Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four (5 page)

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
6.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Sophie choked on her sip of tea. “I’d hope a rabble of drunken men wouldn’t think to attack the president of the United States.”

“But it’s acceptable to treat the women of this country in such a manner?” Florence asked, taking a dainty bite of a small sandwich.

“Of course not, but true men still know the bounds of propriety.” Sophie squared her shoulders and
ed. Her eyes twinkled again. “Besides, the fact they could behave for the president and didn’t for us only helps the cause.”

“I don’t understand,” Savannah said. She settled against the back of her chair, appearing paler than she had a few days ago.

“It shows a deference to men that wasn’t shown to women.” Sophie sighed as she settled in her chair.

“He’s also the president, Sophie,” Florence argued.

“Yes, he is. But, as we marched on the same route the day before, the police should have been able to provide equal protection. I’m sure there will be an investigation into the police commissioner’s failing.”

“President Wilson didn’t appear to notice any of the women in the crowd who’d been harmed the day before,” Zylphia said. She smiled slyly. “I heard that Alice Paul and Lucy Burns want to meet with President Wilson within the next few days to discuss the need for the amendment.” At the women’s curious glances, Zylphia shrugged. “I went by the headquarters this morning and spent a few hours stuffing envelopes.”

“That was good of you, Zee, and I’m certain they appreciated the help.” Savannah’s smile of encouragement earned a frown from Zylphia.

“It seemed like I did so little. I wish we weren’t leaving tomorrow, and I’d be able to attend the meeting with them,” Zylphia said. “Of course, that is, assuming they’d want me to go with them as I’m virtually unknown to them.” She rapped her fingers on the tabletop in agitation. “I want to do more.”

“Zee, you did plenty. You attended the after-parade event, and you were one of the treasury’s beauties,” Florence soothed.

Zylphia made a face. “I want to do something other than stand and look pretty. Or stuff envelopes. Or ask my father for a donation.”

“It’s important that the voters of this nation realize that the women seeking the vote are young, successful, attractive women. You aren’t dried-up old women, bitter at your lot in life,” Sophie intoned. “What you provided during the march was essential.” Sophie paused for a moment, deep in thought. “Why else would Alice and Lucy insist on meeting with President Wilson now?”

“I heard a rumor that Lucy wanted to force him to see her and some of the other women before their bruises faded,” Clarissa said, sharing a wry smile with Sophie. “It seems you aren’t the only one wishing to confront the president with what happened two days ago.”

Sophronia appeared lost in thought. “I’s been a long struggle. The two leaders of NAWSA, Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt, worked tirelessly for years beside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton with little to show for their efforts.” Sophie suddenly cackled with glee. “Oh, that Alice is something. She’ll give Anna and Carrie fits before it’s over.”

“I’d think you’d be appalled at her antics,” Savannah said.

“I’ve waited my entire life for someone to come in and ruffle their feathers. To take action. If you think I’m about to be upset by Alice’s and Lucy’s initiative, you’d better think again.” She smiled at the women around her. “There’s no reason we can’t support different tactics in gaining universal suffrage. The only thing I will not condone is violence. I will not see my girls hurt or threatening others.”

“Don’t worry, Sophie. Alice is a Quaker,” Zylphia said.

“Yes, and I remain confident she’ll remember that rather than her training at the hands of the Pankhursts,” Sophie said. “I know I spoke positively in front of your husbands last night, but I do worry that Alice and Lucy were influenced more than they should have been by those radical women in England.”

“Do you think Miss Paul will have success when she meets with President Wilson?” Florence asked, fiddling with the filigreed silverware.

“I believe his daughter is for the vote, although I’m not sure that is enough to sway him,” Savannah said.

“My friend Parthena Tyler is for the vote, and her father couldn’t be more conservative,” Zylphia said with a shrug. “He remains convinced a daughter is nothing more than an arm ornament for her husband.”

“Time will tell,” Sophie said, grimacing at Zylphia’s description of Mr. Tyler’s view of women. “If President Wilson continues to postpone supporting universal suffrage, then we know he is against women voting and that he is not a man to support in the next election.”

“I wish Teddy Roosevelt had won.” Zylphia sighed. “At least his progressive party supported women obtaining the vote.”

“Well, what a man says and what a man does are two very different things,” Sophie said. “Roosevelt had his time in office, and we’re still without the vote.”

The women nodded, smiling ironically at Sophie’s sage words.

A gilded clock across the room discreetly chimed the hour, prompting Florence to say, “Come. Let’s prepare for dinner. It’s our last night together, and I look forward to all of us gathering again like we used to in Boston.”

* * *

ylphia poked
her head into the formal private dining room, sighing with relief. “Thank goodness. I strolled into another dining room, filled with men smoking cigars and discussing business.” She laughed as she shared a rueful smile with Florence. “One of the men rose, as though they’d been expecting me.”

“Oh, Zee,” Flo said, hugging her warmly. Their private room had pale-pink wallpaper, white crown molding, two sideboards and an oak table with just enough seats for their group. The crisp damask tablecloth with white and gold china, crystal and silver all sparkled under the chandelier’s bright light.

Sophie approached them, studying Zylphia. “What has you disconcerted?”

“If it’s more nonsense about not doing enough for the movement, Zylphia, you need to realize that the next phase is only beginning,” Clarissa said as she joined their group.

“Something was said while I was at headquarters. A woman there told me that Miss Paul has given up reading mystery novels so as to completely dedicate herself to the cause. She suggested I do the same.”

Sophie squinted as she studied Zylphia. “What could she possibly mean?”

“You are not to give up your painting,” Florence commanded. “You are far too talented to waste it on someone else’s vision of what defines commitment.”

“Shouldn’t I be willing to make some sort of sacrifice for the cause?” Zylphia wrung her hands as she battled her mounting agitation.

“Would it make you feel as though you’ve contributed more to the cause to know you’ve given up the one thing that brings you pleasure?” Clarissa asked, her friendly smile doubtful as she watched Zylphia. “Besides, do you honestly believe you could cease painting?”

“It’s like a compulsion. I wake up dreaming about my next project,” Zylphia whispered.

“Exactly,” Sophronia said. “Reading mysteries is a pastime. There is a difference between reading another’s masterpiece and creating one yourself. You must nurture what you feel compelled to create, even if it takes time away from a cause you support.”

“Come. Let’s sit,” Sophie ordered as she moved toward the table. She sat at one end and pointed at Zylphia to sit at the other. “It seems only appropriate that the eldest and youngest should bookend this table.”

“Yes, the matriarch and her protégé of the movement,” Jeremy said with a wry smile.

“Exactly, my boy,” Sophie said, her aquamarine eyes sparkling. She smiled as everyone settled—Clarissa, Savannah and Jeremy on one side of the table, while Gabriel, Florence and Richard sat across from them. They passed around the large platters of food. “I dismissed the servants. I hate having them hover over us,” Sophie said.

“Thank you, Sophie,” Florence said. “You know how disconcerting I find that.”

“It’s a joy to have us all together, and I’m sure you are dreading the separation tomorrow,” Sophie said, watching the McLeod brothers.

“We are, although I’m thankful we were together again.” Gabriel cleared his throat as he looked at Richard.

“At last,” Richard murmured. He gripped Florence’s hand. “Next time we are together, the children must be with us. They need to meet their cousins.”

Gabriel nodded, his eyes clouding at the mention of his children.

Sophie raised a glass. “May the bonds of friendship and family continue stronger today, forever more.”

Everyone clinked glasses and settled in to enjoy their last evening together.

Montana, April 1913

he smell
of baking bread permeated the immense kitchen at the rear of Savannah’s large yellow Victorian house, with its turret and wraparound front porch. Savannah and Jeremy had purchased the home soon after their arrival in Missoula. Although it was designed to have numerous live-in staff, Savannah and Jeremy preferred to hire help as needed and otherwise manage on their own. Their home sat on a corner lot a few blocks from Clarissa’s house on the university side of the river. A large maple table, crafted by Jeremy, was centered in the kitchen with six matching chairs encircling it. The tabletop was covered in flour after the bread-making endeavor.

“Sav, why don’t we travel to Butte?” Clarissa said as she helped Savannah clean up the kitchen. After their return from Washington, DC, in mid-March, Clarissa had felt aimless. She no longer frequented the library due to the recent hire of a rancorous new librarian. Thus, Clarissa spent time with her three children, cleaned her house and was a daily visitor at Savannah’s home. “A symphony is traveling there from Chicago that I’d like to see next week.”

Savannah paused in scrubbing the wooden tabletop to stare at Clarissa a moment. Her cheeks were flushed a rosy red, her health having returned to her after months of illness. “You just arrived home. Why would you want to be away from your children again?”

Clarissa flushed and looked around the spacious kitchen, with its gleaming pine cabinets lining three walls, while green tiles covered the deep countertops. A window over the kitchen sink let in anemic light on this gray day, while the back wall was lined with curtained windows and a door to the side porch and backyard.

Clarissa answered her cousin. “It’s not that I desire to be away from them. However, it’s a concert I’ve longed to hear.”

“I’ve never known you to be that interested in music,” Savannah said with a frown, moving to the sink to wash out her cloth. “Melinda would be upset if I were to leave again so soon. As would Jeremy.”

“Please, Sav. Just this once come with me to Butte. We’ll shop at Hennessy’s, see the show and come home.”

Savannah frowned. “We weren’t able to do the shopping I’d hoped to in DC.” She sat without her usual grace, battling a smile, and then shrugged. “Fine, I agree, although I don’t understand the urgency.”

Clarissa beamed at her and gripped her hand. “We’ll have a wonderful time. I promise.”

* * *

r. Pickens
, I wish you wouldn’t spend so much time at the library,” Clarissa said as she set the bowl of beef stew on the table with a
. She had left the children with Araminta, playing in the park, to make a quick visit to see him.

“Did Minta make that?” he asked as he tottered over to the small polished oak table Gabriel had made him. He collapsed onto the chair with a sigh, catching his cane with a practiced move and hooking it on the chairback. He sniffed the food appreciatively before sighing with exasperation. “One thing ye’ll find, Missy, is it ain’t no fun gettin’ old. I cain’t smell like I used to, an’, boy, does that take the joy out o’ eatin’.”

“You smell pies just fine,” she said with a wry smile.

“Well, I ain’t no fool, ’specially when it’s one o’ Minta’s finest.” He watched Clarissa with an amused glance. “She ever teach ye how to make one yet?”

“I can make a single-crust pie fine, but the double-crust pies are too hard,” she said with a shrug of one shoulder. “Now you think you’re sly, and you are, but you aren’t distracting me from my original concern. Why are you spending so much time at the library? You’ve no need to now that you are at Gabriel’s workshop a few times a week.”

He raised his eyebrows with blatant amusement and flashed his near toothless smile before he took a bite of the stew. He shook his spoon at her, encouraging her to sit with him while he ate, rather than bustling around, tidying up as she usually did. “Why, I think my Missy’s jealous o’ the time I spend with Pester.”

Clarissa choked out a laugh, not wanting to encourage him with his misspoken name for Hester Loken. “I would never be jealous of her.”

“Course ye would. Ye see me with her, talkin’ with her just like I used to talk with ye when ye ran the depository. Might make some wonder if I was fickle.”

She sighed, glaring at his correct assessment. “Fine. I hate that you spend time there with her, and I can barely enter the place to ask for a book without her believing I’m undermining her authority.”

“She’s a bit prickly. Wants things done just so.” He speared Clarissa with another amused glance. “Reminds me of a young woman come from Boston with ideas on how to reorganize a depository.”

“I was nothing like her,” Clarissa sputtered, her face reddening and hands clenching. “I always welcomed whatever help I could obtain.”

“Well, just as ye were, Missy, I suspect Pester’s runnin’ from some sort of
event in her past.”

“There’s no need for her to be rude to my children,” she hissed. “I don’t care if she’s hiding a scandalous or notorious past. She has no right to slap Billy’s hand for reaching for a book or for swatting at Myrtle for laughing. They’re children and should be allowed to act as children.”

“She comes from the belief children should be seen and not heard.” Mr. A.J. chuckled. “An’ yer children can always be heard.”

“I know they are full of energy …”

Runnin’ wild
is how Pester would call it.”

“They know their manners. They are filled with exuberance.” She glared at A.J. “I don’t appreciate her inability to accept help when offered.”

“Missy, ye’ve got to understand ye ain’t the librarian no more. Ye chose yer family, as was right. Pester’s gotta learn how she wants to run things.” He speared Clarissa with an intense stare. “Make her own mistakes.”

Clarissa’s attempted
caused A.J. to chortle his accordion laugh. “Now, Missy, if ye were to offer friendship, instead of wantin’ to be a mentor, I think ye could get along with Pester.” He took a bite of the stew. “A friend would help her
the sisters.”

She cringed as she envisioned the sisters Vaughan and Bouchard. “That is the best part about no longer working in the library. Not having to deal with them. Not having to maneuver around their backward plans nor manipulate them.”

“I think Pester could use a friend. The sisters are throwin’ their weight around.” He shared an amused glance with Clarissa.

“Which is considerable,” she muttered, causing A.J. to laugh.

Mr. A.J. pushed away his bowl and gave a dramatic sniff. “Can I have my pie now?”

She giggled, her irritated mood lifting. She brought over a piece of cherry pie for him, and he sighed with appreciation. “Ah, perfection.” His eyes, now somber, met her gaze. “Why’d ye come by today, Missy?”

“I’m traveling to Butte tomorrow with Savannah. I wanted to visit with you before we left. I’ve barely seen you since I returned from Washington, DC.”

“Runnin’ away again?” He smacked his lips, either with delight at the delicious pie or with disgust at her upcoming travels.

Clarissa shook her head and closed her eyes.

“No peace with that man o’ yours?”

She stilled and shook her head again. “No, no peace. He ran away from me when I tried to talk with him recently.”

“When ye ambushed him,” Mr. A.J. said with a grunt.

She blushed and nodded.

“Missy, after all this time, ye gotta learn that men don’t like bein’ pushed.”

She sighed but was unable to prevent a tear from leaking out. “I don’t know what to do,” she whispered. “I’m filled with such anger at him, and yet I miss him.” She gave a mirthless bark of laughter. “Which is ironic because we live in the same house.”

Mr. A.J. held out a gnarled hand to her, gripping her fingers as tightly as he could although unable to hide a grimace of pain at his action. “I never was blessed with children. I have no idea how ye feel,.” He gave her hand a slight squeeze before letting go. “But I can’t imagine holdin’ yer pain to ye like a shield will make anythin’ better.”

“I know,” she whispered. “I don’t know what to do.” She lowered her head as a few more tears trickled free. “I’m afraid, if I don’t have my anger, if I can’t blame Gabriel, that I’ll have nothing.”

Mr. A.J. traced away her tears on one cheek, the skin of his fingers almost as soft as a baby’s. “Ye have to decide that replacin’ the anger with forgiveness, understandin’ an’ love is worth the pain of finally mournin’ what ye lost.”

* * *

n their arrival in Butte
, Clarissa searched the platform for Jedediah Maloney but failed to see him. It had been twelve years since she’d been in Butte, but she’d hoped to see his familiar face. They instructed their porter to bring their trunks to the Finlen Hotel and boarded a streetcar.

“We could hire a cab,” Savannah said.

“I know, but this was how I first traveled in Butte when I fled Boston, hoping to reunite with Gabriel. I’m feeling nostalgic.”

Savannah squeezed her hand as she recalled the letter Clarissa had written, describing her journey to Butte all those years ago, only to find Gabriel had moved. “I just wish you would tell me why we had to travel to Butte today of all days. The real reason.”

Clarissa shook her head, unable to hide a smile. When she met Savannah’s gaze, she saw her arrested, shocked expression. “What?” Clarissa asked.

“For an instant, you looked happy. Like the old Rissa. And it made me sad.”


“Because I know the happy Rissa is fleeting and the new Rissa will be back soon.” Sav sniffled and turned away, staring out the window as the streetcar trudged up a steep hill. “I always forget how ugly it is here.”

The streetcar passed rows of brick multistoried buildings, the late-season snow covered in a fine covering of gray coal dust. The gallow frames in the distance dotted the horizon, while ash and coal spewed into the sky from tall smokestacks. The only flashes of color were on the signs painted on the sides of buildings.

Clarissa giggled, feeling lighthearted for the first time in months. “It is. Shockingly so.” They disembarked on the corner of Main and Broadway and walked the short distance to the Finlen Hotel. “When I was here last time, Colin and I stayed in the same place, but it was a smaller hotel, called the McDermott. They tore it down and built the Finlen in its place.” Clarissa pointed to another imposing brick building kitty-corner across the street from the Finlen. “Gabriel helped build that hotel.”

“We should venture inside so we can let him know we’ve seen his work.”


“I’m teasing, Rissa. I know nothing so simple will bring harmony between you and Gabe.” She turned toward the entrance to the Finlen. “Come. Let’s get settled, and then you can share whatever this surprise is with me.”

* * *

he plush red
velvet seats sank a little as they sat, and Clarissa stared at the opulent ceiling design of gods and goddesses playing musical instruments, accompanied by white marble pillars and gold-gilded chandeliers. Clarissa had successfully maneuvered Savannah into the plush Empress Theater without her discovering why they were here. They sat in the front row of the first mezzanine level, slightly to the right side. When Clarissa refused to hand over her playbill, Savannah rolled her eyes.

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
6.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Inhabited by Ike Hamill
Liquid Diamond by Sebastien Blue
Nova by Lora E. Rasmussen
Hijacked by Sidda Lee Tate
Liam by Madison Stevens
With Open Eyes by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen
Therapeutic Relations by Shara Azod, Raelynn Blue
His Secret by Ann King