Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Shipment Has Arrived
The Shipment Has Arrived
“I'll miss this sight, Nettie,” Minerva said as she walked into the kitchen of the Crowley house.
“What sight is that, Minerva?”
“You, sitting at the table, writing words of wisdom in your journal.”
Nettie laughed, “I don't know how wise my words are. This is something I started the day I came to Camden Corners. My first reaction to Mr. Oscar Crowley is tucked away in these pages. It's almost embarrassing the way I described our first meeting. I think someone reading this 100 years from now would think they'd never heard of an old woman acting in such a foolish way.”
“You? Foolish? I don't believe that for one moment. Besides, Oscar is a very handsome man, I don't blame you for developing a crush on him.”
“Who has a crush on me?” Oscar walked through the door with a smile on his face. “I hope this young lady still feels that way about an old man.” He hugged Nettie and planted a kiss on her cheek.
“I don't see any old men around here,” said Philip as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Good morning, Philip. Looks like the day has finally come when you and the family will be moving into your new home. Nettie and I are happy for you but we will miss you and the children being here every morning.”
Leah and Alfie ran into the room. They were all dressed for school with their hair slicked down. Trudy had fixed their breakfast earlier. Nettie and Oscar looked at the children. They were both thinking of the day they brought them home just a few months ago. Neither child spoke much, they had been warned something terrible would happen to their parents if they told anyone about being abducted. After murdering the children's former nanny, the kidnapper smuggled them onto a ship headed for the the United States. Leah and Alfie saw the man being thrown off the side of the ship into the ocean, but were still afraid for their parent's safety. When the ship landed in New York City, they were stopped by a policeman and sent to Warren's Hillside Villa where the Crowley's found them and offered them a temporary home in Camden Corners. After the children began feeling comfortable with the Crowley's and their parents finally revealed the kidnapping to the authorities in England, the family was reunited and all were living together again in Camden Corners. Philip and Minerva fell in love with the town and made the decision to move to the United States permanently. They bought a house and Philip rented a shop on Main Street where he was in the process of opening a book store.
“Miss Nettie? Have you written about Leah and me in your journal?”
“Oh yes, Alfie, many pages in my journal are about you and Leah. One of these days I'll read the passages to you. In fact, all of the ladies in Camden Corners are putting their journals from the last couple of years into an old trunk along with a few mementos. The trunk will be kept in Miss Millie's attic in Merryweather's. We will open the trunk in 10 years and see what everyone wrote in their journals. Minerva, you should start your own journal. You are a part of our community now.”
“Yes, Mama, please do it. I want to see what you write about what a little stinker Alfie is.” Leah teased her brother as Alfie pretended to give her a swat.
It was nice to see the children act like children again. Minerva knew she had the Crowley's to thank for turning all their lives around.
“I'll have to write about how late you were for school today if you two don't hurry on your way.”
The youngsters kissed everyone goodbye and were out the door.
“Minerva, I think we'd better be on our way. We are expected at the bank in a few minutes to sign the papers for the house. Everything is happening at once. Our belongings and all of the books should be arriving this morning. Oscar, I've arranged for some of Reggie Blackburn's construction crew to help with the moving. My solicitor, back in England said there were well over 200 crates filled with books. I hope I have enough room in the shop to store them.”
“Trudy and I will be available to help you dust or wash windows. Whatever you need us to do, Minerva. Remember, take your time moving in. We love having you here and you want the house to be in perfect order when you and the children begin living there.”
“Thank you, Nettie. I don't know what we would do without you. I think I will start my own journal. I don't want to ever forget how I felt when my babies were missing. I know I'll never take our family for granted again. I want to enjoy every moment we have on this earth.”
The Clarkes left for the bank and Oscar thought he'd visit his old law firm to see what was going on there. Nettie was left with her thoughts and her journal. She had completed two years. One was already in the trunk and she would be taking the other to Merryweather's this afternoon. Millie invited a few of the women for tea. They were all bringing along their memories of 1904. As Nettie looked through the pages, the milestones stood out. There were so many babies born the previous year it was difficult to keep track. Those babies were beginning to grow too. She couldn't believe little Freddie Evans would be a year old the following month. She remembered how thrilled Caroline Bentley was at the prospect of being a grandmother and a new mother herself just a few months later. She wondered when Caroline ever found the time to write in a journal.
She thought of last January when after a delightful stay at their cabin on Cedar Lake, Oscar had been arrested for murder. Of course it was all a mistake, but the incident gave Nettie the shivers. “Best not to dwell on the the unhappy times,” Nettie said out loud, “the good times certainly outweigh the bad.”
There was a knock on the door. “Clovis, how nice to see you. Please come in, I have a fresh pot of coffee made. Please sit down and tell me what you and Jed have been up to.”
“It's good to see you too, Nettie. Jed and I have been reading so many books, we came down this morning to give these back to Helene and have her select more for us. Jed thinks we may be ready to try something without pictures.” Clovis laughed. “It's terrible when you can't read as well as a ten year old child.”
“Don't be silly, you and Jed never had the training a ten year old has. It takes time for a child to comprehend what they are reading and you and Jed have already mastered that skill. You are doing a fine job and don't belittle yourselves.”
“I wish I had learned to read years ago. It would have made the time that Jed was away pass more quickly.”
“Tell me Clovis, I know it's not my business, but that never stopped me before. Did you ever think of coming down the mountain to find Jed?”
“Oh yes, I thought of it. I'm sorry I didn't but we have a code in the mountains. We never forgive unless we are asked to and Jed never asked to be forgiven for leaving me. I shamed myself when I went with him that day he came to see me. He never did ask forgiveness. I didn't want to take a chance he would leave without me so I didn't go through the formalities. I'm sure I have been shunned by our people but I really don't care. I have loved Jed since the day I learned how to speak his name. I am exactly where I belong.”
“I'm happy you decided to follow him. We have enjoyed knowing both of you. Now, is there something I can help you with today?”
“I stopped by Nichol's and picked up a journal book just like yours. I was hoping you would be able to help me with my spelling and grammar. I don't want people to think we mountain folk are backward when they read these 100 years from now. I have written my thoughts on a tablet and will transfer them to the book if you think they are correct.”
Nettie looked over the writings. “Clovis, you write beautifully. The handwriting is quite lovely, the spelling and grammar are perfect. What you have to say is very moving. I think you should continue on and I don't see any reason for you to practice first.”
“Nettie, you are so kind. I only wish it hadn't taken Jed so long to come back for me.”
“Clovis, you know Philip is opening his book store very soon. I know he will be looking for writers to feature. Why don't you try your hand at it? I would be glad to help you. I know Max and Sarah Harcourt will be introducing their latest novels in Camden Corners very own book store. They would be happy to help you also, I'm sure.”
“Maybe, I'll do just that. Jed and I will be back in about a week. Maybe Philip's shop will be open by then. I'll be sure we visit the store.”
Philip was amazed at the amount of items being lifted off the train. He told his staff in England to carefully select the furniture they would need in Camden Corners. There was enough furniture here to fully furnish five houses. He and Minerva had to decide which items they would be using and which they would not. Jonas Fulbright was there with his buckboard ready to help them with the move. Jonas ended up taking more pieces to the antique shop and Merryweather's than he did to the new Clarke residence.
Minerva, with the help of Trudy and Nettie had the house dust free and clean as a whistle when the first load arrived.
“Oh dear,” Minerva sighed, “this furniture is much too large for our house. It never looked this big in the castle. Now I'm sorry we had it all shipped over here.”
“You are right my dear, we will have to buy some smaller items. For right now, I'm afraid it will have to do. We will gradually replace it all, but if we want to live in our home anytime soon, we'll have to use what we have.”
Even without the four extension leaves, the dining room table fit twelve.
“It's the table or the chairs. We can't fit both in that dining room. We can't use the canopy on the bed because the ceilings aren't tall enough,” said a frustrated Philip. “I wish I had thought of measuring but I'm so accustomed to having everything done for me.”
“Don't worry dear, we will manage. I've asked Emma and Lily to stop by. They may have some suggestions. I didn't realize how dark and old all these things are. I realize they are valuable, but I am finding I prefer simpler furniture.”
Lily and Emma couldn't wait to see the authentic English pieces. They knew just the house for them. It wasn't in Camden Corners but in Greensboro. Dudley Hanover was opening a museum there on his family's estate. Dudley had been in town just the other day looking for pieces just like these.
“We will have the men move them into the Merryweather location for now. I think we can work on finding you some small pieces that will work for you. You may use them until you find what you really need,” said Emma.
“I'm going to call Dudley right now. I'm sure he would be interested in all of this fine old furniture. I wish I had room to store it for you, Minerva. These pieces may be more than Dudley is able to spend.”
“Lily, Philip has never had to worry about money and I doubt he will start now. I think he'd rather give it away than have to worry about it any further. I'll talk to him, but if your friend can put it to good use, I think that will be fine.”
Between the antique shop and Merryweather's, the Clarke house was fully furnished by late afternoon. The bed linens were too large for the smaller beds but they would do until Minerva was able to have some new bed coverings made. The family was able to spend their first night in their own home. Tears were shed as they said goodbye to the Crowleys.
Nettie and Oscar sat in their parlor after supper. Both agreed, a trip to Greensboro and Warren's Hilltop Villa was in order.
“There must be a child or two out there who would like to come to Camden Corners, Oscar.”
“I agree, Nettie. It is difficult to say goodbye, but we know the Clarkes belong together and I'm happy we were a part of the children's lives when they needed some extra love.”
Dudley Hanover was beside himself. “This is a dream come true, Lily. I will be able to fill all the rooms in the estate. I thought it would take me 10 years of collecting.”
“I thought you would be pleased Dudley. Emma spoke with Philip Clarke this afternoon and he insists on donating everything to the museum.”
“Lily, I'd like to ask you something of a personal nature. I'm rather embarrassed, but I find myself attracted to a young woman in Greensboro. I know she was originally from Camden Corners and I wonder if you know her.”
“Who would that be Dudley?” Lily couldn't imagine who he could be talking about.
“Miss Evelyn, the headmistress at Warren's Hilltop Villa.” His face turned scarlet.
“Dudley, Evelyn Keys is a wonderful woman. I couldn't think of a better match for her than you. How did you meet her?”
“We haven't officially met. I saw her when I went to the villa to inquire about one or two of the boys helping me refinish some old furniture for the museum. It occurred to me that it was a skill I could teach while the boys made a little spending money for themselves. I have met with a young girl named Peggy. She is a lovely young woman and has sent several boys my way since my first inquiry. Every time I visit, Miss Evelyn has been away from the facility or speaking to prospective parents. She wrote me a note thanking me for my generosity and it was so endearing I knew I had to formally meet her, but I didn't know how.”
“I'd say you have a problem, Dudley. Not to worry, I know just the person who will be able to help you and I will call her right away.”
“Hello Lily, how nice to hear from you. Yes, I know Dudley Hanover. Of course, we will be happy to introduce them. What a wonderful match. I wish I'd thought of that a long time ago. Oscar and I will be going to Greensboro in the morning. Ask Dudley if he is free for lunch. If he is, we will be sure to have Evelyn at the Green Hill Inn at 12:30. I can hardly wait. Isn't love just the grandest.