Sunday, June 10, 2012
Tying the Knot
Tying the Knot
Leland thought about the evening with Millie and her extended family on his drive home. He was happy this would be one of the final times he would be going home to a big empty house. He had empty crates in his carriage for Clara Rollins to fill with his mother's treasures to be donated to the antique shop. Now that he and Millie were to be married, Emma and Lily should have no objections to his donations. He made sure Clara knew she was welcome to any of his mother's collectibles that she liked. Clara was much to reticent to help herself but he had watched her dusting many times and knew what her favorites were. He would make sure those items stayed with the house.
Everything was happening so quickly he was afraid he would forget all that had to be done. One task he knew he wouldn't ignore was meeting with Vicar Will in morning to set a wedding date. Leland couldn't believe after all these years he was going to be a married man. He had no doubt Millie was the one for him. It didn't matter that they were both in their twilight years. The time they did have together would be very special.
“Just look at Oscar and Nettie Crowley,” he called out to Festus. “Those two are one of the happiest couples I know and they didn't meet until their later years either. I think I have always had a soft spot for Millicent. I remember when I was a young lad the Merryweather parties were extraordinary occasions. Mother use to spend two hours in front of the mirror primping every time the Merryweather ballroom opened up. I think she enjoyed going to those affairs more than anything else except maybe admiring her collections. Millicent was the girl all the fellows admired. She and Neville were unapproachable back in those days. I think she changed somewhat after she married the Stout fellow. He wasn't into all that pretentiousness. We was a nice gentleman. I'm glad she had him in her life. As long as he was alive he had hoped to move her out of that mausoleum but she never would give it up. Now I'm glad he didn't succeed. That old place suits her and she has made it into a home. A home I will be living in very soon. Festus, I don't know what I would do without you to listen to me. I wonder if the vicar would let you be my best man for the ceremony.” Leland laughed and Festus whinnied right on cue.
Clara Rollins showed up precisely on time the next morning. Leland was already packing items into the crates.
“Mr. Harvey, please, let me do that. That's what I'm here for.”
“Clara, we are business partners now. Please call me Leland. We will work together. I do have to go to the church this morning. Millie and I are meeting with the vicar.”
“I'm glad you aren't wasting any time getting married. I think you have waited long enough. Why are these items in another crate? Will you be keeping them?”
“No Clara, I want you to take them and anything else you have fancied all these years. I know Mother would want you to have them. She thought of you as a daughter, you know.”
“I loved your mother very much Mr. Harvey.” Clara had a tear in her eye thinking of the older woman. “It may take me a while to call you anything but Mr. Harvey. I might be able to call you Junior as your mama and papa did for so many years.”
“Never mind, Clara. Mr. Harvey will do just fine” They both laughed.
Help arrived in the form of Lily, Emma, Ethel and Jonas. Clara supervised. None of them had realized how many different pieces were in that house. Every room, with the exception of Leland's bedroom, was filled with figurines and trinkets.
“You must have been exhausted every day after dusting all of these things, Clara” said Lily.
“I never minded. Mrs. Harvey loved looking at them and I took pride in keeping them clean and bright for her. After she passed, it gave me comfort to hold them and think of her.”
Everyone had their work cut out for them. They called on some of the high school boys to help them move the furniture into storage. Clara had asked for help in decorating the rooms and many of the pieces would be used again. Jamison's crew was scheduled to begin renovations at the beginning of the following week. Time was of the essence.
Vicar Will greeted the couple and was delighted to hear they had found each other. The vicar loved performing wedding ceremonies. He had just married his wife, Kate's grandmother Alma Schrum and Melvin Tanner. Will was hoping Alma would take it easy now and not work so hard. She had been his longtime cook and housekeeper. Alma had other ideas. She loved cooking for Will, Kate and their two adopted sons. Melvin enjoyed her cooking too and had put on a few pounds since he'd arrived in town the previous summer. Cody Hill, Melvin's ward was a frequent visitor when he wasn't away at college.
“Kate is too busy teaching school and since she will be giving birth in the summer to my first great grandchild, she doesn't need to be standing and cooking big meals for all you men. I have to cook for Melvin anyway so we will just continue as we are.”
Will didn't argue with her. He had known Alma for too many years and knew she did exactly as she wanted which was fine with him. He wanted a healthy wife and baby.
It was arranged. The wedding would take place the following day. Millie felt like a young bride with butterflies and all. Helene and Addie helped her pick out a dress to wear. They were very happy for their friend.
Neville was due to arrive on the afternoon train. He was surprised to hear his sister was getting married and couldn't have been more pleased. Prudence, his wife didn't feel up to attending the ceremony. The truth was she didn't want to be in the presence of her husband's one time lover. The woman who bore his son. She much preferred to stay in her bedroom with the bottle she had hidden under her bed.
Neville was concerned about Prudence. His marriage had been arranged by his father many years ago. Prudence didn't love him any more than he loved her. They had two daughters who both encouraged their father to find happiness with Helene Robinson. Neville was an honorable man and would not go back on his commitment to his wife and his marriage. He had asked Doctor Grant to visit Prudence while he was away. He knew her drinking had become a serious problem and was hoping Doc Grant would be able to make Prudence see what she was doing to herself.
Doc stopped by that very afternoon. Prudence was in her room. She was sitting on the bed with a tea cup in her hand. Doc could smelled the scent of whiskey from the doorway.
“Hello Doc, what are you doing here this afternoon? Did Neville ask you to come by to check up on me?”
“Why would you say that, Prudence? Is there any reason Neville would ask me to do that?”
“Don't play coy with me Doctor Grant. I know my husband has people checking on me all the time. You know he wants to divorce me so he can marry that tramp in Camden Corners. That's where he is now. With her and that love child of theirs.”
“No, Prudence. Neville is attending the wedding of his sister and you should be standing by his side. Your daughters are there also. You are rather conspicuous with your absence, don't you think?”
“That stuffy old Millicent never liked me either. That old house should have been mine. Neville was the man of the family after Cyrus died. That's the trouble with Neville. He was never a man. He only married me because his father told me he had to or he would disown him.”
“He may have agreed to marry you because his father demanded it but Cyrus Merryweather died many years ago and left Neville his share of the family fortune. Neville could have divorced you a long time ago but he stayed true to his vows. You haven't made it easy for him Prudence. You know your drinking has gotten out of hand.”
“My drinking? Why is it my fault? I gave up my whole life for Neville and those two brats. They don't love me either. I know Neville wanted a son but he wasn't going to get another kid out of me. He had the last laugh didn't he? All these years he already had a son.”
“Prudence, this isn't doing any good. Your daughters are both wonderful young women. They love you as much as you are willing to allow them to. However, I guarantee you will lose them along with your husband if you continue on this path. As a matter of fact, you will most likely lose your life. Alcohol is slowly poisoning you. I know of a sanitarium that helps people with problems such as yours. I would like to admit you as soon as possible. I want you to give me that bottle of whiskey you have hidden under the covers and any other bottles you may have in this house. I'll give you a mild sedative so you can get some sleep and I will be back in the morning to take you to the facility.”
“Get out of here! I don't need any help from you. Mind your own business you quack.” Prudence picked up a vase of flowers from the nightstand and threw it at the good doctor's head narrowly missing him.
Doctor Grant walked out of the room. He didn't think there was any point in trying to convince Prudence to seek help.
The maid shook her head. “When she gets this way Doc, we just let her be.”
Doc left knowing Prudence couldn't continue this way. He would like to have given her a physical examination but knew it was useless to even suggest it. He could see by her coloring that her liver had been affected by the alcohol she was consuming. It was much worse than he imagined. Neville was right to worry about her.
As Prudence was crying herself to sleep, Mrs. Millicent Merryweather Stout was walking down the aisle to be married to Mr. Leland Harvey II. There wasn't a dry eye in the house including Neville Merryweather who was gazing in the direction of the only woman he had ever loved. Mrs. Helene Simpson Robinson.
Melanie Merryweather looked toward her father. She could see the longing in his eyes. Melanie's heart ached for him. She remembered back over a year ago. Her parents had forbidden her to associate with Michael Cassidy. She could still remember her mother telling her Michael would not be welcome in her house because his family was not “top drawer.” That term was the exact phrase her mother used. Her father sent her off for an extended visit with Aunt Millicent but Michael followed. Without knowing Michael was the reason for the sudden visit, Aunt Millicent had welcomed him into her home and grown very fond of him. When her father discovered Michael was in Camden Corners, he was on the next train and stormed into his sister's house demanding Melanie end the relationship immediately. Aunt Millicent set him straight and reminded him of the love he felt for a certain woman who was not upper crust enough for his own father. Millicent told Neville if he and Prudence didn't accept Michael, the couple were welcome to live in her home. Neville had never forgotten his love for Helene and could see he was doing to his daughter exactly what his father had done to him. He got to know Michael and grew to think of him as a son. Prudence had never forgiven Neville and took it as a personal attack on her. She began to drink heavily and continued to make life miserable for anyone around her including herself.
Melanie put her hand on her father's arm. “I love you Father.”
“I love you too, Melanie.”