Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown - Chapter 26

The eagerly awaited letter arrived -- the first since Marguerite left to marry Paul Evans. Worry and apprehension faded and it became impossible to blame her for her hasty action. Her endearing nature showed through the lines, making it unthinkable to do anything but pray for her happiness. Her mother immediately walked over to Susan's to read the letter aloud. As Susan watched her Mother's face, she saw both the relief and pride showing.
Chicago, July 4, 1881

Dear Mother and all,

Paul and I were married on July 1 at the Episcopal Church near his parents' home. I haven't changed my persuasion or beliefs, but we both decided this was the best solution for an immediate marriage. His church, as he has described it, carries down from the Church of England. The service is similar to ours, but it is less formal. No Latin is spoken.

Paul's folks have been wonderful to me. His mother's name is Grace, his father’s, Ralph.

Paul met me at the station on the morning of June 27. We had breakfast together before he took me to his parents' home. We went house hunting the very next afternoon and settled on a bungalow only a short distance from his office. It is a small house with only two bedrooms, but it's nearly new. Of course we have the usual house with a path.

I've so much to tell you that I feel almost ready to burst. Paul is kind and considerate; I find no problem answering to his love. There are so many adjustments to make, as I'm not used to a city -- and this city of Chicago is immense! I hardly dare step from the house for the buggies and wagons passing by on the street. We have a small stable but no horse or buggy as yet. Paul walks to work each morning, a matter of only about a mile. He receives a good wage and says we are secure.

Although his parents treat me almost as a daughter, I am a bit homesick. Paul says we might have to wait until next summer to visit you in St. Vincent. Now that you have my address, tell everyone to write.

How is Susan's pregnancy coming along? I know she and Ian plan on four children. I am hoping for at least one while I am still young.

Sometimes I feel hemmed in; I guess crowded is the word. Although Paul's folks both teach in Evanston, his mother stops by nearly every evening. She is a chatty woman, a kind woman who means well, but I would like a little less visiting. She is arranging for me to take art lessons. I showed her some of the charcoals and oils I brought with me. She was especially inquisitive about my drawing of Charley, wanting to know who that handsome man was. I shouldn't have shown her that one, but I couldn't part with it!

We are going to the lakeshore tonight to view the fireworks. They are supposed to be spectacular. Paul showed me where his old home stood before the big fire. It's completely built over now, all lovely homes.

It is so warm here. I feel stilted, having to be dressed just so every day. No more swimming in the river, it just isn't done here. I miss you all! Keep me up on the news. My address is: Mrs. Paul Evans, 224 22nd St. N. Chicago, Illinois.

All my love, Marguerite
It was the fourth week after they were married when Marguerite began to worry. A heaviness seemed to settle in her abdomen and her appetite began failing at breakfast time. She noted the pigment area of her breasts was darkening and enlarging. Fortunately, she had no morning nausea. Knowledge told her that she was pregnant and had been this past month. A pervasive fear set in that she did her best to conceal, realizing the date she must have conceived coincided with that late May meeting with Charley, south of the fort, and at his quarters that evening.

If she'd only known! Or even had an inkling! Lordy! She'd really done it, crossed all her bridges with nowhere to turn! After moping for days she couldn't make up her mind what to do or say. What would be gained by telling Paul the truth? A horrible feeling of guilt came. Paul was so staunch and steadfast in his love for her. He would be totally devastated.

As the days passed she became embroiled in her art lessons, purposely spending long hours at the school, returning home only in time to prepare supper. The long hours spent did little to relieve her conscience, it seemed she was just putting off the inevitable. Paul noticed the change and commented, "You don't have to spend those long hours at the Art Institute. It's not necessary to devote so much time to perfect your painting. Why not do a few hours at a time? We have an adequate income to support us."

"Paul, it's something I must do. I'm told my talent lies in portrait work -- if so, that's what I want to specialize in. In the past I've been having trouble with flesh tones and making the model's eyes come alive, but I think I've finally found the answers. It isn't the money, although that would be a bonus. I've never had much cash and the prices people pay for a good oil portrait is substancial. Anyway, it's just a driving force that makes me want to succeed. I love to paint. Someday I hope you'll be proud of my work."

Hugging her, he said, "Heck, I'm proud of you just the way you are. Your painting isn't going to change that!"

It was nearly two months after their wedding before Marguerite told Paul of her pregnancy. He had gone to bed while she was changing to her nightgown. As she approached the bed he noticed that she held her hand snugly to her stomach. Alarmed, he asked, "What's the matter? Is your stomach bothering you?"

Sitting on the edge of the bed she looked at him apprehensively, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "Oh Paul, soon you'll have another mouth to feed, I'm pregnant."

A grin formed on his face as he sat up and folded her into his arms. "Honey, that's wonderful! It's a normal thing, but I hadn't expected a baby this soon. Dry those tears; it's nothing to cry over; it's something wonderful to celebrate. Wait until I tell the folks; they'll be tickled. Which do you want, a boy or girl?"

Wiping her tears away, Marguerite looked directly into his eyes. Forcing a weak smile, she said, "I'm hoping for a girl. Would that disappoint you?"

He fingered the long hair back from her face. "You know it would be grand to have another exactly like you. Girl or boy, we'll take whatever comes and be grateful."