An Exchange Of Trust

November 1, 1896
Charles Birchwood

Knock. Knock.

“Who is it?” I asked from behind my desk.

“Edith.” Came the reply from the other side of the door.

“Edith who?” I asked before realizing the ridiculousness.

“Charles!” She shouted in mock annoyance.

I got up and crossed the floor to open the door, revealing Miss Bowen in my doorway. She was smiling and obviously amused at me. For just a moment I was reminded of our single lustful night together. I envisioned myself pulling her into my office and ravaging her on my desktop. Then I remembered my wife sitting off to the side looking bored. She would most likely not approve.

“Miss Bowen, what brings you here?” I asked.

I could feel Caroline’s eyes watching us with suspicion. My expression remained serious as a result although I would have gladly returned Edith’s smile. I might even have indulged in a hug were it not for my wife’s bothersome presence.

“I have a matter of some urgency which is of a personal and private nature.” She said.

“Do come in.” I said, guiding her to a chair.

I turned to Caroline, pouting in her chair.

“Would you excuse us dear?” I asked.

Caroline’s eyes burned into mine as if she wished to accuse me of the adulterous affair my thoughts contemplated. For a moment I thought I would have to resort to a more forceful stance, but after a slight huff, she pushed herself from her chair. She walked slowly to the door, just enough to be an annoyance but not enough to cause me to mention it. At the doorway she seductively wiggled as she stepped into the hall and then slammed the door behind her.

I will of course have to deal with the slamming and the wiggling later this evening, but in the meantime perhaps there would be something else of value. Edith is a singular women without doubt. I have known many women, but she remains the only one whom I have share a bed and not regretted it in the morning. There is no attachment between us, it was merely a mutual fire that burned brightly even as we extinguished it.

I sat behind my desk.

“How may I be of service?” I asked.

“Before I say, I must have your word that what is said here today will not go beyond these walls.” She said.

I regarded her curiously for a moment. She was relaxed and sociable but beneath the surface she was still the overly serious and dedicated girl I first met at the beginning of the summer. I smiled then, thinking of the girl residing in the woman.

“For my word to mean anything I must know something of what this about.” I said.

“I can say no more without your word.” She persisted.

“I will give you my word that you can trust me to only react to what you tell me in keeping with what is best for you.” I said.

“I’ll get nothing more from you, will I?”

I shook my head sympathetically. Whatever she had to disclose was obviously not going to be a simple matter to know and ignore. My curiosity remained peaked but I will not compromise my word with promises I am unsure I can keep.

“You are aware the students of Brown run an underground printing press publishing an unauthorized periodical?” She asked.

“Yes, there seems to be an unofficial policy to ignore it, but we all know of its existence. Do you have information regarding the perpetrators or the location of the equipment?”

“I only wish I did. I believe we have a rogue element involved with it.”

“How so?”

“I have evidence that a person or people are trying to either get the publication shut down with the blame being placed on the Primrose College Girls or they are trying to rile up a new riot against myself and a group of my friends.”

“You have evidence but you are not aware of the identity of those responsible?”


“Why are you telling me and not the Dean?”

“If I go to the Dean he will be forced into locating the printing press and shutting down the paper. The Primrose Girls will be blamed and with tempers flared as they are something like this could spiral out of control.”

I was impressed. It is not everyday a woman is able to understand the intricacies of politics at all let alone the politics of a matter surrounding her.

“Your logic appears sound, but why come to me?”

“I trust you.”

It was not what I expected, but it was pleasant to hear.

“I will not betray your trust but I do not see how I can help by simply knowing of your predicament.”

“This is the specific problem.” She said.

She laid a copy of the periodical on my desk it was dated October 31st but as I read it I was certain it was indeed not the same as the one I had obtained yesterday. The story was disturbing and I could see why Edith was concerned.

“You knew this would not truly be part of the publication?”

“We were fairly certain.”

“Quite a risk you took to keep it to yourself until after the publication date had passed.” I said.

“The actual publication of this story would have done exactly what the author of it wanted us to do only it would not have been blamed on us.”

“You still have not said what it is you wish me to do.”

“For the moment, nothing at all. I only wish you to keep this paper safe.”

“I can do that but I do not understand.” I said.

“I do not have all the answers yet, but it seems this is evidence and we know we have made some powerful men unhappy. It is just possible this might help us someday in the future.” Edith said.

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