Monday, March 26, 2012
The Apple Fell Far From the Tree
Ellingsworth Murphy had to admit his son, Grady knew just what to do with that old bag, Maybeth. She was starting to get on his nerves. Maybe he'd slipped her a little too much Laudanum. He was getting a little careless with his measurements lately. He was tired of waiting for the drug to take effect on these old women. Most of them imbibed in a good amount of sherry throughout the day and he figured they needed that extra little push to make them pliable enough to be manipulated easily. His latest victim was not accustomed to alcohol in any form and the drug must have affected her more quickly than his previous experiences.
Maybeth was being hauled out of the room when he looked up and saw that country bumpkin Doc McMillan looking down at him.
“Doctor Murphy, I don't know what you gave Mrs. DuBois but I would guess if I called the sheriff over here he would find Laudanum in your pocket. I will not further ruin your son's wedding reception by causing a scene. I would strongly suggest you bid farewell to your son and find your way out of town before I change my mind. You are a disgrace to the medical profession sir.”
“I will gladly leave this hick town Doctor. Whatever that old bat ingested, it was all her doing. I was trying to keep her company as she was being ignored by that cousin of hers. I'm sure I saw her empty her flask of spirits into her punch glass so don't go blaming me for the old drunk's behavior.”
Doc's face was turning red as Grady approached. “Your train is at the station, Father. I'll walk you over to it. Thank you for coming to the wedding. I'm sorry you couldn't stay longer. Let's go” Grady grabbed his father's arm and guided him out the door. He was back in time to cut the cake with his bride.
As much as Grady tried to hide it, Elizabeth could see the worry lines on Grady's forehead. She loved this man so much and couldn't understand how he could be so unlike the man who was responsible for his birth. Her question was answered when she looked at Grady's beaming face. He had spotted an older couple standing in the doorway. He grabbed Elizabeth's hand and rushed to the man and woman embracing them both in a big bear hug.
“Miss Addie, Mr. Leo. I can't believe you are here.”
“Oh Grady darlin', we came as soon as we could get here. We couldn't miss seeing our boy as a married man and meeting his beautiful wife.” Addie said as she threw her arms around Elizabeth.
“I'm so pleased to meet both of you. Grady has spoken of you so often.” It was true, Grady had spoken of the older couple who had cared for him as long as he could remember. His father was so rarely at home and Addie and Leo were the only family Grady had ever known. He had talked about them moving to Camden Corners after he was settled in town but they were set in their ways and didn't think they wanted to leave New York City. Addie was a cook and Leo a handyman for a family on Fifth Avenue. They had their own small room in the basement of the house and were content as long as they had each other and knew that Grady was happy in his new life.
Grady introduced the Schmidts to the other guests. Before long Addie and Alma Tanner were discussing how to best roast a chicken and Leo was accepting an invitation from Oscar and Chris Pringle to try out ice fishing on Camden Lake. Elizabeth noticed the worry lines had disappeared on her new husband's forehead. She marveled at the difference between his father and these two people who obviously meant the world to him.
Maybeth woke up the next morning with a terrible headache and vague thoughts of what transpired the evening before. She was mortified. What in the world had gotten into her. The last she remembered, that handsome Dr. Murphy had told her about a miracle medicine he had that would help her lumbago. It must have worked because her back wasn't bothering her in the least. If it weren't for a groggy head, she would feel just fine.
“Good morning Maybeth” said her cousin as she entered the bedroom carrying a pot of tea and some buttered biscuits. “How are you feeling this morning, dear? You gave us all quite a scare.”
“What on earth happened to me? I remember enjoying myself immensely with Dr. Murphy and then nothing until I looked up and saw young Dr. Murphy hovering over me.”
“Cousin, I'm afraid you were given something called Laudanum”
“What in the world is Laudanum?”
“I'm afraid it is a combination of opium and alcohol.” Millicent whispered quietly.
“Alcohol! On no, how on earth will I ever face anyone after I have ingested alcohol? I must resign my position with the Women's Christian Temperance Union immediately. Oh Millicent, what am I to do?”
“Now cousin, it wasn't exactly your fault, you were duped by the elder Dr. Murphy. I didn't like that man the minute I met him.”
The maid tapped on the door. “Excuse me ma'am, Dr. Grady Murphy is here to see Mrs. DuBois.”
Millicent welcomed Grady. “You are on your honeymoon Grady, you shouldn't be here today of all days.”
“Elizabeth understands, she is waiting in the carriage for me. I wanted to make sure Mrs. DuBois was recovered from her bout last evening. How are you feeling this morning?” Grady asked as he listened to her heart.
“I'll be just fine if I can ever forgive myself for imbibing in spirits. I'm so terribly ashamed Doctor Murphy.”
“You have nothing to be ashamed of, now tell me, how did my father persuade you to sip the Laudanum?”
“He said it would help my Lumbago. Oh my goodness Doctor, my back feels perfectly fine. Better than it has in years. Maybe he did have the cure for my pain after all.”
“Now Mrs. DuBois, it wasn't the Laudanum that cured your back pain, I would venture a guess that it was the dancing you did. Your body has reacted positively to exercise. You will have to be sure to do more of it in the future and your back will give you much less trouble.”
“I believe you are right Dr. Murphy. Now you go to your bride. I want to hear from Millicent very soon that you and Elizabeth have started your family.”
Grady chuckled as he left the ladies to join Elizabeth and start working on that task.
“What a wonderful young man Dr. Murphy is. He has given me cause to think, cousin. I do believe I will take my leave and return home. I am resigning my position in the WCTU. I still don't believe alcohol should be used on a regular basis but I did so enjoy myself for a time last evening. I never mentioned this but Mayor Russell has asked me to join him at the annual policeman's ball. I'm thinking I might just accept his invitation. I know he enjoys a glass of port from time to time. I can't see any reason not to join him.”
“Maybeth, that is a wonderful idea. I will miss you terribly but I'm sure the Mayor will enjoy your company. I want to hear all about the ball and the Mayor.”
One month later Millicent received an invitation in the mail. His Honor Mayor Lindsey P. Russell and Mrs. Maybeth Merryweather DuBois cordially invite you to attend their nuptials on the Fifteenth day of April in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred Four. Millicent silently thanked that rascal Dr. Ellingsworth Murphy. He had no idea what he started when he slipped Maybeth her first taste of alcohol.
Addie and Leo Schmidt woke up in their comfortable bed in Mrs. Wharton's boarding house.
“Leo, I do like it here in Camden Corners. I never thought I'd be happy in a small town but the people have been so friendly and kind I hate to think of leaving this afternoon. It has been so pleasant being with our dear Grady and Elizabeth for this short visit. I don't want it to come to an end.”
“I feel the same way Addie. I have been awake for the last hour trying to think of a way we would be able to stay here instead of going back to New York but I don't see how we can leave our employment for another two or three years.”
There was a soft knock on the door. “Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, are you awake?” Leo recognized the voice of Mrs. Wharton. “I don't like to disturb you but a telegram was just delivered from New York City and I thought it best to get it to you right away. I'll just slip it under the door.”
Leo got up out of the warm bed and picked up the telegram. He knew it couldn't be good news and braced himself before he opened it and read that his employers had decided to keep their temporary replacements on permanently and the Schmidt's services were no longer required.
“Addie, I do believe our wish has come true. We will be staying here in Camden Corners. I'm not sure where we will live but the Lord has always come through for us and I suspect He will again. We'd best get dressed and have a talk with Mrs. Wharton. We won't be able to stay here any longer. We will have to be careful with the little money we have.”
The couple talked with Mrs. Wharton. She was sympathetic and asked the Schmidts to stay on at the boarding house. “I don't expect any boarders at this time of year. “Leo, you can help me with chores around the house and Addie, I would love your help in the kitchen.” The Schmidts knew Mrs. Wharton wasn't in need of any extra help and appreciated her kind offer. Maybe they could forget their pride for a few days until they could think of another solution. They both hugged Mrs. Wharton who sincerely didn't want this lovely couple to leave Camden Corners.
Word spread fast through the community that the Schmidts were out of work. The privacy of Mrs. Wharton's boarders was not high on her list. Millicent Merryweather Stout had met the couple at Grady and Elizabeth's wedding before her cousin's medical emergency. She liked them immediately. The couple who had been employed by Millicent had recently retired and moved to Greensboro to live with their son and his family. The night of the wedding she was tempted to ask the Schmidts if they would ever consider moving to Camden Corners and if they did, she would be interested in employing them. She donned her heavy coat and hat and set out for the Wharton House.
Mrs. Wharton knew if she told the right people, the Schmidts wouldn't be unemployed for long and as she expected, Millicent Stout would be first in line for their services. Before the end of the day Addie and Leo Schmidt had moved their meager belongings into the second floor of the Merryweather Stout mansion. Millicent wouldn't hear of them residing in the damp basement. She had plenty of room on the upper floor of the big sprawling house. Addie and Leo pinched themselves. Not only did they have a big beautiful bedroom with a huge bed and fireplace, they had their own bathroom and sitting room. Millicent would become much more than an employer to the couple. She would become their friends. “Wait until Grady hears of our new positions and that we are the newest members of the Camden Corners community.