Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chapter 16

     Early in the week Angus received a note from Mary Jordan asking him to escort her to a party given by one of her friends.  It was a silly affair, a croquet match pitted between girls and boys. It was a bold move, destined to embarrass the parties.  The boys did their best to restrain their competitive natures and allow the girls to win, but the first strike seemed to stir the pot.
     "I ne'er played this game," he told her.
     "It is quite easy. You simply take a mallet and hit the ball."
     There was no amount of reasoning that he could use to persuade her differently, so took his turn. 'She is too young for me', he thought, promising himself that he would not call on her again.  The match ended about 3:00 with the boys taking the win.  When the score was tallied, Mary's delightful spirit sunk momentarily.
     "Tis just a game," he said in a bored voice.
     "Oh, I know, but I do not like to lose."
     "No one does, but much to our chagrin, that is the way of things."
     "You make it sound like there is nothing that I can do about it."
     "Everything is not about who wins, Mary, but your attitude," he said allowing her inside his carriage just as a gust of wind swept under her skirts. It was the last day of November and the end of outdoor entertainment. He had struck a wrong chord. She was silent on the ride to the battery.  As the carriage stopped in front of the Jordan home, a cluster of black clouds formed over the river and poured a heavy rain across the battery.  "There is nothing to do but to wait," he said, meaning that they were destined to sit in the carriage until the rain stopped. Except the wind blew the rain under the canopy. 
     "I am wet!" She complained.
     Angus removed his coat and draped it around her. "All right, Miss Mary, I think that we can make a run for it now."
     They were both soaking wet when they reached the front porch.  She removed his coat and gave it to him.  But as he turned to depart, she grabbed onto his sleeve. "You cannot go wet.  There is a fire in the parlor." He reluctantly followed her into the front hall and then into a cozy side parlor where Mrs. Jordan sat knitting.  He bowed politely.
     "You will catch your dearth in those wet clothes," Mrs. Jordan said arising from her chair. "Please allow me to loan you a suit of clothes from Mr. Jordan."
     He followed her into a bed chamber and changed into a dry suit of clothes. "Where is Mr. Jordan?"
     "He is examining Mr. Beavers' books," she said proudly.  Her husband was entertaining the prospect of partnering with Beavers in the mercantile business.  Angus wondered if Mr. Jordan knew about Beavers' gambling habit. No, however, Mrs. Jordan had heard gossip. Her plans were a little more devious as she was entertaining the idea of John Beavers as a prospective husband for Mary and was anxious to know if he was solvent. 
     Courtesy dictated that Angus return the suit personally, which he did the following day.  Mary had seemingly forgotten his deprecating comments and was cheerfully receptive.   He found himself staying over for tea in the little parlor.

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