Alice busied herself with the daily routines of life, albeit missing Jacob and wishing every minute that he was with her, but she didn’t retreat to solitude.
Twice a week, she went to Tierney’s for a cup of hot chocolate and a Bonbon. It was one of her favorite places to go and the visits always brought back such fond memories.
One day, she quite literally ran into a young woman named Georgia. They laughed at the dark, chocolaty stains they both wore on their frocks, and after futile attempts to remove them, they began to talk.
Georgia reminded Alice of Grace and she liked her straight away. Georgia was very prim and proper, the epitome of what a young lady of those times should be, but she wasn’t stiff or hubristic. She had a delicious, almost naughty sense of humor and a high-pitched, head-turning squeal when she laughed.
Alice told her about Jacob and how they met. Then she told her about the day she and her Papa had seen him with another woman. Georgia let out such a guffaw, that she had to reach for her elaborately detailed smelling salts holder. Recovering, she said, “mercy. This corset is going to cause the death of me yet!”
Alice asked Georgia if she had a beau. Georgia, blushing bright red said, “I have my eye on a certain gentleman, yes.” Then she fanned herself and said, “I get the vapors just thinking about him.”
Alice leaned forward and whispered, “you must tell me all about him, but first, what’s his name?”
Georgia said, “his name is William Longstreet and he’s a lawyer. My father has a firm here and he works for him. Maybe you have heard of it. The Morgan Phillips firm.”
Alice made a polite apology but said, “perhaps Jacob knows him and has done business with him.” Then she smiled and said, “or perhaps he knows and has done business with your beau.”
Georgia sighed and said, “alas, it’s become an unrewarding occupation. There just isn’t enough business for all the lawyers here. My father’s firm used to be so busy, he barely had enough time to come home for supper, but no more. Wouldn’t you think that in the age of constitutional reform, there would be a need for lawyers?”
Georgia became solemn when she said, “my father doesn’t like William. He doesn’t think he’s suitable for me.” When Alice asked why, she said, “he wants me to marry rich. He wants me to put on airs and act like we’re royalty, just so I can land a wealthy husband.”
Alice put her hand on Georgia’s and said, “what about love? Doesn’t your father want you to love and be loved?”
Georgia said, “I think my father would rather I be rich than happy or in love. See, he and my mother married because it was good for the family. My father’s family were wealthy landowners and had a lot of money. After my mother and father married, his parents died. They couldn’t afford to pay the death taxes, so they lost all the land and most of the money.”
Alice told Georgia that she must get back home, but looked at her and said, “you are a strong and from what I can tell, a reasonably intelligent woman. Fight for what you believe in and never let anyone make you do something you don’t want to do. Don’t give a fig about rules. Make your own rules.”
As she was leaving, they agreed to meet every Tuesday, until of course, Jacob returned.
When Alice got home, a letter was waiting in the mailbox. She rushed inside, sat down and opened it.
My dearest darling,
Things are moving more rapidly
than I had expected. Everyone
seems to be excited about the work
we are doing and have done.
I believe my part will be accomplished
in no more than two weeks.
Then, my sweetest one, I will be anxiously finding
my way back home to you.
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Alice felt as though she was walking on air. Her beloved would be returning and once again, she would feel whole.
To be continued________________