Author’s Note:  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 my sister."

"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 than mine."

"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 emeralds?"

"You know better than to believe that fairytale about curses," Jim retorted.  "After all, isn't Mr Carver's luck changing?"

"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 eagerly.

"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 the Bob-Whites!"

"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 quietly.

"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 cafeteria."

"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 her. 

"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 gone bad."

"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 recovery."

"They're wonderful people," he told her warmly.  "I've always regretted not being able to have children of my own."

Miss Trask frowned a little but nodded. 

"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 chair. 

Jim grabbed the walker and put it within in reach, while Brian bent down beside him.

"Are you okay sir?" He asked seriously.

"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 a little."

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 effective way.

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 room?"

"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 the outside?"

"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 about."

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 feeling today?"

"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 better."

"I'm sure she will," Mr Carver replied earnestly and he stopped to face her.  "I did also enjoy spending time with you again."

"Why, thank you," Miss Trask mumbled, colouring again.  "I'm sure we'll see each other again shortly when you visit Sleepyside?"

"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 Croton-on-the-Hudson.

"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 different situation."

"That's wonderful," Miss Trask murmured, wondering what sort of person Edgar Carver was in his own surroundings.

"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 chatting away."

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 room."

"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 grinned.

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 meet me."

"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 garden together.

"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 that wonderful?"

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 for!"

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 on her.

"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, almost shyly.

"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 lately, Marge."

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 quietly.

"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 just fine."

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 paint?"

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 it."

"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 wagon."

"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 view.

"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 today."


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 Marge feels."

"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 inside?"

"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 the boathouse."

"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 New York."

"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 it."

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 murmured.

She shuffled a little awkwardly as the train pulled into the station.  She hated goodbyes.

"Please give the Bob-Whites my best wishes."

"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.  "Goodbye Marge."

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


The End.