The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 26


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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 26

  1. 1. This took me far too long, but I finally have another chapter for you.Last time, Sterling put his foot down regarding Viola and her banishment of James’ family from their lives.Nick and Shirley were overjoyed to be reunited, and Alice made their group a trio. James settled in well tolife as a store clerk. Melanie gave Viola a much needed talking to about her behavior and Viola began theapology process. Toddlers became kids, kids became teens, and Jefferson and James discussed thefuture of the family in regards to who inherits the family house, and James decided Nick could give it to hisfuture sons or daughters at his discretion. Alice got frustrated when Nick didn’t pick up on her hints thatshe wanted to be more than friends, but Shirley helped her hatch a plan to help him see what was right infront of him. Nick and Alice officially became an item.We’ve also reached the point where the events leading up to World War II will start happening. I plan ondealing with several aspects of the war pretty head-on, so consider this your warning for that.Blanket warning about language, topics, adult situations, etc. James has only 1 nice point, and he likes toswear like a sailor, and Cindy’s a Romance Sim, with some type of purple-hearted want in her panel at alltimes. Oh, and just about all of generation 7 (except Nick) are 1-nice-point-newspaper-thieves.Please enjoy Chapter 26 of The Bradford Legacy.
  2. 2. “I still don’t see why you insisted on this,” Rosalie scoffed. “We could have had just as much fun if we’dstayed at someone’s house.”“Because it’s a nice day, Rose,” Shirley replied, leaning forward to grab something out of the picnic basket.“And it’s summer, and school’s out and we should be having fun.”“Knock it off, you two will you?” Nick asked. “Rosalie, they’ll be plenty of days where we’ll have to stayinside. And Shirley, don’t be an instigator. Let’s all try to have fun, shall we?”
  3. 3. Rosalie sat down gingerly on the blanket where her friends already were. “As long as you promise tobehave yourselves.”“I always behave myself. I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Alice replied, slightly rebuked.“Oh, that was more for those two,” Rosalie replied, nodding her head in the direction of Shirley and Walter.“You and Nick at least keep your canoodling out of the public eye. They don’t seem to notice when they’rein public or private. I heard all about what happened behind the schoolhouse.”
  4. 4. Shirley rolled her eyes and leaned against Walter, earning her another glare from Rosalie.“You’re too uptight, Rose,” Shirley said. “Why don’t you find yourself a boyfriend? Sounds to me likeyou’re jealous that you’re not getting kissed like the rest of us.”“For your information, Shirley, I don’t plan on getting involved with anyone until I get to college.”“Well, if that’s the case, you’ll need to get used to playing the fifth wheel to the rest of us,” Walter stated,smoothing Shirley’s hair.
  5. 5. While Nick had watched with a slightly amused look on his face while Shirley and Rosalie bickered, Alicehad drifted off into a world of her own. She returned to the present when she felt Nick’s hand trailing upand down her arm.“Is something wrong?” he asked in a voice soft enough that only she could hear.She attempted to smile at him. “Not exactly. It’s just…I got a letter from my father the other day. Mama’sworse. She’s going into a hospital, and it doesn’t sound like she’ll be coming out again. The dust – it’sgets into everything including the lungs, and people are pretty much drowning in it.”
  6. 6. Nick took her hand and squeezed it. “I’m sorry.”“It’s sad, of course, but I wasn’t really close to her. I’m more worried that he’ll decide to send for me, andI’ll have to go back.” She sighed. “I like it here. I like the landscape, I like being near the ocean, and Ireally like the people here.” She squeezed his hand back. “I want to stay here. I’ve even been toying withthe idea of finding a job so I can earn my way to college. But now…”
  7. 7. “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” Nick said. “Maybe if you tell your father how you feel?”“I have, and I’ll continue to do so. Hopefully, he’ll let me stay.”“Well, if your father sends for you you’ll have to go, of course,” Rosalie interrupted. “He’s your father andyou have to do what he says.”“Rose!” Shirley shouted through clenched teeth. “Don’t you know it’s rude to jump in on other people’sconversations?”
  8. 8. Rosalie shrugged. “Then they shouldn’t have been having it with other people around.”Alice got up from her seat. “I should probably be getting home. I can tell by the angle of the sun that it’sgetting late.”Nick got up, shooting a glance at Rosalie as he did so. “I’ll walk you home.”
  9. 9. As the two of them walked towards Alice’s house, Shirley shot Rosalie a glare. “Nice job, Miss PrissyPants. Now you’ve gone and upset Alice. I can’t believe how stupid you can be sometimes.”With that, Shirley got up with a huff and stalked off, Walter following her quickly.
  10. 10. Rosalie looked puzzled as she got up and carefully brushed invisible grass off her dress. She packed upthe remnants of their picnic, shaking her head the entire time.“I don’t see why they’re so upset with me. I was simply pointing out the facts of the situation,” she said tothe empty field. *****
  11. 11. Rosalie was still steamed when she got home that afternoon, and was taking her frustrations out on thepiano. If Alice hadn’t wanted anyone to hear what she was saying, why had she had the conversation withother people around? It just wasn’t fair that she always felt the wrath of those around her for remindingpeople how to follow the rules.
  12. 12. “Rosalie, dear, I think that’s enough for tonight. Come over and sit with the rest of us.”“Yes, Grandmother,” she replied.
  13. 13. The family sat and chatted about their days, Lizzie steering the conversation as she usually did. As theclock was preparing to strike, she rose.
  14. 14. “I love you all so very much,” she said. “I hope you never forget that.”
  15. 15. And with those final words, Elizabeth Seiff followed Death into the Great Beyond.
  16. 16. The family did its best to distract Jason in the days that followed, but it did little good.
  17. 17. And so he was rather relived when a few days later…
  18. 18. …when Death came for him as well, and he was reunited with his beloved Lizzie once more.
  19. 19. James cast a longing look back towards the farmhouse, wishing he were walking towards it instead ofaway from it. He’d volunteered for this, taking dinner over to Taddy and Calla’s so they wouldn’t have tocook so that his father didn’t have to face Lizzie and Jason’s house without Lizzie and Jason in it.He thought about his aunt as he walked the still worn path to their house. She was always so kind to him,ignoring the stolen cookies and knocked-over vases that he, Taddy and Sterling were responsible for intheir youth. It just wouldn’t be the same without Aunt Lizzie around, nor Uncle Jason.
  20. 20. As he got closer to the front door of the Seiff’s house, he saw another figure approaching from a differentdirection. His expression turned into a smile as he recognized the form of Sterling, also carrying a plate.“Vi had the same idea that Mama did?” James said once Sterling was in hearing distance.“Yeah. She knew that your aunt was the one who did most of the domestic stuff, since Calla isn’t much ofa cook. Am I glad to see you! I was dreading going into the house. Too many memories of Mr. and Mrs.Seiff.”“I was thinking about that myself,” James admitted. “You, me, and Taddy had a lot of good times herewhen we were little, under Aunt Lizzie’s watchful eye.”“Shall we?” Sterling asked as they approached the front door.
  21. 21. James rang the doorbell, and after a moment Rosalie opened it.“Hello, Uncle James, Mr. Alcott. Come in, please.”
  22. 22. They stepped into the foyer, and Rosalie took the dishes from them. “Thank you very much for bringingthese. Father’s in his study, if you’d like to join him.”“Thanks, Rosalie. How are you holding up?” Sterling asked.“Quite well. It is rather sad, of course, losing Grandmother and Grandfather so recently, but they were bothold and there was nothing we could do for them. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to put these in the ice box.”
  23. 23. James and Sterling exchanged a look as they watched the teenager retreat into the kitchen. James shookhis head, and they headed through the living room into join their friend in the study.Taddy was standing by the bar, opening a bottle of scotch when they walked in. He tried to smile, but itdidn’t quite reach his eyes. He poured three glasses, handed two of them to his friends, and raised hisglass in a silent toast. James and Sterling did the same, and the three men drained their glasses.
  24. 24. “How’re you holding up?” James asked his friend when they sat down.Taddy shrugged. “It’s just so strange, you know? I always knew that someday I’d be the head of myfamily, you know? I just didn’t realize it until they were gone.”James and Sterling both nodded, their thoughts drifting to their own parents, all roughly the same age asTaddy’s.“It just makes me realize that there’s so much I should have asked them,” Taddy said, sighing. “Butenough about me and my state of melancholy. How’s Uncle Jefferson?”
  25. 25. “He’s not doing so great,” James admitted. “He and Aunt Lizzie were comrades in arms for so many yearsagainst Grandmother and Grandfather. He’s just at a loss for what to do without his sister.”Taddy nodded. “I should go see him – he looked so sad at the funeral. Thank goodness he’s still got AuntMarsha to take care of him.”James sighed. “Mama’s been slowing down as of late. I haven’t really noticed it, but Cindy commented onit the other day. I don’t know how much longer she’ll be around, and I really don’t know what Papa’ll dowithout her.”
  26. 26. Sterling shifted in his seat. “When did our parents get so old? Papa told me yesterday that he’s donepracticing law, and that I’m in charge of the firm now. He wants to relax a bit more, and enjoy the time hehas left with Mama.”Taddy shook his head. “We’re all getting older. Rosalie’s talking about college and finding a husband, andGilbert’s shooting up so fast we can barely keep him in pants.”James and Sterling nodded, each lost in their own thoughts.
  27. 27. “Speaking of Rosalie,” James said, trying to lighten the mood, “what’s her deal? If I didn’t know better, I’dsay the stork made a mistake when he dropped her off for you and Calla.”Taddy snorted. “If she’s standing still and keeps her mouth shut, you can’t doubt her parentage. But whenshe starts talking, I feel like Grandmother Jan is still alive and kicking.”James shuttered. “Grandfather and Grandmother would certainly approve of her, though I’m not sure thatI’d consider that a complement. She needs to relax.”Taddy laughed, then checked himself. “If Rosalie hears me laughing…”“It’s entirely inappropriate,” Sterling stated, in a tone that matched Rosalie’s. “At least you don’t have toworry about her misbehaving.”
  28. 28. Taddy stifled another laugh. “You know, when she was born, I was worried. I mean, I’m a man, and Iknow what they’re like, and I was worried about keeping men like me away from her. As it turns out, Ishouldn’t have worried. She’ll slap any boy that even thinks inappropriate thoughts around her.”“You’re lucky. Shirley’s entirely too comfortable in the company of men.”“I’ve got a few more years before I have to worry about that with Dotty, thank goodness.”“What about Alice? She’s practically your daughter-in-law already,” Taddy teased.James scoffed. “Nick wouldn’t have even figured out that he had the hots for her until she tricked him intothinking she was going with Walter Gavigan. If it’s up to him…”The three men silently chuckled. “You’ll never have grandkids,” finished Sterling.“Exactly. Thank goodness Alice isn’t shy about asking for what she wants.”
  29. 29. The three men sat in companionable silence for a few moments.“We should do this more often,” Taddy stated. “I can’t remember the last time the three of us got togetherlike this.”“We should,” agreed Sterling. “How about we meet the end of next week at the tavern? My treat.”
  30. 30. “Sounds great,” agreed James. “I hate to do this, but I need to head home. I promised the twins I’d readthem a story before they went to bed.”“I should head out too. I’ve got opening arguments for a case tomorrow, and I want to go over it one moretime.”“Thanks for coming over. It means a lot to me,” Taddy said. *****
  31. 31. “Play it again, Nick!” Dotty exclaimed. “I think I’ve almost got the dance steps memorized.”“Dotty, my hands hurt. I’ve played it three times already.”“Aw, but Nick,” she pleaded.“Dorothy, your brother’s played enough for today,” Marsha said as she got up slowly from her seat on thesofa.
  32. 32. She hugged each of the twins in turn. “Be good for your parents, you little darlings.”
  33. 33. She turned to Nick, who had risen from his seat at the piano. “Do not let that wonderful girl of yours getaway. She is a treasure, Nicholas. Be sure you treat her that way.”
  34. 34. Marsha then turned to Cindy. “You are a dear girl and I was honored to have you as a part of my family,even if we didn’t always see eye to eye.”
  35. 35. “James,” she said with a hint of a sigh, “you have been a trial at times, but I always loved you, and I am soproud of the life you have built for your family.”
  36. 36. Finally, she turned to her husband.“Jefferson, you know how much I love you. I very nearly lost you, and I am so very grateful that fatedecided that we should be able to spend our lives together after all. I’ve been perfectly happy, and I’mgoing to miss you more than I can say.”“Marsha, no…”
  37. 37. “Shh,” she said as she silenced him with a kiss. “It’s time.”
  38. 38. James stood at his father’s side, one hand firmly planted on the elder man’s shoulder. His other waswrapped around his daughter, who clung to his other side. Cindy stood off to the side, an arm around eachof her sons, as they stood mourning at the graveside of their family matriarch.
  39. 39. Jefferson sighed. He’d never imagined that Marsha would precede him, and he felt lost knowing that hewouldn’t see her again in the present world.“Are you ready to go home, Jefferson, or do you need a few more moments?” Cindy asked.“No, it’s time to go,” he replied softly. Dotty pulled away from her father, and slipped her hand intoJefferson’s. He smiled at the girl, and squeezed it affectionately.
  40. 40. The Bradfords turned and moved towards the farmhouse, excepting James. He stood at the grave, staringat his mother’s headstone.“James?” Cindy asked softly.“I just need a moment; I’ll be right behind you.”Cindy smiled sadly, and nodded understandingly. “Of course, darling.”She gently steered the children and her father-in-law towards the house where their friends and familywere waiting.
  41. 41. While the rest of his family was walking away, James was staring at his mother’s grave. While she wasold, she was still far too young to have passed. It just didn’t seem fair.As he straightened the wreath of flowers propped against the headstone, his eyes caught the sunlightreflecting off the white marble stones that marked the graves of his grandparents. With a wry look, he gotup and moved across the graveyard to stand in front of them.
  42. 42. He glared at them for a moment. “I blame you two for this,” he said. “If you could have just accepted herfor who she was – a great and loving woman – she wouldn’t have lived her life worrying, and she wouldprobably still be here today.”
  43. 43. He could almost hear his grandmother’s sniff and could practically feel the glare of his grandfather on himat his words. “You two were wrong about so many things, most specifically that your way was the onlyway. Just because she wasn’t who you wanted for Papa you were convinced she was a horrible person.She wasn’t. But you bullied her, and sniped at her until she couldn’t bear it. Especially you, Grandmother.Why did you have to be such a bitch?”
  44. 44. He opened his mouth to continue his tirade, but a strangled sob escaped his mouth instead.“It’s not fair,” he cried. “I want my mama.”
  45. 45. A pair of arms slipped around him, and hugged him tight.“How did you know,” he asked between hiccups for breath.“I just did,” Cindy replied. “You’ve been out here for a long time, and I wanted to make sure you wereokay.”
  46. 46. “You,” he said, turning to face her, “Are the best wife. You take such good care of me. Promise me youwon’t go before I do.”“Promise me that you won’t go before I do,” she replied.
  47. 47. “I know you can’t promise that. I just…after seeing how lost Papa looks without Mama, I can’t bear theidea of living without you.”“I know,” she replied. “I don’t know about you, but I plan on living for a very, very long time.”“Good.” He sighed. “We should probably get back and save Papa from the clutches of Rosalie’splatitudes.”Cindy nodded. “She means well…”“But she’s too self-absorbed to realize that she’s not helping.”
  48. 48. Cindy took his hand. “I’ll distract her by asking for help setting out the luncheon.”“An excellent idea,” James agreed as they walked out the gate of the cemetery. He hesitated just for amoment and turned his head.“Goodbye, Mama,” he whispered in a voice too soft for Cindy to hear.
  49. 49. The funeral was over, the luncheon completed, and the guests had departed. Jefferson, who had sufferedthe kindness of his friends and neighbors, escaped to the solitude of his study to enjoy a few moments ofquiet.He slumped on the sofa. How was he going to survive without Marsha’s gentle guidance? If not for her,he’d never have had the courage to stand up to his parents. It just wasn’t fair. His father had preceded hismother; his grandfather his grandmother. No, it wasn’t right for him to live as a widower.
  50. 50. At least James was more prepared to lead the family than Jefferson had been. James was strong,stubborn, and not afraid to speak his mind. The more Jefferson thought about it, the more he realized howmuch James and his father were alike. The exception, of course, was how strong a moral code Jameshad, and how he hated to take advantage of other people. Marsha had done that, he thought. And onceagain he was overwhelmed with a wave of grief at just how much he would miss his wife.
  51. 51. There was a soft knock on the study door, and James stuck his head through the door.“Come in, son. I just needed a bit of solitude for a moment.”“It has been overwhelming the number of people who’ve dropped by over the past few days,” Jamesagreed. “I never realized how well respected and liked Mama was in town.”“She was an angel,” Jefferson sighed. “It’s no wonder everyone is going to miss her so much.”
  52. 52. James sat down next to his father. “I was thinking…I’ll take care of managing things for a while. Why don’tyou head up to the cabin for a few weeks? You could use a break.”“I appreciate the offer, James, but I can’t go there. There are too many memories.”“There are a lot of memories here, too.”“Yes, but at least here I have the children and you to distract me. There, I’d be alone with too many ghosts,so to speak.”“Well, maybe we can all go up there before summer’s over. The kids have never been, and it would begood for them.”
  53. 53. “If you can convince them, it will be a miracle. They’re planning some sort of competition with their friendsto run alongside the Olympics.”“I forgot about that,” James admitted. “Oh, well. It was an idea.”“It was a good idea,” Jefferson replied. “I appreciate you trying to cheer me up, James, but I don’t see ithappening any time soon. Oh, I’ll continue living my life, but my heart’s just not in it like it was before.”“Don’t give up on me, Pops. It’s not your time to go yet.”“I don’t plan on giving up. But it’s time for you to step up and take on more of the responsibilities of runningthe family.”
  54. 54. James nodded sadly. He knew the loss of his mother had hit his father hard, but he didn’t realize the fullextent of the toll it would take on the elder man’s morale.“That’s all right, Papa,” he said, patting the older man’s shoulder. “I’m ready for them.” *****
  55. 55. Nick sat at the desk, a still blank sheet of paper in front of him. But the words just wouldn’t come. Of allthe times to be tongue-tied, he had to have it happen then.
  56. 56. It was his last hope – a personal appeal to Alice’s father, begging him to let her stay in Simsfield. She’dcome to school that day sobbing over the contents of the letter she’d received the day before. Mrs. Kalsonhad taken a turn for the worse, and Mr. Kalson had warned Alice that he’d probably be sending for hersoon.
  57. 57. Nick couldn’t let that happen. If she left…well, he couldn’t bear to think about that. She was everything tohim, and he fully intended on making her his wife as soon as he’d graduated from college. But if she wentback to Simsas, there was not telling what would happen. No, it was best that she stayed, and not justbecause it was Nick wanted. Staying would also make Alice happy, and making sure Alice was happy wasthe most important thing.
  58. 58. James came into the study as Nick was staring at the paper in front of him.“Stuck on an assignment?” he asked his son.“Not exactly. Alice is pretty upset because her father’s thinking about sending for her, and I was going towrite him a letter asking him to let her stay.”
  59. 59. James was slightly taken aback. “What are you going to say?”“That’s what I’m stuck on. I want to make it sound like what it’s what Alice really wants, because it is, but Ialso want to make my intentions towards her clear so that he knows she has a real future here.”“And what are your intentions, son?”Nick shifted, a little uncomfortable speaking of such things with his father. “I want to marry her. Not rightnow, of course,” he hurried, seeing the ashen shade his father’s face turned at his words. “After college,maybe after I finish medical school depending on how things go.”James nodded, even though he’d not really heard anything after his son had said after “marry.” When hadhis son become old enough to consider such a thing? Wasn’t it just yesterday he was a chubby-cheekedbaby without a care in the world.
  60. 60. “Papa? Did I say something wrong? You look…I’m not sure what you look but it doesn’t seem to behappy.”James turned his face into a more pleasant expression. “No, Nick, it’s nothing you said. I think I’ve knownfor a while that you wanted to make Alice into the next Mrs. Bradford, but it’s quite a different thing to hearyou say it aloud. Forgive me, I was just wondering how you managed to grow up without my taking note ofit.”Nick smiled at his father. “If you were in Mr. Kalson’s shoes, what would you want to hear?”
  61. 61. James’ expression turned serious while he thought for a moment. “Well, first you need to assure him thatyou respect Alice and that your intentions are honorable. Be honest, too. Fathers can tell when you’relying. Trust me on that one.”Nick grinned before his face it fell. “Do you think I have a chance of changing his mind?”“I honestly have no idea. If it were me, I’d be a lot more likely to let her stay if I knew there was a betterfuture for her here than there was at home.”“That’s what I’m hoping.”
  62. 62. “Do you…want some help?”Nick shook his head. “Thank you, Papa, but no. I think this is something I need to do myself.”“I understand,” James said, clasping Nick on the shoulder as he went towards the door to the kitchen.“Good luck.”“Thanks,” Nick said as his father left the room. “I think I’m going to need it.”
  63. 63. Nick picked up his pen once more, and began to write.
  64. 64. In an attempt to get everyone’s minds off the many recent deaths in the family, Sterling and James pilledtheir kids and their friends into cars (James borrowed Cyrus’), and took them into the city for a treat of anafternoon at the movie theater.
  65. 65. Mostly they watched cartoons, but the real highlight for everyone was watching the footage of the Olympicgames from Berlsim, Simmany.
  66. 66. They were still chattering about it as they sat around the Bradford’s living room that evening.“Did you see how fast he ran?” Nick asked again. “I’ve never seen anyone run so fast.”“I know, right?” Walter replied. “Jesse Simwens, Simerican hero. Four gold medals! Four!”“We know, Walter. We were all there. You don’t have to shout,” Rosalie said pointedly.“Can it, Rose,” Shirley replied with a glare.
  67. 67. While the kids were chatting away about the cartoons and newsreels they’d seen that afternoon, the adultswere gathered around the table in the dining room discussing some of the parts of the newsreels thechildren hadn’t picked up on.“He refused to congratulate him when he won,” James said, shaking his head.“Well, with everything he’s doing in Simmany, what did you expect?” Sterling commented. “He’s violatedthe Treaty of Simsailles by reinstating conscription, made himself the supreme head of the country, andhe’s remilitarizing the SimRhineland. He’s itching for a fight, I’m telling you.”
  68. 68. “Are you talking about Simmany again?” Cindy asked as she brought in lemonade. “That’s all you ever talkabout these days.”“With good reason,” Sterling replied accepting a glass. “Simerica’s going to war at some point. You’ve gotSimmany in SimEurope and Simpan in the Simcific pushing the limits of their borders.”“Don’t forget about all the nonsense about Simmans being superior to everyone else,” James pointed out.“They’ve burned and banned all kinds of books that are contrary to that message.”
  69. 69. Sterling sighed. “Maybe we should have boycotted the Olympics.”“Don’t you think having someone like Jesse Simwens winning so many gold medals sends a strongermessage?” Cindy asked.“I suppose,” James said. “But I doubt it’ll change anyone’s minds.”
  70. 70. “The only thing that will change their minds is a good ass-kicking, and I doubt that Simerica wants to stickits nose into SimEurope’s business right now.”“Not after the mess that was the Great War, no,” James said. “Unless someone threatens us directly, Ican’t see Simericans getting behind a war.”“I think that’s a mistake,” Sterling stated as he shook his head. “Simland can’t stop Simmany on their own,and Simmany’s still mad at SimFrance from the Great War. I don’t like where things are heading. I don’tsee how this can end well.” *****
  71. 71. Midsummer had arrived, and early one morning Dotty and Danny awoke with a sense of anticipation.
  72. 72. They spent the day as they usually did, pulling pranks and jokes on each other, until it was time for theirparty.
  73. 73. Since Dotty and Danny were each others’ best friends, it was a family-only gathering.
  74. 74. Dotty was enthusiastic and exuberant as usual, while Danny was a bit more reserved when it came time toblow out their candles and make birthday wishes.
  75. 75. Dotty was perfectly stunning as a teenager, and Danny was a very handsome lad. Dotty, true to heroutgoing nature, decided making friends was what she aspired to most of all, while Danny decided to followin his father’s footsteps in a pursuit of wealth. *****
  76. 76. Nick was on his way out the door to meet Walter when he spied a redhead running full tilt towards thehouse. He’d never seen Alice move so quickly, and he hurried to meet her.“Alice, what’s wrong? It’s too hot out to be moving so fast.”
  77. 77. “You!” she said. “I don’t know whether I should kiss you or kick you!”
  78. 78. “…I’m hoping kiss? What have I done?”“Don’t play coy, Nick. You know what you did.”
  79. 79. Nick opened his mouth and then closed it again, not sure what he’d done to set her off. Then he saw thepiece of paper clutched in her hand, and his mind snapped back to the letter he’s written to her father a fewmonths ago.“You’ve got word from your father, then?”She nodded. “My mother died a few days ago.”“I’m so sorry,” he said, taking a step forward. She took a step back.
  80. 80. “You wrote to him and didn’t tell me.” Her tone was far too accusatory for his liking.“I did. I wanted him to know that you were happy here, and that there were a lot of reasons for you to stay.”Please don’t be mad at me, he thought.
  81. 81. She flung her arms around his neck. “I can’t believe you did that for me. That’s the nicest thing anyone’sever done for me.”He quickly wrapped his arms around her. “Thank goodness. I thought you were mad at me.”“I was at first, but then I finished the letter and…oh Nick! He’s letting me stay!”
  82. 82. Nick let out a whoop of joy, and spun Alice around. “Truly?” he asked when he stopped and pulled awayjust enough to look into her eyes.“Truly. I don’t know exactly what you said to him, but Papa’s decided I’ve got a better future here than Iwould if I joined him and my brothers in Calsimfornia. See?”She handed him the letter, and he hesitated to take it.“No, go ahead. I want you to read it.”
  83. 83. Nick took the letter, and skimmed over the beginning where Mr. Kalson informed Alice of her mother’spassing, and started paying attention about a third of the way down the page.So me and your brothers are pulling up stake and heading for Calsimfornia as there ain’t anythingkeeping us here anymore. Mr. Bard from the neighboring farm is buying ours, and I’m sending youa bit of money from the sale to put towards you going to college, as I hear you have your heart seton it. It ain’t much, but it should give you a bit of a start.How do I know about college? Well, your friend Nicholas Bradford wrote me and told me howhappy you were there. And believe me, when a stranger writes and tells me my little girl is happy,you bet I take notice. I know you never were really happy here, and I do want you to be happy.This Nicholas sounds like he’s a good fellow, so you make sure you hold on to him, okay?
  84. 84. “Wow,” Nick said. “I had no idea that he’d actually listen to me.”“What did you say?”Nick took a deep breath. “I told him there were a lot of reasons for you to stay here. Mostly about schooland your friends and such. But I did say how much you meant to me, and…” he hesitated for a moment,not sure if he should divulge the full extent of what he’d written.“And what?”
  85. 85. “I told him that I planned on asking you to marry me when we get a bit older.”Alice gasped. “You really…you said…truly? You want to marry me?”“Why do you sound so shocked? You’re amazing, Alice. Who wouldn’t want to marry you?”She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I just never saw myself that way.”
  86. 86. Nick took Alice’s hands in his. “I do want to marry you, Alice. When we’re older, of course. I want to go tocollege, and I think you do to. And I’m going to ask you properly.”Alice smiled at him. “And when you do ask me properly, Nicholas Bradford, I’m going to say yes.” *****
  87. 87. Sterling was late. He’d told James that he’d be at the store just after closing, and it was an hour past that.That wasn’t like Sterling – he was punctual to a fault. Something must have come up, and he’d beenunable to call.James had ‘phoned Cindy to let her know that he was running late, and then busied himself with tidying upthe store. One of their part-time clerks had recently left for a full time job in the city, and no one new hadbeen hired to fill his place yet and as a result James didn’t have the time to restock shelves and put thingsright after customers had examine the wares. He knew that Sterling was aware of the issue, but heresolved to bring it up when Sterling arrived; it really was getting to be too much for James and the otherpart-time clerk to handle on their own.
  88. 88. The bell over the door chimed, and James looked up to see a weary Sterling coming through it.“I am so sorry I’m late. Ever since Papa retired, I’ve been out straight.”“It’s not that big a deal; I called Cindy to let her know I’d be late. I figured you couldn’t get to a ‘phone to letme know what was going on.”“No, I was stuck in court all afternoon, and drove straight here when I got out. I’m tired, and I’m starving.Since I’m sure you haven’t eaten yet either, I’m buying you dinner. Come on; we can talk business oncewe’ve got some food in our bellies.”
  89. 89. The two men went across the street to the tavern, and took one of the tables in the corner. After orderingand devoured their meals, Sterling was finally ready to talk shop.“I’m sorry I haven’t been around as much, but it’s very reassuring to know that I can trust you to handlethings. And along those lines, I’m making you manager of the store.”“Wow, thanks,” James replied, obviously taken aback by the announcement.“You’ve earned it,” Sterling said simply. “So you’ll be in charge of running the store, including personnel,ordering, and daily operations.”
  90. 90. James nodded. “Would you be all right with me hiring another part-time clerk? It’s been a bit much for meto keep up with since Edgar left.”“I was going to ask if you thought that position should be filled, and you’ve just answered my question. Doyou have someone in mind?“I do, actually – she was in the other day asking if we needed help. Sounds like she was looking for a wayto put herself through college.”“Sounds perfect to me. Reach out to her tomorrow and find out when she can start.”James grinned. “I don’t think I’ll have to wait that long to ask her. I have a sneaking suspicion that she’ssitting in my parlor as we speak, snuggling up with Nick.”Sterling laughed and laughed. “Alice is an excellent hire. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, I wasthe one who hired her.”“Oh, I was going to blame you for it one way or the other. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to headhome and share the good news with everyone.”
  91. 91. Two days later, Alice started working at the Alcott’s store, and she nearly put everyone to shame with howhard she worked. *****
  92. 92. George was enjoying his retirement as he had planned, and he spent as much of his time as possible withMelanie.
  93. 93. While Shirley was off with her friends, they would make sure that Howie was entertained. Melanie adoredher grandchildren, and she loved nothing more than to spend an afternoon with them, teaching them allthat she knew.
  94. 94. Which is why her sudden passing was so hard for her family to accept. After all the years that Melanie hadbeen an angry stranger to them, it didn’t seem fair that she should have to leave before they’d fully gottento know the kinder version of their wife, mother, and grandmother.
  95. 95. George was devastated by the loss, and for a time, no one could console him.
  96. 96. But it was soon Howie’s teenage birthday, and the whole family, George included, put on a brave face tohelp the boy celebrate the occasion.
  97. 97. Howie looked very much like his sister, save for his green eyes. He wanted to pursue a life of fortune, andhe suddenly found himself with a passion for architecture.
  98. 98. There were two other birthdays of note that summer aside from Dotty, Danny, and Howie. Gilbert Seiffbecame a teen as well.
  99. 99. Gilbert had inherited his father’s laid back nature, and wanted to enjoy a leisurely life full of parties, much tothe displeasure of his sister.
  100. 100. And last but certainly not least was Cyrus and Georgianna’s son Freddy.
  101. 101. He became a teen as well, and wanted to make family the focus of his future. Until he was old enough tohave a family of his own, he thought that kittens and puppies would make an excellent substitute. *****
  102. 102. The older batch of teens set their eyes on their impending departures for college, and most of them buckleddown and worked on studying so they would be prepared when they went.
  103. 103. Of course, the younger teens didn’t have such worries yet, so they were able to enjoy the end of summer inmore entertaining ways. *****
  104. 104. It was a hot afternoon for late summer, and Dotty was sprawled on the floor of the study as it was thecoolest room in the house. She was absently flipping through a sketchbook, and didn’t notice the dooropen.
  105. 105. “What you doing?” Danny asked. Dotty looked up as she turned a page. “Papa told Uncle Victor that I was ‘fascinated’ with SimEurope, andhe sent over Miss Thayer’s sketchbook that she made all the paintings in their house from. It’s too hot todo anything else, so I’ve been looking through it. Aunt Phily was so lucky to get to go on a Grand Tour. I’dlove to go on one.”
  106. 106. “I think you’d find SimEurope a lot different nowadays,” Danny replied as he joined her. “All these dictatorsgrabbing power and bullying other countries. You’d be wise to stay far away from there.”“Oh, I know it’s not practical right now,” she replied, though the dreamy look in her eyes said otherwise.“But it looks so beautiful. Wouldn’t you love to see some of these places in person?”Danny shrugged. “I guess.”
  107. 107. Dotty shook her head. “Stop looking at me like that.”“Like what?”“Like I’m being silly and frivolous. I know a trip to SimEurope isn’t practical right now, but it’s a dream ofmine. Dreams don’t have to be practical.”
  108. 108. “I guess I’d just rather dream of things that I actually have a chance of making happen.”“That’s no fun. That’s just…boring.”“Why is that boring? Because I’d rather devote my energy towards making something I can achieve? Ithink that’s sensible.”
  109. 109. “Sensible is boring, Danny. Isn’t there something irrational that you really want to do?”“Not really. I think most of what I want is pretty achievable. Go to college, find a job, get married, have afamily.”Dotty sighed. “I want those things too, but I want some adventure too. It’s so romantic.”“Romantic to dream about running into the middle of an international conflict to see a few old buildings?”“I know it sounds silly when you put it that way, but you can’t understand my desire to see the world isround for myself?”
  110. 110. “And how do you plan on financing your jaunts to foreign lands? Travel isn’t cheep, Dotty, and money’s notsomething that a lot of people have a lot extra of.”“No, it’s not but it’s a dream. I don’t need to know all the finer points.”“If you ever have a chance of making it real you do.”
  111. 111. Dotty got up in a huff.“Hey, Dotty, don’t be mad at me.”“Why shouldn’t I be? You’re treating me like I’m a silly, impractical little girl when I’m not! So what if Ihaven’t figured everything out yet? I have a right to think and feel what I want!”
  112. 112. Danny recoiled a bit at his sister’s tone. He didn’t like to make her mad.“I’m sorry. Who knows what will happen to us once we grow up, after all. Maybe you’ll meet someone incollege who’ll be able to take you on a Grand Tour like Aunt Phily did with Miss Thayer.”All traces of Dotty’s temper tantrum vanished. “Do you really think so? Wouldn’t it be nice if that someoneturned out to be a very handsome, very eligible bachelor who decided to marry me? How romantic?”“Yeah, Dotty. That would be nice,” he said with a smile only he knew was forced. *****
  113. 113. The next day, James caught Cindy on her way in from gardening, a worried look on her face. When heasked her what was wrong, she shrugged.“I’ve just got a sudden, irrational urge to worry about the children, that’s all. With everything that’s going onin the world, I can’t help but be afraid that they’ll somehow be pulled into something awful.”“Not if I have anything to say about it, doll. You know that I’ll do whatever I need to do to protect myfamily.”She sighed. “If the storm clouds gathering of SimEurope mean what Sterling is afraid of, I’m not sure thatyou or anyone else can protect them from what’s coming.”
  114. 114. **************************************************************************************************************************sigh* That’s all there is for Chapter 26. It was not easy to write, as there were a lot of goodbyes to say.Marsha, Lizzie, Jason, and Melanie, who I loved so much and were fun to play.You can leave comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.Continue on for some stats, and more pics.
  115. 115. Continuing with what I started last time, here’s the stats for the characters that you’ll be seeing more of inthe future.Dorothy Bradford, eldest generation 7 spare, rolled Popularity. Her LTW is to become a Hall of Famer (notentirely unfitting, given her personality). Her secondary aspiration is Knowledge. Her turn ons are Jewelryand Athletic; turn off is Logical. As a reminder, she’s a Scorpio (10/3/9/9/1) and her Predestined Hobby isSports.
  116. 116. Daniel Bradford, Dotty’s twin and the other generation 7 spare, rolled Fortune. His LTW is to become aCriminal Mastermind. His secondary aspiration is Knowledge. His turn ons are Full Face Makeup andBlack Hair; turn off is Jewelry. As a reminder, he’s a Capricorn (10/3/4/9/1) and his Predestined Hobby isGames.
  117. 117. Gilbert Seiff, son of Taddy and Calla rolled Pleasure. His LTW is to be a Professional Party Guest, just likeTaddy. His secondary is Popularity. His turns ons are Formalwear and Athletic; turn off is Red Hair. He’sa Sagittarius (3/4/9/10/1) and his Predestined Hobby is Games.
  118. 118. Howard Alcott, son of Sterling and Viola, rolled Fortune. His LTW is to be a City Planner. His secondary isRomance. His turn ons are Hats and Logical; turn off is Full Face Makeup. He’s a Libra (1/9/3/9/8), andhis Predestined Hobby is Nature.
  119. 119. Lastly, we have Frederick Bradford, son of Cyrus and Georgianna, who rolled Family. His LTW is to Raise20 Puppies or Kittens. Sorry, Freddy, but that’s not going to happen. His secondary is Pleasure. He’s aVirgo (10/1/9/8/1) and his Predestined Hobby is Sports.
  120. 120. That’s all for now. Next chapter, the older teens will be heading off for college. Until then, enjoy everyoneenjoying the radio. Some of them have better dance moves than others.