because nearly every request you have begins with you telling me that you‟ve been thinking. What is it,dear?”“Well, Asher and Octavia will be growing up soon.”Victor sighed. “You want another baby. Jane, you know I wouldn‟t deny you anything, but I can‟t help butnotice that you‟ve been so tired taking care of the two we already have.”“You should have let me finish, darling husband. I want another child, but I don‟t want to have anotherbaby.”Victor looked at Jane in utter confusion, and she laughed.
“I want to adopt a child from the orphanage. I think each and every day how lucky I was that Meadow andPhily chose me to be their daughter. I‟d like to give the same opportunity to another child.”“You never cease to amaze me, Jane Hutchins. You‟ve been thinking about this for a while, haven‟t you?”Jane smiled a smug smile. “I‟ve even got a child in mind. When I was visiting the matron last week, therewas a little boy who was so polite. The matron said he‟d been there since he was a baby, and no onewanted him. He‟s a little older than Asher, and I think they‟d get along well.”“Well, I suppose you‟ll have to introduce me to him, and we‟ll get started on the paperwork and such.”“Victor, I love you. I can‟t wait for you to meet little Raymond. He‟s got such a kind heart.”“Just like his mother.”
“There‟s still time left today. Shall we take a walk to meet our new son?”“Oh, Victor, what a splendid idea! I‟ll go tell Meadow and Phily that we‟re going out for a bit.”
Less than a week later, the family was waiting the arrival of its newest member. The orphanage hadrushed the paperwork through, delighted that one of its longest residents had found a home.“Goodness, this takes me back,” murmured Phily. “I remember a day much like this when Meadow and Iwere waiting for your arrival.”“I wonder if Raymond is feeling anything like I did that day. I was so anxious and excited all at the sametime.”At that moment the doorbell rand, and Jane leaped up. “Let Victor and I get it; I don‟t want to overwhelmhim at first.”
Jane opened the door and greeted the small boy and the orphanage worker that accompanied him. Afterexchanging pleasantries with the matron, Jane turned her attention to her new son.
“Hello again, Raymond. You know why you‟re here?”“Yes, Mrs. Hutchins. You and Mr. Hutchins have adopted me, and I‟m going to live here now.”“That‟s right. But you don‟t have to call me Mrs. Hutchins. You can call me Jane, or mother, whateveryou‟re more comfortable with.”
Raymond looked at Jane with his dark brown eyes. “I…I think that I‟ll call you Jane for now. I‟m reallygoing to stay here with you?”“Yes, with me, Victor, your new brother and sister Asher and Octavia, and your grandparents. It‟s quite afull house, I tell you. There‟s never a dull moment.”“But…why did you pick me out, if you already have kids? Most people that get us orphans don‟t have kidsyet. That‟s why they want us.”“Raymond, many years ago, I was left at the same orphanage that you came from, after my mother died. Iwas lucky enough to have Meadow and Phily adopt me, and even though I have children of my own, Ialways knew that I wanted to adopt a child, to give him the same opportunity that I got.”
“Thank you, Jane. I‟m glad you picked me. I‟ll be a good son, I promise.”“I‟m sure you will. Now, you remember Victor?”
“Hello, son,” Victor said, kissing the boy on the cheek.“Hello Mr.…Victor. Thank you for picking me.”“It was all your mother‟s idea.”
“Well, would you like to meet the rest of the family? They‟re very anxious to meet you.”“Yes, Jane.”
All of the grandmas were delighted to meet the latest addition to the clan. Meadow was especiallyimpressed with his manners, and Phily noticed how wistfully he looked at the grand piano.
While Jane took Raymond on a tour of the house, Victor thanked the matron for everything.“It was nothing, Mr. Hutchins. Believe me, I‟m as relieved as anyone that Raymond has found a goodhome at last. Mrs. Hutchins has been most generous with her time helping us out. I wish you the best.”
“This is your sister, Octavia.”“Hello, baby Octavia. That‟s a very pretty name.”“She‟s having her birthday today, as well as Asher. I‟m so glad that you‟re here to be part of thecelebration. Now, let me put her down, and I‟ll show you your room.”
“I…I get my own room?”“Well, no. You‟ll have to share with Asher after his birthday tonight. But it‟s much better than a ward full ofchildren, isn‟t it?”Raymond nodded. “One person is okay to share with. Can I see it now?”
Jane took Raymond into a room that was bright, colorful and clean. He noted the toys that were placedaround it, and the two very comfortable-looking beds. A toddler was playing with one of the toys on thefloor at the foot of a bed.“The bathroom is across the hallway from the nursery. Do you like it? We can change the walls if you‟dlike, but I thought you‟d like something with a little color.”“It‟s perfect. These toys, they‟re mine and Asher‟s?” Jane watched his eyes fall on the new baseball mittsthat Victor had purchased.“Yes they are. Why don‟t you and Asher get acquainted? We‟ll call when it‟s time for the birthday cake.”
Raymond plopped himself down next to Asher, and the two boys began to play with the blocks.
Jane smiled as she left the two boys to their play. She had a sense that Raymond would fit into the familywell, and she was pleased that her instincts had been right.
Later that night, the family gathered in the dining room for a double birthday party.“Three cakes? But there‟s only two birthdays,” said Raymond.“The one in the middle is for you, to welcome you to the family. We couldn‟t have you be the only childwithout a cake, now could we?” said Meadow.“And you‟re in for a treat, son. Nothing‟s better than a piece of Miss Meadow‟s cake.”
Victor helped Asher blow out his candles, as the rest of the family watched and cheered.
Asher looked more like his papa now that he was grown. But his nose was definitely his mother‟s. Assoon as his cake was devoured, it was time for his sister to have her birthday.
Grandma Meadow was allowed the honors of bringing Octavia to her cake, and her two brothers cheeredthe loudest as she blew out the candles with Meadow‟s assistance.
Little Octavia looked very much like her father. Personality wise, she had traits of both her parents, in thatshe was very neat, very outgoing, and very active.
The tot was also very demanding, and made no qualms about asking whoever was in earshot for whateverit was that her little heart desired at the moment.
Grandma Henri loved to dote on the little girl, and spoiled her greatly. She couldn‟t help it – she hadalways wanted a daughter, and a granddaughter was even better.
Jane made sure that Octavia learned everything she needed to know, teaching her daughter to walk andtalk.
And when no one was looking, she wobbled into her brothers‟ room to play with their toys when they wereaway at school.
As fall passed and winter drew closer, the entire Bradford family kept busy. Marsha‟s gardening brought abountiful harvest, and she was able to make enough money from selling the extra to cover more than amonth‟s worth of household expenses.
All three children spend lots of with their books, studying hard.
James was studying the hardest of them all. He had suddenly realized that university would arrive farquicker than he wanted, and he knew that he was expected to place at the top of his class.
And of course, there were family dinners. Often, Jefferson, Marsha, and James would dine with the Seiffs,leaving the younger children with their grandparents.During these moments, Viola would always watch Jan carefully. She knew that Marsha wasn‟t fond of theolder woman, and she was trying to figure out why. But Jan, still off put by Marsha‟s outburst regardingCyrus, and she only interacted with the children when absolutely necessary.Matthew, it appeared, had mellowed, and was something of a favorite with the Cyrus and Viola. He alwaysseemed to have a sweet in his pocket, or a piece of ribbon for Viola. Marsha wanted to say something, butremained silent. After all, he wasn‟t trying to buy the children‟s loyalty; rather, he just wanted to be liked.
Though Matthew had long since retired, he kept up his morning ritual of reading the newspaper in his studyafter finishing his coffee. After skimming the headlines, he would inevitably turn to the obituary pages,hoping that he wouldn‟t see the names of anyone he knew.Today, he was not so lucky. His hands began to tremble as he read.
Diana Bradford Pasang, aged 79, of Simsfield, passed away peacefully in her sleep at home Saturdaynight.She was born in Simsfield to Thomas and Carolina (Bui) Bradford. She was second of six children thecouple had. After attending Mrs. Seymour’s Finishing School, she married Lee Pasang. The couplesettled in Simsfield. Mrs. Pasang was active with the Ladies’ Aide Society.Mrs. Pasang is survived by her husband, Lee Pasang; her son, Amos and his wife Kea (Centowski)Pasang, her grandson Orson; her sisters, Anne (Bradford) Bear; Henrietta (Bradford) Hutchins; PhilomenaBradford; and her brothers, Matthew Bradford and Alexander (Bradford) Langerak.A private funeral will be held for immediate family. She will be laid to rest in the Simsfield CommunityChurch Cemetery.
Matthew glared at the paper. He was completely outraged.“My own sister died and no one bothered to tell me in person? The nerve! What right do they have to keepsuch information from me.”Matthew folded the paper and slammed it down onto his desk.“Damn it all! I‟m still head of this family!”
“What‟s the matter, Father?”“I‟m about to go over to the Pasang‟s and give Lee a piece of my mind.”“What for?” Jefferson asked, fully expecting to hear that his Uncle Lee had committed an offense such asforgetting to send Matthew a birthday card.“What for? My own sister died and no one came over to tell me in person. She was my sister, damn it.And I‟m still head of this family. Don‟t you think I have the right to be told of such happenings?”Jefferson muttered under his breath.“What was that, boy?”“I said I‟m not surprised.”Matthew got up so quickly that the chair he sat in went flying. “Explain yourself!”
“Hogwash. Everyone knows that I‟m the best head of the family that the Bradfords have ever seen.”“You‟re the only one that believes that, Father. Everyone else finally sees you for what you really are – amanipulator that uses those around him for his own gain.”“I have never…”
“Oh, so Aunt Henri wanted to marry Professor Hutchins?”“I never forced my sister into doing anything.”“Bullshit,” Jefferson swore. “You convinced Grandpa that he was the only man who would have her. And Iknow that he was one of your professors – I saw it on one of the notebooks you left behind at the Bradfordsociety.”“So what? She was an outrageous flirt who was going to get herself in trouble sooner or later. ProfessorHutchins was a decent enough man…”“He was a horrible man who crushed Aunt Henri‟s spirit. It‟s amazing that Victor‟s so well-adjusted, whatwith his upbringing.”
Matthew waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “So I may have worked the situation to my advantage.Once. What‟s the harm in that?”“Once? What about how you drove Uncle Alex out of town when he married Aunt Katie?”“That woman was a SimIrish servant! Alex could have done far better.”“But he wanted to marry Aunt Katie! Why couldn‟t you just let him be happy? Why couldn‟t you leave anyof us alone?”“I did not meddle in everyone‟s lives!” retorted Matthew. “Anne and Diana found suitable husbands on theirown.”“They‟re older than you; they never would have tolerated their little brother messing in their business,especially Aunt Anne.”“And your Aunt Philomena remains a spinster, despite my efforts.”“Aunt Phily was the only one who dared to stand up to you. Until now.”“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I‟m done, Father. I‟m done with you telling me, my wife, or my children, how to live our lives.”“I‟m still head of this family, Jefferson. You will do as I say!”“No, I won‟t!”
“What,” demanded Jan as she came into the study,” is all the shouting about?”“Jefferson doesn‟t appreciate all that I‟ve done to keep this family and the Bradford name respected.”Jan sniffed. “Of course he wouldn‟t. He ran off with that girl and spoiled all our carefully laid plans forhim.”“Don‟t, Mother. Just don‟t.”
“I beg your pardon?” she gasped.“Don‟t get me started on you, Mother. You‟re just as bad as Father. Worse in some ways.”“Well, I never!”“If you hadn‟t been so adamant about Aunt Katie not being, what was it, „suitable‟ for this family, Fatherwouldn‟t have fought so badly with Uncle Alex, and they wouldn‟t have run away.”
“She was obviously after him only for his money.”“Oh, and you married Father simply because you loved him?” snorted Jefferson.Jan could not refute her son‟s statement, so she merely glared at him.“I thought so. And I remember how you practically forced Melanie down my throat.”“Jefferson, don‟t take that tone with your mother. I don‟t remember you objecting to Miss Miller at thetime.”“That‟s beside the point, Father. The point is that Mother manipulates people for her own benefit just asmuch as you do.”“I hardly think…”“Mother, Lizzie told me what you did.”
“Jan?” asked Matthew. “What is he talking about?”“That ungrateful girl,” sneered Jan. “I told her…”“Lizzie discovered that Mother was trying to force Melanie and I together. Mother threatened to pull Lizzieout of SimRadcliffe if she told me.”“We are your parents! It is up to us to decide what is best for our children!” screamed Jan.“In case you haven‟t noticed, Mother, Lizzie and I aren‟t exactly children anymore. We‟re perfectly capableof making our own decisions.”
“Do not turn your back on me, Jefferson,” threatened Matthew.“I don‟t think you overheard me earlier, Father. I‟m done with you, I‟m done with Mother, and all of yourmeddling.”With that, Jefferson stormed out of the study, leaving his very stunned parents behind.
Jefferson slammed the door to his and Marsha‟s bedroom so hard that the portraits on other side of thewall shook. He flopped down on the bed, and heaved out a sigh. Why did his parents insist on being soimpossible?
Marsha opened the bathroom door a crack and called out to her husband. “Is it safe for me to come out, orwould you like me to brush my teeth again?”Jefferson chuckled in spite of himself. “No, come out and finish getting ready for bed. It‟s not you I‟m crossat.”“I didn‟t think it was; if that were the case, you would have gone into the music room and abused the poorpiano. Your parents?”“How did you know?” he asked, sarcasm heavy in his voice.“Well, considering how much they like to meddle in things that are none of their business, it was an easyguess. What have they done this time?”“The short version is that I caught Father griping that he wasn‟t notified personally about Aunt Di‟s passing.Him being the head of the family and all that. So, he‟s cross, and I merely pointed out that it was no wonderthat Uncle Lee didn‟t call in person, since Father‟s not exactly well liked within our clan.”Marsha gasped, “You didn‟t!”“I did. Something in me snapped, Marsha, thinking about how horribly he‟s treated so many members ofthis family over the years, and I couldn‟t take the hypocrisy any more. I laid into him about how he treatedAunt Henri, Uncle Alex, and how he tried to use Aunt Anne and Aunt Di to find Lizzie and me spouses.”
“Oh, he must have loved that,” laughed Marsha as she lay down and curled up next to her husband.”Not exactly. Then Mother got involved, and I yelled at her for a bit about how she treated Aunt Katie andLizzie, for starters.”“I would have paid to see the look on your mother‟s face when you said that.”The pair laughed softly for a moment, then lapsed into silence. They heard footsteps coming up the stairs,and the voices of Jan and Matthew bickering until they went into their room across the upstairs foyer. Jefferson sighed. “Is it wrong of me to be happy that they‟re old, and won‟t be around to bother us muchlonger?”“No, because I‟ve been thinking that practically since we were married.”“Good. I‟d hate to think I was the only horrible person in the household.”“I just don‟t understand.”“Understand what?”“Your father was always known for his temper. It was all the village would talk about sometimes. But whydoes he direct it at his family? It seems to me that all you‟ve done is try to make him happy.”
“It‟s complicated…”Jefferson began,“Try me. I‟m pretty smart you know.” Jefferson smiled. “Father‟s always had a set idea about how this family should behave. Dignified.Respectable. Intellectual. Above reproach. And in his eyes, most of us have failed. Aunt Henri was a flirt,and that‟s why he arranged her marriage to that horrible professor. Uncle Alex married a woman Fatherconsidered to be beneath us, and me, well, I caused a scandal by jilting my fiancée and running off andeloping.”“So what you‟re saying is…”“My father doesn‟t handle what he sees as imperfection very well.”The silence returned. Jefferson got up and went to the wardrobe to put on his pajamas. As he opened thedoor to the bathroom, he heard his wife mutter softly, “You know, I almost feel sorry for him.”
Later that night, Jefferson couldn‟t sleep.“Marsha, are you awake?”“What is it?”“You…do you think I went too far with my parents?”“Perhaps. It‟s impossible not to let them get to you. Don‟t worry about it. Your father is just shy of eighty,as is your mother. They can‟t have more than a few years left. We‟ll manage until then.”“Have I told you that I love you?”“Not today. Now, go to sleep. Everything will look better in the morning.”
Jefferson rolled over and wrapped his arms around his wife. Not for the first time, he thought how lucky hewas that he had come to his senses and married Marsha instead of Melanie.
The tension between the current man and lady of the house and their successors was palpable toeveryone, including the younger members of the family.It seemed to bother Viola the most, because she was most often left at home, as her brothers stayed afterschool to play ball with their friends. So Viola got to return to a house where her mother constantly did herbest to avoid her grandparents. Viola would retreat to her room and her toys, and remain there until shewas called for dinner.
It had even been a chore to convince Viola to come down for her teenage birthday, which Marsha had beenable to do only by promising not to throw a big party. Viola wouldn‟t say it, but she didn‟t want her friendsto know how horrible things were, what with everyone fighting.
Viola knew exactly what she wanted to wish for. Please, can’t my family get along? Even if just for a littlewhile. I just want my family to be normal.
Viola grew up quite well, despite all the strife going on around her. Like her cousin Taddy, she decided thatshe valued romantic pursuits above all else. Also like Taddy, she wanted to be invited to all the majorsocial events, and be the center of attention at all of them.
After cake, Viola ran upstairs to the vanity that was her birthday present. She squeed over the bottles ofcosmetics that Jan had gotten as her contribution to the birthday girl. She had never been allowed to wearmake up before, and she was certainly going to take full advantage of her first opportunity.
“I‟m not sure I approve of your new look, Viola. It‟s far too much for a girl your age.”“You were just begging me to do my hair up, and you‟re complaining about a little rouge? Mama, I‟mhorribly pale as it is, and I don‟t think I look like a scarlet woman. Please?”“Very well,” relented Marsha. “You do look nice, and I‟ve always been jealous of your curls. It will be ashame when you have to start wearing your hair up.”“Aunt Lizzie doesn‟t, so I don‟t see while I‟ll have to.”“True. Still, I think I‟d like to find something a little more grown up for you. I‟ll watch my magazines, andI‟m sure we‟ll find something.”“Thank you, Mama.”
*************************************************************************************************************************We‟ll end the chapter here, with a picture of Lila Gavigan stealing Lizzie and Jason‟s paper.So, a couple of things. Yes, I‟m giving up on the Free Roaming Ghosts handicap. I‟m not scoring thelegacy, and since the rebuild the ghosts have been a real pain in the butt. No one has gotten a decentnight‟s sleep, and poor little Cyrus nearly got taken by the social worker, because he couldn‟t sleep enoughand kept getting hungry. So, bye bye ghosties. Plus, I‟ll admit that I‟m terrified of Matthew as a ghost.He‟d be scaring all over the place.Also, yeah to Jefferson for finally yelling at Matthew. With 10 nice points on Jeffersons part, it was a longtime coming. It will be interesting, because Matthew and Jan do not have long left at all.I hope you liked it. Generation 6 will start to step more into the spotlight over the next few chapters, and Ican‟t wait to flesh out the stories that I have in mind for them. Please leave all comments on the BradfordLegacy thread at Boolprop.com. Au revoir!
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