Twins

Chapter 12

 

TWINS

CHAPTER 12

 

At the end of the week, the sloop was loaded and sailed for Ashbrooke. Peggy observed the plantations they passed. There was little doubt when they entered Virginia waters. The Maryland shore remained beautiful and untouched by the war. In Virginia, many areas had been devastated. Burned homes were not unusual, and neglect of the others was evident. On a dilapidated dock, an old woman was fishing. Her dress was rags, and she was barefoot. As they sailed closer, suddenly Peggy recognized her. It was Sally Stewart, a woman only three years older than Peggy. "Shadow, can we stop and talk?" Peggy asked. The sloop pulled alongside the dock. Sally watched as they came near.

 

When Shadow came up to jump to the dock, Sally pulled a dueling pistol out of her dress and pointed it at him. "Don't even think about stopping here, Nigger," she said, cocking the pistol.

 

"Sally Stewart, put that down. It's me, Peggy, from Ashbrooke. That is Billy; you must remember Billy." Peggy stepped off the boat onto the dock, blocking the pistol, her voice and movements that of the true belle.

 

"Peggy, it really is you," she said lowering the gun.

 

"Yes, I'm just returning from Texas. I'm shocked at the conditions here. I didn't think the Yankee Army came through this area."

 

"They didn't, until after Lee surrendered. Now we have the military government. Most of the destruction you see is from slave revolts. With most of the able men gone, there was no way to stop them. We were lucky, they didn't do anything to Mama and me. They only burned their cabins and not the main house. We have been two years now with just three slaves, I mean servants, to help. We have managed to grow our own food, and I have learned to fish and even hunt a little, for meat. I just hope Daddy and Fred get home safe and sound, and soon. There has been no word from them in quite a while."

 

"Sally, if there is anything we can do to help, just ask." Peggy was looking around at the run down condition of everything. She began to dread what she might find at home.

 

"How gracious. The kind princess returns to her magic kingdom. You and your kind think you're so much better than the rest of us. Don't you, Miss Perfect Lady? We don't need help from the likes of you! Now, if you have gloated long enough, get off my property." Sally stepped back and again raised the pistol.

 

With a smooth motion, like a springing cat, Shadow had the pistol. He quickly checked it. "Miss Stewart, why isn't this loaded?"

 

Sally fell to her knees and began to sob quietly. "No powder. Please don't kill me."

 

Peggy knelt next to the crying woman. "Why would we hurt a good neighbor? I'll leave some supplies for you and your mama. In a day or so, I'll have a wagon sent with more."

 

Later, Peggy was relieved, as the sloop rounded a bend in the river and the Ashbrooke docks came in view. The warehouse building needed whitewash, but was in good condition. There was a group of men working in a nearby field. One man ran off toward the house, and the others moved to the warehouse. Shadow maneuvered the sloop alongside the dock and the crew quickly secured the sails. Shadow, Jubell and Peggy then crossed to the dock.

 

As they turned to move off the dock, three well armed men approached from the warehouse. "Hold it right there!" the leader called.

 

Peggy elbowed Shadow and giggled. Shadow whispered "Samuel?" Peggy nodded. "Hold what right where, brother?" Shadow replied in Samuel's voice, at least as best as he could remember. The two men with Samuel looked at him with puzzled expressions.

 

"I have no brother. State your business or leave." Samuel was not amused by Shadow's reply. Peggy was enjoying both of them completely.

 

"Well then, hold what right where, half brother." Shadow grinned and Peggy giggled.

 

"Mr. Sam, that be one of Miss Nancy's Papa's boats." one of the men whispered to Samuel.

 

Samuel studied the three people standing before him. "Well, I'll be. Miss Peggy, you look as pretty as ever." He turned to the old man and saw many of Mitty's features, "You must be Jubell. I'm Samuel, your Mitty's husband. It's wonderful to meet you at last. Mitty sure is going to be surprised." Then turning to Shadow, he had to admire the man. "Billy, you have grown to be a handsome man. Too bad that smart mouth of yours ain't changed none."

 

The two men hugged each other so strongly that it almost appeared they were fighting. As a matter of fact that is exactly what the people coming over the hill toward the river thought. A gunshot rang out. Samuel and Shadow separated and stared at the woman holding the smoking gun at the top of the hill. "Miss Nancy, no doubt," Shadow said, grinning.

 

Peggy lifted her skirts and ran up the path, shouting, "Mama Nan, Mama Nan!" When she reached her, they hugged, rivaling the hug between Samuel and Shadow.

 

"Peggy, how wonderful to have you home! Your father will be delighted to see you when he gets back from town. Come along let's get on up to the house." As they walked up the path, Peggy was relieved to see everything was still there. White wash and paint was badly needed, but all in all, it looked wonderful. Peggy did notice one change that was somewhat disturbing, a wall had been erected around the house. Nancy noticed Peggy's expression. "For defense. We have had some bad times with outlaw gangs for the past few years. Our freemen have all been loyal to us. As a result, we have a small army here. We have only been attacked twice, and I am surprised since we are the only untouched plantation in the area. Well, enough of that. Tell me how you are doing."

 

Before Peggy could answer, a group of children came rushing up to them. The oldest boy and girl rushed up and hugged Peggy while the two toddlers hid behind Nancy's skirts.

 

"My, how you two have grown. Last time I saw you, you were the size of those two, now you are so grown up."

 

The girl said, "Peg, how we have missed you. There is so much to tell you."

 

"Oh, Sandy, give Peg a break. She just got here. Let her get settled before you bore her to tears with your gossip."

 

Peggy's step brother dragged his twin away. "And who are these?" Peggy asked Nancy.

 

"These are your other sister and brother, Joanna and Steven. Twins again. Your Papa seems to have a magic touch. Now, who was that in the boat with you?"

 

Peggy scooped up the two year old twins and grinned at Nancy, as they started again for the house. "Oh just some folks I met in Baltimore. Mitty's son and father."

 

Nancy stopped and stared at Peggy. "Billy and Jubell? What about Jack?"

 

"In Washington, but he will be here as soon as he can. That is what I need to talk to you about, in private, and soon!" Peggy set the new twins down after giving each a hug and kiss. They ran off after their older brother and sister. Nancy and Peggy entered the house and went into the study. Timmy was now the butler and answered Nancy's call. "Tim, please find Mitty, and tell her she is needed at the dock right away. Then see if we might get some refreshments."

 

"Yes, Ma'am." He looked at Peggy a few seconds before he recognized her. "Miss Peggy! Sure is good to see you back."

 

"Thank you, Timothy. It is wonderful to be home again with those I love. I have missed you all." Peggy was again the perfect belle. Timmy bowed and left.

 

Nancy was perplexed at her sudden change. When the door closed she turned back to Peggy. "All right, now we are alone, what is going on?"

 

"Mama Nan, please sit down. I have some shocking news." They sat, and then Peggy said, "Jack and I are married."

 

"How wonderful!" Nancy jumped up and hugged Peggy.

 

"No, not wonderful. You see he doesn't know."

 

Nancy's face froze, as she tried to absorb that. She sank back in her chair. "He doesn't know he is married?"

 

"Oh dear, this is hard to explain. He knows he is married, but not who he is married to. He knows me as Agatha Johnson. He doesn't realize I'm not Papa's real daughter. I guess I'd better start at the beginning."

 

It was several hours later that the two women left the study. Both were glowing with happiness. Nancy had agreed with Peggy's strategy, and, in fact, had been able to add a few points. The next two weeks sped past, with Peggy getting to know her family again after so long. Shadow was Billy again, and everyone enjoyed his tales of adventure. Of course, he was always the hero saving Jack. The story he really wanted to tell, he couldn't, at least until Jack got here, and he found out how it would ended.

 

* * *

 

Jack had finished his business in Washington, and he and Tommy were ready to begin their trip to Ashbrooke. Jack had been miserable. He dreamed during the day about Peggy, and how wonderful it was going to be to have her close. However, at night he dreamed of Aggie. She was a woman, soft, gentle, but with an inner toughness and, oh, such spirit! The romantic ideal of Peggy was battling with the sensuous reality of Aggie. Jack was tearing himself apart.

 

"Capt'n, the horses are ready," Tommy said, as he found Jack still sitting at the table in the hotel. Tommy was excited. Finally, they were leaving this city. He could only go out with Jack, and there was very little to interest a fourteen year old inside the hotel.

 

"Good. Let's get the hell out of here then. I have something for you when we get out of town." Jack stood up and strapped a Navy Colt around his waist. Picking up the package on the table, he turned and walked out, Tommy close behind. They crossed the Potomac River and passed the home of Robert E. Lee's wife, which the federal government had decided to turn into a cemetery. They then headed southeast. When they were well into the country Jack halted and dismounted. Tommy did the same. Jack pulled the package out of his saddle bag and handed it to Tommy. "If you were my little brother I would give you this. I know you don't have any family, and I have felt responsible for you, since the first time I made you wet your pants."

 

Tommy turned red as a beet; his face might have been redder than his hair this time.

 

"You are no longer going to be my cabin boy, since I will no longer be on a ship. I would like very much to be your friend. Well, actually more than that. I want to take on the role of your father, in a way. I want to help you become the best man you can be."

 

"Sir, I don't know what to say, I mean, sir, ah well..."

 

"Right. I'll take that as a yes. One more thing, call me Jack. Now open that package." Jack patted Tommy on the back and watched him open the wrapping.

 

Tommy looked up at Jack and then back to his gift. He took the leather holster and pistol and strapped it on, then picked up the book. "I can't read."

 

"I know, and you can't shoot, either. We are going to correct both of those. Shooting first, because we could run into trouble, before we get where we are going." Jack took the book out of Tommy's hand and put it in Tommy's saddle bag. "Rule one, don't wear that unless you are prepared to kill someone. Rule two, no matter how good you think you are, someone is better." They spent the next hour going over the basics, until Tommy could at least hit near the target. After eating lunch, they resumed their trip.

 

Late in the afternoon, two days later, the two riders approached Ashbrooke Manor. Word spread quickly and an armed reception was waiting. Shadow was first to recognize the riders. "Samuel, that's Jack and Tommy. You have your fun. I'll keep hidden and enjoy." He ducked down behind the wall and waved to Peggy and Nancy watching from an upstairs window.

 

Nancy said, "Get ready, I have the feeling Samuel is going to give my son a real warm welcome."

 

At that moment a shot was fired, and the horsemen came to an abrupt halt.

 

"Hold it right there! Raise your hands real slow. That's good, now state your business." Samuel's voice was clear and calm. Shadow next to him was trying to imagine Jack's face.

 

"My business is coming home. I am Jack Miles." Samuel cut him off. "Anyone could say that. How do I know you are who you say you are? After all, last time I saw Jack, he was a little brat, still wet behind the ears."

 

"Samuel, you are on thin ice. I was not wet behind the ears. If you remember I was not fond of water, at least not in connection with soap." That comment broke Shadow and he let out a howl of laughter.

 

"Shadow! You put him up to that! I'll get you for that." He kicked his horse and rode to the wall. Like a pirate boarding a ship, he jumped over the wall and tackled Shadow.

 

The mock battle held everyone's attention until Nancy's voice sounded. "Jackson Benford Miles!"

 

Shadow whispered to Jack, "You're in for it now! She used all three names."

 

Jack disengaged from Shadow and stood up. "Hello, mother. You are looking well." Jack was at a total loss, as to what else to say.

 

"Oh, God! Gone for ten years, and that is the best you can do? Come here and hug me." Nancy held out her arms, and Jack obeyed. The hug was exactly what they each needed; the distance of all the years closed, and Jack knew he was home.

 

They broke their embrace, and Jack looked up to see a beautiful young woman in the doorway. "Jackson, is that really you? I declare, I expected more of you than brawling in the dirt before greeting your family." With a rustle of skirts she turned and disappeared inside.

 

"Peggy? Wait!" Jack was totally flustered again.

 

A voice replied from inside, "I will be pleased to share your company, when you are presentable." Nancy smiled at her son, "She really has become a perfect lady. Come on in, son. A bath is waiting for you in your room. Tim, please show Captain Miles to his room."

 

Shadow waved Tommy into the yard, "Glad you made it. Miss Nancy has a room for you, too. Miss Agatha had me buy some clothes for you in Baltimore, and they are waiting for you upstairs, as well as a bath. Wash well, as you will be eating with the family tonight. I'd better warn you, it's going to be an interesting meal. The Capt'n is going to discover that his mother is no longer a widow, and he has two brothers and two sisters."

 

Tommy's jaw dropped, "How can he not know something like that?"

 

"We have been out of touch for about ten years. The Capt'n's grandfather thought it more important for him to learn shipping than worry about family." Shadow patted Tommy on the back. "Miss Nancy, this is the lad I told you about. Tommy, I'd like you to meet Miss Nancy, the Capt'n's mother."

 

"A pleasure to meet you, Ma'am." Tommy bowed slightly.

 

"The pleasure is mine, Tommy. Come along, I'll show you to your room. How did you ever survive with those two? They seem as impossible as ever." Nancy led the way into the house.

 

The last thing Shadow heard was Tommy saying, "They are, Ma'am. It has been quite an experience sailing with them."

 

Jack and Tommy were in the front sitting room when Nancy, Mr. Jeffrees and Peggy entered. "Mother, you look wonderful. Peggy, you are even more beautiful than I had imagined." He took her hand and bowed and kissed it gently.

 

"Why, thank you, Jackson. You look ever so much better, now. I would like to welcome you home. Perhaps, after dinner we can have a chance to catch up on each other's lives." She withdrew her hand. "Jackson, you are forgetting your manners. Introduce your little friend."

 

"Yes, this is Tommy, he was my cabin boy on my ship, and now my ward, of sorts. Tommy this is my mother, Mr. Jeffrees, our neighbor, and Peggy, whom I have told you about."

 

"Pleased to meet you," Tommy said.

 

Peggy said, "Cabin boy? A servant? Jack, really!"

 

Fred stepped in, "Peggy! You mind your manners. Tommy, it is a pleasure to have you in our home. I'm sure I speak for all of us." He glared at his daughter.

 

"Our house?" Jack asked his mother.

 

"Oh my. Have you received any of our letters?" Nancy frowned as Jack shook his head. "I forget how long you have been gone. Fred and I have been married now for nine years at our last anniversary; yes, that's right, because the twins just turned eight."

 

"Twins?"

 

"James and Sandy, and I mustn't forget Steven and Joanne."

 

Jack paled noticeably. Tommy was the only one that seemed to notice. Peggy was adjusting her hair in the mirror above the fireplace, Nancy and Fred were beaming at each other. Tommy grabbed a chair and just barely got it under Jack, as he collapsed.

 

Tim knocked at the door. "Dinner is served." He stepped back and held the door open. The rest of the evening was chaos, as far as Jack was concerned. Both sets of twins joined them and were fascinated by their big brother. Tommy was trying to impress Sandy with stories about Jack. Nancy and Fred were busy with the younger twins. Peggy was completely monopolizing Jack's attention with talk of dresses, theater, and decorating the house.

 

After dinner, the men, Jack, Fred and Tommy, retired to the library and the women to the music room. Tommy looked around at the books and wished he could read now. Jack and Fred talked about the plantation and what needed to be done.

 

After about half an hour, Peggy entered, after knocking lightly. "Papa, Mama Nan is waiting for you in the study." she said, with a sweetness that could spoil a starving man's appetite.

 

"Of course, dear. Jack, I look forward to showing you around, tomorrow. Good night." Fred left quietly.

 

Peggy scanned the room and spotted Tommy, sitting in a corner, looking at the world globe. "Tommy, why don't you run along and play with the other children?"

 

Tommy gazed at Jack, and then back at Peggy. He did not feel like a child. He turned red with anger, but held his tongue. He left with as much dignity as he could. He thought, as he closed the door, 'why did the Capt'n have to love her? Miss Agatha was a lot nicer and a whole lot more fun to be around. If she was going to be with Jack all the time, he was leaving. Maybe Shadow would take him on his ship.'

 

Tommy stalked out of the house and almost knocked Shadow over. "Well, what has you in such a huff?"

 

"Her! I just can't stand her. She keeps calling me a child and treating me like I had a snotty nose or something. And the Capt'n just looks at her with those lost eyes of his. He made me some promises, on the trip here, but if she comes with the deal, I'm leaving!"

 

"Strike the battle colors, mate." Shadow was trying to keep his grin under control. "So, Peggy is not what you expected?"

 

"God, NO! I had these visions of what she would be like, if Miss Agatha wasn't good enough to even compare to her. Miss Agatha was nice; she cared about me and the Capt'n, even after the way he treated her. I think he's crazy!" Tommy was pacing back and forth, kicking up a cloud of dust.

 

"Well, I don't think we have seen the last of Miss Agatha. After all, she is married to Jack. If I were you, I'd let the Capt'n know how you feel. If that doesn't work, then get creative. If we are his friends, we need to protect him from himself. Love may be blind, but sometimes eyes have to be opened." Shadow was imagining all kinds of things that might open Jack's eyes.

 

Jack was in a daze. His Peggy was just as he had imagined, beautiful, intelligent, 'the perfect Southern belle,' as Aggie would say. How different from Aggie she was. Peggy was all he dreamed of, but she was cold. She was so wrapped up in herself that she treated others as if they had no feelings. He doubted if she had heard anything he had said. Now she was rambling on about needing material for a new dress. "Peggy, I want to talk to you about us. I have thought about you every day, since I left here ten years ago. There are so many things we need to talk about. I made promises when I left, and I need to know how you feel about those promises." Jack got all that out in one breath so she couldn't interrupt.

 

"Jackson, I remember those promises, and that is why I have never let any man be a serious consideration. I am prepared to enter marriage with you at any time. If you wish to set the date now, that will be fine. Just allow me time to prepare my gown and make the arrangements. Also I will need access to some of your money, since father and mother are hard pressed at the moment." All said quite properly and with all the warmth of the South Pole.

 

"But what of your emotions? How do you feel about me?" Jack was at a loss.

 

"I am sure that feelings are not a matter to be considered. However, I do feel that with you, I will be well taken care of, and I shall be able to be the wife you expect. I can entertain, and am perfectly comfortable in society. Your image in Baltimore society will be very much enhanced by my talents."

 

Jack felt set adrift. He could have his dream; Peggy would marry him. However, he was left cold by her detachment. She could offer all he ever said he wanted. She was not offering all he took for granted, warmth, feeling, love. Jack allowed Peggy to return to her discussion of fabric, as his mind worked on ways to stir Peggy's heart.

 

Peggy was putting herself through hell. To be so cold was difficult. What she really wanted was to hold him, and show him how much she loved him, but that was Aggie, not Peggy. To make the situation worse, her father was getting suspicious about this whole thing. He gave her strange looks, when her behavior changed around Jack.

 

When Shadow left Tommy and went around the house to the kitchen, Sheila was waiting there for him. "I'm glad you would see me. I have wanted to get to know you. How come a woman of your beauty is still unattached?"

 

"What is a nice girl like me doing being an old maid? Well, I want it that way. You seem like a nice man. Mitty is proud of you for good reason, but I only met you tonight, to tell you not to waste your time on me."

 

Shadow laughed and shook his head. "You are no waste of time. I have watched you. You care about people. You pamper Miss Nancy; you are always doing special little things for her. All the little girls around here look up to you as a second mother. You never have a cross word for any of them, no matter how tired you are. I'm giving you fair warning. I am interested in you. I want to know all there is to know about you. I will not leave you alone until I know you as well as myself."

 

"NO! Leave me alone! I don't want any man in my life!" She turned and ran into the darkness.

 

Shadow got the impression she was running for her life. Mitty would know about this puzzling woman. He felt she needed a man to love and protect her, and he was that man. These feelings were new to Shadow; he had never thought about needing to protect a woman. He needed answers, and he was going to get them.

 

The next week passed with agonizing slowness for Jack and Shadow. Neither man was having much success understanding his woman. Peggy remained cold and Sheila avoided Shadow. Mitty refused to tell Shadow anything. Finally, Shadow mentioned his problem to Samuel. Samuel then had a long talk with him, and the shock of what he learned kept Shadow to himself for the better part of the week.

 

On Saturday, Samuel and Shadow went into town for some supplies. They returned at sunset with a third man, and the wagon loaded with their supplies and several large trunks. Miss Nancy came out to greet the visitor. Shadow jumped off the wagon to make the introductions, "Miss Nancy, I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine and Jack's, Father Ramon. Father this is Jack's mother, Miss Nancy."

 

"Pleased to meet you, Father. I hope you can spend some time with us. Any friend of those two is welcome here."

 

"Thank you. Shadow here has told me how things stand, and I believe God has sent me to straighten them out." Father Ramon shook his head, as the story of Agatha and Peggy played through his mind.

 

Shadow couldn't resist. "Better to use this lowly priest than waste a perfectly good lightning bolt."

 

Father Ramon glared at him, then smiled. "I see, my son. You wouldn't happen to know why Mr. Baxter at the general store was doing penance mucking out my stable two years ago?"

 

"Why, father, how would I know? After all, confession of sins and penance is between the man and the priest. Surely, you felt that overcharging the orphanage was severe enough to warrant a year of manure shoveling."

 

Grinning, Father Ramon replied, "That explained the large donation. I did miss his service at the end of the year."

 

"Billy, you and your voices. It is a wonder no one has shot you. Well, standing out here is not my idea of a pleasant evening. Father, please come in and talk, while I have a room prepared for you."

 

Father Ramon followed Nancy into the sitting room where she shut the door behind them. "Father, there is a situation here I do not know if you understand."

 

"I can assure you, I do. I married them." He smiled and winked. "Shadow explained it all to me on the way out here. He had a few words for me about knowing who they were before the ceremony, too."

 

"My son is blind! He doesn't suspect a thing. Peggy is tearing herself apart, trying to be perfect for him, or what he thinks is perfect. I am climbing the walls watching these two. A battle for love is being waged, and I am afraid that there will be two losers, if something doesn't happen soon."

 

"Nancy, I am a man of God. I joined those two for eternity, and that is exactly what it is going to be. I was called to New York and decided on this side trip to deliver Peggy's, excuse me, Agatha's trunks. I think I shall turn up the heat under these two. Obviously, they are not communicating."

 

Nancy smiled, "Perhaps a surprise dinner guest is in order. I will show you to your room, and send word when dinner is served."

 

Father Ramon smiled and followed Nancy upstairs.

 

Peggy and Jack returned from riding, shortly after that. Agatha's trunks were still on the wagon at the stable. Peggy turned pale as she recognized the trunks. Jack took a curious look at the name stenciled on them and gave quick orders to Bo, to store them away until he was ready to leave. Peggy realized that Jack was worried that she would see the name and ask questions. She strode up next to him, "Agatha P. Johnson. Why would those be delivered here?"

 

"Ah, well, I met her in Texas, and, obviously, some mistake was made in shipping. She was headed for Baltimore, I helped take care of the arrangements." Jack was sweating, and couldn't look at Peggy.

 

"Jackson, you do not lie well. But you are here with me and not her, so I suppose I needn't worry." Peggy then turned and walked back to the house. Later, as everyone was settling down to dinner, an extra place was vacant between Peggy and Jack. Jack asked, "Mother, do we have a guest for dinner tonight?"

 

Father Ramon, who had been waiting outside the door, entered. "Jack, my son, it is good to see you again." Peggy and Jack both paled to a ghostly white. "Shadow tells me you are up to your usual games." He winked at both of them.

 

"Father Ramon, it is a surprise to see you. I would like to introduce you to Peggy, the girl I have told you about."

 

"Peggy, my child, you are every bit as beautiful as Jack predicted. I feel as though I have known you for years." His look told her that he was not pleased with her little game. She was going to have to talk with him in private, before he said something to Jack.

 

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Father. I would be interested in talking with you about Jack, since you have known him for several years." Peggy smiled, but her eyes were pleading with him.

 

"That would be my pleasure. My mission in Texas had an orphanage, and Jack was very helpful there. Every time he was in port he had supplies for us. It is a shame that he never would agree to visit there. I kept telling him there were rewards beyond understanding to be found working with children."

 

Peggy realized that the crafty Father had been trying to get them together for some time. She also had the feeling that he wasn't leaving until this was settled. She knew he was not above spilling everything just to see what would happen. The rest of dinner passed with no more dangerous ground covered.

 

After dinner, Father Ramon, Jack, Fred and Tommy retired to the study. Jack introduced Tommy to Father Ramonm completely forgetting that they had met before. Fred wanted to talk with Jack, and Tommy wanted to talk with Father Ramon.

 

"Father, I ain't a Catholic, but can I talk with you about something personal?" Tommy was squirming in his seat.

 

"Relax, Tommy. You can tell me anything, and I will not tell anyone. That is part of being a priest." Father Ramon's smile was warm, and inspired trust.

 

In a whisper so Jack couldn't overhear, "I don't know how to talk about this. It's Jack. Well, he married Aggie, and now he is courting Peggy. How can he do that? Aggie was so good to me, and worried so much about him. It's like he can just throw her away. He has asked me to be like his little brother or something, but Peggy doesn't like me. I wonder how long it will be before he throws me away."

 

Father Ramon creased his brow in worry. This had gone too far. These two were playing games and hurting innocent bystanders. It had to stop. "Tommy, you really liked Aggie, didn't you?"

 

"Yes, I do. In a way, I feel as close to her as I do to Jack. It's strange that they are closer to me than anyone since my parents died."

 

"Don't you think Jack will see the difference in the two and make the right choice?"

 

"He is not seeing Peggy as she is. He just sees his life long dream. The other thing, I don't see how he can look at Peggy, and not think of Aggie. They look enough alike to be sisters."

 

"Tommy, I will see what I can do about this. I married Jack and Aggie, and to see him courting another is against everything I believe in."

 

"Thank you, Father." Tommy felt better. Jack hadn't even listened, when he had talked to him like Shadow suggested.

 

Later, when they joined the women, Father Ramon cornered Peggy. "Young lady, you have never seen my anger, but you are about to. Why haven't you told Jack? You are playing a very dangerous game."

 

Peggy quickly and quietly told Father Ramon her story. He nodded, but didn't look pleased. Her game had gone on too long. By the time Peggy finished her story, Jack whisked her away from Father Ramon and they went for a stroll in the garden. Father Ramon spent the rest of the evening talking with Fred and Nancy.