Welcome to Chapter 7 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 six
chapters to get the full story. Last chapter, the family endured the war, and the men
came home to their families. Eliza‟s husband, Horace, was a casualty of war, and she
took her anger out on her younger brother, Patrick.
There is also some mild profanity in this chapter.
And now, on with the story.
At the Alcott house, Mercy was busy in the garden gathering an early harvest. The Alcott
twins were having a birthday that afternoon, and the family would be joining them for the
celebration. Eliza had resisted throwing a party because of her widowhood, but Mercy
insisted that the boys deserved it. Eliza had relented because it would only be
immediate family in attendance.
Eliza was upstairs in the nursery, teaching Robert a nursery rhyme. With her husband
dead, she had poured all her energy into her sons.
“All right, Robert. Let‟s get you bathed and dressed for your party. I can‟t believe that
you and your brother are old enough to be starting school. Where has the time gone?”
“Mama sad?” asked Robert.
“A little, Robert. I‟m going to miss having little ones in the house,” she said as she
scooped him up.
“How can you have all of your father‟s coloring and yet look so much like your
grandfather?” she mused.
“Grandpa come over?”
“Yes, your Grandpa is coming over, along with Grandma. And they want to see a clean
little boy. Now, off to the tub we go.”
The party for Lawrence and Robert was a huge success. Eliza was able to laugh and
smile a genuine smile for the first time in months.
“Isn‟t it wonderful that your Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle Thomas and Aunt
Carolina could come for your birthday, Lawrence?”
“Yes Mama,” replied Lawrence. “Birthday time now!”
“My babies are almost grown up,” whispered Eliza as she held Robert close.
Mercy had insisted that each boy get his own cake. Eliza thought that it was an
unnecessary extravagance, but she had learned not to argue with Mercy.
“Make a wish, Lawrence,” said Eliza as she helped her son blow out his candles.
“What about Robert?” asked Mercy.
“If you can catch him, you are more than welcome to help him with his cake,” replied
Lawrence and Robert grew into handsome boys. Lawrence was one of the nicest, most
rambunctious youth the family had ever seen, while Robert had a bit of a mean streak to
go along with his outgoing nature. Still, despite their differences, the boys remained the
best of friends.
Eliza marveled that she had ever though them to look alike. Their coloring might be the
same, but Lawrence was clearly his father‟s son while Robert bore a strong resemblance
to the Bradford clan.
As the party was winding down, Uma checked in with her only daughter.
“How are you fairing, dear?”
“I am as well as can be expected, Mother.”
“Oh, Eliza,” sighed Uma.
“Mother, I know you mean well, but I don‟t need to be babied any more. Mercy and I
take good care of the boys and each other. And you and Father are right down the
“Is there anything you need?”
“I don‟t need anything for myself, just some things for the boys for school.”
“Eliza,” began Uma nervously, “Have you heard from Patrick lately?”
“I have not, and I don‟t wish to speak of him,” snapped Eliza.
“But you two were so close…”
“Enough, Mother,” said Eliza as she swept from the room.
“Oh, dear,” Uma sighed. No one had heard from Patrick in years, and Uma was worried
about her youngest child.
Eliza walked her boys to school the next morning, and decided to stop at the general
store to pick up some clothes for them. As she looked over the racks, she inwardly
sighed at the pretty dresses she saw. She was so sick of wearing black. It was not that
she had not loved her husband, but she didn‟t understand why she needed to act as if
her own life was over because she was a widow.
She quickly selected a few shirts and pants for her sons. As she looked up, she saw a
face that she had not seen in years.
George smiled as he recognized Eliza.
“Mrs. Alcott, it is good to see you again. I was very sorry to hear about Mr. Alcott.”
“Can I assist you in finding anything?”
“No, I have found what I need for my sons.”
“Let me ring that up for you, Mrs. Alcott.”
“Thank you, Mr. McCarthy. It has been good to see you again.”
“It is good to see you as well, Mrs. Alcott. If there is anything else I can do for you,
please let me know.”
There were soon two more birthdays to celebrate. Anne and Diana were about to
become the first teenagers of the fourth generation.
If possible, Anne was even more beautiful as a teen. She decided that she would seek a
life of fortune, and hoped that she might someday be able to have a career in athletics.
Diana too was a striking young lady. Unlike her sister, Diana wanted nothing more than
to make friends. She secretly desired to follow in her grandfather‟s footsteps and pursue
a life on the stage.
The girls now had a shorter school day, which allowed them time to prepare for their
eventual departure to Mrs. Seymour‟s Finishing School. After their piano and violin
lessons, the two lingered in the music room.
“You look troubled, Anne. What is bothering you?”
“I was thinking about the family,” Anne replied. “Though no one will admit it, they are all
worried about Uncle Patrick.”
“Whatever for? He disappeared years ago, and he seems to have no interest in making
contact with us. We should leave him be.”
“But he‟s still part of this family. Doesn‟t he know how much pain he is causing us?”
Elias entered the room and sat down on the other sofa.
“You girls look like you are having a serious conversation,” he interjected.
“We were talking about the importance of family, Grandpa,” replied Anne.
“Ah, family,” sighed Elias. “Family is the most important thing in the world. I hope that
you two always remember that.”
The emotion in Elias‟ voice cause Diana to rise and hug her grandfather tight.
“Thank you, my dear. Please remember what I said. Family is everything.”
“I will remember, Grandpa,” answered Diana, shocked at Elias‟ outburst of emotion.
Diana soon excused herself from the room.
Anne rose from the sofa and gave her grandfather a kiss.
“I will always put the needs of this family first, Grandpa,” she said.
Elias smiled. “I know you will, Anne; you have always done so. You have wonderful
instincts, you know. They will not lead you astray.”
Soon, Henrietta and Matthew arrived home from school.
“Grandpa, Teacher liked my composition best! Thank you for helping me to write it,” said
“That‟s my smart girl,” replied Elias, leaning forward and planting a kiss on his youngest
granddaughter‟s forehead. “I am very proud of you, dear.”
“Will you help me with my arithmetic later?”
“I will do my best. Now run upstairs and get washed up before dinner.”
Matthew came into the room with a sour look on his face.
“What is wrong?” asked Elias.
“Henrietta got a better mark on her composition than I did,” he pouted.
“Come here,” said Elias as he pulled his grandson into a hug. “Everyone has their own
strengths. Perhaps compositions are not yours. You have yet to discover yours.”
“Thank you, Grandpa,” said Matthew, returning the hug. “I suppose I should go and
Carolina entered the room as Matthew left.
“Thank you for speaking with him, Father,” she said. “He is very sensitive about how
Henrietta does better in school than him.”
“It was nothing,” replied Elias. “What kind of grandfather does not offer advise to his
Carolina gave Elias a hug.
“Matthew does look up to you so.”
“He is a wonderful child who has not found his lot in life yet. It will come with time.”
“I know,” replied Carolina. “I worry about him sometimes, growing up without a brother to
“You and Thomas could have another baby,” suggested Elias.
Carolina laughed. “Two sets of twins is not enough for you! The house is bursting at the
seams as it is.”
Elias joined Carolina‟s laughter.
“Excuse me; I must go help Mother with dinner.”
Thomas arrived home soon after.
“Where have you been, son? You were not scheduled to go into work today,” asked
“I took the morning train into Portsimouth. I was trying to find my brother.”
“Did you have any luck?”
Thomas shook his head. “It‟s as if he vanished of the face of the earth.”
Elias hugged his eldest son. “It‟s not your fault, Thomas.”
“I know,” replied Thomas. “But I know that you and Mother are worried about him.”
“Patrick will come home when he is ready,” replied Elias. “I just hope that it is soon.”
“So do I, Father. So do I.”
Uma came into the room. “Dinner is just about ready,” she announced.
Thomas went to call the children to the table. Elias looked into Uma‟s face.
“I wish I could wipe away these worry lines,” he said, caressing her face.
“I overheard Thomas. He has not found Patrick?”
Elias shook his head. “I know the mayor of Portsimouth; perhaps I should call on him
tomorrow and see if he can be of any assistance.”
“Oh, husband,” sighed Uma. “I just want to know that my baby is well.”
“It is settled, then. I‟ll take the early train.”
“Are you sure you are up to it, dear? You have looked so tired of late.”
Elias pulled Uma into a passionate kiss.
“I fell perfectly fine. And I will do anything to put a smile onto your lovely face. If you are
so worried, I will take Thomas with me.”
Uma gazed into Elias‟ eyes.
“You have done nothing but go out of your way to make me happy all our lives together.
I am the luckiest woman in Simerica.”
“I am the lucky one, wife. I can never tell you how much I love you, and how fortunate I
feel that we met all those years ago.”
“Oh, Elias,” she sighed happily. “I love you.”
“As I love you,” he replied. “Shall we join the family for dinner?”
Uma nodded, and the pair turned to leave the music room.
But Elias was not meant to join his family for dinner that night, nor any other. When he
turned around, he came face to face with a presence that he had not seen since the
passing of his mother years ago.
It was time for Elias Bradford to join his parents in the Great Unknown.
The entire family sensed that something was wrong, and made their way into the music
room just as Elias vanished. He had lived a long, happy and successful life of 78 years,
leaving behind three children and six grandchildren.
Thomas was devastated by the loss of his father. He has so hoped that he would be
able to find his brother and bring him home before this day came. His own sorrow was
interrupted by the cries of his son.
“Grandpa!” wailed Matthew.
Thomas knelt down and put his arm around the little boy.
“It will be alright, son. Grandfather was an old man, and he lived a long happy life.”
“But it‟s not fair!”
“Oh, Matthew. You‟ve gotten yourself all worked up. Let‟s get you a bath and then tuck
you into bed. You‟ll fell better in the morning. You too, Henrietta. Off to bed with you,”
said Thomas as he guided his son up the stairs.
“Yes, Papa,” replied Henrietta, following him.
Carolina, Anne, and Diana went to clean up the remains of dinner, leaving Uma alone in
the music room. The silence and the knowledge that she would not see her husband
again was too much to bear, and she broke down.
“Oh, Elias. How could you leave me?” she wailed. “I do not know how to live without
“Grandma?” called Anne.
“I am fine, sweetness. I am going up to my room to rest,” replied Uma. She did not want
her family to see her distress.
The next few days were very subdued in the Bradford household. Uma kept to her bed
for much of the day. Thomas had doubled his efforts to locate Patrick, and Carolina was
ill. Anne and Diana did their best to manage the house, but they could not watch
Henrietta and Matthew all the time. One night, Matthew cornered his sister.
“Henrietta, I need you to do something for me.”
“What is it, Matthew?”
“I need you to write my composition for me.”
Henrietta looked as her brother with suspicious eyes.
“Isn‟t that cheating?” she asked.
“Only if we get caught, which we won‟t. You‟ll write it, and I‟ll copy it over in the morning.”
“I don‟t think this is a good idea, Matthew.”
“Henrietta, I am the heir of this family. It‟s very important that I get good grades so that I
can get into University. You know I am not good at compositions, and I have been so
distressed over Grandpa‟s death. Please, Henrietta? Just this once? I promise to ask
Teacher for extra help.”
Henrietta sighed, and her shoulders dropped.
“Alright, Matthew. But just this once.”
“I swear it,” replied Matthew.
Henrietta sat down and began to write. She truly did want her brother to do well in
school, so she didn‟t mind helping him. Just this once.
Matthew looked down at his sister with a smug look on his face. He knew that this would
not be the last time that Henrietta would do his homework for him.
At a bar in Portsimouth, Patrick Bradford was partaking in his favorite activity of late –
drinking whiskey. He had made some progress in his job, and was now a cook instead
of a mere kitchen assistant, and consequently he had some extra money to spend on
more expensive liquor.
He had read Elias‟ obituary in the paper that morning with disbelief. His own family had
not seen fit to inform him of his own father‟s death in person, and he used that as
another reason to drown his sorrows. Patrick had forgotten, conveniently, that none of
his family knew where he was or what he was doing, which was probably why they had
been unable to write or call.
He downed the glass in his hand with one gulp.
“Another?” asked the bartender.
Patrick nodded, not trusting his ability to speak coherently. He was starting to see
double, and a part of him knew that he should stop. But as he had so many times
before, he ignored the little voice in his head.
The door opened, and Patrick looked up. A blonde woman had entered the tavern, and
she seemed vaguely familiar to him.
The woman in question was called Margaret Turner, and she had been a small girl in the
village of Simsfield when Patrick was a teen. She recognized him immediately, and
made her way over to the bar to greet him.
“Mr. Bradford, it has been some time since we last met.”
“Knew I knew you,” slurred Patrick.
“Yes, we went to school together in Simsfield. I was several years behind you; I‟m
surprised you remember me.”
“What‟s your name again?”
Another glass was placed in front of Patrick, and he began to down its contents.
Margaret had always remembered Patrick as a friendly, outgoing person, and his change
in demeanor suddenly made sense to her. He was very, very drunk.
“Mr. Bradford, would you care to join me for some lunch? That is why I came in here in
the first place.”
“‟Course I would. Who wouldn‟t want to dine with a pretty lady.”
Patrick followed Margaret, drink in hand, on unsteady feet to a table near the window.
Margaret perused the menu.
“Have you eaten here before? Do you have any suggestions?”
“Whiskey‟s good,” replied Patrick, trying to be helpful.
“I do not drink, Mr. Bradford.”
“Sorry. Hope you don‟t mind if I do.”
“What have you been up to, Mr. Bradford.”
“Went to war. Came back. You?”
“I have been teaching these past few years. I was engaged for a time to a wonderful
man. He worked for a Mr. Ryan in one of his factories, and when Mr. Ryan was drafted,
he paid my fiancé went to war in his place. He was killed.”
“It is all right. I have made my peace with his death. I am managing quite well on my
own. It helps that I inherited the funds that Mr. Ryan compensated my fiancé with.”
Margaret ate as Patrick continued to drink. When she finished, she rose.
“Thank you for a lovely meal, Mr. Bradford.”
Margaret looked at Patrick. She knew that something horrible had happened to him, and
she wanted to help him.
“Mr. Bradford, why don‟t you walk me home?”
Patrick rose, wobbly on his feet. “‟Course.”
Margaret ended up half guiding, half carrying Patrick back to her apartment. She hoped
that her neighbors had not seen her, an unmarried woman, going unchaperoned into her
apartment with a strange man.
Patrick was too tall to lay on the sofa, and she couldn‟t bear to have him sleep on the
floor. That left only one option. She brought Patrick upstairs to her bedroom.
“Where am I?” asked Patrick.
“This is my home,” replied Margaret. “Here, lay down on the bed.”
She got Patrick settled, and went to take his boots off.
“You‟re the nicest person I ever met,” Patrick said.
Margaret smiled. That sounded like something that the Patrick she knew would have
“Get some rest. I‟ll be downstairs if you need anything,” she said.
She turned to leave, but stopped as Patrick grabbed her hand.
He pulled her towards him, and before Margaret knew what was happening, she was
on her back with Patrick hovering over her, kissing her with fervor.
Margaret put her arms up to push him away, but Patrick only began to kiss her harder.
“You‟re lovely,” he muttered between kisses.
Margaret sighed. She had always had a fancy for Patrick, and his affections now were
more than she could resist. She kissed him back.
Hours later, Patrick Bradford rose from the bed with a massive headache, wondering
where he was and how he had gotten there. He turned, and he jaw dropped at what
Margaret. Sound asleep, looking like an angel. The events of the evening came rushing
back to him.
“What have I done?” he groaned. He quickly gathered his clothes, which were scattered
all over the room, and dressed.
“I‟m sorry,” he whispered to the sleeping woman as he left the room and shut the door
softly behind him.
He crept down the stairs and out the front door. As soon as he was on the front step, he
began to run.
Patrick was ashamed of his actions. His parents had raised him to be a gentleman, and
he had not behaved like one for some time. Especially tonight.
I’m never touching alcohol again, he vowed to himself.
The morning sun streaming through the open curtains woke Margaret. She rose slowly.
Why are the curtains open? she wondered. I always close them before I go to bed at
She stood, and noticed her dress thrown haphazardly on the floor.
Margaret‟s face fell. She remembered Patrick, and his drunken stupor. He had kissed
her, and she had encouraged him. And then…
“It really happened. That wasn‟t a dream,” she gasped.
Margaret burst into tears.
“What have I done?” she sobbed. “My God, I‟m no better than a common whore.”
Diana made a face at her sister.
“I don‟t see what you can do, Anne. If Papa can‟t find him, I don‟t know why you think
you can do anything.”
“Don‟t you understand, Diana? It‟s like Grandpa told us: family is everything. I want to
find Uncle Patrick so that we can all be together again.”
“Do you really think that him coming home is going to solve anything? Uncle Horace will
still be dead, Aunt Eliza will still be a widow, and she‟s still be mad at him.”
“It will make Grandma happy,” replied Anne. “She‟s been so said since Grandpa died.
All she wants is to see him and know that he is well.”
Diana‟s face softened.
“Papa is doing everything that he can, Annie. He even has Mr. Phoenix and his entire
law firm looking. He‟ll turn up.”
“I just hope it‟s in time for Grandma,” said Anne.
“How is Mother doing?” asked Diana, changing the subject.
“She‟s doing much better. I can‟t believe that she is having another baby at her age.”
Carolina‟s illness had turned out to be the early signs of pregnancy, and she was
expecting her fifth child to be born any day. She and Thomas were both hoping for a
brother for Matthew.
Margaret stood in front of the door of Patrick room at the boarding house. It was in a
terrible part of town, and she hadn‟t wanted to walk down the street. If it were not for the
importance of the message she had to deliver, she would have written instead of calling
After several moments of gathering her courage, she lifted her hand and knocked.
Patrick had kept true to the vow he had made to himself a few months ago, and had not
touched alcohol since. He had stashed away the money he was saving, and he would
soon be able to find lodgings in a more respectable part of the city.
The knock on his door interrupted his thoughts. He had no idea who could be calling.
“Come it; it‟s open,” he called.
Margaret entered the room. Patrick rose.
“Miss Turner, you are one of the last people I expected to see. This really isn‟t a safe
part of town for a lady to venture into alone.”
“I know, Mr. Bradford, but it was imperative that I speak with you in person.”
“First, please accept my apologies for my abominable behavior the last time we met.”
“That is actually why I came to see you today. Do you recall the events of that
“I do, which is why I must apologize again. My parents raised me to be a gentleman,
and I did not behave as one that night.”
“Patrick, I am with child.”
Patrick gasped. “What?!?”
He sank down onto the worn sofa and put his head in his hand. Margaret sat down
next to him.
“How did this happen?” he muttered.
“You said you remembered the events of that night,” she said softly.
“That is not what I meant. God, my life has been one mistake after another. I cannot
Margaret chocked back a sob. A mistake. She had hoped that Patrick would own up
to his responsibility and provide for the baby, but that was not going to be the case.
She would have to quit her job and go into seclusion until the baby was born, and then
give it up. I shouldn’t have even come here, she thought.
“I‟m sorry to bother you,” she said as she got up to leave. “I won‟t trouble you again.”
Patrick got up and grabbed her hand.
“Margaret, wait. I have made many mistakes in my life, but this will not be one. I‟ll marry
you, and help you with the baby.”
“Truly?” she asked.
“Yes. We can get married before the end of the week, before you start to show. I have a
steady job, and I can provide for you and the baby.”
“Thank you,” she said, relief evident in her voice.
“It‟s the least I can do.”
A few nights later, Patrick and Margaret stood in the parlor of her townhouse to exchange
vows. Judge Long was present to perform the ceremony, and his wife stood up as a
Patrick looked into Margaret‟s eyes. She really was a sweet woman, and she would
make an excellent wife. He wished that the circumstances were different, and that they
could have had a proper courtship. Still, he knew that he was doing the right thing by
Margaret smiled as Patrick promised to love, honor and cherish her. She had not
thought that marriage and a family would be in her future after the death of her fiancé.
Despite the less-than-ideal situation, she was happy, and hoped that someday, Patrick
would share in her happiness.
“You may now kiss your bride,” said Judge Long.
“I‟ll be a good husband to you, Margaret,” said Patrick.
“I know you will. You are a good man, Patrick.”
“I‟m really not.”
“Yes, you are. I‟ll spend our lives trying to convince you of that fact if necessary.”
“I don‟t deserve you.”
“You do. You will come to see that in time.”
The Bradford family was sitting down to dinner on the night of Henrietta and Matthew‟s
teen birthday. The younger twins were finishing up their schoolwork in anticipation of the
small party. Matthew was very upset that it was not to be a large party, as their birthday
fell on a school night.
“Are you certain that everything is all set?” worried Carolina.
“Yes, Mother. Grandma made the cakes, and I set up the library for the party,” replied
Anne. “Don‟t worry about a thing, Mama. It‟s not good for you in your delicate
“I am a mother; I cannot help it.”
“The party will be lovely, Carolina,” reassured Thomas. “You have raised two very
capable daughters. Everything is under control.”
“Yes, Mother. Aunt Eliza will be over soon, as well as Great Aunt Primrose, and we can
have the cake,” interjected Diana.
“Please don‟t worry. You can relax this evening and leave the hostess duties to the girls.
They are more than up to it,” said Thomas. Carolina was not a young woman any more,
and he was worried about her. The stress of another pregnancy could not be good at her
The family gathered in the library for the celebrations.
“Papa, where is Mama? Should we not wait for her?” asked Henrietta.
“Mama is tired, sweetheart. She‟s gone to lay down for a while, and is very sorry that
she cannot be here right now,” answered Thomas.
“Oh.” Henrietta had hoped that her mother would be at her party.
“Come on, Henrietta,” said Matthew as everyone began to cheer. “They are waiting for
us to make our wishes and blow out the candles.”
Henrietta looked at her brother. “Very well. I‟m older than you, so I should go first.”
Henrietta looked out on her family, and at her pretty cake. She couldn‟t decide what she
wanted to wish for.
Matthew looked at her with impatience.
“If you‟re going to insist on going first, hurry up!” he demanded.
“Matthew, gentlemen don‟t speak to ladies in such tones,” Uma admonished gently.
Henrietta leaned forward, and contemplated her wish. She was worried about her
mother, so she decided to wish that the new baby would come soon, and that Carolina
would have a speedy recovery.
As soon as Henrietta began to blow out her candles, Matthew followed suit. He did not
need to think about what he wanted for his birthday. He wished that his mother would
have another girl so that he would remain the sole boy in the family.
Uma watched her grandchildren as the prepared to grow up, and made note of the family
members present. Nearly all the people she loved were in the house. Everyone except
for her youngest son. She sighed inwardly.
I wonder what Patrick is doing right now, she wondered. I hope that he is well.
Anne snuck a glance at her grandmother, and the sad, weary look on Uma‟s face.
Poor Grandma, she thought. I just have to find a way to bring Uncle Patrick home. I just
Henrietta grew up very well. She sought romance in her life, and thought it would be
wonderful to have many men fall in love with her.
Matthew seemed to grow more handsome with age. He wanted to increase the family
coffers, and hoped that a career in sports would allow him to do so.
Anne insisted on cleaning up after the party, and Uma took the chance to visit with
“How are the boys fairing in school?”
“If they could sit still long enough to learn their lessons, they would be doing quite well.
I can‟t believe how much energy they have sometimes. It‟s everything Mercy and I
can do to keep up with them.”
“Perhaps they need more of a male influence in their lives. Now, Patrick…”
“Mother,” said Eliza with cold eyes and icy tones, “I have told you before that I do not
wish to speak of him.”
Uma was shocked to hear the venomous tones in her only daughter‟s voice.
“Eliza, I cannot bear to have to speak of your brother in that way. You two were so close
once. You must find it in your heart to forgive him.”
“I can do no such thing. He the same as killed my husband; he is the reason that I am a
widow and my boys will never know their father.”
“Oh, dear,” sighed Uma. “I wish you would reconsider.”
“Reconsider what?” asked Thomas, coming in from the game room.
“I was just telling Mother that I really must be going. The boys often take advantage of
Mercy‟s kindness,” Eliza lied.
Uma looked at her daughter with confusion on her face.
“If that is how you feel, please do not let my influence your choice,” she sighed.
“Goodnight, Mother,” Eliza said as she rose to leave.
The day‟s excitement was not quite over. Not long after he had crawled into bed beside
Carolina, he was awaked by her attempts to stifle her moans.
“What is wrong, love?” he asked in a groggy voice.
“Of course,” he muttered. “I‟ll fetch Mother.”
Whatever possessed me to want a fifth child? he thought.
It was not long before Carolina handed a small, brown-eyed and haired baby to her
“Allow me to introduce you to your son,” she said with a smile on her face.
“That he is,” agreed Carolina. “What should we call him?”
“How about Alexander?”
“I think that is a wonderful name for our son.”
“Of course, there is the matter of what to call his sister,” said Carolina, looking into the
green eyes of her brunette daughter.
Thomas laughed. “Yes, I suppose we must give her a name as well.”
“What do you think of Philomena?”
“I think that will suit her exactly.”
Carolina took a longer time to recover after the birth of her fifth and sixth children.
Thomas was a very hands-on father, taking special care of Alexander who was a very
“There, there,” soothed Thomas. “Everything is well, little man.”
Alexander‟s wails continued, and Thomas sighed.
“No more babies,” he muttered. “I‟m getting far to old to be walking the floors at night.”
Anne was the only one who showed any interest in helping with the newborns‟ care.
“Phily, please don‟t cry,” she pleaded, patting her sister on the back. “I know I‟m not your
Mama, but I‟m doing the best I can.”
Philomena burped, and settled down immediately.
“However did Mother do this six times?” she marveled.
Eliza wandered out to the mailbox to see what correspondence there was. She was
greeted on her front path by George.
“Mr. McCarthy, what brings you here today?”
“I was bringing by some kites for your sons to play with,” he replied.
“You did not need to do that,” she said with a smile on her face.
“It was nothing. They were damaged during shipment, and I fixed them up but cannot
sell them. I thought your boys would like them.”
“Thank you. I was just about to sit down for lunch; would you join me?”
“This is quite pleasant,” commented George. “I normally just grab a quick bite in the
“It isn‟t much, but I am glad you are enjoying it,” replied Eliza.
“Please, Mrs. Alcott. A simple meal with a friend is much better than a feast alone.”
“What have you been up to all these years?” she asked.
“Well, I worked my way through college as a clerk at my father‟s store. Not long after I
graduated, he decided to turn the business over to me. I‟ve been doing quite well.
Business is good, but the train makes it easier for folks to get to Portsimouth for
“You always were smart, Mr. McCarthy; I am certain you will come up with something to
keep people coming to your store.”
“Mrs. Alcott, we have known each other for year. Please call me George.”
Eliza felt the nearly forgotten sensation of a blush creeping across her cheeks.
“Thank you, George. I would ask you to call me „Miss Eliza,‟ but I haven‟t been that for
many years now.”
“How about just Eliza then?”
“That would be acceptable.”
The sound of the door opening and two pairs of feet in the hallway interrupted the
“Mama, we‟re home!” announced Lawrence.
“Yes, I can see that,” Eliza laughed.
“Who‟s that?” asked Robert.
“Boys, this is Mr. McCarthy, an old friend of Mama‟s. He brought you some kites that you
can play with once you have finished your homework. Now, go wash your hands and
join us for your snack.”
“Yes, Mama,” they replied in unison.
“Did you boys have a good day at school?” asked Eliza.
“Robert got in trouble for putting a toad in Teacher‟s desk,” said Lawrence.
“You said you wouldn‟t tell!” cried Robert.
“Robert, whatever made you do such a thing?” she asked.
Robert had no answer and simply shrugged his shoulders.
“What about you, Lawrence?” asked George.
“I spelled down all of my classmates, Mr. McCarthy. Teacher was very happy with me.”
“That is very impressive, young man. You must be a smart boy.”
“I don‟t know about that, sir. I work hard.”
“And you, Robert? How did your spelling examination go?” asked George.
“I was the first one out. Teacher gave me extra work to do tonight,” he replied sullenly.
“Would you like some help?” asked George. “Spelling was always one of my strong
“No. I will manage on my own.”
“Robert, please show Mr. McCarthy some respect,” chastised Eliza.
George and Eliza excused themselves as the boys finished their snack.
“Please excuse Robert‟s behavior. I don‟t know what‟s gotten into him lately,” said Eliza.
“Don‟t worry about it. He‟s not had an easy life growing up without a father‟s influence.”
Eliza sighed. “Mercy and I have done our best, but I know he needs a man‟s influence.”
“You have done the best you can under the circumstances. Now, I really must be getting
back to the store. I don‟t like to leave it in the hands of my clerk for too long.”
“Must you go? I can‟t remember the last time I had such a nice afternoon,” pleaded
George reached out with a tentative hand and caressed Eliza‟s cheek.
“You chastised me once before for being forward, Eliza. Will you do so again?”
Eliza brought her hand up and held George‟s in place.
“No, George. In fact, I‟m grateful you even speak to me after my behavior all those
“You are still one of the loveliest creatures I have ever laid eyes on.”
George leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Eliza‟s lips.
“Thank you for a wonderful afternoon,” he said. “May I call on you tomorrow?”
“Please,” responded Eliza. “I can‟t wait to see you again.”
George flashed a smile at Eliza, and departed.
In the dining room, the boys heard the sound of the front door closing.
“What do you think Mr. McCarthy was doing here?” asked Robert.
“He‟s one of Mama‟s friends,” replied Lawrence. “Her friends call all the time, so why not
Robert leaned forward and stared at his brother.
“Mama has never had a gentleman caller before. Do you think…could Mr. McCarthy be
“I hope so.”
“Why?” demanded Robert.
“Didn‟t you see how happy Mama seemed? I haven‟t seen her smile that much in a long
time. If Mr. McCarthy is the cause of that, I want him around as much as possible. If
that means he will be our new Papa, that is fine with me.”
“But we have a father!” exclaimed Robert.
“We never knew him. Wouldn‟t it be nice to have someone to teach us fish?”
“But she‟s a widow! She shouldn‟t be behaving this way. It‟s almost like she didn‟t love
“Papa has been dead for over ten years, Robert. I think that‟s more than enough time for
A sour look came over Robert‟s face.
“I still don‟t like this one bit.”
Margaret came into the parlor of her apartment. Patrick was playing at the piano, and
she almost didn‟t want to interrupt her husband. She was so worried about him.
He was having terrible nightmares. Nearly every night, she would be woken to his
tossing and turning. Sometimes, he even talked in his sleep.
“Horace, no!” he would cry. “It should have been me. It should have been me.”
On those occasions, Margaret would pull Patrick into her arms. He would cling to her
like a drowning man, and she would do her best to soothe him.
I wish he would tell me what was bothering him so I could help him.
“Patrick, dinner is ready.”
Patrick rose from the piano. “Thank you, Margaret.”
“It was nothing. I enjoy taking care of you. Oh!” she exclaimed.
“What is it?”
“The baby‟s moving. Do you want to feel?” she asked, placing his hand on her stomach.
“Say „hello‟ to your Papa,” ordered Margaret.
In response to her voice, Patrick felt a kick against his hand. A look of wonder crossed
“That‟s your son,” she said gently.
“Thank you, Margaret.”
“For not hating me after…everything.”
“Patrick, I could never hate you. All I ever wanted was to be a wife an mother, and you
have allowed me to do that. We may not have gone about things in the traditional
manor, but I am happy, just the same.”
“You are wonderful. You make me want to be a better man.”
Suddenly, Margaret felt a sharp pain, and she let out a scream of agony.
“What‟s wrong?” asked Patrick.
“The baby is coming,” replied Margaret.
Patrick gasped in fear. He knew nothing about babies, as he was the youngest.
“What should I do?”
“Call the doctor!”
Several hours later, Margaret came downstairs with a small bundle in her arms.
“Patrick, I would like you to meet your son,” smiled Margaret.
Patrick looked at the baby with awe.
“Do you have any thoughts on a name?” she asked. “I always liked Andrew…”
“I think that is perfect for our son,” he replied.
Later that night, as Margaret rested, Patrick snuck into the nursery. He picked Andrew
up out of his crib and looked at him. He was blonde, like his mother, and fair skinned,
like his grandma. But his most striking feature was his grey eyes. Patrick had barely
known his grandfather, John, but had seen his portrait hanging in the hall of the Bradford
farm for years. Andrew had his great-grandpa‟s eyes.
Andrew began to fuss, and Patrick shushed him.
“Now, now. You mustn‟t fuss, Andrew. Mama is very tired right now, and I‟m not very
good with babies. She needs to rest,” he whispered. The sound of Patrick‟s voice
seemed to appease Andrew, so Patrick kept talking.
“You will have everything you want, little man. I will be a good father to you. And I
promise to love you no matter what.”
Andrew fell asleep in his father‟s arms, and Patrick placed him gently back in the crib.
Patrick went crawled into bed next to his sleeping wife. Margaret seemed to sense his
presence, and snuggled up to him. Patrick wrapped his arm around her.
After all I have done, how did I get so lucky? he wondered. For the first time in a long
time, Patrick fell into a dreamless sleep.
Rebecca Ryan called on her cousin Eliza early one evening.
“Rebecca, I must admit that this visit is something of a surprise,” said Eliza.
“I know, Eliza. We haven‟t kept in touch for some time, but I had to call on you. I have
heard the most disturbing gossip about you, and I had to make you aware of it.”
“The word in town is that you and Mr. McCarthy are courting. Who would spread such a
“That is not a rumor, Rebecca. George and I have been courting for some time now.”
Rebecca gaped at her cousin.
“Eliza, how could you!” she exclaimed.
“What do you mean?”
“You‟re a widow, Eliza. You aren‟t supposed to be accepting any man‟s affections. It‟s
an insult to the memory of your husband.”
“So I am expected to just spend the rest of my life alone?”
“You are not alone, dearie,” said Rebecca. “You have your two sons. They should be
the center of your world. A good mother would devote all her time and attention to them.
I hear from Matilda about their antics in school. You obviously need to be a more active
presence in their lives. People are talking about you, Eliza. And it‟s not good.”
Eliza hated the thought that she was thought of as a poor mother.
“You really believe that my friendship with George is affecting my boys?”
“You have given me much to think about, Rebecca. Thank you for calling today.”
“I felt it was my duty to inform you what was being said,” commented Rebecca as she
Eliza was still upset by her conversation with Rebecca the next morning. She decided
there was only one thing to be done – she called her mother and invited her over.
“What is bothering you, dear?” asked Uma as she hugged her daughter. “You sounded
so distressed over the telephone.”
“Why don‟t we go into the parlor and talk?”
“Mother, I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, about Horace‟s death.”
“It‟s hard to believe that it‟s been so long,” interrupted Uma.
“And about the boys,” Eliza continued. “Do you think I have been a good mother to
“You are a wonderful mother!” exclaimed Uma with confusion. “Your boys adore you.
True, they are a bit rambunctious, but that will settle down as they grow older.”
“Are you sure? Should I have been more strict with them? Maybe then they would be
“Eliza, what has brought this on? You have never questioned your abilities before.”
Eliza sighed. “Rebecca called yesterday, and she said that the town is gossiping about
“I have not heard such talk, but go on.”
“Mother, you know that Mr. McCarthy has been calling on me?”
“Rebecca says that I am disgracing my husband‟s memory by my relationship with him,
and that I should focus on my boys instead.”
Uma looked at the distressed expression on her daughter‟s face.
“Does Mr. McCarthy make you happy?” she asked.
Eliza nodded, tears in her eyes. “I had not thought I would ever know such joy again
after Horace died.”
“Then that is all that matters,” declared Uma.
“It‟s not that simple, Mother.”
“I am a widow…I loved my husband deeply. Should I not honor his memory?”
“By being miserable for the rest of your life? Eliza, you have mourned for more than ten
years now. No one can ever question your devotion to Mr. Alcott. But can you honestly
say that he would want you to wear weeds for him forever?”
A long moment passed before Eliza answered.
“No, he would want me to be happy,” she agreed.
“Then you have your answer. Besides,” Uma said in a sly voice, “A male influence is
exactly what Lawrence and Robert need.”
“Forgive me for cutting my visit short. I need to get home to help Carolina prepare for
the birthday party for Alexander and Philomena tonight. Will you be coming?”
“I wouldn't miss it, Mother. George is supposed to call later; perhaps he could
“I am certain that Thomas and Carolina would love that.”
Eliza and Uma hugged goodbye and went their separate ways. Uma headed home, and
Eliza went out to tend the garden.
George arrived not long after Lawrence and Robert had arrived home from school.
“Hello, Lawrence, Robert. Do you know where your mother is?”
“She is upstairs getting ready for the party,” replied Lawrence. “Do you want me to go
fetch her for you?”
“Actually, I was hoping to speak with you two for a moment. May I sit down?”
“You two know that your mother and I have been spending quite a bit of time together for
a while now,” began George. “I have grown to care about her greatly. I would like to
marry her, but I wanted to ask you boys for permission first.”
Lawrence smiled, and Robert‟s face was expressionless.
“Why are you asking us?” demanded Robert. “You‟re supposed to ask a girl‟s father for
“True,” agreed George. “But I know that he passed away some time ago. You are the
two most important men in her life, so it felt appropriate to ask you.”
“I think it is a great idea,” said Lawrence. “Will you teach me to fish? I always wanted to
learn, but Mama can‟t bear to put the worm on the hook.”
“I am not much of a fisherman, Lawrence, but perhaps we can learn to fish together.
Would that be okay?”
Lawrence nodded enthusiastically.
“What do you think, Robert?” Lawrence asked.
“We already have a Papa,” he said, sadness in his voice.
“Robert, I didn‟t know your father well, but I know he was a fine man. I would never try to
take his place. Think of me more as a big brother,” said George.
Robert looked at his brother, silently pleading for help.
“It would make Mama happy,” whispered Lawrence.
Robert nodded. He did want his Mama to be happy.
“Okay,” he relented. “You can ask Mama to marry you.”
“Thank you both very much. I promise to do my best to make your mother happy.”
“You better,” muttered Robert.
Lawrence poked him. “Be nice.”
George glanced at the clock on the mantle. “Look at the time! Can you go fetch your
mother, or we‟ll be late for the party.”
The boys rose and ran upstairs.
“George!” exclaimed Eliza as she walked into the parlor. “No one told me you were here
until just now. I hope the boys were not too much trouble.”
“None at all,” he replied. “I actually wanted to speak with them.”
George got up off the chaise and promptly dropped to one knee.
“I wanted their permission before I did this.”
“Eliza, I have cared about you for a long time. These past few month have been the
happiest in my life. I want to spend the rest of our lives making you know the same
happiness. Please, do me the honor of becoming Mrs. McCarthy.”
Eliza gasped. She had thought that love would never come into her life again, and here
it was, staring back at her with soft eyes.
“Oh, George, nothing would make me happier than to become your wife.”
George slipped the diamond onto her finger, and gathered Eliza in his arms.
“I can‟t wait to tell Mother,” she said.
“Then let‟s not. We have a party to get to, I believe, and there will be much more than
two birthdays to celebrate.”
The party for Alexander and Philomena Bradford was a rousing success. Not only were
there two birthdays to celebrate, but Eliza and George had announced their engagement.
Thomas helped his son to the cake Carolina had baked for him…
Thomas had inherited his father‟s curly hair. He was very outgoing, and could not sit still
for more than a few seconds.
Philomena, or Phily as most of the family was coming to call her, was a very cute little
girl. She was already showing signs of being a neat freak, and she too was unable to sit
still for long.
The day before her wedding, Eliza put aside her mourning. It felt good to wear a color
other than black. She went downstairs to find Mercy, the one person she had not talked
to about her upcoming nuptials.
“Mercy, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Of course Miss Eliza. What do you need?”
“Do you think I am doing the right thing by marrying Mr. McCarthy?”
Mercy looked at Eliza for a long moment before speaking.
“Miss Eliza, it seems to me that we don‟t get a lot of chances at happiness in this life, so
when one comes along, you should grab on with both hands and hold on tight.”
Eliza smiled. “Thank you Mercy. Is there anything else we need to do to get ready for
“Don‟t you lift a finger, Miss Eliza. I‟ve got everything under control.”
Rain the next day forced the wedding into the parlor, but Eliza could have cared less.
She thought the day was perfect, and wore a smile that seemed unending. Both George
and Eliza considered themselves to be the luckiest people in the world at that moment:
George because he was finally getting to marry the woman he had loved since he was a
teenager, and Eliza because she was getting a second change at happiness.
Uma and Thomas applauded as the ceremony concluded. Uma was glad for her
daughter‟s joy, and Thomas for the prospect of a male influence in the lives of his
Robert had watched the ceremony in silence, and now that it was over, he got up to
leave the room.
Lawrence, unlike his twin, was very excited about the wedding. He stayed downstairs
and socialized with the guests.
“Do you like your new Papa, Lawrence?” asked Uma as they enjoyed the wedding
Lawrence nodded. “We‟re going to learn about fishing together, Grandma.”
“That sound wonderful. Will Robert be joining you?”
“I don‟t think so. He doesn‟t seem to care for Mr. McCarthy much.”
“Why is that?”
“He thinks that he is trying to replace Papa, but that‟s not true. He promised us that he
wouldn‟t, „cause he knew our Papa was a good man.”
Uma smiled to herself. It seemed that George was off to a good start with his stepsons.
Mercy found Robert upstairs. “Aren‟t you going to have dinner with the family?”
“No, I‟m not hungry,” he replied.
“No point in sulking,” said Mercy. “Mr. George isn‟t going anywhere now. It‟ll be good to
have a man around here again.”
“He‟s not my papa.”
“No one said he was. But give him a chance, Robert. He could be a good friend to you.”
“Maybe. I think I‟m going to go to bed now. Will you tell me a story?”
“‟Course I will. Go get settled and I‟ll be right in.”
Eliza and George had elected not to go away for their honeymoon, as George could not
leave the store for long. Besides that, Lawrence and Robert were due to celebrate their
teenage birthdays just after the wedding. Once again, Mercy had baked two cakes, and
the family gathered to mark the occasion.
Lawrence grew up into a young man who was the spitting image of his father. He sought
knowledge of the world around him, and hoped for a career that would allow him many
Robert looked more and more like his Bradford ancestors every day. He took after his
uncle in his desire fro friendships, but he was also business minded and hoped to
manage several successful establishments.
Anne and Diana would soon be departing for Mrs. Seymour‟s Finishing School. Carolina
was planning on taking them into Portsimouth the next morning for a shopping excursion.
Anne had additional plans that she had not yet discussed with anyone.
“Diana, I need your help with something.”
“What is it sister?”
Anne drew in a breath. “I think I know where Uncle Patrick is, and I‟m going to call on
him when we‟re in Portsimouth tomorrow. I need you to distract Mother long enough for
me to do so.”
“Annie, you can‟t walk around Portsimouth by yourself! It‟s not proper, and it could be
Anne shrugged. “It‟s not that far from the hotel we‟re staying at, and I won‟t be out late.
I‟m going to do this with or without your help, Diana, but it would be easier with it.”
Diana was still skeptical. “If you know where he is, why don‟t you just tell Papa and he
can go talk to him?”
“Diana, I just have a feeling that I have to be the one to talk to him. Don‟t ask me to
explain why; I just know it.”
“Very well. I will help you. But if we get caught, this was your idea.”
“Thank you. This is going to work. I know it. Now, we‟d better get to bed; the train
leaves before dawn in the morning.”
Anne stood in front of the apartment house, staring at the door of number fourteen. It
had been easy to sneak away that afternoon: she had pleaded a headache, and Mother
and Diana had gone to the dressmakers without her. She figured she had at least two
hours before she needed to be back at the hotel.
Anne climbed the steps and knocked on the door.
“May I help you, miss?” asked Margaret.
Anne was worried she was at the wrong house.
“Yes. My name is Anne Bradford, and I‟m looking for my Uncle Patrick.”
“Oh, you‟re Patrick‟s niece. He spoke about you once. Please, come into the parlor. I‟ll
go fetch some tea.”
“So you and Uncle Patrick are married?” asked Anne after a few moments of
“Yes, we have been married for a few years now. We have son, Andrew.”
“I‟m just shocked. None of us have heard from him in years, not since he came home
from the South Simolina army without Uncle Horace.”
“Patrick fought for the Confederate army?”
“You didn‟t know that?”
Margaret shook her head. “There is much I don‟t know about my husband. He never
talks about the past, and rarely about his family.”
“Oh, Aunt Margaret,” sighed Anne. “There is so much I could tell you, but it‟s not my
“I‟m not asking you to, dear. Now, perhaps you can tell me why you‟re here.”
“The whole family has been trying to locate Patrick for years. Grandpa died without
seeing Patrick, and Grandma is getting old. She can‟t have much time left. I wanted to
find Uncle Patrick and convince him to come home, even if it‟s just for a brief visit.
Grandma needs to know that he‟s doing well. She rarely admits it, but she‟s very worried
“Patrick is in some sort of self-imposed exile, isn‟t he?”
Anne nodded. “I had a feeling that he wouldn't want to see Papa, but that I might be able
to get though to him.”
“Well, I will certainly do my best to help you,” said Margaret. “Severing ties with you has
not done him any good; he has nightmares all the time.”
A cry came from the upstairs.
“Please excuse me for a moment. I need to tend to Andrew.”
Margaret rose, and then turned to Anne. “Would you like to meet him?”
“Oh, he is just precious!” cooed Anne.
“Patrick and I think so. Would you like to hold him?”
Anne held the small baby close to her.
“You are so sweet. Ever since Alexander and Phily have grown up, there are no babies
in the house. I miss it.”
Margaret smiled. “You must be old enough to be thinking about marriage and children of
“Not for a few years yet. I don‟t even have a beau,” replied Anne as she place Andrew
back into his crib.
“Let‟s go back downstairs. Patrick should be home from work soon, and you two can
have a chat.”
Anne and Margaret were getting to know each other when Patrick arrived home.
“Patrick, see who has come to call. Your niece, Anne.”
“Anne?” asked Patrick. He had not seen her since she was barely a child, and now she
was practically a grown woman.
“It‟s good to see you, Uncle Patrick. It‟s been a long time.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you. Everyone‟s worried about you, you know. We‟ve been trying to
locate you for ages.”
“I have a hard time believing that. Your father didn‟t even see fit to tell me in person that
Father had died. I had to read about it in the paper”
Anne glared at her uncle. “We tried! Mr. Phoenix used all his resources, but had no
“That‟s a convenient excuse.”
Anne waived her hand dismissively. “You disappeared after you ran away from Aunt
Eliza‟s. You didn‟t want to be found, and you‟ve stayed that way ever since. The day he
died, Grandpa was planning a trip here to find you. He was almost 80! You should have
been planning a trip to see him. And do you want to know why?” she asked, her voice
rising. “Because Grandma is nearly sick with worry over you. Ever since he died, I‟ve
heard her crying herself to sleep, whimpering your name. She‟s old, too, Patrick, and
she doesn‟t have much time left. Are you going to let her die not knowing what
happened to her youngest son?”
“Mother is ill?” gasped Patrick. “Because of me?”
Anne simply looked at Patrick.
“This is all my fault. I never was a good son, always causing Mother and Father to worry.
I thought everyone‟s lives would be simpler without me.”
Anne‟s heart broke for Patrick. “Uncle, you are family. I know that you have had your
disagreements with Papa and Aunt Eliza, but that‟s no reason to turn your backs on us.
Trust me when I say that your disappearance has caused more harm than good. Please,
for Grandma, come home and visit. I‟m begging you.”
Patrick sighed. “I can‟t face Eliza. Not after…”
“I‟m not asking you to,” said Anne. “Just Grandma. Besides, Aunt Eliza just got
remarried, and the twins are teenagers. She doesn‟t have much time for calling these
“I‟ll think about it, Anne. That‟s all I can promise you right now.”
Anne hugged her uncle tight. “Don‟t think too long.”
Patrick laughed. “Your parents must be very proud of you.”
“They don‟t exactly know that I‟m even here. Mother, Diana and I are in town shopping
for school things. I‟m supposed to be in the hotel recovering from a headache. In fact,”
she said, glancing at the clock, “I need to get going if I‟m to keep up this charade.”
“Very well. I‟ll see you soon.”
“Yes, Anne. I promise.”
Margaret hugged Anne as well.
“It was so nice to meet you, dear. Once you arrive at Mrs. Seymour‟s, you will have to
come over for dinner.”
“I would like that, Aunt Margaret. Take good care of my uncle and that beautiful little
“I will. Goodbye, Anne.”
Margaret and Patrick saw Anne to the door and then returned to the parlor.
“You and I need to have a nice, long talk,” said Margaret, reaching up to brush away a
tear that had formed in Patrick‟s eye.
“Yes, we do. And I promise that I will tell you everything.”
The end! I‟ll leave you with a picture of Elias‟ first haunting. He‟s very sad, probably
worried about Patrick too.
Coming up in chapter 8: Will Patrick really tell Margaret everything? Will he go home in
time to see Uma? And will Eliza ever be able to forgive her brother?
Thank you very much for reading. Please leave comment on the thread at Boolprop.com.
Until next time!