rated * all ages,
Behind Glen Road
“Hi guys,” Jim said to Brian and Mart as they both headed towards him. “I was wondering if you guys would make it for the wedding rehearsal or not.”
“Oh wow,” Jim whispered, “that girl is pretty.”
“What girl?” Brian turned to look. “Who? My sister? Gross!” Brian laughed.
“She’s not gross,” Jim argued. “Check that out.” He nodded as Trixie walked up next to her mother to say something that the guys couldn’t hear. “When she dresses up like that. It is obvious that she is going to grow up to look just like her mom. Don’t tell me you don’t think your mother is pretty.”
“Hey, no more talk about either of them like that.” Brian shoved him quickly.
Mart didn’t see this from the same point of view. He saw this as an opportunity to make his tomboy sister grow up some. Jim was right. He realized quickly that Jim actually liked her like that.
Mart started walking away from the guys toward the Manor where the large party was going on. His nose caught the enticing aroma of the dinner that was being prepared. True to his stomach's desires, he followed those delightful smells into the dining room.
But his eyes noticed how Honey was dressed in near formal wear. The way her honey brown hair was arranged was so attractive that he was momentarily distracted from the food.
“Hi wow, you look pretty,” Mart said sincerely.
“Thanks.” Honey smiled brightly. It had taken hours at the hairdresser's earlier. She was happy someone other than her father noticed.
Trixie walked in just in time to trip over her dress and fall to the floor rather unladylike.
Mart started to laugh, but Honey made him stop.
“We don’t laugh at stuff like that in front of Mother. She would get angry. It is not proper behavior. We go over here to laugh.” She dragged him into the storage closet so they could both laugh as quietly as they could together.
“She really needs to wear dresses more often,” Honey giggled. “I have been trying to convince her to learn to handle these kinds of parties so she can go to Hampton with me when we head up to the country club. Those girls would chew her up and spit her out if she acts like that.”
“Hampton huh…?” Mart frowned at her in confusion.
“Yes, it is the most prestigious club in the entire country and my family has lifetime memberships. That is where all of the most eligible bachelors go to find worthy girls for marriage. One day she is going to want to fit in there.”
“Well, she is only thirteen. She is too young to be thinking marriage ideas now.” Mart laughed.
“Not really, it is never too early to lay a foundation to that goal. That is what Mother told me when we were planning Celia’s wedding with Celia just the other day,” Honey informed him. “Sparking a simple friendship now in a casual socializing setting helps pave the way later. If you aren’t nice to the guys at this age, they will remember it when you are twenty. Mother always tells me that.”
“Oh, so you think that we need to figure a way to convince my tomboy sister to make an effort to be nicer, and to make an effort to learn proper manners as well?”
“Well, I don’t behave like a social snob all the time. There are plenty of times that we tomboy around all over the place exploring and following mysteries. That stuff is mind-boggling fun. I love those adventures. Still, I can make it on my own in a five star restaurant. I can hobnob with the rich and famous without looking out of place. It is called being bipartisan.”
“Okay, you make decent sense,” Mart nodded. “So are we friends…?” He grinned from ear to ear.
“Yes, why do you ask that?” Honey looked shocked.
“Can I be in your future plans?”
“Mart, I have no idea where my future is headed. I suppose, yes, even you could be seed for the future.” She giggled.
“Cool!” Mart laughed. “So how do we go about convincing that girl to be less of a tomboy?”
“We find a way to convince her to wear dresses more often so she gets more comfortable in them,” Honey whispered.
Suddenly the closet opened and Honey’s father stood there looking at them sternly. “What are you two doing in the pantry?”
“Um, nothing, just finding a bag of chips.” Honey grabbed a bag quickly and held it up trying to put on her most innocent face.
“Madeleine!” Mr. Wheeler said in a warning tone.
“Really, all we are doing was trying to figure out how to make my sister act like less of a tomboy and learn proper manners without her knowing we are doing it,” said Mart.
“Oh.” Mr. Wheeler grinned. “I’ll bet she never allows that to happen. She has an attitude.”
“I’ll bet I could get her to wear dresses for at least a whole week,” Honey told her dad.
“You could not,” Mr. Wheeler laughed. “Her mother probably had to force that dress on her tonight.”
“I’ll bet we could get her to,” Mart said soberly. Mr. Wheeler seemed like he was making fun of his sister. He didn’t like that. No one could make fun of his sister but him.
“Okay!” Mr. Wheeler noticed his angry look and stopped teasing. “I tell you what, if you can get her to act more ladylike and wear dresses for at least a week, I’ll give you both one hundred dollars. If not, you both have to clean out the horse stalls for one whole week. But you can’t go up to her and say 'If you help me, I’ll split the money with you' either. She can’t know what you are up to.”
“Deal!” Honey said eagerly.
“Now, find your friend,” Mr. Wheeler told Honey.
Mr. Wheeler grabbed Mart’s arm to keep him from following.
“She’s only thirteen,” he said soberly.
“I know, I am only fourteen.” Mart’s stomach churned with a sudden rush of fear. Was Mr. Wheeler getting the wrong impression?
“Well, just the same it’s about time for a bit of education.” Mr. Wheeler put his arm around his shoulders and led him to his library.
“Sir, what kind of education am I about to get?” Mart asked.
Matt just laughed loudly. “Did I scare you? I apologize, son. I am not mad at you in the least. No, I just wanted you to know about Honey’s illness.”
“She has an illness?” Mart looked shocked.
“Yes, you see she was so depressed a year ago that she nearly starved herself to death. She was diagnosed with anorexia in the hospital. We had to find her a new place to live with new friends--a place where she could be truly happy.”
“We found the Manor and bought her some horses because she loved them. We prayed that there would be friends around here that would like her well enough to help us keep her happy and healthy, and so far your sister is doing a great job. We love the job that we see her doing even when she doesn’t even know she is doing it. If something happened to make your sister angry at her for something, I fear that another bout with depression might kill my daughter.”
“Is this why you adopted Jim so readily?”
“Anything it took to keep my baby alive, absolutely anything. I thought at first that she might have a crush on him and that we would have to police that a little bit but Jim tells me that all they have ever been was close friends, because he likes your sister. That took a little of the scare out of that issue. Do you think you can help me with this? I mean you are a close friend of hers too, right?” Mr. Wheeler waited for him to answer.
“Of course I can. What do you want me to do?” Mart asked.
“Keep an eye on her for me, and make sure she eats. Call me if you see a problem with her health and be careful in how you approach your sister with that bet we just made. I no sooner made that bet when I thought better of it.”
“Trixie isn’t that sensitive, she will be fine. We will figure out how to go about this little trick anyway,” Mart promised. “I’ll take all the blame if she does find out and get angry. I’ll pretend it was a practical joke and I tricked Honey into assisting me.”
“Just the same, be sensitive here because I get the feeling that Trixie might not want a friend that tries to change her openly. She doesn’t strike me as the type to put up with it.”
“You're right. She isn’t the type to put up with it.” Mart smiled.
“So we have a deal?”
“Of course. I like your daughter enough to help however I can. I’ll keep her eating.” Mart nodded. “I’ll start making a big deal over loving food so much that it will make her hungry just listening to my description of how great it is.”
“Good, I have been watching you with your friends and aside from your constant teasing of your sister. I think you might actually make a good psychiatrist one day. You should give that some thought. I minored in psychology in college. I even got my Ph.D on the subject. Personally I would rather help people than be stuck dealing with my fathers companies but life sucks sometimes. More than ten thousand people are depending on me to keep them in the job that they consider their ideal one. That is more important than my original dreams, I suppose?” He said it a little sadly.
Mart nodded again without much comment respecting Mr. Wheeler enough to wait until he was properly dismissed. Honey’s dad was a nice guy; he wasn’t finding a reason to fear him.
“Say that food smells great, let’s go get some.” Mr. Wheeler nudged Mart, then left the library grinning. He had overheard his daughter’s conversation before he opened that door. He knew Mart was working on a slight crush as it was-- if he weren’t Mr. Wheeler wouldn’t have made that comment about Honey sowing seed for her future now. They were too young to worry over being serious at that point anyway so he didn’t bring that issue up, because it wasn’t relevant to the situation.
He trusted that Mart could help him keep Honey happy and healthy without more comment on the subject. He looked out at all of the young men and women in attendance at this party and he smiled, finding that he respected the young blond-haired Belden boy the most in this new town so far.
Mart Belden was his silent pick for his daughter’s future, but then again that subject wouldn’t be up to him. Brian Belden was much too old. He really didn’t want that getting started. He was nearly three years older than she was. But even still either one of those Belden boys wouldn’t panic him too badly. They both seemed like young gentlemen.
He wondered for a moment what Peter and Helen were thinking. Didn’t they know what caused babies? Why the heck did they have three on top of each other like that? It must have been like raising triplets with those three? Well, they did a good job of it. I sure wish I had the time to be home every night with my family. He smiled as he looked over at his wife. I wonder if I could convince her it’s been long enough since Honey was born? He always wanted a larger family than just one child. It was his wife who didn’t want the hassle and she was the one who would have to carry the child. He didn’t have much luck in that department when he tried to convince her in the past.
You couldn’t tell from the expression on his face what he was thinking when he walked past but his smile indicated that he was in a good mood.
Tom and Celia were grateful for his generosity. They couldn’t have asked for a better boss even if he was prone to temper tantrums at times.
The rehearsal had an air of happy fellowship to it. The only worry was the weather service station just predicted a hurricane headed north along the Eastern Seaboard; it might be an issue for the next couple days. Jim worried some over that fact even if he didn’t say it out loud.
By the next day, everyone was gloomy. The skies were gray and ugly, and the wind was already picking up as the Bob-Whites scattered to help prepare for the storm. Each one was doing their part to protect their personal properties.
The wedding breakfast would be served that day at Manor House and no one wanted to miss that, but Jim worried if there were enough hours in the day to complete everything.
He worried even more when he heard that old crabapple tree fall from where he stood outside helping Regan get the horses in the barn and settled even if they were so skittish they had to practically chase each one down. He was tired but anxious. One glimpse of Trixie would set his mind at ease. He hoped she wasn’t anywhere near that tree when it fell.
That would be typical; everyone that he ever let himself love died on him. He was beginning to wonder inwardly if he was cursed.
An hour later when he spotted her with the crowd, a sense of relief flooded over him. She must not have ended up under that tree. That dress she wore was even prettier than the one she wore the night before. This party wasn’t as fun as it could have been but socializing with the neighbors and friends helped with the tension that most everyone was feeling about the approaching storm.
He worried that this storm might be severe that night. His friends lived in the hollow. If the Hudson flooded, would the water get high enough too flood the farm would they be safe? He wished they could all just stay at Manor House as it was probably safer up there.
All night long, he stayed at his bedroom window restlessly watching the creek, his thoughts racing wildly from one thing to another. Matthew and Madeleine weren’t home, so he should be the strong one here.
Honey was probably as worried as he was. He decided to check on her, but she wasn’t in her bedroom. Jim began to wander the house.
He felt blessed that he found such a good foster family to adopt him. He could be on the streets right now, out in the woods under a lean-to feeling the bitter winds and the sting of that rain that wouldn’t let up for hours. He thought of the ones homeless out there suffering through this storm and sighed sadly; not everyone was as lucky as he was. He prayed a silent prayer for those trying to survive the awful storm; thanking God for safe harbor and friends who loved him.
Honey was sitting in the kitchen with Miss Trask with the kerosene lanterns running enough to see what they were doing really well.
“Can’t sleep either, huh?” Miss Trask asked Jim.
“Not really, what if a tornado blows the house down?”
“It is insured, don’t worry about that,” Miss Trask answered.
“I am worried about the horses out there with Regan.” Honey looked at Jim with tears in her big hazel eyes. “Miss Trask says the wind would blow me away. I can’t go out there.”
“She is right, you can’t go out there,” Jim agreed. “Fleagle is out there, they can take care of the horses with all those trees between here and the stable. I would be worried about one of them falling on me if I headed out now myself. I am going to trust that he can--”
Jim had no sooner begun that sentence when a tree out by the stable blew down with a loud crashing sound.
“I was just saying.” Jim pointed out the window.
“Good point!” Honey hugged her brother as she spoke. “I am so glad that Mother and Father let you live here. I feel so much safer with a man in the house at times like these.”
“That is because Jim has good common sense.” Miss Trask smiled.
The next day, Jim was arguing with Trixie about who was going to pay for the repairs to the clubhouse. The rule about the money having to be earned was Trixie’s focus. It wasn’t fair if they could call their parents for the money. It had to be done as a club effort.
Jim tried not to rile her temper. After all, he knew what it was like not to have money to do anything you wanted when you wanted, and how frustrating it was to watch those that did flaunting it everywhere. He and Honey agreed never to make the Beldens feel poor and that the idea of making it a club effort was the better idea.
It didn’t take Honey long to devise a plan best for them all in addition to a plan with Mart to trick Trixie into pretending to like boys all week long. Honey sent Mart off to convince Mr. Lytell to go along with their plan while she set off on the task of convincing Trixie to wear the dresses. Her opportunity came when Trixie suddenly motioned for her to follow into her bedroom so they could talk.
When they were seated together on the window seat, with the door to the hall closed, Trixie said, “That diamond ring Jim gave to me! If I can just get that, it’ll solve all of our problems.”
Honey stared at Trixie, her hazel eyes wide with amazement. “Are you talking about the diamond ring Jim left behind when he ran away after the Miser's Mansion burned?”
Trixie nodded. “Remember what he wrote in the note he left with it? He said I deserved it because I found it and because I saved all that money he found in the mattress from being burned.”
“I certainly do remember,” Honey cried excitedly. “And I see what you mean. You really earned that diamond ring. So if you wanted to sell it, you could use the money for fixing up the clubhouse.”
“That’s right,” Trixie said. “But I haven’t a prayer of getting permission from Dad to sell it. He put it in our safety deposit vault, you know, for fear I’d lose it.”
“Well, then.” Honey sat there for a moment looking discouraged. “What good is it to us?”
“Plenty.” Trixie’s eyes lit up when she got the sudden idea. “I've just got to get Dad to take it out of the bank for a while. Then I can give it to Mr. Lytell as security. You know what I mean.”
Honey grinned from ear to ear as her window of opportunity opened at that precise moment.
She said, “If you were like me, your father wouldn’t die of surprise if you asked him if you could wear the ring for a few days. After all, it is yours, and almost any girl but you might want to wear it to a party or something.”
Trixie didn’t get angry, shaking with laughter instead.
It wasn’t long before Honey saw her plan in action. Later, Mart told Honey that Mr. Lytell said he would do whatever they had in mind to help out with this plan.
To Be Continued