June 23rd - 28th, 1896

June 23, 1896 - Hear No Evil

  • Penelope eavesdrops on her father's private meeting, suspecting it has something to do with her
  • She is caught by her brother, James who is unreasonably angry over what should have been a minor incident

June 24, 1896 - A Chance To Matter

  • Elizabeth concludes her visit with the Rockefeller's and gains their support for her continued education
  • A chance newspaper article puts a name to the face in her dreams from school

June 25, 1896 - Pandora's Window

  • Margaret unintentionally overhears a conversation in her father's study
  • She does not understand the significance of most things she has heard but suspects it would be dangerous if anyone knew she had heard

June 26, 1896 - A New Corner

  • Sarah settles into her new home in Denver with her brother and his wife
  • She quickly learns her sister-in-law will not tolerate even a hint of disrespect

June 27, 1896 - Building Bridges

  • Edith contemplates her relationship with Charles and Caroline
  • She is offered a position of authority and responsibility with the new girls coming in the fall by Mr. Carrington, but is it a Trojan Horse?

June 28, 1896 - Better Late

  • Charles and Caroline attend a dinner, welcoming him to Primrose College
  • An enlightening conversation between Charles and Edith is cut short by Caroline

Better Late

June 28, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“Caroline, we are gong to be late.” I said.

I was pacing the bedroom floor at a speed commiserate with the rush I felt. Caroline was still lacking her dress and seemed completely oblivious to the fact it was ten minutes until eight.

“You cannot be late to your own dinner, Charles.” She replied in far too calm a tone.

“That is precisely my point.”

“Yes, I can see that it is, but as usual, you have missed mine.”

“That is because you rarely have one and even rarer still is when you have one that actually makes sense.”

“You cannot be late to your own dinner because until you arrive the dinner cannot begin. Therefore whatever time you arrive, you will be right on time. Now do you understand?”

“I understand you are attempting to justify your tardiness with distorted versions of reality.”
“How can reality be distorted?”

“Just finish getting ready, dear. We do not have time for a lengthy discussion.”

“We have all the time we need.”

“If you are not ready in five minutes, I will make you go as you are. Is that clear enough?”

“You don’t have to get huffy about it.”

I sighed. When a woman twists the rules of the universe in her favor there is no telling her she has done so.

Fortunately for us both, Caroline chose not to test my patience further and was ready to go in four minutes. We were still late but only a few minutes and no one mentioned it when we arrived.

The dinner was pleasant, the food was prepared to perfection, and the wine was exquisite. I had in truth been dreading the evening. I have never much liked social events of any magnitude beyond the intimate and I am never quite certain how Caroline will represent herself in the company of strangers. The fact that these strangers held my career in their hands made it even more worrisome

To my surprise Caroline behaved wonderfully. She instantly became the center of attention, allowing me to sit back, relax and watch. You would have thought our move to Primrose was entirely her doing or at the very least her idea. Mr. Carrington was kind enough not to mention the pouting brat who stepped off the train.

My assistant was invited as well and had I not given her some encouragement to attend I think she would have skipped the meal. I had hoped she would bring something interesting to the evening at the very least a discussion about young ladies at the school my ensue around her, but I was entirely wrong. She sat as quietly as I did, perhaps more so.

After dinner I was able to approach her without calling attention to either of us. Caroline was keeping the attentions of everyone else with stories of my teaching in Massachusetts. They all laughed at the boy who burped his way through the national anthem, perfectly on key, at least that is how Caroline tells it.

“I thought you would enjoy the evening. You didn’t have other plans did you?” I said to Edith in a private corner of the sitting room.

No doubt I should have thought of that before now.

“I am enjoying the evening and no, I did not have other plans.”

“But you have been so quiet.”

“I am normally quiet.”

“Not since I have met you.”

“You bring out the talkative side of me I suppose. I am normally more reserved.”

She was blushing a little and shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

“I would never have suspected you of being shy, Edith.”

“I am not shy. I am not comfortable in large groups.”

And I am not old, I have just been around a lot longer than you.

“Has it occurred to your goal of becoming a teacher will place you in front of large groups on a daily basis?”

“Of course, but it is different with children.”

“How so?”

“They are not intimidating.”

“Who here is intimidating?”

“Besides you?”

“Me? My dear girl, that is a wonderful compliment but I have never been intimidating for a single moment in my entire life.”

“Next time you pick up a strap, look in the mirror.”

I chuckled. She had a point.

“Very well, but I do not mean it as intimidation. I will never raise a strap toward you again if it would help.”

“I thought helping was the reason you raised it in the first place.”

“It is but the point of discipline is to teach good behavior from bad, not to intimidate you. What good would that do?”

“Fear can keep a person in line.”

“Yes, but only for so long as the fear remains.”

“Some fears can last a lifetime.”

“Yes, but as a teacher there will always be times when I am no longer involved in my students’ lives. It is better they have learned right from wrong than simply choose right in my presence for fear of what will come from choosing wrong.”

“How can you tell the difference?”

“It is simple, when I raise my hand to you, you do not cower in fear but welcome the release of guilt through just punishment. I can see the difference in this way.”

“I never thought of it like that."

“You should. You are not afraid to be disciplined, Edith. You accept it willingly when you have been a bad girl. You know you need the correction to ease your conscience.”

“Are you going to ignore me all evening, Charles?” Caroline asked, suddenly standing beside me.

“Of course not. I was merely talking with my assistant.” I replied.

Edith took the opportunity to escaped and settled next to Mr. Carrington for quiet whispers. Caroline had apparently ran out of stories to tell and was bored with being the center of attention.

“Shall we dance?” I asked Caroline.

She smiled and nodded.

Ms. Maple was playing the piano, although not perfectly, she was doing a proficient job and dancing has never been about the music in any case. I took Caroline in my arms and twirled her around the room. I must admit to hold my wife in this way and see her bright face, fills me with love. The rest of the room faded away until we stopped and then it was to a polite round of applause, which left Caroline blushing.

“Welcome to Primrose College, Mr. Birchwood.” Dean Steadward said at the end of the applause.
There were nods and smiles all around the room. I knew it was not me they were taken with but Caroline and I have to say, I know just how they feel.. Of course I will still have to warm her backside over making me late…

Building Bridges

June 27, 1896
Edith Bowen

I mailed a letter to Mr. Parker today. It was odd meeting him like I did but I barely remember my parents and if he knew my mother, even if it was many years ago, it is certainly worth my time to learn more. Caroline cautioned me that he could be running a scam of some kind, but I find it unlikely. There are not many who know of my status as an orphan and those who do can be trusted not to have said a word.

My relationship, if that is the proper term, with Charles has become more distant since my outing with his wife. Caroline and I have taken to spending some time together in the evenings after dinner. She is fascinated by the college and never tires of hearing stories from the early days of Primrose. Even Charles can be caught listening in at times but in general he has kept his distance at Carrington Manor.

The Birchwood’s should have their own place readied sometime in the coming week. It will probably do us all some good to have a little distance and give us a chance to reestablish a more traditional friendship. It is a good thing, Caroline is not much for jealousy, I do believe every girl in Primrose will be fawning over Charles come fall.

Charles has still made ample use of me as his assistance but he has refrained from administering any discipline. Well, at least as far as I am concerned. I have given him ample opportunities, teasing him with indirect answers and taking extraordinarily long amounts of time to do simple tasks. He grunts and groans but otherwise seems not to have noticed. I would take offense, except I think it actually has nothing to do with me at all.

The evening with Caroline was clearly enjoyed by all but, Charles seems obsessed with Ms. Maple of late. I find it amusing. Ms. Maple pretends she does not like or want his attention and yet she continuously manages to cross his path and irritate him. For all her complaining she submits to the discipline easily enough and I think I see a familiar pattern. I wonder if there might be an occasion in which all three of us are admonished simultaneously by Charles?

A girl can dream can she not?

The day did yield an unexpected event in the form of Mr. Carrington. He approached me shortly after dinner and I suspect I was the only one present who did not know his intentions. Caroline gave me a wink before disappearing with Charles.

“Edith, might I have a private word?” He asked without his usual air of authority.

“Of course, now?”

“Yes, if it is convenient.”


We retired to Mrs. Carrington den from their and sat comfortably in the chairs.

“We have had our difference over the last few months. I realize our disagreements have disrupted our personal relationship, but I want you to know I still have the utmost regard for you.” He said once we were settled.

“And I for you and your wife. I would welcome a return to how things used to be but I believe it is impossible to go backward.”

“Yes, it is but we can go forward and we can forge new bridges. I would very much like to see a day when we are friends again.”

“I was never your enemy.”

“No, but we are not strangers passing in the hall either.”

“Of course not.”

“I have been reviewing the admittance for the fall and it appears we can expect our largest group of girls yet.”

“That is good news. Surely that will help with the financial strains on the college.”

“Yes, but it will be a burden on the politics no doubt.”

“You are still concerned?”

“Yes. The politics are dangerous and they have away of resurfacing when you least expect it.”

“I see. I for one think the matter should be laid to rest, especially after the fall term begins. Once things have started and no disasters have occurred then everyone should realize it was never the monumental change they feared.”

“If politics were that simple, I would run for President.”

I smiled at that and he chuckled a little.

“I know it is not that simple but I do believe once the initial shock passes, everything will be fine because there will be the next big change on the horizon to worry over.”

“You may be right, I hope you are, but I expect trouble from the beginning of the new term.”

“Is there any particular reason or you just prefer to expect the worst?”

“I have my reasons but unfortunately I cannot share them.”

“I will not pursue it further then.”

“Thank you.”

I nodded.

“My purpose today was to ask for your assistance in the new term.”

“When the fall term begins I will be returning to my status as just another student.”

“You do not have to. You have been with Primrose almost from the start and you are entering your final year.”

“I am uncertain what my longevity at the school has to do with it and even if I were so inclined, how would I keep up with my studies with all the extra responsibilities?”

“I am certain allowances can be made.”

“I am not certain I would approve of allowances being made.”

“Yes, perhaps not but what I am proposing should have very little impact on your studies.”

“Perhaps you should explain in more detail before I respond?”

“That would be wise.”

“I will listen then.”

“The number of girls living here in the fall will be more than double what was here last year. My wife is certain it will be impossible for her to maintain watch over all of them and we know at least one of them will likely be trouble. My thought is that you might well benefit from sharing in the responsibility of governing the girls. It would certainly be a bonus of experience toward your own teaching position after your graduation.”

“I see. It is tempting, but how would this work?”

“In what way?”

“I expect Mrs. Carrington would still be involved?”

“Yes, of course. You would be assisting her.”

“So the ultimate responsibility would still rest with her and I would be expected to carry out her instructions?”

“I had envisioned a specific structure so as to avoid confusion. For example I think it might be best if you were to be responsible for the new arrivals only. This way it would not create hardships with the other girls who have known you as just another of them and by the quantity of new girls arriving it would be a substantial help to my wife.”

“I see. I am tempted. May I have some time to think it over?”

“Yes, certainly. I will need to know soon though. If you do not intend to assist I will have to arrange another solution.”

“I only need a day or two. I simply want to think it over in relation with my goals and the expectation I have for myself in the coming year. I am concerned this added responsibility might take away from my education.”

“It is only natural, but I believe you are capable of managing both without difficulty. Please take your time to think it over though, once you commit it will not be easy to decide you no longer wish to be involved.”

“I understand. Thank you for thinking of me.”

A New Corner

June 26, 1896
Sarah Waters

From the moment I stepped off the train in Denver I knew I did not fit in. It was as simple as being out of fashion but certainly not the extent of my status as a misfit. Sam was right at home and Deborah was as well. No doubt in sufficient time I will be a city dweller as well but for the moment I am lost.

Mother and Deborah instantly began to chatter and I felt cast aside. Sam walked proudly toward his home with Deborah on his arm. I followed behind like a bewildered servant out of place and time. I smiled wryly to myself remembering times now gone when Deborah had been my friend and not my sister-in-law.

The apartment was huge. It made our small home seem like a closet by comparison. Mother was shown to a private room upstairs which Deborah had made up for her in anticipation of our arrival. I waited patiently in the living room while she was settled in. I wonder if there will ever come a day when I no longer feel the stranger in this house. I will not hold my breath for it to come.

At last Deborah returned and smiled at me. It was the first time she had truly acknowledged my presence since we had arrived. I returned the smile without the happiness. Deborah sat next to me and rested her hand on my knee for a moment.

“How are you holding up?” She asked.

“Well enough, better than mother.” I replied.

“I was really sorry to hear about your father. He was always good to me. I’ll miss him.” She said with water eyes.

“Thank you.”

“You must be tired. Let me show you where you’ll be staying. It’s not much but Sam tells me you’ll only be here for the summer and then off to school.”

“Yes, I will be as little a burden as I can manage. Whatever space you have is more than I expect and certainly not less than I need.”

Deborah bit at her lip as if uncertain what to say and then decided on nothing. She led the way up the stairs and then to a second set of stair leading to an attic. There was a small bed to one side and set of six drawers beside it. A small table was next to the head of the bed and it held a candle stick.

I nodded as I looked around.

“It’s cozy. This will do just fine.” I said.

Deborah only nodded. Our eyes met for a moment and I could see hers were still watery. I offered an empty smile. She left the room and closed the door behind her. I slept soundly that first night and while I am certain many would have taken the location as an insult I did not. It was fitting in a strange way and made me feel a little more at ease, as if I was where I belonged.

Not quite a week later, life had settled back into a routine. I was then startled by a ringing sound I had never heard before. We were sitting at the dining table, enjoying dinner when it happened. Deborah’s face lit up like a child at the mention of Christmas and she looked at Sam with a gleaming smile. He chuckled and nodded and she immediately bounced up from the table and ran to a device mounted on the wall where the noise seemed to be coming from.

Mother and I were equally confused as Deborah lifted what looked like a cone and placed it to her ear.

“Hello.” She said.

In the distance it sounded like there might have been a voice coming out of it. I decided it was that or Deborah had gone completely insane.

“Oh, yes. My husband told me you would be calling. Sarah is right here, let me get her for you.” Deborah talked into the device on the wall like it was slightly deaf.

She motioned for me to come over to her and after a nod from Sam, I did.

“It’s Mr. Stone.” She said.

“It looks nothing like him.” I said unable to resist stating the obvious.

“This is a telephone silly. Mr. Stone is talking on the other end.”

“Why doesn’t he just come here and speak with me directly?” I asked.

“Here, just put this against your ear and talk into this piece here. I’ll explain when your done.”

I rolled my eyes and got a scolding look in return.

“Hello.” I said into the device feeling utterly ridiculous.

“Hello, Sarah.” A tiny voice said in my ear.

“Mr. Stone is that you?”

“Yes, yes. Isn’t this thing wonderful?”

“Magical perhaps.”

“Well yes, that too. I wanted to let you know right away that I got all the papers back from you scholarship and have sent off the tuition to Primrose College with your letter of intent.”

“That is wonderful news, Mr. Stone. I cannot thank you enough.”

“Nothing to it, Sarah. I’ll be coming to Denver on Monday next week and we’ll get started on finishing your requirements for your diploma.”

“I am looking forward to it.”

“I must be going now, tell your brother and mother hello from me.”

“I will. Goodbye, Mr. Stone.”

“Goodbye, Sarah.”

Deborah took the cone from my hand and placed it back in a cradle of sorts. We returned to our places at dinner and I for my part was feeling a little like Rip Van Winkle.

Deborah went on to explain the telephone in infinite detail which had mother and I completely captivated but apparently had my brother bored to tears.

“I am quite certain Mr. Bell invented the device to give his wife something to do other than talk his own ear off.” Sam interjected when he had listened to more than enough.

“You’ll be glad enough we have it if there is ever a fire like the big one in Chicago.” Deborah replied with a glint of mischief in her eyes.

I immediately realized this was a common bit between them. They were accustomed to teasing each other over it. Mother caught my eye and it was clear she agreed with my estimation as well as being inclined that we should grant them some privacy.

We cleared the table and cleaned the dishes despite protests from Deborah and Sam. It was the first thing mother and I had done together in our new home and it felt almost natural. We did not talk as we worked but then we rarely did in the best of times. It seems these days we have nothing left to say to each other, at least nothing nice to say and that has always meant it is better left unsaid.

After cleaning, I chose to retire to my room. I lit my candle, settled back on my bed and began to read from history textbook. It would undoubtedly be a good idea to refresh my memory on the things I have all ready learned before Mr. Stone arrives on Monday.

I was not left alone for long though. A soft knock on my door, and Deborah entered. She closed the door behind her and the look on her face was a serious one. I put my book aside and sat up straight.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact.” She replied.

“Is it something I did?”

“Yes. You are guest in my house and I have made allowances given the circumstances, but I will not stand for disrespect.”

“I have not been disrespectful.” I argued.

“And I suppose it was only my imagination that you rolled your eyes at me when I was trying to help you with the telephone?”

I bit at my lip remembering I had done exactly that.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

“You certainly should be. I’ve been nothing but accommodating of you and your mother and don’t think this isn’t a disruption of our lives. We are willing to do what we must because you are family and we love you but we are entitled to expect some consideration in return not the least of which is respect.”

I could not meet her gaze while she lectured. She was right in everything she was saying and I had not even a lame excuse to offer up. It was somehow worse knowing that I was being called on my bad manners by a woman only a year older than me.

“I’m sorry” I repeated in a softer tone hoping to convey that I really was.

“Remove your things and fetch me your hairbrush.” Deborah ordered sitting down on the edge of my bed.

I looked at her in shock for a moment. I was about to argue when I remember at the last moment that I was indeed the one in the wrong. Any punishment was fair and not at all unjust.
I removed my dress and gown, feeling hugely embarrassed in front of my one time friend. I opened the top drawer and pulled out my hairbrush. Hesitantly, I handed it to her. She took it without hesitation and patted her lap, signaling for me to lay myself down on it. I trembled a little as I did.

Deborah set to work as soon as my weight was on her. She swung the brush with fervor and the loud claps echoed in the small room like thunder. I began to squirm almost instantly as the intensity transferred from her wrist to my bottom. The heat built up quickly and it was only seconds before tears fell from my eyes.

“Keep still.” Deborah ordered with a touch of annoyance in her voice.

“I’m trying.” I replied before thinking.

“Try harder.” Deborah replied.

Her spanks increased to an even faster pace and I went from squirming to kicking. I clenched fist into my bed sheets and steeled myself to stop the movements of my legs. I gasped for breath as the pain in buttocks became all consuming.

I cannot say with any reliability how long Deborah spanked me but it was long enough for me to lose every essence of fight in me. I cried into the sheets and lay still on her lap until it came to an end. Deborah let me rest a moment before helping me up.

She looked at me with the same somber expression on her face. I smiled a little ashamedly at her.

“I trust you will not disrespect me or my husband in our house again.” She said.
“No, ma’am.” I replied.

It felt awkward to address her in such a way but no more awkward than standing naked before her with a sore backside she had given me. She handed me my brush and I put it away.

“You can join us in the living room for the remainder of the evening. As I’m certain your bottom is too sore to sit upon you can stand in one of the corners.”

I nodded my head not trusting myself to speak. I reached to pick up my things.

“Did I instruct you to dress?” Deborah asked.

“No ma’am.” I replied stopping in my tracks.

“You will learn to do as your told. Now come along, little Sarah.”

I followed her out of my privacy and down to the living room where mother and Sam were talking quietly. They both looked at me as we entered the room but neither said a word. Deborah guided me to a corner and left me there to face it with red cheeks facing the room and the corner. Thankfully, I did not have to look at anyone but it was shameful enough to hear them, especially when they elected to discuss my behavior and my backside.

Pandora's Window

June 25, 1896
Margaret Spooner

It was just another warm summer afternoon. I was sitting in the garden reading a letter from Edgar. He is planning a visit in the near future which I am looking forward to in most respects, but it does mean I will have to speak with mother soon and probably face her wrath for deceiving her. Probably best to get it over with soon so I can enjoy Edgar’s visit without wincing when I sit.

Father’s study has a window into the garden and during the summer he often leaves it open. The only exception is when mother has guests in the garden and he does not want to be disturbed. Today it was open and surely father left it open for breath of cooler air in the garden and likely did not realize I was outside.

When guests arrived, I paid little attention. I was too engrossed in re-reading every exquisite word written by Edgar. Slowly, over time, I began to listen more and more to the men talking though, especially as I noticed the tones carried some sense of aggravation.

The players were; my father of course, a man called Thomas Parker, and another called William Howe.

“And have you heard the latest effrontery from the General Williams? The imbecile has the audacity to attempt to dictate to me how I will operate my own mine.” Mr. Parkers said with some degree of loudness which was surely unnecessary.

“It is more than an attempt, for the moment General Williams is in control of your mine and there is little to be done about it.” My father replied.

“The government has no right to step in and dictate how my business manages its assets. I want you to prepare a letter of intent to challenge this General’s overstepping.” Mr. Parker said.

“You may wish to reconsider. If I were to challenge General Williams’ authority in this matter I could not do so without calling into question his authority to force the laborers back to work as well. You see it is a double edged sword and it appears the General has realized this.” My father said.

“I don’t care if those miserable miners go back to work in the mine all I wanted was for them to be forced out of the way of new miners coming in.” Mr. Parker said.

“Mr. Parker, the government became involved in this mess for two reasons. One, your mine stopped producing coal and was creating a rising cost due to the shortage for the nation’s industry. Two, your methods to resolve the disputes led to a full blown labor revolt which nearly turned the town into a war zone. In fact several people were killed before the General’s troops arrived.” My father replied.

“I do not deal with extortionists.” Mr. Parker said.

“It was a strike and with these recent demands coming to light public perception will be you were trying to run a slave operation rather than employ Americans to do necessary hard and dangerous work.” My father said.

“I don’t give a damn about public perception. That mine was barely making itself profitable before, with these changes it will likely cost me to keep it open.” Mr. Parker replied.

“You may not care about public perception but you have turned Daniel Waters into a martyr, which was the last thing you needed.”

“That’s not precisely true. The girl is mostly responsible for the martyrdom of Daniel.” Mr. Howe said.

“Daniel Waters was not to be killed and it was your man who killed him. You cannot blame child for idolizing her father. If you had gotten your hands on his journal like you were supposed to it would not have mattered either way.” My fathers said.

“That’s just it, Mr. Spooner, I have the journal.” Mr. Howe said.

“Then how did the girl know about his demands? What does she have?” My father demanded.

“I don’t know. We didn’t find anything else, he must have hidden some information away to her.” Mr. Howe said.

“We need to find out what exactly she knows.” Mr. Parker said.

“Agreed, but this time send someone to find out, not kidnap or kill her.” My father said.

“I never intended things to go as far as they did. Daniel Waters was a stubborn man and he’s the only reason things got so out of hand.” Mr. Howe said.

“That may very well be true, but I am of the opinion this matter was handled wrong from the start. The list of demands published in the paper makes those miners out to be victims of corporate greed instead of insurrectionists. Mr. McKinley wants to distance himself from you until the election is over on account of this incident.” My father said.

“Depending on what the Waters’ girl knows he might not be able to.” Mr. Parker said.

“Precisely why we must find out what she knows.” My father replied.

“It would be easier to kill her.” Mr. Parker said.

“Perhaps but such a course is not prudent at this time.” My father replied.

“She’s going to become more of a problem in time.” Mr. Howe said.

“What makes you say that?” My father asked.

“She is attending Primrose College in the fall.” Mr. Parker answered.

“I do not see that as a problem. If anything it is convenient as we all ready have the school being watched.” My father replied.

“Do you remember Arthur Bowen?” Mr. Parker asked.

“The New York lawyer? Yes.” My father replied.

“One and the same. His daughter is at Primrose and she’s the one who stirred up the whole mixed gender mess.” Mr. Parker said.

“Are you certain? I was under the impression the entire family was killed.” My father said.

“There is no doubt. I met her in Providence on Saturday. She’s the spitting image of Agnes.” Mr. Parker replied.

“Arthur was brilliant, he must have figured out a way to hide her.” My father said.

“I’m afraid this Bowen business was before my time.” Mr. Howe said.

“The less you know the better.” Mr. Parker replied.

“Bowen’s girl could be a threat and she’s all ready becoming a nuisance. Sumter’s girl was corrupted by her and there is some indication Bassett’s as well.” Mr. Parker continued after a short pause.

“I doubt Bowen’s girl knows anything of use and Mr. Sumter has assured me the incident with his daughter will not be repeated. As for Bassett, he’s always been a stubborn man. I think we sent a loud enough message though through his daughter.” My father said.

“Yes, and your own girl was right in the middle of all of it too.” Mr. Parker said.

“Leave Margaret out of this. She did nothing wrong and was only present to speak on a separate, unrelated matter.” My father said with a touch of anger in his voice.

“However you look at it, putting Waters’ girl in the midst of things is not a good idea. If she’s even half as stubborn as her father she’ll start putting the pieces together.” Mr. Parker said.

“She’s far better than half as stubborn, she made her old man look reasonable.” Mr. Howe said.

“She’s not your concern any longer. I’ll take care of it and there won’t be any more killing. Understood, gentlemen?” My father stated.

“We’ll do it your way for now, Mr. Spooner. C’mon let’s go.” Mr. Parker said and a moment later I heard father’s door open and shut.

In the garden I bit my lip wondering if I should try to sneak back into the house unseen or just stay put. No doubt I should have disappeared when they first arrived but the more I overheard the more I realized it would be a bigger mistake to risk calling attention to my presence.

What on Earth has my father got himself involved in? I looked down at the letter from Edgar in my hands and suddenly wished I could tell him not to come at all. I stood up and started to walk back into the house when the door suddenly opened. My father stepped out and closed the door behind him.

“You heard?” He asked.

I nodded my head.

“There are things you don’t understand Margaret.”

“Like most of what was being said in there.” I replied.

He nodded.

“I’m sorry I overheard.” I said.

“I’m not. We need to talk about what is going on at your school and how you will handle it. Is that from Edgar?”

“Yes, sir.” I replied.

“Is he coming?”

“He is trying for next week.”

“Good. I think it is a conversation we should have together.”

A Chance To Matter

June 24, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

It was a week of interrogation and testing. I was exhausted at the end of it all and a little bit sad to be leaving. The Rockefeller’s are extraordinary people and I felt more than a little pride at having survived the process.

Everyday, Mrs. Rockefeller would set me to work on a battery of tests. Some were on subjects I have never before heard of and I am quite certain I failed miserably on more than one occasion. I did not give up though and I made every effort to convey my willingness to learn the things which I did not yet know. Is that not the point of education?

Then there was this morning.

“No tests today, Lizzie.” Cettie, as Mrs. Rockefeller prefers to be called, said.

“That is a matter of opinion. When have you braved the train station and travel and not had your patience tested.” I replied with a small smile.

Cettie laughed a little at my attempt at humor.

“Too true, my dear.”

“I do not suppose JD will be making up his mind this morning?” I asked.

I may have been pushing for an answer more than was strictly appropriate but the not knowing would drive me mad on the way home.

Cettie laughed again.

“I would have thought you would have figured it out on your own by now.” She said.

“Any thoughts I have on the matter are purely conjecture and assumption, neither the sort of thing I wish to rely upon when my father asks me.”

“No, that is not what I meant. JD made his mind up about you the moment he met you. It is me whom you have needed to convince this past week.”

Light dawned upon me and I felt a bit foolish. The life I desire, the sense of equality and respect I seek, exists right here, right now, for this family. Could my father have known this all ready? Is this why he sent me here in the first place? I shook my head at myself.

“I guess I knew that on some level, but the conscious realization escaped me until now.” I replied.

“Obviously.” She nodded her head.

“Have you decided then?” I asked.

“Not yet.”

“What more can I do?”

“Tell me why you think you deserve to become a college educated woman?”

It was such a simple question and yet the answer eluded me. I sat quiet for a moment thinking of how best to answer.

“You see, it not as simple as you may think. There are hundreds, thousands, of young women across this country who want what you want. Why should you get it instead of one of them?” She said.

“Because I am here and they are not. Because it matters enough for me to be here and if you turn me down I will not forget about my goals as unreachable dreams, I will find another way to reach them. Because I will make my life matter to those women you speak of as well as to myself.”

“You sound almost arrogant. You think you will matter to those you do not even know? What will make you matter and why do you not matter all ready?”

“It is not arrogance, it is conviction. I will make a difference in this world and leave my mark upon it as surely as you will leave yours.”

“Yes, but what are you waiting for then? A college education is not needed to make a difference. Have you read the paper this morning?”


Cettie picked up a portion of the newspaper and pushed it in front of me.

New Labor Rules Enforced On Private Mine Owner!

General Williams, the Civil War veteran charged with putting down a labor revolt in Colorado last month has issued a new order of working standards to be followed by the privately owned coal mine. The standards were posted late Sunday and went into effect Monday morning.

The changes were advocated by the late Daniel Waters, a veteran miner and head of the local union. They were recently brought to the attention of General Williams by Mr. Waters’ surviving eighteen year old daughter, Miss Sarah Waters. The new standards are clearly focused on keeping the miners safe by regulating the work shifts and providing emergency supplies for collapses.

A few residents of the Colorado town remember the Waters’ family as meddlesome and trouble but the vast majority call them champions of the working man and as for Miss Sarah Waters, an angel from heaven.

I finished reading and looked up at Cettie.

“That is a young woman who matters. She has changed this country and never set one foot in a college.” She said.

“Her father made the difference. I am not saying she had no role in it but her father is clearly the instigator.”

“There is more to the story than sits on that page. You should know that, Lizzie.”

“I am certain the newspaper fails to bring the entire story to light. What does it have to do with me?”

“If you want to matter or make a difference in people’s lives, it is not so difficult as you may think.”

I nodded my head not really understanding.

“So, you will not help me?” I asked.

Cettie smiled a soft, gentle smile.

“We will help you. You have potential, Elizabeth Basset.”

I was so shocked I almost began to cry. I looked down at the table to try and get my emotions back under control. My eyes fell on the picture accompanying the story. The woman’s face had haunted my dreams for weeks at Primrose. My breath caught in my throat.

“Are you all right?” Cettie asked.

“She’s going to Primrose College.” I said more to myself than Cettie.

“Yes, she is, but how did you know?”

Hear No Evil

June 23, 1896
Penelope Sumter

“What do you say, we take the automobile to the beach? It will only take a couple hours to get there.” Wilbur said to me.

I shook my head in the negative. Wilbur looked frustrated. It was third idea of his I had shot down in less than five minutes. He was doing his best to distract me from the meeting taking place in father’s study behind closed doors. I would guess he feels as shunned as I do, perhaps even more so. Our older brother, James was permitted but we were not.

I recognized one of the men as he entered which is why I even care in the first place. It is not uncommon for father to have private meetings at the house and certainly not uncommon for them to be absolutely unimportant to me, but this time was different. The man was a member of the school board of Brown University and Primrose College. There were others as well but my intuition tells me the subject matter is directly related to my school, if not myself.

Wilbur tried to assure me it was only my imagination and that one man’s presence from my college hardly constitutes evidence of the subject matter. My thoughts and emotions are probably being unduly influence by remnants of guilt I feel over having disappointed my father in my actions in front of the school board. He would of course be right except I do not feel any guilt over my actions. I firmly believe my father has overreacted due to his unyielding political views which often cloud his ability to see events for what they are. Must everything have duplicitous implications? Not for me but for my father this is the reality of his world.

I drained my glass of lemonade and quietly made my way down the hallway to part of the wall shared with father’s study. Wilbur gave me a questioning look, to which I only smiled. I placed the glass against the wall and my ear to the bottom of the glass. Who says science class is not useful? Memories of Lucy and Jenny polluted my thoughts for a moment.

“The movement is getting out of hand. The time is coming for decisive action.” A man’s voice said in the room.

“I agree.” Came another.

“We should wait until after the election. I am assured Mr. McKinley will restore rationality.” Another man’s voice said.

“Waiting is what brought us to this point.” The first man responded.

“Gentlemen, we must have patience. Wars are not won in a single night nor a single battle and make no mistake, we are at war here. We must choose our positions and battles carefully. Events are all ready in motion and we have yet to see success or failure. Let us not make hasty judgments and take action where none is needed.” James said.

“My son is correct. For now we will wait and observe. We shall only take action if and when the situation reveals itself as necessary. It is still possible and I believe likely, they will defeat themselves without any assistance from us.” My father said.

“I don’t like it.” The first man replied.

“You don’t have to. Just do as your told.” James said.

“You can’t really hear anything can you?” Wilbur asked.

I nearly dropped the glass and stopped long enough to glare at him. I placed my finger to my lips and hushed him. Unfortunately, it was too late. The study door burst open and the men filed out. I quickly righted my glass and grabbed Wilbur’s arm. He played along smoothly and we watched the men leave without any suspicion being leveled on us.

The men were all gone except one still talking on the doorstep with James. They were whispering and I could not hear a thing. I guided Wilbur to walk us closer. James caught sight of us though and waved us over. I did my best to not look guilty but the initial shock must have shown on my face.

“Mr. Parker, I’d like to introduce my little brother, Wilbur and my baby sister, Penelope.” James said.

“Pleased to meet you.” Mr. Parker said.

He shook Wilbur’s hand and kissed mine with a slight bow.

“What do you do, Mr. Parker?” I asked.

James gave me a subtle nudge of warning.

“I deal in energy and labor, both are in short supply.” He replied.

“Very interesting. No doubt you have an opinion about the rampant strikes and unionizing of laborers across the country.” I said.

“Indeed I do, but it would take a good deal of time to explain and I am afraid you would not comprehend most of it.”

“No doubt, still it is fascinating and I understand it is a major contributor to the economic troubles of our country.”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head over it. These things have a way of working themselves out for the best. I am sure we could find more pleasant and entertaining topics for conversation than economics and politics.”

“I am certain you are right.” James said before I could respond.

I gave his a dirty look but he chose to ignore me.

“Unfortunately, I must be going. It was a pleasure, Miss Sumter, Wilbur, James.” Mr. Parker said with a nod of his head.

When he was gone and we were back inside the house I turned to James.

“Interesting company you are keeping James. Who was he?” I asked.

He grabbed my wrist, the one holding the empty glass and twisted it.

“Let go, James! You are hurting me.”

“You were being nosy. You have always been a brat but what happened to you at that school? You come back and it’s like you’ve forgotten your manners and your place.” James said.

“Leave her alone, James.” Wilbur said defending me.

“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll disappear right now, Will.” James said.

Wilbur looked between me and James and I could tell by the look in his eyes he was closer to punching James than walking away.

“Just go Wilbur. I’ll be fine. James and I need to have a talk.” I said.

Wilbur looked at me for a moment longer and then nodded.

“I’m going, but if you hurt her James, I’ll break your arm.” Wilbur said.

James was nonplussed by the threat and simply ignored it. He pulled me into father’s study which was empty and closed the doors. He turned the key in the lock and then turned to me.

“What did you hear?” He asked.

“Nothing important. Just a lot gibberish that sounded like politics.” I replied.

His hand slapped across my face leaving a stinging burn on my cheek.

“What did you hear?” He asked again.

“Nothing.” I said.

He slapped me again.

“What did you hear?”

“Nothing, James, Nothing.”

He slapped me again and I started to cry.

“I didn’t hear anything. Please, I’m sorry James.” I said.

“You will be. Get that dress off and bend over the desk.” He ordered.

There was a time I would have argued with him. Now I know there is no escaping him. If James is of a mind to discipline me then I will be disciplined. Father will not even listen, should I have a legitimate grievance and with matters today he would likely give me a second whipping himself if he knew what I had done.

I quickly let my dress fall to the floor and leaned over the desk. The hard wood was little comfort but at least it offered strength to hold on to. James retrieved a leather strap from a drawer and swished it through the air. He slapped it down on the desk beside my face. I remained still and unmoved which must have frustrated him because he grunted and then swung hard at the lower part of my buttocks.

White hot pain seared through my bloomers and if I had not been holding onto the desk I might well have jumped high enough to hit my head on the ceiling. James did not stop there though. He followed the first with a second, third and fourth all in the exact same spot and all delivered within seconds of the first.

I writhed on the desk and screamed in discomfort. My tears fell hot against my cheeks.

“What did you hear?” James asked.

“Nothing.” I cried.

He landed another four a little lower at the meeting of buttocks and thighs. I gritted my teeth and refused to scream out anymore. The tears continued to fall, but I blinked through them and the pain.

“What did you hear?” James asked again.

“Nothing.” I replied again.

Four more stripes were added, this time wholly on my thighs. I bit my cheeks and tasted blood, but I kept silent. My resolve to beat him grew stronger with every stroke of the strap.

“What did you hear?” He asked yet again.

I remained silent this time. My answer would not change and there was no further point in repeating myself.

“What did you hear?” He repeated.

I breathed slowly through my nose concentrating on the rhythm of in and out and I married it to the pulsating throbs of pain in my bottom and thighs.

Eight more strokes came, all spaced from my thighs to the middle of my bottom. I breathed through them. Suddenly I felt his hands on my bloomers and an instant later they were spread open, baring my buttocks.

“What did you hear?” He asked.

I tightened my grip on the desk until my knuckles whitened. There was nothing to say.

James started swinging the strap like a mad man. It bounced off my bottom only to slap against it again and again. The strokes became uneven and the stinging became a massive burning of near unbearable heat.

“Stop it!” I screamed at last.

James ignored me and kept swinging. My thighs were getting hit more and more and I could no longer keep my legs still. I began kicking them about and screaming. My tears fell faster.

He kept swinging as though he did not care about the pain he was inflicting. Something in me snapped and I pushed myself up. James tried to shove me back down but I resisted and pushed him off balance. His face was red with rage.

Regaining his balance, he started back toward me.

“Stop it, James!” I shouted through tears.

He raised the strap as if to strike my face with it. I swung my open palm at his cheek and the room fell quiet after the resounding slap echoed in the air. James looked at me with what appeared to be hatred.

We stared at each other in silence for a long moment and then James turned away from me. He put the strap away and unlocked the door and walked out without a further word to me.

I redressed myself and ran to my bedroom. I lay face down and cried into my pillow while trying to massage my tortured flesh back to normal. It was hopeless but I could not help but try.

As my tears dried, my thoughts returned to the men and the meeting and the few words I did over hear. None of it made any sense to me. Never in my life have I seen James so out of control as he was when he realized I had been eavesdropping. I wonder just what it is, he is afraid I overheard?

June 16th - 21st, 1896

June 16, 1896 - Wrong For Right

  • Margaret is confronted by her father for her behavior since coming home for the summer
  • Will Margaret learn her lesson or will she remain stubborn?

June 17, 1896 - Share The Wealth

  • Elizabeth travels alone to Ohio
  • Will she secure tuition for Primrose College?

June 18, 1896 - Teaching Ms. Maple (Part One)

  • Charles arranges a private meeting with Ms. Maple
  • Ms. Maple remains resistant to Charles' charm and largely defiant

June 19, 1896 - Teaching Ms. Maple (Part Two)

  • Charles rejoins Ms. Maple in the morning
  • Ms. Maple remains stubborn and lacking remorse even after a lengthy otk session

June 20, 1896 - What We Leave Behind

  • Sarah and her mother prepare to move to Denver while tensions continue between them
  • Mr. Stone and Sam come to an arrangement to send Sarah to Primrose College in the fall
  • Sarah and Sam construct their father's last request and deliver it to General Williams with some small hope at least some of the changes might come about for the miners

June 21, 1896 - Two Dresses, One Strap

  • Edith and Caroline take a shopping trip into Providence
  • They come back with more than they are supposed to and face Charles' wrath

Two Dresses, One Strap

June 21, 1896
Edith Bowen

“Do you like working for my husband?” Caroline asked suddenly whilst we were walking the streets of Providence.

“He is fair.” I replied.

“Yes, he is but that does not answer my question.”

“He is a better boss than I expected. Although if I am honest his subject of choice is of little interest to me.”

“And still you avoid answering the simple question. Perhaps I should tell him of your indirectness?”

I gazed at her for moment in shock.

“He told you?” I asked.

“He would not be much of a husband if he did not.”

I suddenly felt betrayed and inspired by Charles Birchwood all at the same time. If Caroline were a school friend I would have blushed but seeing as she is the wife of my boss I did my best to control the reaction. No need for Mrs. Birchwood to become suspicious of my interest and motivations in regards to her husband.

It was a warm day and it was my first time out in the city since school let out. Caroline was in desperate need of a dress for an impending dinner with the school board and their wives. Charles naturally asked if I knew my way around the city and would not mind taking his wife around. Had I been truthful I would have mentioned a desire to keep a respectful distance from his wife but good manners suggested I cooperate without hesitation.

My Saturday off then became my Saturday working while pretending I was only doing what I wanted to do. Caroline had been better company than I expect though and after only an hour walking the streets and shopping the shops of Providence I found myself genuinely liking her.
Which of course is all the more reason not to let on I am fatally attracted to her husband. It would be easier to hate her but she is far to nice and fun to hate. I am reminded of my once great friendship with Mrs. Carrington and it saddens me to consider the three of us are unlikely to develop a lasting friendship.

“Yes.” I answered finally, truthfully.

Caroline smiled brilliantly.

“So she can tell the truth.” Caroline said.

“On rare occasions it is less dangerous.” I said.

We shared a look which told me she was well aware of the dangers her husband could pose.

“Do you like that he disciplines you?” She asked.

“Do you?” I replied, deciding this was one time I would risk the danger rather than lead with the embarrassing truth.

She looked at me with contemplative frown on her face.

“Yes. I think I like it very much.” She said.

“May I ask why?”

“You may ask.”

I waited for her to continue but she chose to remain silent as we walked.


“I said you could ask. I made no commitment to answer.”

I smiled and nodded in understanding.

“I feel the same with Mr. Birchwood but I have never felt that way with anyone else.” I admitted boldly.

“I know you fancy him, Edith. I also know you are a proper lady and would never indulge in your fancies with him. So, you see I am not jealous or angry.”

“I thought I was keeping my feelings to myself.”

“Even Charles is not so blind as to not have noticed. You cannot help the way you feel and you are horrible at hiding it. Which is just fine with me. Charles is a fine man and it is a comfort to know I am not alone in seeing it.”

“You are right. He is different than anyone I have ever met.”

It was then we were interrupted.

“Agnes! Agnes! Wait a moment!” A man shouted from across the street.

He was waving his arms wildly and seemed to be shouting at either Caroline or myself. Not knowing the man and seeing the same confused look on Caroline’s face as must sure have been on my own, I decided it was best to ignore him and pretend he had failed to catch our attention.
I turned toward a conveniently placed dress shop and pulled Caroline with me. There was a gorgeous formal dining gown in the window, jus the sort of dress we were supposed to be finding for her anyway. It was even in the indigo color which is the latest color in fashion. We goggled at it.

A tap on my shoulder nearly had me jumping out of my skin.

“Agnes.” The man said again, only this time he was less than a foot away.

“I’m sorry, I am not Agnes, you must have me confused with someone else.” I said turning to face the man.

He stared blankly at me for a moment.

“Of course not you must be related to her though. You are far to young to be Agnes but you are the spitting image of her.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

Caroline looked on wearily. Ordinarily, I would have felt exactly as she did but then she did not know my mother’s name was Agnes.

“Thomas Parker.” He replied, taking my hand and kissing it gently while bowing to me.

“I am Edith Bowen and this is Mrs. Caroline Birchwood.” I said.

“You do know who I am talking about , don’t you? Agnes is your--”

“Mother.” I finished.

Caroline looked absolutely stunned.

“She must be so proud, you are the spitting image of her.”

“She died some years back. How did you know her?” I asked.

“No. I am terribly sorry, Miss Bowen. I had no idea. It seems like only yesterday but it was perhaps 25 years ago, she and I were friends.”

“You lost touch?”

“My family did not approve of our relationship and so they sent me away from her. I never had a chance to explain it to her although I am certain she knew what happened. When I saw you from across the street it was like walking back through time.”

“Do you live here in Providence, Mr. Parker?” I asked.

“No, in fact I am just in town for a few hours of business. I apologize if I startled you, I simply had to know if you were her.”

“Quite all right, Mr. Parker. It is nice to meet an old friend of mother’s. I really know so very little about her.”

“Your father doesn’t talk about her to you?”

“He passed at the same time. It was a train accident in New Jersey.”

“Oh I see. I am very sorry, Miss Bowen. If I had more time I would stay and tell you anything you want to know, but I am rushed for time. Here take my card, please write me and perhaps we can arrange to meet again when both have the time to discuss things.” He said and handed me a small card.

I took it from him and nodded.

‘Thank you, Mr. Parker. I look forward to when next we meet.”

“As do I. Now sadly, I must bid you good day.”

“Good day.” Caroline and I replied.

We turned back to the window as he walked away. Caroline remained quiet for a moment, thinking before she spoke.

“A very strange man, that Mr. Parker.” She said.

“Maybe.” I replied.

“I did not know you were an orphan.”

“I don’t like for people to know. I would appreciate it if you would keep it to yourself.”

She squeezed my arm supportively.

“Of course I will. It isn’t the subject of polite conversation in any case.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, shall we get one of those for each of us.” She said indicating the indigo dress in the window.

“It’s perfect for you but I can’t afford anything like that.”

“It will be on Charles for imposing on your day off.”

“I am quite certain he feels no such obligation.”

“Then he’ll just have to deal with us both.” She said with a wink.

She opened the door and gestured for me to go inside. I laughed and shook my head at her.

“You know what he’ll do to us.” I said.

“Yes, and we will all enjoy it.” She replied.

I entered the store with Caroline on my heels. A salesman approached us immediately.

“We’ll take two of those.” Caroline said pointing at the dress.

Later that evening we stood naked, side by side in Charles and Caroline’s bedroom. We held our new dresses in front of use while Charles lectured us on our frivolity and irresponsibility. Caroline is apparently corrupting me or so Charles says. I wonder if it is true.

A few moment later we were bent over the foot of the bed with our dresses lying on the bed under our very noses.

“Maybe you will connect your behavior and the pain you are now enduring if you have to stare at the cause of the trouble.” Charles said.

He swung a strap he had borrowed from Mr. Carrington. He alternated between Caroline and myself, giving us each two strokes at time before moving on to the other. After six, the burning was becoming unbearable and my eyes began to drip tears onto my beautiful dress.

Caroline laid her hand on mine and we intertwined fingers for mutual support as Charles continued his assault.

“A single simple request and neither of you can manage to do it. I should make you both take the dresses back and show the salesman your spanked bottoms.” He ranted.

The strap continued its work of two strokes at time. He aimed the lower and lower at each pass until they were on our thighs and then he slowly went back up again to the center of our buttocks.

“If I had wanted to buy something for Edith I would done it myself. Is that clear, ladies?”

“Yes, sir.” we replied in unison.

“If I ever send you out shopping together again, you will do well to remember this.” He said and then launched into a final flurry.

By the end of us energetic strapping, Caroline and I were both hopping from foot to foot in a futile attempt to ease the discomfort and burning in our rears. Somehow through it all we continued to hold hands.

Finally, we were allowed to stand up.

“Was it worth it ladies?” Charles asked us.

“We each looked at the dresses, then each other’s backside and then Charles. Then we looked at each other nodded.

“Yes, sir.” We said.

Is it still called discipline when it ends with three happy faces?

What We Leave Behind

June 20, 1896
Sarah Waters

“It is for the best.” Sam had said.

I did not believe him at the time. I guess I was not quite ready for the truth of it. Life is like that though. Just when you think you have things figured out, all the rules get changed. After a couple of days I realized moving to Denver was not the ending I had felt initially. Quite the opposite, Denver will be a new beginning.

Packing took me very little time. Mother on the other hand struggled over every item. I sympathized from afar. It could not be easy when even the apparent garbage held some memory of father to her. I would have told her, hugged her, even cried with her, but she wants nothing from me, least of all my mere presence. Whatever the sheriff had told her that day, whatever lies he had whispered, they were all she can hear when she looks at me.

Sam thinks it will pass in time. She is in mourning and only when the grief passes will she be able to see her way through the darkness around her. I hope he is right, but I fear the darkness is there to stay. Maybe it is because we have always had a small rift between us, but I think some roads once traveled, offer no way back.

It was yesterday afternoon, when mother began wailing over a dirty sock found beneath her bed. Sam took her gently from the room and comforted her with tea in her garden. He left me the assignment to go through our father’s belongings and choose what to put in boxes and what to throw away. For mother this was an impossible task, for me it was a difficult one.

I was nearly finished when I realized what was missing. I looked everywhere, twice, just to be sure I had not overlooked it. I sat down at father’s small desk and wondered briefly if my mother had all ready stashed it someplace. Then I remembered the end of that awful day when father died. Billy and two of his men had come out of the house when the sheriff had been shot. At the time, it had hardly registered, but now I suddenly wondered what they had been doing in the house. I marched into the garden.

“Where is father’s journal?” I demanded.

Sam and mother turned to me. Sam looked from me to mother and back again with concern on his face. They both remained silent.

“Where is it?” I demanded again, raising my voice.

“Sarah, calm down.” Sam said.

“I only want the truth.” I said stepping closer to them.

“Why do you care?” Mother spoke at last.

“I know you are hurting mother but how dare you act like I don’t care.” I replied.

“How dare I? How dare you come in here and start throwing accusations around!” She yelled at me.

“I’ve made no accusations. I asked you a simple question. Where is father’s journal?” I demanded again.

Sam looked between us, uncertain what he should do or say if anything at all. He chose nothing. Mother stared hard at me for a moment before suddenly looking away from me and waving her hand in dismissal of me.

“That man you was cavorting with took it.” She said.

I felt cold.

“You mean Billy?” I asked.

She nodded.

“I was never cavorting with him, Mother.”

She laughed but there was no humor in it.

“And yet you call him so informally.”

I mentally kicked myself for the slip. William Howe has certainly left his mark on me. I decided it was best to end the conversation before it spiraled into darker territory. I re-entered the house and closed the door behind me. I think Sam might have enquired as to where I was going but I ignored him.

As soon as I entered the house I could hear someone knocking on the front door. I rushed to open it and just in time. Mr. Stone was about to walk away.

“Ah, Sarah. I though I had missed you.” He said turning back around to face me.

“I was in the garden.” I replied.

He nodded as if that explained everything.

“I wondered if I might have a word with you and your brother?” He asked.

“My brother is somewhat occupied at the moment but you may trust I will pass anything along to him.”

He nodded his head again. I gestured for him to enter house and we sat down around the dining table.

“Can I offer you anything?” I asked playing my part as hostess.

“Nothing, thank you.”

“What did you want to discuss?”

“Your education, Sarah.”

It was my turn to nod.

“I can’t see how I’ll ever make it to college now.”

“You may not approve but I have sent away for your diploma.”

“But I didn’t finish.”

“No, and I would be remiss if I didn’t insist you did before I give it to you.”

“We are leaving for Denver tomorrow. I am afraid there is no time.”

“I expected you would be moving there soon enough. With you and your brother’s permission I will visit you there and help you complete your studies over the summer.”

“I would appreciate that. I can’t see why Sam would object but I’ll ask him just the same.”

“Good. Primrose College is an opportunity of a lifetime, Sarah.”

“I know. I want to go, really I do, but it just isn’t possible.”

“It is possible. The tuition is covered, you have been accepted on your merits, the only thing left is for you to accept. They need confirmation you are going within the month.”

I shook my head.

“I appreciated what you are trying to do. It means a lot to me, but how can I leave with everything that has happened?”

“What will staying prove?” Sam said from behind me.

I nearly jumped out of my chair, surprised by his presence.

“Sam! How long have you been there?”

“Long enough. If the opportunity is still available to you, you are going.” He said.

“But--” I began.

“Father wanted you to go so bad he was willing to mortgage the house to the bank. It’s in my power to send you and you are going. That is final.” Sam replied.

I turned to look at him. His face was serious and commanding and for just a moment it was not Sam standing there but father. Tears welled up in my eyes and I tried to blink them away.

“I didn’t know that.” I said.

“Well you do now!” Mother said in an angry voice.

She walked up from behind Sam and threw her teacup at me. I ducked to the side just in time and it shattered on the table.

“He loved you more than anything, more than me! You repay him by, by, by…MURDERER!” She screamed.

Mother fell to her knees in sobs and Sam grabbed hold of her. He hugged her to him until she pushed him away. With Sam off balance she got up and ran to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

Sam and I looked at Mr. Stone in embarrassment. He shook his head.

“I understand this is a difficult time. If things weren’t so pressing I would wait.”

“Quite all right, Mr. Stone. I was planning on having this discussion with you tomorrow in any case.” Sam said.

Mr. Stone opened his satchel and pulled out a bundle of papers.

“Primrose College requires a letter confirming your intention to attend. In addition they require proof of a diploma, which I can supply and they will need the tuition and dormitory fees paid.”

“I though the fees were covered under a scholarship?” Sam asked.

“They are, but they require confirmation of Sarah’s diploma and acceptance into Primrose College. I can take care of the papers with only a few signatures from you and Sarah.”

Sam nodded. I sat there in disbelief. My head was spinning and I felt numb. Mr. Stone brushed some shards of mother’s teacup away and pushed a page in front of me. I noticed he had cut his finger and it stirred me from my bewilderment.

“Let me clean this up.” I said and stood up.

Mr. Stone and Sam watched me in silence as I used a whiskbroom to catch the broken pieces into a dustpan. Were my thoughts not preoccupied with the sudden turn of events they might have made me nervous and self conscious. Instead I found myself having to control the urge to smile and whistle. All things considered it just would not have been appropriate.

Mr. Stone went through the papers quickly. Sam stopped and questioned him on a few pages, but it all went rather smoothly. No more than a half hour later and Mr. Stone had repacked his satchel and left with the promise to arrange weekly visits to Denver so I could complete my Diploma requirements before the end of the summer and the start of my first term at Primrose College.

Sam and I sat in silence at the table, just looking at each other. I wanted to say a lot of things to him right then but I did not know where or how to begin. I think he understood. There was pride in his eyes and even though we wore somber expressions I think in the moment we were both happier than we had been in weeks.

Then I remembered father’s journal.

“What would Mr. Howe want with father’s journal?” I asked Sam.

“I’m not sure.”

“But you have an idea?”

Sam gave me a half smile.

“Yes, I have a thought or two on it.” He said.

“Tell me.”

“You probably don’t remember, you were pretty young at the time, but a few years back father made a trip to Virginia. There was a lot of trouble with the mine then, a bunch of men had died because of some air problems and to make matters worse there was a dispute with the railroad over who was to load the trains with the coal.”

“I remember the trip but none of the details. What do that have to do with his journal?”

“Father went to Virginia to negotiate with some very important people. I don’t know all the particulars but he had to have met with some politicians as well as the owners of the mine and the railroad. Those names, especially the politicians might be something of a secret and if father recorded them in his journal, well maybe someone didn’t want to risk the names falling into the wrong hands.”

“Are you saying there was something underhanded that went on?”

“I think there might have been. I wasn’t really old enough to understand it all at the time but I remember father saying he was pleased with the results but not the way they were achieved.”

“That doesn’t seem a very likely motivation to me.”

“You don’t know how politics work.”

“True enough but who would remember something that long ago and have any reason to suspect father’s journal would be evidence?”

“I can’t think much else though unless it is just they wanted it to make sure his demands for changes at the mine never surfaced. They could have just as easily ripped out the last few pages though rather than take the whole thing.”

Light dawned on me.

“Now that does make sense. The army is in charge of getting things back on track at the mine and if they were to see father’s demands and how reasonable they were, they might just enforce the changes as a morale booster.” I said.

“Whatever the reason, it’s gone.”

An idea started to form in my head. I think I might have actually started to smile in fact. Sam looked at me with a wary expression on his face.

“What are you thinking?” He asked.

“I think father can make one last difference in this town.” I replied.


“Those changes Sam, we can make it happen.”

“How? The journal is gone or have you forgotten it all ready?”

“Who knows it is gone? You, me, mother and William Howe. None of us are going to tell.”

“What are you proposing?”

“You write out the changes father wanted in your journal and we’ll rip out the pages and deliver them to General Williams. He may not make them all come true but even if just a couple are made it will be worth the effort.”

Sam stared at me for a moment. I could tell he was thinking about arguing with me but in the end he decided not to and just surrendered.

It took us about an hour to write them all out and other than one I was not even certain they were actually things father wanted;

  • A graduated pay scale with longer term miners making more money than beginners.

  • Shorter work shifts with no one working in the mine more than fourteen hours per day.

  • Ten minute fresh air breaks every two hours.

  • Standardized work shifts of eight hours with higher wages for extra hours worked on a shift.

  • Lifetime pensions for widows of workers killed while working inside the mine.

  • Regular weekly inspections of supports for the tunnels.

  • An alternative exit/entrance and emergency supplies in each tunnel.

It was too late to travel to the camp when we finished so I left first thing this morning for the camp on Jasper. I was met immediately with drawn guns and orders to dismount. I laughed but I did as they instructed.

“What’s your business here?” A young man asked.

“I need to see General Williams.”

“No one sees the General unless he wants to see them.”

“He’ll want to see me. Tell him Miss Waters is here.”

The soldier looked aggravated. Fortunately for him General Williams stepped out of a nearby tent and saw me.

“Miss Waters, what brings you here?” He asked.

The soldiers snapped to attention and made way for the General. The one who had been questioning me looked embarrassed. I smiled at him before turning to the General.

“I have something for you. I am leaving town today, my brother is taking me to stay with him in Denver.”

“I see. You need not give me anything, Miss Waters. I am truly sorry for all you have been through.”

“It’s not really from me. It is from my father.” I said and pulled out the folded pages.

The General took them from my hand and began reading them.

“I don’t understand.”

“This is what the strike was all about. This is the reason my father is dead and countless others. They were not asking for much, just to be treated like men.”

“I still don’t know what you expect me to do with this.”

“I thought you were in charge here.”

“I am.”

“Then make something good come of this.”

“I can’t do this. I’m sorry.” He held the pages up to me.

“Keep them, they mean nothing if they don‘t matter to you. I thought you might have been a person that cared, I guess I was wrong.”

“I do care, Miss Waters. There are matters involved here which you cannot comprehend. Much as I would like to help, I just can’t.”

“If you were in charge you could help, but I guess you never really were. It’s okay, I didn’t think you were from the start.”

I turned and walked away feeling defeated. I tried and failed and while I did not expect much, the failure felt like salt in an open wound and I wondered why I had bothered.

“Things are not as black and white as you want them to be, Miss Waters.” The General said.

“It’s not what I want. My father spent his life working in that mine and when he could he made a positive difference for the people in this town. That’s the last thing he tried to do for them and it’s in your hands now.”

He sighed.

“I’ll try.” He said.

“It’s all any of us can do.” I said finally having mounted Jasper.

“Take care of yourself, Miss Waters.”

“Take care of the people of this town. They are as American as the man who owns that mine.” I said and rode back home.

A few hours later we were on the platform waiting to board the train to Denver. Mother was quiet and sad. Sam was ready to go home. I looked around for one last time. There were a few familiar faces about. On the other side of the street was Laura.

She had a veil over her face but I knew it was her. Her eyes were still full of hate and she was staring at me. I should have perhaps gone and offered her an apology but while I wish her no evil, I do not feel I owe her anything. The train whistle blew and it was time to board.

Laura just stood there watching until the train pulled out of the station.

“Good riddance, Sarah Waters!” I heard her yell just barely over the noise of the train.

“Goodbye.” I whispered looking out the window, not at Laura but at the only home I have ever known.