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Authors: Anna Loan-Wilsey

A March to Remember

BOOK: A March to Remember
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Praise for Anna Loan-Wilsey
and her Hattie Davish Mysteries!
“Ms. Loan-Wilsey writes with vivid imagery that immediately brings to life the late nineteenth century in this engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable tale. Miss Hattie Davish is a force to be reckoned with, and I'm eagerly awaiting more of her adventures.”—Kate Kingsbury
“Fans of historical mysteries should be delighted with this debut.”
—Mystery Scene

A Lack of Temperance
shows no lack of a fresh setting, spunky amateur detective, fascinating characters and intriguing mystery. Anna Loan-Wilsey has a real talent for pulling the reader into a past world of both charm and chaos. Heroine Hattie and her typewriter certainly travel well! I can't wait to read her next adventure.”—Karen Harper
“This historical cozy debut showcases the author's superb research. Readers will be fascinated . . . this is a warm beginning.”
—Library Journal
“Eureka Springs is usually a peaceful spa resort, but when Hattie Davish arrives with her typewriter she finds the town in uproar. Temperance ladies are attacking saloons and her new employer is missing. This is a fast-paced and fascinating read, peopled with feisty females, giving us a glimpse of how far women were actually prepared to go for the cause.”—Rhys Bowen
“Loan-Wilsey combines meticulous research with sturdy characters.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Thoroughly entertaining . . . well researched and plotted, this fast-paced historical mystery delivers.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Poignant backstory, historical color and expert pacing distinguish this mystery, the best yet in Loan-Wilsey's 19th-century cozy series.”—
Publishers Weekly
“Once you pick up one Davish mystery, you'll be running to get another.”—
Suspense Magazine
Books by Anna Loan-Wilsey
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
Copyright © 2016 by Anna Loan-Wilsey
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.
eISBN-13: 978-1-61773-729-9
eISBN-10: 1-61773-729-1
First Kensington Electronic Edition: October 2016
ISBN: 978-1-6177-3728-2
To all those who love Hattie as much as I do
I would like to thank Benjamin F. Alexander, professor of American history at New York City College of Technology, for his kind help and his invaluable book:
Coxey's Army: Popular Protest in the Gilded Age
. I relied heavily on his research for authenticity, accuracy, and detail, and any errors are mine alone.
I would also like to thank Sarah Wilson, dog expert, for her aid in finding the perfect breed for Spencer, and to Mindy Groff, from The Carriage Museum of America, for her useful suggestions to my inquiries.
To Kristine Mills and Judy York at Kensington: I'm thrilled, yet again, at how well you captured in your cover art the Washington, D.C., that Hattie would have known.
To my fans and family to whom Hattie has become as much a part of your lives as mine, I couldn't have done any of this without you.
At his best, man is the noblest of all animals;
separated from law and justice he is the worst.
It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important.
You have to do the right thing. . . . You may never
know what results come from your action.
But if you do nothing, there will be no result.
n any other day I would have been honored, humbled, even excited to be here. So why did I have to come today? I wondered. Yet I knew why. Because Sir Arthur had suggested I go, and one always did as Sir Arthur suggested.
Determined to make the best of it, I willed my stomach to settle, brushed imaginary lint from my sleeve, and followed the senator's wife up the path. And yet, as I ascended the steps beneath the towering white columns and stared at the stained glass Tiffany fan light above the door, I still couldn't help but wish I were somewhere else. I glanced at the watch pinned to my dress. The watch pin, a small spray of bluebells, had been a gift. I sighed. It was barely eleven o'clock.
“After you, Miss Davish,” Mrs. Smith, the matronly wife of the senator, said, smiling.
Upon first meeting the Smiths, I wondered how they could tolerate one another: Mrs. Smith was always smiling, and her husband could only be described as a curmudgeon. But after living as a guest in their home for several weeks, I'd learned they complemented each other: She smiled because he wouldn't, she was gracious because he wasn't, and she did or said what was necessary because he couldn't. In return, he gave her a beautiful home, a prominent place in Washington's society, and the freedom to do almost anything she wanted.
“Are you ready?” Mrs. Smith said, noticing my hesitation.
I nodded, adjusted my new hat, a pink straw with a bell-shaped crown and wide brim turned up in front and embellished with ostrich feathers, and stepped through the open front door of the White House.
“Oh, my!” I said out loud despite myself. I hadn't stepped farther than the vestibule and the opulence surrounding me rivaled even the grandest “cottages” I'd visited in Newport.
We crossed the multicolored mosaic floor tiles and stopped to join the other admirers of the famous floor-to-ceiling Tiffany stained-glass screens. Topaz, ruby, and amethyst jewels were set into the glass alongside four eagles and a shield with the initials U.S.
Even as Mrs. Smith moved on, I lingered a bit longer.
“Coming, Miss Davish?” Mrs. Smith said, her smile never leaving her face.
“Of course.”
In the grand East Room, a banquet hall nearly eighty feet long with floor-to-ceiling windows, ornate glass chandeliers with prominent clusters of globe lights, and silver ceiling wallpaper, installed by Louis Tiffany to resemble Pompeiian mosaics, we joined the receiving line. I was much relieved when I saw most of the women in attendance were working women like me: maids, clerks, and shopgirls wearing their Sunday clothes, the best they owned. Mixed among them were a few politicians' wives wearing bored expressions and merchants' wives holding their heads high while staring around them with wide, awestruck eyes. The din in the immense room, which the thick Brussels carpet did little to diminish, was testimony to the excitement around me. Mrs. Cleveland's weekly Saturday receptions, in which she encouraged the attendance of working women who couldn't attend on the weekdays, were well known during President Cleveland's first term. But until Sir Arthur mentioned it, I hadn't realized she still hosted them.
Maybe this will be fun after all,
I thought. It might even distract me until one o'clock. I glanced at my watch again. And then something the two ladies ahead of me said caught my ear.
“Washington, invaded? I don't believe it,” the lady with a sailor hat adorned with loops of rose velvet said.
“It's true,” said her companion, wearing a toque from several seasons ago. “Colonel Clay himself mentioned an imminent invasion when he addressed his battalions the other day. Supposedly he's dedicated forty-two thousand of his National Guard troops if the police can't handle the marchers when they approach on May Day.”
“But I thought the marchers were peaceful?” the woman in the sailor hat said.
“An army of possibly tens of thousands of disgruntled, unemployed men who've marched for three months, wearing rags for clothes, and who haven't had a decent bath or meal in three months? What do you think?” Before they could say more, their turn had come to greet the First Lady.
They must mean Coxey's Army
These men who, after walking all the way from Ohio, were camped outside of the city waiting until May Day to march to the Capitol to promote awareness of the dire straits much of the country suffered from. They had been a topic of discussion for months, as every day a new article in the newspaper described their progress, their triumphs, and their setbacks. Along with thousands of others across the country, I'd been avidly following their every step. I was thrilled to learn I'd be in Washington when the marchers arrived and was counting down the days. Only three days to go. But did the government really think they were a threat? Like the lady in the fashionable sailor hat, I couldn't believe it.
The two women I'd overheard, after shaking hands and speaking with Mrs. Cleveland, walked away giggling with excitement, all thoughts of violence and Coxey's Army gone from their heads.
So why am I still thinking about it?
I wondered, absentmindedly taking a step forward. My wondering was interrupted when a melodic voice spoke to my companion. “So nice to see you again, Mrs. Smith. I pray all is well with you and Senator Smith?”
It was Frances Cleveland, the President's wife. Her black hair was adorned with rose quartz combs that matched her fashionable deep rose, pleated, dotted Swiss and satin dress. Two inches taller than me, she was a lovely, yet commanding, presence. Mrs. Cleveland had entered the White House an inexperienced bride of a president three decades older than she. Now, at twenty-eight, the same age as me, she reigned over the reception with warmth and regal grace.
“Very well, thank you,” Mrs. Smith said. “May I present Miss Hattie Davish, secretary to Sir Arthur Windom-Greene, an American history scholar visiting us from Richmond?”
I had seen her image on advertisements, trade cards, and objects as diverse as sewing kits and cigar boxes. It hadn't prepared me for the bright intelligence in her dark blue eyes as she turned to me.
“I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Davish.” Mrs. Cleveland held out her hand. I hesitated only a moment before shaking it. I was grateful to be wearing gloves; they easily hid the calluses on my fingertips.
“I'm honored to meet you, ma'am.”
“The President and I met Sir Arthur last week. The President thoroughly enjoyed Sir Arthur's book on Appomattox.”
I should've known Sir Arthur would've met the President. Was there no one he didn't know?
“You must have been quite a help, Miss Davish. Sir Arthur mentioned you,” the First Lady said.
“He did?” I was astounded that Sir Arthur would mention me at all, let alone to the President of the United States. And then I was mortified that I'd said it out loud. “I mean, that was kind of you to remember.” She smiled, taking my bad manners in stride, being as gracious as her reputation purported her to be.
“Enjoy yourself, ladies,” she said before turning and greeting the shopgirl behind me. “Good morning. What is your name, my dear?”
“I must apologize, Mrs. Smith,” I said, as soon as we couldn't be overheard by the First Lady. “I have no excuse for my ill manners.”
“I have to admit, I didn't suspect you as the type to be bedazzled by celebrity and lose your head. But not to worry, Miss Davish.” The senator's wife smiled kindly. “Mrs. Cleveland won't think another thing of it.”
After what I'd done, I wasn't about to correct Mrs. Smith. Let her think I was overwhelmed by meeting Mrs. Cleveland when, in fact, it was Sir Arthur's comment that had staggered me. I couldn't wait to tell Walter. I glanced at my watch again.
“Shall we have tea?” Mrs. Smith said, indicating the buffet table laden with roll sandwiches, crumpets, pickled eggs, baked tomatoes, strawberries in cream, cookies, cakes, and ices.
“Yes, please.” As I followed her across the room, I overheard snippets from conversations of all kinds.
“No, no, Mrs. Hawley. I've already tried speaking with my husband about it. He won't change his vote.”
“Don't you adore Mrs. Cleveland's dress? She's always so fashionable. I wish I could wear such bright colors. Who do you think made it: Lottie Barton, Madame Stauffer, or House of Worth?”
“These tarts remind me. Did you hear that the Hortons' cook resigned on the eve of Lenora's coming-out party?”
“If you haven't been to the Corcoran Gallery yet, Orpha, you mustn't miss it.”
“What do you think Ada and the Minsky girls would say if they saw us now? I bet they wouldn't believe it, us having tea and cake with Mrs. Cleveland in the White House!”
“Oh, you'll have to read it. It's called
The Prisoner of Zenda
by Anthony Hope. I was up all last night. I couldn't put it down.”
“Did you see that stained glass screen? That must be worth a fortune.”
“Did you know that Mrs. Grady, the lady who runs my boardinghouse, spent a year at Wells College when Frankie was a student there?” I cringed, having read in the paper that Mrs. Cleveland didn't like the nickname Frankie.
“Oh, Mildred, dear. So good to see you. When is the Washington Wives Club meeting next?” This was directed at Mrs. Smith, who paused to join their conversation.
“May I introduce Miss Davish,” Mrs. Smith said to a group of elderly ladies, who all acknowledged me with a nod before quickly forgetting I was there.
“Excuse me,” I said, as we hadn't reached the refreshment table yet. Mrs. Smith smiled and dismissed me with a wave.
Once at the buffet table, I accepted a cup of black coffee and added to my plate a slice of rhubarb pie, a strawberry shortcake, and a slice of silver cake with icing. As I made my way back toward Mrs. Smith, I heard more comments about Coxey's approaching army of marching men that seemed discordant with the occasion.
“Supposedly federal agents have been secretly planted among them since Allegheny City.”
“Really? I had no idea,” was the reply.
Neither had I,
I thought. I'd never heard anything before about the Secret Service agents among Coxey's men.
“At the very least, we're in for a riot. Why else would the Marines stationed in the Navy Yard go through close-quarter riot drills?”
A woman gasped.
“Surely there won't be bloodshed? American soldiers using bayonets on American citizens in Washington City? It's unthinkable.”
“Why else would General Ordway arm his men with bayonets?”
I took a bite of my rhubarb pie and moved away from this disturbing conversation. With plate and cup still in hand, I navigated my way past a group of girls who, based on their hats and gloves, were most likely maids or shopgirls.
“And did you see the row of ruby beads on her skirt? I heard they were a gift from the Viceroy of India,” one of the girls said.
I finally took a place near Mrs. Smith, who acknowledged me with a smile but continued on in her conversation. I took a sip of my coffee, admired the Boston fern nearby, a large, lush specimen of the plant, and finished the shortcake before looking at my watch again. I listened to the women chatter on about a recent visit to an orphanage the Washington Wives Club had sponsored as I nibbled on my silver cake for a few more minutes, my impatience growing. When they turned to discussing the prehistoric look of the alligators at the National Zoo's Carnivora House, I glanced at my watch again. Twelve o'clock. I couldn't stand to stay any longer.
“Excuse me, but I must go now, Mrs. Smith. Thank you for bringing me.”
“Already?” Mrs. Smith said, barely turning to look at me.
“Yes, I'm afraid so.” Which was an unabashed lie. I couldn't wait to leave.
“Very well. Glad you enjoyed yourself.” She immediately returned to the conversation I'd interrupted and never noticed my departure.
As fast as decorum allowed, I shuffled through the crowd of women until I was in the Entrance Hall again. As I approached the door, two men crossed my path as they headed toward a back staircase.
“And the Treasury Department has deployed dozens of additional revolvers and carbines to its security men,” one man read from a notebook as they walked.
“But why the Treasury Department?” the other asked.
“The march route is going right past there, isn't it? They're a rabble of desperate, unemployed men. Who's to say the Treasury isn't their real target? Who's to say that after the marchers fail to gain the Capitol steps that someone doesn't yell, ‘Here is the United States Treasury filled with money, while our families are starving'?” The second man nodded, agreeing with this logic. “If nothing else, we should not regard the invasion of Coxey's Army as a joke.”
As I watched the men turn the corner, their conversation too faint to hear, I paused in concern. It was one thing to have women idly gossip about bloodshed and violence; it was another to hear men who ran the government confirm some of the rumors were true.
Through the daily newspaper accounts, I had the impression that Coxey and his men were peaceful, Christian men; I wouldn't have concerned myself with a band of ruffians. But these comments gave me reason to pause. Were Coxey and his followers really intent on marching into the city, regardless of the cost? Were they willing to lay down their lives for their cause? Would the government kill unarmed Americans to prevent Coxey's message from being heard?
I hope not!
Then I glanced at my watch again and banished all concerns of the marchers from my mind as I stepped back into the sunshine. I had a train to meet!
BOOK: A March to Remember
13.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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