On The Road To Providence

June 4, 1896
Charles Birchwood

“Are we there yet?” Caroline asked for the fourth time.

Were I less patient man I might have turned her over my knee right there and then. The other passengers certainly would not mind. That is if the annoyed glares were anything to judge by. Caroline had hardly shut her mouth for more than a minute of our journey.

“Yes, my love, we are there.” I announced wearily.

“It’s not too late to go home.” She replied.

I can only describe her expression as hopeful.

“This is our home now.” I answered.

Caroline produced a handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes while exaggerating sniffles of sadness. I counted to ten and rolled my eyes in defense.

Our children were practically jumping up and down for joy. The sites of a new city to explore, the prospect of new friends to be made was more than enough for them to be happy. In this way I am becoming convinced wives are more difficult to manage than children or horses.

“Come along everyone. It is time to debark.” I announced.

I stood up and offered my hand to Caroline. She stared at it for a moment and then pushed herself up on her own, leaving me standing there like a fool. My hand itched to return the favor but a passenger car is no place for proper discipline, particularly when it is no longer moving. Besides, we were undoubtedly being met by a representative of the school and it would be impolite to keep them waiting.

On the platform I scanned the crowd for the gentleman who was supposed to be meeting us. There was no obvious sign of him. I led my family to an out of the way place against a wall of the station. I expected when the crowds subsided it would be easier to locate our contact.

“Weren’t we supposed to be met by someone?” Caroline asked.

“Yes, dear.”

“Then where is he?”

“I do not know.”

“Are you sure we are in the right place?”

“Yes, dear.”

“How do you know?”

I pointed to the sign hanging at the edge of the platform. It read, “Providence, R.I.” in bold black letters.

“Maybe it’s wrong. Some kind of mistake.” Caroline continued.

“Yes, that must be it, dear. The people of this town are so confused they’ve painted a sign with the wrong name.” I replied dryly.

The children giggled and I smiled at them appreciatively. Caroline stomped her feet and turned her back on us. Ironically, she was then facing the wall.

“Mr. Birchwood?” A tall man in a gray suit asked as he approached us.

I nodded my head, “Yes.”

“I am Alexander Carrington.”

He extended his right hand toward me and I grasped it. His grip was firm but his hands were soft. I concluded he was not a musician and therefore of likely little interest to me in the long run. However in the moment, his services would be invaluable.

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Carrington. These are my children, Phillip and Josephine and my wife, Caroline.”

Caroline decided to turn around and face Mr. Carrington when I introduced her. She held out her hand to him but he was already shaking hands with Phillip and then turned to Josephine and gave her hand a kiss whilst bowing at her. Josephine giggled embarrassed at the attention. I could tell my children had decided to like Mr. Carrington from that very moment.

When he turned to Caroline she withdrew her hand before he could take it. Mr. Carrington looked appalled. I was embarrassed.

“Where is our ride?” Caroline asked.

“I am afraid we have only a single carriage and it is taking your luggage back to the house first. We will have to wait for it to return or we could walk. It is not too far, but of course the choice is yours.” Mr. Carrington replied.

“We shall walk. It will do us all some good to stretch our legs after the long journey.” I said.
Phillip and Josephine agreed.

“Speak for yourself, Charles. I would much rather wait here for the carriage.” Caroline said.

I grabbed hold of her arm firmly and pulled her close to me so I could whisper in her ear.

“I will not tolerate this behavior. If it is a public spanking you wish then keep it up, otherwise start acting like the respectable lady I married.”

Caroline looked at me with a touch of horror in her eyes.

“My apologies, Mr. Carrington. I am tired from our journey. Perhaps an afternoon stroll would do me some good.” She said sweetly while nervously glancing at me.

“Think nothing of it Mrs. Birchwood.” Mr. Carrington replied.

“Shall we?” Mr. Carrington asked gesturing toward the station exit.

“Lead the way.” I replied and took Josephine’s hand.

Philip chose to walk beside Mr. Carrington and Caroline moped along behind us all. I was tempted to give her a real reason to mope but had pity on her in the end. After all it was a long and tiring journey.


Jen said...

Charles, I wish you were a less patient man. lol.

Paul said...

Melanie, thank you, I suppose fillers are necessary.
Warm hugs,