I know, that it's been forever. And I hope my reader's haven't all deserted me. But, I had forgoten about the story, and if not for a friend constantly threatening me if I didn't finish, I wouldn't have gotten back into it. Here's the next chapter, enjoy.
"Sir has sent for a doctor. He is scheduled for tomorrow at 11 o'clock, if that is pleasing to you m'am?" The butler, a thin man with a bladelike nose, asked.
"Oh, more than. Please thank him for me. This is so kind of him." Adeline gushed.
The butler waved it off. "This is your room, M'am. Sir hopes you will find it comfortable. Will this be suitable?"
She stared at the lush dwellings…real velvet curtains, a large bed with a plush comforter and fringed bed skirt of cream, a full length mirror. Unbelievable, in this war time. She turned to assure the butler that the room was quite a tad more than passable, but he had already left, leaving her belongings, in her battered carpet bag, on the floor just inside of the door.
She unpacked what little she had, and sat down on the bed, bewildered by her own good fortune. Why would this man want to help her, of all people? Why would he care? He had his castle, and it would be all too easy to pretend the rest of the world didn't exist in this place.
She had good reason to be wary, and she would carefully watch this situation. If something is too good to be true, it usually is.
Rodrick sat in his parlor with another businessman, Mr. Sefeldt. The cigar smoke hung lazily in the stale air.
"Your prices are reasonable, I'm not saying they aren't, but I've got to make a profit as well." Sefeldt said quite plainly.
"Of course sir. But these are fine weapons, the best of quality, for the price. I'm not willing to negotiate. You're not the only privateer in this war, you understand?"
Sefeldt leaned in towards Rodrick. "I hear the U.S. may join soon. Imagine that?"
Rodrick scoffed. "The U.S. will not join unless it has to. Why would they? Making money galore right now, and not losing any men. No reason for them to join."
"Probably right." Sefedlt acknowledged. "But that would really shake it up, wouldn't it?"
"No use discussing things that aren't the here and now. Anyway, you have until Monday to decide. You'll have to talk with my secretary after that, for I'll be gone."
"Ah, where are you off to, Rawlins?" Sefeldt asked, gathering his coat and hat.
"With all god's luck, my honeymoon."Rodrick smiled. "The wedding's a surprise. My fiancé is coming home this Saturday. Sunday's the wedding. That evening we'll set sail for America, to enjoy a war-free vacation."
Sefeldt shook his hand rigorously. "Be sure to have a drink for me. Not often you get to hear happy news these days. I'm glad for you."
Rodrick smiled shyly. "I'm happy too."
Jack and Emily lay there, side by side in the small bed, for perhaps an hour, just looking and each other, smiling, kissing. That was wonderfully bliss until there was a soft knock at the door.
They both shot straight up. Matthew's voice came from the other side of the door. "Emily? Alright if I come in?" he asked as he was already beginning to swing open the door.
Emily's eyes widened as Matthew took in the scene. She and Jack, sitting on the bed, clothes and sheets rumpled from the night.
Matthew's lips pressed into a hard line. "What the hell is going on in here?" he demanded.
Jack leapt to his feet. "Matthew, I can explain. I just propo…"
"I don't give a damn for your explanation. Trying to ruin my sister, after I took you in, gave you work and food and shelter?" Matthew hollered.
Emily stood. "Matthew, Jack has just proposed to me."
Matthew stood silent, unsure for once in his life. He looked from Jack to Emily and back again. "Is this true?" he asked of Jack.
"Absolutely." Jack assured. "I have asked Emily to become my wife, and she has accepted."
Matthew blanched, uncertain how to proceed. "Well. I suppose we'll have to tell the others."
Emily walked across the room, took Matthew's hand. "Oh, Matt, are you angry at me?"
He smiled quietly at her. Then he left the room.
Adeline came downstairs. She wasn't sure where her babies had gone; a servant had taken them when she had arrived. Rodrick came out to meet her.
"Are you sure you've rested? You look exhausted."
"I was wondering where my babies are? I can't sleep without knowing they're alright."
Rodrick smiled and patted her hand. "They're fine. My physician is looking after them as I speak, you can see them afterwards. Now, go on and get some rest. When you've slept some, you may come down and have some dinner."
"I suppose…that's all right."Adeline replied. She was exhausted.
Jack went downstairs to begin his chores, while Emily went to have some breakfast, as well as hunt for Matthew.
"He's outside smoking." Mary informed her. "Came down in an odd mood."
"Thank you." Emily replied as she stepped onto the porch to address her brother.
Matthew turned when he heard the porch door shut. "Morning."
"Would you like to explain your reaction?" Emily asked.
"No explanation needed. I already told Jack how I felt about the matter, and he deliberately went against my wishes."
"You spoke to Jack about this? When? Why?"
Matthew's eyes flashed. "You're a woman, Emily, you can't hope to understand. But Jack's a man, and he ought to know that there's no future in marriage for him. He can't give you a last name, for Christ sake's!"
"We'll make our own, start over new."
"With what? Have any land, property, money? No. And to think, I was willing to…to give him father's land. Now, who the hell knows. Thought I could trust him."
"Give him father's land then. It's my right, isn't it? He was my father too. With father's land we can raise a family. It could all be fine."
It broke Matthew's heart to hear the hope in her voice. "Fine? He could be a murderer for all you know, for all any of us know! He doesn't have a past."
"You've known him, is he a murderer? A thief? He's a good man, Matthew." She paused. "All my life I've allowed you to decide what's best for me, what the proper thing to do is, while you get to do whatever the hell you damn well please!" Matthew frowned at her profanity. "Well, I'm sick of it. This is my decision, Matthew, and I accepted Jack's offer. I'm marrying him."
Matthew stood quietly, smoking his cigarette. "Then I suppose there's nothing I can do. I will support you Emily, because you are my sister and I love you. And because of that, I will keep my mouth shut and I will help you as I can. I will give Jack the land, and you can start your own stead. And I will respect you. But the slightest inkling I get that Jack mistreats you, in any way, and I will fight to the death." He turned away, blowing the smoke out of his mouth.
"Thank you, Matthew." Emily went and put her arms around him, and they stood that way, brother and sister, in the bright of the sunrise.
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