I Do the Next Best Thing
Chapter 2: The Drive to Holdrege

Copyright© 2012 by normist

With Halloween bearing down on us we received an invitation to Holdrege. Our entire household was invited to visit for a three week holiday. When consulted, Washington agreed, as long as we took our equipment with us. John and I sorted out our route of some six hundred miles and advised our hosts to expect us on the third of November, emergencies excepted.

With Mistress Boon's, (Samantha's mother), acquiescence for Samantha to undertake the trip, we set out the morning after Halloween. John and I had planned the trip. Bob Johnson had reckoned that the carriage could maintain an average speed of some twenty five to thirty miles an hour. Thus a daily trip of two hundred miles could be accomplished in six to eight hours. Perhaps it would be a bit much, but we could relax when we reached Holdrege.

We planned to reach Brookfield the first day and if that went well, Nebraska City on the second. Becky had a gazetteer that indicated that there were no hotels in Brookfield, a town of some four and a half thousand souls. A teleson call to the Sheriff ascertained that a Mistress Martin had a large house that she had turned into a guest house. He gave us directions and promised to book the five rooms that we needed.

That day's drive was very pleasant. Low rolling hills covered with the remnants of crops, copses of trees and the occasional dwelling. The visual highlight of the day was the bridge constructed to cross the mighty Mississippi. We reached Brookfield about six o'clock and after a hearty dinner Samantha was put to bed by Becky. The rest of us stretched our legs by ambling through the grounds before retiring or the night.

Nebraska City is a much larger conurbation and there was no trouble in booking rooms at the City Inn, just adjacent to our road. Again we had a quiet evening and retired early.

We made good time, arriving at our destination at about five o'clock. We arrived at Sarah's grandfather's house tired, but with a modicum of energy had it been required, Samantha had asked "Are we there yet?" probably no more three hundred times during the trip.

We pulled up by the coach house and walked to the front door. It was opened by the maid, Susie, whose face lit up with a grin when she saw us.

"Come in please, all of you."

"Thank you, Susie, as you can see, we are a larger party this time. Herbert and Mary are our staff. Can you please ask Maria to find quarters for them?"

"Of course, Sir. If your two staff would kindly wait here for a moment? Would the rest of you please come this way?" Susie led us to the bedrooms on the second floor. "The judge is in the living room when you have refreshed yourselves."

A little while later, we emerged from our rooms to find Susie waiting for us. She led us to the Judge's living room and announced us.

"Sir Robert MacLeod and his party."

"Thank you, Susie." I said.

"Come on in, Robert. Come in, all of you." Judge Benton said as he levered himself up out of his chair. He gestured to the figure behind him. "I think you all know Goodman Hoover."

"No." said Becky. "We've never actually met."

"It's nice to meet you at last, Mistress Lieberman. And who is this?

"I'm Samantha, Sir!" Sam said.

She attempted to curtsy and predictably fell down. Not attempting to regain her feet, she floated up and gave the surprised Director a hug and a sloppy kiss. Judge Benton could scarcely hide his amusement at the Director's discomfiture with Samantha's greeting.

The Judge gestured towards the dining room as he said, "Come all of you. Let's go and eat. The Director and I have some questions for you which we can discuss over dinner."

When we were seated and well into our dinner the Judge looked at my fiancee.

"Sarah, my dear, how would you feel if I were to offer to marry you in a civil ceremony?"

"Oh Gramps! Would you? I mean, that would be wonderful!"

"And Robert, my boy, how do you feel?"

"We would be honored, Sir"

"That just leaves you two, Karen and John. Would you like to make it a double wedding?"

"I ... I..." Karen stammered, then wept as she turned and buried her face in John's chest.

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