The Days Of Gloria, Part 6

September 22, 1896
Penelope Sumter

Wilbur stopped by on Sunday. He usually comes by at least once a week but I suspect his dedication is more related to Lizzie, than me. This time though, he wanted nothing to do with her.

“Penny, how about an afternoon drive?” He asked.

“I’ve got too much school work.” I complained.

“I’ll go.” Lizzie volunteered.

“Some other time, Lizzie. I need to discuss something private with my little sister.” He said.
“Oh.” Lizzie said.
“Can’t it wait?” I asked.
“No.” He said.
Lizzie pouted. I groaned as I pushed myself up from the comfortable reading position of laying on my bed. Wilbur looked far to serious for a Sunday. He offered me his arm and I dutifully took it. We left without a further word to anyone, although there were plenty of stares.
Wilbur drove to his apartment without a word. I kept expecting him to tell me what was so important but I did not want to encourage him too much so I kept quiet. I think it was what he preferred.
Inside his apartment we settled down at a small table off the kitchen. Wilbur had a stack of papers bound together in front of him. Slowly he began unwinding the twine and avoiding my questioning eyes.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“How much do you know about your roommate?” He asked.
“You mean Lizzie?”
“Enough I think. She’s the daughter of some big New York exporter but the business has gone south and they are running out of money. She’s more interested in school than men except for one man and she’s all for equality of sexes. I know that’s a problem for father but she’s my roommate, I can’t ignore her.”
“Did you know her family couldn’t afford to send her back to Primrose this year?”
“No, but that really isn’t surprising.”
“How do you think she got the money to come?”
“I would think she either borrowed it or found a benefactor.”
“She met with the Rockefeller’s. They have paid her tuition and boarding in advance for the next three years.”
“Impressive. Why are you telling me?”
“The Rockefeller’s never do anything without a reason. Lizzie is in their debt. That comes with a price and in this case it could be a dangerous one.”
“What do you mean?”
“I haven’t put all the pieces together yet, but it makes sense the Rockefeller’s would oppose the commingling of the sexes at Primrose.”
“Why would they even care?”
“They are funding a competing establishment in the south that is not yet ready for that step. They will of course want to be first.”
“What does all this have to do with Lizzie or me for that matter?”
“Did you notice Lizzie’s reaction when I drove you up the shore to that tree?”
“Not really. By the way that was a little morbid don’t you think?”
“I’m sorry to have distressed you but I had to know and Lizzie near panicked when she realized where we were.”
“If I had known about Gloria, I would have too.”
“Exactly the point, neither of you knew or at least you shouldn’t have. Lizzie did though, she had been there before and she knew.”
“Wait! There is no way Lizzie would have done anything to Gloria. That’s impossible, it’s not in her character.”
“That may be true, but she still knew and that means Gloria was murdered. It also means Lizzie knows by whom.”
I seriously wanted to slap him for suggesting such a thing. The only problem was he was making too much sense and I have heard the younger girls talking about it being a murder as well. For a change the rumors might actually be true.
“Why are you telling me?”
“Because you need to be careful around her. Lizzie can’t be trusted.”
“She won’t do anything to me.”
“She probably didn’t do anything to Gloria but that doesn’t make her any less dead.”

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