Alice busied herself with the daily routines of life, albeit missing Jacob terribly. Every minute, she wished 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 of both Jacob and Grace.
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, 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!”
Not wanting to be obtrusive, but straightforward to a fault, 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 and 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, “I would think not. Alas, it has 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?”
Georgias’ voice softened 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 Georgias’ 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 parents were wealthy landowners and had a lot of money. After they died, he couldn’t afford to pay the death taxes, so he lost all of the land and most of the money. Then, I guess you could say that fortune smiled on him when he met my mother. They married, and all of her wealth became his.”
She smiled and said, “I believe that they are fond of each other, but I have never seen my father look at my mother the way William looks at me.”
With an apology, Alice told Georgia that she must get back home. She looked at her and said, “you are a strong, and from what I can tell, an intelligent woman. Fight for what you believe, 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 treasured 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.
Two weeks and a day after Alice received the letter from Jacob, he arrived at the train station. She could hardly contain her excitement as she embraced him. She smiled and said, “you must tell me all about your adventure, but not before we have some time together.”
The next morning, Alice told Jacob about meeting Georgia. “She reminds me so much of Grace,” she said, “but her father has plans for her.” Jacob queried, “what do you mean? What kind of plans?”
Alice said, “Georgia carries a torch for a young gentleman, whom her father thinks is unsuitable. He wants her to marry a wealthy man. It’s just so sad, because I believe that she will bend to her father’s wishes.”
A month later, Alice and Jacob went to Tierney’s and saw Georgia sitting at a table with a much older man. In a low voice, Alice said, “that must be her father. He’s a lawyer in town. Do you recognize him?” Jacob said he didn’t. Alice said, “I’d like for you to meet her.”
They walked over to the table, the gentleman stood up and a surprised Georgia said, “hello Alice. This handsome young man must be your Mr. Harper.” Jacob extended his hand, requested that she call him Jacob, and said how happy he was to make her acquaintance. He followed it with, “I’ve heard such lovely things about you.”
Georgia said, “please allow me to introduce you to my fiancé, Mr. Horace Spellman. He’s the president of the B & O railroad.” Alice had to hide her disappointment as well as her anger as she allowed him to kiss her hand.
Horace looked at Jacob and said, “I understand you travel quite a bit on my train, young man. We must see about getting you a discount.” Jacob thanked Mr. Spellman, but avoided possibly putting himself under obligation.
Georgia could see the displeasure on Alice’s face and said, “Alice. I would like to extend an invitation to you and Jacob. Mr. Spellman and I are to be married in three weeks, and I would like very much for you to attend.”
Alice quickly said, “I need to powder my nose. Georgia, would you like to accompany me?” Georgia, as if in servitude, asked Horace if he minded, which angered Alice. As soon as they got out of earshot, Alice angrily asked, “what are you thinking? I know you don’t love that man, not to mention that he’s old enough to be your father!”
Georgia said, “my father arranged the wedding. In return for a lavish life-style, plenty of money, financial help for his practice, and the promise of a male heir, he gave Mr. Spellman my hand in marriage.”
Alice, unsure if she could sway Georgia said, “I I beg you. Don’t throw your life away. Wouldn’t you rather be with someone you love instead of being some old man’s drudge, catering to his wishes and being nothing more than a silent, pretty face and a brood mare? And what if you don’t produce a male?”
Alice tried to calm herself and said, “we only have one life, Georgia, and we mustn’t waste one minute of it doing the wrong thing.”
To be continued______________________