Not So Lonely

August 19, 1896
Margaret Spooner

He found me on the platform as promised. I never saw him coming, although I might have and simply not recognized him. He was dressed in a fashionable gray traveling suit. It was a departure from his normally more relaxed attire. He always wore suits, just rarely were they fashionable and ever rarer still did they appear to fit him. Not that his clothing was too big or too small, he is just not the type to keep his suit neat. He has a tendency to have his tie crooked and his shirt only half tucked, not to mention his jacket unbuttoned and appearing nearly crooked with one end dipping lower than the other.

Not today though. Today he looked like a gentleman and by the look in his eye, he knew it.

“Edgar, you look rather dashing.” I said.

“You are beautiful as always.” He replied.

“Thank you.” I blushed.

I knew it was not true but it was nice to hear him say it regardless.

“Shall we?” He gestured toward the waiting train.

“Lead the way.” I replied, taking his arm.

I was happy to be returning to school, but also sad to be leaving home once again. Being torn between the two emotions, I sat in silent thought as the train lurched slowly out of the station. Edgar seemed preoccupied with his own thoughts as well.

Half the day passed and neither of us had said much beyond our initial greetings. I stared out the window at the passing scenery. I had expected this trip to be something more than the typical ride back to school. I had hoped for warm conversation from the man sitting across from me, the man I was coming to love.

I watched a lone woman trudge along the side of the tracks with a heavy basket in each hand. I wondered if she was lonely or if the hard work was a companion of its own. It occurred to me then that loneliness is a choice. The only thing keeping me lonely was myself and so I spoke.

“You promised you had stories to share.” I said at last.

The sound of my voice startled him. He smiled at me after a moment though.

“Indeed I do. You know your father and I have been keeping in contact since my visit.” He said.

“I have suspected as much.”

“My father is part of a delegation being sent to Spain. As he will be gone for a long time my mother will accompany him.”

“That sounds exciting, but what about you?”

“It is less exciting than you would think. I believe his visit will be wasted but there are those who believe in diplomacy before war. As for myself I will be taking up a place in Providence. There is no point in my traveling home with no one there.”

“Are we near war with Spain?” I asked.

If we were, I had heard nothing of it.

“Have you heard of Cuba?” He asked.

“A small island off the coast of Florida, if I am not mistaken.”

“Yes, the very one. The Spanish have a presence on the island which is not appreciated by the natural inhabitants. They are asking for American assistance. There is much cruelty by Spain on the island but that is not the real question to be answered.”

“Is not appropriate that we stand against cruelty and oppression wherever it strikes?” I asked.

“We have our own problems at home, it seems presumptuous of us to involve ourselves in the suffering of others when we fail to ease our own.”

“Perhaps in helping others, we will help ourselves.” I said.

“I love your optimism, but I do not share it.”

I smiled and took his hand in my own.

“Something more is bothering you.” I said.

“As I began, your father and I have been in contact. We are in agreement that Carrington Manor might not be the best or safest place for you.”

“I don’t understand. What is happening at Carrington Manor?”

“More than you know. There are undercurrents of political unrest. It is likely the unrest will manifest itself with the students in residence being unwilling pawns in a much larger game.”

“I still fail to understand your fears. The Carrington’s have always been careful to remain a support to the school not an opposition to it.”

“Yes, but they are not the threat.”

“Who is?”

“I cannot say.”

“Or will not. I see no option though, I have no place else to stay and it would not be safe for me to reside in Providence alone."

“I agree. Your father and I have a solution but it would require an agreement on your part.”

“And that is?”

“You could come to stay with me.”

“I would not mind but it seems unlikely my father would approve of such an arrangement.”

“That is where the agreement comes in.”

Suddenly Edgar moved from his seat and dropped to one knee before me. He turned my hand upward from his own and reached inside his jacket to produce a small box.

“Will you marry me, Margaret?” He asked.

His eyes burned into me. Tears stung at my eyes. Silence dropped between us, my heart leapt into my throat and left me without voice. I stared wide eyed at him, wondering if I was dreaming and would soon be awakened by the shrill of the train whistle.

What should I say? What could I say?

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, how exciting.
Warm hugs,