His Lucky Charm - Cover

His Lucky Charm

Copyright© 2012 by Argon

Chapter 14: A Well-mannered Savage

Summer 1864 - Denver

A few days after the exchange with Governor Evans, Jim went home for the noon meal, coming from a board meeting at the Miners' Bank. He was watchful as he walked along the sidewalks scanning the side alleys carefully and keeping his right hand close to the hip all the time. Nothing untoward happened however, much like in the past days. As soon as he entered the house, Rose came to greet him waving as big envelope made of wax paper.

"This just arrived, Jim, from England!" she told him excitedly.

Jim's heart beat faster, realizing the meaning of her words. Mail from home! He was sorely tempted to tear open the envelope there and then, but he reconsidered.

"This letter has been on its way for maybe four or five months. What's another hour? Let's have our meal first."

Rose tilted her head.

"You really want to wait?"

Jim smiled and nodded. He had recognized his father's handwriting on the envelope; that meant his father was well. Besides, what difference would an hour make. He was a half year of travel away after all.

If anything, Rose was impatient ordering Mrs. McGuinn to serve the meal earlier. Rose felt uneasy because deep inside she worried how Jim's parents would react to the news of their marriage and to her. She rushed the family through the meal.

Jim relented after the main course. He led Rose into their study and opened the letter while Mrs. McGuinn served them coffee. The letter was in his father's handwriting too as Jim saw. There were three sheets of paper, written in his father's old-fashioned style.

Hamden Gardens, January 17, A.D .1864

Berkshire, England

Mr. James Weston Tremayne

City of Denver, Colorado Territory

The United States of America

My Dearest Son!

It was with an overwhelming feeling of joy that we received your letter and the wonderful news it conveyed. The photographic print you sent shows a few water stains now, from the tears which your mother wept after seeing her youngest grandchild. We are awed by the obvious beauty of your young wife and the strong character that shows in her fine features.

We are also overjoyed over your good fortune. We have read newspaper articles, of course, about those gold fevers, and it seems quite outlandish to imagine that one can pick up lumps of pure gold from a riverbed! Mr. Beckwith of Cumberland Hall told us recently of his friend, Mr. Aberdeen, who was present during the famed California Gold Rush and who carried away a fortune of almost ten thousand pounds. We hope and pray that you will have a similarly good fortune.

Enough of gold for now. Your letter could not have come at a better time. Your dear mother has been ailing for quite a while causing worries for all of us, but the news from you have revived her. We hope now that this may put her on a permanent path to health, although our Doctor Claxton warns us of too much optimism. She developed breathing troubles two years ago, and she cannot walk far or walk at all in cold weather.

Your brother Edward is in fine health, and he has taken over the running of the estate, much to my relief. He has excellent success too, and we have been able to add some lands in the past years using our surplus, always in the hope that you would some day come back to us and that we might offer you some lands of your own to settle down. As you correctly assumed, Edward married Penelope Prendergast, and a finer match we could never hope for! They have three children. James, the oldest and named after his uncle, is seven years old and a fine young boy. Paulina is five, and she takes after Penelope and her mother. The youngest, Gwendolyn, is only two. Her birth was hard on Penelope, and we fear that she may not be able to have more children.

You may also want to hear that there is a brevet promotion waiting for you at the headquarters of your old regiment. When they returned from the Crimea theatre, Colonel Payden made Marsden-Smith resign his commission. Lt.Col. Caldwell had to retire for his poor handling of the affair, and if you had been here, you could have been sure of a major's commission. You were promoted to brevet-major in absentia for your courageous leadership at Balaclava, and they would love for you to accept the insignia should you ever find your way back home.

Your saviour, Lance Sergeant Malone, was awarded the Victoria Cross after the war. This new medal was chartered to honour the bravest of our soldiers for unselfish acts of valour. He is now a riding master with the 6th Dragoons. I am to convey his felicitations on account of your marriage and your good fortune.

Your rival, Lucius Marsden-Smith, did not fare well. Being cold-shouldered by all the officers of the 13th, he saw no option but to give up his commission and accept a major's rank with a native, Indian regiment based at Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh.

He returned with his honour in tatters. He was stationed in Uttar Pradesh where most of the fighting occurred when the Sepoy soldiers rose against The East India Company, but it would seem he fell victim to the bottle before he could ever slay an enemy. It is said that he was thrown off his horse while drunk. He broke his back, and he is now confined to a wheelchair. Old Marsden-Smith died not long after, a broken man from all accounts after the truth came out about his son.

Reading in your letter that you have forgiven Priscilla Marsden-Smith not only confirmed me in my belief in the goodness of your heart, it also makes it easier for me to give you the next piece of news. From what transpired, Mr. Bywater owed old Marsden-Smith a considerable debt, mostly due to an improper infatuation with an actress of dubious repute. As it seems, old Marsden-Smith offered to forgive the debt if Priscilla agreed to marry Lucius. Hard-pressed by her desperate father and thinking that you would not marry a penniless girl in the first place, she finally relented. When the news of Balaclava arrived, she pleaded old Marsden-Smith to be released from the promise, but it was in vain. I am afraid that during her last visit with you, my anger and prejudice made it impossible for her to explain herself, and your own brusque rejection did the rest.

Things came to a head after Marsden-Smith missed his chance to renew his challenge against you. Priscilla then broke the engagement, making it known that she would not marry a man so lacking in gentlemanly traits. Old Marsden-Smith then demanded satisfaction of the debts, and Alfred Bywater landed in jail. That forced poor Priscilla to marry Lucius Marsden-Smith, and she is suffering greatly for it.

It should satisfy my desire for revenge, after what the Marsden-Smiths and the Bywaters did to you, that all of them are either dead or living in dire conditions, but I feel sorry for the poor girl who was caught betwixt a stupid, spineless father and her ruthless, cowardly suitor.

In other news, the famed writer Mr. Thackeray just died two days before Christmas, leaving his numerous readers in utter despair. The Queen has not yet emerged from her mourning after the Prince Albert's deplorable death in 1861 of which you undoubtedly heard. Henry Ruiz-Costa (you remember him perhaps as being two years behind you in school) had returned from the Crimea with honour, and five years ago, he received promotion to Commander, a promotion long overdue as even Penelope's father says. This finally allowed him to marry Moira Palmer, the oldest granddaughter of Lord Brougham. That young woman may even match your Rose in beauty; besides, she is one of the most pleasantly disposed young women I know.

As you will see, all your age mates have settled down, and most of them found success and happiness. When the news spread of your letter and the good fortune you enjoy, many of your old acquaintances asked to convey their regards. They all hope that you will return one day, a wish that is certainly shared by your family. Chief of all, your mother fervently wishes to see you, your wife, and your son while there is still time. As I mentioned, her health has been declining, and she hopes against hope that she may yet hold her youngest grandson in her arms and that she will be granted the chance to meet your wife whom, of course, we all shall love to meet one day.

It is on this note that I want to end. Please, James, consider to return. There may be gold left that you have not picked up yet, riches you have not yet acquired, but gold cannot give you back chances missed and loved ones gone. Please convey our love and affection to your dear wife Rose and assure her of a heartfelt hug from this old man should I ever have a chance to meet her.

Your loving father

Robert Tremayne


The photographic print we included with this letter shows your mother and me, Edward, Penelope and their children.

Jim picked up the photograph and looked at the faces of his parents, his brother and his brother's family. Rose was looking over his shoulder now, and he pressed her hand.

"Rose, this is my mother, this my father, this is Edward and his Penelope, and this is my nephew James. The girls are Paulina and Gwendolyn," he explained. "Do you want to read the letter? There are no secrets in it."

"If I may, I would like to," Rose answered.

She took the sheets and sat down by the table. It took her a few minutes to finish, and then she re-read part of the letter. When she looked up, she gave Jim a smile.

"You want to return to England, don't you?"

Exhaling deeply, Jim nodded.

"It's not just because of my mother. I see the faces on the photograph, and I realize that they are part of what made me, of who I am. I also want you to meet them, and I want them to meet you, to see what a wonderful woman you are."

"How long would the travel be?"

"We'd have to start out in spring or early summer. I would hazard the guess that it takes forty to forty-five days to reach St. Louis traveling with Bobby and Sam. From St. Louis to Dayton, Ohio, is another 400 miles or twenty days. We may pick up a railroad service somewhere in Northern Ohio for the last part of the journey to New York. Count on another two or three weeks. I'd say we can reach New York in three months' time. From there we'd have to see. I came over on a clipper ship, but from what I gather from the newspapers it's all steamships today."

The source of this story is Finestories

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