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Mr. Casiuss Monroe: Prelude to Dinner – Pt. 11 Historical Fiction

Pt 11 Historical Fiction Prelude to Dinner


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.

Etiquette, what a strange, uptight word, but that’s the price we pay for love. I never would have considered that plain old manners mean absolutely nothing when it comes to etiquette.

For all intents and purposes, etiquette was like Greek to me when I was younger. Since then, I have elevated myself for Rose, but I have to say it is the most ridiculous facade we humans participate in. Why does it matter how I hold a spoon for soup, I’m no heathen I don’t drink the soup out of the bowl, never really did. Who cares if I scoop it away or towards me as long as I eat it without slurping? Who came up with this anyway, I think Rose told me it was a king of France at some point to prevent his guests from destroying his gardens. How does that translate to a spoon?!

The funny thing was I never really showed my distaste to Rose about it, but she knew and I knew; I could do it and I have done it all these years but my heart wasn’t in it.

I sat there in my den smoking, ruminating in my discontent about etiquette, the reason being that my story with the grandkids couldn’t have come at a more prevalent time. I had to go over to the Grovers’ house this evening for their Annual Harvest Dinner. More accurately, it was a fancy dinner and Rose was bringing me along for the proverbial ride. It wasn’t my cup of tea; I preferred a dark tavern with smoke-filled air and traditional music. My love for her was stronger than that of someone’s ego. Who cares about your pinky being up when all I care about is the whiskey? I can do it but I really don’t want to do it. I need a drink!

I walked over to my decanter which was seated neatly next to my desk and adjacent to the fireplace and promptly raised it to my lips and drank my fill. I drank nearly half of it before I realized what I had done. I turned around to see Robert standing there.

“Grandpa?” He asked and stood there patiently waiting for me to respond.

“Yes,” I paused lighting a match and putting my pipe to flame and breathed in deeply.

“Are you okay? You don’t normally drink like that,” he asked.

“I have an engagement with your grandmother and the Grovers up the street. Between you and me you know I don’t like to be like them.” I leaned down and whispered, “But, once they party too hard it’s funny to watch quietly from the corner.” I paused. “When you grow up, you’ll understand that this is some good advice.” I chuckled, rising back up to warm myself at the fireplace.

“Okay, I think I understand,” Robert said.

“If you don’t, that’s okay you will one day.” I stood silently for a bit and smoked on my pipe. Robert began to play with his toys, and after a while, I continued, “Robert, go get your sister, it’s time I tell you all about what happened before the dinner, many years ago.”

As they both entered, I said, “One thing you must remember is that I was flying by the seat of my pants with certain things, but with others, I was just that good of a con because that is what I did back then. I don’t think I can explain any more of it. I will just tell you what happened and you are both old enough to make your own assumptions.”

Before I began Rose had entered the den quietly, I think she was beginning to enjoy my stories as well.

Rose’s uncle had motioned for me to come into the den, and to my surprise only the gentlemen were present. My best guess was that dinner was not set yet and they were just buying time. It had occurred to me as I entered that the den of this lavish house was set up to be Mr. Campbell’s private study. A desk sat in front of the fireplace, a pool table was to the left and another table to the right had been set up for poker which looked out onto the front window of the home. I could tell by the look on everyone’s faces that something serious was going on before I had arrived, by what I could assume the discussion had been about the business of some kind.

Little did I know at the time that the business that was being discussed was me. Upon entering all went silent and everyone looked up at me, it seemed as though Mr. Campbell himself hid a grimace behind a fake smile.

“Mr. Monroe, welcome to my home.” Mr. Campbell said in a disinterested voice. “It seems to me that my daughter wanted you to join me for dinner, simply put I had only invited Mr. Jack Vega and Ms. Kimbell to dinner, and my daughter took it upon herself to invite you.” He paused to sip his drink, from what I could acutely smell it could have been an expensive brandy, but I was unsure at the moment. “I obliged her for the simple fact that she very rarely asked for us to call upon guests,” as he finished his statement he went over to his desk.

He pulled out a box from his desk and began lighting a cigar, it wasn’t as fancy as what Mr. Chancellor smoked but it was close. You could always tell the expense of a cigar by the smell; it was a trick I picked up by observing the goings-on at the hotel.

“Well, thank you sir for your hospitality,” I said in the least dumb voice I could find.

“For starters, Mr. Monroe, I have not extended any hospitality to you, only my daughter,” Mr. Campbell said with a coolness to his voice that was not prevalent before.

“Ooh, what a low blow to you Mr. Monro,” Rose’s uncle said with a grin.

“That will be enough out of you, William!” Mr. Campbell yelled slamming his fist down on his desk and cracking his glass as he did so.

“It’s Billie with an I.E. I told you this.” Rose’s uncle retorted with a light airy laugh.His long hair was down this evening unlike the other times I had seen him and it gave him a rather feminine look to him that I had not seen before. He seemed unphased by his brother’s harsh words. It seemed as though I had not only walked in on a family matter that runs quite deep, but I got the sense that Mr. Campbell was not happy with me either.

“That will be enough out of you William, this is not about you, so stop making everything about you,” Mr. Campbell said through clenched teeth.

“Give the boy some credit Henry, he’s got some merit, and don’t forget whose favor he has. You wouldn’t cross him now would you,” William said in an arrogant tone, laying into the southern accent more to make himself feel refined.

Looking at me, Mr. Campbell said “I only allow you here not for my daughter’s fascination, but because who backs you, just remember this, you slip up once at my table and I will throw you out into the garbage, Mr. Monroe. This is not a handout to a pauper like yourself, but a favor for Mr. Chancellor. Furthermore, your intentions for my daughter must end tonight, this is the last time you will ever engage in any form of courting. I’ve said my peace!”

There was a long silence, broken by William. “Brother, I think you’re being harsh, imagine what will happen when Mr. Chancellor finds out what you’ve done, he’s going…”

I cut William off, “With all due respect Mr. William, you do not have to speak for me. I have my own voice. I may be poor, but we do not choose our parents, and quite frankly, I don’t need Mr. Chancellor’s word to be law over my life!” I said with defiance behind my tone. My anger was starting to get the better of me.

I was so angry that I started for the door, in the foyer. There was Rose, I passed right by her not saying a word. I grabbed my hat from the hook and my coat and swung open the door.
As I was leaving, I heard Rose yelling at her father, “What did you say? How could you? I loved him!”

I slammed the door behind me. I started walking down their brick walkway not watching where I was going and I bumped right into someone without even realizing it.

“Excuse Mr. Monroe, where are you going? I thought you were a part of Campbell’s dinner party this evening.” Wouldn’t you know it, Mr. Chancellor had also been invited.

“Hold on, you’re making that up” Lilly said.

“No, it is quite true and I couldn’t have told it any other way. It is one thing to leave a party and try again, but it’s another when your sponsor also arrives and you’re stuck with the rich and sophisticated for the evening.” I said chuckling at my old self “Now, let me continue, it’s only going to get better from here.”

Mr. Chancellor grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around and we marched up those steps in a hysterical manner. He was smoking his cigar and holding a very expensive French Bordeaux and myself, who was dumbfounded by the whole thing.Mr. Chancellor knocked on the door and it was answered this time by a butler, understandably.

I do not think Mr. Chancellor was invited; he simply went where he wanted due to his influence. It was said that he was the most powerful banker in Parkersburg catering to all the coal, oil, and timber barons, and they were all good friends. It was rumored he never needed an invitation but had an open-door policy.

The butler introduced Mr. Chancellor to the gentleman in Mr. Campbell’s study, and you could hear a pin drop.

Stuttering, Mr. Campbell said, “Mr. Chancellor, we were not expecting you.”

“I had decided to walk home this evening, and just happened to hear you were having dinner and brought over a bottle.” He paused and lit his pipe, “It’s some of my finest. I won’t be staying for dinner, I have other business to attend to.” He puffed his cigar again. While he spoke, he didn’t stop looking intently at Mr. Campbell. “Well, I should be off,” He said. He began to walk out as he left, “And don’t forget, I will know,” and just as quickly as he had come, he was gone.

Everyone, including myself, stood dumbfounded. My hat in hand, I knew not what would happen next. Before a word was uttered the butler had once again taken my coat and hat and retired them to the main foyer. Mr. Campbell looked just as disgruntled as before but it seemed as though he had calmed a bit, or in turn, taken Chancellor’s advice, and said nothing more about my attendance.

I stood there looking blankly around the room not knowing what to do next.

“Mr. Monroe, take a seat would you, you’re making me nervous,” Mr. Campbell said, “I may not like you, but in our best interest I think that you will be welcome now, but I must know what is your intent with my daughter. I know what she wants. Mr. Monroe, just know be very careful how you proceed,” he said glaring at me intently.

While I looked for the words, I noticed that Mr. William winked at me, almost egging my response on. I guess I do have his favor in all this.

Without faltering or wavering I stated, “Mr. Campbell, to be forward I must admit that after a year and a few months with your daughter, my intentions should be perfectly clear. I do not know when or how, but I will marry your daughter.”

A look of horror and repulse was about him; he knew not how to respond to such advancements other than with silence, his anger seething.

Abruptly Mr. Campbell belted out nearly yelling, “Over my dead…”

“Enough, brother, you asked merely his intentions, and other than sending Rose away, I do not think you can stop it from happening. The support that is behind their decision is mightier than any disagreement that you may have. You think that the small little kingdom that you built for yourself in a backwater town like Parkersburg gives you power, but just remember, brother, who has more power than you. Even I, your own brother, support their endeavor. I also know from having whiskey with Mr. Chancellor while you were away, that even he saw this coming and supports it. I do not think that the marriage you so hatefully are trying to destroy tonight, is any time soon, but just their engagement will be set tonight.” He briefly looked at me before continuing, “If the boy has any sense and strays from the fear, you’re trying to instill he will ask for that girl’s hand. May it be a LONG and healthy engagement!” he raised his glass in a toast and took a sip.

“Well, I’ll be..” Mr. Campbel began.

All Mr. William did was glare and it was over.

“Mr. Monroe, here is a glass. Let’s toast again to your long and healthy engagement properly. If you have troubles here, maybe you and Rose can come live with me at my old plantation home in Georgia,” he said passing me a glass and looking at Mr. Campbell with a devious grin.

“William, I do not think that their departure will be necessary, you are correct, I cannot change it, so I must accept it, but I do not under any circumstance have to like it. That is my right as her father,” he said looking cross at Mr. William.

There is most definitely a deep past between those two, fueled by hate, love, and discretion, but that’s family, I guess. I bet those two could really go at it, and maybe it’s something they need. Mr. Campbell is in the harshest of forms trying to preserve his name and legacy, but it seems that Mr. William in some way holds power, but it seems that there is something more going on beneath the surface with both of these men. It seems that there is an unspoken issue that keeps them from truly connecting as a family.

The dinner bell rang, shaking me from my thoughts, I had barely had drank any of my whiskey, and simply just downed the glass.

“Mr. Monroe are you coming,” Mr. Campbell said in an annoyed tone.

“Yes sir, I’m coming!” I said standing up and proceeding in fashion to follow Mr. William and Mr. Campbell to the dining room.

Well, Children, that is all I have time for. I must go and get ready for this evening with the Grovers’ Harvest Dinner. I will finish when we return later tonight when I tuck you in.

“Okay, I can’t wait!” Lilly said.

“Good luck Grandpa, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes tonight,” Robert said, chuckling as he ran out of the room with our dog.

Rose patted me on the back and hugged me as she went on to get ready as well.

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.

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