Chapter 13

“Well we are back.” sighed, Henry as we stepped off the train, in Grand Central.

I nodded, as Henry and I began the awkward pace of walking through the crowds. The last few days at my grandparent’s were quiet and peaceful and now I was getting a jolt back into the reality of New York.

Surprisingly Henry and I managed to get out of the station pretty quickly, and before I knew it we were on a streetcar heading home. I felt anxious about going home, back to my parents and Bertha, especially now that I knew something that most likely would destroy Bertha and my friendship. Henry seemed surprisingly calm as if he was grateful to be home, which I rather envieved.

After reaching our destination we walked in a brisk pace towards our home, which looked the exact same as I had left it. Bertha had not yet removed the wreath on the front door, so the house looked festive and welcoming, hopefully that was the case inside.

I took a deep breath and knocked onto the door, which was quickly answered by Bertha. “Oh my goodness! Welcome home Miss. Shirley and Mr. Henry.” she exclaimed, excitedly as she quickly led us in.

Henry cheerily greeted Bertha, but the wound was still fresh, so I was rather awkward and cold, I hoped she did not notice. Thankfully Bertha didn’t bat an eye, and began taking our coats, and outing things. 

I looked around the house which felt incredibly small compared to my grandparent’s mansion, but I always felt that when I returned home from a visit at my grandparent’s. Finally I decided to go to my room with my trunk and unpack, which was very necessary, to adjust back to home life.

So quickly I went upstairs, hauling my heaving trunk, entering my room I opened my trunk and began unpacking straight away. Rigorously I began folding my freshly unpacked clothes and putting them back into my chest of drawers and closet.

I was so occupied that I did not hear someone knock on my door or notice anyone enter my room. “Miss. Shirley, I am sorry to bother and barge in on you.” said Bertha quietly.

“That’s alright.” I replied awkwardly, as I began folding some stockings.

“How are you? We didn’t have a chance to speak. You seem a little distant today.” said Bertha as she sat right beside me. I felt flustered. I didn’t know what to say, but I managed to speak.

“It’s nothing, just getting used to being home.” I replied, diverging from the conversation.

“I see but I know you too well Miss. Shirley. Be honest with me.” said Bertha after a moment of silence.

Well if she wanted to know what was bothering me, well she should know, I thought after a little bit. “Well Bertha if you want to know what is bothering me, I found something out.” I said, slowly, I needed to go slow, I could not get too fiery.

“Oh dear, what did you find out?” she asked, completely ignorant to what I was going to say.

“I found out.. I just should say it.” I said taking a deep slow breath. “I found out that you and Ralph were courting.” I said quickly, as a wash of betrayal and anger went through my soul.

Bertha just stared at me, with an expression of complete shock, horror, and humiliation. “Who told you?” she asked after a little bit, with a voice of complete betrayal.

“That is completely off the point. Is it true?” I asked, protecting Henry. Bertha buried her face into her hands, when she finally lifted her hands, I knew what she was going to say, I knew it was true.

“It is…” she replied with a whisper. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you Miss. Shirley.” she said softly, trying to explain herself. But the explosion inside of me had gone off, and there was no turning back now.

“Well Bertha, what else do I not know? What other secrets is this household hiding?” I asked curtly, my voice rising.

“No there isn’t any on my part, this is the only one.” explained Bertha, angrily, her voice was also rising.

“Good. I have a question: why did you and Ralph keep this from me? Was it because I could not be trusted?” I asked. This was the question that had been eating me alive for almost a week.

“It wasn’t that. Um…” said Bertha, humiliated.

“I knew it,  Bertha. There is no use in explaining. At least I know..” I said, after a moment of silence.

“But the unfortunate thing is that I thought I was the selfish and secret keeper in this household. You proved me wrong Bertha.” I said angrily.

“Fine you can think about me like that Miss, but I shall not let you blame Ralph, ever, that would be cruel.” replied Bertha sternly, even though she looked betrayed and humiliated.

“I won’t blame Ralph…” 

“What on earth is going on here!?” interrupted Henry who had much to Bertha and my surprise had entered my room. 

Before Bertha or I could explain, Henry grabbed my arm and led me out of my room, trying to seperate us. “Henry.. Why are you doing this?” I asked with annoyance as I yanked my arm.

“Gee.. I knew this was going to happen..” muttered Henry under his breath.

“Explain Henry..” I retorted.

“I am trying to mend what I have caused, which I deeply regret. I should have kept it myself until Bertha was ready to tell you.” groaned Henry.

“It’s not your fault Henry.” I said, trying to reassure him.

“It is very much so. I have betrayed my dead brother and Bertha. Now wait for me here as I go apologize to Bertha about what I have done.” replied Henry taking full responsibility. “You should apologize too, you were being completely unfair.” he added, as he left the very flustered me.

“Henry..” I said softly, as he closed my bedroom door behind him.

After a little bit Henry returned. “Well now that I have mended my side of the situation I believe you ought to apologize. I didn’t hear everything you said to Bertha but it sounded pretty cruel and inconsiderate to me.” he said sternly.

“Apologize to her, how can I when I have just realized that I cannot control anything, that I know nothing.” I replied angrily.

“Well you should at least think about it Shirley. This is an awful note to leave on when you have just arrived back home.” said Henry, calmly.

“Maybe it is, but Bertha asked what was bothering me and I told her the truth. She always tells me to be honest.” I replied.

“Yes but you could have been kinder about it.” replied Henry, angrily.

“Perhaps but I plan on not taking advice from someone who doesn’t know what to do in his life.” I said as I left the room and Henry, feeling rather awful of what I had done.

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