Daniel, Lord Gold spent a portion of each day visiting 6685 Beacon Street. I was amused, Father was hopeful, Sally was annoyed—“is he to be with us every day? He might as well move in—” and little Louisa was enamoured.
Louisa pulled on my father’s smoking jacket. Dressed in a pinafore dress and ribbons in dark hair curled in ringlets, she was the picture of sweetness. “Is Lord Gold going to come over again today?”
“Yes, love,” Father said jovially.
Louisa hopped up and down, her dark ringlets bouncing. “Yay!”
He winked at me. “Somehow the wrong daughter has been caught in the web of Lord Gold’s charms.”
I laughed. “I do believe you’ve grown soft on our guest, Louisa.”
Even at the tender age of nine, Louisa was quick to take offence. She didn’t like being laughed at and hadn’t yet learned the value of being able to laugh at oneself.
Her pixie face crumbled into a knot. “I have not!” She stomped her foot. “Why must you be so nasty, Ginger.” She stormed out of the sitting room.
Father shook his head as he pulled out his pipe. “I can only imagine the handful she’ll be when she gets older.”
“You’ve had plenty of training with me, Father. I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
He smiled at me with dark watery eyes. His beard had turned gray, seemingly overnight, and the wrinkles around his eyes were more numerous than I remembered. A sweet sadness gripped my heart. Sometime when I wasn’t looking, my father had grown old.
“You were a pleasure, love, and without a mother. Sally spoils that one.” He pulled on his pipe and exhaled. “I’m afraid I’m helpless to stop her.”
The doorbell rang and I could hear Grant, our butler, answer the door.
I stared at Father. “Lord Gold, I presume?”
Father put the pipe out and stood. “I’ve invited him to take the carriage into town with us. It’s a lovely day, and I thought we could show him the sights.”
Grant opened the doors to the sitting room. “Lord Gold, sir.”
Daniel removed his top hat and bowed. I offered a small curtsy. I felt ruffled and uncertain about how to behave, now that I knew that Daniel had feelings for me and not only for my Father’s money.
Sally had been informed of my Father’s plans and presented herself with a flourish, ready to go. She a soft gray lingerie dress with tight lace sleeves, a slender waist and a long lace hemline. A broad rim hat with a generous trim of rubber fruits and flowers topped the pile of brunette curls. Though in her forties, Sally had a youthful air. On more than one occasion she’d been mistaken for Father’s daughter rather than his wife.
She approached Daniel and lifted a gloved hand for him to kiss. “Lord Gold, it’s a pleasure.”
Her words the opposite of the sentiments expressed in private. She seemed to go out of her way with her appearance and her manners, and I briefly had the thought that maybe she was attracted to the baron. She was older than Daniel by a few years, but was in fact closer in age to him than she was to my father. How silly that both Sally and Louisa had an interest in Daniel Gold.
I certainly wouldn’t allow for three Hartigan women to be flaunting themselves at him. I was determine to reign in my emotions.
No longer able to pretend I wasn’t in the room Sally turned to me. “Is that what you’re wearing?” She meant to demean me, and though I’d become stalwart under such verbal attacks, I wasn’t beyond feeling a pinch of embarrassment when the barbs came in front of guests, and especially our current guest.
“I’ve only learned of the plans to go out,” I said, jutting my chin out. “Pardon me.” I quickly went to my room and changed into two piece silk dress with a creamy blouse with a braid and lace trim and long pale blue skirt. Molly helped.
Father had arranged for our carriage to be waiting at the curb by the time I’d joined everyone in the entrance. Father and Sally sat in the front seat, while Daniel and I and Louisa took the back.
“I want to sit in the middle beside Lord Gold!” Louisa demanded as she climbed over my lap. I grunted at the weight of her, she wasn’t a small child anymore. She settled in and stared at Daniel with stars in her eyes. I was glad she put space between us. I made a point of looking the other way.
Father took the role of tour guide quite seriously.
The Massachusetts State House hardly needed pointing out. The largest building by far situated on the west end of Beacon Hill, it had a dome plated in gold leaf.
“Magnificent,” Daniel said.
“It’s the seat of the state legislature,” Father said.
We passed Granary Burying Ground on the left.
“The patriots Samuel Adams & Paul Revere are buried there,” Father explained. “Boston is the seat of American Independence.”
“We’ve come a long way since the Revolution,” Sally added, her American accent loud and clear.
“I’m starting to feel like the enemy,” Daniel said with a grin. “We have a different view of the colonists from my side of the pond.”
“Or perhaps Father and I are traitors,” I said with a distinct English accent, just to poke at Sally.
“Now, now,” Father said. “America has been very good to us.”
He meant to his pocket book. The American steel industry was booming.
The closer we drew to the market place the more congested the streets became. At times it was almost possible to reach out of the carriage window and touch one coming from the other direction. In fact, a carriage with women selling a Suffragist newspaper trotted by and I had time to retrieve the five cents from my handbag to purchase one as we passed!
Sally frowned. “Please don’t fill Louisa’s head with those silly ideas. Men are perfectly suited for running nations. Children need their mothers in the home.”
“The vote for women wouldn’t have to change that,” I said. “In fact, it could help many women who aren’t as blessed and privileged as you.”
It was a debate we’ve had often. As far as I’m concerned, Father is a saint.
The cobble streets made for a bumpy ride and Louisa started to complain.
“Mama, are we there yet? It’s hot back here and my bottom is starting to hurt.”
Daniel grinned at me over the top of her dark head. I couldn’t stop myself from grinning back.
We passed the distinctive brick and stone building of the Old State House, a comparable miniature next to the new one. By the time we reached Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market I was as irritable as Louisa and desperate to stretch my legs.
It was a busy time at the market with shoppers and vendors alike.
Daniel paused at a flower stall and purchased a bouquet of lilies.
“For you,” he said, staring down at me. “A peace offering.”
“I didn’t know we were at war, Lord Gold.”
“Oh but we are, Miss Hartigan,” he said with a grin that produced a delectable dimple. “The battleground is your heart.”
Before I could come up with a witty response Sally’s voice pierced the air.
I ran to my step-mother. “Sally?”
“I can’t find Louisa!”
I scanned the crowds searching for my little sister-s white straw hat and the rows of dark ringlets but couldn’t see her anywhere.
Father joined us in a desperate state. “She must be here somewhere.” His knees shook and Daniel had to step in and prop him up.
“I’ll find her,” he declared. He ran to the nearest police officer on horse back and gave him Louisa’s description. He spoke quickly with another man, handed him some money then jumped on the fellow’s horse.
Louisa was the epitome of annoyance, but she was my sister and I loved her. I would never wish harm to come to her. My stomach churched with dread.
I led Father and Sally back to the carriage as we all needed a place to sit down. I then fetched us all a lemonade. In what seemed like an eternity, Daniel rode up, like a knight in shining armour. I let out a breath of relief. Silly little Louisa was on the saddle in front of him.
Louisa cried many tears of remorse for wandering off. “I got swept up in the crowd.”
Father and Sally thanked Daniel profusely.
“It was my duty and my pleasure,” Daniel said humbly. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a horse to return.”
As he led the mare back to its owner, he glanced over his shoulder and winked at me.
I can’t believe I once thought that Daniel Lord wasn’t good looking. I’d never met a more handsome man.