“What do you know of Lizzie’s history?” He asked.
“Nothing really, except that she was recommended by several trustworthy ladies, she has been a wonderful pupil, but I’ve never met her parents. A butler has always brought her here. She’s only nine, and has already been here for four years. I’ll get to meet her mother today, because she’s going to come and take Lizzie, and her friend, shopping.”
“No she’s not,” Edward broke in. “After not a word from my sister Isabel for nine years, she finally sent me a letter. She said that her husband Bernard has died, and that she herself lies at death’s door. She said that nobody would come out here over Christmas, and that if I really had forgiven her, I would bring Lizzie back to her. So, that is exactly what I will do.”
“So, you are really Master Edward, of Bell Flower Manor, and instead of living like the lord of Bell Flower, you live like a servant in poverty. And now, you’re ruining your whole Christmas, to help the very sister who stole your inheritance?”
“Yes ma’am,” Edward said calmly.
“But everyone knows that the first born son gets the estate, even if he does have sisters older then him.”
“I know ma’am, but I’ve forgiven her, and this may be my only chance to show her, she’s forgiven.”
“Do you have the letter with you?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said, reaching into his coat pocket and handing her the letter. Her eyes scanned the paper. Then she slowly looked up.
“The sleigh will be ready right after breakfast, Master Edward.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said, bowing deeply again as she left the room. When he had finished reading his Bible, and had spent some time in prayer, he arose and went to the dining room. As he entered, he couldn’t help but feel awkward, not only because he was the only male in the room, but also because his clothes were rags, while all these girls were wearing fancy neat, and clean dresses. He couldn’t help but remember his mother’s former parties to which he had always worn a clean pressed suit. He also thought of his sweet Emma, who even though she had but one dress, and that one shabby and patched, she never complained. Even if he had gotten a job, he wouldn’t be able to afford material for a new dress, for many years to come. As he stood beside his chair, all the girls stared at him, some with up turned noses, and others with pure sympathy.
“This is Edward, a friend of mine,” Miss. Lansky said. Edward couldn’t help but feel glad that she hadn’t called him, ‘Master Edward.’ It would have only served to humiliate him. Everyone seemed to be waiting for someone, and finally she entered. It was Lizzie, and her friend Alison. Edward stood to his feet as soon as the girls entered, like any gentlemen would have done, and he bowed deeply as he pulled back their chairs for them.
“Lady Lizzie,” he said to her, as he gently helped her take her seat.
“Thank you, sir,” she said sweetly, as he took his seat at her side. Had he looked up at that moment, he would have seen a bewildered look cross over Miss Lansky’s face when he called Lizzie, by the title that rightly belonged to his wife. She would have wondered at how he could be so forgiving if it hadn’t have been for the soft gleam in his eyes, and his gentle manner, in the midst of heartache, and pain, but as it was, how could she wonder, it was quite plain that he was becoming like his Master, and Savior, Jesus Christ. It made her stop and think about her own walk with God, and how it had been slacking. When the meal was over, she asked Lizzie to come to her office as well as Edward. Miss Lansky explained as gently as she could to Lizzie, about her father’s death, and her mother’s illness. And yet, to her amazement, she didn’t seem the least bit upset.
“Is he really dead?” she asked
“Aren’t you sad?” Edward asked her.
“Not in the least. Mamma said that he was nice when he first met her, but all of my memory, he has been a snake. He beats Mamma, and I think that’s why Mamma sent me to school, to protect me. I don’t even really remember him that much. I’ve been away for so long. But I do feel bad about Mamma being sick. May I go see her?”
“Yes, that’s why Edward is here. He will take you to her.”
“Good, I’ll be ready in ten minutes,” Lizzie said, leaving the room.
“That child is always in a hurry. I’m surprised she didn’t ask about you. Her butler always drives her around. Anyway, the sleigh is probably ready, so God speed.”
Edward found that Miss Lansky was right, and the sleigh was ready. So, he helped Lizzie in, and with all the ease of a gentleman, he climbed up beside her and took off. It was a huge improvement to walking, and yet, it was still going to be a long trip.
“Are you my Uncle Edward?” she asked. Edward nearly jumped.
“How did you know?”
“Well, Mamma once told me about a brother she had, named Edward, but that we weren’t allowed to talk about him. It’s very obvious that you had a formal training, so I just put two and two together, and got four. But why are you wearing such a ragged costume?”
“It’s not a costume Lizzie, it’s my way of life,” he replied.
“Well, I knew that you got kicked out, but I didn’t know that you lived like a pauper. Mamma will be very upset when I tell her.”
“Why would she be upset?” he asked. “After all, she is the one who sent me away.”
-to be continued-