It’s another chapter! Hurray!Quick recap: Last time, Melanie made amends with various members of the Bradford clan; James broughtCindy home to rave reviews from Jefferson and Marsha; Phily endured the double loss of her partner andher twin brother; James and Cindy got engaged after an initial hesitation on her part; James found hiscalling as the manager of a speakeasy; the Langeraks came back East; Taddy voiced his lack of belief inthe institution of marriage, but proposed to Calla anyway; Sterling proposed to Viola with Melanie’sblessing; James and Cindy got married, and Marsha started asking about grandbabies; the newlywedsescaped to SimBermuda for a honeymoon, and dealt with the issue of when to start their family; Taddymarried Calla, and Sterling married Viola; and Cindy discovered she was pregnant, and had mixed feelingsabout the revelation.Blanket warning about language, topics, adult situations, etc. Silly Romance Sims and their fresh-mouthedhusbands.And now, please enjoy Chapter 23 of The Bradford Legacy.
“A little further to the right…there!” Cindy said.Jefferson and James put the sofa down with a grunt. Both men pulled handkerchiefs from their pocketsand wiped their foreheads in a nearly simultaneous motion. Marsha smiled from her place in the doorway.“Doesn’t it look so much better?” Cindy was saying as she straightened out the pictures on the wall. “Thatwallpaper was so old-fashioned.”“Well, considering that my grandmother picked it out not long after she was married, it has been up for awhile.” Jefferson conceded.
“It does look very nice,” commented Marsha, “But did we really need all the new furniture? Couldn’t wehave had the old sofas reupholstered?”Cindy did her best not to make a face. “I thought about that, but then I sat on one of these at the store andit was so comfortable that I couldn’t resist.”“Try it, Mama,” agreed James, “and tell me that you prefer the old sofa.”Marsha sat, and she had to admit that it was more comfortable than the old furniture.
Cindy smiled. “Now, I’d like to do the dining room next. Marsha, why don’t you come in with me and helpme pick out the new colors.”The two women disappeared through the double doors, and the two men flopped onto the new sofas.
“When we bought them, I didn’t realize they’d be so damned heavy. Sorry about that, Papa.”Jefferson chuckled. “Nothing a hot bath won’t fix.”“Still, you really shouldn’t be moving heavy stuff around at your age. I’ll get Cyrus to help move the diningroom furniture when that time comes.”“James, I’m old, not decrepit. I think I can manage to move a few chairs and a table.”“What about that huge sideboard?”“Well, I suppose it would be good for Cyrus to help with that,” Jefferson admitted with a smile.
James leaned back into the soft cushions of the sofa. “I don’t get it, Papa. Cindy’s never been domesticbefore. What’s up with the sudden need to redecorate?”Jefferson chuckled. “Nesting, son. The baby will be here soon, so she’s feeling the need to get the houseready for it. Your mother did the same, when she was carrying you. Of course, she was limited to fixing upthe nursery, since your grandmother wouldn’t let her do anything else.”
James smirked. “Well, Grandmother was kind of a bitch, so I can see that happening.”“James, she was your grandmother,” Jefferson admonished.“Just calling them like I see them, Papa.”“Did you hear me say that you were wrong?”“Nope.”The two men shared a laugh.
“Jefferson, James, we need another opinion,” called Marsha’s voice from behind the door. James got up,and offered his hand to Jefferson, who was a little slower in his movements.“Thank you, son,” he said, trying to stretch out his back. “Maybe I am too old to be moving furniture.” *****
James knocked on the door to his father’s study as he opened the door. Jefferson looked up from his deskwhere he was going over the household ledger.“What can I do for you, James?”“Papa, how much money do we have in the bank?”
“Why do you ask?”“Oh, I don’t want to buy anything,” James replied when he saw the look on his father’s face. “I was actuallythinking about investing some of it in the stock market.”
Jefferson motioned towards the sofa, where James took a seat. “What’s brought this on? You’ve neverreally taken an interest in the household finances before.”“Sterling and I met up for lunch today. He’s purchased some stocks, and he’s gotten some pretty goodreturns on all them. I guess I feel a little guilty at how much money Cindy’s spent on redoing the house,and I think we could replace some of it by making some investments.”
Jefferson looked at the books again, and made some calculations in his head. “Would we need a lot to getstarted?”“I don’t think so. Before I spoke to Sterling’s broker I wanted to talk to you first and see what you thought ofthe idea.”“I’m not comfortable with making a large investment to start, James. I don’t know if you know it, but yourgrandfather nearly ruined us financially when you were younger with his extravagant purchases. I don’twant to put the family in that situation again.”James nodded. “I was thinking a few hundred to start. We can always reinvest the profits.”
Jefferson looked at the ledger in front of him again. “Why don’t you make an appointment for the two of usto see this stockbroker of Sterling’s? I read every day in the newspaper about how much money the fatcats in New Sim City are making. It would be nice to get a piece of it.”“That’s what I was thinking too. Does early next week sound good to you?”“That sounds perfect, son.”
James smiled at his father, and walked out of the study. Soon, this family won’t have to worry aboutmoney again for a long time. *****
Cindy was once again feeling constantly exhausted from her pregnancy. She snuck naps in whenever andwherever she could, and she was counting the days until the baby arrived.
She didn’t have to wait long. Early that fall, she felt the pains of labor, and she screamed for Marsha.
Her screams brought the whole household to her bedroom, and Marsha quickly began giving orders to herson and husband, and once they were off to their appointed tasks, Marsha took charge of getting Cindy tocalm down.
Before long, the baby was ready to make its appearance.
Cindy and James’ first child came into the world at approximately 10:15 in the morning. The baby’scoloring favored Cindy completely: it was fair skinned, blue-eyed, and blonde-haired.
James found himself taking deep breaths to calm his nerves when the delivery was over.“Doll, are you okay?”
She nodded. “James, it’s a boy.”James couldn’t help smiling at his wife. “What should we call him?”“Can we call him Nicholas? That was my grandfather’s name, and he was always kind to me.”“I like how that sounds. Nicholas Bradford.”
“Oh, he’s just precious,” Marsha cooed. “But Cindy, you need to support his head more. Here, let meshow you.”Marsha took Nicholas out of his mother’s arms, and snuggled him into her own.
“See, you do it like this,” she said, demonstrating. “Hello, darling Nicky. You are the most adorable thing.Let’s get you settled into your crib.”Marsha took her grandson out of the room to the nursery, leaving a rather bewildered Cindy behind her. *****
Cindy opened the door to the nursery softly, not wanting to wake the baby. She looked around the roomand smiled, secretly glad that James had insisted on painting the walls blue for the son he somehow knewwas coming. The old crib that Jefferson had gotten down from the attic held her sleeping son.
She crept up to the crib and snuck a peak at little Nicky. He was certainly a cute baby. So far, he lookedmore like Cindy than his father. She leaned forward and touched the fine blond hairs on her son’s head.
She should feel something toward the child, but she didn’t. Yes, there was a certain amount ofprotectiveness, but it didn’t extend much beyond that. When Nicky cried, she was not the first to jump upand see to his needs. Marsha was his primary caretaker, with James coming in a close second.Cindy smiled as she thought of how much of a softie her big, tough husband turned into when Nicky was inhis arms. James was forever snuggling the baby, and fretted whenever something didn’t seem right.
Cindy straightened up. Why didn’t she feel the same tenderness towards her son? Had the experience ofraising her little sisters spoiled her from the joys of motherhood, or was she broken somehow?
Her thoughts shifted to her mother-in-law. Marsha had been patient with Cindy at first, understanding herunease with holding a newborn when she’d had so little experience with them. But she could sense theolder woman’s growing frustration with Cindy’s detachment from Nicky. She didn’t say anything, but herlooks spoke volumes. It was all Cindy could do some days not to scream.Part of Cindy knew that she was just scared of doing something wrong. Marsha was such the perfectmother – James and Viola’s stories certainly gave her that knowledge in spades. What if she didn’t burp orfeed him right? Put the diaper on wrong? Forget that he should sleep on his back and not his stomach?The list of potential errors was a mile long.
Nicky stirred, and Cindy slipped out of the nursery as quiet as she had entered. Marsha had an uncannyknack for knowing when Nicky would wake up from his naps. Marsha was the last person Cindy wanted tosee at that moment, as she hated the accusing look in Marsha’s eyes. Cindy had tried, damn it! But shecouldn’t force herself to feel something she didn’t, even if that feeling was affection towards her own child. *****
Cindy hummed as she got dressed that morning. Her skirt had zipped up with no problems – the extraweight she’d put on from having Nicky was finally gone. All the extra time she’d spent outside helpingMarsha with the garden hadn’t been pointless after all. As she rolled the red lipstick onto her lips, shethought about what she was going to say to James.
“Hey, doll,” James said as he came into their room. “Wow, you look nice.”“It’s just my everyday things,” she said. “But thanks.”“What you got planned for the day?”“Why, what do you have in mind?”“Take a walk with me to the family cemetery? Papa wants me to make a list of what we’ve got to tell theman we hired to tend it to do before winter sets in.”“Sure,” she said. Let’s go.”
They walked across the street to the graveyard that James’ grandfather had built and where he now rested,along with the rest of the Bradford ancestors. James made notes of several plants that needed to bepruned, weeded, and a few that would need to be replaced come spring. He also decided that the twobirch trees needed trimming, and the golden yellow leaves that had fallen from it would need to be raked.While James was walking around coming up with the gardener’s marching orders, Cindy found herselfstanding in front of the headstones for John and Chris Bradford. She knelt before them, and gentlybrushed some of the moss growing in the inscriptions away.
“Told you my family’s an old one,” James said, as he came up behind his wife.“I believed you, but to see it is another thing. He must have been very brave,” she said, running her handalong John Bradford’s name, “To leave his family behind and venture into the unknown to make a new lifefor himself.”“He’s a braver man than I,” James admitted.“It seems your grandfather did something right, making the final resting spot of the family this peaceful littlecorner of Simsfield.”“It is nice. Those woods over there are where my father and Aunt Lizzie used to play when they werelittle.”
“Did you play there?”“Only when Grandfather didn’t know about it. He thought it far too close to ‘sacred ground’ for my rompswith Taddy and Sterling.”“Show me?”“Sure,” he said, taking her hand.
They walked for a while through the trees, James occasionally pointing out places that stuck out in hismemory. Cindy nodded, but James could tell that she wasn’t really paying attention.“Okay,” he said, stopping his stride and standing in front of her. “What’s on your mind?”She took a deep breath. “James, I’ve been thinking. It’s been a few months since we had Nicky, and I’dlike to go back to work.”“Is that all? I thought you had something more drastic to say.”“Isn’t wanting to work again drastic enough? Your mother certainly would think so.”“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not my mother. And didn’t I promise you that you could do whatever youwanted after we got married and you had a son to carry on the family name?”
“I know, but it’s not what other women do.”“Vi will keep working after she has her baby.”“Viola is a painter; she can work from home. I don’t think your mother would appreciate me bringing mybusiness home.”“Hang what she thinks,” James said. “What we do is our business. Don’t let her get to you. She’s gotViola and Cyrus can give her more grandchildren if you don’t want to have any more.”
Cindy kissed him. “Thank you. Is it too soon if I want to go to the club with you tonight?”“Not at all. I think the regulars will be excited to hear your voice again.”She tucked her hand in the crook of his arm. “Then we’d better go home so I can get my things together. Idon’t want to upset my boss by being late.” *****
While Cindy prepared to return to her singing gig, Raymond Hutchins was heading to SimHarvard to starthis college career.
Mildred was getting ready to leave for college as well, but she had a few more years to go before she wasold enough to attend. She spend her time preparing her wardrobe, and got started on some things that shewould need when she and Raymond eventually got married.
She had always been closer to Katie than her mother, and the young woman relied on her grandmother’sadvice as she set herself out for the future.
Which was why Mildred was especially devastated when her grandmother passed at the age of 82.
Raymond had done his best to be there for her, but his class schedule was particularly grueling. Luckily,there was one person who was able to help Mildred with her grief.
Phily, now the last member of generation four left, invited Mildred over often, and they would stroll acrossthe Common on the warm fall afternoons.Katie’s passing had been difficult for Phily – she had lost the last link to her brother. She had never feltquite so alone.I wonder, she thought, why I was the one to outlive the rest of them. She wondered when Death wouldcome to claim her for his own, but she didn’t care when it happened. She had learned to treat each day asif it was her last, and she did her best to create happy memories for the loved ones she would leave behindwhen her time came. *****
Marsha hummed to herself as she moved about her room as she got ready for bed, putting clothes andother things away. After a quick trip into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth, she sat at herdressing table in front of its mirror and brushed out her grey hair before she braided it into a long plait forsleep.
Jefferson came into the room, and smiled at his wife. After all the years they’d been married, he stillcouldn’t believe how lucky he was.“What kept you?” she asked, setting her hairbrush down.“James wanted to show me the latest report on the investments he got,” he replied as he too began to getready for bed.“Are they doing well?” she asked.“Quite well.”“Enough to make up for all the money that Cindy’s spending on redecorating?” Marsha said as she got upfrom her dressing table.
Jefferson shot his wife a look as he buttoned his pajama top. “And then some.”“I’m sorry,” Marsha sighed. “I don’t mean to be petty. But after what we went through with your parents,it’s hard not to be defensive about excessive spending.”“’Excessive’ might be going a bit far, dear,” he said as he pulled back the covers. “Most of what Cindy’sdone has been necessary, and as economically as she can.”“Old habits are hard to break, I guess,” she replied with a shrug.
“Marsha, I can’t help but notice that you’ve been awful critical of Cindy lately. I don’t like to say this, butyou’re acting towards her they way my mother used to treat you.”Marsha glared at her husband. “I am not like your mother.”“I didn’t say you were, dear. But you’re always looking at her as if she’s doing something wrong. Theredecorating, her working, Nicky…”“The redecorating was a genuine concern for the family finances,” Marsha interrupted. “You know that.But the rest of it…Jefferson, I don’t understand her at all. I only thought to become a teacher because Ididn’t think I’d be getting married. The only reason I wasn’t in the nursery was because I was ill withcarrying another baby. But she works even though she has no reason to, and I never see her in thenursery. What kind of a woman is she?”
Jefferson moved closer to his wife, and gently rested his hands on her shoulders. “What’s really botheringyou, dear?”“I’m worried about little Nicky. He needs his mother around. James is wonderful with him – I never wouldhave thought he’d be so patient. But I’m certain the baby misses her.”
Tears were sliding out of Marsha’s eyes, and Jefferson reached up to brush one away.“Love, Nicky is one of the best taken care of children I’ve known. Would it be better if Cindy spent a littlemore time with him? Probably. But she and James came to an agreement before they were marriedregarding her working, and we can’t meddle with it.”“A child needs its mother,” Marsha insisted.“I’m not disagreeing with that. I’m just saying that it’s not our place to do or say anything.”
Marsha smoothed her husband’s hair, and wiped her eyes. “I know. I just have a hard time understandinghow she can be so indifferent to her own child.”Jefferson shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe it has to do with the fact that she practically raised heryounger sisters, and when they erred she was the one punished.”“I sometimes forget that she didn’t have a good example of a mother to look up to,” Marsha said as sheshook her head and climbed into bed. “I wish that I could do something to help her see that motherhood isthe most rewarding work she’ll ever do.”“Give her time,” Jefferson said, extinguishing the lamp and joining his wife in bed. “When she hears himcall her ‘Mama’ for the first time, her heart will melt.”“I hope you’re right, dear.”
Before long, it was time for little Nicky, as everyone called Nicholas, to leave babyhood behind and becomea toddler. Marsha baked a cake for her grandson, and the family gathered to mark the occasion.“Where’s Cindy?” Jefferson asked his wife. “Isn’t she coming?”
“Here I am,” she said, coming in from the kitchen.“Well, we can get started then,” Marsha said, a tightness in her voice that everyone noticed.
“Right,” James said, noticing the tension in the air between his wife and his mother. “Okay, little man.Let’s do our thing.”
Cindy, Jefferson, and Marsha pulled noisemakers out of a box, and proceeded to celebrate, some moreenthusiastically than others.James, holding his son carefully, leaned forward to blow out the candles glowing on the top of the cake.
Now that Nicky was a little older, it was easy to see how closely he resembled his father. He had a muchsweeter temperament than his father did, and he was a very serious little lad.
Because of his serious nature, Nicky was eager to start learning all the important things that toddlersneeded to know. James did his part by teaching his son how to talk…
…and Grandma Marsha did her part by teaching him how to use the potty, something the entire family wasextremely grateful for. *****
Nicky wasn’t the only one who was moving on to a new life stage. Asher Hutchins headed off to join hisbrother Raymond at SimHarvard.
Vivian McClellan, who Asher had been courting since he was a teen, soon began her college career at theneighboring SimRadcliffe.
It wasn’t long before they decided to make things official, much to the delight of Asher’s mother and father. *****
It was a Thursday afternoon, and Cindy was enjoying a little peace and quiet in an almost empty house.Jefferson had needed to go into the city to deal with a shipment of bootleg booze that was not what hadbeen ordered, and Jefferson and Marsha had gone to visit Viola, since she wasn’t feeling up to going outwith her pregnancy. Little Nicky was sleeping in his crib, but he wouldn’t be a bother until he woke up andwanted a snack.She thought she’d indulge a little by reading the latest issue of Vogue that she’d picked up in townyesterday, and listen to the radio, softly while she waited for her in-laws to return. After that, she wastaking the train into the city for work.
Just as she was about to settle into the new sofa with her magazine, she heard a noise from upstairs. Witha reluctant sigh, she put the magazine on the sofa and headed up to the nursery.
Nicky was standing up in his crib, a pouty frown on his face.“What’s up, little man?” she asked.“Out, Mama!” he demanded.
Cindy took an involuntary step back. She’d never been called “Mama” before. “When did you learn totalk?” she asked him. His only response was to look at her with his large, blue eyes.“Okay. Out,” she said, reaching forward and picking him up. He snuggled into her, and Cindy felt astrange, unknown emotion blossom inside. “So, you can talk. Have you started walking yet?”He shook his little head. “’Most.”
Cindy set him down on his little feet gently. “We’ll have to work on that, now won’t we? One foot in front ofthe other. Just like this,” she said, holding his hands as he took a few tentative steps forward.
“Want to try it on your own, little man?”Nicky nodded his head up and down, a look of utter concentration on his face.Cindy made sure he was standing on his wobbly feet, took two steps back, and held out her arms.“Come to Mama.”
Nicky smiled at her, and toddled forward, charging into her open arms. Accomplishment was written allover the little boy’s face, and Cindy felt her heart melt.“See, you can do it!” she cooed as she scooped him up. “I’m so proud of you, little man.”Nicky game his mother another smile, and then he yawned.
“All that hard work has tired you out, huh? Let’s put you back in your crib so you can get a little moresleep.”She put the toddler back in his crib, and his little hand reached up and clung to hers. “Mama play?”His simple request broke her heart, because she wouldn’t be home later. “Not today, sweetheart. Mamahas grown-up things to do. But we’ll play tomorrow, okay?”He nodded his head sleepily, and flopped down in his crib.“Sleep tight, little man,” she said, kissing his head.
Cindy stayed rooted to the spot, watching her son’s chest rise and fall as he slept. He was so precious.How had she not realized this before? All her life, she’d swore she didn’t want children, and now she hadfallen hopelessly in love with her boy.The front door opened, and Cindy straightened up. She left the nursery softly, and went downstairs togreet Jefferson and Marsha.
“How’s Viola doing?” she asked, watching Jefferson help Marsha out of her coat.“Tired, mostly. Twins run in the family, and I just hope that’s not what Viola’s having,” Marsha sighed.“How was Nicky?”“Just fine. He woke up, and he took his first steps on his own.”Marsha heard the change in Cindy’s tone of voice, and her heart leapt. Had her daughter-in-law turned acorner?“I’m so glad. He’s been trying for the past week with James, but he kept losing his balance and fallingbackwards. James will be so glad when you tell him.”“I hope so,” she said, with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Anyway, he went back to sleep afterthat. He didn’t have a snack so he’ll be hungry when he wakes up.” She sighed. “I need to get ready toleave,” she said, her voice catching slightly.
Marsha watched Cindy go up the stairs, doing her best not to let the smug smile that was threatening tobreak across her face do so. Something told her that the house would soon be preparing to welcome anew inhabitant.
Cindy went to the speakeasy and sang her songs with the usual flair, but her performance was a little flat.Only a few people noticed, and her husband was among them.After her set was finished, he nodded towards Carlos. “I’m going to check on her. Send one of the boys upif you need me.”
James knocked softly on Cindy’s dressing room door, the special knock he used for her, and worried whenhe didn’t hear her soft voice grant him permission to enter right away.“Doll, I’m coming in,” he called as he turned the knob.
Cindy was hunched forward over her dressing table, sobbing in big gasps. James quickly closed andlocked the door behind him, and went to her side.“What’s wrong? Was someone giving you a hard time?”She shook her head, not lifting it from the table’s surface. James rubbed her shoulder, trying to soothe her.“Doll, you know I’ll do anything for you, right?”She nodded.“But I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
She lifted her head, exposing her face. “I don’t wanna do this anymore,” she whispered.
James felt his heart leap into his throat. Had Cindy decided that she didn’t want to be married to him?“What exactly don’t you want to do?”
“This,” she said, gesturing around the dressing room. “Sing. Work. Whatever you want to call it.”James let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “You don’t have to,” he said, wiping a tear awayas he lifted her up and pulled her over to the sofa. “You never had to. You were doing it because youwanted to, and if you don’t want to anymore you can stop.”“But the club…”“I’ll find other singers. They won’t be as good as you, of course, but they’ll suffice. Most of the people don’tcome here for the entertainment anyway.”
Cindy nodded, wiping her tears away with her hands. “Thank you.”“Can I ask what brought this on?”Her face softened. “Nicky called me ‘Mama’ for the first time today, and he took his first steps into myarms. I want to be there for his milestones, James. I didn’t think I wanted to be a mother, but I do. I wantto share their triumphs, and kiss away their hurts. I want to help them achieve their dreams. I want to beall the things for them that my mother wasn’t for me.”James reached up and smoothed her hair. “If that’s what you want, I’m not going to stand in your way.”“I might want to come in and sing once and a while for a special occasion, but that’s it. My children needme.”
“You keep saying ‘children’ like there’s more than one,” he said, raising his eyebrow. “Is there?”She shook her head. “Not yet,” she said in a rather suggestive tone.James grinned a naughty grin. “I think I can help you with that,” he replied as he reached for the thin strapof her dress.Cindy slapped his hand playfully. “Can’t you wait until we get home? This sofa not that big, and my backhurt for weeks after the dressing table incident.”“Fine,” James said, with exaggerated exasperation. “But you better be ready to leave in ten minutes orless.”“Just let me change and wash my face real quick,” she replied.
Cindy was ready to leave eight minutes later. She met James just outside of her dressing room, and shepulled him into a deep kiss.“Not that I’m complaining, but what was that for?”“For being the best husband I could ask for,” she replied simply. “Now, let’s go home and make anotherbaby.”“Yes, ma’am,” he replied. *****
Jane Hutchins had celebrated a birthday, and she now joined her husband in a state of dignified elderhood. Truth be told, Jane really didn’t feel that old.
Of course, when it came time to send her baby off to college, she had to admit that she had put quite a fewyears behind her.
Octavia wasn’t the only one headed off to college. Mildred was finally of the age where she could attendSimRadcliffe, and she hurried off to join her friends with much anticipation.
Raymond had been waiting for this moment for some time, and he quickly put an engagement ring onMildred’s finger.
And Octavia soon announced her engagement to William Eldon Bear.All in all, there was a lot of happiness going around Massimchusetts that fall. *****
Cindy was sitting on the floor of the nursery, playing with Nicky and one of the many toys that Jeffersonhad brought home for his grandson. It seemed so odd to her that just a few short months ago she’d beenworried about being a mother. Now it seemed like the most normal thing in the world to her to be staying athome, teaching her son his shapes and colors.
She heard footsteps on the stairs, fast and heavy. Jefferson and Marsha had gone to visit Viola, andbesides, they would have made so much noise. As she got up from the floor, the door to the nursery burstopen and James rushed into the room.
“What’s wr…” Cindy began, but she was cut off when James pulled her into a tight embrace, and kissedher soundly.After a few moments, he pulled away from the kiss, but kept his forehead pressed against hers and hisarms wrapped tightly around her.“James, what’s wrong?”“Shh,” he shushed her. “Just let me hold you for a moment. Please.”“Of course,” she replied softly.
They stood there, James’ arms tight around his wife, for an unknown amount of time. Eventually, Nickycalled out “Papa!” and Cindy made a move towards the toddler.“Let me,” James replied. “He did ask for his papa, after all.” He scooped his child up, holding the boyclose as he had just held his wife. After a kiss on the forehead, he placed Nicky in the crib.
Cindy came up behind him, and slipped an arm around his waist. “Do you want to talk about it now?”James nodded. “It’ll be all over the news soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mama and Papa bring back newsof it.”
They moved to their bedroom, and sat down on the foot of the bed. James took Cindy’s hands in his.“There was a shooting in Simcago yesterday. A massacre, really. One of the bootleg gangs tried to takeout the leader of another, and in doing so shot up an old warehouse. Seven men died, and they have noidea who did it, but it looks like Al Simpone.”Cindy gasped. “Are they certain it was Simpone?”
James chuckled darkly. “He’s slippery as an eel, so no, they’re not certain. But who else would want tomake the other bootleggers disappear?”“You don’t think something like that could happen in Portsimouth, do you?”“It’s always a possibility. But the warfare between the bootleg gangs here isn’t nearly as bad as it is there.”“I still don’t like it,” she shuddered. “That hits a little too close to home.”
James put his arm around her. “Don’t I know it. Why do you think I hurried home?”Cindy snuggled closer. “I’m glad you did.”“You know,” he said, as his hand moved from her shoulder to her waist, “Nicky’s asleep, and my parent’swon’t be home for a while…”She reached up and began to unbutton his shirt. “Is that right? Well, you did promise me that we couldhave another baby, so we should take full advantage of this grown up time.”“No signs yet?” he asked as he pulled her sweater over her head.“Not yet, but we won’t hurt anything if we keep trying.”“Thank goodness for that,” he said as he brought his mouth down on hers.
“I still can’t believe it,” Marsha was saying over dinner that night. “Prohibition was supposed to stop crimeslike this, not cause them!”“I know, Marsha,” replied Jefferson, worrying over the headlines in the evening edition of the paper. “Butwith so many people in the cities ignoring the law, it seems that the less-than-desirable characters havetaken advantage of the situation and it’s caused an increase in crime.”“Not to mention the fact that the Prohibition Bureau doesn’t pay well,” James commented, disguising hisfacts as opinions. “I imagine that some of the speakeasy owners have paid them to look the other way.”Marsha shook her head again. “I thought it would help.”
“Lots of people did, Marsha,” replied Cindy. “But to blame alcohol for all the nation’s problems was a dumbidea. The countryside got behind the idea, but the cities never did. And there are more people in the citiesthan in the country now.”“There’s talk of trying to repeal it,” Jefferson said as he folded up the paper.“An amendment to the Constitution has never been repealed,” Marsha stated.
“No, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be,” James replied. “Look, Mama. I know you don’t like alcohol. But thetruth is that the issue should have been left up to the states. If they do repeal it, the bootleggers lose theirpower. The government gets tax revenue on the booze. Things will get better.”“It’s not that simple, James,” Jefferson replied. “After the last Census, they didn’t realign the congressionaldistricts. That means that the rural areas, the dry areas, still have more power. They’ll never allow theirrepresentatives to vote for repeal. They’ll get them out of office before that.”“I don’t expect that it’ll change overnight, Papa. But I think it will change. Either they’ll repeal altogether, orthey’ll change the Volstead act to allow beer and wine.”Jefferson nodded. “I just hope the violence in Simcago doesn’t spread. I’d hate to think of something likethat happening in Portsimouth.”James and Cindy exchanged a look. “So would I, Papa. So would I.”
Later that night, after Cindy had put Nicky to bed, she found Jefferson sitting outside in the backyard on theold bench. She went out the back door to join him.“What’s on your mind?”
“I’m trying to figure out what happens to me if they do repeal prohibition.”“Ah,” she said. “That is an issue.”“Especially considering your desire to expand our family. I don’t want my father to have to work to supportus, not that he’d object.”
“I know that bootlegging isn’t the only thing that Russ has his hands in,” Cindy said. “You should talk tohim and see what he thinks.”James shrugged. “I don’t know if a life of illegal activity is what I want.”“It hasn’t seemed to bother you so far,” she said a little sharply.“That’s different. Right now all I do is deal with the booze, and most people don’t think that it should beillegal. Opinions aren’t so kind when it comes to gambling or prostitution, which I know some of the otherbootleggers have started to dabble in.”
“I would hope that you stay away from the later at least,” she said. “Gambling wouldn’t be so bad, Isuppose. It wouldn’t be too different from running the speakeasy.”“The other option,” he said, ignoring his wife’s comments, “would be to run a legal drinking establishment.The old tavern here in town had to shut down because of prohibition. I bet it could get bought real cheap.Taddy could help me, and Sterling might be persuaded as well. Of course, I’d ask you to headline theopening.”“That might not be so bad,” she said, letting the idea kick around in her brain. “Where would you get themoney?”“From the investments Papa and I have made. We’d have to borrow some, yes, but we could make adecent down payment.”
Cindy thought for a moment, and began to nod. “I think I like that idea.”“I’m glad,” James smiled. “Of course, I’ll hold off on making any major decisions until we find out whetheror not they’re actually going to repeal it.”“Maybe talk to Taddy and Sterling and see what their thoughts are. It doesn’t hurt to know where yourallies are.”“No it, doesn’t,” he said, kissing her on the forehead. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m drained. Abeautiful blonde had her way with me several times this afternoon, and all I want now is a good night’ssleep.”“Lucky girl,” Cindy said with a grin as took her husband’s hand as they walked back into the house. *****
Cyrus, the youngest of the three Bradford children, had just successfully finished his degree atSimHarvard. Jefferson had remembered his promise to his son, and purchased him a new automobile thatCyrus enjoyed showing off to his friends.
He proposed to Georgianna Simself, mostly because he knew that was what Georgianna’s mother wanted.After graduation, Cyrus remained in Portsimouth to get established in his new career as an architect, whileGeorgianna went back to Simsfield to set up housekeeping in the new house her mother had bought as awedding gift. Soon, their big day arrived.
Cindy double-checked the bag that she had put some extra diapers in, along with a few toys and a blanket.She was supposed to have gone to Cyrus and Georgianna’s new house for their wedding with the rest ofthe family, but she decided it would be best if she and little Nicky waited to head over until just before theceremony.
She was on her way to the nursery when she heard a door open downstairs. “Hello?” she called. “Who’sthere?”“It’s just me, Cindy,” Cyrus’ voice called up the stairs. “I hope I didn’t startle you.”
Little Nicky forgotten for the moment, she went down the stairs and saw her brother-in-law’s head stickingup above the sofa cushions in the music room. She went and sat beside him. “Is something wrong?You’re supposed to be getting married in,” she looked at the mantle clock, “less than an hour.”“No, nothing’s wrong. Georgiannas mom shooed me out, so I started walking. And somehow, I ended uphere.”“I see.”
The two sat in silence; the only sound was the ‘tick tock’ of the pendulum of the mantle clock as it swungback and forth.Cyrus rubbed his face with his hands. “Gah, this is crazy.”“What’s crazy?”“Me, this situation, all of it. I only asked her to marry me because I knew both our parents expected it, andI’m pretty sure that’s the only reason she said yes.”
Cindy smiled sadly at her brother-in-law. “You’re nervous about getting married.”“Yeah, not that you would know anything about that. You practically ran down the aisle to marry mybrother.”Cindy couldn’t help but laugh at Cyrus’ comment. “Oh, Cyrus, if only you had been inside my head thatday. I was practically ordering my lungs to breathe and my feet to walk.”“Really? You looked so happy.”
“I was happy, but I also had my doubts.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “You and I are a lot alike insome ways, Cyrus. I was scared of getting married because I didn’t want to become like my mother. Shewas a miserable homebody who was too chicken to try to change things. But I also knew that I didn’t wantto live my life without James in it. That made my choice easy.”“I don’t want to live a life without Georgie in it, either. But I’m scared things are going to change once wego through with this.”“Things will change once you’re married. You can’t help it. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”
They sat quietly for a few more moments, before Cyrus drew in a deep breath. “You’re really happy beingmarried?”“I am. I wouldn’t change a thing. But if you’re not sure, you shouldn’t go through with it. I’m sure yourparents, especially your father, would understand.”“They would. But I can’t do that to Georgie. I love her too much.”“So that means we have a wedding to get to.”“Yes, it does. I’ll carry the kid over for you. My absence will be forgiven more readily if it looks like I camehome to help you out.”“Sounds like a plan to me. We’ll both go grab what we need and be off.”
As they got up to go upstairs, Cyrus pulled Cindy into a hug. “Thanks, sis.”
Cindy and Cyrus carrying Nicky arrived at what would soon be Cyrus’ new home so that he could getmarried. As the bride and room took their places at the wedding arch, the guests watched intently. Thereactions varied from complete elation to hopeful concern as Cyrus and Georgianna turned to face eachother.
“We can do this, right?” Georgianna whispered just before they began their vow.“With you at my side, baby, we can do anything. Even be married.”They smiled at each other, and soon, they were married.
Of course, once the guests left, Cyrus and Georgianna Bradford took full advantage of their alone time, asamorous people will do. Truth be told, this was the part of marriage that both of them had been lookingforward to the most. *****
James opened the front door as softly as he could. It was late, very late, past three in the morning to beexact. It had been a rough night at the club. It started with an unexpected visit from their Prohibition agent,demanding his monthly bribe money early. Luckily, James had enough cash on hand to satisfy the man,and he skulked out, looking the other way as so many of the agents did.Then there had been the fights. Plural. The first had been when Carlos hadn’t gotten the gin poured fastenough for the liking of one rather large man. James and Bobby had thrown him out with much ceremony– they wanted the other patrons to see what happened to those who didn’t follow the rules. The secondfight, the bigger one, was over a flapper with short black hair, an even shorter black skirt, and a turned-upnose. It had been later, and the crowd was drunker, and James had ended up getting punched twice in hisefforts to break it up. He’d managed to wipe the blood from his split lip away, and soothe it with one of thecreams in Cindy’s dressing room (he thanked himself for giving the new singers different rooms andkeeping his wife’s intact). His eye, on the other hand, was still throbbing and he was certain that hadalready turned a lovely shade of purple. That would take a little more creativity to explain.
He paused just inside the door, and took off his coat and shoes. There was nothing he wanted more thanto crawl into bed, snuggle up to his beautiful wife, and sleep until he wasn’t tired anymore. Luckily, therewas a full moon and he could see his way up the stairs easily. He grinned; sleep was just moments away.
“You’re home awful late, James,” a voice spoke from the darkness of the parlor.James jumped about a foot. “Mama?”
He heard the sound of a match, and one of the small lamps on one of the end tables burst to life.“Goodness!” she gasped, seeing his face in the light. “What happened to you?”“This? It’s nothing,” he said. He made an exaggerated yawn. “I’m pretty tired, Mama…”“Then you shouldn’t have stayed out so late. Where were you?”“I was at work.”“James, I’ve been very patient with you and your vague descriptions of your goings on…”
“Mama, I’m a grown man with a son of my own. I don’t answer to you!”“I’m still your mother, James, and I worry about you. Why won’t you tell me what it is you do? Are youashamed of it?”“No, but you don’t want to know.”“Of course I want to know!”“No, you don’t.”“Yes, I do.”
“Fine. I run a speakeasy, Mama. I make my living selling illegal liquor to dames and drugstore cowboysand by bribing Prohibition agents to look the other way. Tonight, I had to break up a fight over someflapper and that’s why I’ve got a black eye and a split lip.”Marsha stumbled backwards, gripping the back of the sofa for support.“You don’t,” she insisted.“I do,” he replied with less conviction as he watched the horror of his mother’s face.
Her grip on the back of the sofa waivered, and James rushed forward to take her arm. “Come on, Mama,”he muttered as he guided her around to sit on the sofa.“Why James?” she asked.He shrugged. “I was never like the rest of them, knowing what I wanted to do. Russ, who owns the place,offered me the job, and I took it.”“And Cindy…”“She sang at the club. Brought in good business, too. I wish you’d heard her, Mama. She sings like anangel.”
“James, how could you? It’s immoral, it’s unethical, and it’s illegal! How would you explain what you do toyour son? Do you want him to be the child of a criminal?”“First, Mama, you’re about the only person left who thinks prohibition was a good idea. Second, it’s adumb law. If the government really wanted to enforce the law, they would have funded the agency better. Idon’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell my son what I do.”Marsha leveled a look at her son. “If you’re so proud of what you do, why have you been lying about it?”
James sighed. “I didn’t want you to be disappointed in me.”“James, I might not approve of what you do, but I’m not disappointed. You’re providing a good life for yourfamily. I just wish you had found a more respectable way of doing it.”“I don’t plan on doing it forever. When prohibition ends – and it will, Mama, even you must know that – I’mseriously considering buying the old tavern and running it with Taddy, and Sterling will provide legal advice.I know you don’t approve of alcohol, and I’ll honor your wish that it not be in the house. But there’s goodmoney to be made in the booze business, Mama, and I aim to get my share of it.”
Marsha sighed. “I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this, James. Alcohol is a product ofthe devil. But I suppose if you’re just meeting the demand, I can look the other way. Now, let me get yousomething for that face of yours. I’ve got a salve that will heal your lip right up, and I’ll find a cold compressfor your eye.”“Thank you, Mama.” *****
Over at the Seiff house, Calla and Taddy discovered that their nightly activities had consequences.
Soon, Calla gave birth to a daughter they named Rosalie.
Despite their initial misgivings, both Taddy and Calla fell in love with their daughter instantly, and she wasdoted upon and spoiled like all babies are.
Before long, Rosalie was ready to celebrate her first birthday.
Rosalie inherited her father’s mouth and curly hair, and her mother’s perfect nose. Personality wise, shewas messy like her father, active like her mother, and mean like so many of the Bradfords before her. *****
Viola too was pregnant that fall. She was excited for the baby, though the swollen ankles and aching backmade it difficult to paint at her easel for more than an hour at a time.
Melanie was the only one home when Viola went into labor, and she hurried to call the doctor and Marshaso that she too could be present for the birth of her grandchild.
Sterling and Viola’s baby was a little girl as well, who they called Shirley. She matched her mother incoloring almost completely.
Shirley, like her cousin Rosalie, grew quickly, and soon she was ready to become a toddler.
Little Shirley grew into a curly-hair tot who was neat, outgoing, and mean. Despite her frequent tempertantrums, she was the apple of her daddy’s eye, and he pretty much gave her whatever she wanted. *****
Jefferson looked over the newspaper at breakfast that morning, and frowned.“Have you seen this, James?” he asked, handing him the financial section.James took the paper from his father, and he too began to frown. “That’s not good.”“Is something wrong?” Marsha asked.“I’m not sure,” Jefferson remarked. “The stock market reports indicate that it’s not as stable as it was, but Ispoke with our broker yesterday, and he said that these things happen from time to time. I don’t know if Ishould be worried or not.”“I can stop by his office on my way to work,” James offered. “See if my presence causes a differentreaction?”
Jefferson nodded. “I think that’s best. No need to get too worried just yet. Of course, if he sayssomething’s wrong, go ahead and sell off what stocks we have.”“Will do, Papa,” he said. James got up from the table, kissed his wife and son, and left the room.“Do you think it’s a real cause for concern?” Marsha asked.“Maybe. I’m sure James will get it straightened out, though.” *****
“James!” Jefferson called up the stairs.The young man stuck his head out of the bedroom door. “What do you need, Papa?”“I need you to come down here right away.”“Sure, just let me get dressed.”
A few moments and quick bath later, James hurried down the stairs, buttoning the last few buttons of hisshirt as he did so. He went into the dining room, where he found his father and mother staring at the frontpage of the paper.“Did you know about this?” Jefferson asked, pointing at the headlines with a shaky hand.James pulled the paper towards him, and righted it so he could read. BLACK THURSDAY: STOCKMARKET LOSES 11% OF VALUE, he read.
“Damn,” he swore, and for once Marsha didn’t reproach his language. He looked into Jefferson’s worriedeyes. “I’m calling the broker. I don’t care if it’s Sunday morning. He needs to sell our shares off first thingtomorrow.”“I was hoping you’d offer to do that,” Jefferson said, relief evident in his voice. “You can be much moreforceful than I.”“Not a problem, Papa. Mama, can you go check on Cindy? She says she’s not feeling good. Maybe bringher some tea and toast?”“Of course, James,” Marsha said. “Let me put the kettle on, and I’ll go right up.”
As soon as Marsha had left the dining room, James looked at his father. “How bad will it be if we can’t getthe stock sold?”“Not completely horrible, but it would be best if we could recoup some of what we put in.”James nodded. “I’ll turn the intimidation factor up on him a bit, and make him see that.”James left the room and headed to the foyer, where the telephone was located. Jefferson poured himselfanother cup of coffee, and began to reread the paper again, the worry creases in his forehead deepeningas he did so. *****
The next morning, breakfast was interrupted by the ringing of the telephone. James got up to answer itwhile the rest of the family, including a rather green-looking Cindy, remained in their seats.“Are you sure?” James’ voice said as it drifted back to the rest of the family. “Futz! And he’s giving you therunaround too?...No, I’ll go with you. Tell him to dry up in person. See you in a few.”They heard the receiver slam down, and James’ heavy footsteps return to the dining room.
“That was Sterling. The market’s taking a nosedive, and he hasn’t been able to get through to the broker –the ‘phone lines are clogged. We’re taking his father’s automobile into the city, and I’m not leaving until Iget him to put in the order to sell.”Jefferson nodded, his face looking grave. “Go get me a pen and some paper from the study. I’ll write outmy authorization for the sale.”James went quickly to the study and returned with the items his father had requested. Jefferson quicklydashed off note and signed it. Marsha, who had disappeared into the kitchen, came out with a basket.“For you and Sterling,” she said. “There’s bread and cold chicken, and some apples to tide you over.”James smiled at his mother. “Thanks, Mama. Hopefully, we won’t need it.”
They heard the sound of tires on the dirt road outside their house, and then a knock on the front door.“Come in, Sterling; it’s open,” James called.Sterling came into the dining room, a grim expression on his face. “Mr. Bradford, Mrs. Bradford, Cindy,” hesaid. “I’m so sorry about all this.”“It’s not your fault, Sterling,” Jefferson said. “We knew the risks when we made the initial investments.”“Still, if I hadn’t done it James wouldn’t have gotten the idea in his head.”
“Shush,” Marsha ordered. “Can I make you something for breakfast?”Sterling shook his head. “We should get going, James.”“At least take some bacon and toast,” Marsha implored. “It’s a long drive to the city.”“Okay, Mrs. Bradford,” Sterling agreed, knowing it was easier to accept than it was to argue.
James leaned forward and looked at Cindy. “You’ll be okay?”“Of course I will. Your mother will take care of me.”James kissed her forehead, and then turned to the toddler who was making a mess of himself with hismush.“Papa’s going to do some work, Nicky. You be good for your Mama.”“Yes, Papa,” the little boy replied.James kissed the top of his son’s head. “I’ll let you know what’s going on as soon as I do.”“Be careful, James,” Jefferson said.“Don’t worry about me, Papa. I’ll be fine.”
James and Sterling walked out, Marsha’s basket of food in hand. They heard the car start, and the tiresroll away. The dining room remained silent.“I think I’m going to go lie down,” Cindy said, getting up slowly and a little unsteadily.“I’ll take care of Nicky. You look like you need a good sleep.”Cindy smiled weakly. “Thanks, Marsha. You,” she said, looking at her son, “Be a good boy for Grandmaand Grandpa.”Cindy left the dining room. It was only then that Marsha realized how little of her breakfast Cindy hadtouched.“I hope she’s all right,” Marsha muttered as she began to clear the plates.“I hope we’ll be all right,” replied Jefferson, mentally calculating how much of the family fortune was tied upin the stock market at that moment.
It was past dinnertime the next day before James returned home. The family, excepting Nicky who wasalready in bed for the night, was sitting in the parlor in front of the fire with the radio on softly. They alllooked up when James walked in, and when they saw the expression on his face they knew the news wasnot good.“It’s gone,” he said simply, flopping down into the empty spot on the sofa next to his wife.“All of it?” Jefferson asked in disbelief.
“All of it,” James said with a nod. “Sterling and I got to the broker’s office with no problem, and he saw usright away, but the ‘phone lines to New Sim City were clogged, and it wasn’t able to put the sell orderthrough until this afternoon, and by then the market had dropped even more than it did yesterday. Since ithad already lost all its value, I told the broker not to bother selling the stock – maybe in a few years whenthings bounce back we’ll be able to recoup some of our losses.”Jefferson and Marsha sunk back into their seats, looking defeated. “What do we do now?”James shrugged. “The broker gave me copies of all the paperwork. Papa and I will have to sit down andfigure out exactly how bad the loss is. But basically we’ll have to live very frugally until Papa and I canreplace the lost money from our jobs.”Jefferson nodded, a resigned look on his face. Marsha looked devastated as she smoothed her skirtabsentmindedly. James let his head fall forward, and supported it with his hands as he stared into theflames in the fireplace.Several moments passed in worried silence, each family member lost in their own thoughts.
“For crying out loud!”Three pairs of eyes looked up as Cindy jumped out of her seat and turned to face them. “Look at the lot ofyou, acting like somebody died. It’s not that bad.”“Cindy, we lost a lot of money today,” James said, giving her a look that said clearly begged her to shut hermouth.She leveled a glare at him. “So what? We’re better off than some of those New Sim City millionaires whohad everything in the market. You and Jefferson still have jobs; we’ll come back from this.”“Doll, it’s not as simple as that.”
She moved to stand directly in front of him, and James had a flashback to his college years when Cindyhad stood up to Stanley for him. She had the same look in her eye as she did that day.“You’re right. It’s much simpler. We still have a roof over our heads, and thanks to your mother and hergarden, we’ve got enough food to get us through the winter. There are fish in the pond if we need them.We’re luckier than some, James. You should do well to remember that.”“Cindy…”“Be quiet for a moment. James, I’m not afraid to be poor. I spent my whole life poor until I met you, and itwasn’t so bad. And this time around, I’ve got you. You need to buck up, James Bradford. You have a wifeand children to think about.”
James’ head shot up. “Children?”She smiled a little sheepishly. “I wasn’t sure until today. Nicky’s going to have a brother or a sister.”
The revelation of Cindy’s pregnancy snapped Marsha out of her funk. “Cindy’s right. We are lucky. Wehave a home, we have food, and we have each other. Jefferson and James will do what’s necessary tobring the money in, and Cindy and I will do our part to be economical in running the household.”Cindy smiled at her mother-in-law. “Exactly.”James looked at his father, and both men nodded. “First things first,” Jefferson said, getting up from hisseat, “Is to figure out how much damage has been done. James, why don’t you get the paperwork from thestockbroker and meet me in the dining room – the table’s bigger and we can spread things out. I’ll get thehousehold accounts. We’ll figure things out from there.”
James got up and hugged Cindy. “You have no idea how happy I am about another kid.”“If you’re half as excited as I am, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea. I know the timing isn’t the best…”“We had no idea the market was going to crash. As you said, we’ve got the essentials. Plus, there’s a tonof old stuff up in the attic that we can get down and clean up if we need it. I’ll make sure we’re taken careof.”“I know you will,” she said, caressing his face. “Now go get the paperwork your father asked for and joinhim. You don’t want to keep him waiting.”
James kissed her, and did as he’d been told. Marsha, Cindy, and Jefferson were in the dining room,Jefferson seated at the table, with Marsha standing behind him and Cindy off to the side.“Okay, let’s crunch some numbers,” he said, sitting down next to his father.
Cindy exited the dining room, where Jefferson and James were pouring over the various reports from thestockbroker, trying to figure out exactly how much damage had been done. Marsha had gone to start a potof coffee, anticipating a long night before the men folk. Cindy had no desire to assist with either endeavor.Instead, she crept up the stairs softly, and found her way into the nursery where little Nicky was soundasleep in his crib.She smoothed his soft blond hair, and tucked the blanket in around him. Soon, he would be growing upand off to school. What kind of a world would her son grow up in? Would the town be able to afford thetwo schoolteachers? Would her son be able to go to SimHarvard? What about the new baby?
Nicky rolled over in his sleep, and wrapped his arm around his battered Teddy Bear. Cindy had hoped toget him a new one for Christmas, but there probably wouldn’t be much money for frivolous gifts this year.She’d have to come up with something for him though. Her boy deserved a Christmas. She kissed him onhis forehead, and closed the door softly behind her as she left the room.
She heard the voices of her husband and father-in-law drift up from downstairs. Still not feeling likeparticipating in the finance review, she found herself wandering towards the window that looked out ontothe backyard.She pushed the curtain to the side, and gazed out at the pond where Jefferson fished occasionally. It wasfed by a stream that emptied out into the harbor on the other side of the town square. At least they’d havea way to feed themselves, with Marsha’s harvest from the garden and the pond.
She watched how the stars reflected on the pond, their light seeming to twinkle on the surface of the wateras it rippled in the gentle breeze. It was so much like the way the stars in SimBermuda reflected on theocean. She sighed, regretfully. She and James probably wouldn’t get to go back there for a long time.She turned, and went into her room, intent on getting ready for bed.
A pair of arms wrapped around her waist, gently covering her stomach and the baby that was growingthere, and she dropped hers to meet them.“I’m so, so sorry, doll. I had no idea…”“Shh…” she said. “It’s not your fault. You were trying to help the family.”“I still feel horrible, though.”They stood in silence for a moment, and Cindy stepped out of the embrace.
“I meant what I said,” she said softly. “I’m not afraid to be poor again, if that’s what this means.”“I don’t think it’ll be as bad as that. We didn’t have our life savings tied up in the market like some folks.Still, I’m going into the city first thing tomorrow and taking what money I can out of the bank. I’m afraidthey’ll be runs on it, if there haven’t been already.”“Still, we’ll be careful. No unnecessary or extravagant expenditures. And you need to watch your mother.She’ll be handing things out to the entire neighborhood if we let her.”“Papa already talked to her. She knows that we have to come first. Of course, if Vi or Cyrus, or evenTaddy need help…”“I don’t begrudge them – they’d do the same for us.”
James pulled Cindy back into his arms, and turned her so that she was facing him. “We’ll be okay.”“I know. You promised to take care of me, and you’ve never broken a promise to me.”“I don’t intend to start, either.”
It was in that uncertain atmosphere that little Nicky celebrated his childhood birthday. James and Cindy didtheir best to make the occasion festive for him, and luckily the little boy didn’t notice that anything wasamiss with the world.
Little Nicky’s resemblance to his father and grandfather got stronger as he got older. Though he was still ahappy little boy, the entire family worried about what kind of world he would grow up in.
*************************************************************************************************************************And with that, I conclude Chapter 23. Check it out – James achieved his LTW to be a CriminalMastermind!Believe it or not, I’m actually excited to play the Depression Era. I still have one or two big things plannedfor James’ generation, and then it will be time for Nicky and co. to start their time in the spotlight. Watchmy LJ for a meta on the Depression Era restrictions I’ll be playing with - I’m eager to share them with you.Please leave all comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!