Chapter Seven: Together At Last
Friendly snorted exhaustedly as she diligently carried her chatty cargo northeast from New York. Rosie couldn’t contain her excitement at the prospect of being reunited with her beloved sister Flower, and was talking Chadwick’s ear off about Flower’s letter, how she was engaged to a handsome young Naval officer who caught her heart at first sight.
And how she had helped save Bristol from the flood and was now living in Boston, where her young man was stationed with the reserve-officers, awaiting his next deployment. Chadwick displayed a rare smile in spite of himself. His sister’s indomitably adventurous spirit was both infectious and welcome.
“According to an article Di recently published in her paper, it’s very likely that one ‘William Farragut’—note the name!—was on board the famous war vessel Constitution when she defeated the Guerriere, under the command of Captain Isaac Hull, and that that battle was instrumental in asserting ‘our mastery over the ocean and our freedom from tyranny.’ They’re calling the ship ‘Old Ironsides.’ What do you think of that? Our sister marrying a war hero?”
Chadwick considered his response for a moment, before stating stoically, “’Long as he treats her right I reckon I’m fine with it.”
A month earlier, Chadwick had found Diana at her newspaper office, and, after embracing her, shared the unhappy tidings of their parents’ deaths. Diana had allowed but a single tear to rush down her cheek before wiping it away. She was overwhelmed with emotion, but she firmly reminded herself that it wasn’t all negative emotion. Here stood her dear brother after all this time, grown fully into a man! She embraced him again, then stepped back and smiled.
“It is so good to see you, dear brother. We have much to catch up on. But first, I must take you back to my quaint little abode. There are a couple of people there who I’m certain will want to see you.”
“Don’t you have work?” Chadwick objected, following his twin sister as she rushed to close the printshop.
“Oh, no, it’s all right. My boss Mr. Barlow is a dear old man. His wife is a friend of Mrs. Sumpter’s, and she’s talked him into allowing me time off whenever I need it to look after my little Owen, provided, of course, that I’ve finished proofing for the day.”
The bell on the front door chimed as they hurriedly departed, Diana stopping only briefly to lock the front door of the noble establishment.
As Diana walked arm in arm with her brother down the street, they commiserated about their mother’s last days, smiled at some of their childhood memories, and briefly outlined their own plans. Diana had made friends here in New York and felt bound more than ever to the writer’s life, being content to bide her time until she was noticed as the journalist she was at heart. Chadwick told of his plans to perhaps secure some farmland somewhere with the money he had inherited from the sale of the family mercantile. After the very first moment of silence between them, Chadwick started apologizing for leaving her in such a vulnerable position all those years ago. But Diana stopped him, looked him in the face earnestly, and said, “It wasn’t your fault.”
From the look in his eyes she could already tell that he had been through as much horror as she had since their last meeting.
Presently, their minds were drawn to more cheerful things. Diana opened the door to her humble apartment and called out, “You’ll never guess who’s here!” to a room clattered full of sudden energetic joy.
Owen ran to his “Mama Di” eagerly, almost tripping over his own little feet, and she picked him up and held him on her hip, as was her custom.
It was then that Chadwick caught sight of Rosie, and an expression of astonishment ran over both of their happy features.
“It’s quite the reunion indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Sumpter joyfully, who had, ’til now, been quietly observing from behind the kitchen cupboard. “Well, I’ll leave you to it. Coffee’s brewing in the kettle over the fire and Owen’s already eaten his supper.”
She beamed at them in her endearingly matronly way as she bustled out the door. “See you tomorrow morning, dear,” she added to Diana as she left the heart-warming scene.
“This is your Uncle Chadwick.” Diana grinned at Owen. Owen hid his face shyly, clinging protectively to his Ma. But Chadwick soon won his nephew over by producing a little wooden horse from his satchel.
Owen grabbed for it instantly, bright blue eyes filled with wonder.
“’Orse,” he said, and Diana smiled proudly.
“Yes, indeed,” said Chadwick, in his most kingly tone. “A handsome steed for a handsome young gentleman. And what are you going to name him?”
“’Orse!” Owen answered delightedly, and they all chuckled at his three-year-old sureness.
Late September 1813
Flower put down her sewing and rubbed her aching leg. It always hurt worse when she was wracked with anxiety, and today it was downright agonizing. Will’s ship, the Constitution, had been gone for six months on a mission to the West Indies, to resecure trading routes and dispel British invaders. It was all Flower could do to remember his dark-browed, clean-shaven face without bursting into worried tears. The young lovers had been married but a year and already he had been gone from her as long as he had been with her. Her biggest consolation was her darling sister Rosie; they had had such a grand time in those first months here in Boston. Rosie had been her bridesmaid, and even Chadwick had been there at the wedding to give her away before he set out west to buy land for his farming venture.
When Will first left on commission, Flower had found herself seamstressing costumes for a traveling circus. They were to be in Boston for two weeks and rewarded her handsomely for her troubles. Flower felt strangely at home amid these friendly misfits. One suit she sewed was for a gentleman who stood no higher than a horse’s knee, another matching dress was tailored for a lady of six and ten. And there were many other people in the troop who were just as fascinating.
Sir Rupert, the magician, had wanted to start the identical twins in his show, pretending them to be one person magically transported to the other side of the stage. They obliged him for one show only. Rosie was even able to rescue a limping elephant one day, noticing that the poor creature had stepped on a jagged edge of a broken platform and injured its foot. Suffice it to say that there had been ample distractions in the first few weeks to keep Flower’s overactive misgivings at bay.
But now, the circus had moved on months ago and even Rosie had left her. Her two favorite people had up and gone on more adventures, leaving her with her anxiously twinging leg. Despite her worry, Flower couldn’t help admiring her sister’s resolve. Rosie had loved spending time with her twin again; they’d both felt whole once more while
together. But, finally, Rosie felt that she was more needed as a field nurse for the front lines than she was tending to elephant manicures.
Especially now, with this Creek War down south.
Flower sighed heavily, allowing herself a few pitiful sobs which shook through her growing belly. Then she wiped the tears from her eyes, berating herself for feeling self-pity, and concentrated on getting back to the task at hand—sewing baby-clothes.
Written By: EstherFlowers1