A BITTER RESOLUTION
John watched his beloved mother go down the hall and close the door to the inner parlors. He had miscalculated. Logic had not won out. The invisible jury rose and shuffled out of the courtroom. The case had been lost. He felt that all of his education and training had been for naught and he hung his head in his anguish.
Marie saw the hall narrow to a pinpoint of light and then begin to expand infinitely. A familiar buzzing rang in her ears as she felt herself rise up and out of her corporeal body. She was shamed beyond measure. So this was America? She saw with amazing clarity the turn of events and how they played themselves out. She knew now what had happened. John's mother knew about the divorce and she had told him and - he had kept it from her. He had brought her here with foreknowledge of events to come, known that this would happen- that she would not be received.
She looked at him, so passive, so contrite, so confused and at that moment she only wanted to flee away- like the Marie she was named after-
With a snap she came to her senses.
Who was this little woman to dismiss her, Marie Jolicouer, the greatest actress in all of Paris? Had she not starved during the siege of Paris in 1871, when there was no bread and she had been forced to do - to eat- unspeakable things just to stay alive?
What did this little woman know of her suffering?
And had she not gone on stage as Esmeralda in the Gypsy Girl of Paris with two black eyes given to her by that little beast of an ex husband Antoine? And had she not given the best performance of her life - poured her heart out to the audience- and they were on their feet, clapping for her - Marie! In her eyes she became Esmeralda and he Phoebus and she realized she never knew him or loved him at all.
Something in her broke. She was in a strange land among strangers. A wide uncrossable chasm opened which she had to find a way to cross. There was no bridge. She turned and ran from the house, the little heels of her brocade shoes making a sharp rat a tat upon the hardwood floors.
John ran after her. They stood, on the perfect lawn winded, panting, staring at each other, like two dumb animals.
The carriage driver, who had finished his lunch and was wondering when the trunks would be unloaded, watched the unfolding scene with interest. This couple, they were not happy. Perhaps he would have another fare from them.
The coachman swung down from his seat and leaned against the
tall wheels, gloved hand holding tight to the horses bridal. He surveyed the scene with practiced eyes. He had been a driver for many long years and had seen this many times before. He still had the trunks strapped to the back. And he wanted to be paid. There was nothing to do but wait it out.
Marie was livid in the face of John's stunned silence. Why did he not say something to her - at least - did he not love her? He had made love to her - what did it all mean now - nothing? How could she have loved this man - this silent fool?
In reality John had no training, no basis in fact to deal with the situation. He had been raised in a polite society where women were naturally delicate beings who clung to your arm at the opera. They never ran away. They looked up at you through adoring lidded eyes in rooms lit by candle light; the rustle of their petticoats as they moved across heavily carpeted floor always promised more. They wanted to have children and be at home. Was that not what she wanted? She had told him so. Many times. Had she lied about that too, as well as the divorce?
He had been nurtured on the self improving works of Bulwar-Litton, read to by nannies and nursemaids, fed on arcane philosophies and Greek myth. His late father had owned the bank, the iron mines, attended Yale and Colombia. He had moved in a world of men. Men never emoted. Never dissembled. What to do now? He didn't know. Perhaps he should say something. He had done the unthinkable: wounded the heart of a woman. He was a cad and nothing more.
"Marie. My darling Marie. You have my heart. I am sorry. I was wrong. Let us go from here and be married... we can do that in New York tomorrow...! Please, my darling, listen to reason!"
But she would have none of it. Rage and despair rose in her like a flood tide that would not be contained.
She threw her parasol at his feet, then her black lace gloves after. She pulled the pins and combs from her hair and it fell around her shoulders, a gleaming black mass of tangled curls.
She tore the lace from her bodice and ripped open the basque of her gown exposing a pink lace corset.
"J'ai seulement un coeur de la femme!" (I have only the heart of a woman.) Her voice broke and dwindled off.
The pearls snapped and fell to the grass, slipping away like drops of milk from her dark throat.
"Marie! Please. Don't...!"
She was tearing at her corset, threatening to expose her self.
"Je suis au-dela' deshonore 'de la mesure" (I am shamed beyond measure!) Je suis Esmeralda!"
He grasped her arms to restrain her and the coach man stepped forward.
"Sir, unhand that lady or or I will be forced to thrash you.!'
The coachman who had studied and practiced the pugalistic arts stood, legs akimbo, arms and fisted raised, in a boxers stance.
John stepped back. Thrash him? No one had ever threatened to thrash him! He stood silent. He had to let her go. The heat of the day, the droning of insects rose up about him like a scream.
Marie reeled about and the coachman helped her into the carriage. She snapped the little curtain closed. John could hear her sobbing.
"Marie, Marie, wait... we can discuss this..." and she opened the curtain just a little, but said:
"Go. Go from my eyes! You are dead to me." And she snapped the curtain closed.
He turned away and looked at the ground. The last thing he heard was the clatter of the wheels as they took her away.
He knelt in the grass and gathered up the pearls ,the gloves and the parasol, wrapping the pearls in his handkerchief. Up and down the quiet street doors were beginning to open, curtains discreetly pulled back by matrons and servants alike. He didn't care. He rose up and went down the long walk to the yards, past the rose bushes, and entered the house through the servants entrance. He went up the winding back stair to the third floor and found an empty chamber. He lay down in the narrow bed. It was like grave to him. He pressed the gloves to his lips. But what good was it now? She was gone. It was over. He would never speak of her again.
The great house and gardens were quiet in the heat of the day, the windows shuttered, the rooms dark. On the porches green and white striped awnings fluttered in the breeze and ferns hung massive fronds down to the tops of cast iron railings, the measure of their brief lives always sun and always shade.
Life would go on in Morristown just as it always had and this was both a revelation and a comfort to him.
LET ME NOT TO THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alterations finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! It is an ever- fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown,
Although his height be taken.
- William Shakespeare
It was a very great scandal, the bones of which Morristown's servants and Grand dames alike chewed upon for almost a year.
On the 12th of July 1873 Sarah received a letter from John's sister, Mary. It was written in a fine Spencerian hand on the finest onion skin paper and the sister had threaded a pink ribbon through the borders. The whole of the envelope was decorated with drawn flowers and lovely swirls and flourishes and it rested in Sarah's hand like a the smallest of summer insects singing to her of wonderful things to come.
July 1, 1893
From the pen of Miss Mary Wood to the heart of Miss Sarah Miller
with all salutations and courtesies;
My Dear Sister,
( if I may be so humble as to presume to call you sister)
I am writing to you in hopes that you will open your heart to a sad situation. Brother John has spoken often of you and only in the most glowing terms, so I ask you to hear me out. Although it is presumptuous of me to say so, as we have never formally met, I feel as if I know you well. I am sure that by now you have become acquainted with the terrible scandal that has surrounded Brother John and the deleterious outcome of his dalliances abroad. It is well that Madame Jolicouer has left and we shall see her never more, however, alas and anon, her absence in Brother John's days has thrown him into the darkest of caverns.
Since that terrible day in June he has gone from the family
in the most sorrowful fashion...yet, My Dear Sarah, my sister...he is still here! It is his shadow I am speaking of, his shade! He is like a dead man. He has gone to live in the attic, appropriated a chamber in the servant's quarters where he has his books and his pipes and his papers and there he has made his home! He has been up there for the better part of two weeks and will speak to no one save an Irish kitchen girl. She brings him his meals and clothes and tends to his needs. He has not spoken to Mother or any of us all these long weeks, nor does he receive guests or compatriots.
The meals go up, the meals go down, barely touched. The girl, it would appear, has been sworn to secrecy, as she will say naught and indeed, Mother is thinking of dismissing her should she continue on in this fashion with Brother John. The shame, as the poor girl has no family and is only doing what he has told her to do.
Dearest Sarah, we beg of you, will you not come to Morristown and heal the wounded heart of our Dear Brother John? He is sorely afflicted with melancholy and we fear we may loose him. Goldsmith has written: People seldom improve when they have no model but themselves to copy after.
O, Sarah, good and strong, please do come and make our home your own, even if for a day, a week, a month, and do bring a companion, a friend, a sister an aunt. We have a wonderful home and a large staff that shall tend to your every need. Indeed, you shall have your own ladies maid if need be. I promise you will lack for nothing here. You have my word on it as my honored guest.
O' Sarah, do.
I await your reply and pray for your decision to be in our favor.
May God Bless you and keep you. I am writing the poem below in hopes that it may sway you:
O Happy home! Bright and cheerful hearth! Look round with me, my lover, Friend and wife, On these fair faces we have lit with life, and in the perfect blessing of their birth, help me to live our thanks for so much Heaven on earth.
Would that it were so for Brother John!
Your most loving and affectionate sister, Mary.
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?"
Rabbi Hillel, 1st century BC,AD
Sarah was sitting on a mossy stone bench, under a small grove of plum trees, resting from the opressive heat of the day when a parlor maid brought her the letter from John's sister, Mary. It had been almost a year since she had seen John and what she read surprised her. It was a conundrum, a puzzle. She had thought him well, prosperous and married with perhaps a child on the way. The disarray his life had fallen into was worrisome. "Perhaps", she thought, "If I had accepted his proposal..." But there was no looking back . What was done was done and could not be undone. She folded the letter neatly and tucked it into the pocket of her skirt. Tomorrow, after she had thought it over, was time enough to reply. However, the letter fell from her pocket onto the grass. She picked it up, folded it even smaller again and tucked it in under the basque of her dress, where it worked it's way up into her camisole and the sharp edges of the onion skin scratched her. The letter seemed to be a living thing now, more than paper and ink. It was begging to be read again, the situation asking for her immediate reconsideration. She went up the stairs to her chamber and put the letter in the carved wooden box on her writing desk. On top of the box she placed a heavy silver tray and upon the tray a book. Sarah was not by nature a superstitious person, but the letter was taking on a life of it's own, she felt it in her heart and, she had heard of things like that happening, read about them in father's books. Wanting to take no chances, she locked her chamber door before going down to the back parlor for afternoon tea.
When she went upstairs that evening, box, book and tray were just as she had left them but the letter was lying open upon the desk.
Even though it was mid July and the night was balmy, the cozy little bedroom room seemed to have a coldness about it. Someone, something, had been in here and removed the letter from the box, but it was too much to think about now. She closed the windows, drew the lace curtains and lit a small fire in the marble fireplace, but the chimney didn't draw. A dark curl of smoke came back and choked her. She banked the fire and threw open the windows. The night air scented with flowers, heavy white snowballs, the last of the purple French lilacs, came rushing in and far and away an owl hooted. She lit the oil lamp and sat on her bed in the gathering shadows. Moths flitted in through the open windows and circled the glowing chimney of the lamp. What to do? What to do? Her mind was racing with the possibilities: If she accepted the invitation she may be committing herself to a marriage of convenience - provided John was even interested in her at all, after so long a time. The thought that he could possibly love her did not occur to her. Passion lived for her in penny novels, in books, in dreams. But, if she declined she would be committing herself to a lifetime in this house, for suitors were few for a woman as herself rushing on towards middle age. Either way she was trapped. And then, there was Father.
Rutger B. Miller had never held any of his children back from the fulfillment of their individual destinies. Of course, the boys were expected to carry on in the public arena and the girls to either marry well or keep the home fires stoked. It was a matter of family, fidelity and class distinction. Should she accept the invitation and Father knew she was going to stay at the home of a former beaux, especially if he knew about John's indiscretions, he would be livid. Of course he couldn't stop her from going. She would be a guest of the sister but all the same she would have to deal with him upon her return and - if John rejected her - quite possibly for the rest of Father's life. The social repercussions would be terrible. She would be a spurned woman and would have to retire from polite society, and take up the mantle and don the armor of spinsterhood.
No, she couldn't tell Mother - or Father - where she was going - they could find out later and then it would be too late. Sarah had never defied her father, always been the good daughter, the quiet one, but had gained nothing from it. Blandina was outspoken with her political views and her writings and her community work. She moved easily in the world of men. And Helen. Helen was devoted to Blandina and lived quietly in her shadow. Lost in a tangle of at home days, social calls, church work and polite conversation, she had withered away to nothing. Surely Sarah's individual fate lay somewhere beyond the accepted social milieu. Who would help her, who could she talk too? Mother? No. She deferred every decision to Father. That left only her aunt Julia- Julia Seymour Conkling.
Of course! Aunt Julia! Why hadn't she thought of that in the beginning? Who better to advise her and to travel with her then Julia, a seasoned woman of the world! She would write to her in Utica and then make a social call, whence she would press her case. From there she would process on to Morristown, free from the prying eyes of her sisters. Even if she had to travel alone! Of course, she had never traveled alone, but she had heard that it was done - certain classes of women did so and were tolerably successful at it. She rose up from the bed and paced the room. The moon was up and flooded the chamber with silver light, a little breeze came through, picked up the letter from the desk and whirled it in the air. Sarah leapt up, as much as she could, for she was tightly laced and caught the letter in her hands. For the first time in her life freedom, indeed love... or perhaps just the heady pursuit of ... seemed possible. It was all within her grasp, she had only to step out and place her hand upon it. Her mind whirled with the very idea of it.
The Arrow Finds It's Mark
Sarah heard the old grandfather clock in the downstairs hall chime the hour: Nine o'clock, ten o'clock and still she pondered her situation. The moon rose and set, the only light in her small chamber from the oil lamp on her desk. She paced the floor, letter in hand. At long last she removed her dress and sat at her dressing table in just her petticoats and a shawl. She let down and brushed her luxuriant brown hair, then braided it for the night. The call and response of insects filled the silence and a small brown bat, like a messenger from some other place, some other time, fluttered in, circled the room and fluttered out.
She chose a sheet of creamy white paper; black ink and when she began to write the words flowed like water from the deep well spring of her heart.
Miss Sarah Miller,
46 Main Street. Whitesborough, NY
My Dear Sister Mary,
I send this missive from the most humble pen of Miss Sarah
to the accepting heart of Miss Mary in most earnest measure. Please accept these few scribbles as a token of my affection, fidelity & perhaps, if we can be so blessed, family ties to come. I have read your words & accept you as my sister & yes, I will certainly accept your invitation.
I will leave in a few days, as soon as my trunks are packed & travel can be arranged. Thus you may expect me within the upcoming week. I travel to Utica tomorrow, up to The Hill, as we call our old vine covered family home on Rutger Street. I trust John has told you about some of the happy hours we spent there laughing and telling stories by the fire with my Aunt Julia and Uncle Horatio! How John and Uncle Horatio enthralled each other with stories of old New York, Yale, politics and ect. Uncle Horatio is a veritable fount of history and revels in the telling of a decent tale! Once he has your ear you are his captive for an evening! The rooms are quite lovely & spacious, full of friends, laughter & life. Going to visit my Aunt Julia for a day is a full year's worth of happiness.
I am in earnest to impress my Aunt Julia to accompany me to Morristown. I think she will as she is always one for a great adventure & not as retiring as one would think.
As to your offer of a maid, yes, that is acceptable. Good servants are hard to find these days & my sisters & I share one girl & they could not do without her.
Please allow me to offer some scant information about myself. As we have yet to formally meet: Irregardless of what your brother John may have told you, I am not quite that stubborn! I do yield from time to time and can carry a conversation quite well in mixed company. I play both the harp, clavichord, violin & piano & sing passably well. I attended The Utica Seminary For Young Ladies and there I learned to speak both a pretty French and Latin. Three years ago our family toured Italy and I became enamored with the 'ancient statuary and paintings". Thus I have taken up the womanly art of the paintbox and paper. I can sew passably well & embroider in silks & am currently working on a very pretty image of a peacock. Perhaps I shall bring it to share with you.
But. O' how unseemly of me to ramble on and how rude. I apologize. Profusely. However, I must tell you, in all honesty, I am a terrible cook. Do not ask me to clean or truss a chicken! I know nothing of the culinary arts.
To this end, while I am there, if I can de directed as to where to procure a fine harp, I will be eternally grateful. The harp is my delight and I shall endeavor to entertain you of an evening's repose.
Now, I must close as the hour grows late and must ask you to keep the contents of this letter to yourself. It would not do for your brother to think I am " throwing myself at his head." It would be unseemly and quite common of me & as a Christian Woman, must be circumspect in all things. I shall arrive AS OUT OF THE AIR, Dear Sister! AS OUT OF THE AIR! Imagine!
I send you these words of Mr. Longfellow, for they are as they are manna to me:
I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight could not follow in it's flight.
I breathed a song into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where,
For who has sight so keen and strong, that it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak I found the arrow, still unbroke,
And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend!
Your loving sister and friend,
Miss Sarah Miller
She was satisfied with the letter and set it aside to dry. Then she took a little scissors, went to the window, leaned out and cut off a bit of a sprig of green ivy. Having done that she plucked a bit of purple lilac from a vase on her bed side table and layed them both next to the letter. The posies would speak the words she could not bring her pen to write and she was glad of heart for it.
The old clock struck one! Had she really been writing that long?
The silence was broken by a small knock on her chamber door and outside in the hall, a clearing of throats and a shuffling of feet on the carpet. Sarah knew exactly who it was. There was no hiding anything in this house. She lowered her lamp, pulled on a silk wrapper and opened the door a crack.
Blandina and Helen were standing there in white cotton dressing gowns, Blandina in front and Helen behind her, peering past her sister's shoulder. They both had there hair up in curl papers and Helen had slathered her face with night cream. She looked the very visage of a ghost save for her eyes which were large, blue and held a watery sadness.
Blandina shielded her candle with her hand and the shadows danced upon the papered walls. "Are you well, sister Sarah? We were just wondering...? Your lamp burns so late..."
"Yes" Helen chimed in, a small echo. "We were just wondering..."
She craned her neck to peer inside the door, but Sarah blocked the view.
"I am well. You were just percance wandering the hall and happened to see my lamp blazing and you were wondering what I am doing, yes?"
Blandina cleared her throat.
"I am writing a letter to Aunt Julia asking her to send me up a casket of rum to slake my thirst all of a summer's evening. Does that satisfy you?
"My Dear sister. You needn't be so ... so ... obstreperous and vulgar. Father would not approve."
"Hang Father and all his minions too.!" And she shut the door, leaned against it and laughed till she cried.
Sarah passed a restless night and in the morning the sullen heat lay on the little town of Whitesborough like a blanket. What had seemed settled the night before was now profoundly confusing.
She went to the white china bowl on the washstand and poured water into it from the pitcher. Some of it she splashed on her face but the water was flat and tepid. It did not refresh or awaken her. The old clock chimed 8. Could it really be that late? It was Sunday and she had overslept. She would be late for church! She put on a floral tea gown and over that a Chinese silk robe. She found some old Moroccan leather slippers under the bed.
Downstairs the house was quiet. There seemed to be no one about. Had they all left so early? She peered into father's study. He wasn't there. The huge ledger books lay on the side table, on the desk placed just so, pens, nibs, inks, rubber stamps, a box of Cuban cigars. A large fern drooped in the corner. She went into the sewing room. Cloth was on the large table, heaps of lace, buttons, a dress ready to cut and stitched but Mother was not there. Nor was she in the kitchen supervising the preparations for Sunday dinner. Cook was standing at the scrubbed wooden table plucking and cleaning a chicken. The room smelled of lye soap. The kitchen girl was cleaning the stove. They both stopped work and greeted Sarah with a quizzical looks. It was unusual for here to be in the kitchen, especially on a Sunday.
"Morning, Miss?" said the kitchen girl and gave a little curtsy, before going back to her work .
"Mornin Miss Sarah", said Cook. "Is it yer breakfast yer wantin? We've cakes and ham and biscuits this mornin and a lovley fruit compote. Ye'd have only to have rung the dinin room bell and the girl would be right there..." There's no need a'tall fer you to come askin after it."
"Yes", It's my breakfast I'm wantin", Sarah replied dreamily, uncounsciously imitating the brouge of Cook. "That would be nice. I'll take it in the library."
"In the Library Miss? Bring your tray to the library? Are you well this mornin?"
" Yes" she replied, "I'm just being obstreperous."
Neither Cook nor the kitchen girl knew what the word meant but they liked it. Sarah was the sweetheart of them all, always kind and respectful. One could not expect to loose one's position about a bit of over fried meat or a pudding that didn't set. Sarah walked to the basket of apples on the floor, chose one and bit down deep. An apple eaten this way was wonderful.
" Why, Miss Sarah", said Cook," That's no way to eat an apple! Let me cut that up for you and get you a fruit set." The fruit sets consisted of pearl handled knives and forks in a velvet lined box, but Sarah declined. An apple eaten this way was delicious and Sarah couldn't remember when she had actually bit into an apple. It was not something ladies did. She giggled and felt like both Eve and Adam at the same time.
Sarah went into the dining room. The long mahogany table with it's starched white Brussels lace tablecloth was empty except for a tall crystal vase of red peonies. It was not set for before church breakfast. Twelve mahogany chairs stood at formation, Father's great chair with the carved arms at the head of the table, mothers straight backed chair facing his at the opposite end, all in their usual places. It was so quiet. Where was everyone?
After some searching she found Blandina on the porch with a watering can tending to the begonias, ferns and vines that hung in baskets from the crossbeams. The day was already too hot. Sarah was perspiring down the front of her wrapper. She sat on a wicker rocker in the shade and munched on her apple. The awnings had been rolled out and looked very pretty in the morning light.
She fanned herself with a folded newspaper. "Good morning Sister." She spoke to Blandina softly, hoping to rectify her remarks of last evening but rectification was not to come. Her sister had set her lower lip and avoided Sarah's gaze.
"Mother, Father and Helen have gone to Lorenzo to visit Aunt Helen Clarissa if you're wondering where everyone is," said Blandina.
"Oh", replied Sarah, concealing her glee at this lucky turn of events. " Is Helen Clarissa ill?"
"No." said her sister. "She is in season." Then realizing what she had said, a crimson blush stained her pale cheeks.
Sarah laughed out loud. It was good to laugh and be gay. "She is in season!! Don't you mean "that she is here for the season?" I must ask you, since Helen Clarissa is in season, does that mean she will replicate of her own kind as in Genesis One?"
Blandina hated being caught on the turn of an inappropriate word or phrase. She spoke back to Sarah a little too loudly, a little to bitterly. "And it is now I who must correct you. Last night you said you wanted a casket of rum. Did you not mean a casque?"
Sarah realized her sister was trying to trip her up, embarrass her. Her mind raced ahead for an appropriate comeback.
" Why, no, dear Sister. I meant a casket, which is what this house is too me! Someone was in my chamber last evening and snooped into my letter box!" She rose and went into the cool shade of the house. The kitchen girl was in the library ringing the breakfast bell.
Blandina followed her down the long hall and into the back parlour. "Wait! Please! Perhaps it was the kitchen girl or Cook! You know the Irish can't be trusted. Wait please. That was cruel of me."
" Cruel is as cruel does, Sister. I am going away for a few days to Utica and I am taking the Victoria and all my trunks and portmanteaus, as I may plan to travel farther if conditions permit."
"You are taking the Victoria? That's one of Fathers best carriages. We only use that for church or social calls! Why, you need his permission..."
"Gaze upon my visage!" cried Sarah, as if she were an actress on a stage." Am I not a grown woman?"
"Of that I have no doubt."
"Then I shall take the Victoria."
Blandina balled up her fists in anger. "I cannot abide by this conversation! Father should have let you go with Clara Barton when you wanted to... during the Glorious War..."
"My God in Heaven! " cried Sarah. "Why bring up that old chestnut?"
Blandina rolled her eyes at the ceiling, studying the prisims of the hanging gas lamp. "Sister, the Lord will smite you for your evil ways."
"And I cannot abide a snoop! Evil is evil does, my dear. Please leave now and allow me some peace for my breakfast is getting cold and your presence is wearing on me."
At length the trunks and carpet bags and hat boxes were readied. There was a heap of things. Sarah chose, for her final denouement, what she hoped would be her evening of reckoning with John, a pink sateen dinner dress with a slender waistline, a small train, jewel neckline and small puffed sleeves. She paired it with silver brocade slippers.
She dressed for the day in a green sprigged cotton dress with cascading black ribbons and chose a yellow straw hat. To her collar she pinned a cameo she had purchased in Italy and chose small cameo earrings. Her maid smoothed her hair and wrapped it into a neat chignon at the base of her neck.
Though it was hot, it was beautiful day for traveling on the Whitesboro to Utica turnpike. Since there had been no rain, the road would be packed hard, and hopefully not too dusty. It was twelve noon when she set out in the Victoria, with a small wagon loaded with trunks, valises, carpet bags and hat boxes following behind.
Her sister stood at the front door looking dismal. The little caravan was circling the front drive. Blandina lifted her hanky to wave good by and wiped away a small tear, but Sarah didn't see her. The wheels from the carriage and the wagon kicked up dust, the matched set of dapple grey's stepped lightly and prettily, the coachman cracked the whip just over the horses ears and they were off. The loaded spring wagon, pulled by a small chestnut mare, followed behind. The driver, wearing a large straw hat, spat tobacco juice onto the road. "Gi'yup!" he said and the mare stepped up and out. What a perfect day it was going to be!
Sarah leaned forward in the Victoria and spoke to both the coachman. " It is a beautiful day. The horses know the way. Give them a bit of a light rein. Don't push them. I want to enjoy my holiday. And I need to post a letter in Utica."
"Yes Miss", the coachman said and he smiled down at Sarah. She was so beautiful in all her finery. He would love to have a girl like that but a social gulf, a chasm as wide as an ocean would keep it from ever happening and he knew it.
The sun was crossing the sky when they pulled into the grounds of Old Main, the Utica Insane Asylum, to stop for lunch. The lawn was thick with clover and dandelions and the grass was cool in the shade of the ancient elms that stood like soldiers lining the broad gravel driveway. Off in the distance the massive Greek style pillars of the hospital building glowed softly white.