The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 9Presentation Transcript
Welcome to Chapter 9 of my legacy! At this point, so much has happened that a few
sentences can‟t do the story justice. I suggest that you read the prologue and first eight
chapters to get the full story. Previously, Patrick, the youngest son of generation three,
finally came home to his family. And just in time, as Uma passed on not long after that.
Patrick and his sister Eliza reconciled. The troubles of generation four began, as Robert
Alcott and Matilda Ryan fought against her parents to be together.
And now, on with the story.
The Bradford family had sat down to dinner one evening in early spring. Conversation
covered the latest events of the school day, Carolina‟s plans for the garden, and
Matthew‟s impending University entrance exam.
“Thomas, did I tell you that I had a letter from Anne and Diana today?” asked Carolina.
“No, dear, you did not. How are they fairing at Mrs. Seymour‟s?” he asked.
“Quite well. Diana is seeing much of Mr. Pasang, and Anne keeps herself busy
campaigning for suffrage.”
“What is „suffrage,‟ Papa?” asked Alexander.
“Your sister is fighting so that she and other women will have the right to vote,” replied
Thomas. He then chuckled to himself. “Anne was born independent; I suppose I should
have seen this coming.”
Matthew looked at his father, aghast. “You cannot mean that you approve of Anne‟s
“She conducts herself properly, Matthew. She only attends speeches and the peaceful
rallies. I am not one to stop my children from following their dreams.”
Matthew snorted. “Women have no need to vote. Their fathers speak for them as
children, and their husbands when they are married. Anne would do better to spend her
time finding a husband than wasting it with her silly notions of equality.”
“But in school, Teacher says that the Declaration of Independence says that we are all
created equal,” interjected Alexander.
“You are too young to understand,” scoffed Matthew. “And it says that all men are
“Matthew, there is no need to be rude to your brother,” Carolina rebuffed.
“Times are changing, Matthew,” said Henrietta gently. “Perhaps it is time that women
were allowed to vote as men are.”
“A woman‟s place in in the home,” insisted Matthew. “Mama, Grandma, and Great-
Grandma lived their lives that way, and they are none the worse for not having the vote.
It‟s a silly notion that will soon pass.”
Henrietta quietly sniffed at her brother. “I was merely sharing my opinion.”
“Once a woman is married she has no need for any opinion other than her husband‟s,”
“Now, now,” interrupted Thomas. “There‟s no need to fight. Can you two not agree to
disagree on this issue?”
Henrietta looked at her father, her thoughts drifting to the family rift with Uncle Patrick.
“Of course, Papa. We shan‟t speak of it again.”
“Matthew, have you heard back on your University examinations?” asked Carolina.
“Teacher believes he should have the marks back by the end of the week. I cannot wait
to attend University,” he replied.
“I am certain you will get top marks,” said Carolina. “You always get good grades in
“As am I,” agreed Matthew with false bravado. His dirty little secret was that his good
grades were more often a result of Henrietta‟s efforts than his own.
“He‟s a Bradford,” stated Thomas. “Of course he‟ll get top marks.”
“What else did Anne and Diana have to say, Mama?” asked Philomena.
“They are very excited for Henrietta to start Mrs. Seymour‟s, and look forward to hearing
about Matthew‟s time at University, Phily,” replied Carolina.
Phily sighed. “I wish I was going to school soon, too.”
“Don‟t be sad, Phily,” said Alexander. “I‟ll still be here, and not long after that Anne and
Diana will be home.”
“But Diana will be married,” sighed Phily. “I miss having all my sisters around.”
“Children, you need to finish up your dinner. I know that you all have schoolwork to finish
up before bed,” stated Carolina.
“Yes, Mama,” the four replied in near unison.
Just outside of the city of Portsimouth, at Mrs. Seymour‟s Finishing School, Diana
Bradford was waiting impatiently in the sitting room of her boarding house for her sister
Anne. Lee Pasang was due at any moment to take the two women to the theater and
dinner, and Diana could not leave without her sister to chaperone.
Anne came in, breathless.
“I know! I‟m late. I‟m sorry,” she said in one breath.
“Where have you been?” her twin demanded. “Mr. Pasang will be here any minute.”
“I was at the rally and I lost track of time.”
Diana looked at Anne, puzzled. “I don‟t understand your fervor for women‟s rights. What
do you hope to gain with the vote?”
“Everything, Diana. By amending the Constitution to allow women the right to vote, we‟ll
be on equal footing with the men. It will become more acceptable for us to work outside
the home if we chose, to hold our own assets, and not be forced into marriage.”
“Marriage isn‟t so bad, Anne. Look at Mama and Papa. They‟ve been happy for years.
Besides,” she said, blushing, “I believe that Mr. Pasang will be proposing any day now.”
“Oh Di, I didn‟t mean that I think marriage is bad. It‟s just that so many women marry for
the security a husband provides. People should marry for love. And I know that you and
Mr. Pasang care for each other deeply.”
“Thank you,” Diana replied softly.
“Mr. Pasang is here for you, Miss Bradford,” announced the landlady.
Anne rose. “Let‟s get you engaged,” she said with a mischievous grin.
“Anne!” Diana admonished.
“I trust that you enjoyed yourselves at the theater?” asked Lee.
“Very much so, Mr. Pasang. Thank you for inviting us,” said Anne.
“It was so romantic,” sighed Diana. “Romeo and Juliet is such a lovely story.”
“Yes, I thought so,” agreed Lee nervously. So far, the entire evening had gone as
planned. He thought back to the meeting he had earlier in the week.
Lee had met Thomas for coffee at his dormitory at University.
“Thank you for coming to meet me, Mr. Bradford.”
“It was nothing, Mr. Pasang. I delight in any excuse to visit my girls. Now, what is it that
you wished to speak with me about?”
“Mr. Bradford, I’m certain that it’s not secret to you that I care about your daughter Diana.
She is the center of my world. I am asking your permission and blessing for her hand,
Thomas looked at the young man. Gray as he was, he still could hardly believe that he
had a daughter old enough for marriage.
“What are you prospects, son? My daughter is accustomed to a certain lifestyle. I need
to know that she will be provided for.”
“When I am finished here at school, I will be joining my father’s business. I will be able to
provide a comfortable life for my family.”
Thomas sighed. He knew that Diana cared for Lee, and he had promised to be kind.
“Mr. Pasang, you have my permission to ask Diana to marry you. Of course, the final
decision does lie with her.”
“Are you enjoying your dinner, ladies?”
The girls nodded. “This is a wonderful restaurant,” stated Anne.
“You seem a bit distracted. Is everything all right?” commented Diana.
“Forgive me. Everything is wonderful. Would either of you be interested in seeing what
they have for dessert?”
“I would,” said Anne, more because she knew it would give her sister and her beau more
time to spend together.
“Waiter, the dessert menu please?” asked Lee of a passing server.
The waiter brought over a dessert menu, and Anne pretended to peruse it, allowing
Diana and Lee to hold hands.
“Do you want to order something?” asked Lee, his gaze not leaving Diana‟s.
“I can‟t decide; everything looks so good, but I‟m stuffed.”
“Lovely,” agreed Lee.
Anne suppressed a chuckle, knowing that Lee hadn‟t heard a word she had said.
“Miss Diana,” Lee said, pulling a box covered in black velvet from his coat pocket and
placing it on the table, “I must confess to having an ulterior motive in inviting you out this
evening. I care about you greatly, and I am hoping that you would do me the honor of
agreeing to become my wife.”
Diana gingerly took the box and opened it. Her eyes grew wide as they took in the sight
of the diamond ring inside.
She took it out to examine it closer.
“Do you like it, dear?” asked Lee nervously.
“It‟s lovely,” she breathed.
Diana continued to look at the ring, and Lee bit his lip. Diana had yet to respond to his
question, and he didn‟t want to ask again.
Anne took quick stock of the situation, and gently cleared her throat.
“Di, you need to answer Mr. Pasang,” she whispered.
“Oh!” cried Diana. “Yes! A thousand times yes. I would be honored to be your wife, Mr.
Pasang.” And with those words, she slipped the ring onto her finger.
Diana reached and took Lee‟s hand. “I cannot wait to be your wife.”
Lee smiled. “We‟ll have to wait until we both finish school, of course.”
Diana returned his smile. “I‟m certain the time will fly by for me. I have so much to do!”
“Let me be the first to congratulate you,” said Anne.
“Thank you,” replied Lee.
“I do hate to interrupt this happy party, but Diana and I must be getting back. We have a
curfew of ten on school nights, and it is nine-thirty already.”
“Of course,” said Lee. “I don‟t want to get you in trouble with your chaperones. Let me
settle the bill and we‟ll be off.”
A few months after Diana‟s engagement, Anne and her cousin Wendy were in the sitting
room of their boarding house.
“Wasn‟t that amazing, Wendy? To hear Susan B. Simthony herself speak!”
“She does have some good ideas, but speeches and rallies aren‟t going to get us the
“Why must you be so negative?”
“Negative? I thought I was being realistic.”
“Face it, Anne. It will be years before suffrage comes to fruition. Probably not in our
lifetimes. You really need to think about settling down and finding yourself a good
“Do you really want to live as a spinster? To be a burden on your father and then your
“I haven‟t noticed that you have any suitors calling, Wendy.”
“Mama and Papa are taking care of finding me a husband. I trust them to find someone
Anne looked at her cousin in disbelief. “But what about marrying for love?”
“There are far more practical reasons for matrimony,” replied Wendy.
“Don‟t listen to her, Wendy,” interjected Diana from the corner. “She‟s been stepping out
with Joseph Bear for the past six months.”
“Anne! You didn‟t tell me you had a beau!” cried Wendy.
“She wouldn‟t; being in love is contrary to her message of independence. Besides, I‟m
pretty certain their preferred method of sweet hearting involves constant bickering.”
“Excuse me,” huffed Anne, “but Mr. Bear is supposed to call, and I suppose it would be
better to take our bickering outside.”
Diana chuckled to herself. It was very amusing to watch Anne struggle to fit her feelings
for Joseph into her women‟s rights minded independent nature.
“You were kind of mean to your sister, Diana,” commented Wendy.
“I‟ve been much kinder to her that she was to me.”
Anne and Joseph were enjoying the warm spring day in the front garden of the boarding
house. Anne could not get her cousin‟s words out of her head.
“Miss Anne, you seem distracted. What‟s troubling your pretty little head?”
“Mr. Bear, you know that I don‟t appreciate you brushing off my concerns as trivial.”
“Miss Anne, that‟s not what I meant…”
“Oh please, you think that my worries are petty just because I‟m a woman.”
“What suffragette did you hear speak today?”
“Why do you assume that is the reason…”
“Because you always come back from those rallies in a mood.”
Anne seethed. “How dare you! Those rallies have been enlightening! But of course, as
a man, you‟ve always been handed everything on a silver platter.”
“That‟s not fair.”
“What‟s not fair is how women are treated as second-class citizens in Simerica. The
Constitution lumps us in with slaves, lunatics, and children! We can‟t hold most jobs,
and get paid less than half of what a man does. It‟s barbaric.”
“Anne,” said Joseph when she paused for a breath. “I didn‟t come here to fight with you.
You looked like you were bothered by something, and I merely inquired about it.”
Anne sighed. “You‟re right; I‟m sorry for being quarrelsome. Wendy and I did go to see
Mrs. Simthony speak, and Wendy wasn‟t impressed.”
“Not everyone was cut out to be a suffragette.”
“I‟m beginning to see that,” muttered Anne.
“Now, I did have a reason for calling today. Miss Anne, you must know that I care for you
a great deal…”
“Oh, Joseph, please don‟t,” she said, getting up from the bench.
“But Anne, I thought that you cared about me.”
“I do,” she whispered. “But I want to be my own person. If I become your wife, that will
become my sole identity. I‟ll not become someone‟s property.”
“Anne, please wait,” cried Joseph. She paused and turned to face him, and he brought
his hand up to caress her cheek.
“Do you truly believe,” he said, “that I would treat you as my property?”
“No „buts.‟ I want us to marry because I cannot imagine a better woman to stand by my
side. And if you want to keep campaigning for suffrage, you can. I wouldn‟t change a
thing about you.”
“You really mean that?” asked Anne.
“You know that I do,” he replied. “Now, as I was saying…”
“Joseph, what are you doing?”
“Asking you to be my wife, of course.”
“Will you Anne? Nothing would make me happier.”
“Oh Joseph, of course I will!” she cried.
Joseph slipped the ring onto Anne‟s finger, and she held it up to the sunlight.
“It‟s so pretty,” she muttered.
“So, how does it feel to be engaged?”
Throwing decorum to the wind, Anne jumped into Joseph‟s arms. He began to laugh and
spin her around.
“We‟ll get married right after you graduate, if that‟s okay with you,” he said.
“And I‟ll ask the minister if he can omit the word “obey” from our vows.”
“Oh, Joseph,” she sighed, pulling back and planting a kiss on him.
“Oh, who cares? I want everyone to know how happy I am right now!”
After Joseph left, Anne wandered back inside, a giddy grin still plastered on her face.
“What happened to you?” asked Wendy.
“Anne, that‟s wonderful!” cried Wendy, putting her arms around her cousin.
“He‟s perfect for me, Wendy. He‟s going to let me keep up my suffrage work, and he
won‟t make me vow to obey him when we get married.”
“He is perfect for you. Let me see the ring!”
Anne put her hand out and Wendy took it for a closer look.
“Very nice. If this is they type of betrothal ring you get, imagine the house that you‟ll live
“I would be happy in a cave if Joseph were there.”
“That would be horribly drafty, I‟m afraid. Come on, let‟s go show your sister.”
News of Anne and Diana‟s engagements spread quickly in the Bradford clan. Before
long, they were graduating, and Henrietta and Matthew were getting to leave for school.
“Henri, do you have to go?” asked Phily.
“I do, sweetie. I want to go to school, and learn, and meet many eligible young men.”
“But you‟ll be so far away, and then you‟ll get married.”
“Not everyone gets married, Phily. I don‟t intend to do so right away.”
“Phily,” called Carolina, “It‟s time for you and Alexander to go to bed. Say goodnight to
your sister; she‟ll be gone before you get up in the morning.”
Henrietta leaned down and kissed her sister.
“Sweet dreams, pumpkin. I‟ll be home for Anne and Diana‟s weddings, for your birthday
party, and then you‟ll have to come visit me at school.”
“Promise. Sisters are forever.”
Phily walked out of the parlor, and Alexander walked in.
“I suppose you want a hug?” joked Henrietta.
“A big one.”
Henrietta hugged her baby brother tight. “I‟m going to miss you, squirt.”
“I‟m not a squirt!”
“Yes, you are. Now go say goodnight and goodbye to Matthew, and get up to bed before
Mama scolds you.”
Before retiring, Phily wend to say goodnight and goodbye to her brother. She found him
in the billiards room.
“What do you want?” he demanded when he saw his youngest sister.
“I…I wanted to say goodbye. Mama says that you will be leaving very early tomorrow.”
“Goodbye, then. Weren't you told it was time for bed?”
“Yes,” she answered in a small voice. “Goodbye, Matthew.” She then turned and
hurried up the stairs so that her brother wouldn‟t see the tears forming in her eyes.
Alexander wandered into the billiards room a few moments later.
“Matthew, I need to go to bed but I wanted to say goodbye to you first.”
“Damn it!” exclaimed Matthew.
Alexander gasped at his brother‟s language.
“You made me miss my shot,” the heir complained.
“I‟m sorry, Matthew,” Alexander said, as he went to give his brother a hug.
“What are you doing?” demanded Matthew, stepping away from the boy‟s approach.
“I just want to give you a hug…”
“You‟re practically an adult, Alexander. It‟s time you started acting like one. Now do as
you were told, and get to bed. I want to try and salvage this game.”
Alexander‟s face fell. He had upset his brother by ruining his billiards game, and then
by trying to hug him in apology. Sniffing back tears he knew he would be chastised for,
he slunk off to his room where Alexander proceeded to cry himself to sleep.
It was an early morning for Henrietta, Matthew, Carolina and Thomas the next day.
“Take care of yourself at school, darling,” said Carolina.
“I will, Mama. I promise.”
Thomas hugged his daughter tight as well.
“Behave yourself. Your sisters have set an excellent example for you in both their
behavior and by finding excellent matches. I trust that you will do the same.
“Of course Papa,” she replied, glad that her father could not see the reluctance on her
face when it came to the idea of settling down.
“My little boy,” muttered Carolina as she hugged Matthew tight. “I cannot believe that
you are almost grown up.”
“Oh, indulge an old lady for a moment. Now, study hard, be sure to get yourself
inducted into the fraternity your grandfather started, and find a nice girl to marry.”
“My boy, my boy. I am so proud of you. I am certain that your years at University will be
as wonderful as mine were.”
“Thank you, Papa. I will be certain to do the Bradford name proud.”
“I have no doubts in you, son.”
As Thomas and Carolina were watching, Matthew felt the need to give his sister a
“Should you need anything, feel free to call on me as I am closer than Mama and Papa.”
“Thank you, Matthew. I‟ll remember that.”
“We should get going to the station; we don‟t want to miss your train,” commented
“And you‟ll be back in short order for your sisters‟ weddings,” reminded Carolina.
“Very well. After you, sister,” said Matthew as he held the door like a proper gentleman.
Anne was the first of the fourth generation to marry. She wanted a large wedding with all
of her extended family there, her Aunt Eliza and Uncle Patrick included.
Anne couldn‟t help but smile as she looked into the eyes of the man who would shortly
be her husband.
“You look breathtaking, Anne,” Joseph whispered, as he took her hands in his.
“Thank you,” she replied in a voice just as soft.
The minister cleared his throat, and the pair turned their attention to him as the
Anne and Joseph spoke their vows and promised to love and cherish each other for
better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health for the rest of their days.
After they shared their first kiss as husband and wife, Anne looked at her husband.
“What are you thinking about, Mrs. Bear?” he asked.
“About how lovely it is to be „Mrs. Bear,‟” she replied saucily.
Joseph laughed. “I knew you would feel that way. Come, my beautiful wife; we have a
celebration to get to.”
The party that followed the wedding was filled with fine food and good music, but the
highlight of the soiree was when Joseph and Anne danced together.
Anne‟s wedding was a smashing success. The family departed to prepare for Diana‟s
wedding the next day. Anne and Joseph continued to dance long into the evening after
their guests had left.
In contrast, Diana‟s wedding to Lee Pasang was a small, intimate family affair.
Only her parents and her sister and new brother-in-law were in attendance.
This bride and groom exchanged traditional wedding vows, and unlike Anne, Diana
promised to love, honor, and obey her husband. Anne had inwardly cringed at the use of
the word “obey,” but she held her tongue. Anne and Diana had always had their
differences, and it seemed they would continue to do so.
Diana had also waited until she and Lee were officially man and wife before they shared
their first kiss.
Though her wedding was small, Diana had insisted upon the traditional festivities of
music and dancing. All in all, she was pleased with her intimate family gathering, and
was looking forward to beginning her life as Mrs. Lee Pasang.
“I still don‟t see why I wasn‟t invited to Diana‟s wedding,” sulked Phily a few weeks later.
“Dear, I‟ve told you many times; it was a very small affair.”
“Still, I‟m her sister.”
“Diana will be here for your birthday party tonight. Perhaps you can ask her about it
“I will do just that.”
Alexander winked at his mother, and looked at his twin with an impish grin.
“But I thought you didn‟t want to get married, Phily.”
“I don‟t. Henrietta even says that I don‟t have to if I don‟t want to. But that doesn‟t
mean that I can‟t partake of the celebrations when my friends and families do so.”
“Enough. Alexander, stop egging your sister on. Philomena, all young women get
married. If you cannot find a suitable match during your time at Mrs. Seymour‟s, your
father will help to find you a husband.”
“Yes, Mama,” sighed Phily.
Henrietta and Matthew had come home for the celebration, and Anne and Diana had
left their husbands to their own devices for the evening.
The youngest Bradford children leaned forward to make their wishes. Alexander hoped
that his family, especially Matthew, would stop treating him like a child. Phily wished that
she wouldn‟t have to get married as everyone kept saying that she would.
Alexander and Philomena continued the family tradition of good looks. Alexander
decided that his friends were the most important thing, as his Grandpa Elias had. He felt
the town was lacking in the journalism department, and he hoped to fill that gap when he
Phily, on the other hand, followed in her Grandma Uma‟s footsteps and wanted to learn
all she could about everything. She hoped that she would be able to pass the
examinations to become a teacher.
As the party was winding down, Matthew asked his father for a word in the study.
“I hope that you are settling into school well, son.”
“Very much so. I have made many friends in the fraternity, and am expecting a bid to
join any day now.”
“Marvelous. Now, you said that you had something that you needed to speak with me
about. What‟s on your mind?”
“It‟s not about me; it‟s about Henrietta. I‟m concerned about her behavior at Mrs.
“She is getting good marks, Matthew.”
“It‟s not her grades, Papa. It‟s her…extracurricular activities.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Papa, you know that Henrietta has always been a bit of a flirt, but things have gone too far.
She’s stringing along at least a half a dozen beaus, and is developing a horrible reputation.”
Thomas‟ face fell.
“I know it‟s hard to hear, Papa, but I thought you should know.”
“Thank you, Matthew. I know this can‟t have been an easy conversation to have. I shall
have to speak with her at once.”
“Perhaps I should speak with her, Papa? She is my twin sister, and may react to me
“Thank you, son. I would not know where to start with her.”
The two men chatted for a few more minutes until Matthew rose to leave.
Just what I wanted, he thought. Papa knows about Henrietta’s flirtations, and I get to
“speak” with her about it. This will play into my plans perfectly.
In the Simsfield Village school, the older students had stayed late to take a practice
University entrance exam. Several of the girls had participated as well, despite Mrs.
Seymour‟s not requiring it for admission.
“All right, children. Time is up. Please pass your papers forward.”
As the tests were passed forward, the classroom filled with idle chatter. The only two
students who remained silent were Robert and Matilda.
The two teenagers spent most of their schooldays trying to watch each other without
being noticed. Matilda was still forbidden to speak to Robert, and was forced to suffer
many dinners and evenings with Sullivan Pratt. Robert had been trying to come up with
a good way let Matilda know that he had a plan for them to be together, but he knew that
any words between them other than the most basic pleasantries would be reported back
to her parents, and make life for her impossible.
Once all of the tests had arrived on the teacher‟s desk, he rose.
“I will have the results for you by the end of the week, although I doubt any of you need
to worry. Now, you can take your leave. I‟ll see you in the morning.”
The classroom was quickly overtaken by the sounds of chairs scraping on the floor and
excited students pouring out into the warm afternoon.
Matilda was the only student who didn‟t go rushing off towards home. Sullivan was
supposed to come over for dinner again, and she was in no hurry to take part in that.
Matilda was so busy brooding that she didn‟t notice Phily come around the corner.
“Do you mind if I sit down?” she asked.
Matilda shrugged. “I suppose not.”
The two sat in silence for a while until Phily spoke.
“You‟ve been awful distracted lately, Matilda. What‟s bothering you?”
“Nothing I care to talk about.”
“Does it have something to do with my cousin Robert? Because I know he‟s been acting
strange too. I was thinking of asking him about it at Amelia‟s birthday party tonight.”
Matilda hesitated. Perhaps Phily could be the go-between that she and Robert had been
“I‟m in love with Robert, and my parents are forcing me to marry one of Father‟s
Phily gasped. “But that‟s horrible! How can they do that to you?”
Matilda shook her head. “It‟s a business arrangement to help Father.”
“This is why I never want to get married,” Phily muttered. “But back to your problem.
What are you going to do?”
Matilda looked around before answering the question. She lowered her voice, and
replied, “We‟re trying to figure out a way to run away together, but I can‟t coordinate with
him since we‟re not supposed to talk.”
“When do you want to do it? I‟ll tell him.”
“You would do that for me?” asked Matilda.
“Of course I would. I‟ll tell him at the party tonight. When are you going to do it?”
“After I finish up at Mrs. Seymour‟s. I don‟t even think he knows that I was accepted.”
Phily smiled. “So the plan is for both of you to finish up school and elope right after?”
Matilda nodded. “I know it‟s not a great plan…”
“It‟s perfect. I‟ll let him know to night. Maybe then both of you can stop acting so glum.”
“Thank you so much, Phily,” said Matilda as she hugged Phily.
“It‟s nothing. I love a good intrigue.”
Matilda sighed. “I suppose I should go home and enjoy another dinner with my
“Don‟t worry; I‟ll talk to Robert tonight and give you an update at lunch tomorrow.”
“Up, Mama!” ordered Amelia.
“Yes, dear,” Eliza replied as she knelt down to pick up her daughter.
“And how are my two favorite women doing?” asked George as he came into the room.
“I didn‟t hear you come home.”
“I closed the store up a little early so I could be home to help you prepare.”
“Thank you. Can you go into the parlor and help the boys move the furniture around?
Everyone should be here shortly.”
“Of course, my love,” George answered as he headed downstairs.
Eliza looked at her daughter for a moment before hugging her close.
“My baby‟s growing up so fast,” she murmured.
“Mama, I love you,” cooed the little girl.
“And I love you too, precious.” Eliza sighed. “I suppose we can‟t put this off any longer.
Let‟s go grow you up.”
With the family all there, it was time for Amelia's birthday party to begin.
“Why don‟t you do the honors?” Eliza asked George.
“Really?” he asked.
“Of course, darling.”
Mercy had made one of her famous birthday cakes, and George helped his daughter
blow out her candles. Everyone cheered when she blew them out on her first try.
While Amelia had all of Eliza‟s coloring, it was obvious that she was George‟s
daughter. And she was fast becoming daddy‟s little girl.
As the rest of the family ate, drank, and were merry, Robert snuck off to the study.
Phily waited a few moments, and then followed him.
“What are you reading?” she asked.
“One of my father‟s books,” he replied. “What do you want?”
She took a few steps closer and lowered her voice. “I have a message for you from
Matilda. Is there somewhere we can talk?”
“Outside,” he replied, jumping up. “I‟ll go grab our coats.”
“What did she tell you? Is she all right? Are her parents still planning on forcing her to
marry that rouge? Is she going to Mrs. Seymour‟s? Is there any chance…”
“Will you stop for a moment?” interrupted Phily.
“Sorry. I‟m just anxious.”
“I know you are. Matilda is too.”
Robert drew a deep breath. “What did she want you to tell me?”
“She‟ll be leaving for Mrs. Seymour‟s about the same time that you leave for
“Her parents are letting her go?”
Phily nodded. “And she still cares about you. A lot. She has a plan; she wants to run
away with you and get married as soon as you both finish up school.”
Robert suppressed a laugh. “That‟s the exact same plan that I had.”
“I suppose that great minds think alike.”
“We‟re really going to do this,” he said. “We‟re really going to be able to be together.”
Phily nodded. “But you need to be careful. Her parents…well, you know how they are.”
“Why are you doing this, Phily? You‟ve never been one to meddle in others‟ affairs.”
“It‟s not right, them forcing her to get married like that. I don’t like to meddle, but I had to
help her. And you.”
“Thank you, Phily. Thank you so much.”
“It‟s nothing. Shall I tell Matilda that you are agreeable to her plan?”
“Please. We‟ll never be able to repay you for this.”
“Just invite me to the wedding,” she joked. “We‟d best be getting back inside before
anyone notices our absence.”
Matthew Bradford surveyed the room he had occupied at the Landgraab Residence hall
for, he hoped, the last time.
It was well apportioned, but very small.
“Thank goodness that I have finally been accepted into the Bradford Society. I‟ll finally
have a proper room to myself.”
Matthew wandered back into the upstairs hallway, where he found his cousin Cole
banging away on the typewriter.
“Cole, have you heard the good news? I have been accepted into the Bradford Society.”
“Congratulations! I suppose this means that you‟ll be moving to the fraternity house
“As quickly as I can. In fact, that‟s what I wanted to talk to you about. How would you
feel about joining me?”
“Really? But I‟m not even a member yet.”
Matthew made a dismissive gesture. “My grandfather founded the fraternity. There‟s
no reason that I can‟t invite one of my friends to join. You‟ll probably have to wait until
the end of next semester to move in, but you can enjoy all the other privileges of
“I‟m not sure…”
“Please Cole? I know most of the members, but it would be nice to have a close
friends in the house.”
“All right. I‟ll stop by at the end of the week after you‟ve moved to find out what I need
to do to join.”
“Splendid! I can hardly wait.”
True to his word, Cole stopped by the fraternity house to see about joining.
“I‟m so glad you came,” said Matthew. “Please, feel free to make yourself at home.”
“Thank you, Matthew. Now, what must be done about me joining?”
“Well, there is a pledge period, of course. And during that time, you must write a
reference paper for the archives. Right now, we are lacking papers on classic Greek
dramas and their role in Shakespeare‟s works.”
“I know something about that. I had to write about it for one of my classes sophomore
“Wonderful. But of course, you have to write a new version. We can‟t have the
professors accusing us of plagiarism, can we?”
“Of course not. Can I use the typewriter? I think it might be easier to read if I type it.”
“Go ahead. You have until just before the end of term to finish it.”
“I‟ll get started straight away.”
So Cole spent what was to be the first of many hours working on his “paper for the
fraternity archives.” He was a bit of a perfectionist, so the end result was a wonderful
piece of work.
As Cole pounded away at the keys, Matthew grinned.
Perfect. Just perfect. Since I can’t get Henrietta to do my schoolwork any longer, I’ll
have the pledges do it for me. I’ll look like a hero for increasing membership so
drastically, and I’ll never have to write another paper again.
End of term came, and Cole was now a full-fledged member of the fraternity. Matthew
was glad to have a friend in the house.
His next order of business regarded his sister, Henrietta. The papers the pledges were
writing had only gotten him so far in his classes. He had another idea on a way to boost
his grades. Henrietta, Thomas, and a special guest were coming over for dinner, which
would set the first part of his plan into motion.
“It‟s so nice of you to invite me to dinner with you and Papa, Matthew.”
“What can I say? I missed my big sister,” he replied. “I will confess to having a ulterior
“What is that, son?” asked Thomas.
“I invited one of my professors over for dinner as well, and I felt the conversation would
be helped along by a lady‟s presence.”
A knock at the door sounded.
“That will be him. Henrietta, would you mind serving dinner?”
The three Bradfords and Professor Leonid Hutchins sat down for dinner. Professor
Hutchins was obviously very impressed with Henrietta. He could hardly take his eyes off
her the entire meal.
“What do you teach, Professor?” asked Thomas.
“I am part of the theater department. I specialize in classical drama.”
“My father was an actor for a time; perhaps you have heard of him?”
“Yes, Elias Bradford‟s work is well-known to myself and my colleagues. I did not have
the pleasure of seeing him perform in person.”
Matthew smiled as the conversation moved along. He noticed how his professor stared
at his sister. This is going to be too easy. I’ll be getting the best marks in class in no
time if I can get her to agree to marry him. I just need to convince Papa, and everything
will fall into place.
Henrietta too had noticed that the professor spoke to everyone but had eyes only for her.
She had never before been adverse to the attention of men, but this was different
somehow. She focused her attention on her meal and participated only in the
conversation as required.
Thomas watched the entire scene playing out before his eyes. It was obvious that the
professor had intentions towards his daughter, and wondered if he was one of the many
beaus that Matthew had told of.
He sighed inwardly. If Henrietta had decided to settle down, why couldn‟t it be with
someone closer to her own age?
“Thank you again for a lovely meal. Did you prepare it, Miss Bradford?”
“No, I did not. I find that I am quite the disaster in the kitchen.”
“My sister is just being modest. She‟s actually quite the baker and makes lovely pies.”
“I should like to try one sometime. Now, I must take my leave. I shall see you in class
As Henrietta tidied up from dinner, Thomas and Matthew relaxed in the parlor.
“Matthew, you are plotting something, I think.”
“You‟ve caught me, Papa. I am.”
“Well, out with it.”
Matthew drew a breath. “I tried to speak with her about her behavior, but she wouldn‟t
hear me. I haven‟t heard that she‟s been acting wantonly, but I imagine that she‟s
learned to be a bit more discreet. Rather than try to change her ways, I thought to
introduce her to a more suitable match.”
“Would one of your classmates not be a more suitable option? Professor Hutchins is a
good man, but he‟s closer to my age than yours.”
Matthew pretended to think for a moment. “I had thought about that, Papa.
Unfortunately, many of my classmates have heard about her exploits. Their families
would object to the match. Professor Hutchins is a lonely man since his wife died some
time ago, and he has no family. He is well off, has a fine house and would provide her a
good home.” And he would look on his future brother-in-law favorable when grading, he
“I am still not sure, Matthew…”
“Papa, she has little hope of a better match after the way she has acted. It‟s really the
best option for the entire family. If you present it to her that way, I‟m sure she‟ll see
reason. She does so hate to be a disappointment.”
Thomas was silent for a long time, lost in thought. “Professor Hutchins is agreeable to
Matthew nodded. “If you are as well, I can speak to him tomorrow after class.”
Thomas sighed, and nodded. “I‟ll speak to your sister when I get her back to Mrs.
“Papa, I‟m ready to go whenever you are,” called Henrietta.
“Yes, dear. I‟ll be ready in just a moment,” replied Thomas as he rose from the sofa.
“I know this isn‟t easy for you, Papa. But trust me; it is what best for everyone.”
“I know that you have the best interests of the family at heart, son. Take care,” he said
as he embraced Matthew.
“I will, Papa. I will see you soon, I am certain.”
Thomas and Henrietta sat down for a cup of tea when the returned to Mrs. Seymour‟s.
“How did you enjoy dinner tonight?” he asked.
“It was good to spend some time with my brother again,” she replied.
“And what did you think of Professor Hutchins?”
“He seems to be an agreeable person. Why?”
“He has asked for your hand in marriage.”
Henrietta looked at her father with a confused face.
“But why?” she asked. “He‟s never met me before tonight.”
“I suppose that your brother speaks of you often. It would be a good match for you,
“He‟s so old, Papa. Would you really have me take such a man as my husband?”
Thomas thought for a moment before he spoke.
“Sweetheart, I know about how you‟ve been acting with young men while you‟ve been
“Papa, I can explain…”
“No, dear. I think the time for explanations has passed. We must look at the situation
with practical eyes. The way you have behaved has turned off other potential suitors. I
think you should take the offer. You many not get another one that will be acceptable.”
Henrietta cast her eyes down, and let her shoulders slump in an unladylike fashion.
“If you think I should, Papa. I don‟t want to bring shame onto the family.”
“That‟s a good girl.”
She rose from her chair, and then choked back a sudden sob. Thomas rushed to put his
arm around his daughter.
“Now, now sweetheart. It won‟t be so bad. He‟s a good man, with a modest fortune and
a fine house. You‟ll be well taken care of.”
“I know, Papa. I just wish…I‟m sorry that I‟ve behaved in a way that caused you to
arrange my marriage.”
“All is well that ends well, Henrietta. You will see. And you can brag to your brother
about getting engaged before he did.”
Thomas hugged his daughter goodbye. “I‟ll have you mother call soon so you can get to
work on your trousseau.”
“Thank you, Papa. Have a safe trip home.”
“I will. Goodbye, sweetheart.”
“Goodbye, Papa,” she replied.
Thomas kissed her forehead, trying to avoid the defeated look on her face. He couldn‟t
help but wonder if he was doing the right thing in encouraging his daughter‟s marriage to
a man she hardly knew.
Later that week, Henrietta had received a note from Professor Hutchins asking for
permission to call. She replied in the affirmative, and was waiting in the dining room for
She looked up when the house chaperone announced that her guest was there.
“Professor, it is good to see you again.”
“It is good to see you as well, Miss Bradford. May I sit down?”
“Please,” she replied, gesturing with her hand. “May I offer you some coffee?”
“That would be lovely.”
Henrietta fidgeted as they made small talk.
“I must say, Miss Bradford, that you are as lovely as your brother described you to be.”
“Thank you, Professor. I…do enjoy passing time with you as well.”
“Miss Bradford, may I speak plainly. I spoke with your brother after our dinner, and he
said he would speak with your father. I think it would be most advantageous for both of
us if we were to be married.”
“My father and I have spoken about the matter, yes.”
“And what is your reply to my proposal?”
Can I really do this? she thought. Marry a man I have no feelings for whatsoever to save
my reputation and that of my family?
She looked at the professor. Her father had assured he that he was a good man. And
he was old. Perhaps he wouldn‟t be her husband for long, and then she would be left to
her own devices.
“Professor, I accept your proposal. I would be most honored to be your wife.”
“Excellent. I expect that we can marry shortly after your completion of your studies?”
Henrietta nodded, not trusting her voice.
“As we are officially affianced, you should have this,” he said, placing a diamond ring on
“Thank you,” she said in a small voice.
“You are welcome. Now, please excuse me. I must be getting back, as I have a early
class tomorrow to prepare for. Good day.”
“Good day, Professor.”
After the Professor departed, Henrietta‟s stomach began to feel funny, and she felt hot
and cold all at once. She hugged herself tight, willing the ill feelings to go away. They
The diamond on her left hand suddenly felt as if it weighed a ton, and her left arm slipped
down to rest on her hip.
What have I done? she asked herself. What have I done?
Before long, Cole was graduating and preparing to move back to Portsimouth.
“I can‟t believe that you‟re abandoning me here with all these underclassmen,”
“Please,” snorted Cole. “You have a field day lording over all of them.”
“I supposed I can‟t argue with that.”
“What are you going to do with yourself?”
Matthew shrugged. “Lord over my minions, as you would say. Keep my grades up. And
I suppose I should get started on the task of finding a suitable wife.”
“Ah, a wife,” sighed Cole. “It is a wonderful thing to find a good woman.”
“Unfortunately for the rest of us, there is only one Miss Katerina Bear.”
“You know, Matthew, one of my father‟s colleagues has a daughter that might suit you.”
“Oh? What is she like?”
“It has a been a few years since we last met, but I remember her to be a polite, serious,
and fastidious lady.”
“And her looks?”
“Fair of skin, blue eyes, and shockingly red hair like your mother‟s was.”
Matthew contemplated for a moment.
“And you say she is from a good family?”
“Then perhaps you can arrange for an introduction?”
So a few afternoons before Cole departed from university, Cole arranged for Jan
Danaher to visit. Matthew was quite pleased with what he saw, and the pair quickly
settled into the parlor for a long chat. Cole sat at the chess table, discreetly playing
“Miss Danaher, I must say that I am most pleased to make your acquaintance. My
cousin tells me that you have been attending Mrs. Seymour‟s?”
“Yes, I have been there for three years now. I am enjoying it very much.”
“I am surprised that my sister did not mention you – she is a student there as well.”
Jan sniffed. “Your sister and I do not run in the same circles.”
“Of course not,” agreed Matthew. “You are in a different class from my sister.”
“I will admit that I was a bit reluctant to meet you, Mr. Bradford, knowing how your sister
conducts herself. But you are quite the revelation.”
“May I inquire as to your meaning?”
Jan looked Matthew up and down. “As you must know, your sister‟s behavior lead me to
make certain assumptions about her family. But it is obvious that you are a gentleman
with the best of intentions.”
“Thank you, Miss Danaher. I am pleased that I have exceeded your expectations.”
“You are most welcome, Mr. Bradford.”
“Miss Danaher, may I speak plainly? My family is one of the oldest and most respected
in Simsfield. I have a responsibility to marry and continue the family line. I have spent
much time these past years devoted to my studies, and none to fining a suitable wife.
My time here at university grows short. I believe that you and would be well-suited to
each other. What are your thoughts on the matter?”
Jan contemplated for a moment before answering.
“I believe that the match would be most beneficial for me as well. Your family is well-
known, and it is quite clear that you will be able to provide for a family. I believe my
parents would be pleased.”
Matthew smiled. “I shall call on your father, then, and receive his blessing.”
Jan rose from the sofa.
“I must be going; my escort will be here any moment.”
“Thank you for calling today, Miss Danaher. I look forward to seeing more of you in the
days to come.”
“And I you, Mr. Bradford. Please call upon my father soon – I believe he will be very
eager for an alliance between our families.”
“I will do so without delay. Good day, Miss Danaher.”
After walking Jan to the door, Matthew returned to the parlor with a smile on his face.
“What did I tell you?” stated Cole from the chess table.
“She is perfect for me,” agreed Matthew. “I owe you one.”
“Stand up for me at my wedding, and we‟ll call it even.”
“Deal. Now, excuse me. I have an early morning class tomorrow.”
I do believe that everything is going near-perfectly. My sister’s fiancé is getting me good
grades in class, I will be president of the fraternity before long, and I have found a
suitable wife. All is going according to plan.
Back in Simsfield, Amelia McCarthy had just arrived home from school.
“Robert, do you know where Papa is?”
“I believe he‟s still at the store. Why? Do you need something?”
Amelia sighed. “I have so much arithmetic homework, and I need someone to help me
“I can help if you want.”
“Would you? Teacher gave us twenty problems to do before tomorrow.”
“Come on; we‟ll use the study.”
Amelia sat down at the desk with her slate, and Robert looked over the math problems.
“This isn‟t so bad. It‟s all your times tables, Amelia. We‟ll be finished in time for dinner.
Now, what is two times three?”
“Very good. See, you know this. Now, what‟s the next problem?”
Brother and sister worked out all the multiplication problems together, and finished just
as Eliza was calling the family to dinner.
“Thank you so much, Robert. It would have taken me all night to do it by myself,” said
Amelia, hugging Robert.
“What else are big brothers for?” he asked. “Come on. We don‟t want Mama to scold us
for being late to dinner.”
“Robert, would you read me a story tonight before I go to bed?”
True to his word, Robert read his little sister to sleep that night. When he heard her soft
snores, he softly closed the book and placed it on her bedside table. Pulling the covers
up around her, he placed a kiss on her forehead.
“Sweet dreams,” he whispered.
“Miss Eliza, you didn‟t have to go through all this trouble for me,” admonished Mercy.‟
“Nonsense. Who made sure that my boys always had a cake for their birthdays? Now,
blow out your candles and make a wish.”
“Yes, Mercy,” encouraged Lawrence.
“Wish for something good,” said Robert.
“All right, all right,” Mercy said as she leaned forward to blow out her candles.
Other than her hair turning white, Mercy‟s appearance really didn‟t change much. It did
take her a little longer to complete the daily household tasks, and George and Eliza were
contemplating hiring a maid to assist her.
“None of that nonsense,” insisted Mercy. “I can still do everything I used to.”
A few weeks later, George awoke on the morning of his birthday. He was still in awe of
the fact that he had won Eliza over after all those years, and that she was the mother of
Eliza snuggled up to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “What are you thinking
about?” she asked.
“I‟m a lucky man. I have a wonderful wife, a beautiful little girl, and a good home.”
“Don‟t forget about your two sons.” George opened his mouth to protest, but Eliza
shushed him. “They both look at you as their father, whether or not they‟ll admit it.”
“And two great sons,” he agreed.
“What do you think of your cake, Papa?” asked Amelia.
“It has far too many candles,” he stated, as he wondered how he would blow all them
“Now dear,” chided Eliza. “Be a good boy and blow out your candles so we can enjoy
“See if you‟re so gracious when it‟s your turn, love,” he muttered, leaning forward and
taking a deep breath.
A few hours later, after most of the house had gone to bed, George wandered into the
parlor. There, he found Robert playing the piano.
“You‟ve gotten quite good at that, Robert.”
“Thank you,” the youth replied. “Am I keeping you awake? I can stop.”
“No, you weren‟t keeping me up, but I would like to talk with you, if you don‟t mind.”
“Of course not.”
“Robert, I‟ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I‟m not getting any younger, and I need
to think about what will happen to the store when I decide to stop working. I‟ve thought
about this for a long time, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion.”
George paused before continuing.
“I would like to know if you would be willing to take over the store when I retire.”
“Me?” asked Robert, gesturing to himself. “But why?”
“Robert, I know that you are not my son, but I can‟t help but see you that way. Your
brother has no interest in business, and I know that you do.”
“Amelia is a girl, and the business would pass to her husband upon her marriage. I
would rather it stay with one of my children.”
Robert thought for a moment. “I would be honored to take over the store, Papa.”
George did a double take. “Robert, you don‟t…”
“But I do,” he interrupted. “You‟ve treated me as your son the entire time I‟ve known you.
I would be proud to be the next proprietor of McCarthy‟s General Store.”
“Thank you,” George said. “This is a huge weight off my mind. Besides, I think it will be
good for you to have this to fall back on if Timothy gets as angry as I believe he will when
you elope with his daughter.”
“Won‟t he just boycott the store and have his friends do the same?”
“Yes. But your mother has other friends who will start to frequent it just to spite him.”
“Papa, you‟re home!” cried Andrew, running out to meet Patrick.
“Yes, I am,” said Patrick as he leaned over to give his son a hug.
“Help me with my schoolwork. Please? Mama says I can‟t have my birthday cake until
“Then off to the library we go. Lead the way.”
“It‟s so hard, Papa.”
“Andrew, you‟re not going to make it go any faster by complaining. Now, what is the next
“Who was the first President of Simerica? Papa, I don‟t know.”
“Andrew, you know the answer to this question. Stop being difficult.”
Eventually, Andrew finished his homework, and Margaret brought his birthday cake into
“Why can‟t I have a birthday party, Mama?”
“Because it‟s a school night, Andrew. We went over this. Now, you were making a
nuisance of yourself this afternoon asking for cake. As soon as you blow out your
candles, you can have as much cake as you want.”
Andrew sucked in big breath, and blew out all his candles at once.
“Did you make a wish?” asked Margaret.
“I was supposed to make a wish? Can we light the candles so I can blow them out
“No!” answered his parents at the same time.
Later that night, after the cake had been eaten and the mess cleaned up, Margaret and
Patrick escaped to the sanctity of their room.
“He is so difficult sometimes,” complained Patrick.
Margaret looked at her husband and raised an eyebrow.
“This is my retribution for my behavior is a teenager, isn‟t it?”
Margaret just smiled, and turned to get ready for bed.
Andrew was quite a dashing young man. He was a fortune minded young man, who
wanted nothing more than to become a great architect.
“Very good, Andrew,” commented Margaret as she listened to her son play the piano.
“Thank you, Mama,” he replied. “Can I go play ball with my friends now?”
“Yes, you may. Be home in time for dinner.”
Andrew practically ran out of the house.
“He‟ll be gone for a few hours,” commented Margaret. “We have the house to ourselves
for a few hours. Whatever shall we do?”
“I don‟t know,” replied Patrick.
“I‟m sure we can think of a few ways to pass the time,” he muttered.
Before long, it was time for Eliza‟s birthday. The boys insisted on inviting their uncles
Thomas and Patrick, and their families to the occasion.
“Mercy, you have really outdone yourself with this cake.”
Mercy scoffed. “There won‟t be any to enjoy if you don‟t blow out those candles soon.
Won‟t be anything but wax to eat.”
“Yes, yes. I‟ll blow them out straight away,” Eliza said, pausing to think about what she
wanted to wish for.
Happiness. I wish that my family will always know the happiness that I feel today.
After the guests had left, Eliza studied herself in the mirror.
When did I get so old? she wondered. Goodness, my hair is as white as snow, and my
face covered in wrinkles.
“What are you doing, dear?” asked George coming into the room.
“I‟m old, George,” she sighed.
“So am I,” he replied. “And I think that you look even more beautiful now than you did on
the day we met.”
“You‟re just saying that,” she dismissed.
“No, I‟m not,” he said, caressing her face. “This face is just as precious to me, if not
more, than it was when we were young.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“Come, let‟s get to bed. We have to get up early to see the boys off to University.”
“Do you have to go?” whined Amelia.
“Yes, Amelia, we do,” replied Robert. “I have to learn all I can about business so I can
take over Papa‟s store, and Lawrence here is a bookworm who wants to learn all about
“But I want you to stay here.”
“Now Amelia, we‟ve been over this before. Four years isn‟t such a long time; we‟ll be
back before you know it, and there will be lots of visits.”
“I‟m going to miss you,” she said, her lower lip trembling and eyes bright with tears.
Lawrence rose and gave his little sister a kiss.
“We‟ll see you soon,” he said.
Robert gathered Amelia in his arms. “It really won‟t be so bad, sweet pea. We‟ll come
back and visit lots, and maybe you, Mama, and Papa can come visit us.”
“Good,” she said, releasing herself from her brother‟s hug.
Mercy wandered into the parlor.
“Hard to believe that my boys are old enough to be going off to college,” she marveled.
“Seems like just yesterday I was changing your nappies. Your father would be very
proud of you right now.”
Both boys gave their surrogate mother a hug.
“I‟d wish you luck,” she said, “But you don‟t need it. You both will work hard, and do your
mother proud. Mr. George too.”
“Best of luck to you,” said George to Lawrence. “I know that I don‟t need to tell you to
study. I‟d be better off telling you to put down your books every now and then.”
“I promise to get out of the library once and a while,” joked Lawrence.
“My little boy,” sighed Eliza as she hugged her son. “When did you become a man?”
“I am your mother; it is my right to fuss and sigh over you.”
“Robert,” said Eliza, shaking her head, “I hardly know what to say.”
“I‟ll be fine, Mama. We‟ll be back to visit loads; I promised Amelia.”
George pulled his second son into a hug.
“Best of luck, with school and,” he added, lowering his voice, “With Matilda. Keep me
posted, and let me know if there‟s anything I can do to help.”
“Thank you, Papa,” Robert replied.
Mercy came into the room with suspiciously wet eyes. “Coach is here. You boys better
“Ready?” asked Lawrence.
“Yup,” replied Robert. “Let‟s go; we have a lot to do once we get to University.”
The boys climbed into the coach that took them to the train station for the journey to
The day after Lawrence and Robert‟s departure for University, the Ryan family was
enjoying Matilda‟s last meal at home before she left for Mrs. Seymour‟s.
“Are you certain you have everything you need?” asked Rebecca for the umpteenth time.
“Yes, Mother. My trunks are all set for the carriage in the morning.”
“I still think we should have gotten you that pair of gloves we saw.”
“Mother, I have a dozen pairs already. If I find that I need something, Father has given
me a most generous allowance that will allow me to purchase whatever I wish.”
“Sullivan will be calling on you while you are away,” reminded Timothy. “I expect that you
will behave in a fashion appropriate to a lady of your station.”
“Of course I will, Papa. I will make sure that the house mistress or one of my classmates
is there to chaperone at all times.”
“Good girl,” nodded Timothy in approval. “Much is riding on this alliance, Matilda.”
“I know, Father.”
“And I trust that you will not see that Alcott boy while you are away, Matilda,” reminded
“Mother, I have not spoken more than a polite greeting to him since you told me I could
“Because we have been here to keep tabs on your behavior. Promise me that you will
not seek him out, Matilda.”
Matilda could feel her parents eyes‟ boring into her.
“I promise that I will not seek out Robert while I am at school.”
Matilda focused on chocking down the rest of her dinner.
They can’t have discovered my plan, can they? she wondered. No, it’s probably their
usual intimidation. And I didn’t promise not to see him, just that I wouldn’t seek him out.
I imagine if I spend enough time in the city, our paths will cross at some point. I’ll just
have to find a friend at school that I can trust to help me with my plan.
The next morning dawned, and Matilda decided to pass the time waiting for her carriage
by playing on the piano. As her fingers danced over the keys, she smiled to herself.
Finally, she would escape from confines of her parents. Granted, she was certain that
the house mistress would be giving her parents regular reports, and that her father‟s
acquaintances in the city would be keeping tabs on her as well, it would still be better
than the constant surveillance she was now under.
“Very nice, dear,” commented Rebecca as she came into the room. “You have improved
greatly over the years. I expect that it will improve even further during your time at
“I hope it will as well. I will work hard at my music while I‟m at school.”
“I cam to tell you your carriage has arrived. It‟s time for you to go.”
Matilda rose and did the proper thing by hugging her mother goodbye.
“Take care,” said Rebecca.
“I will,” said Matilda, smiling at the thought of being far away from her mother.
Timothy came into the room. “Your trunks are all taken care of. Time to go.”
“Goodbye, Father,” she said, planting a kiss on his cheek.
“Goodbye, Matilda. Let us know if you need anything.”
“I don‟t understand why you insisted on a walk in the park, Lawrence,” commented
Robert. “We have a ton of work to get to.”
“I thought this might help to clear our heads.”
“It is nice to get outside on a such a lovely spring day.”
“Say, do you see that lady over there? Doesn‟t she look familiar?”
Robert squinted his eyes to get a better look.
“It‟s Matilda!” he exclaimed.
At the sound of her name, the lady looked in their direction. A smile crossed her face as
she recognized the two men.
“Hello, Lawrence, Robert. How are you?”
Robert turned to his brother. “You arranged this?”
Lawrence nodded. “I thought you‟d like to see her.”
“Thanks,” Robert said, clasping his brother‟s shoulder. He then turned to Matilda.
“It is so good to see you,” he said, closing the gap between them.
“You cannot believe how happy I am right now,” she said.
Robert leaned forward and gave her a tentative kiss.
“We‟ll have to be careful that your parents don‟t hear of this.”
Matilda nodded. “But we will be together.”
“Yes, we will.”
The end! I‟ll leave you with a photo of Chris and Elias haunting together.
Coming up in Chapter 10: More weddings, babies, and drama. Will Robert and
Matilda‟s plan to be together work? How will Henrietta and Matthew marriages turn out?
And will Phily be forced to get married?
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Until next time!