I insisted on a couple days to consider the proposition set forth by my father and Daniel Gold. I’ve spent most of the time in a daze. I think it might help if I set out a list of Pros and Cons.
Father happy Ginger happy?
Social advantages Live in England?
Children will be British Abandon vocational pursuits
I’m divided. I’m a devoted child and have always wanted to please my father. I believe this need grew when Sally came into our lives. The child in me is always in competition with her. For some reason a union with Daniel is important to my father. It can’t just be about a title. Is it Father’s way of ensuring I return to my English roots? Does he feel guilty for taking me away?
Father has often warned me not to lose my British identity, though he always said it with a smile. “One American daughter is enough,” he’d say, laughing.
I decided to keep an open mind. Father wouldn’t force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. The least I could do was be a good hostess to our guest. Daniel has come a long way, after all. I hoped he didn’t have to hug a bucket on his journey over the Atlantic.
Father agreed to allow Daniel and me to walk through the Boston Public Garden unchaperoned.
“Not much can go wrong with a walk across the street,” he said. He checked his watch and I noticed once again a slight tremble. “Be back in an hour for luncheon.”
Daniel nodded. “I promise to be every bit the English gentleman.”
The summer sun was very warm and I chose my white cotton day dress to combat the heat. It’s trimmed delicately with lace along the boot-length hem of each layer and along the décolletage. A daring rectangle of white skin on my chest remained exposed. A contrasting ruby red silk ribbon was tied around my waist and I felt very feminine with the resulting hourglass appeal. I was grateful for the fine dress shops in Boston and that Father took Sally and me into New York twice a year to revive our wardrobes.
My white wide-brim straw hat was trimmed with a large black feather. I opened a parasol for further protection from the sun’s rays.
Daniel ensured the road was clear of horse and pedestrian traffic before leading me to the other side. We joined other couples and families enjoying the park on a pleasant summer morn.
“It’s not London, but I understand the attraction,” Daniel said.
I twirled my parasol. “I remember London. But Boston is my home now.”
Daniel ducked to look at my eyes. “Do you think you’ll ever go back?”
I studied him. The question was loaded. I tilted my head and smiled. “I don’t know.”
“The lure of the American dream,” he said. “Boston is a beautiful city. I think I might like to stay here.”
I glanced at him questioningly. Was he saying we would remain in Boston if I agreed to marry him? I supposed I should’ve just asked him, but I wasn’t ready to bring the subject up again so soon.
“Tell me about your life in London,” I said.
“Well, actually, I live in Hertfordshire, north of London, if you’ll recall, in our family home.”
“Bray Manor,” I added, remembering what my father had said.
“Indeed. It’s a large, charming old place that sprawls across a meadow and rests on the edge of a rather enormous pond. Only my sister, grandmother and I reside there now, along with a handful of servants.”
“Are you close to your sister?”
“Felicia is only ten years old.”
“Oh? Just one year older than Louisa. I do hope she has better manners.”
Daniel shrugged. “Felicia can be a handful. She has been without a mother since she was an infant, but my grandmother does her best to fill the role.”
“Father mentioned that your parents were killed. I’m so sorry.”
“There have been some difficult years.”
Despite my best efforts, I felt sympathetic to Daniel’s cause. He was only doing what he must to help his family. I couldn’t really fault him for that. Even if he was after the Hartigan money, he did at least seem to like me.
“Before . . .” Daniel waved a hand. “This proposal. Did you have any plans?”
“I’ve only just completed my education. I’m still weighing my options. Perhaps open my own business.”
“Really? How ambitious.”
I slowed to a stop and scowled. “You mean for a woman.”
“No, no, well, yes, I suppose. It’s not that I don’t think you could do it. You seemed to be the kind of lady who’s capable of many things, it’s just not many women do.”
I appreciated his honesty.
“So you see,” I said as I continued to stroll, “marriage at this time of my life would be inconvenient.”
“Because you feel you’d have to abort your plans?”
“It’s a social construct of the times. At least for middle class ladies such as myself.”
Two young boys dressed in knickerbockers and wearing newsboy caps ran toward us, one after the other, and instead of circling around, pushed their way between us. I yelped.
“Shall I chase them down?” Daniel said with a smirk. He smacked his palm playfully with his fist. “I could show those rascals a thing or two about respect.”
My indignation slipped away as my amusement with my companion grew.
“No need to cause a scene, Lord Gold,” I said with a giggle. “I wouldn’t want the authorities to ship you away before your time.”
His dark brow arched. “Before September 29th?”
I swallowed and glanced away.
“What if I said you could keep working after we were wed, for as long as you liked.”
“Even after the children come?” I asked. I forced myself not to think of what had to happen between us to produce children.
“We could hire a nanny.”
“You’re very accommodating, Lord Gold.”
He smiled and his eyes twinkled. “I’m starting to feel that marriage to you would be more than a simple arrangement. Not only are you much prettier than I’d imagined, you’re intelligent and strong in spirit.” His grin widened. “I’m attracted to you, Ginger Hartigan.”
I was stunned, and once again left without words. I walked on, maddened by the fact that I could feel myself blushing.