Chapter 8

Chapter 8

I yawned and stretched, trying to evaluate where I was, everything seemed unfamiliar and vague. But after another minute I remembered the day before, the train trip, and everything else. I was at my grandparents place, I was sleeping in one of their guest bedrooms.

I turned on my side and peeked out of the window(which happened to be right beside the bed). Outside seemed very grey and cold with snow coating the window ledge. I sighed a little. Today was going to be interesting, which was exciting news, so excitedly with a new bounce in my gestures I got ready for the morning.

After gayily doing my hair, and figuring out how to style it for the day, I heard a harsh knock at the door. Probably it was one of my grandparent’s five maids. So I quickly opened the door. I was correct it was one of the maids. This maid in particular looked stern and grumpy, which made me miss Bertha, even when she scolded me.

“Good morning Miss Shirley. Here is your breakfast, and when you are finished Missus would like you to meet her in her room.” said the maid, strictly. She sounded English, or was it Scottish, I thought trying to guess where the woman was from.

“Good morning. Thank you, for letting me know,… Sorry I do not know your name.” I replied and asked, trying to sound proper and polite as I took the plate of something that looked like creamy cinnamon oatmeal, or was it cream of wheat?

“It’s alright Miss, my name is Rose.” she replied, as she left the room. Which was a little strange, but maybe that was the way that the maids were in this house. I quickly ate my breakfast which I concluded as oatmeal, and finished getting ready.

After I quietly walked down the incredibly long hall towards my grandmother’s bedroom. Gently I knocked on her door, more like tapped on the door. “Who is it?” asked my grandmother through the door.

“It’s Shirley. Rose told me that you wanted to see me.” I said quietly.

“Oh yes! I almost forgot, please come in!” exclaimed my grandmother, hurriedly. I gently opened the door. My grandmother was sitting at a small table reading a small brown book.

“Good morning grandmother.” I said warmly, as I sat down on the bed, where my grandmother had gestured for me to sit.

“Good morning Shirley dear. Well the reason why I called you was to tell you about the party tomorrow, and the preparations that we have to go through today.” began my grandmother.

“Oh is it Mr. Clark’s party? I believe grandfather mentioned it during the train ride.” I replied.

“Yes, the exact one!” declared my grandmother as she closed her book. “Well this party will not be large, but it is not a casual affair. Mr. Clark is very particular in his guests attire, so you and Henry must wear something formal. Which I have in order.” explained my grandmother hurriedly.

I blushed a little, I had forgotten to pack my party dress. “Grandmother I forgot to pack a formal dress, and probably Henry forgot something formal also.” I said slowly, feeling slightly embarrassed.

“Do not fear dear, we can get you both suitable formal attire without a fuss at all, and besides we expected this, and we have ordered things for you both, which have just arrived.” replied my grandmother reassuringly.

I stared with amazement at her. My grandparents truly thought about everything. “Thank you, I’m sorry if that was a bother to you at all.” I said politely. 

“Absolutely not! Now run along and tell your brother. We have a party to be prepared for.” said my grandmother gesturing for me to leave, which I quickly did. I surprisingly did not feel overwhelmed, actually I felt relaxed and calm.

Slowly I headed towards Henry’s room, which was another guest room. Slowly I knocked on the door, but there was no reply, so quietly I opened the door to an empty room. Henry was most likely downstairs than. So I headed down the hall, and down the long flight of stairs. It was not difficult to become lost in my grandparent’s home.

After a few minutes of figuring out my surroundings, and going into the wrong rooms, I finally found Henry who was outside looking around, when I passed a window. Feeling like I fool I searched for a door, which was harder said than done, but eventually found one.

Ignoring the fact that I did not have a coat let alone proper shoes, I ran across the snowy once grassy yard, towards Henry who was staring at a large tree. My shoes were probably ruined, and I was freezing. Everything seemed familiar…

April 1917

“Ralph!” I shouted across the yard as I ran towards my brother who was standing alone. He looked at me, but said nothing. “Is it true? You really enlisted?” I asked with concern, hoping the rumor from our grandmother was false.

“It’s true.” said Ralph quietly.

“Oh, dear…I thought…” I said but could not continue. I had thought that Ralph had decided against enlisting to instead go to Harvard, and Henry was the one that had only enlisted, but the pressure of others, he had given in, like so many. 

Ralph put his arm gently around my shoulder and led me to a bench, I had become slightly faint. As we sat down together we did not speak, there was no need too. I felt numb, I wanted to weep like a child, but I could not. I could only sit and wonder what would happen….


“Shirley!?” said Henry with surprise when he noticed me. “Good morning Henry.” I said kindly as I shivered.

“Good morning. My goodness you must be frozen. Here..” he said as he handed me his coat. “Are you sure? I am the one who foolishly decided not to wear a coat.” I said. “It’s alright, I have a sweater on, so I’m warm enough.” he replied, as I put on the coat, with relief. The coat was much too large, and draped over my frame, but it was warm.

“Henry, grandmother wanted me to tell you about the party tomorrow.” I said after a moment of silence.

“I’m not surprised. I mean I am not surprised that there would be a party we would be attending tomorrow, it is our grandparents after all.” he replied, with a bitter smile, as if he was regretting the decision to be here.

“Yes. So I am supposed to go over the details with you about the party, and the preparations involved.” I said.

“I’m such a fool!” declared Henry, with a chuckle. “What do you mean?” I asked with confusion.

“I forgot to pack my nicest suit!” he replied with a rueful laugh. “That’s alright, I forgot my best dress, also. But grandmother told me she will handle the clothing.” I replied reassuringly.

“That is good to hear. We better go inside, I am beginning to get cold.” said Henry as we both began walking towards the house. “Grandmother would probably get into hysterics if she sees me outside like this.” I said ruefully, as I heard the squish of my soaking wet shoes.

“Well maybe we should hurry then.” suggested Henry as he began to run, I groaned with annoyance as I began running myself. Laughing and wet we opened the door and quietly entered the house, thankfully we were not noticed. 

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