Trixie BeldenŽ is the registered trademark of Random House. This story is not for profit.
This story takes place after
The Mystery of the Emeralds and overlaps with The Mystery on the
Mississippi and was written for all the people who seemed so taken with the
idea of a relationship between Miss Trask and Mr Carver. And try as I
might, I couldn't call her Marge. It just didn't work for me! : )
This story's title and the
lyrics featured in it come from the Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline.
It seemed to fit well here.
"Thanks for driving us to visit Mr
Carver," Brian said gratefully to Miss Trask as they entered the hospital.
"We've been looking forward to visiting him after his operation."
"It's no trouble at all," Miss Trask
replied. "It's very convenient that your friend is at the same hospital as
"Will you come in for a moment and
meet him Miss Trask?" Honey asked. "He's such a lovely man, I'm sure
you'll like him."
"I'll stop in and say hello with you,"
Miss Trask agreed. "However, I'm sure he's more interested in your company
"I'm really looking forward to meeting
him," Dan added. "He must be a swell guy to let you guys take over his
house and search for the emerald necklace."
"It was the emerald necklace that paid
for his operation," Trixie reminded him.
"I can't believe that Daddy bought it
for my mother," Di cried. "It's so beautiful. I just love emeralds."
"You have expensive tastes Miss
Lynch," Mart told her. "Aren't you worried about the curse of the
"You know better than to believe that
fairytale about curses," Jim retorted. "After all, isn't Mr Carver's luck
"Maybe it's because he sold the
emeralds!" Trixie cried and the others groaned.
"I think that's enough talk about
curses and the like," Brian said. "We're almost at his room."
"It's right up ahead," Trixie said
"Don't go rushing in there," Mart
warned. "You'd better knock first."
"But he knows we're coming," Di told
him, hurrying up to Trixie.
The two girls knocked on the door and
Trixie pushed it open.
"Mr Carver, it's me and the rest of
"Well, hello there!" Edgar Carver
smiled in welcome, sitting in a large chair next to his bed.
"There's eight of us sir," Jim said,
poking his head through the door. "Is it okay if we all come in?"
"Of course," he said, beckoning them
in. "There's eight of you now?"
"Well, eight including Miss Trask,"
Honey giggled and gestured to the older woman who brought up the rear. "Mr
Carver, this is our friend Miss Trask."
"Good morning," Miss Trask greeted Mr
Carver pleasantly. "It's very nice to meet you at last. I almost
feel like I already know you as the Bob-Whites have spoken so much about you."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Mr
Carver replied, reddening slightly. "I've also heard a lot about you."
"And this is Dan Mangan," Di
introduced the dark haired boy beside her.
"It's nice to meet you sir," Dan said
"Likewise Dan, likewise," Mr Carver
replied warmly. "Now why don't you all find a seat and tell me what you've
been up to since I last saw you?"
"I should go," Miss Trask said
reluctantly. She had a sudden desire to stay in his happy room filled with
young people and the man they admired so much.
"Oh, please stay and chat with us
awhile," Mr Carver invited her.
"I'm afraid I can't," Miss Trask
answered regretfully, finding the man's twinkling blue eyes warm and friendly.
"My sister is expecting me."
"But you'll come back and visit before
we leave, won't you Miss Trask?" Honey pleaded.
"That would be nice," Miss Trask
agreed as she met Mr Carver's eyes with a smile. "Now enjoy your stay and
if Mr Carver needs his rest, maybe you can go and find something to eat in
"They'll be fine," Mr Carver assured
her. "If we're not here when you drop back, we'll be in the sun room at
the end of the hall."
Miss Trask nodded and with a wave and
a smile she was off. She headed to the lift, the gentle Virginian accent
still singing in her ears.
"Marge, did you hear what I just
said?" Maude Trask asked her sister impatiently.
"What? Oh, I'm sorry Maude,"
Miss apologised. "My mind must have wandered."
"You work too hard," Maude scolded
"Nonsense Maud," Miss Trask replied.
"You know I'm never happy unless I'm busy."
"You spend all of your time either at
that house or with me," Maude remarked. "You never take time out for
yourself. It's not good for you."
"On the contrary, I think it's been
wonderful for me," Miss Trask responded patiently. "Life's been much easier for
me since I left the school and began working for the Wheeler's, and the extra
money has meant that you're now in a private room rather than a ward."
"Marge, believe me, I'm not
complaining," Maude answered quickly. "I'm so grateful for all that you've
done for me. I just wish that you had a life of your own."
"I'm quite satisfied with my life,"
Miss Trask replied automatically.
"You can't fool me Margery Trask,"
Maude chided her. "You can't let your whole life be ruined by one romance
"Let's not go through this again
Maude," Miss Trask replied with a firm tone. "I'm fine. Why don't you
just concentrate on getting better?"
The two women fell silent and their
attention returned to the television show Maude had been watching. But
inwardly Miss Trask was burning over her sister's words. Why did her family
still think she had let her failed romance with Nicholas Morgan ruin her life?
Why were people so concerned with her life, when their own was much worse?
Don't they realise that it still
hurts me just to think about it? It's not just a case of getting over it,
I've been paying for my mistake for most of my life. How easy do they
think it is to just move on and find someone else?
How many times have I wished that I
wouldn't have to grow old alone, living in someone else's house? Getting
older doesn't mean you're less likely to get hurt.
Margery Trask sighed and shook herself
out of her reverie. That was enough self-pity for the day. She would
concentrate of keeping her sister's spirits up and then spending a little time
with the Bob-Whites and their charming friend before heading home.
Miss Trask found the Bob-Whites and their
friend in the sun lounge, watching in awe as Edgar Carver took small steps
across the room with the help of his walking frame.
"In just a few days, I should be
walking with only a cane!" He cried triumphantly.
"You're amazing sir," Brian said in
admiration. "I can't believe how fast your recovery has been."
"Alex will be proud of my progress,"
he agreed happily and looked up to see Miss Trask watching them. "Oh, Miss
Trask you're back. How was your visit with your sister?"
"It was very enjoyable thank you,"
Miss Trask replied. "Maude seems quite well today."
Well enough to nag me about my
personal life, she thought to herself.
"That's wonderful!" Mr Carver cried.
"I wish everyone was as fortunate as I am to have such good friends who visit
me. Your sister is very lucky to have you visit her."
"I only wish that she could recover as
quickly as you have," Miss Trask murmured, colouring slightly.
She became aware of Trixie nudging
Honey and whispering in her ear, and knew she had to put an end to this visit as
quickly as possible.
"I'm afraid it's time we headed for
home," Miss Trask told the group. "Why don't you help Mr Carver back to
his room and get him settled before you say goodbye?"
Reluctantly the group got up, but Miss
Trask found herself beside Mr Carver as they walked slowly back to his room.
"I hear that you've been part of a
number of the Bob-Whites adventures," Mr Carver said to her as he shuffled
carefully along the hall way.
"Oh, yes," Miss Trask laughed and
patted her hair. "I thought surrounding myself with young people would
make me feel younger, but instead they've turned my hair grey."
Mr Carver laughed alongside her.
"If that's true, it's certainly only made you more becoming."
Miss Trask felt her face grow warm and
she struggled to find a response. "Well... thankyou Mr Carver.
I'm pleased that the children have had such a positive influence on your
"They're wonderful people," he told
her warmly. "I've always regretted not being able to have children of my
Miss Trask frowned a little but
"Not that I was physically incapable,"
he was quick to assure her. "I just never met the right person.
Well, not one who could see past the wheel chair anyway."
"I understand," Miss Trask murmured.
"Well, here we are," Mr Carver
announced, a little out of breath.
"Here, let me me help you," Miss Trask
said in concern. She took his hand and helped him to sit back in his
Jim grabbed the walker and put it
within in reach, while Brian bent down beside him.
"Are you okay sir?" He asked
"Oh, I'm fine," he waved him away with
a quick frown. "There's more than one reason for a man to lose his breath
He did not look at Miss Trask, but she
seemed to sense his meaning and blushed again.
"Should I call the doctor?" Di asked.
"Thank you dear, but really I'm fine,"
Mr Carver assured her. "After a lifetime of not walking, it's only natural
that it takes a little getting used to now."
"I guess you're right," Honey said in
relief. "We're so glad you're doing so well."
"Thank you for letting us visit you
sir," Mart added.
"I should be thanking you for visiting
me," Mr Carver cried. "You've certainly made my day and given me incentive
enough to get out of here as soon as I can. I'm hoping to visit my cousin,
Miss Julie Sunderland before leaving New York and I'd love it if you could show
me around your Westchester County you've told me so much about it."
"Oh Mr Carver!" Trixie cried.
"We'd love that!"
"You'd certainly be most welcome sir,"
Jim added. "I'm sure Mother and Dad wouldn't mind if he stayed at Manor
House, would they Miss Trask?"
"I'm sure that would be fine," Miss
Trask smiled. "It would be lovely to see you again Mr Carver."
"Well, if I'm still here the next time
you visit your sister, please stop by and see me again," he invited.
"I shall," Miss Trask murmured,
shaking his hand. He held on for a brief moment, sharing a smile with her.
The Bob-Whites said their goodbyes and
slowly left the room, leaving Mr Carver sitting in his chair. He frowned
slightly as the silence filled the room and he closed his eyes. Life
had certainly changed for the better since he met the Bob-Whites.
"Miss Trask, will you be going into
the city to visit your sister this week?" Honey asked as they carried their bags
out to the car.
"Most likely Honey, why?"
"We promised Mr Carver we would visit
him again this week, but now that we're going to St Louis we won't be able to,"
Honey told her anxiously.
"I'm sure Mr Carver will understand,"
Miss Trask began.
"We thought that perhaps you wouldn't
mind dropping in and visiting him for a while?" Jim suggested. "He must
get awfully lonely and we'd hate to disappoint him."
"You're both very sweet to think of
him in amidst planning for your holiday," Miss Trask told them. "I'd be
happy to drop in and visit him. Perhaps he'd even like to meet Maude?"
"That would be wonderful Miss Trask!"
Honey cried, hugging her happily. "You're very sweet yourself to agree to
visit him. He's such a nice man."
"Indeed he is," Miss Trask smiled,
returning Honey's hug. "Now here comes your father. I hope you have
a wonderful time and stay out of trouble!"
"I'll make sure of that," Matthew
Wheeler told her. "Now are we all ready?"
"Yes Dad!" Jim and Honey cried in
unison. They hugged their mother goodbye and climbed into the car where
Tom sat, ready to drive them to the airport.
Miss Trask smiled wryly to herself as
Matthew Wheeler kissed his wife goodbye. It was rare that Madeleine
Wheeler didn't accompany her husband on a business trip, especially when the
children were going. But she had promised to chair a fundraiser and would
be busy over the next week organising the event with the fundraising committee.
She stood next to Madeleine and waved
to the car as it disappeared down the driveway. Madeleine sighed audibly
and turned towards Miss Trask.
"Now Miss Trask, I was wondering if
you could help me with this little problem we're having with the fundraiser..."
"Mr Carver?" Miss Trask called
tentatively as she opened the door to his hospital room.
She received no reply so she pushed
the door open further to find his room empty. She frowned slightly and
checked the name on the wall. It was definitely his room.
"Maybe he's gone to the sunroom," she
murmured and set off to find him.
She followed the hallway down to the
large open space frequented by hospital patients eager to get out of their room.
It was hardly a sun room, but it did allow some natural light to mingle with
artificial glare of the fluorescent lighting.
It had been two weeks since she had
visited the hospital with the Bob-Whites, but only two days since they had
left. She had been hoping to visit her sister several times this week, but Madeleine Wheeler's fundraiser
had turned into more work than she and her committee could manage and the
majority of the problems fell on Miss Trask to solve in her usual efficient and
Perhaps that's why she did not realise
that the gentleman approaching her, walking slowly but confidently with only the
aid of a cane, was indeed the man she was looking for.
"Miss Trask! What a surprise!"
Edgar Carver exclaimed happily, reaching to gently stop the woman with his hand.
"Oh, Mr Carver!" Miss Trask cried,
caught off guard. Her hands went instantly to pat down her hair as she
surveyed Mr Carver. "Well, you look as fit as a fiddle! I must admit
I didn't recognise you, especially walking so well."
"The doctor says it's like I've been
doing it all my life," Mr Carver responded with a smile. "And he's right
in a way, I feel like I have a whole new life since I started walking again."
"I can imagine," Miss Trask murmured,
wondering why she suddenly felt warm. "Were you on your way back to your
"I was headed that way," he admitted.
"I've been visiting with some other patients in the sun room. Would
you like to escort me back to my room and visit for a while?"
Miss Trask had just been about to ask
him to join her to visit her sister, but she decided to wait.
"That would be lovely," she murmured
and took his arm.
"I wasn't sure I'd see you again," he
told her. "At least not until my visit to Sleepyside."
"Honey, Jim and the Bob-Whites send
their love," she told him. "They were hoping to visit you themselves but
they had the chance to visit St Louis and decided to go."
"Completely understandable," Edgar
Carver replied. "But when will they be back? I had hoped I could
visit them in Sleepyside."
"Not until next week," Miss Trask told
him as they stepped into the elevator and she pressed a button. "When will
you be discharged?"
"Tomorrow, hopefully," Edgar replied.
"I had planned to go on Sleepyside and also visit my cousin, then return to
Virginia by train on Sunday but maybe I could extend my trip a little longer."
"I certainly hope you can. The
Bob-Whites would be very upset if they missed your visit."
"I'll see what I can do," Mr Carver
promised, with a slightly troubled expression. He changed the subject.
"Then you've not been in to see your sister since the last time I saw you?
Have you been busy?"
"You could say that," Miss Trask
smiled wryly. They were now in Mr Carver's room and she helped him to his
chair before taking a seat beside him. "I've been helping Honey's mother
with a fundraiser. Except it became less like helping and more like
running the whole thing."
"I see," Mr Carver mused. "So
event organiser is just another of your many talents?"
"I was originally a teacher, that's
how I met Honey and her family," Miss Trask explained. "As a teacher you
learn to handle any event, big or small."
"Did you enjoy teaching?"
"I did in the beginning," Miss Trask
murmured, starting down at her hands. "But it didn't pay very well and I
was responsible for paying Maude's medical costs. So I took another job
at a private girls' school that was so regimented it was stifling, but it helped
pay the bills."
"Sometimes circumstances force us to
do things we don't want to do," Mr Carver remarked. "But surely this story
has a happy ending?"
"Eventually it did," Miss Trask
smiled. "Honey's parents approached me after she had become ill and asked
me to become her governess. She was, of course, too old to really need a
governess but I had grown quite close to her and the Wheeler's almost doubled my
salary. I've had quite a comfortable life since then."
"I had a governess as a boy," Mr
Carver recalled. "Well, more than one and then a string of tutors.
After my accident, I did not go to school again."
"It must have been quite lonely for
you growing up just around adults," Miss Trask commented. "It was like
that for Honey too until we moved to Sleepyside."
"It was," he murmured. "That's
why I love being around the Bob-Whites now. It almost gives me back part
of the childhood I lost."
"I understand what you mean," Miss
Trask sighed sadly. She smiled slowly and looked over at Mr Carver.
"Sometimes I forget that I'm not the only one who doesn't have a perfect life."
"Does anyone really?" He replied with
a sad smile and reached for her hand. "Or does it just seem that way from
"Oh my..." Miss Trask murmured as he
squeezed her hand. "I don't normally let myself think this way."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to
upset you," he began.
"You haven't." She smiled at him.
"I'm glad we had a chance to talk things that have shaped who we are."
"So am I," Mr Carver smiled and
squeezed her hand again.
Miss Trask looked down at her
hand in his, it had been a long time since someone had held her hand. Then
suddenly, she snatched it away.
"Oh my! Look at the time!"
She exclaimed. "I was hoping you might
like to come with me and visit my sister Maude, but if
you're too tired..."
"Not at all," Mr Carver reassured her
quickly. "I'd love to meet your sister. It's been a long time since
I've been in the company of two lovely ladies."
Miss Trask felt her face colour and
she grew angry at herself. "I'm sure Maude will appreciate the company.
Shall we go?"
Mr Carver slowly rose to his feet and
offered his arm to Miss Trask. Silently, she accepted it and together they
left the room.
The door to Maude's room was open.
Miss Trask knocked briskly on it and stepped into the room ahead of Mr Carver.
"Good morning Maude," she said
brightly. "I've brought another visitor along with me today."
"Hello Marge," Maude replied in a dull
voice, reluctantly muting the sound on the television.
"Maude, this is Edgar Carver," Miss
Trask continued. "He's the friend of the Bob-Whites that I told you
Maude tilted her head to look at the
gentleman and her expression changed immediately.
"Why, hello," she smiled. "It
certainly is lovely to meet you."
"The pleasure is mine," Mr Carver
replied, moving to her bedside and gently taking her hand. "How are you
"Oh, just fine thank you," she
murmured, blushing as her sister had done only moments ago.
"I knew a new visitor would do you the
world of good," Miss Trask told her triumphantly, then turned to Mr Carver.
"Poor Maude has to make do with only my company most of the time and I'm afraid
I'm little entertainment for her."
"Just two old maids with little else
but their dreams," Maude sighed, and Miss Trask frowned in response.
"Come now, you're hardly old maids,"
Mr Carver protested. "But we all have dreams don't we? Some times
they just take a little while to come true. Look at me!"
"You're certainly right there Mr
Carver," Miss Trask agreed brightly. "Maude, Mr Carver has never been to
New York before. Why don't you tell him about our home in the Catskills?
I'm certain he'd love to hear about it."
"Oh, yes," Mr Carver encouraged Maude,
sitting down beside her. "Please tell me."
Maude, enchanted by his warm smile,
began to tell of the town she and her sister grew up in and Miss Trask sat on
the other side of the room and watched them.
Was it just middle-aged madness or was
she actually growing fond of this stranger?
"Thank you so much for visiting with
my sister," Miss Trask began as they approached his room.
"It was a pleasure," Mr Carver smiled.
"Your sister certainly has a good sense of humour."
"I haven't heard her laugh for a long
time," Miss Trask admitted. "It gives me hope that one day she will get
"I'm sure she will," Mr Carver replied
earnestly and he stopped to face her. "I did also enjoy spending time with
"Why, thank you," Miss Trask mumbled,
colouring again. "I'm sure we'll see each other again shortly when you
"Perhaps," he replied slowly.
"Maybe I should just do a day visit to Croton-on-the-Hudson to visit my cousin
and then head home."
"But why?" Miss Trask asked in
surprise. "I thought you were looking forward to visiting Sleepyside."
"I was," Mr Carver confessed
uncomfortably. "It's just that with the Bob-Whites away and not returning
until next week, I'm afraid I'll be at loose ends."
"Nonsense," Miss Trask protested.
"Please don't let their absence change your plans. You must stay at Manor
House and I can show you Sleepyside. Honey told me that you like to paint
and I know many wonderful places that would be ideal for you to paint."
"Oh, I couldn't possibly stay at Manor
House," Mr Carver mumbled. "I would be imposing, especially with Jim and
Honey being away..."
Miss Trask began to argue, but thought
better of it. "Fine then. There's a lovely inn down the road that
I'm sure you would find very comfortable. You can stay there."
"I'm not sure..."
"I am," Miss Trask said firmly.
"Now shall I come and pick you up tomorrow?"
"Oh no," Mr Carver protested quickly.
"That would be imposing. I'll just catch the train. It will give me
a chance to see some of the sights."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," he smiled and their eyes
met. "I'm looking forward to it."
"So am I."
"How are you settling in at the inn?"
Miss Trask asked Mr Carver as they headed along Albany Post Rd to
"Very well," Mr Carver reassured her
with a smile. "Although, I must say that there are some interesting
characters who live there."
"You must mean Mrs Boyer," Miss Trask
laughed. "Sleepyside's richest and most eccentric woman."
"Well, yes..." Mr Carver admitted.
"Why on earth does she live there? With all her money, she could afford a
mansion like Manor House and fill it with servants."
"I thinks she likes the company of the
people at the inn to an empty house with only servants to talk to," Miss Trask
replied. "I can certainly understand that."
"So can I," Mr Carver sighed.
"Although I needed the money, part of the reason I decided to open Green Trees
to the public was because I wanted the company. It filled me with great
joy to see the rooms full of happy, laughing people again."
"You won't be so lonely when you
return though, will you?"
"Oh, no!" Mr Carver agreed.
"Lizzie and Neil will be there as well as frequent visits from my friends Alex
and Carolyn. I'll also be able to get out more, so it will be quite a
"That's wonderful," Miss Trask
murmured, wondering what sort of person Edgar Carver was in his own
"I'm hoping my new friends will come
to visit me too," Mr Carver continued, looking directly at Miss Trask.
"Oh, I'm sure the Bob-Whites would
love to return to Cliveden, especially now that the Lynch's are restoring
Rosewood Hall," Miss Trask replied, not looking at Mr Carver.
"I hope so," Mr Carver murmured and
looked out the window. "Speaking of new friends, I've met a delightful
woman at the inn named Ella Kline. Do you know her?"
"Indeed. Ella is a wonderful
seamstress and often takes sewing from the Manor House, especially Mrs Wheeler's
finer garments," Miss Trask informed him. "She sews wonderfully by hand."
"She's certainly a charming woman," Mr
Carver mused. "We'd stayed 'til quite late in the garden last night
Miss Trask frowned slightly and
tightened her grip on the steering wheel. She had a reputation for not
being nosy, but that didn't mean she didn't often itch with curiosity.
"I'm glad for Ella's sake," Miss Trask
said eventually. "She must get lonely spending so much time stuck in her
"That's why the porter helped us both
out into the garden last night," Mr Carver chuckled. "We weren't much help
to each other, but it was certainly a pleasant way to spend the evening."
"I can imagine," Miss Trask mumbled,
who had spent the previous evening doing the household accounts over a small
glass of sherry. The house was very quiet with Honey and Jim away.
"My it's certainly steep up here," Mr
Carver commented as they approached the reservoir on winding, climbing road.
"I believe Honey and Trixie rode up
here the first time they visited Miss Julie,"
Miss Trask smiled. "We're almost at Revolutionary Road and The
Homestead isn't far from the turn off."
"Wonderful!" Mr Carver exclaimed.
"It will be so nice to see a relative of mine. It's just a shame that both
of us never married and had children."
"I wonder why Miss Julie never
married," Miss Trask responded.
"Perhaps we'll find out," Mr Carver
A few moments later, Miss Trask pulled
the car into the driveway of The Homestead. She parked in front of the
house and quickly got out to help Mr Carver from the car. He stretched
carefully, still a little uncertain on his feet.
"Don't forget your cane," Miss Trask
reminded him. He was on the point of refusing, but thought better of it
and accepted the cane gratefully.
They walked slowly together to the
front door, Miss Trask's hand hovering behind his back. He smiled at her,
his eyes revealing his excitement, and knocked firmly on the door.
They waited with no answer, and Mr
Carver eventually tried again.
"Did she know we were coming?"
"I spoke to her last night," Mr Carver
replied with a small frown. "Once I got through to her who I was, she
remembered what Trixie and Honey had told her and she said she'd be delighted to
"Perhaps I'll take a look around the
back," Miss Trask suggested. "Maybe she's in the garden."
And that's exactly where Miss Trask
found the elderly lady, kneeled by her rose bushes, slowly weeding the flower
bed. Miss Trask went back for Mr Carver and the two of them entered the
"Miss Sunderland?" Mr Carver called.
"We spoke on the phone last night? I'm sure cousin, Edgar Carver."
Miss Julie stared blankly at them, so
they moved closer and tried again.
"I'm your cousin, Edgar Carver from
Virginia. I spoke to you last night? Remember?"
Suddenly, the recognition dawned on
Miss Julie's weathered face and she smiled in delight.
"Edgar!" She cried. "How
wonderful! To think I do have some family left on this earth. Isn't
Mr Carver and Miss Trask smiled in
agreement as Miss Julie struggled to her feet.
"Let me help you," Miss Trask offered
quickly, helping the frail woman to her feet.
"Thank you my dear," she smiled.
"Now please take a seat over there by the petunias and I'll bring out some tea."
"Please don't go to any trouble for
us," Mr Carver protested.
"Oh, you're not in any trouble," she
reassured him. "I'm happy to see you."
Mr Carver shrugged helplessly as Miss
Julie teetered off towards the house. He and Miss Trask made themselves
comfortable in the garden chairs by the petunias and talked softly between
themselves as they waited for her to return.
"She's certainly remarkable for her
age," Miss Trask smiled.
"Indeed she is!" Mr Carver chuckled.
"She seems to cope so well on her own. I know she has someone in to help
her every day, but she's amazing for a ninety year old."
"I hope I'm as sprightly when I'm her
age," Miss Trask added.
"You don't need to worry about that
for a long time," Mr Carver assured her and Miss Trask smiled at the compliment.
"Mr Carver, I do believe that while
I'm around you I feel half my age," she said, colouring slightly.
"That must make you a teenager then,"
Mr Carver teased and Miss Trask nearly giggled in response.
"Oh Edgar..." she murmured.
"Here comes Miss Julie," he told her
happily and they turned their smiling eyes towards her.
Miss Julie tottered towards them with
a tray, singing softly to herself.
"There we go," she said putting the
tray on the table. "Some nice, cold sarsaparilla, just like you asked
Miss Trask and Mr Carver looked at
each other and smiled. Miss Trask reached for the jug and poured each of
them a drink.
"Thank you for the sarsaparilla, Miss
Sunderland," Mr Carver told her. "Is it a family recipe?"
"You must call me Miss Julie," she
insisted. "After all, we're cousins. Now what did you ask me?
Why have I never married? Well, now that's a story..."
Miss Trask and Mr Carver shared
another amused glance and settled back to hear her story.
"I thought we might take a walk along
this path to Crabapple Farm," Miss Trask suggested. "It's where the Belden
children live and their mother, Helen, is looking forward to meeting you.
She's something of an artist herself."
"That sounds delightful," Mr Carver
replied, as they began their walk down the pathway that lead through a section
of the Wheeler's Game Preserve.
"It might be a little longer than
you're used to," Miss Trask warned him. "But we can stop and rest as often
as you like."
"I'll be fine," he assured her.
"I hardly notice I'm walking when I've got such good company."
Miss Trask felt a blush creep into her
cheeks and she wondered why just a hint of a compliment from him had this affect
"You're never short of a compliment,
are you?" Miss Trask murmured. "It's very flattering."
"Then I must be doing it right," he
chuckled. "It's not something I've had a lot of practice at."
They walked in silence for a moment,
their ears filled with the sounds of the preserve.
"The Hudson valley really is very
beautiful," Mr Carver commented. "I never would have imagined that one day
I'd be here and walking! Every morning when I wake up, I still find myself
looking for my wheel chair. I can't believe this is real!"
"You've gone through a lot in past few
months, haven't you?" Miss Trask murmured. "It's a lot for anyone to take
in, but at least they're all positive changes."
"Most definitely!" Mr Carver agreed
emphatically. He took Miss Trask's arm. "I really feel like I'm
starting life all over again and I want to live the life I've never had.
Do you understand what I mean?"
"I think I do," Miss Trask murmured,
"I almost feel whole again."
"There's one thing missing from my
life," he almost whispered as he came to a stop. Miss Trask turned to look
at him. "Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say 'someone'."
He stared at her for a moment.
She was in no doubt about what he meant and her insides started to tingle.
She hadn't felt this way for a long time, not since Nicholas...
"Oh! Mr Lytell!"
The pair turned towards the newcomer
who sat astride an ageing grey mare.
"I don't usually find you coming from
this direction," Mr Lytell told her dryly.
"I... uh..." Miss Trask stammered, for
once absolutely lost for words.
"Hello," Mr Carver said loudly,
releasing Miss Trask's arm and extending his hand to Mr Lytell. "I'm Edgar
Carver. I'm staying at the inn and Marge has been kind enough to accompany
me on a walk."
"I see," Mr Lytell observed, accepting
the handshake reluctantly. "I had wondered what was keeping you so busy
He stared down at her, his face
expressionless while hers wore the beginning of a frown.
"Well, I can see you're busy. I
won't keep you any longer," he said curtly. "Good day to you both."
With a quick tap of his heels, he
urged his gray mare forwards and disappeared down a side path into the preserve.
"A friend of yours?" Mr Carver asked
"Something like that," Miss Trask
muttered. "I apologise for his behaviour. He lives alone and
sometimes forgets the social niceties."
Mr Carver nodded and the pair began
walking again. The moment they had shared was now gone, stolen from them
by Mr Lytell's appearance and their conversation was minimal as they walked the
remainder of the way to Crabapple Farm.
Both were relieved when they arrived
and were welcomed warmly by Helen Belden.
"It's lovely to meet you Mr Carver,"
Helen cried. "The children have told me so much about you. Please
sit down you must be tired after your walk."
"Thank you," Mr Carver said
gratefully. He looked a little grey as he sunk down in the chair and Miss
Trask glanced at him in concern.
"Are you feeling ill Edgar?" She asked
softly. "You look a little pale."
"Perhaps I've overdone it a little,"
he admitted. "I'm sure I'll be better after a nice cup of tea."
"Or maybe some sarsaparilla?" Miss
Trask joked to hide her concern.
He smiled weakly. "Tea will be
Helen rushed to the kitchen and
quickly brought out a pot of tea, pouring it into a china cup.
"Just one please."
Edgar sipped at the tea and
momentarily closed his eyes. He wished he could be alone with his
thoughts. He knew his pallor had nothing to do with his walk.
"I'm fine Marge, really," he assured
her. "Thank you for the tea Mrs Belden. You have a lovely home here.
It's just as Mart described it."
"Thank you Mr Carver," Helen smiled.
"Brian was telling me that you're quite the artist. Tell me what do you
They slipped easily into a
conversation, leaving Miss Trask a moment to gather her thoughts. She was
angry at Mr Lytell's intrusion, shattering a moment, a feeling like no other.
She was also angry at his behaviour and what he had implied. But what made
her angrier was her own behaviour, her helplessness and how exposed and naked
she felt at that moment. He must have seen the way she'd been looking at
Mr Carver, he must have known.
"Would you like some more tea Marge?"
Helen Belden asked. "I hope our conversation isn't boring you."
"Nonsense," Miss Trask protested,
waving off another cup of tea. "It's wonderful listening to you two talk
about something you love so much."
"I wish I had time to paint again,"
Helen sighed. "But the farm keeps me so busy."
"It's wonderful," Edgar told her,
looking around enviously. "What a lovely place to live in and share with
your wonderful family. I have enormous respect for your children Mrs
Belden. I've never met anyone like them."
"I can believe that!" Helen
laughed. "They talked of nothing but you when they returned. I'm so
glad they've been able to help you."
"I understand they help a lot of
people. You must be very proud."
"I am," Helen smiled. "You're
looking much better now. Still, when you're ready to leave, I think it
will be better if you let me drive you back to the inn."
"I think... well, maybe that's
not such a bad idea," he conceded slowly. "You don't mind do you Marge?"
"I think it's a very good idea," she
told him. "You must be tired after that walk, and you shouldn't over do
"You're quite right," he agreed,
rising slowly. "An early night will do me good and I'll make sure I'm well
rested for our next walk tomorrow."
Miss Trask nodded with a smile.
"I'm looking forward to it. Are you sure you don't mind driving Edgar to
the inn, Helen? I could go up to the Manor House and get the station
"Don't be silly Marge," Helen
protested. "It's no trouble at all. Besides we can indulge in our
talk about art for a little while longer without worrying about boring you."
Miss Trask shook her head and handed
Mr Carver his cane. They walked slowly to the car together.
"I did enjoy our walk today," she said
softly. "I hope it wasn't too much for you."
"I'm fine," Edgar insisted, almost
irritably. "It's been a very pleasant day. I'm just a little tired."
Miss Trask nodded dumbly and opened
the car door for him. She held his cane as he got in and shuffled
uncomfortably, a slight frown on her face.
"Shall I drop you off at Manor House,
Marge?" Helen asked as she opened the car door.
"Oh, goodness no," Miss Trask told
her. "It's just a short walk up the hill."
She handed Mr Carver his cane.
"I hope you have a good rest, Edgar. I'll call you tomorrow?"
"Thank you Marge," he replied with a
troubled smile and closed the door.
She waved as Helen reversed the car
out of the driveway, and felt almost melancholy as the car disappeared from
"Why should you be surprised Marge?"
She asked herself as she walked slowly down the driveway. "You really
shouldn't have expected any better."
"... And Mr Lytell's store is back
that way past Crabapple Farm," Helen explained.
"Mr Lytell?" Mr Carver repeated.
"Yes, he owns the local store,"
Helen replied. "Have you met him?"
"Marge and I met him during our walk
Mr Carver turned to look at her.
"He seemed a little taken aback."
Helen nodded, but remained silent.
Mr Carver frowned, but persisted.
"Is there something I should know?"
"Not that I could tell you," Helen
responded lightly. "As far as I know, they're just good friends."
"I'm not sure he feels that way," Mr
Carver remarked slowly.
"Things are not always as they
appear," Helen replied carefully. "I think what's more important is how
"You're quite right," Mr Carver
replied and his tone indicated he no longer wished to talk about it.
"Will you be here when the children
get back? They're due home the day after tomorrow?"
"I... uh... I'm not sure," Mr
Carver mumbled. "I need to call home tonight and see how everything is
going. I would like to see them again though."
"We'd love you to come for dinner if
you could," Helen replied warmly as she pulled the car up to the steps of the
Glen Road Inn.
"I'll let you know," Mr Carver
promised. "Thank you very much for the lift. I appreciate it."
"Would you like me to help you
"No, I'm fine. Thank you again
Mrs Belden. It was a pleasure to meet you."
"Goodbye Mr Carver."
It was with relief that Edgar Carver
made the slow and slightly painful journey up to his room. He closed the
door thankfully behind him and lay down on his bed.
"Were you foolish to have this much
hope?" He asked himself. "After all, you can't have everything."
"Good morning Edgar," Miss Trask said
brightly into the phone. "Are you feeling well enough to walk today?
I thought we could have a walk around the lake and maybe finish with a picnic at
"Good morning Marge," Mr Carver began
slowly. "I was just about to call you. I'm afraid I'm going to have
to decline your invitation."
"Are you ill?"
"No, I'm fine. But I'm afraid I
have to go back to Virginia. I'm going to try and catch the 10am train to
"Oh...." The dismay in Miss
Trask's voice was evident. "I hope everything is okay."
"Everything's fine," he replied.
"However, the historical society is meeting tonight to begin planning on the
restoration of Rosewood Hall and I'm afraid my presence is required."
"I understand," Miss Trask responded
flatly. "The Bob-Whites will be sorry that they've missed you."
"I'm sorry to have missed them."
The regret in his voice was real.
"Can I take you to the train station?
I'd like to say goodbye."
"I can take a cab..." Mr Carver began.
"Please Edgar," Miss Trask almost
pleaded. "It's no trouble really. I'd like to."
"Thank you Marge," he accepted
reluctantly. "If you could pick me up in fifteen minutes, I'd appreciate
They both swallowed sadly as they hung
up the phone. It had only just begun, and now it was ending.
"Thank you for showing me your
beautiful town," Mr Carver said, somewhat formally. "Perhaps one day I can
return the favour."
"That would be lovely," Miss Trask
She shuffled a little awkwardly as the
train pulled into the station. She hated goodbyes.
"Please give the Bob-Whites my best
"I will," she promised. "I'm
sure they'll call you when they get back. Goodness knows what they've been
up to on this trip."
"Probably hunting down a gang of gun
smugglers," Mr Carver joked, and they shared a smile.
"I should go."
Miss Trask nodded. "Edgar..."
"I've enjoyed spending time with you
Marge," Mr Carver interrupted her, taking her hand. "I hope we can meet
again some time."
Miss Trask nodded silently. He
gently raised her hand to his lips and then released it. Their eyes met
for a moment, and then her turned away.
"Goodbye Edgar," she called.
He turned back for a moment.
He disappeared into the train and she
could not see him. But she stood expressionless and watched the train
leave, not knowing that he sat watching her until the train rounded the bend and
she disappeared from view.
They were no longer together, but
somehow both of them knew, both of them hoped that this was not the end.
It was only the beginning.
Where it began
I can't begin to knowin'
But then I know it's growing strong