This is meant to be a piece of historical fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of history and the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely historic and a work of fiction to guide the reader through history in an engaging way.
The following may contain mild language and references to historical traumatic events. Reader discretion is advised.
It was a gorgeous morning on Julianna Street, the dew had blanketed the ground, and a slight crust was about it with fall coming into full swing. It was once again a sight to behold and I, sitting in my rocking chair on my front stoop puffing on my pipe, was once again deep within my thoughts. On such a morning I sat there in my long woolen jacket and was once again inspired by nature’s bounty to tell one of my stories. Not only was Robert going to like this one, but it would also help Lilly in matters of her heart. She had been going steady with a fellow for a few weeks now and, for a lack of a better word, it was a bumbling relationship at best. They were so young; love was nothing but youthful and I presume that is why they call it puppy love. She was head-over-heels, it was like a runaway trolley and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Everyone in their day has had a love of this magnitude and we adults must help and guide the ignorant, not just when it comes to love but as well as etiquette within that love.
Bracing with my cane I arose from my rocking chair. Damn these old bones, the cold in these more recent years has taken its toll on them. I wandered into the house and went to the old hearth in my den and stoked it up. Burr! It’s so cold! I walked over to my chair whilst pulling my long coat off and threw it over the back of it. I nestled in and began smoking on my pipe once again. Reaching over to my stand I poured a drink of whiskey, I adjusted in my chair, and peered into the fire enjoying my morning nip.
The house began to bustle and everyone in their own rhythm was going about their day. Lunch had come and gone, dinner was quite delicious, the evening drew about the house, and once again a chill was in the air. I called everyone into the den, once again puffing on my pipe. I waited while everyone got seated before I began my story for the evening.
“Tonight, I thought I would tell more of my story with you all,” I said.
Lilly was staring into the flames, most assuredly she was thinking about her love. Robert was playing with his army men on the floor and all was as it should be. Rose was sitting across from me in a winged back chair and I was in my stubby old leather chair. I puffed on my pipe and began.
Several weeks had passed since Rose and I had been fighting and all was looking up in the world. The case was no longer dry, I finally had made it down to the docks to investigate. First, I spoke to the quartermaster. I was not daft and I knew he wouldn’t divulge anything about a man who had stowed away.
“Mr. Quartermaster, sir, I have a question for you,” I tried to sound more official than I was.
“What do you want?” he said not looking up from his paperwork.
“Can I see the weight logs of the ships from a few weeks ago – it would have been a Thursday or Friday?” I asked.
“Why?” he said more annoyed now than anything else.
I figured this was going to be difficult, but luckily I had been using my money wisely these days. All the money that I made off of the private hotel matters I spent on bettering myself instead of on pleasure. This week’s purchase was with a tin smith and I had a phony badge made up.
Flashing my fake badge, I said “Because I said so, now don’t give me any crap, mister.
“Fine!” He said in an irritated tone.
He dug through some paperwork in the back of the Quartermaster’s office and eventually found what he was looking for. He brought it over to me and dropped it on the table and went back to his work without skipping a beat.
I grabbed the documents and headed down the road to my flat. I arrived in no time, I threw the documents on my rickety table, I then went over to my small wood stove and stirred the coals. The fire roared to life. The room felt warm once again. The woes of being poor – I no longer was starving, but a nice cup of coffee would’ve been nice right about now. I settled in pouring myself a cup of whiskey to try and warm my insides, the chair creaked under my weight, and the table swayed ever so slightly when I put any weight on it.
I poured over the documents, sipping my whiskey, smoking my pipe, and just trying to stay warm. I was looking for the weight logs for the boats heading up and down, the reason being was because I wanted to see if any boats were over their estimated weight. It was a stretch but it was the only thing to go on unless a stowaway was noted on any of the boats. Worse comes to worst I would have to look up some of my contacts but if I could narrow it down to a few boats I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot.
Looking through the logs I found only three boats that could be a possibility, the first was headed up to St. Louis. I just don’t think he would go that far out of town, especially if he was working for someone. The second boat was headed up to Pittsburgh, and the other one up to Marrietta. He either was hiding on the boat headed to Pittsburgh to let things die down or he caught a boat up to nearby Marrietta and was hiding out up there in a safe house. It seems that the boat will be returning from Pittsburgh in two days. When it does return, I will be waiting, I can’t do much else for now with the case. I finished off my whiskey and went over to my cot and fell fast asleep.
I was awakened by a knock at my door, ugh, the room swayed back and forth. I stumbled out of bed, nearly collapsing on the floor, I braced myself on my little chair.
“Just a minute!” I yelled at the front door. Holy Mother Mary, this is a hangover for the ages! I pulled out my pipe and lit it, I breathed in deeply and let the tobacco fill me, it helped a little.
“Cas, it’s me, Rose,” the voice said from the other side of the door.
I was in no condition to speak with her; we’ve been talking again, but it felt strained ever since the conversation a few weeks ago about her uncle. My hair was all a mess, and my small little room was in shambles, this was not going to go well at all. Her in her prim and proper attire, attitude, and demeanor. Me and my poverty, drunkenness, and stupidity, were never going to work out. What was I playing at, she could never love me!
“Cass, are you going to let me in or not” she called.
“Yes, coming,” I said straightening my hair adjusting my clothes, and wiping the sleep from my eyes. It was hopeless it wasn’t going to do much good.
I opened the door and there she was as beautiful as the day is long. Her dress flowed down around her, and the sun cascaded through the clouds and made her appear like an angel coming to save me from my own doings.
“Cass, stop staring. You have the rest of your life to do that,” she said, blushing.
“Oh, sorry, please do come in,” I said ushering her in off the street.
“Sorry about the mess, I’ve been busy on the case,” I said starting to straighten what little I had.
Rose stood there, her mouth agape, almost as if the small space and the few items I possessed were foreign to her and she couldn’t fathom how poor people could be.
“I, I…” Rose paused and couldn’t bring the words “I’ve never….”
“Of course, you haven’t,” I said with sympathy to her “It’s okay that your father did right by you and paid your way, I am not as fortunate, my father passed and now I fend for myself.”
“I thought you said Mr. Chancellor paid for your lodgings?” she asked, concerned, still looking around in horror.
“He has, and this is what he pays for, I don’t need much. He offered me a bigger place, but for the work that I do, I can’t put a target on my back, so, I live like my old self to blend in,” I said staring into her beautiful face, smiling like there was no tomorrow.
I was so in love with this woman and I couldn’t help it. “Do you understand, Rose, its only temporary until I no longer have to work from the shadows,” I said in a serious tone.
“Well, I guess so, I hope it doesn’t take too much of a toll on your health. I need you to be stronger,” she said blushing.
“I’ll be fine. So, what did you need?” I asked, I motioned for us to sit down. I pulled the rickety chair out for her and I sat on my cot.
“Oh yes, I wanted to invite you to dinner this evening.” She spoke.
“Okay, so what did you have in mind, another picnic on the other side of town?” I suggested.
“No,” she said pausing for a brief moment, “I think it is time that we take dinner with my parents,” she said nervously.
I pulled the pipe from my lips and slowly rose from the cot and began to pace back and forth. I couldn’t fathom it, come on! Think of what to say, I’m just so damn penniless! I have no status no power nothing. Her family will hate me! My pipe had gone out while I was thinking, that was happening more as of late.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said in a melancholy tone. “I’m not what your father and/or uncle, let alone your mother would approve of.” I paused to re-light my pipe, it helped me think better. “Rose, I’m poor. I’m not what they would want for you in any sense. I thought we had agreed to keep it quiet this past year,” I said, slightly frustrated at my situation.
“Cas, do you forget no matter how you live I will still love you? Secondly, you also forget that you have a certain someone’s blessing. Technically, you have three important someone’s blessings.” She paused, grabbed my hand, and touching it tenderly arose from the chair.
She put her arms around my waist and hugged me tightly.
She looked up into my eyes and said “Cass, I am one of the three, I don’t care what my father says, my love for you is stronger than any class barrier that he would try to throw up.”
“Who are the other two,” I asked holding her closer now
“Well, I would say that you have my uncle’s approval,” she chuckled.
“What do you mean, he and I exchanged some heated words the other day?” I said puzzled.
She slid out of my arms, turning away, and said “My uncle likes you more than you would desire to give him credit for. I will leave it at that,” she spoke.
“And the other,” I said quietly.
“You already know, it won’t come as a surprise, Mr. Chancellor, you know they are good friends, and you work for their inner circle now, so how could my father disapprove?”
There was a long pause and I stood there looking at her hair in the pale light of my home and knew this was the woman for me, and something inside me like a sensation that I had never felt before, it drove me to near madness, and then silence.
I grabbed her by the arm. Spinning her around I kissed her with the passion that drove all men throughout history. I felt the earth shake, it was like a million explosions had gone off all around me, heat radiated from her touch, it felt like the licking flames of a fire that burns too hot for its own good. Our kissing embrace lasted for what felt like an eternity and so in the great expanse of the universe, inevitability took hold. As in this space and time, all my emotions much in their own due discourse felt still but not still at all, like that of a million horses running the meadows of Ireland. This is what love felt like. Boy, was I in trouble, I would never love another woman in my life, but that of Rose Campbell.
“EWW! Grandpa stop, NEXT, skip to the good part” Robert yelled
“Okay fine, okay let’s see where was I, the kiss, my true love, yes, yes here we go. I recall now”
“You’re doing that on purpose, gross no kissing stuff, girls have cooties,” he spoke
Rose chuckled and blushed and nodded for me to continue.
It was then moments into the kiss that there was a knock at the door, I then still flushed went and opened it. Standing before me was Mr. Chancellor’s cocky British tailor.
“Out of the way, we have much work to do, your date with the Campbell family is in seven hours!” He stopped abruptly “Oh! I’m sorry Ms. Campbell I will retire to his pitiful excuse for a stoop and wait for you to leave.”
Rose was laughing hard standing there in my room. It was in those days she wasn’t allowed to be seen alone in a man’s flat without a relative present. A while later her and I had finished discussing how one conducted themselves at such a dinner, much of what she discussed brought back memories from when I worked for a short time with the jolly Irish chef when Mr. Berdane was away on vacation from the hotel. On her way out we kissed again briefly, and I assisted her into the carriage that had been right outside the whole time. I waved after her as her driver pulled the carriage around the corner to the next street.
“Now, Mr. Monroe, let us prepare, but first.” he jerked his nose up and swatted the air in front of my face, and said “You must take a bath! Chop! Chop! We haven’t all day! Somehow Mr. Chancellor thinks I can prepare you a suit in seven hours.”
So it began, bathing, sowing, pinpricks, and finally, it was all complete with only an hour to spare. I stood before my cracked mirror and was amazed at the tuxedo he had crafted in record time. The tuxedo was burnt charcoal with black velvet accents, he also crafted a beautiful white tuxedo shirt with shell buttons. Ornate burgundy cuff links accented the suit, handsomely might I add, furthermore, he had purchased on my behalf a new pair of shoes the kind with buttons instead of laces. To tie the suit all together a bowtie with a hint of dark burgundy and gold, lastly, I had my faithful pocket watch and my burgundy vest.
I started for the door and the tailor stopped me short “Mr. Monroe, aren’t you forgetting something?” he asked, tossing my hat to me with a smirk. It reminded me of our first encounter well over a year ago.
Arriving at Campbell’s house I knocked on the door and Rose’s uncle answered the door. “Well, don’t you look fancy today,” he said absorbing me in an enigmatic way and smiling ever so slightly as he turned away towards the parlor motioning for me to follow.
Well, everyone, I will finish this one tomorrow you all need to get to bed.
“Aww man, I was getting into it,” Robert said.
“Alright Grandpa, I can’t wait,” Lilly said.
They were off like rabbits in a field towards their beds. I stopped just short when Rose grabbed my hand and I turned around to face her. She looked up into my tired eyes, reached up to my face, and kissed me.
As we turned away to head up the stairs she said “I didn’t know that my uncle did that to you.” she said.
“Do what?” I asked.
“Oh nothing,” she said walking up the stairs leaving me there to think about it.
“Wait come back I don’t know what you mean,” I called after her chasing her up the stairs much like I did in the old days, but just a little slower than before.
About the author:
My name is Logan M. Saho I am the Concierge at The Blennerhassett Hotel. I have been in the tourism industry since my thirteenth year of life, I started out as a tour guide at the Beauchamp-Newman Museum in Elizabeth WV. I also since that time have become an early American period reenactor (1730s-1890s.) Beyond that I have a dual-degree in History and Political Science with a minor in communications concentrating on theatre. After my college years I worked as a living historian at Blennerhassett Island Historical State park for 2 years which geared my path to be working where I am today.