Georgiana

Chapter 1

Georgiana August, 1899

My name is Georgiana Weston. I am 19 years of age, but older in experience. I was born on November the 11th, 1880, to Thomas Alexander Weston, Jr., and Amelia, his wife, in the great city of New York. I have green eyes, auburn hair, and skin of peaches and cream (admittedly, with some freckles!) Mama is Papa's second wife, and there is a 15 year age difference between them. Papa fought in the War Between the States. He doesn't speak of it much, but when I was young, he showed me his saber and his long horse pistols. Papa and his best friend, Charles Hampton, were 18 when the war broke out and Mr. Lincoln called for volunteers. They both joined the cavalry, being both excellent horsemen. My Papa became a lieutenant, and Uncle Charlie became a captain.

Uncle Charlie and Papa have been best friend for ever. They lived next door to each other as children, and when their parents died, moved back to their childhood homes. The houses are on 5th Ave.,. naturally, and are, of course, made of brownstone. It seems everything worthwhile in New York is made of brownstone. Now, I think, the architects are building houses of this really ugly yellow-green stone. Ugh. I like brownstone. Papa had one son from his previous marriage, and at the time of the story I'm going to tell you, Tom was 27. Papa and Mama's children are Jack, who was 22, me, at 18, and Cory, at 15.

Uncle Charlie and Aunt Betsy (his wife) have three sons. The eldest, Ken, was 24; then Will, at 21, and then Frank, who was almost 21. He was exactly 9 months younger than Will. When I was 18, the Spanish- American War broke out. "Tom, Jacky, Ken, and Will have decided to join up. Frank makes excuses, but he is just afraid of dying so much he's not willing to take the risk. I think the others are brave, but I almost wish they weren't going. I'm nearly too ashamed to even write it down. Many of my girlfriends' brothers are joining up, and I'm sure they are more concerned with their honor than of their lives. I think our boys are enlisting because of the stories that Papa and Uncle Charlie have told them about glory and honor on the battlefield. When I informed Papa of their decision this morning, he became very quiet for a little while. Then he said,

'War isn't only glory and honor. Most of it's mud and misery.' He looked thoughtful. "Lot's of blood and death.' He rested his chin in his hand. 'They will never believe it until they see it for themselves'"

My father and Jacky and I have always been what Mama calls kindred spirits. She and her friend, Bertha Mason, made up the term to describe what they were to each other. A week after this rather cryptic conversation with my father, the boys were packing necessaries.

"Ken has asked me to come over and talk to him. We have always been the best of friends, and he says that he values our conversations above any pleasure. He said he was anxious to get as many as he could now, so he had some stored up. Sometimes I wonder if Ken is in love with me. He looks at me sometimes, so, and I feel that there is something he would very much like to tell me. Ken asked me to get a photograph of myself so he could take it with him. I'm inclined to think- but no, Mama says she won't have her girls making themselves silly over men. That sounds very frivolous and vain and silly, and I'm heartily ashamed of it now. So, I shall try to put it out of my head. If I can't have Ken's love, I want his friendship. I have learned that anything he thinks is worth giving, is more than worth having. He wants my photograph, because he says that whenever he looks at me, and sees my clear eyes looking into his, he can't help but want to be as good as he and God can make him. Ken says he values my innocent and completely unbiased opinion and estimation and regard much higher than those of the 'old cats' as he terms those who rule New York society.

Mama is training me to be a lady, and I wasn't to be one, only I can't stand the idea of being like so many of the 'ladies' in New York. My idea of a lady is a woman who is polite to everyone, no matter their station, who is always working to make those around her happy and pleased with themselves and their accomplishments, and to make all at ease. A lady does her best to make her home happy, and to help everyone, but still have time to look her best and enjoy her life. Papa told me that unmarried girls like myself in the South before the was were taught the be very prissy and helpless and to act as though their brains were empty; but as soon as they were married, were often expected to run huge plantations and households of a hundred or more. Whew! I'm glad I didn't live there then."

Aunt Betsy told me to go right up to Ken's chambers, as he was waiting for me. When I knocked on the door, I heard a brusque 'come in'. When he saw it was me, he smiled. (I do love his smile) He came across the room and took my hand to lead me to a chair by the bed. He had a smallish suitcase open on the bed, and was packing some clothes. There were also four books; one I had given him, and two we had bought together, and a Bible. They were his favorites. The one I had given him was Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare. The other two were poem books by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and John Keats. I love Shakespeare, and although some parts of them are not in the best taste, I still love him. Papa has a great respect for my mind, and he says that 'Every man should read Shakespeare, and your mind is better than those of many men I know.'

Let me stop for a moment and describe Ken. He is very tall, about six feet, two inches, with an athletic build, He moves with an almost catlike grace, and his muscles are almost too large for gentility. He has dark skin, and black hair. He is clean shaven, and is something of a dandy about his clothes. He dresses exquisitely, but no one would ever dream of calling him effeminate. He is something of a favorite with women, I understand, but he encourages none with special attentions. He usually escorted me to balls and such, but he was not my beau.

"Frank says it is just a matter of time before Ken marries Cornelia Van Aldin. She is a very good sort of girl, I believe. I know nothing bad of her, but does he love her? I want him to be happy, and while I would like that happiness to depend a great deal on me, if he does not choose me, I want him to choose someone who is worthy and responsible enough to hold his heart in her hand. Ken's room is on the third story, at the front of the house.. It is painted white, and there are two halves to the room. Where the bed, writing table, chair and washstand are, and also another. To the right, when you come in the door, there is a step up, and two pillars standing one on either side of a large doorway with no door. Through this, you can see floor to ceiling and wall to wall books. In the other room, the bed, which is of rosewood and has curling posts, is by the small mahogany writing desk and chair, which are next to the window. Ken is a gentleman, but he has a genius for writing. Papa agrees. When we were younger, he wrote me a book of fairy tales, which he knows are my favorites: everything ends so tidily- the prince gets the princess, the bad guy dies- just the way it should be in real life, in my opinion. I read the book almost to pieces.  The washstand is next to the bed, and the chair upon which I sat was across from the writing desk. Over the fireplace, there was a portrait of our two families. Around the room, there are three others- one of his parents together, one of him, and one of us and our siblings. Mama thinks it very strange that a girl of my age, popularity, and looks would like to read as much as I do. I think Ken had a lot to do with that. He read me Fairy Tales, and the Odyssey and the Iliad, and quite a lot of classical books. Papa gave me Shakespeare, but it was Ken who helped me read it and understand what I was reading. We even acted some of it out.

"I was leaning against one of the pillars with my arms at my sides, watching him pack in silence. When he had finished, he turned to me as if about to say something, stopped and started pacing. He stopped in front of me again.

"Did Frank tell you anything about an engagement?"

"Yes" I said softly. I pride my self on being a young woman of character. If he was going to tell me about their engagement, or perhaps even ask me to look after Cornelia Van Aldin for him,(as Kitty Mason's favorite asked her) I was not going to do it- I was not even going to hear it. Anything but that. I grabbed onto the pillar, and was holding it so hard that the ridges were digging into my fingers. My hands hurt from the tension of the muscles. He had started pacing again, and now he had come to a stop.

"George, I want to ask something of you."

My nickname that he had made up fell on my ears, and I started to soften. I forced my self not to think of it. I held the pillar tighter; my hand felt in danger of falling off. He stopped in front of me again.

"You know I may be killed."

It was not a question, but a flat statement, devoid of feeling, not requiring an answer. I nodded anyway, looking at him- mutely beseeching him with my eyes not to say anything. He stopped by the window and looked out. He turned and came back to me. The mute beseeching look must have been really strong, or else he knew me better than I thought-because he looked into my eyes for what seemed like years, but must have only been a minute. Finally, he stepped away, and nodded.

"Alright, Georgiana." He looked older, sadder. "I won't say a word." He turned from me. Laughing bitterly; "Maybe it's for the best. I may, as I said, be killed."

I walked forward a few steps, unable to speak. I touched his shoulder gently with my fingertips, and he half turned. I placed a quick, light kiss upon his lips and ran out of the room. I said goodbye to Aunt Betsy, and she looked at me strangely. "

"Aunt Betsy was my main confidant. She and Jacky knew almost all my secrets. Almost all. I think she may have guessed my feelings for Ken, but she never said a thing. Over the next few days, I avoided Ken as much as possible. When we all went to the train station to see the boys off, Jacky and I joked - Tom joined in occasionally, but spent most of his time with his fiancée, Alice Monroe. Will also was completely absorbed in his fiancée, Virginia Nan Tassel. When the train was being boarded, I kissed Tom and Jacky and hugged Will. So did Cory. They all kissed Mother and Aunt Betsy, and shook hands with Papa and Uncle Charlie and Frank. (The latter was looking snubbed.) Ken did the same. When he came to me, he said, lightly;

"What, nothing from my childhood friend?"

I longed to say some words of farewell, some token of my affection and esteem for him as a friend without saying more than was safe for us both. I looked into his eyes and saw the feeling which I thought must be mirrored in my own- heartbreak. I was stunned by this discovery- so much so as to be unable to do anything. He smiled and kissed my cheek lightly- a cool, brotherly kiss. I almost cried, He must have seen the tears in my eyes, for he lifted my chin, and then he hugged me. I hugged back fiercely, and when we were parting, he gave me a kiss. I was spellbound. Cory, bless her heart, pinched my arm, and we both waved to the boys. It wasn't until we were on our way hone that I realized Cornelia Van Aldin hadn't been at the depot.

A month passed. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the lightning struck.

" Today we got a telegram from the War Department. I paid for it and opened it quickly, not knowing what I would find. I staggered and clutched at the table. Tom was killed in action. In a few minutes however, I was fully mistress over myself enough to walk. I brought the telegram to Papa in the library. I tried to break it gently, but he was sorely affected by shock and sorrow. Poor Papa! His son and heir. I called Cory and Mama, and they were thunderstruck. Tom., dead!? The idea seemed incredible. Why, he had always seemed so alive, so-so-so loving and jolly. Why, they had just seen him. He couldn't, couldn't be dead! no, the War Department had made a mistake. It couldn't be Tom. But we all knew it was.

Mama started sobbing and was half on her way to hysterics. I had my hands full already with Papa, and was at my wits end out of trial and sorrow and vexation at my mother who couldn't hold it together even though Papa was much more affected than she. If only one could shake one's mother and tell he to pull herself together and attend to the matter on hand. Papa needed looking after, but so did Mama. Oh! may I never be so afflicted as I was at that moment! If it hadn't been for my dear sister, I don't know that I wouldn't have gone into hysterics myself. Cory is a remarkably steady, sensible girl; one to always be counted upon. Thank God for that. I don't know what I would do without her. She helped Mama to her boudoir, and I stayed with Papa in the library. I looked at Papa, concerned. His eyes were kind of dull, and his face was gray- his lips were white like someone who has received a great shock with no warning. I poured a large glass of port from the decanter on the sideboard, and set it down in front of him.

"Drink this, Papa." I said. "It will help" He set out a mechanical hand and drank it all.

"You're a good girl, Georgiana. A good girl and a great comfort." I sat down next to him, and took him in my arms as he cried. "Rachel's only son. My Rachel's only son."

He seemed to feel it keener for Rachel, his first wife, than for himself. Soon he was master over himself, and I could tell he was embarrassed to have let me see him cry, and that he wished me elsewhere. I left the room quietly and ran over to Aunt Betsy's. Then did I allow myself to cry, with my head buried in Aunt Betsy's lap and her arms around me. She cried, too. Tom had been like a son to her. Oh! I was so sorry for poor Alice Monroe. They had really loved each other, I cried for her, and that Tom would never see his wedding day. So many young me nowadays marry for convenience, wealth, and/or just to get it over with. I was about to raise my face when I heard Aunt Betsy's soft voice telling me something about Ken. I got the idea it was not good.

"What?" I asked, raising my head.

"Ken is missing, believed killed." I was devastated. I just sat there, unable to move a muscle. I dropped my face into my hands, willing myself to cry- anything to ease the iron fingers in my throat.

"I loved him so, I loved him so." came choking out through those iron fingers. I said it over and over. Aunt Betsy gathered my back into her arms and held me as I clung to her, still unable to cry. The deep, wrenching sobs acme from my broken heart.

"How I could not cry still puzzles me, but Aunt Betsy says that the greatest grief is not accompanied by tears.

"Aunt Betsy looked at me with great compassion, but in her eyes there was something else- the knowledge that I must face it on my own- only then could it be beaten. Shortly, I was mistress of myself enough to sit up and wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. I smiled a weak, watery smile of thanks, stood up, and promptly proceeded to fall over in a dead faint. While I was unconscious, I saw Ken as he looked when I gave him the photograph: young, handsome, strong, happy. I wondered, rather detachedly, whether he had the photograph when he was killed. All thoughts of Tom had fled from my brain. Aunt Betsy must have called Frank, for when I woke it was in his arms being carried upstairs. I fainted again; and when I woke again, Cory was sitting next to me, and Mama, Papa, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Betsy and Frank were all placed at tasteful intervals around the room. Cory smiled when she saw I was awake. She looked up at everyone else and announced the fact. They all crowded around, and there was such a babble of voices that it hurt my head. I closed my eyes again. Merciful, Cory understood.

"Stand back please, everyone. Georgiana's head hurts." I smiled weakly at them all.

"I'm quite all right, thank you." Cory herded them all out, but Frank eluded her and came back to ask a very important question.

"I say, Georgiana, will you marry me?" What should I say? What can I say? He was still talking, and there was a conflict going on in my bosom.

'He says he loves me.'

'But you love Ken.'

'But Ken is dead.' That was the deciding factor. I liked Frank well enough, and if I could make him happy, then that's grand.

"Yes Frank." I said, softly. "I will marry you."

"WHAT!?!?!?!?!" Cory shrieked. "MARRY FRANK?? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???????"

"He loves me, Cory. I'll never love another all my life. I can make him happy." I was leaning forward now, looking into her face earnestly. She searched my countenance eagerly before replying.

"Alright, darling. If you're sure." She looked down at her lap, twisting her hands. "But one thing I know, Georgiana. You can never give Frank the love you gave Ken; Frank won't be content with second hand love. I don't know if you can make him happy without loving him as you did Ken." Cory really is something of a dear. She always understands.

The wedding was a short while later, and I was a married woman. When I realized that I belonged to Frank, and that loving Ken was unfair and untrue to Frank, I tried to bury that love and forget the location of the grave.

Two months after we were married, a lady came to call on Aunt Betsy. She was looking for Frank. When she told Aunt Betsy why she was looking for him, Aunt Betsy turned pale and asked me to leave the room for a few minutes. Naturally, I was curious, but I went. Fifteen minutes later, the butler, Merriweather knocked on my bedroom door and announced that Aunt Betsy 'would be glad of my presence in the drawing room for a moment.' I thanked him and went. Aunt Betsy was still white, and the lady looked shocked and slightly put out. Aunt Betsy asked me to sit down, and I took a seat by the lady.

"This," said Aunt Betsy, "Is Mrs. Frank Hampton, the first. Before last February, Miss Elizabeth Campbell." I looked from her to the lady in mute astonishment.

"You mean-" I began. Aunt Betsy nodded.

"She is Frank's wife."

"But what about me? I'm his wife too."

"I'm afraid, darling, that your marriage is invalid." Aunt Betsy said, with a fearful look in my direction. I showed the lady out, then sat down again in the drawing room with my face in my hands. I should have mentioned earlier that I was with child. A child with no father, a mother with no husband. When I had dealt with it, I demanded to know the particulars.

"Well darling," Aunt Betsy began, "You remember how last autumn Frank needed money. His father had already given him several large sums in recent dates, and so refused. So Frank went out west. He married the daughter of a man who had struck gold a few years back, and now owned his own coal company, a marble mine, and most of a town. Frank came back with the money, but not with the bride. Soon after, he married you."

"But what about me?"

"You, darling, are not married. Nor were you ever."

"But Aunt Betsy..."

"Yes, child?"

"I'm going to have a baby."

"WHAT?!?"

"Yes, Aunt Betsy, it's true. Oh, what shall I do?"

It took Aunt Betsy some time getting over this shock. "Well, darling, either we can persuade Elizabeth to divorce Frank, or we can send them somewhere and pretend he is dead. We could even have a funeral! Then you'd be quite an honorable widow." She seemed much enamored of this idea, but neither of them sounded great to me. I said to her, hastily,

"Don't say anything to Frank, please." I resolved to confront him privately in our bedroom. Later that night when we had retired and he began to undress, I told him about the baby. Either he really was pleased, or he was a really good actor." He came to me, but I put up my hands to keep him away. "Your wife was here today, Frank."

"My wife!? What do you mean?" He looked startled. I sighed.

"Your wife, Frank. Before last February, Miss Elizabeth Campbell." He looked abashed. "How could you, Frank?" At this I left the room. I went to Ken's room, which had been kept just the way he had left it on the slender chance that he might come back. I sat on the bed and did my best not to cry. I ran my hands over the coverlets, looking at the paintings of both my families. I slept in Ken's room that night, determined that since our marriage was invalid, no sign of it should remain. Everything he had ever given me, including my wedding and engagement rings were separated from the things I had brought from home. Early the next morning, I left them all in a bundle in my dressing room and returned to my parents house.

There was some talk, but Frank and his wife were killed in a train collision on their way back west. I can't help but think that this was a very tidy end to the problem. Aunt Betsy herself couldn't have thought it out better. I lost the child which caused me no little grief, but it was probably the best way for the baby. Mama, Aunt Betsy and I thought that the shock had terminated the pregnancy. To get over the grief and shock, Mama and Aunt Betsy sent me to Florida, as it is recommended for people of uncertain health.

While in Florida, I came across an old school friend of mine- Katherine Bennette. She and her husband, Richard Bennette, were running a hospital for soldiers who were too sick or wounded to be over in that horridly primitive island of Cuba. She asked for my help, as they were overrun and had few nurses, and I agreed. I threw myself into it with a will, discovering that this was where my talents lay. What I had really wanted, although I never realized it before, was for people to need me. Not just want me or enjoy my presence, but for my presence and help to be necessary for their well being. One day, a fortnight or so after I had started, Katherine came and told me that there was a group of soldiers; ex-prisoners, who had just been exchanged. Many of them were wounded, and all of them were sick and weak. She needed me to stay for a little while longer than usual. I agreed, of course, and was willing to stay all night.

Kathy had been right. There were about twenty who had been transported, which made a total of two for each of us. All the other novice nurses just had one, but I had two. One of the men in my charge had a heavy beard and was very dirty. He had been whipped cruelly. The reason for this was that he had tried to escape just before they were exchanged to get back to his sweetheart. My heart bled for the man. Before he had left, he had tried to tell her that he loved her, but she wouldn't let him.

I was wearing a veil to keep the flies away. As I took it off, I saw him start slightly. When I asked if he was all right however, he just shook his head and said that a fly had landed on his leg. There was a great gash on it. He explained somewhat wryly that a Spanish guard hadn't seen quite eye to eye with him on the subject of the escape on the already mentioned attempt, and had shown his disapproval by a bayonet gash in the leg. I looked across the room unseeing, a grim expression on my face.

"I'd like to kill all the Spanish down to the last rat." He looked surprised.

"Why is that, miss?" I smiled gently at him.

"Actually, I'm a Missus." He apologized, again looking startled, and rephrased his question.

"Why is that, ma'am?" I looked at him again, what to my damaged soul seemed to be a dragon's smile on my face.

"Hardly a lady-like sentiment, you mean? Well, I could do it with my bare hands, too. Why? because they killed the only man I ever loved, and he never knew it. He never knew it." I repeated bitterly. He looked compassionate.

"I'm sorry. Was that your husband, then?"

"No. So I married his younger brother, who was in love with me, because I will never love anyone else, and because I thought at least he might be happy, even if it is impossible for me to be. Just after I discovered I was going to have a baby-" I stopped suddenly. "I don't know why I'm telling you this." He smiled warmly.

"What else are strangers for?" I nodded in acknowledgment of his statement, and continued dressing his back as I went on with the story.

"Then his-his wife came to see his mother to find out where he was, and then I discovered what he had done- married her for her money, left, and married me." I saw his eyes move to my hands, and looked down to see that they had clenched themselves in anger at the memory. They were clenched so hard that they were white all over. "Then he and his wife were killed in a train collision on their way back west." I could feel my face burning and my eyes flashing. The man looked at me admiringly. "Mama and Aunt Betsy, his mother-"

"Aunt Betsy?" his voice was sharp. "He was your cousin, then?"

"No, their family and ours have been best friends forever. Papa and Uncle Charlie grew up together and fought in the same regiment in the War Between The States. Anyway, Mama and Aunt Betsy thought I should come here for my health- I was very ill. Mama says it's a blessing I didn't die." I looked away and said fiercely, "Sometimes I wish I had!" As the man raised his arm, another wave of pain came crashing over his features. He laid his hand on my arm.

"Ma'am, we all wish that at one time or another. And I've never come across a single person who still wishes they had died when they wanted to." I looked down into his eyes. Something of their blue, serious understanding stirred a memory of Ken looking into my eyes as I gave him the photograph. My eyes filled with tears, and I turned my face away so he couldn't tell. But he had seen them. "Ma'am, what is the matter?" I laughed weakly.

"Nothing. Your eyes reminded me of Ken's. You looked at me just as he did when I gave him my photograph." I shook my head, and looked again. The resemblance had gone. I turned quickly, busying myself with the wash basin. I washed his face and asked him if he wanted a shave.

"I've actually got quite good at shaving other people," I said with a laugh. He laughed too.

"Please. I never wore a beard before the war, and I'm still not used to the sensation. But don't you have another man to look after? I'll get the doctor to give me a shave when he comes around." I smiled back and agreed.

The other man in my charge was delirious, so it wasn't until next morning that I saw my confidant again. I had managed to snatch three hours sleep, and appeared freshly clothed and bathed and refreshed to some small extent. The man was on his stomach with the doctor putting another poultice on his stripes. The doctor, after we exchanged appropriate greetings for the time of day, brusquely bade me look after my other patient. He was much improved, and thanked me for my care. I made quite sure he was out of danger and comfortable, attending to his every need. The doctor had left, and my other patient had been told that he could sit propped up today. As I was turning him over, being very careful of his back, I looked full in his face. Being clean shaven, I could see his features perfectly in the morning light. The face that lay so close to mine, I knew almost better than my own features. It was Ken. I gasped in surprise, and almost dropped him in shock. I laid him down and dropped onto his bed in astonishment. Ken! He was alive. Good God in Heaven, is it possible? I looked again. Yes, it was he. I dropped my head to my knees to keep from fainting. I felt his hand on my back.

"God help me! I can't take this." I said aloud. Kathy came by at this point, and saw me first. She dropped to her knees beside me.

"Darling, what is it?" Then she saw Ken. "Ken! How are you? Well I can see you're not perfect, but.... Oh, I see." as I whispered to her. She looked from me to him in puzzled bewilderment. "I just remembered. I have to get Doctor Raymond..." and she rushed off, leaving me with a feeling of gratitude towards her. Ken's voice brought me back to the situation at hand.

"Georgiana, will you let me tell you now?" I turned to him and held out my hands to take his.

"Oh Ken. Why didn't you tell me you didn't love Cornelia?"

"Well dearest, in a way I do. You remember my best friend, James Morrison?"

"Perfectly. He used to tease me because of my freckles. Though come to mention it," I said thoughtfully, "He didn't do it again after that time when you heard him do so. Why was that?" He chuckled.

"I knocked him down a few times, and he decided it wasn't worth it. Anyway, he and Cornelia are engaged. When I last heard from him, they were to be married as soon as the war is over."

"When is that, Ken? Is there any sign?"

"Yes. We're probably going to sign a treaty with Spain. When I get out of this hospital, will you marry me?"

"Oh Ken, my life is so complicated now."

To me, he said, "I'm sorry Frank tangled your life." Under his breath, he said "Damn the b*****d. If he wasn't dead, I would happily break every bone in his body." He clenched his
fists on the coverlet.

"Ken, do you really want to marry me?" He nodded. "But what about all New York Society? You know what everyone will say."

"Dearest, I'm not concerned with the old cats. As soon as these blasted stripes are healed, we'll go to the chapel and get that little old priest to do something different and conduct a marriage ceremony for a change. It'll probably be a relief for him after all the funerals." I clasped his hands.

"Yes love, let's."

 

Chapter 2

A week later, when Ken was just about healed, an epidemic of measles broke out in the hospital. Everyone who had it was isolated from everyone else. I nursed them all with an icy fear gripping my heart. Ken had not had measles as a child. Neither, for practical purposes, had I, but to worry about that honestly did not occur to me. So I caught it. Kathy was very worried about me, but I wasn't about to die now. Kathy said that Ken nursed me night and day and only slept when Kathy ordered him to for my sake. But just as I was almost recovered, he fell sick with it. He had been sick and weak for so long, and the stripes and nursing me hadn't helped his condition. When Kathy brought me the news, she says I wanted to get out of bed to nurse him. Kathy did everything but tie me to the bed to keep me from doing as I said I would; even so it was close. However, that night when she was asleep, I crept into his room and knelt by his bed, taking his hand in mine. At that time in my life, when crisis seemed to be mostly over, I prayed harder than I ever had before in my life. It was not a formal prayer, just thanking God he was alive and begging Him not to take Ken from me now I had found him. As I gripped Ken's hand, I felt the fingers move slightly. At first I thought I had imagined it, but not knowing for sure, I lit a lantern and gazed upon his face. No, I had not imagined it. His eyes were open and looking into mine. The pupils were not dilated by fever like so many I had seen, but were intelligent and coherent, and he raised his free hand to my face.

Never let a doctor tell you the power of prayer is imaginary. Ken and I both firmly believe that God worked a miracle. Kathy was amazed to come in the next morning and see us sleeping, a deep healthy sleep, side by side. When we awoke, it was to find ourselves out of danger, but still weak. However, we were determined to be married. I had telegraphed to New York to tell them of Ken's exchange, and now telegraphed again to bring all our family down for the wedding. However, I specifically told Mama that that if she tried to bring any of the old cats down for the wedding, the door would be slammed in those ladies faces. Mama was scandalized that we weren't being married among all the influential people of New York- our marriage seemed to her hardly legal.

So we were married very simply, and plan to live happily ever after- just like the fairy tales I love so much. Ken says I am a hopeless romantic, but he agrees with me that we are to be the happiest couple who ever lived- even in fairy tales.

 

THE END

 

 

© 2001 Copyright held by the author.

 

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