As Papa watched Willie walk down the street, he was visibly shaken. He knew the name Albert Middleton and he knew that it was impossible for Willie to have met him.
Albert Middleton was the eldest son of Charles Middleton, who was the son of Patrick Albert Middleton. Patrick Middleton was a Scottish immigrant who arrived in the United States with nothing but the clothes on his back.
After a lifetime of hard work and determination, he had been able to provide Charles with an endowment, thus the factory was born and a wealth unknown to most was achieved.
Albert was his namesake and was taught to carry his name with dignity and pride. Above all, he was taught to honor his grandfathers’ great sacrifices, which made his lavish lifestyle possible.
Papa now believed even more that the young man as he had teasingly suggested, was having Willie on by pretending to be someone he was not.
How could he find the words to tell his precious girl that she had been tricked?
After a conversation with Enez and a fitful sleep, he felt he must tell her. As the sun rose, he wept. His heart was breaking and he knew that soon Willies’ heart would be breaking too.
He sat in the rocking chair and pondered just how he would tell her the truth. He knew that she would be devastated and most likely inconsolable. He would only be able to offer moments of comfort before he had to go to work and she would have to grieve alone. The thought was almost more than he could bear.
While trying to gather his wits, he realized that Willie had not yet come home. She had never been late before and he was growing concerned. He needed to get to work and the boys needed to be looked after.
As the minutes turned into hours he became more and more frantic, not because of work or care for the boys but because Willie was not there.
He tried to soothe his worry by imagining that she had simply fallen asleep. He knew there were times when she was so weary, he wondered how much longer she could carry on.
Meanwhile, the daytime workers walked up the eight flights of stairs and entered the factory. Nothing could be heard except the muted rustling of crinolines and the soft tapping of their shoes as they walked to their stations.
No speaking was the rule and they all obeyed, even when they noticed that their machines had not been dusted nor had the floor been swept and mopped. It was no surprise.
They knew the nighttime girls never seemed to stay very long and although Willowdean had stayed longer than most, they expected the hours would eventually prove too much for her.
To be continued____________