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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 27
 

The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 27

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    The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 27 The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 27 Presentation Transcript

    • Last time, the war in SimEurope inched ever closer to Simsfield. In the meantime, generation five began todepart, with the most noted passings being Lizzie and Jason Seiff, Melanie Alcott, and Marsha Bradford.The many deaths brought James, Taddy, and Sterling closer. Meantime, the kids did their best to be kidsand the youngest of generation 7 started to become teens. Nick wrote to Alice’s father, asking him to lether stay East, and they came to an understanding regarding their relationship.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 27 of The Bradford Legacy.
    • As they’d promised to do after the passing of the elder Seiffs, James, Sterling, and Taddy were enjoying anevening out at the Simsfield Tavern. They talked about the goings-on of their families, what was happeningat their respective jobs, and when those topics had been exhausted, they moved on to current events.
    • “I still don’t like it,” Sterling said. “No good can come of letting Simmany march in and take whateverterritory they want.”“Ausimtria wanted it, by all accounts,” Taddy pointed out as he took another swig of his drink.“Just because the leadership of the country wanted it doesn’t mean that they whole country does,” Jamesinterjected.“James, I’m shocked,” Sterling said. “I didn’t think that you were interested in sticking your nose ininternational business.”
    • “Normally, I’m not. I’m still waiting to see this damned Depression come to an end. But unlike you two, myson is nearly of the age where he’d have to serve if Simerica decides to stop sticking its proverbial head inthe sand. Of course I’m paying attention to what’s going on.”“I’m sure you’ve got nothing to worry about,” Taddy stated. “No one wants another world war.”“Simmany seems to,” Sterling retorted.
    • “Hey, no bickering, you two. We’re on the same side, remember?” James said. The other two reluctantlynodded. “Now, how the hell do you pronounce that Simman word everyone’s using? I can’t make headsor tails of it.”“You never could speak anything but Simlish to save your life,” smirked Sterling. “Anschluss. It means‘union,’ or something like that.”“Implying a non-hostile takeover,” Taddy pointed out again. “It was wanted.”
    • “Regardless of that,” replied Sterling, refusing to rise to Taddy’s bait, “the fact remains that we can’t keepallowing Simmany to just take over other countries without so much as blinking. If someone doesn’tphysically stop them, and soon, who knows how far they’ll push their borders.”“It’s not our problem,” Taddy insisted. “Let Simland and SimFrance take care of it; they’re the ones whohave the most to lose. As James said, we’ve got our own problems to worry about.” “We can’t live in our little Simerican bubble forever. Simmany’s doing their best to take over SimEuropeone country at a time. Simpan’s busy expanding their navy, so you know they have conquest on the braintoo. With the President trying to rearm the country, you know what he’s thinking.”
    • James sighed, an uncharacteristic reaction for him. “I don’t like any of it. Let’s hope Simland andSimFrance are able to put Simmany in their place before too much longer, so we don’t have to send ourboys over there to clean up their mess, again. As for Simpan, they’re awful far away. I don’t think they’reinterested in us.”“I’ll drink to that,” Taddy said.“Here, here,” agreed Sterling. “Even if I don’t think that’s how things will play out, this is one instancewhere I would be happy to be proved wrong.” *****
    • Not long after their get-together, George Horace Alcott departed the world at the ripe old age of 82.
    • Sterling was distraught, as was understandable. Viola and James were supportive, but as they watchedSterling grieve their thoughts were often on their own father. He was only a few years younger thanGeorge Horace, and Jefferson was definitely showing his age. They knew it wouldn’t be too much longerbefore they were mourning his loss. *****
    • As summer came to a close, it was time for Nick to pack up his things and head off to college. Each of thefamily members wished him well in their own way.
    • With their first year of college in full swing, Nick and Alice did their best to make time for each other.Between Nick’s very full course load and Alice’s working as a secretary part-time for Sterling, their datesoften consisted of study sessions in SimHarvard’s library or in one of their dorm’s common rooms.One day, Alice noticed something was wrong with Nick. Even though he had an anatomy exam the nextday, he was still reading the newspaper, his brow furrowed in concentration.“Honey, I don’t think the Herald’s started printing diagrams of the abdomen. You might want to open yourtextbook for that.”Nick looked up, confused. “Why would I be reading the newspaper for diagrams?”“You were studying it just as hard as you should be studying for your exam tomorrow. I just wanted tomake sure you knew that it wasn’t your notes or your textbook.”
    • Nick folded up the newspaper, but the frown remained on his face. “You’re right, of course. I do need tostudy. I shouldn’t let myself get wrapped up in international news that has no real affect on me at thismoment.”Alice pursed her lips. “You don’t need to be snarky, Nick. You were the one who invited me over here tostudy tonight.”Nick’s shoulders dropped. “I was, and I should have left the newspaper in my room. I know that I getcranky anytime I read it. I’m sorry.”
    • Alice smiled, and Nick knew he was forgiven. He opened up his textbook, and began to review the variousdiagrams in preparation for his exam.
    • At nine o’clock, the two gathered their books and Nick walked Alice back to her dorm. As it was a warmnight, they both put their schoolwork on the front step and settled down to watch the stars for a fewmoments.
    • As she lay against his chest, Alice could sense that Nick was not as focused on the sky above as she was.“What are you thinking? And don’t lie and say you’re thinking about me, because I know you’re not.”Nick chuckled. “How do you know me so well?”“It’s a talent.”
    • His arm tightened around her. “The leaders of Simland, SimFrance, Simtaly, and Simmany met, andthey’ve agreed to let Simmany take back land that was given to Czechosimvakia because it’s full of ethnicSimmans.”“So?”He shifted a bit so he could face her. “Don’t you see? The Simlish Prime Minister is so scared of gettingSimland involved in another world war that he’s giving in to Simmany’s bullying.”“Simland lost a lot during the Great War.”“That’s not an excuse for not standing up when it’s the right thing to do.”“I thought that the people of SimFrance and Simland were pleased with the agreement. And didn’t theSimmans say they have no other territorial demands in SimEurope?”“That’s what they said after they took over Ausimtria, too. The Simlish Prime Minister may be deluded intothinking that this agreement means peace in our time, but I’m not buying it.”
    • “You sound like your Uncle Sterling – it’s nearly all he talks about with his colleagues. He doesn’t think thatSimmany will stop until SimFrance or Simland, or Simerica for that matter, decided to step in and stopthem by force.”“Uncle Sterling and I have a lot in common, then. I know that no one wants war and all that it brings, but Iwonder,” he said as he sighed, “if Simmany will understand any other way.”“I hope it doesn’t come to that.”“Hope is not a strategy,” Nick said, kissing her forehead.“No, it’s not. But sometimes, it’s all we have.” *****
    • After her conversation with Nick that night, Alice made a point of keeping up with the news of the world.None of what was coming out of SimEurope was good, but she was at least better able to predict Nick’smood swings from what she read.
    • She began to understand where Nick was coming from, especially when she read about the way theSimmans were treating some of their own citizens. She just couldn’t understand how readily the Simmanswere turning on their neighbors and friends.
    • But it wasn’t until she read about the night of organized violence that came to be known as the Night ofBroken Glass that she fully understood why Nick and Sterling were so worried about what the Simmanrégime meant for the world as a whole.Nick was due to take her out for a date that night, but he knew that something was wrong straight away byhow pale she was.“You saw the papers, then,” he said, sinking down on the sofa next to her.
    • “How could they do that? Destroying all those homes and businesses, and letting the churches burn as thefirefighters just watched.”“Synagogues, Alice. But you’re right. It’s abominable behavior.”“All because they have different beliefs. Nick, it’s just not right. Those poor people.”“Now do you understand why so many of us our so worried?”She nodded. “But shouldn’t we do something? It just seems so wrong that there’s no response at all.”“Well, as I heard it, we’re recalling our ambassador from Simmany, but not breaking of diplomatic relationswith them.”“Why not?”
    • “Who knows? Probably don’t want to cut all ties, just in case we need to talk to them for some reason.”Alice shook her head. “Someone needs to do something.”“I agree with you, sweetheart. But who and what? With any luck, Simland and SimFrance will pull theirheads out of their asses before long and force him to stop, but I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.”“No,” she said with a sigh. “They suffered the worst during the Great War. They know what it means.They won’t fight back unless there’s no other way.”
    • Nick put his arm around her. “I’m sorry this spoiled our afternoon, even if I’m kind of glad that youunderstand why I get so riled up about the news from SimEurope now.”“Do you honestly think we’ll get involved?”Alice felt his shoulder rise in a shrug. “I have no idea. We should, but we probably won’t. There are toomany that think the world should be as isolated as it was during Grandpa John’s time. But they forget thatit keeps getting smaller. Everything that happens affects everyone else, even if they don’t know it yet.” *****
    • Even though his freshman year of college was over and most of his classmates were enjoying their break,Nick was still busy with his studies. He’d decided to take a few extra classes over the summer so he couldgraduate sooner, start medical school sooner. Cindy fretted over his plans, but James had dissuaded her.“Sterling did the same thing, with law school, and he wasn’t any worse for wear after it. A little exhausted,but nothing worse than that.”
    • Alice was not idle either. With no classes to attend, she spent three full days each week at Sterling’s lawoffice, answering the phone, filing papers and occasionally doing a bit of typing. She could have gone backto working at the general store; in fact, it would have been easier for her than arranging to get toPortsimouth on a regular basis. But James had hired another part-time clerk when she’d left for college,and, being perfectly honest, she liked being a secretary better. It wasn’t as physical, the customers fareasier to deal with, and Sterling didn’t mind if she let the radio play quietly in the background.
    • The other two lawyers in his practice were pleasant enough, though she liked working for Sterling the best.He always greeted her when he came into the office, made sure she had a way to get home, and wouldoften send her to buy lunch for the staff, herself included.The money she was earning went right into paying for college. There were moments when she wonderedif she wasn’t being a bit frivolous; after all, she was just going to get married and be a mother after Nickgraduated. But she would quickly shake those thoughts away. She really was enjoying her studies, gettingto read all those great works of literature. And what else was there for her to do? College was a good away as any to pass the time, and it kept her close to Nick. The coming school year would be better, asShirley and Rosalie would be joining her at SimRadcliffe.
    • Shortly before the fall term was set to start, Alice was busy pulling files Sterling would need for court thenext day. She didn’t look up from the drawer as she heard the door open, as she recognized the tread ofSterling and one of his colleagues.
    • “I’m telling you it means trouble,” Sterling was saying. “Without the Simviets to worry about, Simmany willstart to march West across SimEurope.”“Simland and SimFrance will stop them before it gets to that,” the other man said.“They haven’t shown much of a backbone thus far. If they didn’t stand up for Ausimtria or Czechosimvakia,I don’t know what it will take for them to draw a line in the sand.”
    • The other man shrugged. “No telling. We’ll find out soon enough; no sense in worrying about it until then.”He turned to Alice. “Do you have…”She opened a drawer and pulled out an envelope. “In chronological order, just like you asked.”“Thank you. Okay, I’m off to get this mess sorted out. Have a good afternoon.”
    • Sterling nodded before opening the door that led to his office. Alice stared at it for a moment after it closed,wondering what had happened to get her boss so upset. After that moment passed, she went back topulling the files Sterling had asked for.
    • It was nearly five when Alice had collected everything Sterling had asked for. She knocked on the officedoor and entered when bid to do so.“Everything you need is here,” she said, handing him the paperwork.“Thank you, Alice. You’ve been invaluable, you know. Sure I can’t convince you to stay on for a while afteryou get married? I can train you to be a real legal secretary.”She smiled. “Thank you, but no. Once Nick starts his residency, I imagine my free time will be ratheroccupied with household matters.”
    • Sterling chuckled. “Well, if you ever find yourself in a pinch, I’ll gladly take you on short term again.”“Thank you.”
    • Alice bit her lip. “Mr. Alcott? May I ask you something?”“Alice, you can call me Sterling. I’ve told you so a dozen times at least; we’re practically family.”“It just doesn’t seem right, not yet anyway.”“I’ll have to speak to my nephew about that,” he said with a smirk.
    • Alice smiled. “What were you and Mr. Small talking about when you came in?”Sterling’s expression became serious. “The Simmans and the Simviets came to a non-aggressionagreement.”“What does that mean?”“In the simplest of terms, it means they aren’t going to fight each other. They’re also going to shareresources, with isn’t a good thing either.”“And you believe that it means Simmany will start focusing their attention elsewhere?”“For certain. They’re itching to fight someone, more than likely the Simlish or the SimFrench. It’s just amatter of time before we find out who. Of course, the Simmans and the Simviets don’t see eye to eye on alot of issues, so maybe the pact won’t last and they’ll just end up fighting each other.”
    • Alice nodded somberly. “Things just keep going from bad to worse, don’t they?”Sterling nodded, not feeling the need to say anything in response. “Do you need a ride back to Simsfield?”“No, not today, thank you. Nick had his last summer class today, and he’s taking me out on the town tocelebrate a bit before fall term starts next week.”“Get going, then,” he said. “Go on, have fun with your boyfriend.”Alice smiled at him. “Thank you, Mr.…Sterling.”
    • Sterling watched Alice, a slight spring in her step, as she left his office.Once he heard the outer door close, he wiped his face with his hands. He crossed to a cabinet, pullingfrom it the decanter that he kept there for moments like this. He filled a glass with several fingers of itscontents, and raised it.“Have fun while you can, kids. No telling how long it will last.” *****
    • Nick was packed and ready to head back to SimHarvard to start his sophomore year of college. In additionto Nick being ready to return, Walter, Shirley, and Rosalie were also prepared to join him in college. Thenight before he left, Cindy and James invited the Alcotts and the Seiffs over for dinner to give their childrena proper send-off.Despite the relative festiveness of the occasion, conversation was anything but light. Two days ago, they’dlearned that Simmany had invaded SimPoland, in defiance of the Treaty of Simsailles that ended the GreatWar. That morning, word came that Simland and SimFrance had declared war on Simmany. After dinner,everyone gathered in the parlor of the old farmhouse, waiting to hear what the President had to say whenhe addressed the country over the radio. They listened to the voice through the crackle of the static,wanting to know what the events occurring in far away SimEurope meant for them.
    • “I don’t think that he means to get us involved,” Taddy said to James and Sterling.“Taddy, hush,” Calla said gently. “I can’t hear.”“It is right that I should recall to your minds the consistent and at time successful efforts of yourGovernment in these crises to throw the full weight of the United States into the cause of peace.”“See, I told you!” Taddy boomed.
    • “I doubt it will end up being that simple, Taddy,” Sterling replied. “Simmany seems hell-bent on dominatingSimEurope, and if it comes to that you know that Simerica won’t leave Simland in the lurch.”“Will you two hush up?” Viola asked. “Save the commentary until after the speech is over.”“Let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely talk of Simerica sending its armies to SimEuropean fields.At this moment there is being prepared a proclamation of Simerican neutrality.”
    • James snorted. “Hard to remain neutral when so many of us can trace our roots back to one of thecountries involved.”Taddy opened his mouth to reply, but a hard glance from Calla stopped him.“… I cannot ask that every Simerican remain neutral in thought as well. Even a neutral has a right to takeaccount of facts. Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience.I have said not once but many times that I have seen war and that I hate war. I say that again and again.I hope the United States will keep out of this war. I believe that it will. And I give you assurance andreassurance that every effort of your Government will be directed toward that end.”
    • After the broadcast ended, the adults in the room, Nick now included in that group, looked at each other.“I hope we can stay out of it,” Viola sighed, her eyes drifting towards Howie. Calla nodded in agreement,as her eyes sought Gilbert’s fair head as he sat by the fireplace.
    • Cindy’s eyes strayed to Nick. He had a serious expression on his face, but that was nothing out of theordinary. She wondered what he was thinking.Nick looked at James. “I’d have to go, if we get involved, wouldn’t I?”James’ mouth suddenly went dry, and he could only nod in response to his son’s question.
    • “It’s nothing you need to worry about now, Nicky,” Cindy cooed, slipping and calling him by his childhoodnickname. “It will probably get settled before it comes to that.”“I hope so, Mama. But as Uncle Sterling said, Simmany wants what’s not theirs. Someone has to stopthem. I want to help stop them. I’d volunteer to go fight them if it comes to that. What they’re doing isn’tright.”“No, it’s not. And you’re not the only one who’d volunteer to give the Simmans a good licking,” Howiepiped up, causing Viola to draw in a sharp breath.Gilbert didn’t say anything, but nodded, a resolved look on his face. Calla went pale, and she gropedblindly for Taddy’s hand.
    • Cindy managed to keep her voice steady as she replied. “That’s very honorable of you. But let’s not putthe cart before the horse and worry about things that might not even come to pass.”Nick nodded and said no more. He knew enough had already been said. Not long after, the guestsexcused themselves to go home, each of them worried about how much closer the problems of the worldseemed to their doorsteps that September night. *****
    • With the news of the war weighing heavily on their minds, Walter, Shirley and Rosalie headed off to joinNick and Alice at college.
    • Shirley and Rosalie were in the same dorm as Alice, though that was a blessing and a curse. Alice wasdelighted to have her friends so close by, but Rosalie was trying on a good day, and Shirley and Rosaliewere very much like oil and water. Fortunately, their class schedules were radically different so there wasalways an excuse when one needed a break from the rest of the group.
    • Walter settled into Landgraab Hall with Nick, though the elder lad was in the middle of the process tobecome a member of the fraternity his grandfather Elias had founded. Nick was hoping to move into thefraternity house before the end of the school year, and had promised Walter he’d pull whatever stringnecessary to get his friend a membership as well.
    • As they had in their teenage years, the five of them often gathered to pass an afternoon, though they wereno longer as idle as they had been in their teenage years. Textbooks and notebooks were their near-constant companions as they lounged on the grassy quad in the summerlike afternoons of late fall.
    • It was on such an afternoon about a month after school started that they were discussing the state of thingsin between reading and reviewing class notes.“They were right to refuse the so-called peace offer,” Nick said, mostly to Walter and Alice, as Shirley hadher nose in a book and Rosalie was furrowing her brow over a notebook.”Alice nodded, but Walter didn’t react.“Don’t you agree?”
    • Walter shrugged. “You think Simerica should intervene somehow, Nick. I don’t, unless our hand getsforced somehow. The Great War didn’t have any winners, certainly not us. Why commit resources to aforeign war, when the last time we did it just resulted in the loss of lives?”Shirley looked up from her book at that moment. “I didn’t realize you were an Isolationist, Walter.”“So what if I am? The majority of the country is. I was under the impression that you were, too, Shirley,since you never talk about it.”
    • She raised an eyebrow. “With my father? I’d get shot if I started spouting Isolationist ideology. I’m notsure that things are quite as dire as he thinks they are, but I also don’t think we should wait until the lastminute before we act. No sense in getting caught with our proverbial pants down.”“Really, Shirley, must you use such expressions?”“Oh, stuff it, Miss Prissy Pants. What’s that that you’ve got your undivided attention? I know it’s nothomework, since you were strutting around bragging about how you didn’t have homework because of yourgood marks on your last test.”
    • Shirley reached over and snatched the notebook away from Rosalie before she knew what happened. AsShirley began to read it, she laughed.“You’re making a list of the eligible bachelors?”“The suitable ones, yes. How else will I narrow my choices down?”Shirley howled with laughter as she flipped to the next page.“Why is there a list of girls on the next page?”“For my brother. He hasn’t shown any interest in any of the ladies of his acquaintance, so I thought I’d helphim out a bit.”
    • “Better not to meddle, Rosalie,” Alice advised. “I’m sure he’s getting pressure from your parents in thatregard.”“That’s the thing – he’s not. Father and Mother are taking the attitude that he’ll figure out who to marrywhen he’s ready.”“He’s still young, Rosalie. My parents didn’t meet until Papa was almost done with college. Give himtime.”“Under different circumstances, I might. However, when you combine the threat of a war with his recentbehavior, I feel I must intervene. Someone has to carry on the Seiff name, and it can’t be me.”
    • “If you’re referring to his friendship with Clarence, I don’t see what the issue is. Sure, he’s a bit of atroublemaker, but he never gets himself into anything too serious,” Shirley pointed out.Rosalie sighed, knowing that her friends wouldn’t ever understand her. “Still, I can bring some morerespectable people around the house when I’m home, and hope for the best.”Shirley rolled her eyes. “Worry about getting yourself a husband first, Rose. Then you can playmatchmaker for the poor souls who haven’t been as lucky as you.”
    • “Okay, I’m going to put a stop to this now, before you descend into full-on bickering,” Nick said. “Shirley,don’t pick on Rosalie. Rosalie, don’t meddle in business that’s not yours. Walter, you and I will just haveto agree to disagree on matters of foreign policy. Alice, how about you and I take a walk, and forget thatwe’ve got studying to worry about for an hour or so?”“That sounds lovely,” she said, getting up. “We’ll see you all later.”
    • The couple paused briefly at Alice’s dorm to drop off their school things before continuing along towardsthe edge of campus where the river was. It was one of their favorite spots.“Why is Rosalie the way she is? Your Uncle Taddy and Aunt Calla are so relaxed.”Nick shrugged. “Sometimes, I think she’s so prim and proper because they aren’t. My parents and them,and Uncle Sterling and Aunt Vi to a lesser extent, got up to a lot of high jinks when they were our age.Prohibition was law, of course, and they spent an awful lot of time at a speakeasy. My dad actuallymanaged one for a time.”
    • Alice feigned shock. “But that still doesn’t explain why she’s matchmaking for Gilbert. He’s barely ateenager; doesn’t he get a little leeway on settling down?”Nick kicked a rock in his path. “I think that’s more about her wanting to keep him out from Clarence Alcott’sinfluence than anything else. Shirley won’t point it out, because they’re cousins and she’s clannish, buthe’s developing a reputation as a bit of a cad. He’s been caught by the police down at the beach morethan once, with all different kinds of company.”“The part of the beach where teenage couples go to escape the prying eyes of their parents?” she asked,bumping his hip with hers.“How do you know about that, Miss Kalson?” he asked, a cheeky grin on his face.“Oh, I might have been there once or twice when I was his age, in the company of a handsome youngman.”
    • Nick chuckled, and pulled Alice close for a kiss or two.
    • “Why don’t you try talking to Gilbert? He looks up to you like a brother, and you might be able to convincehim to limit his time with Clarence better than Rosalie can.”Nick nodded. “Probably a good idea. I’ll see if I can get home this weekend if for no other reason thanthat. See if you can get Shirley to put a bug in Howie’s ear about spending more time with Gilbert, too.”“I will. Maybe Shirley in all her brashness will decide to read Clarence the riot act while she’s at it. I knowhe’s an only child so I’m certain his parents indulge him.”“Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s pretend that we’re the only two people in the world for a fewminutes.”“I think that’s an excellent idea.” *****
    • Rosalie was sitting in the parlor of her dorm, sipping at her afternoon tea. She was very, very pleased withherself. After much careful planning and execution, she had landed a date with the man she wanted for herhusband.
    • It hadn’t been easy. Bruce Thorne was a year older than her, in Nick’s class, and she’d had to spend fartoo much time biting her tongue around her cousin so that she could make the right connections to meether target. From there, it was a matter of joining the right clubs and societies so she was in front of himmore often than not. Of course, she also had to deflect the attention of the other ladies around him as well.Bruce was a handsome man, not lacking for female attention. As she took one last sip of her tea, shecertainly hoped it would be worth it in the long run.
    • There was a dance that night, hosted by Bruce’s fraternity, and she was his date. She took special carewith her hair and makeup, wanting to look perfect.She wasn’t the only one from the dorm going to that dance, as Nick and Alice were attending as well. Shewatched the other woman come down the stairs as she sat on a sofa in the foyer waiting. Alice fairlyglowed, and for a moment, Rosalie was jealous of how the redhead looked. But then she remembered thatshe could wear red, unlike Alice, and she would stand out that evening because of her vibrant dress.
    • Nick and Bruce arrived at nearly the same time, each bringing flowers for their dates. Both couples walkedout the door together.
    • The next day, Rosalie was in the best of moods. The evening had gone perfectly. Despite all the requestsfrom the other girls in the room, Bruce had remained attentive to her and her alone. Her feet were soreand blistered from dancing in her high heels, but she hadn’t complained once. The night had been worthevery ounce of pain.
    • After getting ready for the day (and carefully wrapping up her poor feet), she went down to breakfast, whereShirley was asking Alice about the night.“He still hasn’t asked you yet? What’s the boy waiting for?”“Shirley, I know he’s going to. It’s up to him to decide when the moment’s right.”“What are you two talking about?” Rosalie inquired as she set her plate down next to the other two.
    • “Nick still hasn’t asked Alice to marry him yet. I don’t know what’s taking him so long.”“And I told Shirley that we have an understanding, and he’ll ask when he’s ready. Which I’m sure won’t beuntil he’s nearly done with his schooling. I’m not worried, so don’t you go doing it on my behalf.”Shirley let out a breath in a harrumph, and earned herself a reproachful look from Alice and Rosalie.“Speaking of marriage proposals, Shirley, when is Walter planning on asking you?” Rosalie asked.
    • Alice barely suppressed a smirk as Shirley stuttered and sputtered. “That’s none of your business, MissPrissy Pants,” she finally managed to choke out.“If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, then,” was Rosalie’s simple reply.“Did you have a good time last night, Rosalie?” Alice asked, eager to shift the topic of conversation.
    • “I had such a lovely time. Bruce and I got along famously, and I can’t help but thing that he might be theOne, if you know what I mean.”“You’ve known him for all of about an hour, and you already know that you’re going to marry him? Haveyou told him yet?”“Of course not! That’s the kind of decisions a man has to come to on his own. Though that doesn’t meanwe can’t help push them in the right direction.”
    • “So, you’ll at least let us know when the wedding is?” Shirley deadpanned, with a wink in Alice’s direction.“Of course I shall! And if you two are still single, you’ll be bridesmaids, of course.”“Great,” Shirley said with enthusiasm that only Alice knew was false.“If you two will excuse me,” Alice said as she got up, “I have to get ready for class.”
    • Alice hurried away from the table where Rosalie was now animatedly discussing her wedding to a manshe’d only had one date with. As she pulled her books together, she thought about what an odd personRosalie was, but that she was rather grateful to her that day for deflecting Shirley’s unwanted questionsabout why Nick had not yet given her an engagement ring. Because Alice had been wondering that herselffor a while. *****
    • The rest of the school year passed in a blur, and before long, exams were looming on the horizon for thecollege students.Though all of them were concerned with getting good marks, some of them found it harder to study thanothers. The news from SimEurope was not good, and it made for some heated discussions around thestudy tables.
    • “Simmark never stood a chance,” sighed Nick to no one in particular. “They had no army to speak of.”Alice and Shirley nodded, but Walter and Rosalie remained unmoved.Nick spoke again. “If the Allies hadn’t botched their response in Norsimway, they might have been in betterposition to do something. But now…”“Is Norsimway lost too?” asked Alice.Nick nodded. “Probably. The King and the government members will able to escape, so that’s one goodthing.”
    • “What does Simmany want with them anyway? They’ve don’t have a lot of resources,” Shirley noted.“With Norsimway in Simman hands, they control the North Sea shipping lanes, and it gives them a betterposition to attack Simland,” Nick replied.
    • A silence fell back over the table. After a few moments, Walter spoke.“We should probably do something to help Simland and SimFrance. After all, Simmany’s always beensteamed at them after the outcome of the Great War. I imagine they’ll need all the help we can get.”Nick suppressed a smirk. “Don’t think the President’s cash and carry policy is enough anymore?”“Not really. But I’m not sure what else we can do, without committing manpower which isn’t going tohappen.”Nick nodded. “Glad to see you’ve smartened up a bit.”
    • Less than a month later, the exams barely finished, the five of them were gathered for a last hurrah beforereturning home for another break. The occasion, however, was less than festive.“So Simberlain’s out, and Simchill’s in. Well, after the debacles with Czechosimvakia and Norsimway, itwas only a matter of time, I suppose,” Nick sighed. “The Simlish seem pleased about it; he’s an oldwarhorse and he won’t let Simland just give up without a good fight. SimFrance on the other hand, I’mmore worried about.”
    • At that moment, the paperboy dropped the afternoon edition of the Herald on the front step. Walter got upand grabbed it, and then brought it back in as he read the headlines.“Sounds like you’ve good cause to be worried, Nick. Simmany’s launched invasions of SimBelgium,Holsimland, and SimFrance.”Everyone gasped at the news, and Nick snatched the paper away from Walter.
    • “Damn,” he said under his breath as he scanned the paper. “This isn’t good.”Alice and Shirley exchanged worried looks, and even Rosalie looked mildly concerned.“Now what?” Walter asked.“We’ll just have to wait to see if they’re able to stop the Simmans, or if we’ll have another batch ofsurrenders on our hands.”“Simchill’ll be reaching out to the President for support, that’s for sure. Hopefully, he has a plan in mind.”
    • “And what if he doesn’t?” Alice asked. “What do we do then?”“We pray,” Nick said, taking her hand. “It’s about the only thing we can do at this point.” *****
    • Dotty flung the newspaper across the room, and sank back onto the sofa, disgusted. Her dreams ofsipping a Café au lait somewhere on the Champs Simlysées while gazing at the Arc de Trisimphe wereeven more unrealistic now than they had been a few years ago.Hopefully, there’ll still be a SimParis to see when all this is over, she thought with a sigh.
    • Danny poked his head into the room.“By the look on your face, I’m guessing you saw that the Simmans are marching through the streets of yourbeloved SimParis as we speak.”She turned and glared at him. “You don’t need to rub in that you were right about it not being a good timefor SimEuropean travel.”
    • “Hey,” he said, “There’s no need for that. Be thankful that you are here in Simerica; goodness knows thatSimmany’s going to stick it to the SimFrench for their role in ‘humiliating’ them after the Great War.”Dotty sighed aloud. “How can you be so calm and practical at a time like this when the rest of the world isready to burst into flames?”
    • “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I guess I’m just taking stock of the situation to see how to best react to it. Forexample, Simtaly just now declared war on Simland and SimFrance, and is invading the latter from thesouth. So despite being ‘friends’ with Simmany, they’ve not really done anything to support their massexpansion, which makes me wonder how good of ‘friends’ they really are.”“Which means?”Danny shrugged. “Not sure. But knowing your enemy is the first key to victory.”
    • “You’re certainly more calm about all this than Nick is. He’s always looking a little green around the gillswhen someone mentions the war.”“That’s easy to understand. If we declared war on Simmany tomorrow, Nick would have to go. Hewouldn’t necessarily have any time to plan anything, he’d just have to go. Me, on the other hand, I havetime to figure out what path I want to go down, since I’ve got a few years before I’m old enough to bedrafted.”
    • “I didn’t think you’d be so willing to serve.”“It’s not necessarily about willingness; it’s about accepting what’s to come and making the best of it.”“And what does that mean for Danny Bradford?”“Well, if I’m going to have to join the military, I’m not doing it as a nobody. I’ll get myself a commissionsomehow, and be an officer.”“You, an army lieutenant?”“Or a navy ensign. Either one would be acceptable.”
    • “The navy? Really, Danny? You don’t even like to swim.”“As long as your ship stays afloat, you shouldn’t have to,” he grinned. “But that’s a few years away yet.There’s time for both of us to make plans. You can’t sit around and sulk about not getting to see the greatcities of the world forever, after all.”“Ha ha. Very funny, Danny.”“I’m serious, Dotty. What do you want to do with yourself?”“I’m not sure,” she admitted. “I’ll go to college at least, or risk breaking Mama and Papa’s hearts if I don’t.After that…well, as you said, there’s still time to make plans.” *****
    • It hadn’t been an easy few months, news-wise. Between the SimFrench surrendering, the Simvietssnatching up territory in eastern SimEurope, and the Simtalians stretching their reach into Simfrica, itseemed that no news was good news.“And those damnable U-however-you-pronounce-it underwater boats the Simmans have!” cursed Viola.“Sinking ships left and right. How are we supposed to get supplies to the Simlish with them patrolling theSimlantic?”
    • “I thought it was the responsibility of the Simlish to transport those supplies,” Cindy pointed out. “The realissue is that they don’t seem to distinguish between ships carrying war supplies and those that aren’t. Andsince they’re underwater, it’s very hard to find them.”“Oh, someone will figure out how to eventually. It’s just a matter of how much damage they’ll inflict beforethen,” Viola sighed, as she got up to refill everyone’s cups.
    • After Viola sat back down, everyone sipped at their tea and nibbled on the baked goods she’d made.“Why are we always talking about a war that’s taking place thousands of miles from here? It’s not likewe’re directly involved,” Calla said.“Yet,” Viola said, a bit harsher than she intended. “All these Isolationists are doing is delaying theinevitable. We need to be doing more to get ourselves prepared. You agree with me, right Cindy?”
    • Cindy hesitated. “Well, I do think that we’re going to get involved at some point, whether we like it or not,so it makes sense to be prepared. But the mother in me wants to leave them be and let them sort it outthemselves, so my family stays here where it’s safer.”Viola felt a bit reproached by Cindy’s remark. “Of course we all feel that way. But wouldn’t you feel betterabout Nick or Danny fighting if you knew there was a orchestrated plan and the best possible resourcesbehind them?”“I don’t know if I could ever feel ‘better’ about sending my boys off to fight, Viola.”
    • “Fair enough,” she relented. Her eyes drifted towards the big headlines on the newspaper that was sittingat the other end of the table..“Why do you even bother to read that anymore?” Calla asked. “There’s never anything good in thereanymore.”“No, but I at least like to know what atrocities are occurring overseas. The Simmans bombed Simdon, sothe Simlish returned the favor and bombed Berlsim.”
    • Cindy shook her head. “Those aren’t even military targets. Those poor civilians.”“I know,” Viola said. “It doesn’t seem right, somehow, to get the general populace involved. Though I don’tblame Simland for retaliating. Probably just trying to show that they’re not going to give up without a goodfight.”“I don’t mind them attacking Simmany in that way, somehow,” Cindy mused. “It seems like the wholecountry is brainwashed, and maybe a few tons of explosives will knock some sense back into them.”“We can only hope.”
    • “Calla, why so quiet?” Cindy asked.“Oh,” she said with a shrug. “Taddy gets upset when he hears about the war; he’s of the mind that weshould just stay out of it, you know.”“Sterling may have mentioned that once or twice,” Viola said wryly.“So I’ve just started tuning all the war talk out. With any luck, it will be over soon and everything will goback to normal.”
    • Viola opened her mouth, but a sharp look from Cindy stopped her.“That’s what we all want, Calla, but I’m not sure it’s realistic. You’re better off keeping one eye on things,”Cindy said.Calla looked indifferent, but that was nothing new. Her head always seemed to be in the clouds.“Cindy’s right. Watch what’s going on, and pray for it to change. That’s about all we can do now.” *****
    • With another school year upon them, the college kids packed up their trunks and headed back to the city.Rosalie had spent most of her summer securing her place as the future Mrs. Bruce Thorne, and the rest ofthe circle had accepted him into their little group. With him around, Rosalie was always on her bestbehavior, and so there was less bickering between the girls, which made Nick and Walter happy.
    • Nick couldn’t quite get a read on Bruce and where he stood in regards to the war in SimEurope. When hebrought it up to Walter one day, Walter had snorted back a laugh.“Really, Nick? Can’t you see that he’s just like Rosalie in that respect? He can’t see past the end of hisown nose, let across an ocean.”And Nick had no choice but to agree. Bruce was rather self-centered, but that was probably the mainreason he and Rosalie were so well suited.
    • By the end of September, the school year was back in full swing, and the six of them had resumed their oldhabit of group study sessions. And as they had in years past, the talk inevitably turned to what washappening overseas.
    • “Some success the Simerica First Committee’s had so far,” said Walter sarcastically. Not a month afterthey get organized and the President manages to get a conscription bill through Congress.”Bruce looked up from his book. “Well, a draft doesn’t mean war, necessarily.”“It means that we’re thinking about it more seriously than we have,” Nick replied in a tone that caused Aliceto look up.
    • “What’s that group all about, again?” Shirley asked. “I know you were going on about it the other day, but Iwasn’t really paying attention.”Walter gave her a bit of a pointed look as he answered. “It’s a group that’s trying to pressure Simerica intostaying out of the war. It got started by a bunch of college kids, but since its founder is from SimYale, youknow it’s no good.”“Har, har, har,” Shirley deadpanned, not impressed by Walter’s jab at SimHarvard’s rival school. “So, whatdo they plan on doing?”
    • “Give speeches, it sounds like,” Nick answered. “I don’t know how much they’ll actually do beyond that.Since the fall of SimFrance, opinions about entering the war have shifted. There’s a lot of people who don’twant to leave Simland to stand alone against Simmany.”“I can’t say I blame them. The Simlish are standing strong against Simmany’s Blitz, but that constantbombing, and at night at that, must be wearing on them,” Alice sighed.Nick nodded, a grim expression on his face. “I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be bombarded on anightly basis.”
    • “And it’s sentiment like that that allowed the draft bill through,” Walter stated. “Not that it affects us muchright now.”“It will when you turn twenty-one,” Shirley pointed out.Nick nodded solemnly. “You sometimes forget that I’m a year older than all of you. I’ll have to register onmy birthday, but I’ll probably get deferred as I’m in college.”“I certainly hope so,” Alice said softly.
    • “I thought you were all gung-ho when it came to fighting,” Walter commented.“Well, I’ll do what’s necessary,” Nick replied. “If I’m called upon to serve, I’ll do so willingly.”“Me, too,” Walter nodded, looking at Bruce as he did so.“I shall do what is required of me, of course,” he said.Nick and Walter exchanged a look as everyone went back to their books. *****
    • “Anything good in the mail?” Jefferson asked as James placed a few envelopes on the desk.“No bills, if that’s what you mean,” James said with a bit of a cheeky grin. “I think it’s all just plain, boringletters. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run. I was on my way to the store when the mailman came, and Iwanted to bring it in.”“Go,” Jefferson said, waving his hand. “If there’s something that needs to be dealt with, we’ll do so whenyou get home.”
    • After James left, Jefferson flipped through the mail absently. When he came across one addressed to himin a vaguely familiar hand, he opened it.
    • It was after dark when James returned home from the store, and when Cindy heard the door open sherushed to meet him.“Thank goodness you’re back,” she said as she gave him a quick peck on the lips.“Why? What’s wrong?”“Your father wouldn’t join us for dinner; he just sat in his study, staring at a piece of paper.”James immediately felt guilty for dropping the mail and running; something in the post must have upsethim.“I’ll go see if I can figure out what’s going on.”
    • James didn’t knock as he usually did when he entered the study. He found his father sitting at the desk,just as Cindy had described, his eyes fixed on a single page of paper.“Papa?”“I’m the last one,” he said softly.James waited, knowing that his silence would prompt the older man to speak.“There was a letter from Jane Hutchins in the mail; Victor’s passed on. And so I am the only one of myschool friends left.”
    • James stayed silent, this time because he didn’t know what to say.“It’s horrible thing, watching your childhood friends die. I wish I knew why I’m the one to outlast them all.”“If I knew, I’d tell you,” James said honestly.“I know you would, son,” Jefferson replied as he got up very slowly. “I’m heading to bed. It’s been a tiringafternoon.”
    • “Are you sure you don’t want something to eat first? Cindy’s heating up a plate for me and I’m sure itwould be no trouble for her to do one for you, too.”“No, I’m not very hungry this evening. You enjoy your dinner.”
    • James went reluctantly into the dining room, where his dinner was waiting for him. When he didn’timmediately dig in as was his habit, Cindy sat down and waited for him to talk.
    • “I don’t think my father’s going to be around much longer.”“What makes you say that?”“I’ve never seen him so…defeated. It’s like he’s just waiting to die.”
    • “That’s horrible,” Cindy said. “How old is he now?”“84, the same as Uncle Victor was. He seemed to finally be getting his spirit back a little, but the newstoday just crushed him.”“It can’t have been easy for him these past few years.”“No, especially not since Mama passed. If she were still here, I think he could bear it, but without her…”
    • Cindy pressed a kiss to his temple. “Eat your dinner, and then come to bed. Tomorrow, take the day anddo something with your father, just the two of you. If he’s not long for this world, enjoy what time you canwith him.”James nodded. “You’re right. You usually are.”“Of course I am,” she replied. “And don’t leave your dirty plate on the table for me to find in the morning,mister. Put it in the sink at least.”“Yes, ma’am.”She raised an eyebrow. “Unless you want to sleep on the sofa, I suggest you never call me ‘ma’am’again.” *****
    • James raised his glass. “To the Simlish, for blowing the Simtalian Naval fleet out of the harbor.”Sterling followed suit, and after the briefest moment of hesitation, Taddy.The three men drained their glasses.
    • “You know they’ll pay for that,” Sterling said with a sigh. “Simmany will blow the Hell out of somethingimportant.”“Oh, I know. It’s just nice to see the bad guy get his for once...” James began.“Amen to that,” Sterling interjected.“…especially when all the news we seem to get is about how many countries they’ve successfullymanaged to invade.”
    • Sterling nodded grimly. “Simmany into Rosimania, Simtaly into SimGreece. Not to mention Simmany,Simtaly and Simpan joining forces. I wish I knew where it ended.”James shook his head. “No idea.”Taddy, who had been quiet for much of the evening, suddenly sat up and turned up the volume on thesmall radio that had been playing in the background.
    • “…massive air raids on Coventry, Simland, heavily concentrated on the city’s center. Preliminaryestimates are that thousands of homes were destroyed by the onslaught of bombs, both explosive andincendiary. Casualties are not known at this time, but expected to be in the hundreds.”
    • Taddy let out a low whistle as he turned the radio back down. “Poor bastards.”“To them,” Sterling said, raising his now empty glass.“To them,” the other two repeated.“Do you still think we shouldn’t get involved?” Sterling asked Taddy.Taddy shrugged. “I don’t think we should, but we probably will, and if we do I’ll out-patriot the patriotest ofpatriots.”Sterling nodded. “Fair enough.”“I still hope something happens before then,” James said, his thoughts clearly on Nick.Sterling and Taddy looked at him, understanding in their eyes.It was Taddy’s turn to raise his glass first. “To an unexpected miracle.”James didn’t trust his voice, but raised his glass as he nodded.“To miracles,” Sterling agreed. *****
    • All around the country, and Simsfield and Portsimouth were no exception, people were gathered aroundtheir radios, waiting to hear what the President had to say about the ongoing war and what it would meanfor Simerica.The Bradford farmhouse was no different. Jefferson occupied the corner of the sofa closest to the radio,owing to his slight deafness in his old age, Dotty seated to his left while Danny sat on the floor near herfeet. James and Cindy occupied the other love seat, James closest to the radio so that he could turn thevolume up and down as needed.
    • Through the crackle of the radio static, the announcer introduced the President. Moments later, his familiarvoice filled the room.“My friends,This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security, because the nub of the whole purpose ofyour President is to keep you now, and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of a last-ditch war for the preservation of Simerican independence and all of the things that Simerican independencemeans to you and to me and to ours.”
    • All across the nation, they listened. They listened as he compared the crisis presented by the war to thecrisis of the economic collapse, and how Simericans would great it with the same determination.They listened as he told them about the alliance between Simmany, Simtaly, and Simpan, their desires forworld domination and what it would mean for Simerica.“In other words, the Axis not merely admits but the Axis proclaims that there can be no ultimate peacebetween their philosophy of government and our philosophy of government.”
    • “Huh?” Jefferson said, struggling to hear through the crackle of the static. “What was that?”“He said the Axis doesn’t like democracy, and that their dictatorship is the only way, and there’ll be nopeace between us unless we give in.”“James, that is not what he said.”James shrugged. “It’s what he meant, which is more important. Damned foreigners, thinking their way isthe only way.”Cindy raised an eyebrow at him. “I believe you think something similar.”“That’s different. Because I know our way is the right way.”
    • “Will you please be quiet?” Danny asked. “I want to hear what else he has to say.”“…Frankly and definitely there is danger ahead -- danger against which we must prepare. But we well knowthat we cannot escape danger, or the fear of danger, by crawling into bed and pulling the covers over ourheads.”He talked about how trying to bargain and appease the Simmans had failed, and the fate of the nationswho had done so, about the efforts of the Simerican government to ferret out those with Simmansympathies who would have Simerica become a dictatorship as well, and about the futility of trying tonegotiate a peace with the warring parties.
    • “The people of SimEurope who are defending themselves do not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us forthe implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight fortheir liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them, get them to them insufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering ofwar which others have had to endure.”“That’ll make Sterling happy.”“Not to mention a few other families in the neighborhood. Silas Alcott recently made a big investment inthe Portsimouth Shipyard,” Cindy added.“Really?” James asked, his interest piqued. “I was under the impression that their interests were hit ashard as ours when the market crashed.”
    • Jefferson gave his son and daughter-in-law a bit of an annoyed look, and turned the radio up.“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. Wemust apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit ofpatriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”
    • The speech ended soon after that, and James turned the radio down.“Well, what do you think, Pops?”“I think we’re inching closer to this war faster than anyone realizes,” he said with a sigh, “and I worry aboutwhat that will mean for this family.”
    • Jefferson’s eyes traveled to Danny. “You’re not old enough to fight yet, but you will be before you know it.I know you’ll do your duty to your country, and I pray you’ll stay safe while doing so.”
    • He turned to Dotty. “I know you want to see for yourself that the world is round, but wait until the boys havea chance to put out the fires of evil that are burning right now.”
    • Jefferson got up, oh so slowly, and went to the window, looking in the direction of Portsimouth. “Nick is tookind for his own good sometimes,” he muttered, only loud enough for himself to hear. “He’ll want to gorunning in and play the hero, but he needs to remember that he’s got people at home that need him just asmuch as those he’s never met.”
    • As he stared out the window, he thought about Shirley and Howie, and Freddy, about Viola, and Cyrus. Hewasn’t as close to them as he was to James, or the grandchildren he lived with, but he still worried aboutwhat would happen to them in the future.
    • He then turned to look at his eldest son, and his lovely wife. James was looking at him, his expression across between puzzlement and resignation. Jefferson nodded, answering the unspoken question.“These next few years will be hardest for you two. It’s one thing to give yourself up to a cause; it’s anotherthing entirely to give up someone you love. You want to protect you children, but sometimes, you justcan’t.”
    • James got up and hugged his father tight.“There, there, son. There’s no need to worry about me; your mother’s waiting on the other side, and I’vemissed her so very much these years. It’s you that I worry about.”“We’ll manage. You know the lengths I’ll go to in order to keep my family safe.”“I do.”
    • Jefferson looked over to Cindy. “Take good care of my boy.”She reached up to brush away a tear. “You know I will.”
    • Jefferson nodded. He had said what he needed to say; now the only thing left to do was wait.
    • He did not have to wait for long.
    • Later that night, after making sure the twins were tucked safely in their beds, Cindy went to find James. Hewas exactly where she expected him to be, seated at the desk in the study.“I’m heading up to bed. You coming?”“In a minute.”Cindy pressed a kiss to his temple. “Don’t be too long.”
    • When Cindy had left, James put his head down on the desk.“I don’t know if I can do this as well as you did, Papa. But I’m sure as Hell going to try.” *****
    • He’d planned the timing of his visit carefully. His mother was out visiting his Aunt Viola; Dotty and Dannywere at school. His father would be the only one home, and he was the one Nick need to speak to.Alone.
    • Knowing the door to the kitchen was always unlocked, it was how Nick let himself in to the farmhouse.Much to his surprise, his father was there, his hand hovering over the still-warm crust of one of his mother’spies. James was so absorbed in his task that he didn’t notice his eldest son’s presence Nick spoke.“I don’t think Mama will appreciate coming home to find a chunk missing from tonight’s dessert.”
    • James snatched his hand back. “I was going to claim it broke off.”“She always knows it’s you,” Nick replied.James sighed. “I figured as much, but she lets me get away with it. Most of the time.”The two men exchanged a smile.“What bring you home today, son? Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to see you but I know you’ve got a lotgoing on with school and such.”“There’s something I wanted to talk to you about, without everyone else around.”
    • James ushered Nick into the dining room, where they both sat down.“What’s on your mind, Nick?”
    • Nick drew in a deep breath. “Papa, I want to ask Alice to marry me.”James nodded. “I was expecting as much. I’m kind of surprised that you haven’t already asked her.”“I probably should have,” he muttered.James repressed the urge to snicker. “You don’t need ask me if you want to get married, you know. AndI’m guessing you’ve already got the okay from her father.”
    • “Yes, I wrote him and got his blessing. And while I don’t need to ask your permission, I would like it. Afterall, we’ll be living here after we get married.”James felt a wave of nostalgia wash over him. He remembered the day Nick had been born. Now hiseldest was a grown man, ready to start a life with his sweetheart.“Of course you can marry Alice. Goodness knows this family could use some happy news. Your motherwill be especially thrilled,” James said, thinking about the fact that he would soon owe her that new coat.
    • Nick smiled. “I know she will.”“Well, I suppose there’s something you’ll need if you’re going to propose to Alice. Come with me.”
    • James led Nick upstairs to the room he shared with Cindy. He went to the dresser, opened the top drawer,and rummaged around for a moment until he found what he was looking for.
    • “This ring,” he said, handing it to Nick, “has been in the family since your however many great-grandfatherJohn gave it to his wife. It has been given to the firstborn son to pass on to his bride. I guess it’s yoursnow, to give to Alice.”Nick eyed the ring, nodding. “Won’t Mama miss it?”“No; she’s been waiting for you to ask for it for a while now. Besides, I was planning on using a little ofwhat Papa left me in his will to buy her something a little fancier. Goodness knows with all the sacrificesshe’s made that she deserves it.”
    • “I’m sure she’ll love whatever you pick out for her.”James watched Nick as he studied the ring before slipping it into his pocket. “Is something wrong, son?”“I was just thinking…honestly, Papa, I’m not sure I like the idea of Alice wearing the same ring that Great-Grandmother Jan did.”James was startled by Nick’s statement. “What makes you say that?”“Oh, something Aunt Vi said once, about how she was against Aunt Vi marrying Uncle Sterling, and just ageneral impression I always got from Grandma and Grandpa that they weren’t really fond of her.”
    • “Well, I can’t refute anything there. My grandmother was a bitch, there’s no nice way of saying it, and mygrandfather wasn’t much better. But I never thought about how it would be for someone else to wear thering that she wore. Your mother certainly never objected, but then again she never knew her.”“What about Grandma?”“She never actually wore the ring; Grandpa had given it to the late Mrs. Alcott, as he was supposed tomarry her, and she didn’t return it until years later.”Nick nodded.
    • James sighed. “It’s a tradition for this to be the ring used in proposals, but if you want to get somethingdifferent for Alice, I’ll understand.”Nick considered for a moment. He really didn’t want his Alice to wear the exact same ring as such ahorrible woman, but he didn’t want to be the one to end a family tradition either.
    • “Well, she wasn’t the only person to wear the ring,” he said slowly. “Maybe I could just get the stone reset?That way, it would still kind of be the same ring, but not.”James nodded slowly. “I think that’s a great compromise. Make it into something that’s your own.”“That’s what I’ll do, then. I’m sure that what Grandpa left me will be enough to pay for it.”
    • James walked Nick back downstairs.“Take good care of that ring, Nick, and the girl you’re giving it to.”“I will, Papa. I’ll bring her home as soon as I can after she says yes so Mama can fuss over her.”“Sounds good. Safe trip back to school. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you sooner rather than later.”
    • *************************************************************************************************************************So with that, we’ll end chapter 27 on a somewhat happy note.My generation 5 heir Jefferson is now gone. So many of generation 5 have now passed; it makes me verysad. But generation 7 will be getting married soon, which means that generation 8 isn’t too far away.That’s a much happier thought.You can leave comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.Continue on for outtakes, and a little meta on where things are headed.
    • So the first members of generation 7 are now college students, getting up to what college students usuallyget up to. These next few chapters will be very history heavy; it’s kind of necessary when chronicling afictionalized version of actual events.I posted a longer meta on my LiveJournal about how the war will affect the story; head over there if you’relooking for more specifics. As far as this chapter is concerned, we’re up to approximately the beginning of1941. So the war is almost here, sadly.The italicized portions of the radio speeches are taken directly from Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats.The first is from his “On the European War” speech given September 3, 1939 and the second from his “OnNational Security” speech, better known as the Arsenal of Democracy speech given December 29, 1940.Of course, I’ve changed the names of the countries and such so they’re consistent with my legacy ‘verse.
    • Alice got Cheesed, as I said she would. Though I was a little worried at first, as she was platinum from a“Go to College” want. But nope, she is now Grilled Cheese, and has eaten about 20 of the necessary 200sandwiches for her LTW. I’ll have to get moving on that one; I have a feeling the rest of the Bradfords willbe sick of grilled cheese by the time this is over.
    • That’s all there is for now.*cue I’m Sexy and I Know It*