His Lucky Charm - Cover

His Lucky Charm

Copyright© 2012 by Argon

Chapter 27: Old Friends

London, March 1868

Three days later, another piece of good news arrived. It was shortly after breakfast when the postman delivered a letter in a battered looking envelope bearing a 24¢ stamp from the United States Post Office. Jim and Rose sat down on a sofa and he opened the envelope with a pen knife. It was a letter from Amanda Thrush.

Denver, Colorado, December 7, 1867

Dear Rose and Jim,

I am sending you this letter to advise you of our imminent departure from Denver. We are headed for New York from whence we hope to find passage to your London. After a string of sad and even catastrophic events, we are glad to turn our backs on the Colorado Territory.

Last Summer, Scarlet Kennedy died from a festering tooth. She had been complaining about her tooth hurting but she refused to have it pulled in spite of our warnings. Poor Hiram was terribly wrought up of course. Mildred and Millicent have been living with us ever since because Hiram had to go back to the mine. The poor man!

In late October, we received the devastating news that there had been a terrible explosion in the main shaft of our mine. Hiram was killed along with twelve of the workers. Three more were injured. Ned and Albert rushed to Tarryall, but there was nothing anybody could do. Hiram was trying out that new blasting oil made of nitroglycerin and gunpowder, and the mine collapsed when it exploded prematurely.

Ned and Albert immediately shut down the mine after paying off the workers and the widows of the dead men. A consortium of California mine owners bought the claim from Ned for $220,000 while Albert finished the last shipments. The Californians plan to drive a new main shaft into the mountain, and we wish them good luck.

Ned and I have adopted poor Mildred and Millicent who are now alone in the world save for us. Using your power of attorney, Ned and Albert dissolved the mining company properly, and we shall forward the final share of the earnings including the proceeds from the sale to you when we reach St. Louis.

Come March, we shall all travel towards the East Coast. The Tennisons plan to visit Mary's parents in New York, and they will probably settle there. Ned and I have decided to make use of the opportunity and to travel onward to England. Ned discovered that his family came from a town named Peterborough, and he wants to visit it to find out whether there are still Thrushbottoms alive there.

We hope to find you in good health and spirits, and we plan to travel for a year or two at the least. Hiram's death has reminded us of how short life is, and we want to enjoy our hard-earned wealth while we can. Mildred and Millicent will of course accompany us. The girls need the change to get over the loss of their parents, and the excitement of the imminent travel has done its part to lift their spirits.

We hope to reach New York by late May and plan to take the first steamship sailing for England. For some reason of which Ned will not speak he does not want to stay in New York for more than a short time. Therefore we anticipate our arrival in England at some time in July. We sincerely hope that our visit will not inconvenience you overly, but I seem to remember that we got along famously even in a rather crowded cabin! Prudence sends her loving regards, and I am to convey Mary's fondest greetings!

Hoping to see you and your dear husband soon, I remain your loving friend

Amanda Thrush

Jim and Rose were quite shocked over these news. Poor Hiram had died while working to make them even richer. They could not quite muster the same feelings for Scarlet Kennedy, but Rose really felt for her daughters whom she had liked a lot.

Jim shook his head. "Damn! I read just last week that a Swedish fellow by the name of Nobel has invented some amalgam of nitroglycerine which is completely harmless unless ignited by a burning fuse. It's even safer than gunpowder. If only the fellow had been faster with his invention!"

"Hiram was like this, always trying new things. He should have been more careful. Now his poor daughters are alone," Rose said shaking her head. "Well, I suppose they are not really poor."

"No. The dowry hounds will be after them soon," Jim said with disdain.

"Well, we can trust Ned and Amanda to keep those at bay," Rose smiled, but then she turned sober. "I am just as happy though to not ever see Scarlett Kennedy again."


Spring came, and on a day in late April, the Tremaynes and many of their friends congregated at the St. Albert's Chapel, a part of the St. Albert's Hospital, to witness the wedding of Sir Hamilton Crewes and Mrs. Priscilla Marsden-Smith. Rose put on a happy face to mask her true feelings as she watched her beloved friend speak the vows that made her the wife of a somewhat unimpressive man.

Rose did not like nor respect Sir Hamilton. He was a man of middling height but with a rotund figure that not even the expensive swallowtail suit could disguise. He also had a way of not looking into people's eyes but rather speak to them with his eyes downcast. For her life, Rose could not understand what Priscilla saw in the man. Yes, he seemed well learned, but he was prone to uttering his opinions in a pontifical style that brooked no contradiction, at least to his mind.

Still, the Tremaynes played nice at the reception following the wedding offering their felicitations to bride and groom. Priscilla was grateful for the happy front they put up, and she hugged Rose with much feeling.

"Thank you for being here, my dearest! I was afraid that your state would preclude your coming."

"I am not that far along," Rose smiled. "I would not miss your happy day for anything."

"You are a dear, Rose," Priscilla answered with feeling.

The reception at Sir Hamilton's inherited city house was rather moderate, with no more than thirty guests, most of them from Priscilla's side. There was only one distant cousin on the groom's side, his best man almost by default, and his solicitor, a taciturn man of sixty years who seemed to deplore the expenditures incurred.

The food was of excellent quality, and the person to be praised for it was Sir Hamilton's housekeeper, a brunette woman of at most twenty and five years, uncommonly pretty with hazel-coloured eyes and a trim figure. She, too, seemed subdued, and the looks she cast at the bride were not overly friendly as Rose noticed.

"I wonder whether Priscilla's choice is a wise one," Siobhan Pryce told Rose when they were both standing a bit to the side. "That housekeeper spells trouble, and Sir Hamilton is not really a catch."

"I shall give him the benefit of the doubt," Rose sighed back. "She is my friend. I owe her to at least accept her choices."

"I still don't like the man," Siobhan maintained. "Let us face it: poor Priscilla does not have a lucky hand when picking husbands."

In spite of her friends' misgivings, Priscilla seemed to be happy enough when they bade farewell to the wedding guests at shortly after ten o'clock. Rose and Jim returned to Cheyne Walk in their coach. In the privacy of their coach, Jim admitted to not liking Priscilla's new husband.

"He has a coward's eyes," he said. "I know I should not judge him, but the less I'll see of him, the better I shall like him."

Rose had to agree, and she was afraid that their connection with Priscilla was going to suffer from her association with her new husband.


The water to both sides of RMS Scotia churned when the huge paddle wheels were put in reverse. The huge ship slowed and bumped gently against the pier. Lines were thrown, and a couple of longshoremen secured them against bollards. The paddle wheels came to a stop and a huge cloud of steam mixed with smut was released from the stacks.

Jim and Rose watched as a bridge was laid out between the ship's deck and the quay. Hundreds of passengers already crowded the decks but Ned's tall, lanky figure and his huge nose made him stand out even in a crowd of this size. Jim waved at his friend standing tall himself, and then Ned evidently spotted him and waved back. Rose, by virtue of her short stature, was unable to see much, but Jim could make out Amanda and even the two blonde heads of the Kennedy girls.

Fifteen minutes later saw the friends reunited in a group hug. Rose and Amanda cried tears of happiness holding each other while Jim and Ned kept slapping their shoulders and babbling the nonsense good friends say to mask their emotions. The retrieval of the baggage would take another day, but for now everybody was bundled into the two coaches they had brought along and taken upriver towards Chelsea.

Rose rode the coach with Amanda and the Kennedy sisters who in spite of their tiredness craned their necks at the sights along the route. New York had been awe inspiring for them, but London was by far the biggest city in the World and rivalled in splendour only by Paris. They gaped at The Tower, at St. Paul's Cathedral, and at St. James Palace. They marvelled at the huge crowds in the streets. They also scrunched their noses at the stench. This was July in London after all.

Once they arrived at Cheyne Walk, they alighted from the coaches and entered the Tremayne's town house. Orville Thrush and Robert Tremayne had spent untold hours babbling and drooling together as infants, but now they watched each other with deep distrust. Rose and Amanda laughed at their little cockerels and decided to give them more time to warm to each other.

Then it was time to tell stories, all the small and big adventures they'd had. Samantha came to visit a short while later, and this was a signal for the Kennedy girls to leave for the upstairs so they could hear from their age mate about the wonders of marriage. This left Jim, Rose, Ned, and Amanda alone, and Rose took the opportunity to report the encounter with Landon Moore and the indiscretion committed by Scarlett Kennedy.

Amanda shook her head. "That was why she kept making snide remarks about you. I'm afraid she was never quite one of us, was she? She was always sitting on that high horse. She refused to see Mr. Israelson, the dentist, because he is Jewish, and look where it got her. That festering tooth killed her."

"Do you..." Rose began but her voice faltered. "Amanda, do the girls know about our past?"

Amanda shook her head. "Scarlett always shielded them from anything she considered unsavoury. The girls were really looking forward to seeing you again. Do not forget that you are Mildred's heroine."

"I liked the girl. Did she bring that old guitar?"

"She would not part with it for anything," Amanda laughed. "Did you buy a new one?"

Rose smiled and nodded. "I have not played it in a while, but Jim found a very fine instrument that was built in Spain."

And on they went. It was easily after midnight when they finally went upstairs and to sleep. Rose was giddy and felt amorous when they settled under the sheets and blankets.

"Jim, darling, I had almost forgotten what a close and wonderful friend Mandy is. We had such a wonderful time back in that cabin in Tarryall."

"We did. It was crowded, and you could hear each and every sound, but we made it work."

"We did. Jim, I may not be able to engage in such activities for much longer. Would you mind confirming our bond once more?"

Jim looked at his wife in her silk nightshirt, her tummy already showing her state, and her breasts swollen and with prominent nipples. He smiled at her.

"Would I mind? Rose, I feel privileged whenever I can enjoy your charms."

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