The Bowen Connection

August 1, 1896
Charles Birchwood

I met Caroline and the children at the train station. It was a happy reunion. The children were especially so. I gave them each a hug and following a suggestion from Edith I had brought gifts for them with me. No doubt they will look forward to the next time I send them away. However, Edith’s argument was compelling enough and I do quite like to make my children happy.

Caroline winced slightly when I hugged her, but said nothing of complaint. I gathered she was merely stiff from the long journey. I know from experience how much my wife likes to travel. Which is to say she do not like to do so at all for any reason, in any circumstance. If she had felt otherwise I might have moved us westward in our youth. I am too old to be a frontiersman now, although I still wonder what the Rocky Mountains look like at sunset or the Grand Canyon or the Pacific Ocean. Dreams for another lifetime I suppose.

The children gave me a detailed report of life at Grandpa’s on the walk home. They clearly enjoyed the trip as a vacation and were only saddened slightly by my absence. Ah, to be young and indifferent to the serious matters of adults. I held both of their hands for the entire walk and Caroline walked behind in silence. I began to suspect there was something she wished to say to me.

It was not until the evening, and the children were nestled away in their beds, that she spoke. I did not prod but I had expected no less.

“My father thinks you should start looking to move us from here.” She said.

I sat down on the edge of the bed and smiled at her.

“And what makes him suggest such a thing to you?” I asked.

“We talked about what happened here.”

“Was he involved in some way?”

“Of course not.”

“Then how would he know the specifics well enough to suggest a course of action?”

“It does not take an expert to recognize danger and avoid it.”

“He believes we are in danger here? On what does he base this assumption?”

“He says this school is radical. That it will draw in extremists from both sides of the women’s rights movement.”

“This school is coping with difficult financial times and unwavering Federal mandates. It is caught between a rock and hard place and it far from alone in the issues. Every major collegiate institution in America is facing the same strife. What makes this school more dangerous than any of the others?”

“Your assistant for one.” She said.

For a moment I thought she all ready knew. I regarded her strangely, wondering why she was not angry and then I realized she must be referring to something else.

“What about Miss Bowen?” I asked.

“She is on a Federal Watch list. She is a radical with no regard to the consequences of her actions.”

“And your father knows this how?”

“It does not matter.”

“It does to me. I do not believe it for one thing and if the source of the information is not revealed it should be treated as unreliable.”

“You know her well enough. She is clearly not average.”

“Quite true, she is an exceptional woman. That does not make her dangerous. Although if some see her as such, it might explain a great deal about what happened here.”

“It is not just some. Edith is her father’s daughter.”

“What is that to mean?”

“Her father used his position and connections to blackmail high profile individuals into supporting his own political agenda.”

“That is the way of politics, they call it negotiation in friendly circles but it is all about who has the most leverage on the others. Miss Bowen is hardly a political figure.”

“You should distance yourself from her or you will put us all in danger.”

“I will not allow your fears or the fears of your father to dictate my actions.”

“If you had no fears of your own why did you send us away?”

“I had concerns at the time.”

“And you truly believe the danger has passed?”

“For now. I ask you to understand, this is where I want to be and I will not be run off by a little strife. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for my entire life. Are you not the one who has so long complained about our constant moving?”

“Yes, but I am scared.”

“Your father has filled your head with silliness. He of all men should know better. You are my responsibility now, not his. I will take care of you and I promise you there is nothing to be afraid of.”

Caroline smiled and climbed into bed. I laid down next to her and wrapped my arm around her. I held her close and she rested her head on my chest as I stroked her hair.

“I believe in you Charles.” She said.

My fingers continued to dip through her hair as I wondered just what my father-in-law’s connection was to Edith Bowen.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Melanie, the Authors take delight in keeping us guessing.
Warm hugs,