Munroe 1

Book One – The Munroe Mansion – The Beginning

finished manuscript

Prologue

Viktor Stalin, a loving, caring, young and handsome, dark haired butler was also the spiritual guardian of the Munroe family.  Viktor was hiding.  He was cautiously peeking through a hole in the brick wall.  He was watching Valerie Tinkle. He wondered why she was talking to the immortal.

Viktor knew he had to be careful for Peter could read minds and cast a spell without even looking at him.  Valerie was a pretty girl around the age of eighteen with a petite frame and black long wavy hair.  She was dressed in an emerald green gown that was high at the waist and made of velour.  She was gazing at a golden amulet in her hand. There was a greenish glowing liquid inside of it.

Dr Peter Tibideau a tall and slender man with matted salt and pepper hair that was always neat as a pin lovingly said, “Valerie the amulet will protect you from the forces of evil.”

Valerie looked up at Peter and smiled, “Thank you darling it’s beautiful.  I have a gift for you too.”

She handed him a bulky round package wrapped in cloth. He opened it and inside there was a long black cloak.

Dr Peter Tibideau held it up and said, “This is lovely. Where did you buy it?”

Valerie giggled, “I sewed it just for you. When you wear it I want you to think of me.”

Dr Peter Tibideau smiled and gave Valerie Tinkle a deep passionate kiss that left her breathless.  Suddenly a young woman in a high-necked black dress and boots appeared before them.

Ida Tinkle said, “So this is what you’re doing behind my back Peter. I thought you loved me?”

Dr Peter Tibideau sighed, “Ida I decided I did not want to be a part of your love triangle anymore.”

Ida Tinkle looked to be in her early twenties with dark hair pulled back into a severe bun.  She was short with a petite frame and now her grey eyes had a look of jealous hatred as she was scowling at her younger and prettier Sister Valerie.

Ida sneered, “Little miss virgin what have you done? I can smell the innocence of blood shed.  Was it the Virgin Slayer?”

Valerie turned quickly grabbed Dr Peter Tibideau’s hand and the two of them fled into his office laboratory, which was a large room in a smart looking red brick building in London, England.  The room with its middle ages heavy oak ornamental designs consisted of only a desk, a couch and some oil lamps.  Sparsely furnished with shelves of potions and books about the dark arts lined the walls, along with chemistry, physics and mathematical books written by the great scholars.

Valerie and Dr Peter Tibideau ran into the time machine a tall square wooden box with electric wires and coils on top of it.  There was a whirring sound and the two of them disappeared in a puff of smoke.  The Time machine stood there empty as though nothing happened.

Ida looked down and saw something green glowing on the ground.  She picked it up and looked at the golden amulet with a wicked grin on her face.  Anthony Atkins, a tall, slender, dark haired handsome young man stood there watching her carefully.

Ida looked up at him and smiled, “Dr Tibideau has chosen my sister to be the sacrifice.  I found this.”

Anthony grabbed the golden amulet and smiled, “No one can protect her now.”

Ida said, “Anthony I want Peter to love me.”

Anthony sighed, “What about me?”

Ida smiled, “I was only using you to get to him.”

Anthony looked at Ida with utter distaste, turned and walked away.  Ida waited until he was gone then she hurried into Dr Peter Tibideau’s office.

She stepped into the time machine and said, “I will get Peter back. I will get my revenge on Valerie,” and then she was gone…

Viktor Stalin heaved a sigh of relief.  When everything was clear, he stepped into Dr Tibideau’s office and into the time machine. As he began to spin, the whirring deafened his ears and then it stopped.  He found himself standing outside of the Munroe mansion.  Suddenly a white form of a female ghost appeared beside him.  Viktor looked at the ghost in surprise.

Viktor said, “Destine Munroe, always a pleasure.  What brings you here?”

Destine Munroe said, “My husband Denley Munroe will join me sometime in 1906.  My son Joseph will come to this mansion shortly after his death. I want you to promise me that you will guard the mansion, its contents and my son for us.  He will take his father’s death very hard.”

Viktor Stalin smiled, “I shall guard him with my life…”

Destine sighed, “It may come to that Viktor. You must be careful for Ida Tinkle is out for revenge.  She is coming after the mansion and its heirs…”

Viktor wanted to ask her something else but she disappeared.

Viktor muttered to himself, “it’s going to be a long wait, it’s only 1886… Was this a hallucination or a vision?”

Suddenly he began to spin and then it all came to a stop…

Chapter One

Joseph Munroe Meets Ophirah Ramsbottom

Viktor Stalin looked up at the Munroe Mansion it looked sinister and neglected with its two round turrets, and dark greystone.  The ivy was slowly overtaking the walls and the windows looked so small and uninviting.  He sighed as he walked through the doors of the mansion and into the coldness within.  The echoes and pains of times past where one after another, the mistresses of Munroe mansion had met a mysterious death rumored to be from the Munroe Curse.  It started back in the 15th century when the two families had a row about something.  There was a prophecy though, that one day someone would come to Place Royale and break the curse, and then all would be well.

In the meantime, Viktor wondered when the Munroe curse would strike again.  The most recent relatives of the Munroe family had departed from the mansion back in May of 1886 after Destine Munroe died while giving birth to her son Joseph.  Now it was twenty years later in May 1906.  Viktor was waiting for Destine Munroe’s prophecy to happen for Denley Munroe had passed away and Joseph their son was graduating soon from the University in London.

True to her word the young, handsome Joseph Munroe, a dashing, irresistible, and wealthy blonde haired scoundrel came to Place Royale in July of 1906.  Joseph left with a bad reputation in London, England for people secretly said that he must be the Virgin Slayer but no one was ever sure about it.  The Virgin Slayer preys on young girls, takes their virginity away, and murders them.

Joseph was a prime suspect because he knew all of the women that had died or was with them shortly before they disappeared.  The second suspect was Dr Peter Tibideau, a tall, extremely handsome middle aged, slender man because he wore a dark cloak, which was flitting about town around the same time as the murders.  Some say it could be a woman named Ida Tinkle, a cold woman with no soul, who was always caught chanting strange things every now and then.  There were rumors that she practiced the dark arts and did evil spells and witchcraft on her victims.  She was nick named Madame X for several of her lovers in London, England had wound up dead but she always seemed to have an alibi as Dr Peter Tibideau’s nurse.

Joseph Munroe became friends with the local architect Anthony Atkins, a tall, dark haired, young man with an aristocratic nose who never seemed to age.  Anthony was amicable, very talented and loved to make money.  Anthony was always willing to try something new.  After attending University in London, England, he settled down at the Atkins Mansion, which looks more like a medieval castle with its castellated walls filled with many rooms including a dungeon.

Its décor was mainly 15th century weapons, suits of armor and the walls lined with his prized possessions from hunting in the wilds of Quebec, Canada.  He had a large estate and he has won several titles for his amazing designs seen all over Europe and Canada.  In fact, the local paper – The Montreal Gazette did a feature on him and Joseph Munroe on April 5, 1907.

The newspaper article talked about how Anthony Atkins and Joseph Munroe met.  Giving details on how they became friends and later business partners in August of 1906 after Jean Moisan introduced them to each other.  Joseph would find investors to help develop Anthony’s architectural projects.  It was all thanks to Jean Moisan who was the local grocer, a short French man, who was always smiling.  His two brothers named Edward and Albert lived in the adjoining villages of Beauport and Montmorency Falls.  Edward was looking to relocate in Montmorency Falls – he planned to build a lumberyard there if he could find the right piece of land.  So far, the Totenmyers refused to sell anything.  Lenno Totenmyer was a tall, dark skinned Ojibwa Native with broad muscular shoulders, long braided hair, and deep blue grey eyes.  When Lenno looked at you, it felt like his eyes were piercing into your soul, just like his wife Heta.  She was a tiny, petite woman with long gray hair and sparkling blue eyes.  Her sense of humor was catching and she was the local “white witch” as some would call it.

She possessed special powers, made potions, and knew how to cast spells.  Good spells like fertility spells to help a woman become pregnant.  She also watched over the village of Place Royale and was aware through dreams and visions that not all was right, for she too heard the wails and screams coming through the underground tunnels.

People walking from nearby villages, stopped into Place Royale to look for work, assuming they had left, some never reached their destination.  Albert and Edward would often wonder between themselves what had happened to so and so.  Jean their brother admitted to seeing such a person but could not tell them anything else.  Jean also knew that something was not right in Place Royale but he trusted that the Totenmyer family could take care of things.

Joseph was sitting on his horse poised to start at any minute he was waiting for Anthony to join him.  Anthony was wearing a fashionable, new form fitting riding habit today.

Joseph remarked, “You look very becoming my friend.  Surely the women will be swooning at your feet.”

Anthony grinned and looked at his friend Joseph’s riding habit and said, “You should pay a visit to the tailor and get a new one.  It looks like the moths have been enjoying yours.”

Joseph laughed at his friend.  Anthony was always making fun of his wardrobe because most of it was almost threadbare.  Joseph never paid attention to his style of dress.

Joseph gathering some courage asked Anthony about the latest rumors.

Joseph said, “I have been hearing some dark tales about your family Anthony and the Atkins mansion.  Are they true?”

Anthony tensed up then just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t pay attention to any of that nonsense, and neither should you.  People are too superstitious around here.  I don’t want to talk about it.”

Anthony wanted to change the subject fast so he smiled and said, “I’ll race you.”

He snapped his whip and his horse Fury took off like a gunshot.

Joseph’s look of surprise was priceless as he snapped his whip and yelled, “Go get him Misty.”

Misty’s long black sleek legs gathered speed.  The pounding of hooves echoed throughout the forest, the air was fresh, crisp smelling and the wind that blew across his face was warm and inviting, like a lover’s gentle kiss on the cheek.  They pounded past a clearing and headed towards a large green lush meadow overgrown with green leafy plants.  He could smell clean air coming off the plants, refreshing his lungs as he breathes in its intoxicating scent.  Joseph and Misty were rounding the corner of a tree-lined meadow and gathering speed.  This time Joseph wanted to beat Anthony.

Misty was a horse that loved to race and she was enjoying herself when suddenly Joseph tried to pull up fast on the reigns yelling, “Whoa Misty, whoa girl!”

Joseph had spotted a bit of red hair — yelled a warning – and then there was a blood curling scream.  Misty came to a full stop and slid off to the side of the roadway, hurling Joseph into the air and with a thud; he landed into a gnarled bush.  Anthony and Fury heard the scream and reacted.  Fully alert Fury veered to the right, just barely missing a collision with Misty.

Fury was a large, long legged, brown horse with a beautiful shiny golden mane.  He stood there shaking as if in a rage.  Fury’s sides were heaving and he had the look of discontentment in his eyes at having to stop so suddenly.  He neighed and reared high on his hind legs.  He came down and began prancing around impatiently waiting for the signal to restart his race.  Misty was on the calmer side and a bit clumsy because Joseph hardly took her out anywhere.  The race had been a treat but she was having trouble breathing after that spurt of exercise and she was thankful to have stopped.

Anthony felt Fury’s disappointment, patting Fury’s side he soothed his horse by saying, “There, there boy, not to worry, we will resume our race soon.”

Fury became quiet.  Anthony let himself down, grabbed Misty’s reins, and tied both of the horses to a tree.

Anthony walked over to a beautiful young red haired woman and sneered, “You stupid girl.  Do you realize you could have killed someone?  Why are you hiding in the bushes?  Come out of there and answer me.”

The young girl who looked about eighteen, with pale white skin and curly red hair that cupped her beautiful small oval face, which now looked terrified as, she realized that she was out here alone in a field with two strange men.  She wondered what they would do to her.  Her knees began to wobble as she turned to face the furious man before her.  She noticed that he was tall and extremely handsome, with dark hair, and grey eyes.  She could see there was great darkness in his soul.  She slowly picked up the scattered wildflowers from off the ground and calmly put them into her basket.

It annoyed Anthony even more.

She turned around and proudly said, “I’m sorry sir, I wasn’t aware that anyone used this stretch of land.  I was merrily picking some wildflowers for my mother and…”

She looked behind the tall man standing in front of her and a smile began to creep up on her face as she began to giggle at the pair of flailing legs sticking out of a bush.

Anthony was not amused, but turned and let out a chuckle as he strolled towards the pair of legs.  A muffled voice was asking for help.

Anthony grunted, “Hold on a minute, stop flailing about, I’ll pull you out.”

Anthony grabbed Joseph and pulled him out of the bush.  He could not help but make a wise crack about Joseph’s appearance.

Anthony smirked and said, “You look worse for wear my friend.”

Joseph’s face was red as a beet and scratched from hanging upside down in the bush.  Nettles plastered all over his suit and his blonde hair was very untidy looking.  She could see that he was tall with a slender build but he was also very good looking.  She began to giggle but stopped when both men turned and glared at her.

She said, “I’m sorry to have caused you so much trouble.”

She found Joseph’s deep blue eyes to be mesmerizing.

Joseph drew in his breath, and grinned sheepishly, “A pleasure to meet you my dear.  My name is Joseph Munroe and this is my friend Anthony Atkins.”

The young girl was the loveliest vision of beauty that Joseph Munroe had ever seen around Place Royale.  Her fiery red hair shone brightly in the sun and she had a sparkling set of green eyes that looked at him in amusement as she gave him a lovely smile.

Anthony looked at the old-fashioned light blue gown with its low cut neck and ruffled sleeves.  It had smears of soil in several places on the front and back.  He looked at her with the upmost contempt.

She removed her gardening glove and Anthony could see her lovely dainty hand extending towards him, “My name is Ophirah Ramsbottom, we have just moved here from England.”

Anthony turned on his heel with his nose up in the air and walked towards the horses, ignoring her.  He said to Joseph, “We have no need to speak with a dirty lowly peasant girl.”

Ophirah’s eyes were glistening with tears as she let out a small sob but then she stopped as her temper began to flare.  Anthony looked at Joseph expecting him to follow but his friend did not move.  Joseph was just standing there looking at her as though transfixed with an odd look in his eye.  Anthony, rolling his eyes to the heavens, sighed while shaking his head.  Anthony could sense that the virgin slayer would strike again, and soon.  Anthony was disgusted with Joseph’s behavior over this wretched girl.

Ophirah smiled, ignoring Anthony, because she knew that it would get his goat, turned towards Joseph and shook his hand nervously saying; “Pleased to meet you sir, glad to make your acquaintance; I must be getting home now mother will be worried about me I have been gone for hours.”

She waved goodbye, turned and ran towards the other side of the field and then she was gone.

Joseph could smell her virginal essence as he said, “I want that girl Anthony.”

Anthony Atkins looked at his friends face and said, “You my dear sir have been smitten by that wretch’s beauty.  Mark my words she can only bring misery to you.”

Joseph turned angrily towards his friend, “What would you know about how I feel?  This one stirs my soul.”

Anthony grinned, “I wasn’t aware my friend that you had a soul.  You are the devil in disguise.  Surely you only want to add her to your collection of virgins?”

Joseph looked at him with hurt in his eyes, “It is her fault that she has created a fire in my bosom, she stirs my appetite with her beauty.”

Anthony was exasperated, “Surely Joseph, you cannot mean that.  I thought you were done with this kind of thing.”

Joseph said, “You will find out where she lives.  I cannot risk anyone knowing of my desires just yet.”

Anthony sneered, “You will bed her and be rid of her, then be sorry for it.  Do not be a fool.  Come to your senses boy.  This will cause a scandal.  How do you expect me to find out where she lives?”

Joseph said, “You’re an architect, no one will suspect it when you ask who has rented a home lately in Place Royale.  You could make up some sort of excuse that you have an investor wanting to purchase some rental property.”

Anthony grinned, “Shrewd my boy, very shrewd.  Very well then I shall help you find this ravishing creature of yours but you must repay me in some way.”

Joseph said, “Anything.”

Anthony smiled, “Help me get that parcel of land between your mansion and the Totenmyers land.”

Joseph said, “That’s impossible and you know it.  I cannot make any promises but I will try my best.  You know how the Totenmyers are when it comes to the Atkins family history.”

Anthony nodded in agreement, as they mounted their horses he inquired, “Are you going to be okay after that nasty spill?”

Joseph grinned, “Other than my pride being hurt, I’m okay.  I think I’ll just go home and lick my wounds but I’m still up for a race.”

Joseph and Misty dashed off towards the Munroe mansion, with Anthony and Fury in hot pursuit.  They jumped over fences, bushes, and brooks.  Soon they were neck and neck on the dirt road, rounding the corner; Fury gathered another burst of speed and pulled ahead.

Joseph snapped his whip and yelled, “Come on girl, you can do it.”

Misty snorted and tried to gather speed but Fury was too much for her.  They crossed the end of the fence by the meadow and stopped short.  This time Joseph stayed in the saddle.

Anthony turned and grinned, “Fury does it again.”

Fury began to nuzzle Misty and Anthony said, “None of that my boy; a woman will only slow you down.”

Joseph grinned, said goodbye to his friend, and headed toward the stables.

Anthony and Fury turned around and began to canter down the dirt road towards Place Royale.

Anthony thought to himself, ‘I will ask the grocer Jean Moisan about Ophirah Ramsbottom and be done with it…’

Chapter Two

JA Moisan – Place Royale April 7, 1907

JA Moisan was a large gourmet grocery store located on the same road as Atkins Architecture and The Old Port Inn.  In fact, they were almost across from each other but on an angle.  Jean Moisan could see everything that went on in the village from his store.

It was a lovely store to look through with a large display window in front, flower boxes lined the windowsills, and colorful floral patterned drapes were in the corners of the windows.  A small golden bell would ring whenever anyone entered through the dark green wooden doorway.

The colorful display of sewing materials and linens were on one side; surrounded by some lovely pieces of furniture and in the corner was a small gift store section.  On the other side of the store were a deli, imported canned and dry goods, grain, flour, cheese, dairy products, and a bakery.  The smell of freshly baked bread would greet you as you walked through the door, making your mouth water.  In the display case were pies of various types of fruit (depending on what was in season), tarts, and cookies.  JA Moisan also carried household merchandise, materials for building, and farming supplies.  It was a kind of hardware/grocer’s store for the surrounding area.

You could also find a copy of the latest newspapers and magazines from The Montreal Gazette, The New York Times, Fashion, Furniture, sewing patterns, and all sorts of catalogues from Paris, France or England.  JA Moisan, a modern store for it’s time, was in the heart of the village of Place Royale located near Quebec, Canada.

It was a place for the local people to gather, have a cup of tea in the dining room located at the very back of the store or for the women of the village to meet and have a good gossip during their garden parties and local charity drives.  Anthony walked into the store with a grin on his face.  He could see that Jean Moisan was excited about something for Jean’s eyes lit up when he noticed Anthony walking through the door.  Jean Moisan was short and husky looking.  He was pretty muscular for his height and slender.  He had dark hair, dark eyes and was as strong as an ox and as wise as an owl.  Jean had a thick French accent.  He would revert to English for the sake of some of his shoppers if he needed to.

Jean called out, “Hello there Anthony I have some news for you.  There is a new family living here that requires your assistance.  Their name is Ramsbottom, friends of mine.  They are staying in the little cottage along the south road.  The place is in desperate need of repair.  Would you have any workers to spare?  I have been informed that the roof is leaking rather badly.”

Anthony was a bit shocked and asked, “Who do I send the bill to?”

Jean grinned, “To myself of course, I just purchased that property, and it will do my reputation great harm to be seen as a landlord that rents leaky cottages.

There is to be a few hundred settlers heading to these parts, so we should start thinking of building some cottages or making plans for the area between Place Royale and Montmorency Falls.  Many men will come to work at my Brother Edward’s new sawmill once it is built.  Edward asked that I send a special request to Mr. Joseph Munroe for his assistance in this matter.  The man never darkens my door.”

Anthony grinned, “That’s what his servants are for.  Joseph has never bothered to take care of trivial things like food or water he has his staff do that for him.  He is all about business and nothing else.  I shall take care of the roof tomorrow morning.  I have no workers to spare but I am sure that Joseph will be happy to lend a hand.”

Mr. Moisan gave him a sly look, “You tell Joseph to leave the virginal Ophirah Ramsbottom alone.  She is a lovely creature who is intelligent and well educated in all subjects.  Her Father, was once a highly sought after scholar.  He was a man of great taste and wisdom.

Gordon Ramsbottom is a friend of mine and he is well aware of Joseph Munroe’s reputation with the women of London, England.  Gordon Ramsbottom had an unfortunate accident in England and now he is almost penniless; such a sad set of circumstances.  He is a friend though and I have thought to give him a hand until he gets back up on his feet again.  He is a smart business man even you would be interested in him.”

Anthony grinned and said, “I’ll warn Joseph for you and I’d be happy to help you out.”

Anthony took his time riding Fury home; he would send a letter to Joseph that evening advising him of what they had to do the next day.

Chapter Three

The Ramsbottom Cottage – April 8, 1907

It was not until early in the afternoon when Anthony Atkins and Joseph Munroe drove over to the Ramsbottom Cottage in a smart looking buggy.  The sun was shining the sky was clear and Joseph was thankful that it was not raining.  Joseph had been kind enough to pick up Anthony on his way to the Ramsbottom Cottage.

Anthony got in and sat on the comfortable seat commenting on the luxury of it.

Anthony grinned and said, “I see you’ve finally received your new buggy, it’s about time.”

Joseph smiled and replied, “Yes my other one was quite tattered looking.”

Anthony laughed, “And where did you get this one so quickly?”

Joseph blushed for a moment, “Actually I borrowed it from Jean Moisan there was an extra one in his barn.  I’ve ordered the exact same one.”

Anthony laughed, “Surely you could have waited?”

Joseph grinned, “I didn’t want Mr. Ramsbottom to think of me as a poor boy.”

Anthony’s grin faltered, “Why would you care what Mr. Ramsbottom thinks of you?”

Joseph had a dreamy look in his eye as he spoke, “I want to impress Ophirah.”

Anthony shook his head in dismay.  He honestly did not know what he was going to do about this.  How would he keep Joseph away from Ophirah and keep his promise to protect her?

Anthony said, “Listen Joseph, Jean Moisan is a good friend of ours and he made me promise that you would leave Ophirah Ramsbottom alone.  I mean it, you touch her and I’ll have to kill you.”

Joseph looked at the menacing look in his friend’s eyes.  He knew that Anthony held his business contacts in high esteem.  He did not want anything to happen that would tarnish his business relationship with Jean Moisan.  Jean although a grocer, was a powerful man, with many connections throughout several of the towns.  Many times Jean and his Brothers Edward and Albert would bring business their way.  They would mention their services to the new settlers that visited them on various occasions.  Joseph kept his silence.

They pulled up to a small two-storey cottage nestled in the trees along the South Road.  It was entirely made of barn board with a type of thatched roof.  It had a small porch out in front with two rocking chairs on it.  There was array of flowerpots surrounding the deck and a trellis of roses that led down a pathway to a small English garden full of various types of roses, vegetables, and green leafy plants in behind the home.

Joseph sat there for a moment then turned to his friend and said, “Listen Anthony I need you to back me up here.  If her family disapproves of me, I need you to reassure them for me.  Please?”

Anthony looked at the doleful look in Joseph’s eye and sighed.

Anthony was not happy, he had a grim look on his face as he stepped down and said, “I’ll think about it.”

Then he strode away towards the cottage.  Joseph quickly followed.  Anthony knocked on the door and a tall handsome man with brown hair and grey eyes, answered the door.  He was a distinguished looking man with his aristocratic nose and small silver spectacles perched there on the tip of his nose.  He reminded Joseph of one of his former professors from the University in London, England.

The man with spectacles on looked at two smartly dressed men standing there on his doorstep before him and he asked, “Can I help you?”

The better-dressed man on his doorstep smiled and said, “My name is Anthony Atkins and this is my friend Joseph Munroe.  We need to speak to you about something; it’s in regards to Jean Moisan.”

The man stared at the two of them for a moment, frowned, shuffled his feet back from the door, and then said, “Please come in.”

He escorted the two men into the parlor then turned to introduce himself, “I am Gordon Ramsbottom, and this is my Wife Celeste.”

The small woman held out her sweaty hands, after attempting to wipe them on her dress.  She looked a bit harried with her dark brown curly hair and hazel eyes.  She was quite a bit shorter and rounder than her husband was.  It was obvious that Ophirah must take after her father’s good looks.

Celeste apologized, “I’m sorry gentlemen I wasn’t expecting any company.”

She happened to catch her reflection in the mirror and gasped, “Oh dear lord.  Please forgive me.”

She quickly left the room and went back into the kitchen where the sound of excited voices could be heard.  The quaint cottage, almost hidden in the hillside, was a blur of activity upon the new guests arriving.  Celeste was in a panic for she was looking for something to serve the fine men who were sitting in the parlor.

Celeste felt rattled and said, “I wonder why they are here?  I cannot imagine why these fine men have come to visit us unannounced.  What am I going to do?  We have nothing to serve them.”

Ophirah asked, “Mother who is here?”

Celeste was flustered and paused for a moment, “Anthony somebody and Joseph something or other – two very distinguished looking gentlemen.”

Ophirah was grinning at her mother and held out the cookie tin.  Inside were two shortbread cookies.

Celeste looked at her daughter and said, “You cannot be serious.”

Ophirah cracked a smile while thinking about her last encounter with Anthony Atkins and said, “Here serve them these.”

Celeste wondered about her daughter and asked, “Will they not be insulted to be offered so little?”

Ophirah had a solemn look on her face and then said to her mother, “It is all that we have, and it will have to do.”

Celeste sighed in exasperation, “Right.  Hurry and make us a pot of tea.  I will grab a few strawberries from the garden and decorate a plate for them.”

Then Celeste turned and disappeared out the back door.  Ophirah stood there for a minute, filled the pot with water from the indoor pump, placed the large copper kettle on a large hook, and sat there watching as it slowly began to steam from the logs burning in the fireplace beneath it.

Ophirah mumbled to herself, “It’s a good thing I was getting ready to make some stew, imagine coming to our home unannounced, the nerve of them.”

Ophirah was wondering why Anthony and Joseph were there.  She thought it odd after the way Anthony had dismissed her the other day.  She remembered the hurt she felt at Anthony’s words — dirty lowly pheasant indeed.  The words still stung and tears came to her eyes, she wiped them away, gritted her teeth, looked at the kettle then at her Sister Mary, who was sitting in a chair by the fire doing some needlepoint.

Ophirah growled, “Mary can you watch this for me?  I need to change my clothes.”

Mary looked up and nodded silently.  Ophirah ran up the back stairs to her room to tidy herself and change into a clean outfit.  Whatever the reason for their visit she would make sure this time she looked more presentable, like a woman.  Instead of some poor servant girl collecting flowers along the road, she had not even thought of her appearance until she looked in the mirror that day when she arrived at home.

Ophirah was horrified.  No wonder Anthony Atkins treated her as he did.  She looked deplorable there with a smudged face, messy hair and her oldest ragged dress.  It was her gardening outfit.  How was she to know that two fine, handsome men would cross her path that day?  She threw open her large closet and poured carefully over each outfit, yes the bright green gown would do.

Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsbottom sat there in the drawing room with an awkward silence looking at the two men before him.  He was leery of their true intentions and a little fearful for his daughter Ophirah.

He had heard rumors of a Joseph Munroe and his wild and shameful ways with young girls.  He wondered if this was the same man.  Was he here to claim his daughter like some barbarian lord?

Anthony decided to make the first move and turned towards Gordon, “Your friend Jean Moisan sent us over to repair your roof.”

Joseph cleared his throat.

Gordon looked at the two of them in shock for a moment he did not know what to say.

Anthony added, “My workmen are tied up elsewhere and I’m doing this as a personal favor to Jean.”

Gordon felt a bit relieved that they were not here to pursue Ophirah who had mentioned meeting the two the day before.

However his relief soon turned to dismay when Joseph motioned for him to come closer so he could whisper, “I came here to see your lovely Daughter Ophirah.”

Gordon asked, “Is that necessary sir?  I mean you are a gentleman and we are quite poor.”

Gordon Ramsbottom looked up as his Wife Celeste came into the room and placed a lovely plate with two cookies on it and several sliced strawberries.

Then she stood there looking at Anthony and Joseph and said, “Tea will be served soon.  How nice of you to visit us.  I am sorry that I do not have more to offer you but we have not had a chance to get our groceries this week.  Perhaps you can come back some time for a proper tea.”

Celeste grinned expectantly at the two of them.  They were interrupted by a plain looking young woman with dark hair, green eyes, short and a bit round in the waist; She walked into the room for a moment and just stood there gaping at the two gentlemen.  She turned, disappeared from sight then came back in and placed a silver tray with an old teapot on it with six tea cups on it then stood there waiting for her next command.

She was a serious looking girl with a depressive air about her.  Joseph thought her rather boorish and Anthony found her intriguing, quiet, and simple for a servant girl.

He was surprised that Mr. Ramsbottom could even afford one.  Jean was really being generous to these people.  He wondered where the girl was from; he had never seen her in Place Royale before.

Celeste said, “Thanks Mary, you are excused.”

Then she turned to the two men, “That is my oldest daughter, a spinster at heart.  Shall I pour you some tea?”

Anthony’s look of shock was not missed by Mr. Ramsbottom who said, “I have to apologize my daughter is not the fashionable type.  She is a homebody and loves to read books and do needlepoint.  She’s not much of a talker, I’m sorry gentlemen she was not being rude, she is just very shy.”

Anthony’s lip quivered for a moment as he looked at the tarnished teapot and sighed.  Joseph had pinched his side and he knew what they had to do.

Gordon noticed Anthony’s false smile as Joseph replied, “We’d be delighted to have a quick cup of tea.”

Joseph looked at the two cookies and felt ridiculous for some reason.  These people were so poor yet kind enough to offer their final two cookies.  He felt moved inside.

Joseph looked at Anthony and said, “We’ll have to pass on the cookies though, it might ruin our diets.  I shall have a bite of a strawberry though.”

He had noticed the large garden outside and the hoards of strawberries, surely one, or two would be fine to eat.  After all, he did not want to be rude.

Joseph munched on his strawberry and mockingly whispered to Anthony, “These are delicious; surely you can stand to have one without whip cream.”

Anthony glared at his friend and quickly grabbed one of the pieces and swallowed it completely.

Anthony mumbled, “Thanks for the hospitality but really we must start working on your roof before it gets dark.”

Anthony got up quickly and just about knocked Ophirah off her feet as he went plowing through the doorway and out into the hallway.  Red with embarrassment, Anthony apologized then flew out the door and let it slam.  Joseph sat there for a moment, with all eyes transfixed on him.

He pulled on his collar, cleared his throat and excused himself, “Must be getting to that roof, I’ll talk to you later Mr. Ramsbottom.  Thanks Mrs. Ramsbottom for your hospitality, you are very kind.”

Then he turned and stared at Ophirah, who had just walked in.  He looked at her for a moment.  It seemed like an eternity before he said anything.

Joseph blushed and quietly said, “My dear you look divine.  I could stand here all day and drink of your beauty but then my friend would be rather annoyed with me for not helping him with your roof.  I shall go for a walk in the garden with you later if you’ll have me.”

He bowed, planted a light kiss on the back of her outstretched hand, and turned as if to walk away.

Ophirah smiled but then faltered when she saw the stern look on her father’s countenance and whispered to Joseph, “I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Then she nodded her head at him.  Joseph turned around and walked out the door.

There was a flutter in the sitting room as Celeste Ramsbottom told everyone to clear the room.

She quickly closed the door, turned around, and pointed a finger at her husband and sternly said, “Now it’s time for our daughter to nab herself a fine gentleman.  I can tell by the way Joseph Munroe looks at Ophirah he is smitten with her.  I want you to allow Mr. Munroe to court our daughter and to encourage them to marry.  We need the money and he is willing to pay dearly for her.”

Gordon Ramsbottom whose face was full of fear hoarsely said, “You have no idea what kind of person Joseph Munroe is.  I have heard stories…”

Celeste stomped her foot, “I don’t care what kind of person he is, just as long as he marries my Ophirah.  I saved her for someone wealthy.  She never had a chance in London, England thanks to your disgrace.  This may be her only time to obtain the favor of a rich man.  Do you want me to continue wearing rags for the rest of my life?  Really, you of all people know what I need.”

Gordon Ramsbottom nodded meekly, “Yes dear.”

He sighed, “I shall see what his intentions are first before I allow him to court her.”

Gordon headed out the door and watched as the two men worked quickly to patch his roof.  He spotted Ophirah trying to sneak out the back door and walked over towards her.

Ophirah whispered, “Father I’m a grown woman, I can take care of myself.  Joseph Munroe may be a cad but mother is right.”

Mr. Ramsbottom turned red with embarrassment while looking at his daughter.  It was bad enough trying to deal with one woman.  When they all ganged up on him, he knew it was hopeless to fight against them.

He whispered, “Joseph Munroe can be an evil man, don’t let him have your virtue until you are married.”

Ophirah whispered back, “Really father you should know by now that any man that tries to touch me will have a very big fight on his hands.”

Gordon Ramsbottom grinned at his daughter and said, “That you are right about my dear, even your Brother Palmer cannot beat you when you spar with him.”

Then the concern grew in his eyes, “Your brother however is small in size and stature compared to Joseph Munroe.  I fear that Joseph would easily over power you.”

Ophirah mockingly said, “If he wanted to overpower me, there in a deserted field with his friend he could have harmed me then and there.  Father the man is preoccupied and is acting like a lovesick pup.  Surely, you have noticed the way he looks at me.  It is like he’s unsure of himself.”

Gordon smiled, “Your brains far surpass your beauty my dear.  You have a certain instinct about you when it comes to men.”

Ophirah grinned, “I am a bit of a tomboy after chumming around with my Brother Palmer all these years.  I’ve gotten a sense of how his friends acted around me and I can see Joseph is doing the same.”

Gordon grinned as he thought of the many suitors in London, England that had fallen for his lovely daughter only his wife turned them away.  They were not rich enough or not titled enough.

Ophirah did not mind, she preferred to stay single and live with her parents until the day she died.  She had no use for men; she found them too domineering and bossy for her tastes.

Ophirah whispered, “I’m going to have a quick word with Joseph and you can go back inside and soothe mother’s ruffled feathers.  Tell her I’ll work with her plan, I like Joseph, he will be a challenge for me.”

Gordon Ramsbottom shook his head in dismay and slowly walked back towards the front door.  He hoped that he would not regret this moment in time.  Joseph had paused on the roof to watch the two of them whispering madly to one another, he felt a sense of relief when Mr. Ramsbottom walked away.  He had feared that not all would go according to plan.

Ophirah looked up at him and smiled.  She enjoyed watching the muscled arms flying about with hammers as they pulled the roof patches together and nailed them down.

Joseph climbed down the side of the cottage, came over, and apologized, “Sorry for my hurried exit, I was feeling rather uncomfortable in there.”

Ophirah smiled, “I understand perfectly, my mother can be a bit overwhelming at times.”

Joseph looked up at the roof and said, “I think this is going to take a few hours, we found a few more holes that we want to patch up.  You know to prevent future leaks.”

Ophirah smiled, “Thanks for coming to help.  We really appreciate it.”

Joseph grinned, “I’ll do anything to be near a beautiful woman such as you.”

The angry look on her face made him feel ill at ease; he turned and scurried back up on the roof.  Ophirah stomped into the back of the kitchen, she was not happy with what Joseph had said.  Maybe her father was right.  Was Joseph just after her virtue?  No, she could not mistake the look in his eyes.

He had worn his emotions on his sleeve.  She was sure of it.  Well in the future Mr. Joseph Munroe would have to work hard to spend time with her, and they would never be alone, anywhere until he had proposed.

It was a few hours later that the two men came down from off the roof; Gordon Ramsbottom had a chance to speak quietly with Joseph Munroe.

Gordon inquired, “What are your intentions with my daughter sir?”

Joseph grinned, “I intend to court her and marry her.”

Gordon chose his words carefully, “Sir I have heard of your ways in London, I hope that your intentions are honorable.”

Joseph grabbed his hand, “Your daughter seems intelligent and fun, and that is something I’ve never come across before.  It was love at first sight and Anthony can vouch for me, I have never fallen in love with any woman.”

Gordon looked at Anthony with fear in his eyes.

Anthony quietly said, “He is telling the truth, I will swear upon my Grandfather’s grave that Joseph will only be honorable with Ophirah.”

Joseph had told Anthony to say that earlier, for they had overheard Mr. and Mrs. Ramsbottom speaking through the opened window.  Joseph would reward Anthony.  He knew how much his friend hated being involved with his deceit.

Joseph then said, “I’ve heard that you have educated your daughter well.  Jean spoke highly of her upbringing to Anthony.”

Gordon felt nothing but pride at these words.  He had feared that men would shun his daughter for her knowledge and find her too direct and bossy for their liking.

Gordon replied, “Ophirah is not like any other woman you will ever meet.  She has a strong mind and she will not change her ways for any man.”

Gordon Ramsbottom smiled at this disclosure, he knew his Ophirah did not intend to ever marry any man; she loved her independence so he agreed to let Joseph court her.  .  Gordon smiled to himself and thought Ophirah will never fall for such a man.

Joseph found Ophirah Ramsbottom to be a joyful woman, strong and lively, her Father had truly seen to her education and he had such fun sparring words with her on any given day.  Ophirah was also well versed in music, art, and history.  Joseph’s feelings were running deeply for Ophirah.  He was not entirely sure that she felt the same though, and that bothered him…

Chapter Four

Lorraine and Elsa Picard – April 8, 1907

Meanwhile in Paris, France Lorraine Picard a lovely young woman, with dark hair, blue eyes, a beautiful face, and a trim figure was looking at a picture of a very handsome and wealthy bachelor.  She was reading the article about a famous architect named Anthony Atkins in The Montreal Gazette.  She decided that she wanted to meet this man.

One of her acquaintances informed her that the nefarious Joseph Munroe was a close friend of Anthony Atkins, and if she had to use him to get to Anthony, she would.  Lorraine convinced her Sister Elsa Picard to accompany her on her voyage to Place Royale in Canada.  Elsa knew of Lorraine’s desire to meet Anthony Atkins so she promised to help her sister in any way possible.

Elsa knew that Lorraine was hell bent on being a social climber.  Elsa loved her sister and wanted her to be happy.  Perhaps if Lorraine met a wealthy man she would stop whining about their financial circumstances.  At times, Elsa a patient and loving girl found her Sisters constant comparing of fashion and etiquette to be tedious if not downright rude.  Elsa did not care about the proprieties of manners she attended her studies with mild interest.  Never one to complain, she had to endure the most of her sister’s disappointments with what fate had dealt to them.

The Picard’s had educated both of their daughters at Carrington’s Finishing School for Young Ladies in Paris, France.  However, when tragedy struck and the girls lost their parents Lisette and Byron Picard along with their Aunt Blaise Marchand in a train wreck, their aunt who had been so generous with the girl’s education didn’t think to leave a provision for the girl’s education in her will , the two of them had to leave the school in shame.

Lorraine vowed that she would find a wealthy man, take care of her Sister Elsa who was timid and shy, and somehow make a name for herself in society.

When Lorraine read about Anthony Atkins, a rich bachelor living in Canada, she decided he would be the answer to her problem.  Lorraine would not mind living in Canada.  She knew that there was a shortage of women there, judging by the article in the paper that day.

Lorraine giggled as she held up a post card and said, “Look Elsa at what this says.

Urgent!  Thousands of nice girls are wanted in The Canadian West.  Over 20,000 men are sighing for what they cannot get – Wives!  Shame!  Don’t hesitate – come at once.  If you cannot come, send your sisters.  So great is the demand, that anything in skirts stands a chance.  No reasonable offer refused.  They are all shy but willing.  All Prizes!  No Blanks.  Hustle up now Girls and don’t miss this chance.  Some of you will never get another.  Signed Special Application Card from Going Homesteading Reads.  (Farming 1907)

Can you believe this?”

Elsa nodded, “Can we afford to go?”

Lorraine’s face became solemn, “We have no choice.  It will be easier for us to get wealthy husbands in Canada, with a shortage of women.  We will dress in our most fashionable clothes and pretend to be wealthy.  What can they do but marry us?”

Elsa had her misgivings, she really did not want to get married, and she was too young to settle down or start having children.

She said, “Lorraine, I don’t want to marry yet.”

Lorraine patted her sister on the head, “there, there darling, you shall not have to.  I will marry a rich man and take care of you, or we shall find some gainful employment for you instead.”

Elsa nodded, “Yes that would be wonderful.  When do we plan to leave England?”

Lorraine thought for a moment then smiled, “Our lease is up at the end of this month, let’s get our tickets, pack our bags and catch the next ship to Montreal.  I will write to Uncle Duvall Marchand of our plans.  I am sure he will pay our way to Canada just to be rid of us.”

Elsa was not so sure about that.

Dear Uncle Duvall Marchand was a selfish man, upon the death of the girl’s Aunt Blaise he had cut the girls off from her income.  Blaise had sent the girls to Carrington’s Finishing School and thought it important for them to capture the hearts of a good man.

Uncle Duvall looked upon the Picard girl’s as nothing but two charity cases.  He never cared for his Brother in Law Byron who was Blaise’s Brother or for his Sister in Law Lisette Picard.  Duvall was an important man in England he was glad to cut his ties with the Picard’s upon his wife’s unexpected death.  Duvall Marchand was glad that his generous wife was gone.  Now he could be the miser that he was and save every penny.  Never again would he marry.

Blaise had been prominent in the fashion world and it had brought them great wealth.  Upon her death, he sold the company to the highest bidder.  Deciding to retire he followed his dreams of sailing the high seas on his own ship.

After selling his home in Paris, France, he planned to live on his ship The White Star — a white colored tall ship, long in length with many sails.  He managed to take his own staff and servants with him and hired a small crew to manage the ship as well.  He was planning to start sailing within the next couple of weeks.

He had one problem, the charge of his nieces.  Named, as godparent in their parents will, he wondered what he could do to rid himself of the girls.  Their parents had no money, for their father had spent his fortune on wild women and gambling.  When he received the letter from his Niece Lorraine he was annoyed but then when she mentioned wanting to marry Anthony Atkins he was impressed; finally a Picard that had some sense.  He sent a letter back to her, informing her that he would give her some money and sail both of the girls to Canada, on the promise that they would never contact him ever again.  Lorraine agreed.

Chapter Five

Aunt Blaise Marchand

Uncle Duvall Marchand was excited when three weeks later on Tuesday April 30, 1907 at precisely five o’clock in the morning, Lorraine and Elsa Picard joined him and his crew aboard the White Star at the Port of Dover Dock in Kent, England.  The White Star was a Square Rigged Windjammer.  It was a merchant sailing ship built to carry cargo with five large masts and square sails.

The ship was about two-hundred and sixty-nine feet long and forty-one feet wide.  It had a steel hull, which was white like the rest of the ship and it had tons of sails on it.  Lorraine was impressed; it looked glorious sitting there in the early morning hours.  She was not as impressed when she got aboard, no luxuries here.  It was plain wooden benches, floors, and storage areas.

Duvall had built the ship to his liking and was taking her out for the first time.  Lorraine looked at her tall, dark haired Uncle.  A man that was handsome in looks, broad shoulders, with a curled mustache below his long nose.  His steely grey eyes were appraising his two charges.

Duvall said, “I’m glad to see that you are both in good health.  This journey will be difficult at times I’m sure, especially if you suffer from any kind of motion sickness.”

Both girls smiled and Elsa said, “Not to worry Uncle, we have been out on the boats many times.  We always went for a Ferry Ride from Paris to England on shopping trips with Mother and Aunt Blaise.”

Uncle Duvall said, “Good, Now you can place your trunks down below.  I have made a small room for you.”

He ushered the girls into a damp, dingy room that had one single straw bed in the corner.

He apologized, “Sorry I did not build an extra room on this ship for I never intended to have visitors on it.”

He had such a stern look on his face, that both girls felt somewhat guilty.

Then they smiled when he said, “But I’m glad to be of service to you.  You are lucky that I was planning a trip to Canada.”

It was an outright lie, but he was not about to tell them that.  He actually was planning to go to New York City but a small detour to rid himself of his two charges would be worth the extra time.  He cursed the day when he read his wife’s will instructing him to “take care and nurture the needs of my nieces.”

Duvall Marchand hated children and these two girls had been a handful growing up.  They used to visit his home and climb his trees and dirty his sofa’s, and eat his candies hidden in the bookcase.  Yes, he would be happy to rid himself of them.  Elsa had been the first one to see the large trunks sitting in the corner of their room.

Elsa looked at her uncle for a moment with a questioning eye, “Are those for us?”

He nodded.  Elsa, being the curious type just had to open one of them and take a quick peek.

Elsa gasped, “Lorraine, look at these gowns they are all so lovely.”

Uncle Duvall grinned and felt pleased, “Your Aunt was making them for her Spring Fashion Show before the accident.  She would want you to have them.  Besides, if you are going to snag rich husbands you have to look the part.  In fact, your Aunt Blaise asked that I provide each of you with a small dowry upon your marriage.  Your husbands will not find two penniless girls after all.”

Elsa had tears in her eyes and whimpered, “But I do not intend to get married.”

Duvall barked, “You will marry you insipid girl or I will find you a husband and I will not care what kind of man he is.”

Lorraine hurriedly said, “Uncle it will take us some time to find the right kind of men, we have no chaperone.  It may prove to be difficult at first.  I will try to find some gainful employment for my Sister once I am married.  All that I will require from you is a dowry for me.  I will make sure that my husband will help me take care of my sister, so you can just give me her share and I’ll use it for her means.”

Duvall looked thoughtful for a moment, “You’re willing to take care of your sister’s well being for me?”

Lorraine nodded yes.

Duvall’s face broke out in relief as he said, “I would appreciate that.  I intend to travel the world and you will not be able to get a hold of me for any reason.  I have no intention of attending your marriages.”

Lorraine nodded and looked at Elsa and smiled, “Its okay Uncle we understand that you find us tedious to be around.  We are grateful for your generosity.”

Duvall said, “You can come upstairs and sit on the benches while the weather is good, however when it storms I trust you will amuse yourselves down here.  I have brought along your Aunt’s collection of Fashion Magazines and Books, I thought you could use something to entertain yourselves.”

Lorraine said, “Thanks Uncle, I’m sure you have other things to attend to?  We will be fine here.”

She turned as if to dismiss him.

He stood there for a moment, smiled then walked away.

Duvall really liked Lorraine she was a smart girl.  He knew she would do well in Canada.  Elsa he was not so sure about; she seemed to be too simple minded a person to snare a rich man.  He was glad to agree to Lorraine’s terms.  He had placed a bag of money in their trunks.  It would take care of lodging and food for about a year if they were careful with it.  After that, they would be on their own.

Duvall lied about the gowns but he did not care.  Before selling the factory, he had kept his promise to make some gowns for the girls in remembrance of his wife’s wishes.  She had informed him in her will, that it was his duty to ensure that the two girls were well looked after, and that he would assist them in finding wealthy husbands.

She wanted to leave them some money but he had informed her that all monies really belonged to him and she had no fortune of her own.  The Fashion line was her business but everything was in his name not hers, he managed it all.  It had been an investment for him and a passion for her.

Blaise who was a tall, handsome woman with long dark hair, and dark blue eyes had met her Husband Duvall while at a Debutante Ball at Carrington’s Finishing School.  At the time, Raine Carrington was the one in charge of the school.  Raine and Blaise knew each other since childhood.  Raine had introduced the lovely Blaise to Duvall.  The two had married, spent a year abroad, and then settled in Paris, France.

Blaise was a woman with an intuitive fashion sense.  She was always making drawings of lovely gowns and one day someone suggested that she start her own line of designer clothing.  Duvall was always open to new business ideas; he loved the styles too so he invested in her business ideas.

Blaise met Lisette Cartier at one of the fashion shows.  Blaise liked her so much that she introduced Lisette to her Brother Byron and the two of them hit it off right away.  They were married several months later.  Blaise had been delighted when they announced that they were pregnant the first time.  It was a bit depressing the second time because she did not have any children of her own.  Blaise quickly became a success in the world of fashion.  However because her whole life was wrapped around her career she did not have time to start a family, instead she doted on her Brother Byron’s two children instead.

She asked Duvall once if they would ever have children and his reply had been, “If you get pregnant my friend Dr Peter Tibideau will abort the child.  I do not intend to have children and you will never have any.”

Blaise was unhappy with this news for she loved children.  She kept her spirits up though and decided she would become like a “second” mother to her two nieces.  They spent many an afternoon together out shopping and looking for material ideas for her gowns.  Lorraine, the more intelligent child, had often suggested some of the business expansion ideas.

One day Elsa asked her Aunt for some paper and drawing pencils.  Blaise was impressed to find out that Elsa was quite talented in drawing people and designs.  Later Blaise would use some of the drawings in her catalogues but Duvall would never let her give any money to Elsa.

Duvall Marchand always said, “The gowns you buy the girls and the money that you spend shopping with them is plenty enough payment for her services.”

Blaise had never shown Elsa her catalogues so that day when Elsa opened up one of them she was shocked to see one of her drawings staring back at her.

She said, “Lorraine, look.  I did this drawing a few years ago.  I had no idea that Aunt Blaise was using my work in her catalogues.”

Lorraine looked over her shoulder and said, “My dear I think you have a hidden talent there.  It is too bad that Aunt Blaise did not leave her factory to you.  You could have taken over, although you have lousy business sense.  You could have done all the designs though.”

Elsa shook her head, “Not really, I specialize in the people portion, and only some of the designs, Aunt Blaise did the final touches.”

Lorraine asked, “Have you ever tried to design a dress before and then sew one?”

Elsa’s eyes widened, “Not really, I never gave it much thought.”

Lorraine smiled, “I think once we get to Canada, I shall purchase you some new drawing pencils and paper.  We will visit the shops in Montreal before we head to Place Royale.  I think you will get some inspiration there.  I also want to buy a few new hats to go with our gowns.  Uncle forgot that we need new shoes and accessories to match.”

Elsa giggled, “I’ll try and keep it to myself.”

Lorraine said, “That is the wisest thing you have ever said.  I know you love to talk about things but this has to be a secret.  Or Uncle might think us too frivolous and take away the money he’s given us.”

Lorraine looked in the trunk.  On the bottom was a bag of money.  She pulled it out and looked inside.

Lorraine shook her head, “How are we ever going to live on this amount?  I’ll have to work fast.”

Elsa asked, “How can you be sure that Mr. Atkins will even give you the time of day?”

Lorraine smiled, “I’ve been doing my homework in England.”

When Elsa asked, “How did you do that?”

Lorraine smirked, “That is my little secret.  Do not worry your little head about it.  Everything will be okay.  Let’s go for a stroll upstairs and enjoy the view.”

Chapter Six

Uncle Duvall Marchand

The two girls went to sit up on the deck.  England was off in the distance and the open sea with its bright blue waters that seemed to be on the choppy side, was beckoning them forward to a new adventure.  Elsa was fascinated with all the ships apparatus.  She was smiling at one of the sailors when her sister noticed and kicked her.

Elsa surprised said, “Ow!  What did you do that for?”

Lorraine sighed, “I see you’re a bit green when it comes to men.  Listen please stop smiling at that man, he will think you want something from him.”

Elsa asked, “Like what?”

Lorraine rolled her eyes and whispered, “Perhaps your virtue?”

Elsa looked troubled and inquired, “What’s my virtue?”

Lorraine was exasperated with her sister and said, “Must you be so naïve girl I am talking about your virginity.”

Elsa said, “My what?  What is virginity?  Is it a disease?  Do I have a disease or something I do not know about?  I often thought I had a disease, I always feel kind of faint, especially if I haven’t eaten first thing in the morning, is that what you mean by virginity?”

Lorraine looked sadly at her simple-minded stupid sister.

Lorraine sighed, “Did mother never tell you about men and women and things that they do?”

Elsa said, “No.  I am not getting married so I never asked; why what do they do?  What don’t I know?”

Lorraine could not help but let out a sarcastic laugh and she heard a man roar behind her, turned and saw the sailor had come closer.

Lorraine looked at him with a sinister eye and said, “You keep away from my Sister, or I’ll have my Uncle throw you overboard and you can just swim back to England.”

The man looked frightened, mumbled an apology, and scurried away to the other side of the ship.

Lorraine turned to her Sister Elsa, “This is not the time or the place to discuss what you do or do not know about things you should.  I see I shall have to educate you in a few things and we’ll talk about this later.”

Elsa looked at her Sister and broke down into tears, and wailed, “You think I’m stupid don’t you.  You are just like the rest of the girls.

They used to make fun of me at the school; I never made any friends there.  Always teased, tormented, and they call me “stupid Elsa.”  Well I do not need you.  I don’t need anyone.”

Elsa went down below to go sit in a corner and pout.

‘Lorraine was used to Elsa’s bouts of pouting and frankly she didn’t care about the girls calling her Sister stupid Elsa.  They were right; she was a dumb blonde with no sense at all, constantly getting her in situations with boys.  Yes, Elsa would not be able to find a rich husband that was sure.

Unless the man was as simple minded as Elsa was and that would be highly unlikely.  She would have to look out for her sister’s welfare for the next few months.  Then she would find a way to rid herself of the encumbrance.  It would not do Lorraine any good in public with such a stupid girl.  People might get the wrong idea about her.’

It was starting to get dark outside and her Uncle came up beside her, looked at her, and smiled.  She did not like the way he was looking at her, he had that hungry look in his eye, like other men she had known.  Lorraine had no idea that her Uncle had been aware of her “secret life” as she put it.  It was her way of supporting the two of them after her parents had died.  Lorraine had no shame; she had to do what she had to do and that was that.

Lorraine said, “I’d appreciate it if you asked the sailors to keep their distance from both of us, they have been eyeing us like two tasty morsels.”

Uncle Duvall looked like the wolf-in-sheep clothing when he said, “I’ll be sure to tell them to stay away from my two charges.  Now the two of you can join me in the dining room for a bite to eat.  And tell your sister to stop her whining and pouting or I’ll be taking some drastic measures to rid myself of her presence.”

Lorraine said, “She won’t listen to me, she’s mad at me now.  It would be best for you to deal with her yourself.”

Duvall smiled, “You’re a wise one aren’t you?”, and then he walked away and went down below.  He grabbed Elsa by the arm and slapped her face.

He yelled, “Stop being such an insolent child.  I do not want to hear another whimper out of you.  Now get up to the dining room before I throw you overboard.”

Elsa burst out into tears and he smacked her again.

He yelled, “I’m warning you, stop the crying and shut up.”

He dragged Elsa up the stairs, held her by the side of the ship, and said, “There are some hungry sharks in there that would be glad to gobble you up.”

Elsa took a deep breath, stomped on her Uncles foot, and yelled, “I hate you.  I hate both of you.”

Her Uncle snapped, “Get down below, you can go without supper then you little brat.”

Elsa stumbled down the stairs in tears and yelled, “I miss my Mother, and Father and Auntie, and I wish you had died instead.”

Duvall looked taken back in surprise.  He was never “hated” before or told that he wished he were dead.  Now that was infuriating!  He grabbed a switch from the wall and headed downstairs.  He dragged Elsa over into another room, put her wrists in cuffs then he began to whip her.

She screamed at Duvall, “I hate you; you’re a monster!”

Suddenly Lorraine yelled, “Stop!”

Duvall turned around and there was his niece standing there with a pistol.

Lorraine said, “Now that is enough.  How am I supposed to get her married off if you mark up her skin?  We have to keep the peace somehow we’ll just gag her instead.”

Duvall put the whip down with a sarcastic smile.  Lorraine put the pistol down, grabbed a rag, and tied it around Elsa’s mouth.

Eyes flashing Lorraine said, “We’ll leave her tied up during dinner as a punishment and then I’ll free her later before bed.  If anyone is going to deal with my sister it will have to be me, I suppose.”

Duvall was angry but admired a woman with spirit; yes, he really liked Lorraine, almost too much.  He turned and walked up the stairs.

Lorraine knew how to handle her sister; all he managed to do was make her wail even louder.  Now Elsa was quiet and there had been a sort of fear in her eye when her Sister Lorraine had approached.

‘He thought about how odd that Elsa should fear her Sister Lorraine, but then again Lorraine was now in charge of her welfare.  Maybe that was the reason?’

He shook his head, entered the dining room, and yelled to the cook, “Elsa will not be eating with us tonight.”

The cook looked at him and said, “But sir, surely she needs food to keep her strength?  Perhaps she can eat later in her own quarters.  It would not do to have a sick child on your hands when you reach Canada.”

Duvall Marchand looked with eyes narrowed at his cook.  She was a large woman, old, with short curly grey hair and light blue eyes.  Cook had been with his family for many years.  She had also been a close friend to Blaise.

The cook quietly said, “Blaise would be sad to see the way things are around here.  Sir you should be ashamed, that is no way to treat a young woman.  I will take care of the girls from now on, during this trip.  Blaise warned me that you would have a tough time with the girls and she asked that I make sure things were done right.”

Duvall sighed, “I know my wife said that in her will and really you know your right.  I cannot live without you; you are the best cook in the world.  So have your way.  Take care of both of the girls for me.  I will stay away and be glad to be rid of both of them.”

Lorraine had just walked into the dining room and heard her Uncles words.  Lorraine felt a sense of sadness deep within her soul, tears brimmed on her eyelids, but she kept her emotions in check.  She would not listen to this man’s harsh words and feel unwanted.  Lorraine would hold her head up high and someday she vowed to get revenge on Uncle Duvall for taking away all of Aunt Blaise’s money.  She knew that her Aunt would have wanted them to have their full inheritance that was entitled to them.

Lorraine would plan something and be rid of her evil Uncle for the last time.  Then she could reclaim what was rightfully hers.

The food began to taste like sawdust in her mouth.  Lorraine was feeling bad for Elsa, poor thing, she could not help herself.  Elsa was always emotional.  She was the loving, caring one of the family.  Like a young doe surrounded by hungry wolves.  At times Lorraine hated having her sister and other times when things were bad and she needed a shoulder to cry on, Elsa was always there for her.  One day Lorraine would learn just how important her Sister Elsa was to her.

Chapter Seven

Ann Winters – The Cook

It was later that evening after Lorraine hurriedly finished her meal that she went downstairs and there was the cook sitting with Elsa hugging her like a little child.  Elsa had a bite to eat and then broke down.  Lorraine felt a twinge of regret for how she had acted earlier.

Lorraine apologized, “I’m sorry Elsa I had to stop him before he beat the living daylights out of you.  I didn’t want to sound so mean but it was the only way to deal with Uncle Duvall.”

Lorraine leaned over and hugged her sister then turned to the cook and asked, “What is your name?”

Cook smiled and said, “In all my years of service no one has ever asked me my name.  I’m Ann Winters, you can call me Ann.”

Lorraine smiled, “Well Ann, I’d like to thank you for sticking up for us and offering to look after us on this trip.  Someday I shall reward you handsomely.”

Ann whispered, “I hated seeing how evil your Uncle was treating you.  Is it any wonder that your Aunt Blaise isn’t turning over in her grave at this very moment?”

Lorraine paused for a moment then smiled.  She could see she had an ally in Ann; someday she would use that to her advantage.

She looked at Ann and said, “I’d like you to keep in contact with me even after I’m in Canada.  If you ever decide to leave my uncle’s employ, I would be happy to place you in a much better paying job.  I will even write you a letter of recommendation because I know that my Uncle has threatened to blacklist you if you ever leave him.  He is such a horrid man.”

Ann nodded and looked at Elsa, “Your poor sister is still grieving the death of your parents.  I think she was closer to them.”

Lorraine had a tear in her eye and said, “No I’m just better at holding in my emotions.”

Then Lorraine let the tears flow freely, she too missed her parents and Aunt Blaise.  She was proud of her Sister Elsa’s bravery for telling Uncle Duvall that she wished he were dead.

Ann hugged both of them, helped them change into their bedclothes, tucked them in, and said good night.

Chapter Eight

The Intruder

It was the next morning when Lorraine woke up and her stomach was feeling rather woozy.  She noticed that the ship was pitching around more than it had yesterday.  She was startled when out of the corner of her eye she noticed that her Uncle Duvall was standing there at the base of the stairs staring at her with a hungry look in his eye.  She quickly pulled the covers up to her chin.

Uncle Duvall smiled and said, “The waters are kind of rough today so you will not be able to walk around on deck, unless you fancy being washed overboard.”

He was deliberately looking at Elsa when he said it.  Lorraine was seething inside; her Uncle was such a cow.

Lorraine smiled and asked, “Should we go to the dining room then?”

Uncle Duvall smiled wickedly, “Its best you stay in your room for the day, Cook has offered to bring your meals to you I’ll let her know that you are awake.”

Then he turned and walked up the stairway.

Elsa groaned, “I never want to travel on a ship ever again, this is horrid.”

Lorraine agreed and laid back down, her head was throbbing.

The sound of footsteps came into their room an hour later and a female voice woke them up.

Ann said, “Here girls I’ve brought you some porridge and some hot tea.”

Lorraine sat up and grabbed her head, “Ow I have such a headache.”

Ann said, “Eat this and I’ll be back in a minute.”

Ann waddled back up the stairs and returned a few minutes later with something cold wrapped in a cloth.

Ann smiled, “This ice should do.  Did you bump your head or something?”

Lorraine turned around and saw that her head would have lain just under the beam and she grinned, “Maybe It will knock some sense into this head of mine.  I don’t know whatever possessed me to want to sail all the way to Canada.”

Ann looked surprised, “Is this your first time sailing?  I thought you went sailing with your Aunt?”

Lorraine laughed, “That was only on a Ferry boat and that trip lasted no more than an hour or two, this is different.  The waters are more aggressive at sea than on a mere river.”

Ann gave a sheepish grin, “I didn’t think about that.  Well keep your chin up.  It’s a long journey.”

Elsa asked, “How long will it take to reach Montreal?”

Ann smiled, “About eight weeks.”

Lorraine groaned, “Your funning right?”

Ann shook her head worried, “Surely your Uncle warned you?”

Lorraine shook her head no, “He said it wouldn’t take long.”

Ann grinned, “Well for a man who plans to sail around the world, eight weeks would seem like a short period of time.”

Lorraine grinned, “You’ve got a point there.”

Ann said, “Not to worry, if you girls can keep a secret there is a hidden door that goes from this room to the kitchen, there in the wall behind all those trunks.  You could come and play some card games with the staff but make sure you don’t tell your Uncle.”

Elsa looked wide-eyed, “I promise not to tell.  I am so bored on here.  I can’t do my needle point I keep pricking my fingers.”

Ann asked, “Where is your thimble?”

Elsa looked lost, “What’s a thimble?”

Ann shook her head and sighed looking at Lorraine, “I take it you never do needlepoint?”

Lorraine shook her head back and forth, “Too boring for me, I prefer reading magazines or books.”

Ann said, “Just a minute.”

Ann groped around in several pockets on her white jacket and out of her pocket; she pulled a small round silver thing.

She carefully placed it on Elsa’s sore finger and said, “There darling this will protect your finger and now you can embroider away.”

Elsa looked at Ann and gave her a hug, “You take such good care of me.  Thank you.”

Ann had a tear in her eye as she looked at both girls.

Lorraine quietly asked, “Ann do you have children?”

Ann shook her head no, “I’m not able to have children.  It is why my husband left me years ago.  I have never remarried or cared for another man since.  He broke my heart and your aunt offered me a job and I’ve been at the Marchand house ever since.”

Lorraine said, “For what it’s worth, you would have made a wonderful mother.”

Elsa nodded her head, “Yeah you’re even better than our mother was.”  Then she clapped a hand over her mouth.

Lorraine giggled, “She’s right you know.  Our mother was kind and loving but always busy with her families and social events at the Cartier Winery.

She did not have much time for us.  She always left us with a nanny every now and then.  I guess you could say we were overly active as children and always getting into some sort of mischief.”

Elsa was red hot with embarrassment, “It was never any of my ideas, only Lorraine’s.  I just followed along like a monkey would after a banana.”

Ann and Lorraine both giggled at Elsa’s words and Lorraine said, “A monkey after a banana?”

Elsa grinned, “Yeah remember the cute little monkey we saw at the Zoo last year; the one that grabbed my banana from out of my hand?”

Lorraine remembered that trip.  It was to be the last family outing before her parent’s death.

It brought tears to her eyes, Lorraine quietly said, “Elsa we will have to stop talking about Mum and Dad I fear it shall add to our depressed state.  I have a feeling this trip will not be so much fun after all.”

Chapter Nine

The White Star, Montreal, June 30, 1907

As the weeks went by, Lorraine swore she would never travel on a ship again in her life.  Her uncle’s constant appearances first thing in the morning troubled her.  She told Ann about it and asked what they should do?

Ann suggested that both of them scream loud and make a scene the next time he showed up.  She knew that Duvall hated noise of any kind especially if it sounded like children.  One morning they did what Ann told them and it worked.  Duvall was so embarrassed and horrified when half of his sailors appeared at the doorway above asking if the girls were okay and Duvall never did a surprise morning visit ever again.

The worse thing for him had been Ann standing at the door when Duvall came running up the stairs.  She scolded him like a young school boy; there in front of his crew and told him he should be ashamed of himself for acting like a peeping tom and scaring the girls half to death every morning.  Then she asked why was he so preoccupied with them in their bedclothes?  Duvall had stood there white as a sheet and angry as hell but he did not dare lash back at Ann, he knew she was right and he was wrong.  Ann warned him that it would be shameful if any of the crew spoke about it in the taverns of England and gave him a bad reputation.  That cured him immediately.  Duvall cared greatly about his impeccable reputation.

Later the crew thanked Ann for Duvall had offered each of the men a few hundred more coins to keep their mouths shut about it.  Lorraine told Ann that both girls were grateful for her wonderful idea and as the weather grew better, the girls spent some time up on deck during the last leg of their journey.

They were excited when they saw land a few weeks later.  Soon they would be in Montreal and starting their new life.  Duvall was excited that he would soon rid himself of his charges.  Ann and the crew were all feeling somewhat blue.  They had all been quite losing to the girls during their many card games at night.

Elsa had developed this fun game called Pictionary.  You would draw a picture and guess what it was.  The crew loved playing the game.  Ann suggested that someday Elsa sell her game idea to a department store or something.  Ann knew it would never happen.  Poor Elsa was not smart enough.  Nevertheless, maybe she could tell someone else.  They could take care of it for her.

Finally, they arrived at the pier in Montreal.  Uncle Duvall decided that they should drop the anchor off shore and have a goodbye party for the girls.  He had the servants break open some wine for them.  Duvall was in a drunken stupor and he thought about the fact that he would never see his nieces again.  Therefore, he just wanted to do one more thing before they left.  He wanted to kiss Lorraine.

The girls were a bit on the drunk side after tasting the wine and Lorraine had gone upstairs for some air, her uncle had followed her.

He turned to her in the moonlight and said, “You made my trip to Canada an interesting one.  I shall miss the two of you, especially you my dear.”

Before she could stop him, he grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth.  She pulled back and screamed and that is when Ann hit Duvall over the head with a frying pan.

She looked down at Duvall and said, “I warned him to stay away from you.”

Lorraine was crying and shaking like a leaf.  Ann grabbed her and hugged her close.

Lorraine sobbed, “Thank you, but what will you do now?”

Ann laughed, “I’ll tell your Uncle he had too much to drink and that he fell over and knocked his head on something.  He will not remember a thing.  I am sorry dear, I am sure this will be the end of it; the man has wanted you since you stepped aboard his ship.  Be thankful that he didn’t rape you, although I know he wanted to.”

Lorraine felt tarnished by her uncle she hated him.  She would hate him for the rest of her life and she would never forgive him for what he did to her.

She said, “Ann is there anyway we can get off this ship tonight before he wakes up?  Can you get us into a motel or something then sail away before he realizes that were not on the ship?  I want him as far away as possible from me.”

Ann said, “I’m already making arrangements for you.  I have sent one of the sailors to get a room for you.  They will take your trunks there as well.  We have friends here in Montreal that will take care of you.  Your Aunt Blaise knew them well; she used to stay there when she visited Canada.”

Lorraine looked at her in surprise, “My Aunt came to Canada?”

Ann said, “Yes, Montreal is the fashion district for Canada, so she would come here from time to time to launch her designs.  I thought you knew all these things?”

Lorraine shook her head no, “She must have traveled while we were in school.  That’s the only time I can think of that we didn’t see her for extended periods of time.”

Ann smiled, “Yes that’s right.  Now you girls go and get some rest, I’ll take care of everything for you.”

In the early morning hours, Ann woke up the girls and had them put on some dark cloaks.  Ann had tears in her eyes when she hugged them both.

Lorraine said, “Thank you so much for taking care of us.”

Elsa cried, “I’m going to miss you so much Ann, you’ve become like a mother to me.”

Ann began to cry, “That is the sweetest thing you could have ever said to me.  You’re fine daughters, both of you.”

Ann hugged them again and said, “Now follow Jerry here; he will take you to a safe place.”

Ann watched as the girls and Jerry rowed to shore, then as their carriage rode away, she had a feeling that she would never see them again…

Chapter Ten

Lorraine, Elsa Picard Meet Emma Thompson July 1, 1907

Jerry Bouchard was a husky, muscular, blonde haired young man with blue eyes.  Emma Thompson lived in a large red brick manor built in the Edwardian Style in Ville-Marie, Montreal on Chemin de la Cote-des-Neiges.  Jerry along with Lorraine and Elsa marveled at the sheer size of the place.

Once inside the maid, a young, petite, French woman with dark hair, gave them a tour saying, “It has a living space of over ten thousand square feet, with a cigar room, four bedrooms, three family rooms, seven fireplaces, four bathrooms, a powder room, a theatre, a large wine cellar, and bar, and a large laundry room.”

The maid brought them into a sitting room and said, “Emma your guests have arrived.”

Then the maid bowed and all three of them filed into the large family room.  It has thick plush carpet with brown patterned couches, green velvet chairs, and mahogany end tables with intricate designs and patterns on them.  It was the most luxurious house that Lorraine and Elsa had ever been in their entire life.

Emma looked to be a young, lively woman, at the age of thirty-two.  She was still very attractive with her light blonde hair pulled up off her face, deep blue eyes, and a milky white complexion.  She had been sad to hear of her friend’s demise and was happy to open up her lovely home to the two nieces of a very dear friend Blaise Marchand.

Emma had moved to Montreal from Quebec and had one of the finest homes there.  The girls could not believe the size of the place or its many vast rooms.  Elsa was delighted to find it also had a theater and library, Lorraine was happy to be staying in such a splendid home after their horrid trip aboard The White Star.  This was more to her liking.

Emma invited the girls down to tea.  Jerry stayed in the kitchen with the servants and shared some blimey stories about his days on sea amidst pirates and seeing the world from port to port.

Emma found Elsa to be too quiet for her tastes and eventually ignored the girl.

After trying to start a conversation with Elsa several times, she instead turned to Lorraine and asked, “What brings you girls to Canada?”

Lorraine smiled, “I’m hoping to find a good husband here.”

Emma roared with laughter, “That will be easy to do; so many men here are vying for a wife.”

Lorraine said in a serious tone, “Even the rich ones?”

Emma looked troubled for a minute then tentatively said, “Yes, even the rich ones, however money is important to most, they like to enrich their fortunes.”

Lorraine said, “I had hoped that personality, wit, and charm would overlook the lack of wealth.”

Emma looked pensive for a moment, “Is that all you wish to find?  Why want just money?  What about love?”

Emma was a hopeless romantic, which is why she had never married.  No man had ever swept her off her feet, like the women in the books she read about on a daily basis.  Emma was always living in a bit of a fantasy world and sighed.  Her fortunes had come from years of wealth built up by her ancestors.  When her father had passed away, she was the only living heir and she liked it that way.

She lived a comfortable existence and ran a lovely bed and breakfast in her home.  Using only two guest rooms, it was quite often booked due to the many fashion shows and designers that frequented Montreal on a yearly basis.  During the winter months, only a few travelers would return to attend the festivals and visit the Ice Palace.  Montreal’s celebration with winter wonderlands and events was something that Lorraine heard great things about it from some of her friends.

She would be sure to return to Emma’s place during the winter months, to visit and to do some more sight seeing.  By then she was sure to be married and her husband would only be too happy to take her to Montreal to do some shopping for some new gowns and the latest in Paris Fashion.

Emma asked, “Tell me how your trip was on The White Star?”

Elsa replied, “It was horrid, damp and musty, I’m so happy to be here in your beautiful home.”

Emma smiled and jokingly said, “She speaks!  I had feared that you would spend your short visit being quiet as a mouse.”

Lorraine warned her, “Don’t complain too much, once Elsa warms up to you, she’ll chatter your ears off.  She is a shy child and is now feeling quite comfortable with her surroundings.  We will have to deal with her boring chatter now.”  Lorraine rolled her eyes as she said it.  Emma noticed the hurt in Elsa’s eyes and felt for the girl.

Emma said, “Tomorrow morning I shall take you girls shopping.  I am sure you have many gowns and things from Blaise but you will also need hats, new undergarments, shoes, boots and some warm fur coats for our Canadian Winters.”

Lorraine said, “We shall have to be careful with our fortune, Uncle Duvall has only given us enough to live off for a year.”

Emma said, “Not to worry child, I shall take you out for a treat.  I am a lonely woman with loads of money and it would be an honor to adopt the two of you as my daughters and treat you accordingly.  I know what Duvall is like.”

Emma had such a sour look on her face when she continued, “He is the reason I hate men.  He first started to court me then when he met Blaise he lost interest and married her instead.  At first it caused a big rift in our friendship but then she pointed out what a horrible husband he was and I felt like she had saved me from certain ruin.”

Lorraine grinned, “That is a strange way of looking at things, but I can see your point.”

Elsa had tears in her eyes, “You must have suffered such pain, not being with the man that you loved?”

Emma said, “Not at all.  I was never in love with Duvall; I just wanted his money and nothing else.  Who would want an attachment to such an incorrigible tight wad who keeps all the money for himself?  It would have been too much of a burden for me.

Imagine the fact that he took all of Blaise’s fortunes, invested them in his own name then stole it right from under her nose during their marriage.  Blaise never knew the full extent of her wealth, being a simple-minded girl, although talented in design, she opted to let Duvall handle all the finances.  She really did not have much choice.  Duvall had his own fortunes, but Blaise’s was triple the amount he had and he knew it, she didn’t.”

Lorraine was seething with anger, “And to think that she once told me she would provide for us for many years to come and then it all came to naught upon her death.  If there was any way I could get revenge on the man, I would.”

Emma smiled, “I will help you avenge Blaise and get your rightful fortune.  But first you must marry someone very rich and powerful before that can be done.”

Lorraine grinned, “I do have a very rich and powerful bachelor in mind, and his name is Anthony Atkins.”

Emma faltered for a moment, “Anthony Atkins?  That heart breaker’s only intention is to make money and lots of it.  The man has no time for courting.  I already tried to get his fancy for almost three years, a complete waste of my time.”

Lorraine’s interest was peaked, “Did you happen to meet his friend, Joseph Munroe?”

Emma nodded, “That rake, oh yes I met him alright and he is a real piece of work, seriously you know that they call him the Virgin Slayer in England?”

Elsa was wide eyed, she asked, “Is he a murderer?”

Emma shrugged her shoulders, “I’m not exactly sure, I’ve heard the term whispered during various balls and events that I have attended, when I asked, no one dared to tell me.  It seems that Mr. Munroe is from a very powerful family and no one has the courage to speak ill of him, for fear of him calling them out.  I hear he is very good with a pistol and with his hands during fights.  An admiral feat if one was in danger of robbers or thieves.”

Elsa had a dreamy look in her eye, “He would make the perfect pirate to sail on the high seas with, one to protect you from the evils of Uncle Duvall Marchand.  Do you know he tied me up in shackles and whipped me?  Lorraine put a pistol in his face and made him stop.  I don’t like Uncle Duvall, I think he wants to bed Lorraine, he even kissed her.”

Lorraine’s face drained of all color she shouted, “Elsa.  Why can’t you keep your mouth shut about such things?”

Emma looked horrified and said to Lorraine, “Is this true?  Did he really try and come after you?”

Lorraine nodded, “His cook Ann saved me, by clocking him over the head with a frying pan.  She is the one that removed us off the ship early this morning and Jerry escorted us to your place for safety.  We did not get a wink of sleep last night.  Do you think Uncle Duvall will look for us here?”

Emma’s eyes flashed, “Duvall Marchand has never been welcomed in my house, and if he did try to call, my servants would turn him away.  I am sure that Jerry has sent him off on a wild goose chase by now.  Jerry and I have been friends for a very long time.”

She blushed when she said it, and continued, “He once asked me to marry him, long ago, but due to my fortunes he gave up on the idea and so did I.  It would be too awkward for the both of us and I never really felt any true feelings for him.  However, we do continue to write to one another from time to time.  Blaise would often have Jerry send me letters addressed from her, to bypass Duvall’s eyes.

The man used to snoop through her mail; he threatened to kill me if I ever told her the truth about her fortunes.  Now that she’s gone, I can get my revenge on him for ruining her life.”

She said it with such hatred that even Lorraine was surprised.

Emma sighed, “Yes Duvall came after me too, and so did Joseph Munroe, it seems the two rakes know one another and they were betting on who would bed me first.  If it were not for Anthony Atkins stepping in and saving me, I probably would have lost my virtue to one of them.  I did repay Anthony in my own way.”

However, she never divulged just what that was.  It made Lorraine wonder but then she quickly forgot about it.

Elsa grinned, “Anthony Atkins the hero.  How lucky you will be dear Lorraine when you have seduced the great bachelor of Place Royale.”

Lorraine thought to herself, ‘how lucky indeed.’

Emma sat there with a thoughtful look in her eye as she pondered what Elsa had said, it bothered her, but she did not let on that it did.  Elsa was yawning and so was Lorraine, so the girls went off to bed.

The two of them spent half the morning in bed, catching up on some much-needed sleep.  Emma had a nap too, her early morning visitors had disturbed her normal routine, and she would just have a quiet supper at home that night with the girls and then take them out the next morning to start their adventures in Montreal.

Chapter Eleven

Thompson Manor

The girls woke up and did not know what time it was.  It was dark outside.  A servant had come into their lavish room and pulled their curtains shut and put on dim lighting.

The servant said, “Supper will be served in about an hour, shall I draw up a nice bath for each of you?”

Lorraine grinned, “That sounds lovely, and who will go first?”

The servant giggled, “Each room has its own washroom.  Please follow me Elsa, I’ve been told to move you into your own suite.”

Elsa looked at her sister and waved, “see you at dinner.”

Lorraine grinned and walked towards the doorway on the other side of the room.  There sitting in the middle of the floor was a huge claw tub, full of sweet smelling bubbles — Lavender was her favorite.

Lorraine dropped her gown and let herself down carefully into the tub.  The warm water came all the way to her shoulders, such luxury.

‘She would desire to have a washroom just like this one, once she had found the perfect mansion to live in.  It would be decorated in various earthy tones, as modern looking as possible.  She read somewhere that Anthony liked the 15th century style of décor?

How would she put up with that?  Maybe he would allow her to have a suite for herself decorated in the tastes that she desired.  She wondered what Emma and Anthony meant to each other?  She had caught a flicker of desire in Emma’s eyes at the mention of his name.  She could swear that Emma was in love with Anthony but chose not to reveal her true feelings.

She did say something about wasting three years of her life chasing the man.  Anthony did not want to marry Emma.  She was rich and beautiful, and she had a large home.  Maybe that was it.  She was too rich for him.  Anthony looked like a man with a lot of pride; he would want to be the main breadwinner in the family.  He probably could never marry a girl that had more money than he did; it would take him years, even centuries to come up with this kind of wealth.  The billions of dollars that Dr. Leroy Thompson had accumulated over the years by owning the rights to several inventions used for Government Research.

It was all very hush, hush but he was Number One in the billionaires club in one of the magazines she had been reading.  No wonder Emma felt so lonely.  She was out of almost every man’s league, being the richest woman in the world.  Lorraine would never care if she were as rich as Emma was, she would savor every minute of it.

Lorraine would open several charity foundations in honor of her parents and Aunt Blaise.  Lorraine did have a soft spot in her heart from time to time.  She got it from her father.  Her mother had been just as ambitious as she was, but always seemed to prefer Elsa to her.  Elsa had been her baby, the apple of her eye, and could do no wrong.  Lisette her Mother, constantly criticized Lorraine for so many years, that she had developed a very tough skin when it came to dealing with insults.  Her Mother’s jealousy over her spending so much time with their father was evident.

Byron Picard preferred the company of his daughter to his wife’s and it had been a thorn in her flesh for many years.  When Elsa came along, Byron ignored the younger girl and her mother.  His sole attentions were always on his very beautiful, smart, and talented eldest daughter Lorraine.

Her father always said that someday a very lucky man would have his daughter and she would double his wealth with her wit, charm, and brains.  He had taught his daughter everything he knew about business matters.  His wife was as simple minded and dull as Elsa had been.  They were like two peas in a pod.  The only reason he had married Lisette Cartier was for her wealth and social connections.

The Cartier family was extremely wealthy with all the wineries they owned and Byron was no exception to the rule of money wants money.  His arranged marriage to Lisette Cartier was a bit of a damper in his plans but after providing her with two heirs, he never bothered with her much and she frankly did not care.  Each of them had their own lovers and the girls were fully aware of their parent’s indiscretions.

In fact, Lorraine used to talk about it with her father, as he bragged about each conquest to her.  Elsa never knew the truth about her parents.  Lorraine knew of her mother’s lovers by following her at times when father was away on business.  She learned that her mother made some extra spending money on the side, with her craft.  Lorraine would later use what she had learned to her own advantage.  She laid back and closed her eyes, enjoying her hot bath and humming a tune from Mozart that was going through her head…’

Chapter Twelve

Elsa’s Delight

Elsa followed the servant girl to the other room.  It was a large suite, mainly closeted in dark reds and navy blue décor, kind of classical in tastes yet subdued with minimal furnishings.  Lorraine’s room had been much more lavish.  However, Elsa did not mind, she was happy to have her own room for a change.  At home, she had shared a room with Lorraine since a babe, so this was a treat for her.

The servant girl pointed to a small door off in the corner and Elsa walked towards it with trepidation, then she gasped with delight.  A large window overlooked a pretty flower garden with stone pathways, water fountains, and shrubbery trimmed into the shapes of animals.  There were lanterns all along the pathways casting eerie shadows.  It was like a fairy wonderland and Emma could not wait to go out there for a walk.  It was like a fairyland out there.

Then she turned and looked at the large dark blue claw tub, full of bubbles.  The smell of roses wafted past her nose and she sneezed.  Elsa was allergic to floral scents but she did not let that deter her.  She undressed and climbed into the marvelous tub.  She had to let out some of the water for it was just too close to her chin when she sat down.  It felt strange being in a tub as big as this one.

Elsa hardly ever took any baths; she did not sweat much and always smelled like lemon soap, her favorite smell in the whole world.  Elsa would always wash the floors at home because she just loved the smell of lemons.

‘Elsa looked up at the elegant drapery; almost see through with pink and white flowers in the shapes of tiny roses.  She had an idea of what Emma’s favorite scent must be, for she had noticed a faint fragrance of roses on her earlier.

Elsa sat back and thought about how horrid Uncle Duvall had been; she thought of her parents, her aunt and the tears began to fall.  She could never stop crying about it.  Anytime she was alone, the memories would plague her like a nightmare, they just would not go away.  She let out her sobs with gusto.  Finally, she released all the pent up frustrations inside.  Leaving her home, losing her loved ones, being whipped by an Uncle who didn’t care about her, being called stupid by her sister, Elsa wished she were dead.  Then again, she would not be in Montreal if she were dead now would she?

Tomorrow would be a new day, she would get some new outfits and footwear, and maybe this evening she could go for a walk with Jerry.  She knew he had feelings for her and she really liked him.  She did not care what Lorraine said about him wanting just one thing from her.  She thought that all sailors wanted a woman in their bed.  Elsa wondered what it would be like to sleep with a sailor.  Would it be a wonderful experience?  She had no idea what to do if he ever asked her to.  Best not to even try; she would find someone that would never ask her to do anything, someone with lots of experience, someone like — Joseph Munroe.

She had seen him off in the distance once in England and heard about him from other women’s conversations.  They said he was a rake but very ardent in bed.  Now what did that mean?  They had sounded thrilled and excited about it, almost disappointed, for they were married and he seemed to prefer virgins in his bed.  Elsa always wondered what it meant to be a virgin; perhaps she could ask her sister when the time was right?’  She came out of her thoughts with a start when she heard the dinner bell ring, she jumped quickly out of the tub, lost her balance, she slipped and came crashing down on the floor — then everything went black.

Chapter Thirteen

Jerry Bouchard’s Fantasy

Elsa woke up and felt the warm arms around her.  She was startled for a moment then felt grateful when she felt the softness of the bed beneath her.  For a moment, she could have sworn that the warm hands had touched her chest and then she blacked out again.

The servant girl came into the room and hissed, “What are you doing with her?”

Jerry stammered, “She fell and bumped her noggin on the tub, I heard her fall and came in here to investigate, that’s all.  I’ve put her in bed as she is, I don’t know anything about women’s clothes.”

Then he rushed out of the room, red as a beet.

The servant girl grinned, Jerry had been bending over the girl, and kissing her cheek when she caught him red handed.  The servant girl looked at Elsa’s chest and she was envious at how fit she was as she pulled the blanket up to Elsa’s chin.  She would get some ice for that bump on Elsa’s head.  The servant girl sighed impatiently.  She would have to call the doctor if the girl did not wake up.  Already this simple child was being a nuisance to her.  First having to set up a new room for the girl was bad enough, now this.

The servant girl was jealous of Elsa.  The servant girl liked Jerry and it was apparent that Jerry liked Elsa.  The servant girl wanted to bed him, had even hinted at it, but he would not have her.  No man would, for she was an ugly thing, with bushy eyebrows, and wiry hair, brown eyes and a big ugly wart on her nose.

He had laughed at the servant girl’s suggestion and said, “Even with a bag over yer head I still wouldn’t be able to bed you.”

Tears had stung her eyes but she was used to men mocking her ugliness.  Someday someone would not care how ugly she was, she hoped…

Elsa began to stir, then she was startled to see two bushy eyebrows peering down at her, Elsa gave a start.  She felt somewhat odd and wondered why this girl had fondled her chest in such a loving matter?

Elsa was curious about it, she had heard of other women trying things with their friends.

Elsa asked, “Did you touch me?”

The servant girl turned red, “Not Aye misses, and it was Jerry, the sailor boy.  He found you on the floor and brought you to yer bed.”

Elsa colored for a moment then had a big smile on her face, “Fetch him for me, I wish to thank him.”

The servant girl was scared as she went to fetch him.  Jerry walked in and smiled at Elsa.  Elsa asked the servant girl to leave and close the door.  Jerry looked like he was uncomfortable.

Elsa whispered, “I felt your warm hand on my chest, why did you do that?”

Jerry looked embarrassed, “They looked so sweet there, I just wanted to touch them, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have.”

Elsa whispered, “I’ve never been touched by a man before, it felt wonderful.  I want to thank you for helping me.  Come here.”

Jerry stood awkwardly by the bed and she opened up her nightdress, “Please can you touch me again?  Can I have a kiss?  I’ve never been kissed by a man before.”

Jerry licked his lips with desire, he would like to do more than just touch her and kiss her.  He did not know how Lorraine would react.  He slowly ran his hands around her body; he could see her breathing rapidly at his touch.  Then he bent down and instead of kissing her lips, he slid his warm tongue across her neck, her chest and then moved his mouth up to her dainty, luscious lips.  He groaned as he began to get excited.  She was hungry for him but then there was a loud shout behind them.

Lorraine yelled, “What the hell are you doing to my sister?”

Jerry came up with a start, and Elsa looked like she wanted to cry.

Elsa yelled, “I wanted him to give me a kiss.  I want to know what it is like to have a kiss or be touched.  Do not blame him.  I asked him, no I begged him to do it.  I told him I’d have him fired if he didn’t do it.”

Even Elsa was surprised that she could lie so easily and Lorraine was amused.

Lorraine demurely said, “My sister is a virgin and I have to keep her that way for marriage, so you are out of luck this evening.  Now be off to the kitchen and go shag the ugly servant girl, she will have you in a minute.”

Jerry ran from the room and Lorraine came over to her sister, “Now Elsa darling perhaps you will get your clothes on so that we can go have some dinner?  Emma will be disturbed by what’s been going on.”

Elsa was angry, “Why did you interrupt?  It is my choice if I ever want to get married and you know I do not.  I wanted to have an affair, like you.”

Lorraine gritted her teeth, “Shut up you stupid girl, or I’ll kill you.”

The menacing look that Lorraine gave Elsa, she did not doubt it.  Elsa would go have a quick dinner then excuse herself and go for a walk in the garden.  She would try to find Jerry then and get him to make love to her one-way or the other.

Both girls came down to the elegant dining room and again, Lorraine was envious as hell.  The silverware, the fine china with small roses on it, it seemed like there were roses everywhere in this house.  Even in the vases, there were long stems of roses.  They sat down to a lovely dinner of ground beef, potatoes, carrots and gravy, a dish called shepherds pie.  It was tasty and flavorful.  Elsa was quiet, almost too quiet and Lorraine did not like it.

She realized that Elsa was right, she was almost an adult now and could decide when and with whom to give her virginity too, and probably would never want to marry.  Lorraine had been kind enough to explain to Elsa before going downstairs exactly what it meant to give away your virginity.  Elsa was excited about it, now she had a gift to give a man, any man would want her gift, and that pleased her.  Lorraine would have all the wealth in the world, but still she would have to talk Elsa into giving her virginity away to some rich fool that they could at least blackmail…

Lorraine turned to Emma, “So I take it we will be visiting the shops first thing in the morning after breakfast?”

Emma nodded and said, “Yes we will take my carriage downtown and visit a few of the haute couture shops there.  I am sure you are aware of the latest fashions in Paris, but here in Montreal we also have some very talented and interesting fashion designs.

You will want some new hats and Italian shoes and you will need to purchase some sports wear for when you go riding.  Here in Canada we spend a lot of time riding our horses and showing them off in the parks.  Jerry is a good horseman as well and has also offered his services to the both of you ladies.”

Lorraine gave a grin to Elsa, and said, “We will be sure to enjoy all of his services while we are here.  I believe that he plans to meet up with The White Star in Quebec.  I hear my Uncle has plans to dismount there and make sure that we have reached our destination safely.  Jerry has kept me posted and Ann sent us a letter this evening about my Uncle’s intentions.  She has suggested that in order to be kept safe, that we go and stay at Chateau Frontenac instead.”

Emma smiled, “Yes I have some very good friends there.  They also knew your Aunt Blaise, god rest her soul.  Both of my friends tried to court Blaise at a very young age, but Duvall Marchand had the upper hand in the departments of charm, wit, and intelligence, he was one-step ahead of them and I believe he threatened her if she did not marry him.  He said he would shoot both men, if she did not agree to his marriage proposal.”

Elsa was horrified, “Poor Aunt Blaise, to be used in such a way.”

Lorraine was thoughtful, “It never ceases to amaze me just how intelligent my Uncle Duvall really is, what if perchance I chased him, and caused a scandal out in public?  Would that turn the tables on him?”

Emma thought for a moment and her eyes lit up, “You know you’re right.  Duvall cannot stomach any scandal and if you were to create one there in front of him, he would buy it and leave.”

Lorraine felt satisfied; she would have to make more plans concerning the demise of her Uncle.  She knew that she could not entrust the men of Quebec to do her bidding.  Maybe Jerry could help.  She had heard that Simon Bouchard, who was Jerry’s brother, knew of some rough characters.  Maybe they could do something in exchange for some monies.  Jerry would have to be indebted to her somehow and she knew just how to do it.

After eating dessert, both girls had a quick cup of tea, and Elsa was the first to say she needed a breath of fresh air and excused herself from the table.  Elsa headed towards the garden path.  She had seen Jerry faintly through the trees.  She could hear him talking to someone.  She followed at a safe distance and watched as the two figures went into a nearby barn.  Fascinated she watched as Jerry peeled off a woman’s clothes.  She had an unshapely body and a large chest he did not even look down at the girl, he just rammed himself into her, and then it was over.

Elsa thought it was horrible, if that is what sex was she did not want anything to do with it.  She turned to walk away in disgust and was startled to see Lorraine standing there, hands on her hips and they both turned when Jerry gave a gasp.

Lorraine said to the servant girl, “I’ve caught you red handed, seducing my servant, how dare you.  I shall report you to your employer and have you fired.  Woman you’re a disgrace to this household.”

The servant girl wept, and pleaded, “I’m sorry miss, he came after me, and it’s been awhile you see…”

Lorraine turned to Jerry, “I’ll tell you what, I won’t press charges against her if you’ll do something for me.”

Jerry had a bitter look in his face and nodded.

Lorraine excused the girl and watched as she left then she turned and looked at Jerry, “Well done my boy, you took me up on my suggestion, much to my sister’s dismay.”

Jerry was embarrassed and angry, he cared about Elsa he did not want her to see him raping the servant girl, he mumbled, “Elsa, I didn’t want to… she told me I had to do it…”

Then he turned and walked away.  Elsa and Lorraine followed behind.

Elsa turned to her sister and said, “Lorraine must you always be vindictive, evil and controlling like mother was?  I wanted him to have me and now you’ve ruined it.”

Lorraine said, “In time Elsa, be patient, I have someone else in mind for you.”

Lorraine smiled, ‘As she thought of the perfect person to offer up her sister to.  It would be Joseph Munroe, the virgin slayer…’

Chapter Fourteen

The Shops of Montreal July 2, 1907

It was the next morning; the sky was blue, with not a cloud in the sky.  It was sunny outside and both of the girls felt cheerful for the first time as they entered the shopping district in the heart of Montreal.  The first salon was very elegant, with its white walls, satin seats, and beautiful models.  Lorraine was getting excited watching the most gorgeous girls she had ever seen walking up and down the runway.  She would like to experiment with a woman.  She had not come across anyone yet that would be willing.

Sometimes she thought about her Sister Elsa then shook it off.  Elsa was too green to be able to satisfy her in bed, besides she probably would not be able to live with herself if she did try anything on her.  Emma was looking rather strangely at Lorraine and Elsa.  Her servant had advised her that the two women were out in the barn with their servant Jerry for a very long time and had come home half-naked.  Emma was troubled and decided she would cut the girls visit short and send them off to Chateau Frontenac the next day.  Emma had gotten word that she was to have a visitor, only she was not about to disclose her gentleman friends name.  It was her lover, it was a secret, and she wanted to keep it that way.  The girls picked out a few dressing gowns and lingerie then they went to the most divine hat shop.

The hat maker was quite talented and Lorraine fell in love with a large hat that had peacock feathers on it, how original, not another hat like it.  She was pleased to purchase it and the owner was happy to advise her that it was one of a kind.  When the hat maker had shown it to her husband earlier that week, he had broken out into gales of laughter at the sight of it.  He said she would have to sell it to some foreigner that did not know any better.

He was right, none of the local woman appreciated her creativity, and they only wanted turbans with ostrich feathers in them.  After the hat and lingerie shops, the girls found a lovely café that served Brazilian coffee and they had some cupcakes to go with it.  Shortly after that, they headed to a shoe store, and purchased some warm boots and dress shoes, then they went to the fur shop next door and each got a lovely buffalo coat.  Such luxury clothing, Lorraine was grateful for Emma’s generosity.  However, she did notice that their hostess was on edge about something.  She wondered if the servant girl had blown their cover.

When Emma said she had company, coming the next day and that, the girls would have to leave early in the morning and would be travelling to Chateau Frontenac; Lorraine knew that her worst fears had come true.  She felt like someone double-crossed by the servant girl.  Lorraine would exact her revenge on her someway, somehow.

They had a quiet evening at dinner, and then they all sat down to play some card games.  Jerry joined them as Elsa’s partner.  Emma seemed distracted during the game and complained of a headache, apologized and excused herself from the card table.  The three of them decided to go for a walk in the garden and ended up heading towards the barn.

This time Lorraine turned on Jerry and hissed, “Your little servant girl has talked, do you know what will happen if this becomes common knowledge?”

Jerry was angry as well, “I know, I’ve asked her to come with us to Quebec.  I am pretending to care for her.  I will get her away from here and take her aboard the White Star.  The men will enjoy her, I am sure, and then she will be a disgrace for any household.  I will exact my and your revenge my sweet.”

They were just getting started on each other when they suddenly heard a noise stirring in the corner and looked to see the servant girl watching them.

Lorraine grabbed her by the hair and said, “Jerry, I believe your wench needs some attention.”

Lorraine dragged the simpering servant girl over to him and Jerry raped her as Lorraine held her hand over the servant girl’s mouth.

Lorraine looked at the servant girl and said, “That’s your payment for squealing on me; now Jerry wants you to come with us to Quebec.  You will agree to and keep quiet about it.  If you do not then I shall have you killed.  Do you understand me?”

The servant girl shook in fright and nodded.

Then Jerry said, “Can I have some more with her?”

Lorraine said, “Sure we will leave the two of you alone, have her for a couple of hours.  I doubt if anyone will notice, oh yeah and make it as painful as possible for her.”

Jerry looked dubious as he had gagged the girl’s mouth and a look of fear came into her eyes.

Elsa said, “No, Jerry, don’t be rough.  Why not be gentle and let her feel something she will never ever have?  That will be more of a torture for years to come.”

Lorraine smiled at her sister, “You know dearest you can be smart and devilish every now and then.  That is a wonderful idea.”

Elsa did not want anything to do with it, to her rape was wrong and she could not believe that her sister was instigating it.  Still Elsa stood there watching in fascination.  As Lorraine began to touch the servant girl, Jerry did too.

Jerry smiled at the servant girl and said, “There I bet that feels good.”

The servant girl nodded, and wanted more.

She was so used to men just plowing themselves into her then letting it all go.  No one had ever taken the time to pleasure her.  At first, she felt odd about having a girl touching her, but then Lorraine motioned for her to do the same.  The servant girl felt strangely excited at this turn of events.  Elsa walked over to join in with them learning the art of foreplay.

Elsa opened her eyes up in surprise at the wicked look on Lorraine’s face.  She smiled at her sister, who was just having fun.  Then Lorraine did something Elsa did not like.  She pulled Elsa down on the ground and she looked down into her sisters eyes, and gave an evil grin.

Elsa loved her sister but this was too much.  She shook her head no.  Lorraine grinned at her and went over to the servant girl instead.  Lorraine shuddered as never before.  This was so exciting; she had never done anything quite like this before.  Jerry sat back on his haunches enjoying the view, thinking to himself, Duvall Marchand would kill to see this…

Chapter Fifteen

The Mysterious Visitor

It was the next day and the girls each gave Emma a quick hug, thanked her for her hospitality then got into the elegant and comfortable carriage.  A shiny black veneer with red velvet cushioned seats.  Elsa felt like royalty in it.  Emma was glad to see them go, she knew that her guest would be arriving later this afternoon and he would want her full attention.  Emma decided to read one of her romance novels for a bit, and then she had a little nap and woke up at lunchtime feeling quite hungry.  She went to the kitchen and her cook made her some vegetable soup with dinner rolls.  Then Emma looked at the time and felt alarmed.

She ran back upstairs and quickly bathed, pulled on her new white lacey lingerie outfit and sat in the parlor awaiting her guest’s arrival.  A tall black carriage drew up outside and a handsome young gentleman got out, climbed the stairs, let himself in, removed his gloves and placed them on the table there with his walking stick.  Then he proceeded directly into the parlor.

His husky voice said, “I see that you have been waiting for me darling.”

Emma smiled and opened up her arms wide for him.

He snuggled his nose close to her chest and then slowly began to undress her.

Finally after the tension mounted for several minutes, they both released and waves of pure delight washed over both of them.

Emma felt a sense of satisfaction with him lying there peacefully in her arms and she asked, “Will you be staying for dinner?”

His sardonic grin did not reach his eyes, “No I have a business meeting to attend to this evening.  I’ll be having dinner with a new client.”

‘Emma felt the sweet sense of disappointment.  He never stayed for dinner, ever.  They never went anywhere together, ever.  She did not understand him.  He was a bachelor, there was no reason to hide forever, or was there?

For Three years she had been his lover always hoping that he would give her more, but he never offered anything other then some time in his bed.

He would spend an hour or two with her then he would leave, after making some sort of lame excuse.’

An hour later, he left and Emma wondered where her servant girl was?

She had seen her out in the garden, earlier this morning but had not seen her since.  She had assumed the girl had gone shopping for the day and would return soon.  It was nightfall and still no servant girl.

Emma went to look in the girl’s quarters and there was a note, stating that she was in love with Jerry and had gone off to be with him and travel on the high seas.

‘Even the ugliest girl in the world could find a man to love her, why could not she?’

Emma sat there feeling dejected and very lonely; she would have to post for another servant soon.  But then again, maybe she would rather travel instead.  It had been years since she had travelled.  Maybe a trip to England would be what she needed.  Break up her routine; attend a few balls there, maybe she would meet someone in England.  Then Anthony Atkins would be sorry, with his mistress gone, maybe then he would propose to her and marry her and make an honest woman out of her for once…’

Chapter Sixteen

Chateau Frontenac July 2, 1907

Lorraine and Elsa were happy to arrive at The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec.  Built and designed by Bruce Price in 1893.  It was a Chalet Style, luxury hotel for the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Chateau Frontenac, with hundreds of rooms and services; overlooked the magnificent cape of Old Quebec and the St. Lawrence River.  The Old City of Quebec looked lovely in the bright sunshine that day; Rows of little boutiques, with antique shops, and gift shops glistened, inviting, calling her name.  Lorraine could not wait to do some more shopping.

The girls decided to go to one of the café’s for a quick bite to eat.  They were enjoying listening to the idle chatter of the locals.  The French accent and dialect was different then the one used in Paris, France.  Elsa was surprised at this.  She assumed everyone spoke the same dialect of French.  She knew that there were over hundreds of dialects of French, depending on which village one visited.  Elsa knew how to speak French but she preferred English, for it was the universal language at the time.  After finishing their brunch of poached eggs, fried beans, and potatoes with bacon, they headed towards the shops.  In Quebec, the dainty leather boots were very fashionable, and so were the fur walking boots.  They bought both pairs.

Lorraine giggled, “A girl can never have too many shoes or boots.”

Elsa agreed.

‘Elsa doubted that the small black boots would suffice, for she was told that there could be lots of snow each winter, sometimes up to one’s hips.  If that happened, she would just hibernate inside of a warm house.  However, in reality Elsa did not want to be in Canada for very long.  She preferred Europe.  She had not thought of what would happen if Lorraine did marry Anthony.  What would happen to her?  Where would she live?  It was a nice place to visit but she was feeling very homesick for Paris.

Lorraine was tiring of her constant whining about being here for so long.  She warned her, to complain again would hold serious consequences.  Elsa did not want to know just what she meant by that.’

Elsa spotted a strange looking thing in a window, pointing to it she laughed, “Look Lorraine, I wonder what those things are for?  They look like tennis rackets.”

Lorraine grinned and they walked into the shop.  The woman came over and said, “I see that you are admiring our snowshoes.  Those are very handy for walking in the winter time around here.”

Lorraine grinned, “You’ll never catch me wearing such things.”

Elsa pointed at the long strips of wood slats and asked, “What are those for?”

The woman pulled one out and placed it under one of the boots nearby, “These are for skiing.  We have cross country skis and downhill skis.  Will you be visiting one of our resorts?”

Lorraine shook her head, “I’m not the sports type, and neither is my sister.”

The very thought of it had made Lorraine break out into gales of laughter.

Lorraine wiped away the tears from her eyes and apologized, “I’m sorry,” she said to the woman, “it’s a private joke.”

‘Elsa was red with embarrassment.  She remembered the last time she had seen a pair of skis.  It had been in one of those men’s magazines, with naked women and a man doing his business to her.  She had brought the magazine to her sister asking her what the man was doing.  Lorraine was shocked and asked her where she had gotten such a magazine?  Elsa had replied that she had been up in the attic cleaning out one of their father’s trunks, and had found it tucked inside a secret compartment.

Lorraine grinned and said, “You stupid girl, if father finds out he will tan your hide, now go and put it back as fast as you can.”

Elsa was stubborn, she said, “Why is this woman naked and what is the man doing to her?”

Lorraine had rolled her eyes, “He is having sex with her.”

Elsa still did not know what that meant so she asked, “Why is he having sex with her, with those big things on her feet?”

Lorraine lost patience with her sister and snapped, “Because he wants to, now go put it back and not another word about it.”

Elsa felt defeated; she really wanted to know more about sex but did not dare ask her sister or her mother.  The memories had flooded back and Lorraine knew it by the look on Elsa’s face.  Lorraine was almost tempted to embarrass the hell out of her sister but thought that it would not be a good idea, seeing that they had a good reputation to uphold in Quebec and had to be careful about everything they said or did here.

The people were fun here, but quite reserved in their ways.  She could see that the locals pretty much kept to themselves and were a tight knit community.  This would be the last place one would want any type of scandal.  Lorraine felt that the people would not be quick to forgive here.  And she was right about that.’

The woman broke her train of thought by asking, “We do have lessons for beginners?  Perhaps you would like to learn how to ski, in the winter time we have a carnival and it is so much fun with tobogganing, skating and skiing.”

Lorraine declined, “Not today, we have enough parcels as it is; we still have to travel to Place Royale.  Perhaps, once we settle in we can come back and purchase what we need.”

Lorraine grabbed her sister and dragged her out of the shop laughing.

‘She knew the woman was being persistent and wanting to make a sale.  She did not care if the two of them would never use such contraptions, at least not at the moment.  Lorraine could not imagine buying things for winter in the summertime.  How ridiculous was that?’

Lorraine had no idea just how horrid wintertime would become to her, she would grow to hate the long days of being cooped up inside because of the large snowfalls and the bitter temperatures.  Laden with many parcels the two girls headed back to Chateau Frontenac.  They planned to go to their room, and have a quick nap before dinnertime…

Chapter Seventeen

The Stranger – A Hero

Lorraine and Elsa had come down to the elegant dining room, dressed in their finest of gowns.  Chateau Frontenac was an elegant place to stay, so the girls decided to show off some of their new found wealth.  Lorraine was dressed in an emerald green grown with a light yellow trim and Elsa was in a light blue gown with a white sash.  Both girls looked very attractive and charming.  They sat down to a lovely dinner consisting of roasted chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.  For dessert, they had earl grey tea and lemon meringue pie.

Lorraine put her fork down and said, “Elsa I’m feeling rather stuffed, and I think I’ll go for that moonlight walk now with you.”

Elsa murmured that she was too tired to walk so she went to bed for the night and Lorraine went outside alone. As Lorraine was enjoying her walk in the well-lit flower garden, she thought about what had transpired that day.

‘Jerry had said his goodbyes and taken the servant girl onto The White Star as promised earlier that day.  Lorraine knew that the servant girl would be in for a big surprise and she would get lots of sex, maybe not enjoyable sex, but she would never complain about another man not wanting her.  Lorraine was sure the sailors, all quite ugly.  They would be happy just to have a woman aboard to share a bed with on a regular basis.’

Lorraine was sitting there on a bench in the garden when a male voice snarled, “There you are you little wench.”

Uncle Duvall appeared from behind a bush, and grabbed her and dragged her further down a path with his hand across her mouth.

She bit him and he yelled, “You little bitch, how dare you leave me before I got a chance to say goodbye.”

Lorraine hissed, “Uncle Duvall, you are going to be sorry if you touch me.  How dare you treat your niece in such a horrible way?  Aunt Blaise would be disgusted with you, as I am.”

Duvall Marchand looked at her with lust in his eyes and sweetly said, “I couldn’t have you on my ship because of my cook Ann and my crew, but here you are unprotected, and I will have what I want.”

He started to rip at her clothes and she screamed.  Suddenly a dark figure came out of the shadows, pulled him off her and a pistol shot rang through the air.  Duvall slumped to the ground.

At first Lorraine thought it was Jerry and said, “Jerry I didn’t know you came back from the ship, thanks ever so much.”

She looked up at the hooded eyes, covered face, and realized it was not Jerry.  The robed figure dressed in a black cloak turned around and ran off disappearing into the night.  Lorraine stood there shaking, perplexed, as a servant, hearing the commotion had come into the bushes and stopped short of surprise. A lovely young woman with a torn dress, and a man lying dead on the ground, he had seen the figure run off and grinned to himself.  He knew whom it was running away, he would not pursue the man, and he would keep it to himself.  Obviously, Anthony Atkins had a good reason to kill the man.

The servant turned to Lorraine and asked, “Are you alright my lady?”

Lorraine stiffly replied, “I did not kill this man, he attacked me, then a pistol went off and the robber ran away.”

The servant said, “There, my lady, not to worry, I saw the whole thing.  Be thankful that you had a hero.”

Lorraine asked, “Who was that man?”

The servant shrugged his shoulders, “A gentleman of sorts, he must have heard a commotion and came to rescue you.  I think I scared him off.”

Lorraine was shocked, “But he took the man’s wallet?  He’s a thief, you should go stop him.”

The servant looked at her, “Do you really want to prosecute the man who just rescued you?”

Lorraine stood for a moment and looked at the sky, looked at her uncle lying there dead and bleeding; then she smiled, who ever her savior was, he not only had protected her, he had also handed her a very large fortune.  Being the next one in line to get her Uncle’s inheritance, she smiled and looked at the man.

Lorraine said, “When you get the chance, tell your friend to look me up in Place Royale.  My name is Lorraine Picard I’d like to thank him for saving me.”

The servant smiled, “I’m sure he will make himself known when the time is right.”

She wondered what he meant by that…

Chapter Eighteen

Lorraine’s Lucky Star

That night after the attack the servant handed Lorraine a dark cloak he said, “Here use this to hide your ripped gown.  Walk along the back path over there and get back into the hotel as soon as you can.  I will call the constable in about thirty minutes.”

Lorraine whispered, “Thank you.”

The constable arrived an hour later.

The constable said, “Did anyone see what happened?”

The servant stepped forward and the constable said, “What is your name.”

The servant said, “I work here in the kitchen surely you know who I am?”

The constable looked at him closer then smiled, “Jules! How have you been?”

Jules smiled, “Good thank you.  I stepped out of the kitchen to have a cigar.  I heard a woman screaming so I ran over to assist her.”

The constable grinned, “Do you have a pistol on you?”

Jules smiled, “No but I do have another Cuban cigar, thanks to Chago Sima, would you like one?”

The constable nodded, and they both lit up cigars and puffed away for a few minutes.

The constable said, “The poor bastard, looks like a sailor, can’t be worth much.”

He leaned over pulled out the wallet and whistled, “This is Duvall Marchand from Paris, France?  Isn’t he a millionaire that just lost his wife Blaise Marchand in a train accident?”

Jules looked down at the man, “He is a despicable man trying to rape a child, disgusting creature.”

The constable said, “It was a child?”

Jules shook his head, “She was a woman, quite young looking.”

The constable said, “Tell me what happened.”

Jules said, “Through those trees over there I saw a young girl screaming.  She was struggling with this man lying here on the ground.  He was ripping off her dress and preparing to rape her.  As you can see, his pants are half way down to his knees.  He would have succeeded if it had not been for a figure wearing a dark cloak that jumped out of the bushes.

They had a pistol and tried to stop the girl’s attacker.  They pushed the girl to the ground.  The two were struggling with each other when a pistol shot went off.  The attacker fell to the ground. The figure in a dark cloak ran away.”

The Constable scratched his head and asked, “Could you see if it was a man or a woman in the dark cloak?”

The servant shook his head no. The Constable knew that Jules was a good and honest man that never caused any trouble, so he believed his story.

The constable said, “What did the young girl look like?  Did she know her attacker?”

Jules said, “It was too dark to see her face although she has a firm looking body so I am assuming that she is young.  She has long blonde hair, tied in a braid and she was wearing a dress.  I think she ran away because she was scared of being blamed for this man’s death.”

The constable looked at him, “Did you say anything to her?”

Jules smiled, “I don’t think she even saw me.  It all happened so quickly.  I just remember seeing her run away.”

The constable said, “Which way did she go?”

Jules smiled, “Towards the docks.  Several ships have left.  She did not look like anyone from around here.  Her skin was quite dark.”

The constable said, “Dark as in Spanish?”

Jules nodded, “Probably…”

The constable said, “Okay let’s get him out of here.  Case closed.  Does this man have any family here?”

Jules said, “I have no idea.”

The constable said, “I wonder where he came from?”

Jules said, “He looks like a sailor so I would check at the docks.  I’m sure he has a photo on him.”

The constable smiled, “Yes I’ll go down to the docks and see if anyone’s seen him there.”

Jules finished his cigar and walked back towards the kitchen.  He looked at the time and hoped that his employer would not mind that some of the dinners would be late this evening… Lorraine was back in her room within a few minutes.  She quickly got out of the dress sobbing as she ripped it to shreds and burned every scrap of it in her fireplace.

The next day the constable was showing the victims picture around the pubs along the docks.  That was when Jerry Bouchard came along and said, “Sir I need to speak to you. Our captain is missing, he didn’t return last night.”

The constable showed Jerry the picture.

Jerry said, “Why that’s Duvall, is he okay?  He is prone to drink; did he get arrested for being intoxicated again?”

The constable looked at him, “Why has this happened before?”

Jerry said, “Yeah, I just got him out of the slammer in Montreal for the very same thing. I cannot believe he has done it again.  I think it is because of his wife.  Blaise Marchand died in a train accident a few months ago.  Ever since then he’s been drinking pretty heavily.”

The constable said, “How long have you known Mr Marchand?”

Jerry said, “Several years.  I was one of his servants at the estate in England before he sold it.  He sold everything, then had The White Star built.  He is planning to sail around the world.  How long are you holding him for?”

The constable shook his head, “Mr Marchand was shot and killed.  He tried to rape a young woman and we have no idea who it was.  Would you have any idea?”

Jerry stood there and paled, he said, “Not again… he tried to rape a woman in Montreal too… I do not know what has come over him.  He likes virgins…”

The constable’s eyes narrowed, “Did Mr Marchand own a dark cloak?”

Jerry smiled and said, “Who doesn’t? They are handy and very popular.  Mr Marchand has several dark cloaks.  Too many to count…”

The constable sighed, “Was he wearing one the night he left?”

Jerry said, “No one saw him leave.  We were all busy down below in the ship playing cards and board games.  Duvall shouted that he was going on land and that no one was to leave the ship.  We obey his orders or he would shoot us out at sea.”

The constable said, “You say he’s shot men at sea?”

Jerry nodded, “Yes several sailors, but they were foreigners from England.  They couldn’t speak a word of English so he shot them and threw them overboard.”

The constable said, “Where were you at the time?”

Jerry said, “Hiding behind a door.  When Duvall gets drunk, he is dangerous with a pistol.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the pistol belonged to him?”

The constable said, “I didn’t find a pistol or a dark cloak.  I have no description of the girl he attacked other then she has blonde hair…”

Jerry gasped for a moment, “Yes he likes girls with blonde hair.  His youngest niece Elsa Picard is staying up at Chateau Frontenac, she has blonde hair…”

The constable said, “Thank you… I’ll check with her then…”

Jerry said, “I will have to contact Mr Duvall’s attorneys.”

The constable said, “Why the hurry?”

Jerry said, “I have a ship full of sailors that have been at sea for over eight weeks they expect to be paid tomorrow.  I’m going to have a full blown war on my hands if I don’t provide them with some money.”

The constable said, “Right, well I believe Mr Marchand has heirs, you would have to contact them.  I am assuming that the niece can assist you with your money problems.  Thank you and good day Mr Bouchard.”

Jerry watched in concern as the constable left, he hoped to god that it was not Elsa…

Elsa Picard was still asleep when the constable came to her hotel room door and knocked.

The maid came along the hall and asked, “Can I help you?”

The constable said, “Yes is this Elsa Picard’s room?”

The maid said, “I believe it is, the poor dear she’s been ill since yesterday afternoon.  Been in bed with the flu or food poisoning I am not sure which.  You can talk to her sister Lorraine if you wish.  She’s awake…”

The constable said, “Where is she?”

The maid said, “Right this way…”

She knocked on the next door and a voice mumbled drearily, “I’m not ready to get up yet…”

The maid said, “Miss Picard, I’m sorry to bother you but the constable is here to see your sister Elsa.”

Lorraine drew in her breath, walked slowly to the door, and opened it.  She had a bit of a tan but now she looked somewhat pale.

She smiled and said, “Come in.”

The constable looked at her, went, and sat down, “Where were you last night?”

Lorraine said, “Here in my room.  After supper, I walked around the hotel to get my bearings. My sister and I just arrived by ship from England.  It has been a tedious two months if you know what I mean.  I am not the best of travellers.  Why would you want to see my sister Elsa?  She has been in bed since yesterday, she was ill on the ship as well, poor thing.  Motion sickness did her in.”

The constable said, “Did you go outside, out to the gardens?”

Lorraine said, “No I plan to do that today.  I did go out the hotel’s front door for a few minutes until I saw a tall dark figure wearing a black cloak walking down the street. I couldn’t see the face; I was terrified.”

The constable looked at Lorraine and said, “Why is that? What are you here for?”

Lorraine said, “They say the Virgin Slayer wears a dark cloak.  I ran back in the doors and up to my room. As to why I am here, I plan to see Anthony Atkins about some investment ideas that I have. I am carrying out one of my Aunt Blaise’s wishes.”

The constable said, “What was her wish?”

Lorraine smiled, “That I would travel across the sea to Montreal and show them some of her Fashion Designs.  I was hoping that Anthony could do the architectural work for the haute couture shop I want to open here.  I was reading about him in this newspaper article.”

The constable looked at the Montreal gazette clipping and said, “Why Anthony Atkins?”

Lorraine said, “He’s handsome, rich and single, I am looking for a husband.”

The constable roared and said, “Good luck lass!”

Lorraine smiled, “I’ll have to go see him and see what I can do to help.”

The constable said, “Who is older you or Elsa?”

Lorraine said, “I am, why?”

The constable said, “How did you get to Canada?”

Lorraine said, “We came on The White Star.  We stopped off in Montreal first to visit a friend of our aunts, Emma Thompson.  Then we came here to Quebec this morning.  Were planning to leave in a day or so after doing some shopping we travelled light.”

The constable said, “Emma Thompson has blonde hair.”

Lorraine said, “Yes she does.”

The constable said, “Did your Uncle ever threaten her?”

Lorraine said, “Not likely.  I just rang her place and the maid told me she left the same time we did.  It seems that she is on her way to England at this very moment.”

The constable said, “Oh…”

Lorraine said, “What is this about? Why are you here to see Elsa?”

The constable said, “It’s concerning your Uncle.”

Lorraine said, “Please I don’t want to hear it.  He is a vile creature, given to drink.  Is he in jail again?”

The constable said, “No he’s dead.”

Lorraine said, “Duvall is dead?  I do not understand.  He was on his ship he was coming here to have dinner with us before he left.”

The constable said, “There was an accident, he was shot and killed last night.  I have no idea who the killer is or the young woman that he attacked.”

Lorraine said, “Oh no, I hope no one prints it in the papers.  This would be a scandal!  Anthony would not even consider marrying me if he knew… Is there anyway to keep this quiet?”

The constable looked at her and said, “I don’t think you’ll have much luck with Anthony.  Emma Thompson’s been trying to get him to marry her for the past three years.”

Lorraine turned pale as a ghost, “You mean they have been together?”

The constable nodded, “It’s a secret and since you like secret’s I thought you should know.  Your friend Emma is Anthony’s lover…”

Lorraine said, “Oh my…”

The constable saw how pale Lorraine was and said, “Forgive me for bothering you.  From what I heard from Jerry Bouchard, your Uncle murdered several sailors on his ship.  Now they were all on there, and Duvall has hundreds of enemies.  I am one of them.  I think this case is closed.  I will release the body tomorrow for burial.  I suggest you take him to St Patrick’s Cemetery. I think you two girls are the only heirs to Marchand’s estate, so now you’ll have all his hard earned money.”

Lorraine looked at the constable and said, “My Aunt intended for us to have some of it… now fates for some reason has given us all of it…”

The constable said, “Jerry Bouchard is contacting your uncle’s attorney; he needs money to pay the sailors. You should speak to him in regards to your uncle’s estate. If I’m not mistaken you two girls are the only heirs.”

She shook her head in disbelief and closed the door after the constable left.  Lorraine took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief….

It was on Friday July 5, 1907 when they buried Duvall Marchand in the St Patrick’s cemetery on Chemin, Saint-Louis, Quebec.  It was a small service for not many people liked Duvall Marchand; in fact, most people hated him.  The hotel did not want any bad publicity either so the Montreal Gazette did not run the story.  Elsa cried at first then she started to feel like fate had delivered the revenge that they had wanted so badly.  Elsa was enjoying Chateau Frontenac because it was so beautiful and elegant, with a gorgeous view over the coast.  The small cobblestone streets, the lovely trees and flowers, it was like a small paradise.  Elsa almost did not want to leave it, for a small village, probably nothing fancy to go to, she would miss all this luxury in the years to come.

Lorraine shaken by the whole ordeal decided that both girls should cut their visit short and start heading to Place Royale right away.  The sooner she found Anthony Atkins, the better.  It truly had been fate, for the evening before Lorraine had been watching a shooting star and had made the wish that; her Aunt Blaise would seek revenge with the help of the gods.  What had shaken up Lorraine was the fact that a total stranger had come to her aid from out of nowhere.

It made Lorraine think about what her life had been like so far and she felt rather ashamed and somewhat selfish.  She had only thought of herself and no one else, especially not her Sister Elsa, who was such a loving girl.

She would make sure that Elsa would be taken care of one way or the other.  Lorraine was happy to have such a kind sister to come home to.  She would miss her when after marriage; the two of them would have to part ways.  She knew that Elsa was having fun but she was also homesick for Paris.

They packed their bags the next day and headed out towards Place Royale.  Jerry had arranged for them to go stay at his Brother Simon Bouchard’s place, The Old Port Inn.  With Duvall gone, Lorraine had told Jerry to keep the servant girl on The White Star and to accompany the girls to Place Royale, where he could go visit his brother.  Jerry rather laughed at that, he wondered if Lorraine just wanted him to tag along for the sex.  He was surprised when she advised him that they would no longer be participating in any more sexual escapades.  She could not risk it, not until after she had captured Anthony Atkin’s heart.

Jerry was looking forward to seeing his Brother Simon again.  On their way there, Lorraine told Elsa and Jerry what really happened to Uncle Duvall and they were amazed that a stranger had taken care of her uncle.  She wondered if Jerry had sent the vigilante to watch over them.

Elsa turned to Jerry and asked, “Did you send someone after Uncle Duvall when he left the ship?”

Jerry shook his head no, “All the men were on board and accounted for.  Good thing they were, for the constable came.  I was afraid my little filly would squeak but she is actually enjoying all the male attention on the ship.  Turns out she’s some sort of sex maniac, wants it all the time now.”

Lorraine grinned and said, “I thought so, she just didn’t know it at the time.”

When they pulled up to The Old Port Inn midday there seemed to be some sort of festival going on in the streets, which were crowded with hundreds of people.  Lorraine dismounted from the carriage wearing her big floppy hat with the peacock feathers in it.  She was quite elegantly dressed in a royal blue gown with white lace on the collar.  She looked very rich to the locals and totally out of place at a country fair.  Some of the men started to giggle when they saw her hat at first, until she turned around then they stopped laughing and just stared.

A gorgeous woman in these parts, they wondered where she had come from and many rushed into the local saloon to comb and grease their hair, and fix themselves up.  Some even dashed over to JA Moisan’s store to buy some cologne.  Jean Moisan looked out the window and smiled, this woman was going to be very good for his business.  She looked classier than Ophirah Ramsbottom did.  There was a sensual air about her too; a confidence that most young women did not portray.  He wondered if she was a foreigner.  He noticed the girl beside her was not as fancily dressed, but she was a sweet looking girl.  Probably a virgin; He felt sorry for her, Joseph Munroe was prowling around out there.

He turned to the man beside him, nudged him, and said, “I’ll bet you a nickel that Joseph finds that girl within the next half hour.”

The man looked out the window, grinned, and said, “I’ll bet you a dime he will find her in fifteen minutes.”

Elsa had picked a very simple gown to wear, one that was virginal and flattering at her sister’s request.  It was a pale cream dress with tiny yellow flowers on it, and she had a nice straw hat with yellow daisies in it.  She looked like a sweet country flower, one that was ripe for the picking.  Lorraine was disappointed, the village was so small, and with only one shop there, she wondered how she was going to survive living there.

Chapter Nineteen

The Old Port Inn July 6, 1907

Lorraine was looking at The Old Port Inn with disdain.  It was very different from Chateau Frontenac’s splendor.  She sighed as Jerry began to unload their luggage.

An ugly looking man came outside of the Inn and stood there looking shocked then he cried, “Jerry I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Jerry hugged the man and said, “It’s so good to see you brother, it’s been a long time.  I would like to introduce you to two very fine young women.  This is Lorraine and Elsa Picard — from Paris, France.  And girls, this is my Brother Simon Bouchard.”

Simon bowed and kissed each of the girl’s hands.

Lorraine felt an aversion to the man.  Simon was very sinister looking, a few years older than his brother was.  His beady brown eyes bore into her.  His hair was messy, greasy, shoulder length and dark blonde in color with a receding hairline.  He had a medium muscular build, he was dressed in a ragged brown jacket with short-legged pants, and he smelled of whisky.  Elsa was terrified of the man and did not say a word.  Both girls were thankful when Jerry and Simon grabbed their trunks and disappeared inside the red brick building.

It was a type of saloon with rooms above it.  The rooms were clean, but small with tiny beds and woolen grey blankets.  Elsa’s eyes stung from the smoke and Lorraine’s nose crinkled at the musty smell inside of their yellowed wallpapered room.  The walls stained by years of smoking; Lorraine hoped they would not have to stay there for very long.

Simon asked, “So how long do you plan to visit here?”

Jerry grinned, “I’m sorry but I’m only here to drop the ladies off and say a quick hello.  I have to return to my ship soon.  My captain’s dead and I am in charge of the ship now compliments of Lorraine Picard.  She is the sole heir to Duvall Marchand’s fortune.  The funny thing was that he tried to keep his wife Blaise’s fortune away from its rightful heir, someone killed him, and now everything has gone to Lorraine.  I don’t think she’s even aware of the full extent of her wealth yet.”

Simon asked, “What about Elsa?”

Jerry said, “Elsa won’t inherit anything.  Lorraine is technically her guardian now that Duvall is gone.”

Interrupted by the trample of feet coming down the stairs the two men stopped talking.  The girls had put their things in the room and come down the stairs.

Elsa was excited when she read the notices posted on the board, “Look Lorraine we’ve come just in time for the country festival.  I wonder if Anthony Atkins will attend.”

Lorraine was just about to shush her sister when Simon Boucher overheard their conversation and said, “More than likely Anthony will be there.  He likes to bring his sketch book to such events, free advertisement for his business.”

Lorraine smiled sweetly and asked, “Do you know Mr. Atkins very well?”

Simon grinned, “Why yes, he comes in here for lunch several times a week.  His office is in that building over there.”

Lorraine looked out the window and down the street.  She felt a little thrill go through her when she read the sign, “Atkins Architecture.”

Elsa could not contain herself and she asked Simon, “Is Mr. Atkins still a bachelor?  Does he court anyone here?”

Simon laughed, “I doubt it.  Not many young pretty women like you come to Place Royale except Ophirah Ramsbottom and her Sister Mary.  They just arrived a month or so ago and I’ve heard that Anthony and Joseph have been to their cottage several times.”

Lorraine felt a bit of jealousy in her stomach, “Do you know if Anthony fancies them?”

Simon laughed, “Not likely.  They are poor girls, with no money.  Anthony would not give them the time of day.  I assume he is there to chaperone his friend Joseph Munroe.  He made a promise to Mr. Ramsbottom to keep an eye on him while he visit’s the lovely Ophirah.”

Lorraine inquired, “What does Ophirah look like?”

Simon grinned, “You can’t miss the flock of lovely red hair, the green eyes, and the voluptuous tall body.

Every man in Quebec and Montreal is aware of her presence here.  It has been good for business for Jean and me, he owns JA Moisan down the street.  He is our local grocer, dry good and clothing store.  They all come here hoping to get a glimpse of her.”

Elsa said, “Why’s that.”

Simon smiled, “Because she’s the most gorgeous creature to ever step foot in these parts, I’d say she’s the most beautiful woman in all of Canada.”

Lorraine grinned looking at Simon Boucher, a toothless, semi bald man with the ugliest wart on his big nose.

Lorraine leaned towards Elsa and whispered in her ear, “I’ll bet she’s gorgeous, anything is gorgeous to a man who looks like the likes of him.”

Elsa giggled at what her sister had said, and fully agreed with her.

‘Lorraine wasn’t worried; she would be able to handle this girl Ophirah.  Lorraine not only had beauty, but thanks to her Uncle now she had lots of money, and a fashionable wardrobe.  Now she would be the main attraction in Place Royale, she was sure of it!’

Simon looked at both of the girls and commented on Lorraine’s train of thought, “I reckon you two lovelies will give Ophirah Ramsbottom a run for her money.  You with your fancy hats and dresses, I am sure the men will be falling all over you girls too.  We have more men here than women.”

Lorraine gave a wry smile, remembering the postcard that she read in The Montreal Gazette.  She looked at Elsa and they both giggled.

Yes, Canada was proving to be gold mine in many ways; after all, there would be no competition among the women and they both hoped and prayed that Anthony Atkins would find Lorraine to be a delight…

Chapter Twenty

Lorraine and Elsa Meet Anthony Atkins

It was later that afternoon after having lunch that the two girls took a stroll out onto the dirt road that went through the center of the village.  The village transformed into an assortment of tables and tents.  Lorraine was surprised that most things for sale were dry and baked goods, farming, and fishing equipment with very little in the sense of fashion for women.  In fact, it was a shame that only the men seemed too happy to be shopping.  The women were standing around comparing recipes.

Elsa was the first to spot the very handsome Anthony Atkins, “Look Lorraine there he is.  I recognize him from his picture in the paper.”

It always annoyed Lorraine when Elsa got the best of her, the girl was simple minded yet had a photographic memory.  Lorraine hoped that her sister was correct; she had a foggy idea of what Anthony looked liked from memory.  Lorraine watched Anthony out of the corner of her eye as one of the young women was practically throwing herself at him.  He held back in disdain and walked away ignoring her completely.  Another sultry woman said hello to Anthony, and Lorraine noticed the wedding ring as he grabbed her hand and gallantly kissed it while bowing.

Lorraine had a smug smile on her face for now she knew Anthony’s type of woman.  Lorraine knew that she would have to use every wile to draw this cat to her little mousetrap.  Elsa in the meantime had struck up a conversation with a beautiful red haired woman who was selling flowers.  Lorraine was getting annoyed with her sister; she was trying to portray a rich woman, why was her sister bothering with this poor girl?

Lorraine thought for a moment, “I wonder…”

Elsa smiled, “I love flowers, what kind are those?”

The girl looked at her and said, “Those are called pink cabbage roses.”

Elsa said, “They smell like my mother.  I miss her you know.  My name is Elsa Picard and I am here with my Sister Lorraine.  We came from Paris, France to meet a wealthy man that lives here in Place Royale.  My sister intends to seduce him and have him marry her.”

The girl held out her hand and said, “Hello Elsa Picard my name is Ophirah Ramsbottom.  I’ve recently moved here from London, England and now I am living here in Place Royale too.”

Elsa’s mouth was wide open in shock, so this was the red headed girl they were looking for.  Ophirah looked at Elsa with a comical grin and then she saw Elsa’s sister coming towards her and the grin disappeared from her face.  Lorraine Picard was dressed in the latest of Paris fashion and looked very becoming and sophisticated.  She was standing near Joseph who was pointing at her and saying something to Anthony.

Anthony amused by the big flouncy hat on top of Lorraine’s head thought to himself, ‘She certainly stands out in a crowd with all those peacock feathers sticking out of that ridiculous hat.’

Lorraine walked by Anthony, smiled, and walked over and introduced herself to Joseph, “Hello my name is Lorraine Picard, I am from Paris, France, and I believe you are Mr. Joseph Munroe?”

Joseph felt a moment of pride and he smiled warmly at her, “Why yes I am Joseph Munroe, a pleasure to meet you my dear.  How is it that you know my name?”

Lorraine grinned, “I recognized your picture from the New York Times.  You won the Man of the Year Award for 1907 as being the best in New Canadian Business Ventures?”

Joseph grinned, “Ah, yes of course.”

Joseph had taken Lorraine’s gloved hand and kissed it, while resting his lips there he turned and saw the shocked look on Anthony’s face.  It was priceless.  Joseph was flattered that Lorraine had noticed him before Anthony.  Usually women would flock to Anthony first and try everything to start up a conversation with him.  Not this girl, she knew a jewel when she saw one.  Anthony was perturbed; this beauty obviously rich had snubbed him and walked by him as if he did not exist.  His interest was peaked.

Lorraine walked away and headed towards one of the booths and Anthony sauntered over to Joseph and asked, “Who is that girl?”

Joseph grinned, “That is Lorraine Picard from Paris, France.”

Anthony got an odd look of recognition in his eye as he smiled broadly and said, “I wonder if she has tired of the men of Paris?”

Joseph had a questioning look in his eye, when Anthony added, “Quick go and find out if she’s courting anyone.”

Joseph did not feel like being involved, “Just a minute I’ll see if Ophirah can find out for you.”

Joseph was staring at Lorraine as he walked over to Ophirah.  Then he noticed the young girl standing beside Ophirah.  She gave Joseph a big smile.  Joseph stopped and studied the young girl, very fresh, smelling of lemons, virginal he could smell one from a mile away.  He walked up to the two women nodded at Elsa then turned towards Ophirah.  Elsa was flabbergasted that this man would even acknowledge her existence.

Joseph said, “Ophirah darling, when you have a minute I need to ask a favor.”

Ophirah was busy with her customers and had failed to notice her fiancé.

Joseph turned toward the young girl; leaning towards her, he said softly, “Here is a flower for a pretty young girl.”

Joseph stood there holding a single red rose and gave it to the stammering girl who had turned three shades of red.

She looked up at him, “My name is Elsa Picard sir, and I am from Paris, France.”

Lorraine had noticed and quickly walked over to say, “Elsa darling let me introduce you to this dashing young man.”

Ophirah overheard the booming voice, turned around with a look of fear on her face, and watched silently.

Joseph grabbed Lorraine’s gloved hand and raised it to his lips, “Hello there beautiful I am Joseph Munroe and you are?”

Lorraine grinned, “You silly boy I just introduced myself to you.”

She pulled away her hand and pushed her Sister Elsa forward.

Lorraine smiled demurely, “This is my Sister Elsa Picard.  I am sure you two will have something to discuss.”

Then Lorraine said, “Oh look Elsa.  They have some homemade apple pie here.”

Lorraine smiled and walked away.

Elsa looked perplexed after her sister and smiled warmly at Joseph who laughed heartily as Elsa whispered, “My sister wants to meet your friend Anthony Atkins.”

Joseph’s look of hurt, then surprise embarrassed Elsa.

She mumbled, “I’m sorry I was thinking out loud.”

She turned and walked away after her sister.

Ophirah stood beside Joseph and quietly said, “She’s a dashing handsome woman that Lorraine.”

Joseph could not help but notice the coldness in Ophirah’s voice or the look of distrust in her eyes.  He waited for her to make a scene but she did not she just turned and went back to selling flowers.

Joseph walked back over to Anthony and said, “Thanks to you, Ophirah is jealous of Lorraine Picard and poor Elsa has embarrassed herself by telling me that her sister only said hello to me so she could meet you.”

Anthony had a wicked grin on his face as he said, “So she plans to use you to get to me?  How creative, I like that in a woman.”

Joseph did not return the smile.

Anthony asked, “Did you find out where they are staying so that I might pursue this lovely beauty?”

Joseph shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ll have to find a way to talk to Elsa without Ophirah’s knowledge, she still doesn’t trust me.”

Anthony laughed, “Can you blame her?  You have a reputation for being a rake and seducing young virgins to give you their virtue.”

Joseph cringed at this, “Yes at times it has cost me plenty of money to rid myself of some of them.  Some were with child and I had to get rid of the fetus.  Doctor Peter Tibideau was kind enough to do so in England.  I’ll have to find someone for here in Canada.”

Anthony shook his head and said, “That is where we differ my friend, I would never get rid of a child of mine.  Someday you may not be able to have children and you will regret the souls you have murdered.”

Joseph looked angry for a moment and said, “It’s not murder when they are only a fetus and not fully developed.  How can that be considered murder?”

Anthony hissed, “Each child has a soul, it’s a living human being therefore you take life away and it will come back to haunt you someday.  You know Karma and all of that.”

Joseph sighed, “My friend lets not quarrel we both will never change our views on such things.  You distract Ophirah somehow and I will sneak off to speak to Elsa.  Tell her you’ve sent me to run an errand or something.”

As Joseph walked away, Ophirah had a bad feeling and noticed Anthony coming over to her and he said, “Not to worry my dear, I’ve sent him off to run some errands for me.  It will keep him busy and out of trouble, I doubt that he will cross Lorraine Picard’s path now.”

Ophirah let out a sigh of relief, “Thank you, I was worried about her.  Elsa informed me that she has come from Paris, France to meet a wealthy man, seduce him, and have him marry her.  I am worried that she will go after Joseph.”

Anthony said, “Now you wouldn’t want some woman taking your meal ticket away would you?”

Anthony’s snide remark brought tears to Ophirah’s eyes as she sobbed, “I never wanted him for his money I love him with my heart and soul.  How dare you accuse me of such a thing?”

She turned to walk away and Anthony grabbed her arm and said, “You know the saying is keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  You should become friends with Lorraine Picard, that way you can deter her away from Joseph and help me get her.”

Ophirah looked at him in shock, “My dear Anthony is it true?  Are you besotted with Miss Lorraine Picard?”

Anthony nodded ruefully, “I can’t help but wonder what kind of a woman wears a flouncy hat with a big peacock feather in it at a country harvest.  She is like a male peacock flaunting its feathers then playing hard to get with me.  Do you think she’s doing it intentionally because she wants me to notice her?”

Ophirah’s eyes narrowed and she said, “Do you think you’re the only one she wants?  I saw the way she was looking at my Joseph, all possessive and sure of herself.  That woman is dangerous; she knows she can get any man to fall at her feet within a minutes notice.  Never underestimate the power of a woman that knows what she is doing.  That woman will play you like a puppet and run your life.”

Anthony grinned and said, “I know, but honestly I could use a little organization don’t you think?”

Ophirah’s face softened and she smiled warmly; she noticed for the first time that Anthony was confiding in her like a friend rather than some poor girl looking to grab a rich man’s coat.

She said, “Anthony you have so much to offer a woman, she’d be crazy not to fall in love with you.”

She said it in such a revealing way then blushed.

Anthony looked at her in surprise and quietly asked, “Did you ever like me?”

Ophirah looked around and said, “Yes, you were the first one to catch my eye but then I fell in love with Joseph.  He was a little more persistent then you.”

Anthony roared at this he was delighted.  He had captured Ophirah’s heart before Joseph.  He could never crow about it to his friend, but then again, if Joseph started showing any interest in Lorraine Picard, he would flirt with the lovely Ophirah and that would keep Joseph in check.  Joseph hated it when Anthony would always steal the affections of the girls he tried to woo.  It was a rivalry between them from time to time to see who could get a girl to fall in love with them first.

If Joseph lost, then he would work to seduce them out of revenge, he just wanted to prove that he was better than Anthony was.  Anthony Atkins was a total gentleman he would never seduce a young virgin; he usually preferred his women attached, so that they could be discrete lovers.  He had made the exception for Emma Thompson only because she was in love with him and very rich; Emma would never cause a scandal.  Anthony decided to stay by Ophirah’s side for the rest of the day and keep her company he never realized how beautiful a person she was until then.

Chapter Twenty-One

The Rendezvous

Joseph had caught Elsa’s eye as she rounded the corner and he motioned to her to join him for a walk towards the wooded area on the other side of the town.

Joseph said, “I’m sorry but Anthony has sent me off on an errand and I wanted to talk to you some more, would you care to accompany me?”

Elsa was flattered and said, “Sure I’ll join you, but I’ll just let my sister know first.”

She turned as Lorraine came over to see what Elsa was doing.

Joseph flirtingly said, “Lorraine you can join us in our adventure if you’d like?”

She smiled at him and let her guard down.  Joseph was such fun.  They walked into the forest area to a clearing and then they hopped into an enclosed carriage and sped away.

Lorraine asked, “Where are we heading?”

Joseph said, “Towards Cote de La Montagne.”

Joseph asked, “Lorraine I hear that Paris women are said to be the best of lovers, is this true?”

Lorraine smiled smugly at this, winked at Elsa, and demurely said, “Is that anyway to talk to a lady?”

Joseph mocked her, “You may be a lady on the outside, but I’ve heard you’re a tigress on the inside.”

At first Lorraine looked scared then Joseph added, “Your secret affairs are safe with me.  My friends in England have warned me about you.  They say that you like married men.”

Lorraine was speechless as he turned to Elsa, “And you my dear are the virginal one I take it?”

Elsa blushed as he added, “You know men are more impressed with a woman who is good in bed then one that has her virtue still intact.  Especially rich men, they want someone with some experience.”

Lorraine coughed, “I beg your pardon Mr. Munroe, but really must you be so blatant?”

Joseph laughed, “I have no respect for women, I am a rake and proud of it.  Now what I want are you two in my bed.  I want to find out if Paris women are really the rage as they say.”

Both girls smiled wickedly and leaned over to kiss Joseph.

Lorraine smiled, “But a woman in Paris never leaves a man’s bed empty handed unless they stay lovers.”

Joseph grinned and reached into a box under his seat and pulled out two bags of gold.

He looked at her and said, “Will this be enough for your troubles?”

Lorraine coyly said, “What about Elsa?  She’s worth more.”

Joseph looked at Elsa, smiled, pulled out three bags of gold, and said to Lorraine, “She’s obviously worth more than you because she’s a virgin.  Will this suffice my dear?”

Lorraine turned red and felt a flash of anger searing inside of her but she kept silent.

‘Sitting before her were five bags of gold which would probably help Elsa’s living expenses for the next five years.  By then Lorraine was sure she could find a husband for her sister….’

The carriage pulled up near a place called Dubois Inn in Cote de La Montagne.  The Inn was small and decorated in dark hues of browns and greens.  Joseph used the Inn many times for his indiscretions so Mr. Bernard Dubois, a small, dark haired and brown-eyed man, was not at all surprised.  He handed Joseph the key to his room.  The carriage pulled around the back alley of the building and the two girls, with veils across their faces, they went through the back entrance and into a secret passageway.  The driver carried in the bags of gold behind them.

They climbed the stairs, following the short, ugly man until they came to a door, opened by Joseph.  He ushered them in.  The driver placed the bags of gold in the corner and left.  The girls sat down on the double bed.  Joseph closed the door and Mr. Dubois went back through the secret passageway and down below.  Joseph looked at the two of them and smiled.

He went over to the small bar in the corner and said, “Care for some wine ladies?”

Elsa was nervous but accepted the chilled drink.  It tasted lovely; she had not had a glass of wine in ages.  Lorraine gulped hers down too quickly and wondered if she was doing the right thing.

Joseph asked Elsa, “So tell me a bit about your selves.  Why does your sister want to meet my friend Anthony?”

Elsa looked at Lorraine then thought for a moment.

Elsa said, “My sister is in love with your friend and since she’s come into a vast fortune, she thought they would make a good match.  You see she loves architecture like him and would love helping to design the towns from here to Quebec.”

Lorraine gasped at this lie but then smiled sheepishly.  She wondered why all of a sudden her sister was talking so intelligently.  Was it because she was going to enter womanhood and something had clicked?

She looked at the way Elsa was looking at Joseph and realized that her sister actually was in love with the man.  How odd.  Now that she thought about it, Elsa had poured over every scrap of news about Joseph Munroe in many periodicals; she even had a scrapbook of him.  She treated him like some sort of movie star, now she realized why her sister was very happy to be in his bedchamber.

Lorraine grinned at her sister and said, “She’s right, I do plan to build an empire with your friend.  I think with my great wealth and his talent we can build the most elegant townhouses, for the rich and famous of course.”

Joseph was impressed, a woman not after Anthony’s money, he would love that.  Now he would do his friend a favor and find out if Lorraine Picard was as good in bed as she was famous for in London, England.

He asked, “I heard that you had no fortunes, pray tell me what has changed?”

Elsa piped up, “Our Uncle Duvall Marchand died and Lorraine is the sole heir to his and my Aunt Blaise’s estate.”

Joseph’s eyes were round, “Duvall Marchand is dead?”

‘Secretly he already knew this; Anthony had told him what had happened.  The fact that he was following the beautiful woman into the garden with full intent to seduce her, then finding Duvall molesting his own niece he shot before thinking.  Relieved later to find out through the servants that Duvall had stolen the girl’s fortunes, Anthony was proud to have assisted the lovely Lorraine Picard.  In fact he had rushed home shortly afterwards, and sent word to Simon Boucher to let him know when the girls arrived in town.  Anthony Atkins knows everything.

What he did not bargain on was Lorraine playing cat and mouse that day.  He could not believe that she did not introduce herself to him right away.  Then realized he was dealing with a highly intelligent social climber who only had one goal in mind.  To win his heart and marry him now with her fortunes changed, he would only be too happy to do so.  Joseph only had eyes for Elsa, but when Lorraine offered to come along, he could not resist getting one over Anthony who he thought had no idea about Lorraine’s reputation.  His friend never ventured far from home and did not like any type of loose women, found in the brothels of London.  In fact, Anthony left England after obtaining his University degree and never desired to return.

Anthony concentrated instead on making his fortunes in Canada.  Along with Joseph Munroe, the two had become incredibly wealthy in a short period of time.  Was Joseph willing to risk all to have one night in bed with the lovely Lorraine Picard, who his friends told him was unique in bed?  Yes, Joseph wanted to partake of her nectar and her sisters.’

He smiled at the girls and said, “I will enjoy both of you this afternoon but tonight we must return to our own places.”

Elsa smiled, “Were staying at The Old Port Inn, it’s a horrid place.”

Joseph nodded, “Yes it’s not the best place to stay, but it is safe for two young women.  Simon Boucher is very protective of his charges there.”

Then he added, “Simon Boucher and Bernard Dubois are cousins.  Bernard however is trustworthy and he would never breathe a word of you visiting me here.  If he did, I’d have to kill him and his cousin.”

Elsa was wide eyed, and Lorraine was impressed.  Not only was Joseph a strong man in character but she felt that most men feared his power.  He would make a wonderful ally. She had her money and Elsa was going to be all right.

Joseph had started to unbutton his clothes, the girls started but he stopped them and said, “Let me do it, I love playing the role of the seducer.”

He began to undress the girls and then he pulled out some rags and said, “I’m going to tie each of you to these bed posts.”

Lorraine was excited it had been awhile since she met a man that was into kinky sex.  Elsa looked terrified until Joseph starting massaging her whole body with his hands and he had pulled out one of Lorraine’s feathers from her hat.  He delicately ran it over each of their bodies, tickling them with it.  Lorraine was excited to be doing something entirely new.  She had wanted to try it from behind for some time, but no man had been brave enough, not Joseph; he took his time and enjoyed it with her.  Lorraine was satisfied and then Joseph turned his attention on Elsa.

Elsa said, “I don’t want to do it that way, please.”

Joseph smiled, “Of course not my little virgin, instead I’ll be doing it the old fashioned way with you.”

He worked her body with his fingers and the feather.  The sensations were provocative.  Elsa’s fantasies came to mind.  She had thought of kissing Joseph for so many years and now here he was.

Sucking gently on her lips and bruising them ever so slightly.

He said, “I love the smell of lemons, you are delightful my dear.”

Elsa had a glazed look in her eye as she begged, “Take me now my love, I love you so…”

Joseph stopped for a moment and looked into her doe like eyes.  He saw the love and longing in them.  It hit him hard for a moment then he shook it off.  He took his time with this one, usually he would rape a virgin, but this one touched his heart, so he decided to be gentle with her.  For the next hour, he worked, coddled, and teased Elsa’s body until she was sexually satisfied.

Lorraine was looking rather dour, tied up, naked to the bed, forced to watch, wet and desiring to be touched again.

Lorraine whimpered at him, and Joseph turned and said, “I want to rape you bitch.”

Lorraine bit his nipple and he twisted hers in his hands.  She did not even yelp she was getting off on it.  Joseph smacked her ass hard and she groaned.  Elsa watched as the two of them bit and pulled on each other.  It looked painful but Lorraine was getting off on it.  Joseph was aroused, as never before, he had never found a woman that enjoyed having it rough.  Usually they would scream and beg him to stop, this one begged for more.  It excited him like never before; he was aroused in minutes and could not wait another second.  He felt the biggest surge of energy go through him.  It was the first time for Joseph to yell during sex.  He fell over in a heap of bliss.

There was a knock on the door and a small male voice said, “Is everything alright sir?”

Joseph tried to contain his laughter and gruffly said, “Its fine, leave us be.”

Joseph sat there and then Lorraine leaned over and kissed him full on the mouth then started working on him.  Elsa sat there fascinated by it all.  She wanted to learn everything her sister knew how to do.  Joseph though was impressed, never having it quite done that way before he almost wished that Lorraine wanted to marry him instead.  Then Joseph looked at Elsa and realized it would be hopeless.  He only wanted the virginal types.  Then he thought of Ophirah and felt guilty.

When they were finished, Joseph sighed with satisfaction, “Ladies it is true, Paris women are great lovers.”

They nodded in agreement, Elsa quietly said, “Joseph thanks for making my first time wonderful.  My sister has been after me to learn the art of lovemaking and I am glad I did it with you.  You are a very talented man.  Now I know why so many women are seduced by you.”

Joseph said, “Yes but it was you who seduced me with your beauty.”

Elsa looked puzzled for a moment but then smiled.  The girls washed up as best as they could and got dressed.  Joseph had dressed, gone downstairs, and given instructions on what to do with the two women in his room.  He sat down to have a quick bite to eat, while Bernard Dubois went to the back and up the secret passageway to Joseph’s room.  Bernard arranged for a carriage to take the girls to the Old Port Inn.  The driver from the new carriage carried out the heavy bags wondering what was in them but he did not ask.  He placed them in the carriage go into the drivers seat and drove the girls to their destination.

Joseph knew he could never tell Anthony of what he had done, but he had the satisfaction of knowing that Anthony would definitely want to marry Lorraine Picard.  He would see to it, as for Elsa she was too plain and pathetic for him and besides the girl was in love with him and he did not want her as a lover.  It would complicate his life.  Instead, he wanted the beautiful Ophirah and after today, he decided it was time to get married to her.

She would no longer fear him being near other women, that way he could continue his indiscretions without her knowing about it.  Joseph headed towards Quebec to procure a marriage license and wedding rings.  He would have the local vicar marry the two of them at The Munroe Mansion.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Joseph Munroe and Anthony Atkins July 12, 1907

Ophirah felt nothing but panic about the fact that Joseph had been gone for a few day now with no word.  Anthony had come over to reassure her yet again that he had another errand for Joseph to run and this time it would be in Quebec so he would be gone until Friday.  Anthony had received a letter from Joseph that he had some business to attend to in Quebec.  Anthony wondered which filly had Joseph met this time.  It was Friday night when the butler of Atkins Mansion awakened Anthony.  At first, he thought that something was wrong.

His butler looking very apologetic said to Anthony, “Sir I am sorry to bother you but Mr. Munroe is here to see you and he says that it’s urgent.”

Anthony groaned, and then he asked, “Is he very drunk?”  The butler nodded yes.

Anthony looked at the time and groaned; it was eleven o’clock at night.  Why did Joseph have to show up at this time of night in a drunken state?

Anthony walked into his library and there was Joseph with a silly grin on his face with the strong smell of liquor on his breath.

Joseph hailed his friend with, “Gee Anthony you don’t look very happy to see me!”

Anthony looked at him and gave a wry grin then asked, “Who was it this time?”

Joseph smiled, “Never mind that.  I am going to marry Ophirah.”

Anthony’s jaw dropped in shock; he felt a strange twinge in his heart.

Joseph said, “I spoke to Lorraine Picard and she will welcome your advances and marry you.”

Anthony stopped midair, “Welcome my advances?”

Joseph had a guarded look on his face, “Yes Elsa told me all about it.  The girl really does not know how to hold her tongue.”

Anthony roared with laughter, “I can’t believe how open she is about her sister’s affairs.  When should I start courting the lovely Lorraine Picard?”

Joseph smiled, “I don’t think courting will be necessary, you can just ask her to marry you and I am sure she will say yes.  We could get married on the same day.”

Joseph held up four wedding rings and two marriage licenses.

Anthony just looked at him and said, “You’re crazy you know, and how do you know Lorraine wants this?”

Joseph had a wicked gleam in his eye, “She personally informed me that she came from Paris, France to meet the very wealthy and influential Anthony Atkins, seduce him, and marry him.  The woman talks a lot when she’s drunk.”

Anthony’s eyes narrowed, “Drunk?”

Joseph mildly said, “You did ask me to find out where her heart was and I figured that would be the easiest way.  I put a truth serum in her drink that made her a bit groggy and she told me everything.”

Anthony shook his head in disbelief, “There is no way that story is real.  Tell me how you really found out?”

Joseph mockingly said, “How do I usually find out things from women?”

Anthony gasped, “You bedded Elsa.  The poor girl, she will suffer such shame; What if she tells Ophirah?”

Joseph laughed, “Elsa will not breathe a word of it to any soul.  Lorraine has assured me of that fact.  My dear Ophirah shall never be made aware of my philandering; you and I will make sure she’s happy to be Mrs. Munroe.”

Anthony grinned, “I’m glad she will be married soon then I can seduce her.”

Joseph laughed, “I doubt if Ophirah would take you up on it.  She seems the type to stay faithful to a man.  However, if you do seduce her, wait until I have an heir, I do not want there being any questions about it.  As for Lorraine, I’ll share my wife if you share yours.”

Anthony laughed, “Listen to us, it’s like were bartering cattle or something.  We are being very wicked.  You must know that once I am married I do not share my woman.  My lovers yes, my wife no.”

Joseph shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Oh well if you decide you want Ophirah in your bed then you will definitely have to share.”

Anthony noticed that Joseph spoke with such confidence, he wondered to himself,

‘Maybe Joseph has already bedded the lovely Lorraine Picard?  Why else would he be so sure to tell me to marry the woman?’

Anthony’s eyes narrowed but he did not want to know the truth, he knew what Joseph was like, and he was determined to have Ophirah as well.  Spending time with her had made him realize what a wonderful person she was.  He knew that Ophirah had developed a sort of tenderness for him.  Once she realized that Joseph was having his flings, she being an independent woman, would definitely want revenge on Joseph.  Anthony would only be too happy to help with providing a means to do so.

Chapter Twenty-Three

The Courting Game

‘The next evening Ophirah was relieved when Joseph came to call on her but then she wondered why did he always have to speak to her Father first?  Probably something about his business trip, her Father was a wise man and it seemed that lately Joseph was coming to him for advice about his business matters.’

The fact was that even though Ophirah’s Father was poor now, he was well educated and very knowledgeable about trade and commerce.  Joseph was delighted with Ophirah’s knowledge about many subjects.  Her brain was remarkable, but when he found out that Gordon Ramsbottom was very well versed in Politics, Joseph was extremely pleased about it.  Every now and then, the two men would enjoy a few drinks and Cuban cigars together at The Old Port Inn.  They would play a game of pool and discuss the latest news and politics from London, England.  Ophirah and her mother would usually stay home and work on the small garden at the cottage.

Ophirah was delighted when Joseph, after admiring her small garden, said that he would like her expert opinion on what he could do with his neglected gardens at the Munroe Mansion.  Ophirah took the project to heart when Joseph brought over a gift box of flower seeds with varieties from all around the world.  Ophirah was amazed to find out that JA Moisan carried a seed catalogue in their store, for all sorts of different kinds of vegetables and herbs to use in gourmet recipes.  Ophirah decided she wanted to grow some exotic flowers and tropical plants, but the climate in Canada would not suffice.  Therefore, as a gift to her, Joseph instructed Anthony to build a fine new greenhouse at the Munroe Mansion so that Ophirah could have her hearts desires.

Ophirah had been so thankful to have a large garden to tend to, she could order anything she wanted, and Joseph promised that he would pay for it all, and provide someone to help her tend the many plants she wanted to grow.  Ophirah was happy to learn that the Munroe Mansion Butler, whose name was Viktor Stalin, was a kind and compassionate soul, who became a wonderful companion and friend to her in the months that followed.  Mr. Stalin being elderly, and having very short legs, would take ages to answer the front door of the mansion.

At times Joseph wanted him to retire, but Mr. Stalin always refused to do so.

His argument was always, “Sir what would I do with myself?  I would die of boredom.  I have been your family’s butler for many a year.  It would kill me to retire!”

Mr. Stalin always managed to make Joseph feel guilty, so that he could not fire him nor could he force the man to retire.  Mr. Stalin with his spiky tufts of grey hair surrounding his balding head, and twinkling blue eyes always had a ready smile on his face and a good sense of humor.  In fact, members of his family had always served the Munroe Family through several generations dating back to 1773 when Munroe mansion came to be.  He preferred to be Mr. Stalin and although he was only supposed to be the Butler, he often found himself doing other types of jobs around the mansion.  Now one of them was to assist the lovely Ophirah with the gardening.  He could not understand why a woman would want to dirty her hands but he liked Miss Ramsbottom, she was so polite and sweet.

Mr. Stalin did not mind it that she refused to call him Mr. Stalin.  She complained that it was too formal and she would not have it.  Therefore, he allowed her, and only her to call him Viktor.  He had hoped that Master Joseph would fall in love with this beautiful girl and not just use her for his bed.  The Master had never brought a woman to the mansion before, so there was hope.

Joseph came out of her father’s study to say, “Ophirah I have many things to attend to at the moment, I’ve just asked your family to come over for dinner tomorrow, I’ll see you then.”  Then he quickly ran out the door, as though nervous and panicky.

Gordon came out of the study with a questioning look in his eye.  Ophirah asked, “Father what was that all about?”

Gordon shrugged his shoulders and said, “He kept asking how your feelings are for him in a round about way.  I do not know what to make of it.  Then he insisted that we must come over for dinner tomorrow night, for he has a surprise for all of us.”

Gordon leaned over and kissed his daughter on the cheek then said, “It’s late I suggest we all retire early, for I feel that tomorrow night we will be up late.  Imagine having dinner after eight o’clock.”

Ophirah smiled, “Father you know Joseph has a busy work schedule and that is when he usually gets home to eat his supper.”

Gordon smiled at Celeste, “I think we will all need to have a sandwich or two at tea time, to tie us over.”

Celeste, Mary, and Ophirah agreed.  It was the next evening that Mr. Ramsbottom had come out of Joseph’s study with a shocked look on his face.  He sat and composed himself, waiting and dreading what was going to happen next.

Joseph turned to Ophirah and said, “Please join me for a walk.  I need to talk to you.”

Celeste was looking apprehensive, Gordon was looking somewhat green, and she was worried about it.  Ophirah feared that Joseph was going to tell her that Lorraine had seduced him and that now he must marry the wealthy woman.  Ophirah felt sick to her stomach.  When Joseph said he was going to blindfold her, she did not know what to think.  He led her along the garden path for several minutes.  She could hear running water.  He removed the blindfold.  Ophirah gasped at the new water fountain sitting there in the middle of the garden.  A spray of water came out of the middle of it.  Underneath it was the statue of a boy sitting on a small tree trunk with a fishing pole.  There were also several large goldfish swimming around in it.

Ophirah turned to Joseph, “How exotic; this is a nice surprise.”

Joseph nodded his head, smiled while he paused to look at her; then he got down on his knee by the fountain and said, “Ophirah I love you so darling and this garden would be perfect for a wedding.  Will you marry me?”

Ophirah had tears of joy in her eyes as she whispered, “Oh yes, I’d love to!”

She grabbed him and kissed him hard on the mouth.  Joseph was surprised at the feelings of passion that became a fire in his groins.  No woman had ever aroused such a feeling in him before.

He said, “I will also have another surprise for you, but I can’t tell you just yet.”

She looked at his mischievous grin and wondered what he was up to this time.  Ophirah went back inside and they told her family the good news.  Celeste was so happy finally her daughter had made a good match.  Gordon was feeling apprehensive and wished that his Son Palmer were there, he would be the only one to talk some sense into Ophirah.  Mary sat there feeling awkward and jealous of her younger sister.  She wished that it were she and not Ophirah.  It was soon after that, the Ramsbottom family went home.  Gordon, Celeste, and Ophirah were a bit tipsy from celebrating and drinking too much wine, so Mary ended up driving the carriage back to their cottage.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Anthony Makes a Life Changing Decision July 15, 1907

Meanwhile, Anthony Atkins had strolled into The Old Port Inn that afternoon.

Simon Bouchard looked up and smiled, “Care to have a drink today Mr. Atkins?”

Anthony shook his head no, “I don’t have time to have a drink today.  Have you seen the lovely Lorraine and Elsa Picard are they in?”

Simon shook his head no, “You just missed them by an hour.  Lorraine hired a carriage with her Sister Elsa and they are heading towards Montmorency Falls to have a picnic I believe.”

Anthony said, “Thanks, I’ll see you later.”

Then he rushed out the door.  Anthony climbed up on Fury, and trotted down the road.  When he finally reached Montmorency Falls, he noticed the carriage tied up near a fence post, so he dismounted and tied Fury up nearby.  He saw that there was a small pathway close by and climbed up the steep hill, he was almost out of breath when he reached the top.  He was glad to see the two women sitting on a blanket with a picnic basket under a large tree.  He stood for a moment to catch his breath and then he looked at the gorgeous view in front of him.  The water cascaded down over the mountainside with a small roar.

He wondered how dangerous it was to stand on a ledge near the edge, and leaned forward carefully.  He reached out and felt the spray of the cold water.  It was refreshing and soothing.  He looked at the view of Quebec before him with its many trees and the bay off in the distance.  Someday he would build up this area and stand proudly while showing his child the splendor of his handiwork.

He strolled up towards the women feeling awkward and said, “Ladies I apologize for disturbing you, may I join you?”

Elsa smiled roundly and offered Anthony a seat on the blanket beside her.  He sat down and gazed at both of the women.  Lorraine was wearing a bright yellow gown with white lace trim across the chest.  Anthony felt his temperature rise.  Elsa dressed in a pale blue gown, obviously her favorite color, looked like a fresh flower with her hair tied back off her young face.  She almost looked beautiful with her rosy cheeks.  He remembered when he first saw her she seemed rather pale, but now she had some color in her face.  Lorraine was tanning nicely in the sun and she looked like a sunflower.

Lorraine smiled and handed him a glass of wine.  “What brings you here Mr. Atkins?”

He tasted the wine on his palette and gave her a knowing look, “This is a good year, where did you get this from?”

Lorraine smiled, “Joseph sent it over to us, said he’s celebrating an engagement.”

Anthony grinned, “That’s just like him, celebrating before Ophirah even says yes.  I know she will though, the girl’s smack dab in love with him, has been since the first day she laid eyes on him.  More than likely her Mother pushed her into it, because of his pocketbook, but that’s for him to decide.”

Lorraine looked at him carefully, “Ophirah is a lovely girl and doesn’t come across as the type to chase a man for his money in fact she stated to Elsa that she would be happy to live forever with her parents, and continue to be independent until an old maid.”

Anthony looked at Elsa, “Is this true?”

Elsa nodded and blushed, “Joseph also knows that she loves him.  However, I am disappointed to hear that he is getting married.  I thought … maybe… that he liked me.”

Anthony was dreading this encounter for that very reason.

Now he knew he would have to answer for his friend, “Elsa you’re too young to be with Joseph, you deserve a younger man, one who doesn’t like to prowl.

Unfortunately, Ophirah is beautiful but that will not stop the likes of Joseph Munroe.  Be glad it isn’t you that he’s marrying.”

Lorraine had a strange gleam in her eye, “And you Sir Anthony, will you be faithful to a woman?”

Anthony blushed for a moment and said, “Depends on whether she’s as good as the one’s I’ve had.  Now if you don’t mind Elsa, I want to have a word with your sister.”

Elsa nodded, “I assumed that you would want to do that so I will sit here enjoying my wine while you two go off to make love.”

He looked at Elsa with surprise then grinned, turning to Lorraine he said, “Well darling I’ve been told by Joseph that you would welcome my advances.  I guess he was right on that point.”

Lorraine was off guard for a moment flustered she held her tongue and waited.

Anthony quietly said, “Can we go for a little walk alone please Lorraine?”

He turned to Elsa, “This will only take a moment, I promise.”

Lorraine got up feeling angry with her sister, of all the stupid things to say.  Now she was sure that Anthony would not have her, he would only see her as a mistress and probably just wanted to arrange to be alone together, at some Inn somewhere.  She wanted to tan Elsa’s hide and put a clamp over her mouth.  She wanted to kill her sister.  If she ruined her chances, she just might do so.  It would be easy to do.

Lorraine could just say that Elsa lost her footing while looking over the falls.  She had warned her to stay away but the young headstrong girl just did not listen.  She had no sense in her head, poor thing, Elsa did not realize the danger she was in.  It was slippery on that ledge it would be so easy just to push her over.  She could keep the whole fortune to herself, and none would be the wiser.

She got up with Anthony and curtly said to Elsa, “Wait here, I’ll be back soon,” and stiffly walked towards the meadow on the other side of the waterfall.

Anthony became very serious, “I put great trust in my friend Joseph’s judgment, and he’s like a brother to me.  He has suggested that I court you.”

Lorraine was shocked then smiled and said, “Really, just court me?”

Anthony saw the look of desire in her eyes and leaned forward to kiss her.  His lips met hers and he felt the fire of love sweep over him, in an instant, he knew this woman knew how to pleasure a man.  He could tell by the delicate and succulent way she kissed his lips.

Anthony drew in his breath with a gasp, “Actually no he said, and I quote, “You don’t need to court her, just marry her.”  My dear Lorraine, will you marry me?”

Lorraine stood there shocked then the feeling of delight washed over her.

She smiled triumphantly and noted that she had to thank Joseph for giving her Anthony and said, “Of course I will.  When shall we marry?”

Anthony smiled, “Well Joseph took it upon himself to buy the wedding rings and marriage licenses, and he wants us to have our wedding on the same day as his, just a quiet one.  I am sure once it gets out that we are to be married tongues will be wagging for sure.  After all, I am a confirmed bachelor.  They will all think that I have gotten you pregnant or something stupid like that.  I promise that you will be in charge of the reception.  Joseph tells me you intend to be involved with high society functions, which I will be pleased to do so with you.

As a bachelor, I am tired of the daughters of society parading before me every time I attend an event so I have been avoiding them lately, which of course can make life rather boring.  But now with my beautiful sophisticated wife by my side; I shall re-enter society again and you my dear will be the envy of every woman in Canada and Europe.”

Lorraine laughed, “They will all wonder how I’ve captured your heart?  What shall I tell them?”

Anthony roared, “Tell them that you intrigued me by playing hard to get.”

They giggled at his joke, both realizing it was the truth.

Anthony asked, “Are you agreeable to having a wedding at The Munroe Mansion my aspiring social cat?”

Lorraine said, “I will make it an elegant event, even though small, it will be noted in every newspaper that the charming Anthony Atkins has met his match in matrimony.

I shall look much more charming then Ophirah.  I’m sure she will be relieved to know I am marrying you and not chasing Joseph.”

Anthony had a wicked grin on his face, “Actually Joseph doesn’t plan to tell her till after he’s married her.  We will have our ceremony right after theirs.

Ophirah’s a bit strong minded she may take offense but once she is Joseph’s wife she will learn to submit to his way.”

Lorraine had a wicked gleam in her eye, “So Joseph is a bit of a tyrant that poor Ophirah hasn’t come across yet.  Not as wise as she thinks she is.  The woman is intolerable, she thinks she is better then everyone because of her beauty and brains.”

Anthony said, “Yes she is very beautiful and intelligent but my dear, she is not from Paris, where the women are much more exotic looking.”

He pulled her close and kissed her again, this time with such passion and ardor.  Lorraine was flustered when he pulled away.  She wanted him but she had to control herself.  She did not want him to know what kind of a woman she really was.  Lorraine had bedded many men, mostly virgins but also married men.  The ones she had her affairs with were very discreet.  She had met a poor Spanish boy once while travelling in Spain.  He was a wonderful lover but did not have a penny to his name.  He felt crushed when she had turned down his marriage proposal; however, she promised that their paths would cross again someday.  Chago Sima was his name and he was marvelous in bed.  He had taught her many things and she used it to her advantage by blackmailing the rich men that she seduced.  So far, Lorraine had chosen her victims wisely, now she would no longer have to.  She had captured the attentions of Anthony Atkins; she would be herald in society as a Tigress with claws.  Lorraine knew about Anthony’s flings and she would not care.

She intended to have her own lovers on the side and Anthony would probably enjoy exploring those other avenues with her in the future, but she would bide her time.  Elsa noticed the triumphant glow on Lorraine’s face as the two of them walked back.  Anthony had a glow about him; Elsa eyes widened when Lorraine announced that they were getting married.  Elsa felt shaken, she had been so dependant on her sister, now what would she do?  She would have to go back to Paris and be alone.

Anthony noticed the look of dismay on Elsa’s face and softly said, “My dear Elsa I have a friend in England who owns a hotel would you enjoy living there instead of Canada?”

Elsa nodded and said with relief, “Yes I would like that very much thank you.  Would they have a job for me to do?”

Anthony looked surprised for a moment then Lorraine murmured in his ear, “She has no fortune.”

He looked puzzled for a moment then said, “I’m sure they could offer you a chambermaid position?”

Elsa said, “Oh thank you that would be lovely!  I’ve always wanted to be a chambermaid but no one would hire me, because I am so young.”

Elsa preferred to live in Paris but England would be fine.  She would enjoy working, save her money, and travel the world.  Maybe she would find a rich man too.  Joseph liked her enough to bed her, so it had given her some hope for the future.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Joseph Munroe and Ophirah Ramsbottom

It was Saturday August 3, 1907 – the day of Joseph and Ophirah’s wedding.  It was around eleven o’clock in the morning.  A lovely day with the sun shining, the temperature was just right and Ophirah’s white gown glistened in the sun as she walked down the aisle lined with red roses.  Joseph had ordered the wedding dress from Montreal after getting the measurements from her Mother Celeste.  He had also given a large sum of money to Gordon Ramsbottom.  Celeste was grateful because now she could get some decent gowns for herself and Mary and a few new suits for her husband.  She wondered if anyone would ever show any interest in Mary but then realized her eldest daughter was content being an unmarried woman and living at home.

Joseph introduced Gordon Ramsbottom to some of his colleagues that day and together they had started a company called Ramsbottom Consulting.  Now men would pay Mr. Ramsbottom for his words of wisdom and he would soon become a success at it.  Gordon Ramsbottom walked proudly down the aisle with his Daughter Ophirah on his arm he handed her over to Joseph with a tear in his eye and a lump in his throat.  He sat down beside his wife who leaned over and dabbed at the tears on his face.

‘His baby girl stood there, now a woman, saying her vows to the man she loved.  A torrent of emotions went through his mind.  He remembered when she was just a sweet little baby, then as a toddler who he used to call, “carrot top.”  As Ophirah got older, she insisted on having her own way all the time.  One of the things she insisted on was to learn about everything that was in his library.  He realized that he was raising nothing but a stubborn mule, which was kind.  He looked at Joseph and sniggered to himself, the poor man had no idea just how stubborn his daughter could be.  He knew she was too intelligent to show her true colors before marriage but Gordon was sure she would put her foot down after they were married.  Ophirah had already demanded that the mansion have a good thorough cleaning and that every room be aired and opened up.  When Joseph refused, she mentioned that there would be many people attending their wedding and it would be a shame if a reporter mentioned the state of the home.  At first, Joseph had argued about it but then Gordon pointed out that it would be bad for business and Joseph agreed.  Gordon came out of his revere with a start when everyone began to cheer around him.’

The minister said, “I now present Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Munroe.”

Ophirah could not believe it.  She was Mrs. Munroe now.  They signed the marriage certificate.  Then walked by the people and shook hands.  A few moments later Ophirah was shocked to see Anthony standing beside Lorraine Picard who was standing there in a wedding dress.

Ophirah looked at Joseph.

He was grinning as he said, “Surprise!  We decided to have a double wedding today.”

Ophirah was ready to scream, Lorraine Picard of all people.  She could not believe Joseph’s deception.

Ophirah turned to him, “How dare you deceive me and do this?  I wanted this day to be special; I don’t want to share it with anyone else.”

She turned to run out the door but Anthony grabbed her, pulled her aside, and quietly said, “We have become such close friends my dear Ophirah, it was my idea that I share your day with you.  Please do not ruin my wedding day by having a fit.  You have never had a fit in your life, why start now?”

Ophirah looked at him and felt embarrassed, he was right.

She said, “I’m sorry it was all such a shock.”

She stiffly glanced at Lorraine, smiled, then proceeded to sit beside Joseph in a stormy silence.  Anthony and Lorraine said their vows, kissed, and then signed the papers.  The minister announced their names, Ophirah’s head was swimming for a moment, and then she fainted.  They woke Ophirah up with some smelling salts, she apologized and complained about the heat getting to her, and then she noticed the anger on Lorraine’s face.  Ophirah could not believe that Lorraine thought she did it on purpose.  She would have a word later with Anthony about it.  She did not want Lorraine to ruin her friendship with him.  As each couple prepared for their pictures out in the garden Ophirah could hear Lorraine complaining to one of the servants.  Ophirah edged closer to hear what she was saying.

Lorraine said, “I ordered Orchids to be at our wedding not roses.  Why are there roses everywhere?”

The servant apologized and said, “The roses and orchids did not look well together, so because this is Master Joseph’s house, we put Ophirah’s choice of flowers over yours. I apologize if this offends you but there was nothing we could do.  Mr. Munroe said we didn’t need to listen to your choices about anything except the caterers.”

Lorraine’s eyes were flashing and Anthony looked like he was embarrassed.  Ophirah stifled a giggle but then Lorraine turned around and looked at her.  Lorraine did her best to smile for the guests then she quickly walked away when the photographer was done.

Anthony came over to Ophirah and said, “I’m sorry about that.  I did not know how hot headed Lorraine would be about it.  I am glad the servant lied to cover for me.  I was the one that decided on the roses.  I figured they would look nicer and compliment your garden.”

He smiled deeply at Ophirah and she said, “Why thank you Mr. Atkins, you have very good taste.  Much better then your high handed wife!”

Ophirah smiled at Anthony noticed that she was needed and grabbed Joseph’s arm and the two of them went to pose for their wedding pictures with her family.  She would not let Lorraine ruin her wedding day.  For once, she felt a smug satisfaction that she had gotten a few things over Lorraine’s head for once.  After the pictures, Ophirah headed towards the back patio where the reception was.

Joseph said to Anthony, “I am sorry for having such a stupid idea. That is the last time I make a decision while drunk.  I can’t believe were getting married on the same day. I wonder if Ophirah will ever speak to me again. I should have known better.”

Anthony shrugged his shoulders and said, “I find it amusing, watching two cats pull out their claws and go at it making it a much more interesting day.”

Ophirah stood watching Lorraine with a grin on her face.  Joseph sauntered away to get another drink while Lorraine, intoxicated, was yelling at Anthony about something.  Then Lorraine hurried back to the reception area.

Lorraine muttered to herself, “I cannot do anything about the flowers, but I can make sure that this meal is in order.”

She was happy later on when one of the guests commented on how good the food was by praising Lorraine for hiring a well-known chef and caterer from Quebec.

Ophirah made a point to go over to Lorraine and congratulate her on her choice of chef as well.  Using every buttery word she could think of, she tried her best not to ruffle Lorraine’s feathers.  Instead, she preened them and stroked them, so that Lorraine felt like she had done such a wonderful job planning everything.  Ophirah swallowed her pride, not for herself, nor for Joseph.  She did it to impress Anthony.  Then she noticed how Lorraine was flirting with Joseph out of the corner of her eye.  Ophirah could not believe it,

‘That conniving little witch, she could see that Lorraine was going to be a problem.  Ophirah just knew it.  Lorraine although married was acting like she still wanted Joseph.  Was she the one that insisted that they get married on the same day?  Whose idea was it anyway?  Should she believe Anthony that it was Josephs’ doing and why of all things would he do such a crazy thing?  It didn’t make sense and Ophirah was getting a very big headache from the stress of the day.’

Anthony looked worried as he walked towards her and said, “Ophirah you’re looking rather flushed and agitated.  Not a good thing to do in front of the locals, they will all think that you did not really want to marry Joseph.  I am sorry, had I known it would distress you so, I would have forgone Joseph’s plan.  He was only trying to save us both some money.

We are putting together every penny to start a new venture with your father.  Creating some lovely towns in the local area, your father has done well to provide the funding for our desires.  We in turn although well off, do like to stick to an operating budget.  Surely you can appreciate that my dear?”

Suddenly Ophirah looked up at Anthony gazed deeply into his eyes and whispered, “My darling you understand me like no other, thank you.”

She wanted to kiss him there, the desire was strong in her, and he knew it.  The naked truth of her desire for him was there staring at him in the face and it made him feel vulnerable.  Ophirah knew how to stir the depths of a man, more so than Lorraine ever could.  Lorraine could delight the carnal fantasies of a man and amuse him for a short period, she could gratify his sexual desires always, but Ophirah was different, there was something entirely special about that girl.  To have such a powerful way to make you want to better yourself, to be wise, loving, to be pure; there was something mesmerizing and spiritual about Ophirah.  Anthony walked away feeling like he had married the wrong woman…

Chapter Twenty-Six

Ophirah’s Fire of the Soul

After dinner, Ophirah went over to congratulate the happy couple and tell them that she did not mind having their wedding on the same day, and then headed to the dance floor with her husband Joseph.  She knew it would bother Lorraine for her to say all that.  Ophirah had the satisfaction of watching Lorraine angrily walk away from the dance floor with Anthony following closely behind.  The last thing Ophirah wanted to do was share her first dance as husband and wife with the likes of that woman around.  In fact, Ophirah promised herself that she would always find a way to annoy Lorraine Atkins, any way she could because it was fun.

Ophirah had a nice slow dance with Joseph and then the band picked up the tempo.  Joseph kept drinking and soon Ophirah was just dancing with the local men of the town.  They were all sad that she was married but they were happy to hold their fantasy woman in their arms for one or two dances.  Ophirah was getting tired but she did not want to disappoint any of her guests.  Besides she could see that none of the men wanted to dance with Lorraine, in fact many of them said they could not believe that Anthony Atkins could marry such a despicable woman.

Ophirah felt like she was on top of the world, not only did she have Joseph Munroe in the palm of her hand but it seemed that Anthony who only months before thought her a lowly pheasant, was now flattering enough as it was, in love with her too.  Ophirah took a break and looked up at the stars and the night sky, which was fragrant with the smell of roses.  Gordon Ramsbottom looked weary from all the festivities but kept a smile on his face for the sake of his daughter.  Ophirah was happy to share a dance with her father and thanked him for raising her up to be who she was.

Gordon gave his daughter a peck on the cheek and with a tear in his eye said, “Ophirah I am really going to miss not having you at home anymore.”

Ophirah smiled, “Father I will miss you too.”

Anthony came along at that moment and asked to have a dance with Ophirah.  Gordon saw how Ophirah’s face lit up when she saw Anthony.  It troubled him for a moment then he handed his daughter over to Anthony and said, “Careful not to step on her toes. She bites.”

Anthony cracked a smile and said, “I know.”

Gordon felt relieved now he could go and relax for the night.

Ophirah asked, “So where is your bride Lorraine?”

Anthony grinned, “I seem to have lost her.  The rose goblins took her.  Actually, she is lying down in the library I believe with a headache, too much to drink.  Where is your husband Joseph?”

Ophirah smiled, “I believe he is stumbling around here somewhere looking for my mother.  He is supposed to dance with her before he passes out.”

Anthony smiled and whispered in her ear, “My dear you look so ravishing today.  I just want you to know, I wish that you were mine.”

Ophirah looked up at him and smiled then winked at him, flirting she said, “Well maybe someday I will be all yours.”

He grinned and whispered in her ear, “I’d like that very much.  Come to me when you tire of your husband.  I will be waiting for you with open arms.”

Then he looked up and said, “Oh no, I think your mother needs my assistance, excuse me.”

Anthony walked away and Ophirah watched with a smile on her face.  Mrs. Ramsbottom was dancing merrily with Joseph who by this time had a few drinks too many.  He almost lost her in the bushes near the trees if it had not of been for Anthony who saved her from a very bad mishap.

‘Ophirah was thankful for Anthony and looking up at the stars that night she made a wish.  She wondered if she should have married Joseph seeing how he was carrying on with the women of the town, drinking himself into a stupor at his own wedding and making a complete fool of himself there in front of everyone.  What did she ever see in the man?  Now it was too late.  Her parents had the money that they needed.  She had a home to live in and a secure future.  Maybe after providing Joseph with an heir, she would take Anthony up on his offer.’

Ophirah turned and went to say goodnight to her guests, some were beginning to leave, and she wanted to be the perfect host.

Anthony tapped Joseph on the shoulder and said, “Let me dance with your beautiful Mother-in-law.”

Joseph was relieved, he was having trouble standing up, and all he wanted to do was get off his sore feet and go and relax somewhere.  Celeste Ramsbottom smiled, “I didn’t think I would last another minute with that scoundrel.  I’m so glad you rescued me, I find you to be more handsome, and then he is.”

Anthony apologized for his friend, “Sometimes Joseph doesn’t seem to know when to quit drinking.  He’s having fun and he will be very happy with your beautiful daughter.”

Celeste noticed the look in his eye and was surprised.  Anthony Atkins looked like he was in love with Ophirah.  Well it was no surprise to her; half the men attending the wedding were in love with Ophirah, some were even heartbroken, poor souls.  Ophirah was lucky to have such beauty and not be aware of it.  Celeste really enjoyed dancing with Anthony Atkins, she wished her daughter would have married him instead; he seemed more stable and level headed than Joseph Munroe.

The music stopped and Celeste thanked Anthony for the dance.  He walked away and Celeste saw Gordon sitting over on the other side of the room.  Celeste thought to herself,

‘It’s too late now I pressured Ophirah into marrying Joseph Munroe for his money.  She knew her daughter cared for him but she questioned whether Ophirah really loved Joseph.  Celeste looked up at the sky then at the Mansion and she felt a chill pass through her, feeling ill at ease she went over to where her husband was.’

Gordon Ramsbottom was staring at The Munroe Mansion and had a faraway look in his eye.

He said, “I have an odd feeling about this mansion.  Something is troubling me and I don’t quite know what it is.”

Celeste nodded in agreement and said, “Me too.”

She hoped that they would never regret the decision they had made…

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Ophirah and the Munroe Mansion August 8, 1907

They decided not to go on a honeymoon just yet.  They wanted to get Ophirah moved into the mansion first.  Joseph marveled at the amount of belongings she had.  It was exciting for Ophirah because she had never been given a full tour of the mansion before until now.  It was an enormous Mansion, built with greystone walls, large French styled windows, and a round turret was on each end of the building.  Ophirah felt like a stage was being set for her and a feeling of uneasiness troubled her soul– it grew stronger day by day.

It was a few days later that Ophirah went horseback riding for the first time.  She was enjoying the fresh air, the scenery and plodding along through the forest.  She had failed to notice the approaching storm.

Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder, Misty reared up on her hind legs, and Ophirah fell off.  Misty was spotted running straight towards the barn at break neck speed, she slowed down at the sight of Mr. Stalin.  He calmed her down and put Misty inside a stall in the barn.  Then he hitched up Sally, an old sandy colored horse, to a wagon and drove back along the trail only to find Ophirah lying on the ground, with a glazed look in her eye, she was grabbing at her head and writhing in pain.

Mr. Stalin got down with fear in his voice he said, “Ophirah….”

She did not understand him.  Mr. Stalin was old but strong.  He carefully picked her up and placed Ophirah into the back of the wagon, and put a woolen blanket around her.  He quickly drove her back to the house and sent a servant to fetch the doctor.  Ophirah suffered from headaches and nausea in the following weeks.  There was something about the mansion.  It was sucking out every ounce of strength in her.  She could not explain it nor could the Doctors.  Joseph began to complain to Anthony about Ophirah being so difficult and refusing to respond to anyone.  Not even her parents could bring her out of her state of gloom.  Gordon had felt helpless for the first time in his life and he was worried about Ophirah.  She had never acted like this in her life.  It troubled him when Ophirah refused to confide in him.

Gordon could not stand to visit at the mansion anymore; the place gave him such morbid thoughts and nightmares from time to time.  He always had a recurring dream that he was losing Ophirah.  Celeste would wake him up and soothe him.  She told him that it was his imagination playing tricks on him and that he was just missing his daughter.

They had been so close before Ophirah’s marriage, now it seemed like they were worlds apart, even more so since Ophirah became ill.  Gordon was blaming Celeste for Ophirah’s unhappiness.  He cursed the day that agreed to let Joseph Munroe marry his daughter.

Mary said, “I’ve heard evil things about The Mansion, perhaps an evil spirit has taken over her body.”

Celeste curtly said to Mary, “Be quiet you silly girl, you are upsetting your father.”

Gordon Ramsbottom spent many a day worrying himself to death over the state of his daughter that he too became ill in health.

Mary again said, “That Mansion is cursed, and now father is ill because of it.  Mother because of your greediness for money, you will end up losing us all because of that evil place.”

Celeste hissed, “Mary if you keep talking this way I will have you committed, now go about your business and keep quiet, not another word.”

In September of that year Mary became ill and then Celeste.  Little did they know that the ground under the cottage was seeping a gas, one that was making all of them very ill.  They had not noticed that it had been just after Joseph had built them a new well on their property that the illness had started.

Mary with her many superstitions had convinced them that something evil had indeed caused the illness in the house.  That was when the Ramsbottom family decided to leave Place Royale and return to England just after Thanksgiving.  They tried to say goodbye to Ophirah but she refused to see them.

Ophirah was so depressed when they left, she felt abandoned, and many a night she cried herself to sleep.  It was in November that Anthony’s worries about Ophirah, made it impossible for him to perform in bed.  This troubled Lorraine, it also angered her, and she wondered,

‘Why did he care so much about Ophirah?  The woman had some sort of hold on his mind.  Perhaps she was a witch and had cast a spell on her husband.  She had noticed how Ophirah looked at Anthony on the day of their wedding.  It had given her an odd feeling of intense jealousy, one that Lorraine was not prone too, being confident in her own beauty, and she rarely worried about losing any man to another woman.

In this case it annoyed her that a simple, lowly peasant girl had caught her husbands attentions and she felt that something stirred deep inside of Anthony, something that she was unable to grasp.’

When Anthony told Lorraine that he would visit with Ophirah by himself, she felt some relief but then she also felt a twinge of jealousy.

He noticed it and said, “My dear, I am very worried about my Friend Joseph, it has affected our friendship, so I need to do what I can to help.

Joseph is not the same man that he used to be.  I fear for Ophirah’s life, if she does not provide him with an heir, he will not think twice to kill her and rid himself of this unhappy marriage.”

Lorraine asked, “Why so unhappy?”

Anthony murmured, “It seems that Ophirah is not sexually compatible with Joseph.  They have had their differences and she has avoided him since their honeymoon.  Before she used the excuse that she was with child, now he tells me she has no desire to live or provide him with an heir.  It seems that the loss of the child has traumatized her.”

‘Lorraine felt dismayed and knew exactly how Joseph felt.  She too was not compatible sexually with Anthony; only she had never breathed a word of it to him.  Frankly, her husband, a tender lover, was too boring for her in bed.  She craved a form of excitement but feared doing anything about it, knowing how jealous Anthony could get.  He would not think twice about killing any lover that he found.

Perhaps it would be in her best interest to encourage her husband to take up a mistress, and then he would be distracted enough and not care if they did not sleep together as much.  Ophirah had feelings for Anthony; would she explore them and have an affair on Joseph?  Lorraine highly doubted it.

She would have to bide her time and perhaps encourage Anthony to travel instead.  Yes, that would be a good idea he would go away to Montreal and do business there.  She could convince him that he needed to go there to achieve his goals and raise funds for his project.  How could she relay her feelings of boredom to Joseph?  She wanted to tell Joseph how she craved him in her dreams.  They did not have much time together for that one day she would give anything to spend the evening in his bed.  The fact that he had been so exciting and different, so harsh, strong, masculine like a lion with its prey.

She was a woman that liked variety in her bed, and she knew that Joseph would provide that, if she could just find a way to be with him.  Lorraine offered to go along, she would keep Joseph busy in the library.  Lorraine thought that Anthony’s request to be alone with Ophirah was rather unusual but when he told her to hold her tongue, she did so.  They drove over in their carriage and arrived at the Munroe mansion in the late afternoon.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Ophirah Discovers Her Passionate Side November 20, 1907

Ophirah was surprised when Anthony walked into her bedroom.  She felt horrid and so low and the tears welled up in her eyes.  She held out her arms towards him.  Anthony rushed over, wrapped his arms around her, and gave her a passionate kiss.

He hoarsely said, “I cannot have you until you’ve given Joseph an heir.  That is the agreement we have.  You are a strong woman, and this is not like you to lie in bed for months.  You need to get up and start living your life again, and poor Joseph is suffering.  The man needs some loving.”

Ophirah sighed, “I hate having him he is so rough in bed.”

Anthony smiled and stroked her hair, “I shall be the most gentlest of lovers.  Now my dear you must get up soon and get better.”

She grinned and kissed him slowly and deeply.

Anthony sighed, “I should have married you myself, but honestly dear I wouldn’t want to cause you any misery.  I am a difficult man to live with; Lorraine is finding my working around the clock annoying.

Ophirah smiled, “Maybe you should have a few parties and let Lorraine make some friends.  Is Lorraine planning to have any heirs?”

Anthony shook his head, “Not at the moment, she doesn’t want to ruin her girlish figure.  We have decided not to have any children for now.”

Ophirah looked at him, “Are you happy with that decision?”

Anthony shook his head no, “I let her do what she wants, if I need an heir someday I will have one, but for the moment I enjoy the freedom we have in our marriage.”

They sat there for a while discussing everything that had happened since their wedding day, both were surprised to find out that they suffered from the same thing, sexual incompatibility.

Anthony mourned, “I know deep in my heart that Lorraine only married me for money, she does not love me.  I fear that I bore her in bed with my gentle loving.  Many a time she has requested that I do violent things to her and I just cannot bring myself to do so.”

Ophirah nodded, “Yes, I know what you mean, Joseph is a violent lover, they should have married one another.”

Anthony locked her bedroom door and lay down on the bed beside her.  He would love to tantalize Ophirah for hours before making love to her.  He knew she would enjoy that kind of thing, whereas Lorraine refused to do so with him whenever he suggested that they do a lie in.

Anthony began to caress her body, for now he would just make her feel good.

As soon as Anthony had gone up the stairs, Joseph had closed and locked the library door.  He grabbed Lorraine, started kissing her madly, and fondling her breasts, and began rubbing himself up against her.  She gasped as the need for him grew within her body.

She whispered, “Harder, I want it harder.”

He grinned at her like a wolf with its prey.  He unbuttoned her top and ravished her breasts.  Manipulating them, he gave a painful twinge to the nipple.  Lorraine felt glorious as the excitement mounted in her core, he could hear her panting, wanting, and needing him.

Lorraine whispered, “I have been fantasizing about you now for some time, I can’t believe my dream is coming true.”

Joseph whispered back, “What else did we do in your dream.”

Lorraine trailed down the front of his body and back up with kisses.  Then she sat on the edge of his desk  giving him her fantasy and led him into the throes of violent passion.

‘ Anthony would never do it to her this way not in a million years.  It was all that Lorraine could do, not to scream.’

Then Joseph tried a different position.

‘Lorraine knew Anthony would never even try to do something like this.  He was such a prude.  It was then that she realized that she never should have married Anthony.  Instead, she should have become Joseph’s mistress.  Then she would not have all the money that she had and she was enjoying the prestige of being Mrs. Atkins.’

Soon they were done.  They quickly put their clothes back on and composed themselves as someone knocked on the door.

Joseph whispered in her ear, “Someday we will meet at a hotel, where we will not be interrupted.”

Mr. Stalin’s voice could be heard, “Sir it’s time for your tea.  The library door seems to be stuck again sir.”

Mr. Stalin was not aware of their guests for he had been outside in the garden when they arrived.

Joseph called out, “Mr. Stalin I think I really need to get this door latch fixed.  Remind me to take care of it tomorrow.”

Joseph grinned and winked at Lorraine as she went and sat on the other side of the parlor.  Joseph wiggled the door and carefully unlocked it and wiggled it some more and finally he opened it.  Mr. Stalin gave him a strange look when he noticed that Lorraine was sitting over by the window reading a magazine.

Joseph looking very satisfied and said, “Anthony is visiting with Ophirah upstairs and Lorraine has been amusing me down here.”

‘Mr. Stalin paused for a moment, he knew that look and felt angry inside, for while Ophirah laid up in bed ill and depressed her husband was cavorting with another woman, here enemy, right in the house.  What would Sir Anthony think? He could see that Joseph did not fear his friend.  What if he challenged him to a duel or something?’

Both Mr Stalin and Joseph turned in surprise when they heard Ophirah laughing as she came down the stairs.

Joseph looked up at Ophirah.

He was surprised to see Ophirah with a certain glow on her face, looking with narrowed eyes at Anthony, he said, “You have created a miracle.  Ophirah is up and out of bed; how can I thank you?”

Anthony smiled, “I reminded her of how great life is, and she’s agreed to start living it again.”

Joseph wondered what he meant by that, but he was happy to see Ophirah up and about.  Perhaps tonight he would visit her.  He wanted to secure an heir; that was his number one priority.

Lorraine’s mouth had dropped for she had seen Ophirah blush and thought,

‘I cannot believe that little minx.  She has to be somehow involved with Anthony; Wrapping both of them around her little finger. Well two can play at this game.  I will just have to make sure that any heir she produces is Joseph’s and not Anthony’s, but then again, I can enjoy Joseph as much as I want now with no fear of recrimination.’

Ophirah said, “Speaking of having fun, let’s play a card game of whist. Would you two like to stay for dinner?”

Lorraine nodded while looking at Joseph she said, “I’m famished I can always eat more.”

Joseph tried not to laugh at her double innuendo.  So the four of them sat down at a table and played a few card games until the early evening hours.  Anthony and Joseph had been enjoying a few shots of port and were getting rather tipsy.  They only stopped for an hour to eat a lovely dinner with potato pancakes and pork chops with applesauce, and some homemade apple pie for dessert.  The potato pancakes were a homemade recipe from the Stalin’s and everyone enjoyed it.

When the clock struck nine Anthony said, “Well dear it is getting late and I have many appointments tomorrow, I think it’s time for us to go.”

Lorraine was thankful she had been nodding off during the game and was bored.  She really did not have much in common with Ophirah and was tired of their dull conversation about flowers and gardening.

They said their goodbyes then as the door closed Joseph turned to Ophirah and slurring his words he said, “I thought they would never leave.”

Joseph grabbed her and pulled her close while kissing her hard on the mouth like a hungry wolf and then he tried to remove her dress.

Ophirah pulled away and said, “Really Joseph were in the parlor.  You know I hate it when you’re aggressive, why can’t you be gentle?”

Joseph shook his head, “I am not a gentle man after waiting months to have you.  Let’s go to the garden, I’ve always wanted to do it outdoors.”

Ophirah sighed, “You know I’m not like that, I am going up to our room you can have your way with me there.”

She ran out of the parlor half dressed and up the stairs.  Mr. Stalin looked after her with pity in his eyes; Master Joseph was always so rough with her after he had been drinking.  He had heard many a row about it and felt sorry for her.  She deserved so much better.

Joseph snarled at him, “What are you looking at?”

Mr. Stalin quickly turned and scurried away back into the kitchen.

Joseph quickly went up the stairs, found Ophirah in her room, locked the door, and then angrily said, “How dare you embarrass me in front of the servants!”

He slapped her across the face, ripped her clothes open, and roughly took her.  Ophirah screamed in pain as he came up behind her and bent her over the bed.  Joseph did not care; he just wanted an heir from this wench.  What more did she want?  She had money, a home, and servants and now she would bear him a child.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Joseph Munroe September 20, 1908

Joseph was taking in the beauty of the land before him as the man standing beside him grabbed his arm and pointed towards the rocky façade.

Edward Moisan exclaimed, “Look there is a large waterfall over there high up on the mountain with plenty of rich soil and vegetation surrounding it.  I think this is where we will be building my new sawmill and cottage.”

Joseph was busy looking at a sketch that Anthony had given him earlier.  He was holding it up towards the scenery before him.  The two men peered closely at the sketches.

Joseph said, “So what do you think?  Is Picturesque a good style for a cottage?”

Edward Moisan a small man with dark hair and eyes and a thick mustache, looked at Joseph and said, “I love it.  It will look lovely over there.  You are a genius Joseph.  I have been looking for something like this for a while now.  How did you come across it?”

Joseph smiled, “A little birdie called Ophirah told me that the land was for sale.”

Edward grinned, “Tell your wife she has good taste.”

Joseph laughed, “I’m sure she will be happy to hear that.  You will also be happy to hear that the Government will supply you with free water if you build along the St Lawrence Seaway for the life of the business.  This should give you some substantial savings along the way.”

Edward asked, “How shall I reward your fine wife?”

Joseph thought for a moment started laughing and said, “Have your two brothers Jean and Albert purchase some of her flowers and sell them to the locals.  They can help Ophirah pay for all the renovations that she has been doing on the mansion.”

Edward winked, “Ah a bachelor’s paradise being changed?  When did that happen?”

Joseph grinned, “It started before we got married and it’s never stopped.  First, she made me clean up the mansion for the wedding, now she has decided it needs new furnishings and paint.  Her personality changed overnight.  She went from being a meek little soul to a bossy woman.  I give her everything she wants now just to keep the peace.”

Edward laughed, “She rules the roost now.”

Joseph grinned, “Yes, she’s acting like a mother hen.”

Joseph did not mind the teasing by his newly found business partner for he had made a tidy sum of money from the sale and made a small fortune with his business dealings with the Moisan Brothers.

Joseph’s eyes clouded over when he said, “My Father Denley would have been proud of me, bless his soul.”

“I agree,” said Edward, “It is sad that he died so suddenly, but then again if it were not so, you never would have left his Estate in London, England and come to live here in Canada.”

Joseph murmured, “Yes that was a tough time for me, but thankfully my ancestors provided me with another home to live in.  I have had to make a few adjustments up at Munroe Mansion.  It is somewhat secluded there with only a few neighbors nearby but I have been enjoying the peace and quiet.  Place Royale is much quieter than London, England.”

Edward said, “It must be difficult for you to travel because of the long winding dirt roads and steep hills going from your home to the village.  Too bad it’s on the other side of the lake.”

Joseph grinned, “I think my ancestors valued their privacy and liked the long country drives to the village.  It is a treacherous and bumpy ride by horse or by carriage, in most cases; the easiest way to travel is by canoe.”

Edward smiled, “Thanks to the Totenmyers we’ve all been able to get some good sized canoes.”

Joseph smiled, “Yes we enjoy going canoeing on the lake every now and then.”

Edward grinned, “So that’s how you found this little bit of paradise, with a spyglass perhaps?”

Joseph smiled, “Yes, as a matter of fact I did, but my wife Ophirah overheard that the land was finally for sale and suggested that I take a look at it and see what could be done with it.  We also heard from your Brother Jean that you were looking for a place to build a lumberyard.”

Edward looked at him, “Your wife is a shrewd one, to talk my brother into this idea before I purchased the land.  I have a feeling I’ve paid much more than it is worth.”

Joseph smirked, “That’s how I do business my boy.  I enjoy adding to my pot of gold, every chance I get.”

Edward grinned, “That you do sir.  You are lucky to have such a smart wife.”

Joseph smiled and said, “I agree.  Ophirah can be difficult at times and she is different then other women.  I think she comes from a poor background, which is why she prefers to do things herself.  Ophirah loves to cook but she also enjoys adding new varieties of plants to her English garden.  She is planning to add a few more herbs this year.”

Edward said, “Is she still battling that illness?”

Joseph sighed, “It’s off and on.  Ophirah is doing well for herself so far.  She’s concentrating more on her gardening this year and learning how to do floral arrangements.”

Edward nodded and asked, “And how is the child coming along?”

Joseph smiled and said, “I can’t believe he’s a month old already.”

He shook Edwards hand and said, “Well I must be going now.  Please let me know if anyone else could use my services.  I am always looking for new business associates and I’m sure you will turn a profit once everything is up and running.”

Joseph patted him on the back and said, “Good luck.”

Edward watched as Joseph drove away in his carriage towards Place Royale.  Joseph was staring off in space as he listened to the plodding of hoofs on the dirt path.  He remembered that night of terror with shame.  Perhaps it was because he had too much to drink.  He had never really forgiven himself for what he did to Ophirah that fateful night.  Joseph’s determination to have an heir escalated into raping his wife to produce a baby boy.

Joseph kept his word and never tried to bed Ophirah ever again.  She became a stranger to him overnight.  She never forgave him for what he did to her and she told him he was lucky that she did not kill him.

Chapter Thirty

The Heir of Munroe Mansion March 1913

It was August 20, 1909 and little Jake Munroe was a year old now.  He was adorable with his curly locks of blonde hair, his blue eyes, and dimpled chin.  Ophirah was spending most of her time alone with Jake; the two of them hardly ever saw Joseph.  His shame ate at his heart and soul and besides, he preferred children that were older.

He would visit the nursery from time to time wishing that the little tot would only grow a little bit faster.  Now looking back, time had flown by quickly.  Joseph remembered the time when Jake was five years old and he first asked to have a tractor.  His father had said no, that he did not need a tractor and that he was too young to drive one.

On August 20, 1914, Jake who was six years old asked for a dog for his birthday unfortunately Ophirah had an aversion to animals and refused to let him have one.  Instead, she had a stuffed black and white dog made especially for Jake and he called him Spot.  Jake was not too happy about it but it still sits on his bookshelf and he has never wanted to part with it.  Joseph felt grim when he thought about when Jake was seven years old and they almost lost him.

The silly boy had gone to the swimming hole alone and almost drowned.  Lucky for them, Anthony had decided to go fishing that day and happened upon the sputtering boy.  When Jake was eight years old, he asked for a bicycle.  Joseph had to look through several catalogues to find the right kind due to the fact the dirt roads made it almost impossible for the regular bikes to be driven.

When Jake suggested they put bigger tires on it, Joseph felt a sense of pride.  Between Jean Moisan and himself, they had managed to change the wheels of the bike for Jake.  The idea was a good one because other children in the village wanted one too.  They ended up creating some design ideas and sent them off to some friends in London, England and the idea of Mountain Bikes came into being.  Not only did children want them but the young boys and adults did too.  Some even worked on creating little motors for their bikes and called them dirt bikes.  It was fascinating how the idea was originally for a toy and later it became an investment.

Joseph and Jean ended up making a few million dollars off his son’s idea.  Jake was nine years old when he received his first fishing pole.  It was a fancy one, not just a stick with string.  Jean had found a catalogue of different types of fishing gear.  Joseph did not care to go fishing but Mr. Stalin liked to, so the boy would tag along with him and Joseph would just sit and drink a bottle of wine while the other two waited for a fish to bite.

On August 20, 1918 when Jake was ten years old, he asked for a tractor.

Joseph shook his head no and responded, “You are too young and your legs are too short to drive one.”

Joseph felt sorry for the boy.  Jake’s legs were on the short side and the boy worried constantly that he would always be short.  When Jake turned, eleven they decided to do something special for him.  That year they all went to Montreal to see the circus people.  There were some freaks of nature there.  Jake was thankful that he did not have two heads and that his legs were not as short as the little man he met.

Still he was worried, he wanted to be tall like his mother and father.  Jake turned twelve and the Munroe’s and the Atkins decided to go on a vacation down south.  They visited New York City and Jake found it too busy for his liking.

The dirty people begging for money, the crowded streets with trains and cars, it made him whine and complain.  Ophirah and Lorraine did manage to enjoy a trip to the shops on Fifth Avenue and gather some lovely new dresses for themselves.  They also managed to get some new catalogues for Jean Moisan to look through.  He would be delighted with the new products that he could sell in his shop.  The trip was cut short, however because Jake became ill all of a sudden, but once they returned home the red spots disappeared mysteriously from off his face and so did the fever.

Mr. Stalin who was suspicious about Jakes behavior found his assumptions to be correct after quizzing Jake.  Mr. Stalin informed Joseph that Jake had confessed to putting red berry dots on his face and jumping in hot water to raise his body temperature.  Ophirah scolded Jake for lying but secretly she was glad to leave New York City, she hated it too.  They had both been worried when Joseph said he loved it so much he wanted to move there.  It was six months later after his twelfth birthday that a miracle happened.  Jake got up out of bed, put his trousers on, and then went downstairs for breakfast.

Ophirah looked at her son and said, “Jake, where did you get those pants?  They are way too small for you.”

Now Ophirah usually would be out in the garden, she had not paid attention to what Jake was wearing these last few years unless there were guests, and that was a rare occasion.

When Jake looked down he cried, “But these are my favorite play pants.”

Ophirah looked at him for a moment.  Lately she had only been hugging him while putting him to bed.

She said, “Come here.”

She had the silliest grin on her face and she turned Jake around to look in the mirror.

He looked confused until she said, “Remember last time we looked in the mirror together your head came up to my elbow?”

He nodded and looked again then gave a yell, “I’ve grown mum; I’m up to your shoulders now.”

Jake was yelling and jumping around in the kitchen with glee.

Mr. Stalin came running down the stairs and stopped, panting and out of breath he gasped and said, “Is Master Jake alright?  Is there something wrong?”

Jake grabbed Mr. Stalin’s hands and started dancing around in a circle, jumping up and down he said, “I’ve grown Mr. Stalin, I’ve grown!”

Mr. Stalin was starting to look a little green once Jake let him go.  Jake went tearing out the door.  Jake pulled out his penknife from his pocket and went to his favorite climbing tree by the watering hole.  He stood there for a minute, let his breath out slowly then took the knife and stuck it into the wood above his head.  He turned around and looked.  The last marking was about six inches lower.  Jake felt a sense of relief, finally he was growing, surely by his next birthday his legs would be long enough for a tractor…

Chapter Thirty-One

The Antics of Jake Munroe

Joseph began to spend more time with his son and played with him as much as possible now that he was older.  The two of them would enjoy a game of baseball, lacrosse, rugby, or football with some of the local men at the family picnics.  Jake was thinking about the fact that it was going to be his thirteenth birthday soon.  He was happier these days, no longer feeling depressed about not growing.  He was sure he would be tall enough now to drive a tractor.

Jake was smiling as he remembered an old conversation with his father several years ago.

Jake had said, “Father, will you promise to buy me a tractor someday?”

Joseph smiled down at his son at the time, patted him lovingly on the head, and answered, “My boy, someday you will be tall enough and then I will get you a tractor.  Mind you, that will be the time to become a man and learn how to farm your own land.”

Jake’s eyes were round with fear, “Father, will I have to live on my own?”

Joseph laughed, “No son, you will still live with us.  I will give you a small piece of land to farm and you can grow whatever you please on it.”

Jake smiled, “I want to grow a nice big vegetable garden.  Mr. Moisan has promised to buy some of my vegetables when I have some to sell.”

Joseph smiled warmly, “Jean Moisan is a nice man isn’t he?  I see you are going to be a good salesperson.  You are already making arrangements before you even have that land.”

Jake smiled roundly feeling proud he would show his Father that he could be a man.  Jake was sure that it was apparent that he was maturing.  He did not act much like a young boy anymore except when climbing trees and that was usually before Sunday tea.  He would always have to change his clothes twice before any guests arrived.  After awhile his mother decided not to get him ready until a few moments after the guests arrived.  Jake knew that eventually he would have to stop climbing trees, but now, it was just too much fun.  Jake remembered the day when he had poked around in the attic and found something interesting there.

Unknown to Joseph and Ophirah, Jake discovered the Munroe Mansion Map of Secret Passageways.  Jake used it to his advantage many a time.  Jake would go to bed until everything was quiet then he would get up out of bed, go sneak into a passageway, and listen to his Mother and Father argue.  Their arguments were always about where they wanted to live.

Joseph kept saying he wanted to move back to England and Ophirah refused to go with him she was happy in Canada.

Ophirah said, “Do I need to remind you about that disastrous trip we took with Jake to New York City?  He is in a stable environment here, happy and healthy.  We will stay here until he is older.”

Jake was not too happy about the conversation but he had heard it many times and knew they had been drinking.  Whenever his parents drank, they would argue into the early hours of the morning over anything and everything.  Mr. Stalin acted more like an uncle then a Butler to Jake for they spent many hours fishing by the lake.  Joseph loved having fresh pike and salmon for dinner so he did not mind it when Mr. Stalin asked if it was okay to take Jake Fishing.

Half the time they did not catch anything but Joseph did not mind.  It kept the boy occupied and out of Ophirah’s hair.  Ophirah enjoyed having a few afternoons alone and she would go into town to have tea with Mrs. Moisan or the Totenmyers.  Ophirah was thankful that Lorraine rarely appeared at the community events she attended.  Usually Lorraine was busy planning an extravagant party for the more affluent people of society.  Ophirah would avoid the parties as much as possible unless someone she knew was going to one of them.

Lorraine did not pay much attention to Ophirah, her jealousy of the woman made Lorraine out to be quite ugly to some people.  They noticed but never said a word.  Anthony admired Ophirah’s beauty each day and his love grew stronger for her.  It pained his heart to see the unhappiness in her soul.  He could tell she was suffering silently.  He thought that once Ophirah had her Son Jake she would welcome him as a lover with open arms, but Ophirah held off.  She was afraid of causing a scandal and afraid of what Lorraine Atkins would do to her.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Joseph Munroe and Lorraine Atkins

Ophirah had been out riding late one evening she was surprised by the sound of galloping hooves.  She hid in the bushes off the road and saw Lorraine Atkins fly by on horseback.  Ophirah was shocked; she never expected to see Lorraine who was so prim and proper on the back of a horse.  Her curiosity got the best of her and she followed from a distance, she knew that Lorraine was heading towards Cote de la Montagne.  Ophirah had heard rumors that Lorraine visited there at odd hours, but no one would speak of it.  They lived in fear of the wrath of the Atkins.  They all knew that Anthony Atkins practiced black magic and no one wanted him to cast any spells on them.

Some knew of his tastes for a mistress here and there, but no one spoke a word about it.  Lorraine ignored what her husband did, she was happy with the money he provided.  Ophirah got off her mare and tied her to a tree on the outskirts of the village and then she crept up behind the Dubois Inn and waited.  She saw Lorraine go into one of the rooms.  Ophirah looked at the windows and noticed that one of the rooms had a light on, so she crept along the trees just in time to see Lorraine Atkins kissing a man with copper colored skin, and dark hair before he looked out the window and closed the curtains.  Ophirah ducked just in time.  She headed back to her mare, and slowly walked Misty while holding her bridle.

‘Ophirah wondered if Anthony was aware of his wife’s affair.  She decided to keep it to herself.  Then she realized that Joseph often left a few days at a time, she wondered if he ever came to Cote de la Montagne?  Joseph had left that evening saying he had a meeting with Anthony Atkins.  Ophirah realized he must have lied, because Lorraine would probably only go out while Anthony was away.’

That was when she heard the sounds of people carousing out in the street nearby.  Off in the distance she could see Joseph holding a scantily clad red head in his arms and practically undressing her in public.  They had headed off into the trees and Ophirah waited with baited breath.  Ophirah slowly backed away and tied Misty to a tree, then she made her way silently through the forest.  She came upon Joseph with his pants down and the girl was leaning face forward against a tree.  Joseph was entering the woman from behind and she was moaning in ecstasy.

Joseph was saying, “It feels so good to find a woman that likes some rough loving.  My wife does not sleep with me, so I’ve found you my pretty to satisfy my needs.”

The woman laughed, “I’m not the only one you have.  Will you be seeing Lorraine Atkins tonight?”

Joseph grinned, “Yes I plan to join her and Chago Sima at the Inn once I am finished with you.  They are busy at the moment, so I can take my time with you darling.”

Ophirah felt sick to her stomach and walked away retching in the trees.

Joseph had frozen and hissed, “Did you hear that?”

Ophirah stood stock still in terror.

The red haired woman turned and listened for a moment then said, “It’s probably a small animal we are out in the woods you know.”

Joseph pulled up his pants, “Let’s go back to the hotel, I’ll finish with you there.”

Ophirah waited until they were gone, grabbed Misty and headed back home.  Her eyes began to fill up with tears and she sobbed.

‘All these years being faithful to Joseph, the brute, instead she could have been happy with Anthony.  Her head was swimming with thoughts.  She was glad that Joseph left her alone; Ophirah decided at that moment in time that she would be free to be a lover to Anthony.  She admired how long he had been waiting for her.  She knew that he loved her dearly for he had told her so on several occasions.

She could not bring herself to cause any sadness to Jake so she had stayed with Joseph all these years.  Lorraine’s secret would remain a secret; Ophirah would never want Anthony to know the truth, it would break his heart and he would leave Lorraine in a minute if he knew the truth.  Anthony was unfair, he could play the field, but his wife could not.  He did not want any scandals ruining his reputation or that of his wife’s.  Ophirah went home feeling better but was alarmed to see Mr. Stalin standing outside of the barn looking worried.

He said, “I thought you had an accident, I was worried because it was so late.”

Ophirah smiled meekly, “I’m sorry Viktor I took a different route and lost my bearings.  I promise not to do that again.”

Mr. Stalin looked relieved, Ophirah adored this old man, and he took such great care of her as their butler.  She was thankful that he was there.  She would not be able to tell him what she had found out but she always enjoyed a cup of tea with him.

He put Misty away in the barn then asked, “Shall I make you some tea?”

Ophirah nodded and said, “I have to wash and change first.  I’d like some herbal tea if you please my stomach is a bit upset.”

Mr. Stalin knew it was not a pregnancy for the Munroe’s never slept together anymore.  He hoped that she was not falling ill because of the Munroe curse.  The Munroe Mansion’s curse bothered him greatly.  He worried that it would strike soon.  Master Jake would be turning thirteen years old; usually thirteen was the fateful year that the curse would take effect.  Ophirah startled him when entering the kitchen.  He had been in some sort of a trance.

Ophirah worriedly asked, “Viktor is there something wrong?  You look like you’re troubled about something.”

Mr. Stalin smiled at her and said, “Are you wearing a new riding outfit today?”

He did not want to broach the subject just yet.

Ophirah grinned, “I didn’t think anyone would notice.  I found it in the Sears Roebuck Catalogue at Jean’s store.  Does the navy blue with pink flowers look alright?”

Mr. Stalin smiled, “You look like a doll if you don’t mind me saying.”

Ophirah smiled to herself.  She was grateful for her cup of tea and decided to have one of Viktor’s homemade biscuits.

Mr. Stalin smiled, “Mrs. Moisan has sent us some new strawberry jam would you like some with butter on your biscuits?  They are fresh out of the oven.”

Ophirah said, “Yes please, thank you.  This jam is so tasty what is in it?”

Mr. Stalin said, “I think it’s a mixture of berries, triple berry is what she calls it.”

Ophirah smiled, “Is this one of her new products?”

Mr. Stalin grinned, “Yes and were her guinea pigs.”

Ophirah laughed, “Tell her the jam is marvelous.  Viktor you should have been a Baker instead of a Butler.”

Mr. Stalin bowed, “Mrs. Munroe, I love to bake as a hobby, but I prefer being your Butler.  Will that be all?”

Ophirah looked sad for a moment then excused herself, “I am tired, and I’ll be heading up to bed soon.”

Mr. Stalin paused for a moment then said, “Mrs. Moisan has also sent over some bath salts, these are called, Lavender beads.”

Ophirah smiled, “Then please have the maids draw up a nice warm bath for me, so that I may try some.”

Ophirah thanked him then walked upstairs to her room.  ‘The scent of the bath water was heavenly and Ophirah was delighted by the white bubbles in the water.  How fascinating to pop them.  She felt like a young girl again.  She would have to ask Mrs. Moisan if she had any bubble soap for Jake, he would be thrilled with it.  Maybe she could get him into the tub more often.  She constantly had to scold her son about keeping himself clean.  Always out in the garden, climbing trees and muddying his clothes.

The boy loved the countryside, earlier that day he had caught some butterflies in a jar and brought them home along with some wild flowers for his mother.  She wondered why all the gifts then realized that he was reminding her of his birthday and he had mentioned his fathers promise to get him a tractor.  She lay back in the tub with smile on her face as she began to plan her revenge on Joseph.’

Chapter Thirty-Three

Jake Munroe and Anthony Atkins

Earlier that day, Jake walked to town, without his Mother’s knowledge and asked if Mr. Moisan had ordered a tractor yet for his father.

Mr. Moisan smiled at the boy and cheerily said, “Jake Munroe you are an impatient soul.  You will have to wait until your thirteenth birthday to find out what your gift is, now run along and stay out of trouble.”

Jake was feeling tense and moody; he hated having to wait for something.  He decided to go to the watering hole and have some fun in the mud there.  Lately he had tried to make mud sculptures and found some clay in the ground; by mixing it with the correct amount of water, he was able to make small animal sculptures.  He was surprised to see two little Native girls playing in his watering hole.

Jake yelled, “Hey what do you think your doing?  This is my watering hole.”

The two native girls stood there in fear, then turned and ran away.

The youngest one of them turned around and said, “I like your little animals they are very good.”  Then she disappeared into the trees.

Jake felt lonely after they had run off, perhaps he should have invited them to swim with him.  He often spent many hours alone, wishing he had someone to play cowboys and Indians.  Mr. Stalin had played with him a few times but he often had to leave a few hours before suppertime to get things in order with the cook.  Jake thought about the map of secret passageways under The Munroe Mansion, he could not tell anyone because then they would know his secret.  He wanted to explore the long passageway that seemed to go in the direction of the town.  He wondered if anyone else knew about it.  It was Jake’s bedtime.  When all was quiet, later he carefully crept down the stairs and went into the library; the coast was clear so he leaned on the wall and it open up.  He would prove to himself that he could be a man.  He should be brave enough to explore this tunnel alone by now.

Jake walked steadily towards the door then pushed against it with all his might.  Grunting like a pig he finally opened it wide enough to slip through a crack.  Jake gave a startled cry when something brushed up against him and flew past his head and into the darkness.  The squeaking sound soon subsided and Jake hoped that no one had heard him.

From out of nowhere, a light flashed into Jake’s eyes and he stood there rooted in fear as a male voice barked, “What are you doing here?”

Jake looked like he had seen a ghost.  He stood there shaking like a leaf, tongue tied and unable to move a muscle.

The male voice softened as it came closer, “Master Jake.  Exploring I see, follow me.”

The man turned and began to walk down the left tunnel.

Jake asked, “Sir?  Who are you?”

The man answered, “It me Anthony Atkins, I guess you don’t recognize my voice.  I was just on my way home when you startled me.”

Jake asked, “Your home?”

Anthony grinned, “Yes the tunnel leads to my home and The Totenmyers, although I don’t think they are aware of it yet.”

Jake was scared, “What flew out at me?”

Anthony said, “Those were bats, they won’t hurt you but they hate being disturbed.  It is best to carry a torch with you when you are down here.  Does your mother know you are in here?  No I think not, your out on a secret adventure right?”

Jake smiled, “Yes can we please keep this a secret?  I do not have much fun you know.  With no one to play with, I find these tunnels amuse me.  We have secret passageways all through the house.  I have only found a few of them.  It’s hard to explore with Mr. Stalin’s watchful eye all the time.”

Jake opened up the map to show it to Anthony who noticed the different routes from the tunnels and into the Munroe mansion.

Anthony grinned, “I think I have a map like this at home but I haven’t looked at it in years.  I imagine it would be hard to explore with Mr. Stalin watching your every move, well here we are.”

Anthony pulled open the big oak door and there was the road just outside of the village of Place Royale.

Anthony smiled, “My ancestors built this passageway so that we could walk to town in the winter.  It only takes half an hour instead of a two-hour walk.  I rarely use it, but I am coming home late this evening and decided to see if it was still in good standing.  I used to explore these tunnels when I was a child.  More go to the beach and connect to the surrounding areas.  Some have fallen in, so be careful while you’re down here.”

Jake nodded and said, “Well I should be getting back home.  Mr. Stalin will be wondering where I am.  I hope he does not check up on me.  I’m supposed to be in bed already.”

Anthony laughed, “It is such fun being naughty once in awhile.  Just tell him you were sleep walking, woke up and heard a noise if he ever catches you.  I know your father sleepwalks sometimes.  It’s a good excuse.”

Jake shook Anthony’s hand and said, “Thank you sir for the tour, I really enjoyed it.  It’s a pleasure exploring the tunnel with you.”

Anthony smiled as he waved goodbye and closed the door to the tunnel by The Munroe mansion.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Ophirah and Anthony Atkins

‘Anthony wondered if he might use this tunnel sometime to visit Ophirah if she would have him.  He had noticed she had become warmer to his advances lately and she seemed to welcome them now.  He had bumped into her in town that day.’

Ophirah decided that she would use the excuse that she needed to do some shopping to update her old wardrobe and would be going to Montreal for two weeks without Joseph.  She asked Anthony if he were planning a business trip soon, she would like to accompany him.  He was delighted and kept the news to himself, and told her to do the same until the last minute.  Ophirah would make sure that Viktor would keep quiet about it.

Ophirah figured she would say that she wanted to get a special gift for Jake for his birthday and she had to go to Montreal to find it.  She would lie and tell Joseph that she would be going with Mrs. Moisan.  Joseph never went into town and she would ask Mrs. Moisan to cover for her this one time.  Mrs. Moisan, who was of medium height, slender, a dark haired woman with hazel eyes, had been delighted when Ophirah asked if she might purchase some new linen samples for her while visiting Montreal and Mrs. Moisan gave her a bag full of money.

Ophirah said that she would return in two weeks time, just before Jake’s Birthday Party.  She knew that Joseph intended to make it a special birthday and they had a big surprise for Jake.  Jake will receive it the day of his birthday.  It had cost Joseph an extra thousand dollars to arrange for the delivery date, but it would be well worth the money.  I hope that Jake would not be disappointed at having to wait until later in the day, she figured they would plan his party and have his gift delivered right after everyone had eaten.

They had planned on three gifts — one Jake would have right away to make him think that was all he was getting – and the second and third later on.  Ophirah had packed her bags and Jean Moisan picked her at dawn and brought her into town to the JA Moisan store.  The driver who would take Ophirah to Montreal was a young looking lad wearing a black suit and cap.  He was friendly but hard to understand with his thick Irish accent.  He took the time to help Ophirah load her two pieces of luggage into the 1921 Yellow Cab touring car then closed the back door and got in front.  He tipped his hat to Jean who was waving as Ophirah drove away.

Ophirah said, “How much is this trip going to cost?”

The driver smiled and said, “Its five dollars per hour and it took me two hours to get to you.  I’ll only charge you for an hour though, I got lost along the way.”

Ophirah grinned, “Yes the road signs are difficult along these little dirt roads.”

The driver grinned, “I was enjoying the scenery, and I passed the sign.  It was my fault.”

Ophirah yawned and he said, “It will be several hours so if you want to nap go ahead.”

She smiled and closed her eyes while they bumped along the dirt roads of Place Royale knowing they would eventually get onto a paved highway and the road would be smoother on the way to Montreal.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Ophirah Goes to Montreal

Ophirah was excited several hours later when she arrived in Montreal and checked into Hotel-Chateau de L’Argoat on Rue Sherbrooke Est. It was a three-storey concrete looking building in the style of neo- renaissance architecture with twenty-six rooms. Each room was cozy and comfortable with bright shades of green, yellow and blue. It was simple with a living room and bedroom all in one room.

The white wrought iron bed with its colourful homemade quilt, the fine linens and the view was gorgeous. Ophirah sent a message to Anthony informing him of her arrival. By this time, Anthony had found out that Emma Thompson his mistress had gone away on holiday.  The maid could not give a clue to her whereabouts but she did produce a note for him.

It had simply said, “My dearest Anthony, for three years I have been at your side, loving you and wanting something more than what we have.  I am tired of waiting for you to make me your wife.  I assumed that you would eventually marry me.  I can see that will never happen.  I have gone away on an extended trip to get over my feelings for you.  I will not be contacting you in the future,” Signed Emma Thompson.

‘Anthony felt troubled by Emma’s news.  He did not realize that she wanted him for her husband.  What was she thinking?  Emma was a lovely girl but her wealth stung him at times.  He struggled every month with projects, which at times drove him to insanity and back.  He made a good income, but it was very different from what Emma Thompson made on a yearly basis from her Father’s investments.  Never in a million years could he marry into such wealth and feel satisfied.  Besides, it would take all the mystery and fun out of their relationship.  Emma was okay as a mistress, but she did not excel in the art of conversation.  She could not stimulate his brain as Ophirah could.  Ophirah’s beauty and brains outshone any woman on the planet as far as Anthony was concerned.’

He soon forgot about it all while accompanying Ophirah on her shopping trip.  Ophirah with her lively conversations and sweet disposition, she would be easy on a man’s nerves, delight his soul and warm his loins while in bed.  With Ophirah, Anthony would not just have a physical connection, he would have a spiritual connection, they would unite as one in body, soul and spirit when they made love.  They were soul mates, yet he could not bring himself to commit solely to Ophirah so he would not suggest them tying the knot.

He knew that Ophirah did not totally trust in him, a weak man for young attached fillies, his head would constantly turn this way and that as lovely women passed by.  Anthony could never get enough of their beauty.  The Paris models visiting Montreal were no exception.  On this trip, Anthony would behave himself.  He would place his sole attention on Ophirah and enjoy every waking moment with her, drinking in her beauty and feeling the arousal of her titillating words.

Ophirah informed him that they first had to find the samples that Mrs. Moisan had requested.  Then Ophirah would want to buy herself a few gowns.  Ophirah would require Anthony’s assistance in her choices with his watchful eye and good taste, for he was a man of impeccable fashion and she appreciated that.  He told her that he planned to take her out for dinner that evening and then do some dancing on a moonlit terrace at a party on the other side of town.  No one would recognize them for it was a masquerade party.

Ophirah was delighted, “It’s been ages since I’ve gone to a party, where I could just sit back and enjoy myself without feeling any tensions.”

He knew she was referring to his Wife Lorraine’s constant clashes with her whenever the two ended up at the same party.  Ophirah suggested that masks would be good with outfits that they would not normally wear.  They could not risk having anyone recognizing them.  Ophirah purchased a bright green peacock feathered mask and a matching dress to go with it.  Anthony had purchased a black velvet mask, with a black velvet cape and matching pants and shirt, he looked very dashing and handsome even in his disguise.

They looked stunning as a couple and decided to change their names for the party for privacy reasons.  The ballroom was exquisite with its painted walls of floral patterns, and nature scenes.  A wooded patterned floor with flowers painted in the circles of wood.  The band struck up some fun dance tunes and they enjoyed a few waltzes together.  Anthony and Ophirah introduced themselves as Marsden and Zabrina Styles.  Names they had picked out while being driven to the party by the hotel’s transportation services.

Anthony figured there would be no one around that would recognize that name and he was right.  The festivities were well underway and some were already drunk and being a nuisance.  Some of the men clamored around Ophirah right away.  Her bright red hair was like a magnet, not many women had such beautiful, luscious shiny hair.  She had it done up in curls with some flowers in it.  Anthony had been admiring her all night.  They did not have much of a conversation with people because most of them were fluent in French.

Later in the evening after the dancing, they removed their masks as they walked along the Old Port of Montreal.  They took their time while looking at the assortment of boats and yachts in the marina then sat down on a bench to look up at the moon and the stars.  Anthony pointed out the big dipper then Orion’s belt in the sky and smiled at Ophirah who smiled back.  Then their eyes locked.

That was when Anthony grabbed Ophirah and said, “I can’t take it anymore my dear, I must make you mine.”

Ophirah kissed him fervently and said, “Tonight you shall.”

They walked by the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Musee Marguerite Bourgeois on Rue Saint-Paul est on their way to Rue Saint-Denis which took them an hour to stroll back to the Hotel. They quietly entered through a back door hoping that no one would see them.

Anthony had been true to his word, he was a gentle lover and very passionate too.  Ophirah’s body was exploding with wave after wave of bliss from Anthony’s artful hands while he explored her body for many hours, teasing her to the heights of ecstasy and beyond.  When they were finished, she lay there and felt a sense of contentment wash over her.  It had been almost fourteen years since she had been with a man, she felt nothing but relief and wanted more.

‘Anthony enjoyed his two weeks with Ophirah and wasn’t looking forward to going home.  He knew that there was a special glow about the two of them, for many people had commented on it while they were out walking.  Some had mistaken them as newlyweds.  Anthony felt grim, He would have to hide his feelings around Lorraine, and she was a shrewd woman.  It would be hard to hide the love that was in his heart.  A love like the one he had never felt before, he almost wanted to ask Ophirah if they could both divorce and get married.  Then he would have to give up all of his little mistresses and Anthony knew that would never happen.  Perhaps they could just continue to be lovers somehow, maybe use the tunnels as a rendezvous.’

Anthony was trailing his fingers along Ophirah’s glorious naked body when he asked, “Darling, will I be able to have you when we are back in Place Royale?”

Ophirah said, “I fear you have awakened the raw desires within me, I shall definitely want you, but where can we meet in secrecy?”

Anthony grinned, “Are you aware of the tunnels that go from your home to mine?  I have a secret potion room, I could put a bed in the inner chamber, and Lorraine never disturbs me down there.  I imagine Joseph is out on the town quite frequently and never bothers to look in your room?”

Ophirah nodded, “We pretty much live our own lives in separate quarters.  I live on the east side he lives on the west side and Jake will be living in the middle portion soon.  We plan to give him his own suite for his birthday.  It’s a good thing the boy spends hours outdoors; it was hard sneaking in the decorators.”

Anthony smiled, “I believe Mr. Stalin is aware of the tunnels, he has used them to sneak in your painters.”

Ophirah said, “Really and what do you think he would do if he were to catch us?”

Anthony smiled, “Mr. Stalin is quite aware of your unhappy situation with Joseph, I’ve heard that he’s wished for us to be together, thanks to one of my servants.”

Ophirah said, “Don’t tell me you bedded one of your servant girls?”

Anthony smiled, “Yes, after Lorraine fired her, I got her virginity by accident but let’s not talk about that.  You know I am a rake, which is why I must now change my ways and try to be faithful to you my darling.

I love you so much but we cannot part from our marriages, it would be such a terrible scandal.  Will you be happy to be my discrete mistress?  I can sneak you in through the tunnels into my secret room.  I intend to label it the Devils Play Room.”

Ophirah said, “Sounds fun.  I cannot wait to see it.  How will I find the tunnel?”

Anthony laughed, “Press on the wall beside your bed and it will swing open.  I have often stood there watching you as you sleep.”

Ophirah said, “So it was you that I sensed in my room.  I knew you were close, I thought I was dreaming of you.  I wish you would have come through the wall and made love to me.”

Anthony smiled tenderly, “My darling it was hard not to, you look so beautiful when you sleep and those see through night gowns show off your delectable body.”

Ophirah blushed, “It’s so nice for a man to appreciate my beauty.  You have a way with words Mr. Atkins.”

Anthony began to kiss her all over and made love to her.

Chapter Thirty-Six

Ophirah and Mr. Stalin

Ophirah sent a message to Mrs. Moisan informing her that she had her samples and would be returning home soon.  She would take some of the gowns in to show her how beautiful they were.  It was a few days later when a touring car arrived in front of JA Moisan in Place Royale.  At first people stopped to see if a new visitor had arrived, they were surprised to see Ophirah dressed in an elegant gown, and looking very radiant.

Mrs. Moisan noticed the glow on her face and said, “My dear, Montreal has done wonders for you.  You look so happy and alive.  I guess you shall have to return there often, it really makes your beauty stand out.”

Ophirah pulled out a few vials of perfume, “Here I’ve bought you a gift,” Ophirah sprayed some on her wrist, “It’s from Paris, France.  I found it in a shop in Montreal.”

Mrs. Moisan took a sniff, “It smells lovely dear.”

Mrs. Moisan was grateful and envious at the same time, “Someday I hope my husband will allow me to go to Montreal but with the store it is highly unlikely that I’ll ever get to go.”

Ophirah smiled, “Maybe you should request a second honeymoon, and then he will have to take you.”

Mrs. Moisan was delighted with her suggestion, “You know that is a marvelous idea.  Our wedding anniversary is coming up in a few months, I wonder if he will agree to it?”

Ophirah smiled, “Tell him if he wants to be married to you for many more that he has to.”

Mrs. Moisan grinned, “Yes I could black mail him couldn’t I?”

Ophirah had a quick cup of tea with her then headed home.  She noticed that Jake was nowhere around so she went to inspect the new suite, it looked marvelous.  Jake would love it she was sure.  Mr. Stalin was delighted to see Ophirah for he had really missed her and informed her that the garden was doing well, thanks to Master Jake.

Ophirah was surprised, “What has come over that boy?  He seems to have grown up overnight while I was gone.”

Mr. Stalin smiled, “They grow up fast, and before you know it they are leaving home and going to University.”

Ophirah laughed, “I doubt if Jake will ever go to University but one might never know.  Is everything set for the party?”

Mr. Stalin nodded, “Yes Mrs. Moisan has been by to help and so have Lorraine Atkins and Heta Totenmyer.  Lorraine helped with the decorations at no charge, said she wanted to give you a special gift for Jake.  I think she just doesn’t like the fact that you are spending such an enormous amount of money on Master Jake and she has no child to do the same.  One almost gets the feeling that Lorraine wants a child now.”

Ophirah paused for a moment taken back then asked, “What makes you think that?”

Mr. Stalin replied, “She told me in secrecy that she wishes to have a child after spending some time with Master Jake.  It seems that Anthony has taken a shine to your son and has been talking about him non-stop.  He says they share a secret and that he plans to take Jake on a special trip once he gets back from Montreal.  I think that Lorraine is jealous of you because you have an heir and she does not.  That’s why she wants a child.”

Ophirah shook her head in disbelief, “They don’t have much of a marriage, and how does she plan to have a child?”

Mr. Stalin said, “She plans to approach Anthony about it upon his return.  She wants to try to have a child with him.  She knows he would not mind one either.  He’s been talking about Master Jake so much; it has changed his mind about wanting children.”

Ophirah asked, “How is it they have not had any?”

Mr. Stalin whispered, “Lorraine has special devices from Paris, France that stop a woman from having a child.  She received them from a Doctor Tibideau in London, England, who invented the device.  She was using it for a few years before she married Anthony.  She was quite the rake in Paris, France, or so I’ve been told.”

Ophirah smiled, “Yes she has been with many men, including my husband.”

Mr. Stalin nodded then stood there shocked, “Yes, he was with Lorraine before she married Mr. Atkins.  I’ve always wanted to tell you but feared to do so.”

Ophirah patted his hand gently, “You are my dear friend, I’m glad you never told me about it.”

Mr. Stalin tentatively asked, “How did you find out?”

Ophirah laughed, “Remember my late night rendezvous with Misty?  I found Joseph with another woman and he talked about meeting Lorraine afterwards.  I trust you will keep this to yourself?”

Mr. Stalin turned red, “I’m sorry, but most of the servants know about it already, they just don’t say anything.  They fear that Mr. Atkins will curse them with his black magic.”

Ophirah smiled, “I had forgotten that he dabbles in the dark arts.  He did mention it to me though.”

She wondered if Anthony would share any of his secrets with her in his potion room.  That could be exciting.

Mr. Stalin watched the glow on her face and he whispered, “I’m happy for the both of you, I can see you enjoyed your trip together.”

Ophirah’s face went white as a sheet, “You don’t mean?”

Mr. Stalin nodded, “The servants know everything.  The walls have ears, with all the secret passageways in Munroe Mansion and the Atkins Mansion it’s hard to keep any secrets.”

Ophirah, “Should I fear a scandal from a disgruntled employee?”

Mr. Stalin shook his head, “Not to worry my dear we are all related, and we love and adore you.  We will do everything in our power to protect you.  We have asked Heta Totenmyer to help ward off the evils of Munroe Mansion.”

Ophirah didn’t really hear what he had said.

She thought about Heta Totenmyer,

‘I remember seeing a small native woman with a mixture of dark and grey hair in long braids along with dark grey eyes. Mrs. Moisan introduced them to each other at her store.  Heta was always bringing in various herbal ointments to sell in the store.  Ophirah loved the new lavender lotion it smelled wonderful and it mixed well with her new lavender bath salts.’

Ophirah stopped for a moment and stared, “Did you say — the evils of Munroe Mansion?  I’ve had an uneasy feeling in my stomach since I’ve returned.  I feel that something evil is lurking in this place and it is watching over me and waiting to do me harm.”

Mr. Stalin nodded, “Tis the Munroe Curse, it’s thirteen years since you’ve been here.  That is when the curse always strikes the lady of the house.”

Fear gripped Ophirah’s heart; the fear of impending doom was growing heavier on her shoulders.

Mr. Stalin said, “I have asked Heta Totenmyer to cast a spell to assist in protecting you.  She is not sure that it will work, but she will try.  Perhaps we should leave Munroe Mansion a few days after Master Jake’s Birthday?”

Ophirah was shaking in fear, “Is Joseph aware of this curse?  Why has he never mentioned it to me?  You think he would, or even you.  Why did you wait so long to tell me?”

Mr. Stalin said, “I believed that Heta would solve the problem and I didn’t want to worry you about it.  Besides, I do not think Joseph believes in the curse.  Although he should, he lost his mother to it.”

Ophirah gasped, “Whatever do you mean?  Joseph said his mother died during childbirth.  How is that possible?”

Mr. Stalin shook his head sadly, “There is something Joseph doesn’t know about his mother.  She lived in The Munroe Mansion for twelve years before getting pregnant.  It was the thirteenth year when he was born.  She died a horrible death.  They say her spirit appears from time to time in this place.  Usually the spirits appear just before the curse is about to happen again.  Have you seen any ghosts lately?”

Ophirah shook her head, “My mind has been preoccupied with things so I may not have noticed one flitting about.  Do you think that Joseph will believe us?  Where will we go?”

Mr. Stalin said, “You could go to the Munroe Estate in London, England.”

Ophirah thought for a moment, “Yes Joseph has been pining away for that place now for a few years now, I’m not sure Jake will like it very much.  I will have to talk to Joseph about it, will he be home this evening?”

Mr. Stalin nodded, “I sent him a letter, as soon as you arrived, and I insisted he come home for Master Jake’s Birthday party.  It’s in two days time.”

Ophirah felt a heaviness resting on her shoulders.  She felt so dreadful and would always miss Anthony.  In a way she wished she could just divorce Joseph and be done with him for good.  Nevertheless, the knowledge of his temptations to have a mistress would kill her.  It was better not to know such things.  Maybe Anthony would be able to visit London and they could see each other there.  She would have to remain hopeful…

Chapter Thirty-Seven

The Mystery of the Thirteenth Year

Ophirah was quiet that evening at dinner she did not want to ruin Jake’s spirits so she did not say anything about them leaving Place Royale.  Joseph was looking at his wife in an odd way.  He had seen her soul come alive and wondered what had been in Montreal to cause her such joy?  He felt bad, all these years for not being close to his wife, but he just could not stand to be in bed with her.

He enjoyed his mistress down at the brothel in Cote de la Montagne.  Jake had been happy to see his mother after giving her a hug he ran outside expecting there to be a large gift, nothing was in sight.  Jake felt bitter disappointment; he would not be getting the tractor his father had promised.  He probably had forgotten about it, his father was always away from home, he probably did not care anyways.

Jake too had noticed how his mother had come to life and he said, “Mother, Montreal has served you well, it’s a pleasure to see you smiling for once.”

Ophirah was surprised and a bit dismayed; she was having trouble hiding her feelings from everyone.  They both noticed that sadness had crept over her upon her return to the Munroe mansion.  Later that evening once Jake went to bed, Ophirah asked Joseph to go for a walk with her.  An unusual request, so he agreed to accompany her.

Ophirah looked quite serious when she asked, “Joseph why have you not warned me about the Munroe curses?”

Joseph looked blankly at her, “What curses?”

Ophirah could not believe the look on his face, “Mr. Stalin has informed me that there is a curse on this Mansion.  In the thirteenth year, the woman of the house meets with an unfortunate accident.  He has suggested that we leave Munroe Mansion a few days after Jake’s birthday.”

Joseph snorted, “And you believe the superstitions of an old man?  No one has told me about any curses.  He is lying.  I shall have to dismiss him for this.”

Ophirah grabbed his arm in anger, “You dismiss him, and I will leave you and take Jake with me.”

Joseph mocked, “And where will you go with no money?”

Ophirah smiled wickedly, “Oh I’ll have plenty of money once I divorce you.”

Joseph roared, “On what grounds.  You can divorce me but you will not get a penny.”

Ophirah smiled, “Oh but I will.  Your constant need for sex at the brothel is reason enough.”

Joseph’s jaw dropped then he pulled on his tight shirt collar and cleared his throat.

Ophirah demanded, “Listen.  I want to leave a few days after Jake’s birthday.  We will go live in your Estate in London, England.”

Joseph shrugged his shoulders, “I’ve always wanted to go there anyhow.  How did you find out about the brothel?”

Ophirah laughed, “I was the little animal that caught you with your pants down.”

Joseph turned purple with rage, “Spying on me you little witch.”

Ophirah laughed, “I was not spying on you, but on another.  You just happen to come along at the right moment.  By the way, I am sure Anthony Atkins would definitely curse you if he knew you were having an affair with his wife Lorraine.  Perhaps you would consider paying me to keep my mouth shut.”

Joseph’s face went white with fear as he backed away from her.  Ophirah felt exhausted.  Joseph turns and ran away disappearing into the night.  Ophirah walked back into the house and promised herself to keep a watchful eye out for him.  She noticed the servants scurrying back into the house out of the corner of her eye and sighed to herself thinking,

‘No secrets in this house…’

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Jake Munroe’s Secret

Jake wondered where his parents had gone and overheard them shouting through his window.  The word divorce rung out clearly but then the words were hard to hear when Mr. Stalin rushed in and closed the window.  He scolded Master Jake and advised him to stay in his room and not to intrude on his parent’s conversation this time.  Jake was shocked.

Mr. Stalin smiled, “Yes I know about your exploring escapades around the house, it’s hard not to hear you clumping around in those boots.  It echoes down to the servant’s quarters.  We have allowed you to have your fun, but not tonight.”

Jake was white faced with fear, “Mr. Stalin, what did mother mean by a curse?”

Mr. Stalin sighed and sat down on the bed lovingly patting Jakes head he said, “My boy many years ago a curse was put on Munroe Mansion.  It was said that on the thirteenth year the lady of the house would meet with an unfortunate accident.”

Jake asked, “Has anyone died from it?”

Mr. Stalin nodded, “Yes, your Grandmother Destine Munroe died while giving birth to your father.  She was living in the mansion for thirteen years.”

Jake asked, “Why didn’t father have any brothers or sisters then?”

Mr. Stalin looked sad for a moment then said, “She lost all of her babies.  She almost lost your father but he was a fighter and he lived.”

Jake was quiet for a moment then he asked, “Does this mean that mother will die?”

Mr. Stalin shook his head, “No, I’m sure Heta Totenmyer and Anthony Atkins will do all they can to stop it.  I have asked them to create a powerful spell to counteract the curse.  Nevertheless, to ensure your Mother’s safety I have suggested that we move to the Estate in London, England.  It is way out in the country with rolling hills and many trees to climb.  You will be able to make friends there.”

Jake’s eyes lit up at the thought then a few seconds later he inquired, “Can I still have a garden?”

Mr. Stalin smiled, “Your garden in England could be a hundred times bigger than this one.”

Jake said, “But what about Mr. Moisan?”

Mr. Stalin said, “You could always ship your vegetables to him and sell them to some other stores as well.”

Jake sighed, “I don’t think I’ll be getting a tractor for my birthday, do you think I could get one in England?”

Mr. Stalin smiled, “They make tractors in England.  You could have a nicer one there.”

Jake smiled, “I will tell Mother that I want to go live in England.  I read in the Farmers Almanac that they have more seeds to choose from I could grow some flowers there and sell them to various estates, the English love to have huge gardens.  I could make a fortune of my own, right Mr. Stalin?”

Mr. Stalin patted him on the head, “That’s my boy, always the optimist.  Now try to get some sleep you have a surprise tomorrow morning.”

Jake smiled, “But my birthday isn’t until the next day.”

Mr. Stalin said, “Ah yes, that’s correct, but this is a pre-birthday gift from a friend.”

Jake grinned, “I don’t have any friends.  So who could it be?”

Mr. Stalin winked at him, “It’s your secret friend, and he plans to take you on an adventure tomorrow.  Don’t breathe of word of this to your parents, they don’t know about it.”

Jake smiled and sighed, “I shall have trouble sleeping tonight Mr. Stalin.”

Mr. Stalin said, “Count Vegetables until you fall asleep.”

Then he got up and walked out of the room.  Jake was worried, about his parents divorcing, what would happen to him?  He would want to live with his mother.  He would have to talk to Mr. Atkins about it, perhaps he could suggest a plan, and he drifted off to sleep thinking about how nice it would have been to have Mr. Atkins for a father…

Chapter Thirty-Nine

The Nightmares of Munroe Mansion

The next morning Joseph and Ophirah headed into town, they told Jake during breakfast that he had to stay around the house for they planned to go shopping for his birthday.  Jake figured they would buy him some kind of toy at the J.A. Moisan Store.  His thirteenth birthday was beginning to look grim.  Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Mr. Stalin appeared in front of Jake, startling him.

Mr. Stalin was smiling from ear to ear and he had a mischievous look in his eye as he said, “Jake there is a surprise waiting for you in your room.”

Jake said, “Do I have to?  You are probably planning a surprise party for me.  I bet I have to wear my itchy wool suit.  I hate wearing that suit.”

Jake took his time walking back to his room.  Moments later, he let out a shriek when he realized it was a brand new hunting outfit sitting on his bed.

Jake thought to himself, ‘Maybe Mr. Stalin was his surprise.’

He ran down the stairs and just about lost his footing on the final step.

Mr. Stalin scolded him, “Master Jake, do slow down before you hurt yourself.  You would be in a fine mess if you broke your leg, just before your journey was to begin.  I see that your outfit fits properly.”

Jake smiled and said, “Yes thank you it’s lovely and very comfortable too.”

Mr. Stalin walked towards the library, “Follow me Master Jake.”

Jake was shocked when Mr. Stalin took him through the passageway and weaved into another door hidden under a stairway.  Jake had not noticed the small doorway before; they followed the tunnel and came out by the boathouse.

Jake, with a questioning look in his eye, glanced at over at Mr. Stalin and said, “I’ll bet you used to sneak out to the water for a late night swim when you were younger.”

Mr. Stalin grinned and said, “How did you guess?  You are not the only boy who has explored these tunnels.  I used to play in the other ones that have caved in, years ago.  Someday I might just give you a tour.”

Jake was excited, “I would like that very much.”

Mr. Stalin smiled at him, patted him on the head, put his arm around him, and said, “Now close your eyes and grab my arm.”

They walked for a few minutes and then stopped.  Jake could hear the waves lapping against something.  He could hear the joviality in Mr. Stalin’s voice when he told him to open up his eyes.  Jake had to focus for a minute then he grinned at the man sitting before him.  There was Anthony Atkins sitting in a canoe with three fishing rods.

Anthony motioned to them, “Come on.  Climb aboard.”

Mr. Stalin and Jake got into the canoe.

Anthony said, “Nice to see you again Mr. Stalin it’s been a long time since we’ve gone fishing together.”

Jake smiled, as Mr. Stalin added, “I used to take Mr. Atkins fishing when he was a young boy.  We always had fun didn’t we?”

Anthony nodded and said, “We sure did.”

Each of them grabbed an oar and started to paddle out across the lake, heading towards the waterfall, Jake could not wait to get there.  Jake had only seen it off in the distance, now he would get a chance to explore it.  They arrived near the base of the falls, parked the canoe up on the sand, and right away Jake went to stand near the bottom of the waterfall then he put his arm in it and got all wet.

Then Jake grabbed his fishing pole and joined the other two on the rocks nearby.  They spent the day sitting along the shoreline under the trees to shade themselves from the blistering hot sunny day.  Jake was the first to get a bite on his fishing pole.  He took his time wheeling it in with Anthony assisting him.  He was so excited to catch the biggest fish ever.

Anthony smiled, “Wait till your mother see’s this one.  She will be delighted for it will feed quite a few people.”

Anthony winked at Mr. Stalin as he felt a tug on his own fishing line and masterfully reeled another large fish.

‘Jake was admiring Anthony’s taunt muscular arms and wishing that he had muscles like that.  He felt defeated, his long lanky body was so thin, and his arms were thin too.  He wondered if the boys in London would make fun of him.  Ophirah had home schooled him since he was a child it would be strange attending school with other children his own age.  He wondered what it would be like to go to a real boy’s school, for Mr. Stalin had told him that more than likely he would attend a private school there.  How would he make friends?

He did not have any friends here, not his own age, and now when he had just started to get close to Mr. Atkins he had to leave.  Life was so unfair.  He would cherish these moments with Mr. Atkins for the rest of his life.  Someday he hoped to go fishing with his own son.  He would spend lots of time with him and he would not drink as his father did.  He hated it when Joseph came home drunk.  He was such a mean bastard to everyone especially his mother.’

After spending a few hours catching quite a few fish, they all paddled back towards the Munroe boathouse.  Jake assumed his adventure was over and thanked both Mr. Atkins and Mr. Stalin for the lovely morning so far.  Jake was surprised to see his Father Joseph standing on the deck with three shotguns lying on the dock beside him.

Joseph smiled, “My boy, it’s time you learned how to go hunting with a real gun.”

Jake was excited, until now he had only been able to use a pellet gun, this would be a challenge.  He clambered out of the canoe and Mr. Stalin and Mr. Atkins took the canoe and put it in the boathouse then they were all standing there when suddenly they heard a woman scream.  They turned around and saw that Ophirah was sliding down the steep slippery hill at a high rate of speed.  She had tried to climb down the stony path with her heeled boots but then she tripped, rolling down the side of the muddy hill, she landed with a thump in the sand next to a very large rock.

Anthony rushed to her side immediately saying, “Darling are you okay?”

Ophirah turned three shades of red and Joseph was looking at both of them with narrowed eyes.

Anthony apologized, “Sorry it was just a slip of the tongue, I wasn’t thinking.”

Joseph had a thought then shook his head, mumbling to himself, “impossible.”

Mr. Stalin looked at Ophirah and fear struck his heart.  He would have to keep a more watchful eye on her.

Mr. Stalin turned to Anthony and whispered, “We need that amulet.  I fear the curse has already begun.”

Anthony paused in surprise then mumbled, “I’ll bring it tomorrow.  I’ve misplaced it somewhere.”

Anthony turned to Ophirah saying, “Can you walk on your own?”

She murmured yes but then her leg crumpled under her when she tried to get up.  Ophirah’s face was white as a sheet and she saw the fear in Jake’s eyes.

She looked at her son and said, “I’m alright dear, come here and give me a hug.”

Jake ran to her side and gave her a hug, crying, “Mother I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

She stroked his hair, and grabbed his face gently looking him in the eye, “I’ll be alright Jake, I promise.  You have nothing to worry about.”

Ophirah looked up and saw the fear flicker in Mr. Stalin’s eyes.

She wished she really believed what she had just said…

Chapter Forty

The Golden Amulet

At that moment, Lorraine Atkins was holding an amulet in her hand at the Atkins Mansion.  A round gold medallion, a greenish liquid inside that glowed.  It was on a golden chain.

She frowned, and looked on the other side, inscribed were the words, “To the love of my life, Ophirah, Love Anthony.”

Hatred struck her heart and she screamed in rage, “That Witch will not have my husband, over my dead body.”

She took the amulet wrapped it in a cloth and hid it in a wooden box, in a small secret cupboard in the wall of the potion room.  Anthony would not be able to save Ophirah from the Munroe Curse she would make sure of that.

Meanwhile back at The Munroe’s, Anthony carried Ophirah back up the hill towards The Munroe Mansion and placed her carefully onto her bed.  He so badly wanted to kiss her but he could not.  Joseph was watching the two of them very closely.  He noticed Ophirah’s flushed cheeks and how Anthony kept staring into her eyes with a longing that was apparently naked from his soul.

The doctor arrived and said to Ophirah, “Nothing is broken my dear, it’s best to get some rest for awhile though and to put some ice on it to reduce any swelling that you might have.”

Ophirah murmured her thanks as the Doctor left the room then turned and looked at Jake’s ashen white face, Mr. Stalin’s somber expression, then at Joseph’s stony countenance.

Joseph thought to himself,

‘There was no mistaking it–He knew that look– Anthony was in love with his wife.’

Mr. Stalin and Jake walked out of the room.

Joseph sneered as he looked at Ophirah and said, “Nice of your lover to care for you.  I hope the curse does get rid of you.  If you’re dead than you cannot blackmail me…”

He turned on his heel, walked out of the room and Ophirah laid there in terror…

Chapter Forty-One

Jake’s Hunting Trip

Joseph went back outside motioning to Jake and Anthony to follow him.  He asked Mr. Stalin to stay with Ophirah while the other three went on a hunting trip.  Joseph kept giving Anthony dark looks as they walked through the dense forest with their guns in their hands.

Joseph thought to himself, ‘I could just kill Anthony and get my revenge on him and Ophirah for what they have done.  I would have to murder Ophirah in her sleep.  However, I cannot do that because Jake is here, he would never forgive me for taking away Anthony or Ophirah.  Blast that boy!  Why did he have to get so close to the man?  He is probably planning to have Ophirah divorce me and take over my family.  That is what he wants.

No that is not right, Anthony as a family man?  No, he loves having his Mistress Emma Thompson in Montreal.  Ophirah would never stand for that.  She does not care much for me, so it never comes up.  However, if she loved Anthony then rage would take over her heart and she would want to kill him herself.  Yes, that is the answer.  Make her hate him beyond anything else.  Have him crush her heart and soul.  That alone will kill any desire of happiness for her.’

Suddenly Joseph woke out of his dark stupor to Jake yelling, “I got one Father.”

Jake had shot the rabbit right in the head and was holding it up proudly for his father to see.

Anthony reading his mind was sensing Joseph’s dark mood and thoughts, ‘So that’s what he’d like to do to me and Ophirah.  I cannot harm my friend but if it came to protecting the ones that I love then I will muster up a spell or two to put Joseph in his place…’

Chapter Forty-Two

Jake’s Rabbit Stew

It was a few hours later, the rabbit had been skinned and stewed for the next day.  This time Mr. Stalin did the cooking while Ophirah sat in a chair in the corner with her leg propped up.  The Cook was off for the day.

Ophirah said, “I do hope this swelling goes down before tomorrow.  I don’t cherish the thought of thumping around all day like this.”

She tapped her wooden cane on the floor.

Mr. Stalin grinned, “My lady I can assure you it will be all better by tomorrow.  Now take some of this special ointment and by tomorrow you will be as good as new.”

Ophirah smiled and said, “Viktor what would I do without you?  You’re a godsend.”

Mr. Stalin looked lovingly at his employer and said, “No you’re the one who is a godsend.”

Ophirah thought for a moment and said, “I thought I was going to faint when Jake came running up to my room with that rabbit in his hand.”

Ophirah had immediately felt sick to her stomach upon the viewing of the blood shot, bulging eyes of a dead rabbit.

At the time she said, “Jake, I am proud of you.  I know you enjoy hunting but I really do not care to see your trophy now.  Today I seem to have a weak stomach.  Mr. Stalin, please remove that horrid thing from my presence at once.”

Mr. Stalin grinned at her for a moment, then realized she was being serious and quickly grabbed the rabbit and disappeared through the hidden doorway in the wall.  He soon came back into the room.

Jake apologized, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you Mother.  I love you so much; you are so good to me.  Where are we going to live if you divorce Father?”

Ophirah was startled.

Jake murmured, “I overheard you yelling at Father before Mr. Stalin shut my window.  I am scared Mother, I fear that something bad is going to happen to you.  I had nightmares about you falling last night, I tried to rescue you, but I could not.  You were falling off a cliff.”

Ophirah turned as white as her sheets.

Mr. Stalin looked at her then said, “Master Jake you are upsetting your mother, please go get cleaned up and ready for dinner.”

Jake left the room and Mr. Stalin looked at Ophirah, “What’s the matter?  Are you having premonitions too?”

She nodded, Mr. Stalin sighed, “I too had the same dream.”

Ophirah sobbed, “I dreamt that I was on the edge of a cliff, that Joseph had dragged me there and pushed me over.  I kept falling then I woke up.  I fear for my life, he is so angry with me for wanting to divorce him.  He actually said if I were dead, I could not blackmail him.  I am scared to death of him or of what he might do to me.”

Mr. Stalin patted her hand, “There, there Ophirah, Master Joseph is one to say harsh words but he would never hurt a hair on your head.  I shall have a word with Mr. Atkins I sensed today that he felt the same about you.  I saw the grief, worry, and love on his face when he came to rescue you.  Master Joseph saw it too; his jealousy could drive him to do something evil.

Not only do you have to worry about the Munroe Curse my lady, you have to worry about Joseph and Lorraine, both are vindictive, evil people when they are wronged.  You and Anthony would be best to part ways before things get out of hand.  You must think about Master Jake’s welfare now.”

Ophirah sighed, “I wish I could make all this goes away, I never dreamed I would be faced with such turmoil in my life.”

Mr. Stalin said, “One never knows what the hand of fate will deal to them.  We can only grow stronger in the midst of adversity.”

Ophirah smiled, “How strong must one be, before peace comes?”

Mr. Stalin whispered, “Very strong.”

Ophirah decided to hobble down at suppertime and join the family at the dinner table.  The aroma of chicken vegetable soup and baked bread had drawn her downstairs.  However, the feeling in the air was tense and uncomfortable around the dinner table and Jake was feeling miserable.  With his parents constantly bickering, there was no hope of him getting his tractor or having a good birthday.  He would not be looking forward to tomorrow at all.

The faster they left Place Royale, the better he would feel.  That night Mr. Stalin had to attend to Jake and Ophirah several times during the night.  Both were having terrible nightmares.  Joseph drowning in his sorrows with a bottle of port was snoring loudly down in the library…

Chapter Forty-Three

Happy Birthday Jake Munroe – August 20, 1921

The next morning Joseph woke up with the worst headache and a feeling of dread had settled in on him.  He realized he really loved Ophirah and had not been the best of husbands to her; he would try his best to rectify this once they reached London, England.  He would do everything in his power to bring them closer as a family.  He did not want to lose his wife to his friend Anthony.  He knew that they had fallen in love and he would have to work fast to put a stop to it.

He was sure that Lorraine would join forces with him, she could not stand to lose Anthony either.  Jake dragged himself out of bed and looked around his room, half of his furniture and toys had disappeared during the night.  He became suspicious of that drink that Mr. Stalin had given him before bedtime.  He had never fallen asleep so fast in his life before.

Jake stood out in the hallway yelling, “I’ve been robbed, my things are gone.”

Then he looked and saw that Mr. Stalin, his mother and father were standing at the bottom of the stairs with the silliest of grins on their faces.

They started to sing in unison “Happy birthday to you…” as Jake quickly ran down the stairs and into his mother’s arms.

Ophirah hugged her son, “We have a surprise for you, follow me.”

Jake grinned, “Are we going into another secret tunnel?”

Ophirah asked innocently, “What secret tunnel?”

Jake mumbled, “Never mind, I’ll tell you sometime.”

Mr. Stalin was walking ahead of them.  Jake noticed that he was heading towards the locked door.  Mr. Stalin opened the door and ushered him into a huge room.  The decor was bright colors of blue, yellow, and green with pictures of airplanes, trains, and automobiles on the walls.

The three of them said, “Welcome to your new suite.”

Jake’s mouth dropped, he ran into the enormous bedroom and saw that his furniture and toys were there.  He felt relieved.  Then he walked into the next room and gasped for it had a large train track in it.  Joseph turned it on and they watched in fascination as the train rolled around the large room.  There were rows of toys, artwork, paints, brushes everything that Jake had played with over the years was now all in one room.  He walked through another door to a smaller room, and into a library with a desk and a phonograph and a radio.

Jake smiled, “I can play my own records now and listen to music.”

He looked at the rows and rows of new books.  Most of the books were on flowers and garden ideas.  On the desk was a pretty box with a blue bow on it.  He opened it up and there were several hundred packets of vegetable seeds in it.

Joseph said, “Those are for your garden in England.  You will have lots of land for planting there.”

Then Ophirah gave him a smaller gift, Jake opened it up to find a wall hanging made out of barn board with a small boat, an oar and a boy in a navy blue and white outfit.

Jake had tears in his eyes then smiled and said, “Thanks,” and gave all three of them a big hug.

Jake’s stomach gave a rumble and Ophirah said, “I think our growing boy needs some breakfast.”

She turned and they walked down to the kitchen.  The smell of bacon and eggs, toast and strawberry jam wafted through the dining area.  They all sat down to a hearty breakfast.

Once they had finished Joseph said to Jake, “We have another surprise for you.”

Jake could not contain his excitement, finally his tractor.

Jake followed his Father and Mother out to the boathouse and felt perplexed,

‘How did they fit his tractor into the boathouse?  Did they build a secret platform in there or something?’

Joseph stood expectantly at the doorway and Jake ran up and stood there letting his eyes grow accustomed to the dim light.  He looked around but there was no tractor.  Disappointment flooded over him as he spotted a white rowboat with a big red bow on it.

Jake said, “Oh, is that mine?”

Joseph nodded, “Yes and here is a holder here for your new fishing pole.  I had it custom made for you.  What do you think?  Now you can go fishing anytime you want.”

Jake looked sad for a moment, “But if were leaving I wont get a chance to do much fishing will I?”

Joseph smiled, “My Estate in England has hundreds of acres of land, a pond stocked with fish, and we will have boats there too.”

Jake felt a bit better, although disappointed he smiled, “This is all so wonderful.  Can we go for a ride in it now?”

They both nodded and all three of them crawled into the boat.  Ophirah sat back and watched Joseph and Jake rowing the boat out to the other side of the lake.  The waterfall looked so beautiful off in the distance and they watched as the fish were jumping along the shoreline.  The sun was high in the sky when they returned just after lunchtime.

Jake noticed there was a large white tent set up and people milling around, as they came up to the shore, the people stood by the dock singing, “Happy Birthday To You.”

Jake had tears in his eyes he looked at his parents and said, “This is the happiest day of my life.”

They all sat down on blankets and had a lovely picnic, eating the rabbit stew, sandwiches, and salads everyone from the village came to the party, and even the servants were there.  Jake was sure to let everyone know that he had been the one that killed the rabbit for the stew.

The servants brought out a large cake in the shape of a Tractor for Jake and he sarcastically said, “Thanks Father, you did promise me a tractor for my thirteenth birthday.”

He had no sooner said the words, than a loud rumbling noise was heard coming from around the corner of the Mansion.  There was Jean Moisan sitting on top of a small red tractor beaming from ear to ear.

Jake looked at his parents and they nodded, “Yes son, it’s all yours.”

Jake let out a yell and ran to the tractor.  Everyone clapped and laughed at the expression on his face.  He was running around yelling and waving his arms like a crazed lunatic.  Jean took a few minutes to show Jake how to use the controls then he joined Jean on the seat.  At first, he stalled it a few times then eventually he got the hang of it.

Jean got down off the tractor and yelled, “Be careful with those turns, don’t get too close to the mansion.”

Jake was busy driving his tractor around in circles when Ophirah yelled, “Come and eat your cake Jake, You can play with your tractor later.”

Jake got down and gave the keys to Mr. Stalin, “Please keep these is a safe place so I don’t lose them.”

Jake ran and gave each of his parents a hug, “I thought you had forgotten your promise to me.  This is the best birthday ever.  Thank you so much, all of you.”

Ophirah handed him a big piece of his birthday cake, then she asked Jake to sit down and open all of his gifts.  The village had been generous; he opened up boxes of candy and baked goods, more seeds, toys, clothes, a slingshot and another hunting outfit.

Joseph whispered, “Tomorrow morning we’ll get up nice and early and do some more hunting.  This time we’ll get a duck for tomorrow’s supper.”

Jake smiled he could not wait.

Anthony walked over to him and said, “I’ll be taking you on few more fishing trips before you leave.  I think your parents will be staying for a few more weeks now.”

Mr. Stalin pulled Anthony aside, “Did you bring the amulet with you?”

Anthony shook his head no, “I can’t seem to find it, and I fear my wife’s hidden it on me.  She’s become intolerable these last few days.”

Mr. Stalin whispered, “Joseph has threatened to harm Ophirah, he knows that you two have fallen in love.  I fear for her life.”

Anthony nodded, “Yes and so do I, Joseph’s been drinking too much lately and he gets violent when he’s drunk.  I think he should not be hunting in that condition.  Something bad could happen.”

It was getting dark out so people came up to say goodbye to the Munroe family thanking them for their hospitality before going home.  Jake was exhausted and went straight to bed.  He had not slept much the past few days.  For once Ophirah and Jake had a peaceful nights sleep and so did Mr. Stalin.  Joseph sat there in the library feeling rather helpless with a drink in his hand.  The library door was jammed and he could not get it to open.

Confound it he should have fixed it.  What if something happens to Ophirah, he banged on the door again.  No one came they were all sleeping.  Feeling uneasy, he took his last drink, laid down on the sofa, and passed out for the night…

Chapter Forty-Four

The Curse of the Munroe’s

Ophirah woke up the following morning to a cool, sunny day and she decided she wanted to go work out in the garden.

She noticed that Joseph was not in the library so she went into the kitchen and saw Viktor sitting there with his head in his hands.

Ophirah said, “Viktor where are the boys?”

Viktor smiled, “They have gone hunting early this morning.  Master Jake wants to get a duck this time.”

Ophirah smiled, “Make sure I don’t have to see it.  I’ll be out in the garden.”

Ophirah walked out the back door onto the patio and headed for the garden shed to get some tools.

Mr. Stalin after finding out that Joseph was not in his room early this morning, went down to the library and wiggled the door.  Joseph woke up and walked over to the door and it opened without a problem.

Joseph said, “Mr. Stalin after breakfast please remove this door latch and get a new one from Jean.  I am tired of being locked in here.”

Mr. Stalin apologized profusely, “I’m sorry sir, and I was so exhausted I didn’t hear you.”

Joseph noticed how pale Mr. Stalin was looking Joseph asked, “Are you feeling alright?  You look a little peaked?”

Mr. Stalin coughed, “I will be okay sir, just have to catch up on my sleep I suppose.  I’ll get your breakfast sir.”

Joseph said, “I’ll go wake Jake up.  I want to get an early start this morning.”

Mr. Stalin worriedly watched Joseph stumble around towards Jake’s room.  It was obvious he was still a bit drunk.

After a quick breakfast of toast, jam and sausage Jake and Joseph left just after dawn to go hunting.  Ophirah was busy working on the weeds in the garden until lunchtime.  Her stomach began to rumble and she sighed.  She put her tools away and went into the kitchen to grab a bite to eat.

Looking out the window, she noticed that the sky was turning pitch black with ominous gray clouds and she began to hear the sounds of rolling thunder.  She sat down to eat and half an hour later, she began to feel alarmed, then worried and anxious because there was no sign of Joseph or Jake.  Ophirah walked down the grand hall to where she could hear noises coming from the direction of the library.  Mr. Stalin was attempting to change the lock on the library door.

Ophirah said, “Viktor have you seen Joseph or Jake lately?”

Mr. Stalin shook his head and began to cough gasping for air while his eyes became watery from the force of each sneeze that bellowed out of him.  She could see that Mr. Stalin was not feeling well and she was mad about not noticing how pale he was.

Ophirah said, “Please go saddle up Misty for me Viktor, I’ll have to go look for them.  Joseph is probably drunk again and has no sense when it comes to storms.”

Mr. Stalin looked alarmed and said, “You know that Misty is skittish in this kind of weather, should you be taking her out in this?”

He looked at the stern face in front of him and decided not to argue with her about it and then he walked slowly to the barn.  Ophirah went up to her bedroom and changed into her new riding habit.  It was a soft black material with a red jacket, and gold buttons, royal and smart looking.  She had bought it in Montreal.

She stood there for a moment looking in the mirror at her.  Gone was the happiness and glow of her trip with Anthony.  It had been a glorious two weeks and she wondered when they would see each other again.

As she pulled on her shiny new black riding boots, she felt grim for some reason.  ‘She hoped that Joseph hadn’t lost his head and done something to Jake, out of spite?  Would Joseph be capable of killing his own son?  She had seen the look in his eye the night before.  It was as if something evil had taken over Joseph’s soul.  It terrified her and she feared for Jake’s life.”

Ophirah headed out to the stables and shouted above the storm, “Thanks Viktor, now you go have a hot cup of tea and get some rest. Never mind the door it can wait until tomorrow.  I will be back soon.”

The wind was picking up, causing her red hair to lash at her face.  It was sharp like a whip.  She looked up into the sky and hoped that the rain clouds would hold off.  Misty did not care for the rain she would become very difficult to ride if that happened.  Mr. Stalin stood holding Misty for her.  She swung herself up, stroked the horses neck smiled at Viktor and cantered off into the meadow towards the dark and forbidding forest.  Viktor was full of anxiety and fear, he wished that Anthony would hurry up and find out where that amulet was; it would be a matter of life and death for Ophirah.

‘Ophirah couldn’t believe how long the two had been gone usually they would be back by noon.  She was angry with Joseph for keeping Jake out in this storm.  The man has no sense.  How many times had she asked him to keep an eye on the weather while he was out hunting with the boy?  She assumed he didn’t care, about his son, just as he didn’t care about his wife.’

The smell of the earth rose to her nostrils, the pounding of the horse’s hooves reverberated in her ears as she looked frantically for both of them calling out their names.  The violent wind was picking up even more and the gray sky had almost become a blue-black color.  The clouds were fat with moisture she could feel the dampness in the air it was chilling all the way to the bone.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash, a loud clap of thunder and a loud scream ensued as, Misty reared up high, lost her balance, and fell over crushing Ophirah underneath her.  Misty rolled over onto her side, neighing, bleeding from the tree branch that had crashed on top of her.  Ophirah was still breathing, bleeding, and oblivious to everything around her.  Her head was swimming in pain.  She saw two forms before her eyes.

Her vision was hazy and then she heard Joseph’s voice cry, “My God it’s Ophirah.”

She felt two small arms encircling her, “Father it’s the curse.  Mr. Stalin warned you about it.  Mother please wake up it’s me Jake.”

Joseph snarled at his son, “There is no curse, its just superstition.”

Ophirah lay there silent in Jake’s arms dreaming — she was a younger running through a field of daisies laughing and chasing Joseph.  She remembered their first kiss under the great oak tree, and professing their love to one another.  Then she saw the day of their first wedding anniversary when she had fallen in a big puddle of mud and Joseph had leaned over to grasp her hand and had fallen into the mud as well.

The funny picture it had made.  Then she saw Anthony’s muscular body laying there in bed, he soft hands caressing her as they made love.  Weakly smiling to herself, she saw herself holding a tiny bundle of joy, a blonde haired, blue-eyed baby boy looking sweet as a button and then a dark haired boy, two babies.

She opened her eyes wide, looked up into the faces of Joseph and Jake and said, “I love you…,” and with a gasp drew her last breath.

Jake wailed, “No Mother, please come back, don’t leave us.”

Joseph’s voice was a strangled cry, “Ophirah.  My God Ophirah,” then Joseph leaned forward and listened to her chest.  There was no heartbeat.  He checked her arm, neck, no pulse.

Joseph looked at Misty his horse, the one he had since a child, lying there suffering.  He knew what he had to do.  He walked over, pointed his gun, and a shot rang through the air.  Mr. Stalin’s head shot up in alarm, he had heard the shot as well and started running towards the forest with a gun in his hand thinking,

‘My God the bastard Joseph has killed her.”

Joseph sobbed, “I love you Misty, and I am going to miss you…”

Tears began to stream down his face as he turned toward his son, “Jake, I’m sorry…  I should have listened to all of you…”

Chapter Forty-Five

Fate Deals a Blow

Mr. Stalin had never run so fast in his life, he came around the corner, pointed his gun at Joseph, and said, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”

Joseph was standing there with a glazed look in his eye, he had his shotgun and he had it pointed at Jake or so it seemed.

Joseph stood stock still when Mr. Stalin said, “In all my years of service Master Joseph, how I’ve loved you.  How could you do such a thing?”

Jake stepped towards his father and took the shotgun away from him then he turned to Mr. Stalin and said, “Its okay, put the gun down.  Father did not shoot mother, he was only going to hand the gun to me so that he could pick mother up.”

Mr. Stalin stood there for a moment, but did not move.

Mr. Stalin said, “I don’t believe you boy, get away from him, he’s evil.  He only wants to harm you like he has your mother.”

Jake looked at Mr. Stalin and quietly said, “Listen, I’m telling you the truth.  The lightning struck a tree, the branch fell on Misty, and she crushed mother to death.  I saw it with my own eyes.  Father just shot Misty because she was injured.”

Mr. Stalin’s eyes were riveted on Joseph he did not look once at Jake or the scene before him.

Jake raised his gun and pointed it at Mr. Stalin then said, “Put the gun down or I’ll shoot!”

Mr. Stalin looked at Master Jake and saw that he meant it.  He slowly put the gun down on the ground.  That is when he took a moment to look at the gory scene before him.

Ophirah was laying there full of blood crumpled to the ground.  Misty was lying on her side, blood all over her face and not moving.  The tree branch was there beside Misty, and he noticed the faint aroma of burning wood from the tree.  Mr. Stalin could see now that Jake had been telling the truth.

Mr. Stalin looked at Joseph and said, “I apologize for making a mistake.”

Joseph wearily said, “I understand how you would think that so I will forgive you and thank you for being so protective over my wife and son.”

Joseph silently picked up his Wife’s limp body and he carried her up towards the mansion.  Jake followed close behind holding the two shotguns in his hands.  Mr. Stalin went ahead of them.  He would have the servants take care of disposing Misty’s body as soon as possible.  He began to cry as he headed towards the back kitchen door.

Joseph walked in through the front door and laid Ophirah down in the middle of the grand entrance hallway on the cold marble floor.  As he did so, Mr. Stalin came out into the hallway, announced that a servant went to get help then he started turning white, gasped, fainted, and fell to the floor.  Jake rushed quickly to Mr. Stalin’s side to check to see if he was breathing, he was but in shallow breaths.

Joseph quickly barked orders at some of the servants standing nearby to go and fetch a doctor and to inform Anthony Atkins of what had happened.  By now, most of the servants were standing near the hallway sobbing as they watched Joseph put a sheet over Ophirah’s head.  He gruffly asked them to retire back to the kitchen and to give him some privacy.  Then Joseph picked up Mr. Stalin and carried him into the other room.

It was half an hour later when Anthony came rushing in the front door and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of a body lying on the cold marble floor with a sheet pulled over it.

Anthony crouched over it, silently pulling the sheet back.

‘Agony struck his heart and the tears began to roll down his face.  The love he had was so great for Ophirah, if he had only gotten her away sooner.  He could have taken her away with him instead of letting her come back to the mansion.  He blamed himself for losing the amulet and then he thought no, I did not lose it, Lorraine must have found it and hidden it.

Hatred for his wife filled his heart.  From that day on, he would abhor what his wife had done.  She had killed his beloved Ophirah and he would never forgive her for it.  He would not kill her or curse her instead he would make her life a miserable hell of an existence for the rest of her days on earth.’

Anthony leaned forward and kissed Ophirah on the head.  He tried to revive her but it did not work.  Frustrated that he still did not have the power to raise the dead he vowed to himself that someday he would find a way to do so and then he would try to revive his beloved Ophirah from the dead.

Joseph was in the parlor with Mr. Stalin who was lying on the couch.  Jake was patting Mr. Stalin’s head with a cool cloth.

Mr. Stalin was feverish and he kept crying out, “The Curse of the Munroe’s it has taken Ophirah.”

Joseph wished there was a way to stop him.  He felt defeated; surely, it was purely coincidental?

Joseph said to Jake, “Don’t listen to his ramblings, he is just being superstitious.”

Jake turned with anger, his eyes flashing he said, “How can you sit there and deny it?  This mansion is cursed and you know it deep in your heart.  You knew about the curse and the thirteenth year and yet you did nothing to protect her!  You were wishing that she were dead so that she would not divorce you.  I wish you were dead father!  Your own mother Destine was swallowed by the curse of the thirteenth year too.”

Joseph gritted his teeth, “There is no curse, my mother died because of excessive bleeding during my childbirth.  Maybe I’m cursed because I killed my mother and now Ophirah.”

Joseph words broke off… he was shaking as the tears filled his eyes.

Jake yelled, “Your mother died because she lived in the Mansion for thirteen years.  She lost a few babies before you were born.  You are lucky to be alive.”

Joseph sputtered, “Where did you get such a story?”

Jake sobbed, “Mr. Stalin told me a secret about you.  He never told you but wished he had.”

Joseph’s face went red with anger.  Angry at Mr. Stalin for not telling him the truth all these years; remorse filled him, the depths of despair like a heavy chain settled on his shoulders as Jake’s words finally hit home.  Joseph broke down sobbing as he hugged his son they both hoped that Mr. Stalin would make it.

Jake would not be able to bear losing Mr. Stalin, nor could Joseph.

‘Joseph realized that Mr. Stalin was like a father to him, one who had raised him with a loving and caring hand.  One who had been there for him when he had lost his Father Denley; a pillar of strength to him, and Joseph did not even thank the man or acknowledge his strength.  He would have to right so many wrongs, but he was wondering why death had to bring about change in one’s life?’

The death of a loved one turning one’s life upside down; to create suffering in one’s soul so that they would have to turn and look in a mirror and see just how ugly they had become.  Yes, that was what fate did to a person.  It made them see who they really were.  It made one judge oneself harshly to the point that either things had to change, or to face certain death in mind, body and soul.

Joseph thought to himself,

‘What a fool I have been not to know how wonderful Mr. Stalin has been all these years.  His superstitions about the Munroe curse.  He could kick himself for being so stupid not to listen to the ramblings of an old man.  One who constantly lectured and annoyed him.  A man he had many a time, while drunk, said very nasty things to belittle him, making Mr. Stalin feel worthless.

Joseph realized that he had a high turn over of staff since coming to Munroe Mansion.  Most of them refused to put up with his abusive treatment.  Mr. Stalin stayed.  It was with the realization that Mr. Stalin, who could not have children of his own, had taken Joseph into his arms as a child, and treated him like his own.  He had become a son to Mr. Stalin, and with love, kindness and compassion had dealt with the many years of abuse from Joseph.

Joseph looked at Mr. Stalin lying there pale on the couch and vowed that he would change his life.  He would treat him with love and respect.  He would ask for forgiveness for the way he had treated Ophirah and he promised himself to become a better father to his own son Jake.’

Joseph heard a noise and turned around, he dimly saw a man standing there in the doorway.  He wiped his eyes and blanched.  He could see the look of hatred in Anthony’s eyes as he looked at him.  Anthony looked like he wanted to kill him.

Anthony stiffly said, “The doctor has arrived.”

Chapter Forty-Six

Dr Peter Tibideau and Anthony Atkins

Anthony watched as Dr Peter Tibideau took a quick look at Ophirah’s dead body lying there and smiled.  Then he walked into the library to look at Mr. Stalin.  Anthony stood by overcome by emotions, the tears rolled down his face, he felt like he was dying inside.  Dr Peter Tibideau turned around slowly with a look of surprise on his face as he read Anthony’s mind.

Dr Peter Tibideau’s voice was inside Anthony’s head and it said, “You know that it’s forbidden to be with a Munroe.  Now you have brought part of the curse into your own life.  I am sure you know how I feel about my love Valerie Tinkle’s death…Perhaps now you will help me with my research so that both of us can raise the dead together…”

Mr. Stalin looked up at Dr Peter Tibideaus sneering face as he heard his voice in his head say, “You’re the last guardian I will have you die but not here.  I will make Anthony kill you instead.  Ida wants the pleasure of seeing Joseph and Jake suffer.  I want to keep my hands clean of such things, it creates bad Karma.”

Mr. Stalin said to Dr Peter Tibideau’s mind, “I will give my power to another soul, one that you won’t know until it’s too late.  They will stop you and banish you back to the pits of hell where you belong…”

Mr. Stalin gasped, as Dr Peter Tibideau looked at him with his eyes round and dark.

Jake cried, “What are you doing to him leave him alone!  Uncle Anthony please makes him stop it!”

Anthony flew into the room in a rage and said, “Peter you must leave now.  I will take Mr. Stalin to my home to recuperate you are upsetting my boy.”

Joseph looked at Anthony and hoarsely said, “Your boy?”

Anthony turned red and mumbled, “I’ve adopted your son until I can have one of my own.”

Dr Peter Tibideau smiled wickedly and walked out of the room saying, “Not if you’re cursed…”

Anthony looked darkly after Dr Peter Tibideau and bitterness and hatred swelled up in his soul as he spoke to Dr Peter Tibideau’s mind, “You will have your day with me Peter for I will exact my revenge on you if you curse me…”

Dr Peter Tibideau smiled and said to Anthony’s mind, “Ida’s the one that will curse you, not I.”

Jake watched as Dr Peter Tibideau flew up the stairs effortlessly towards his mother’s room.

Joseph and Anthony were busy arranging to move Mr. Stalin to the Atkins’ Mansion as soon as possible and they were waiting for a servant to bring the car around to the front of the mansion.  It seemed that Mr. Stalin was trying to say something to Jake but Anthony waved his hand and blocked Mr. Stalin from being able to speak.  The look of terror was in Mr. Stalin’s eyes, and it troubled Jake, who turned around and looked at Anthony wondering why Mr. Stalin would be afraid of him.

After they all left Jake turned to his father and said, “Is Uncle Anthony a good man?  Does he do anything-evil father?  Mr. Stalin is terrified of him and I don’t know why?”

Joseph sighed, “Anthony dabbles in the dark arts and magic, but you know Mr. Stalin is a very superstitious man, surely you can see he’s not in his right mind?  Dr Peter Tibideau assured me that the shock of Ophirah’s death was too great for him and that he will overreact to everyone and everything.  He told me not to worry about anything.  He assured me that Anthony would take good care of Mr. Stalin and that our guardian would be dealt with properly.”

Jake said, “Your guardian?”

Joseph nodded looking perplexed, “He must mean the fact that Mr. Stalin’s practically raised me as a guardian since a child.  Then he left for some years and ended back in my life when I came here to live in Place Royale.  He has never told me why he disappeared for almost fifteen years of my life.  He did say he had to protect the Munroe mansion for some reason but I never found out why.”

Jake said, “Well I was wondering why Dr Peter Tibideau went into mother’s room before leaving.”

Joseph looked up and said, “There is a safe in there with a large book of spells given to me by my grandmother Tallis Munroe.”

Joseph ran up the stairs and went into Ophirah’s room, the door to the safe was wide open, and the book of spells was gone…

From that moment on Anthony’s grief over Ophirah’s death changed him into a morbid, angry, and hateful man.  He loved Ophirah with all of his heart and soul and it was unbearable to know she would no longer be able to lie in his arms.  He looked at Mr. Stalin’s eyes and smiled, soon the guardian would be dead, and life would be so much easier.

Mr. Stalin said, “He has the book of spells now.”

Anthony’s head jerked up, “What did you say?”

Mr. Stalin said, “I am the guardian of the book of spells.  Tallis Munroe entrusted it to me at the Munroe mansion.  Dr Peter Tibideau has stolen it.  Now he will collect more souls, more power, soon he will devise a plan to kill both of you.”

Anthony laughed, “He needs me to do the final spell.  The coven must be together in order to raise the dead, he needs the book of the dead, which I have safely tucked away.  He cannot do anything without my power.  You must tell me more; I will torture you until you tell me all your secrets, my dear guardian.”

Mr. Stalin screamed in pain as the chains pulled on his arms and legs.  He was down in the secret dungeon at the Atkins Mansion.  Heta Totenmyer gasped and felt pain shooting up into her arms and legs, she heard the screams coming from under the ground near her cottage garden in Place Royale, and then there was silence…

It was on Wednesday August 24, 1921 when hundreds of people came to pay their respects to The Munroe Family.  Many attended the funeral each lost in their own thoughts.  Joseph blamed himself for Ophirah’s death by not believing in the curse sooner.  Anthony Atkins could hardly bear to live knowing that he could have helped Ophirah but it had been too late.  Heta Totenmyer knew that this would happen and it would continue to happen; for now, she is convinced that there was no stopping the curse of Munroe mansion.

It was around Thursday September 15 when Lorraine tried to meet up with Joseph but he was not interested.  She had sent him a letter advising him that Anthony was in love with Ophirah and that they had an affair in Montreal.  She told Joseph about hiding the golden amulet from Anthony and that now she could leave Anthony and be his wife instead.  Joseph felt nothing but bitterness from her letter.  To think that Lorraine could be so evil and let another woman die because of jealousy.  When he had seen how Anthony was when Ophirah had recovered so suddenly he had his suspicious about the two of them.

It pained him to know that Ophirah never really loved him.  He had found her diary while packing up her things.  He burned it along with her clothes.  He did not want anything to remind him of her anymore.  Ophirah had married him but was truly in love with Anthony all those years.  He realized now how much he had loved Ophirah and was sorry for what he had done.  He despised Lorraine from that day forward and told her that he never wanted to see her again.

On the same day as Lorraine’s letter Joseph was staring at the obituary about Ophirah in The Montreal Gazette.  The newspaper was lying on his desk in the library unopened.  He looked at the door and was happy that it had a new lock in it now and then looked at the newspaper and opened it.

He felt a wave of shock roll over him when there in front of him was the article about Ophirah Ramsbottom Munroe that she had died on August 21, 1921.  There it was staring at him in the face, their wedding picture for the entire world to see.  Dam those reporters for getting a hold of that picture.  He had destroyed everything.  The reporters must have tracked down Gordon Ramsbottom who had given them a copy of one of his pictures.  It had been quite a shock for the Ramsbottom family to find out that his Ophirah had died a tragic death.  He wondered if Joseph Munroe would have sent word, had he known of their whereabouts.

Mary said to her parents, “This is all you’re fault!  I warned you that place was evil, now we’ve lost Ophirah because of your greed.”

Mary turned to her mother, “The blood of your daughter’s life will be on your hands forever!”

Celeste Ramsbottom knew that her daughter was right.  She knew that Gordon would have a hard time forgiving her for what she had done.  She blamed it all on Joseph.  He was the one that was evil he was the reason that her daughter was dead.  One day she would exact her revenge on him…

Joseph felt a chill pass through him; he sensed that something cold was near him, almost like another person, a ghost.  Suddenly two white apparitions appear before him.  Joseph thinks that he has lost his mind, for there before him is his mother Destine and his Wife Ophirah.

He closes his eyes and yells out, “I do not believe in ghosts,” then he opens them again and there is nothing there.  He looks again at the wedding picture in the paper.  He felt like life was not worth living anymore and that a dark evil presence and coldness came over The Munroe Mansion that day.

Joseph cried aloud, “Why did I not believe in this curse?  It took my mother away.  I do not want to face the ghosts of my past.  I want to believe that it was all accidents.”

When Jake told Joseph that his mother had lived in the mansion for almost thirteen years before he was born, he had gone into a state of shock.  Jake began to worry about his father thinking that he was ill and rambling on as if he had lost his mind.  Jake wished they could just burn the place down.  Jake overheard Heta Totenmyer speaking to her husband Lenno while at the funeral.  He remembered her saying that the curse would stay with the Munroe Family.  Black magic was like that, you could never get rid of it.

It was on Friday October 7, 1921 that Joseph and Jake packed up their belongings, boarded up the windows of The Munroe Mansion, and got into a truck with Jean Moisan and headed towards the docks in Quebec.

Chapter Forty-Seven

The RMS Olympia Ship October 8, 1921

Jake was surprised at the magnificence of the RMS Olympia ship when they arrived at the dock early the next day.  He read somewhere that the long white ship with its four red funnels was around eight hundred and eighty-two feet in length and thirty-four feet in width.  She could travel at maximum speed twenty-three knots.  Jean Moisan and Anthony Atkins helping them board up the Munroe mansion’s windows and load their things into a moving truck.  Jean drove the car into town and Anthony drove the truck.

Jake wanted to say goodbye to the town’s people before heading towards Quebec.  Heta Totenmyer gave Jake a hug and told him to be careful of strangers.

With Anthony, following them from behind them drove to Quebec and arrived by the late evening.  They stayed overnight at the Chateau Frontenac.  It was the next morning that all four unloaded the truck by the ship and Joseph arranged to have their belongings shipped to England.  He kept the luggage aside.

Joseph looked at Anthony who still was not talking to him and said, “Thanks for everything.”

Then Joseph went to speak to Jean as Anthony went to say goodbye to Jake.  Anthony became very emotional as he held Jake tightly to his chest.

Jake was crying when he whispered, “I am going to miss you Uncle Anthony.”

Anthony’s voice croaked, “Jake just so you know Mr. Stalin is resting at the moment, he was too ill to come and say goodbye.  Once he recovers he will join you in England.”

Anthony hated lying to the boy but he had no choice.  If Jake knew the truth, he would refuse to get on the ship and leave.

Jake hugged Anthony and whispered, “I want you to know a secret.  I’ve always wished that you were my real father.”

Anthony held the boy close with tears in his eyes he said, “Someday we’ll see each other again.  I am going to miss you son.”

Jake was feeling very sad as he turned and walked towards Joseph.  Anthony only had eyes of hatred for Joseph who felt not only the grief of losing his wife, but also the pain of losing his best friend.  It ripped at his heart.

Joseph composed himself and stiffly said to Jake, “Boy wipe away those tears, we don’t want anyone to see us crying.”

As they boarded the ship, Anthony and Jean turned and walked away both feeling quite emotional at saying goodbye to the Munroe’s each knowing that they may never see their friends again.

Joseph was thankful for the luxury of their cabin with its royal blue plush furnishings, two comfortable double feather beds with many blankets on them.  The couches had a red plush print — Chinese drawings and white curtains.  Joseph had ordered the oriental suite when booking his trip.  He did not want any reminders of his home life.  He needed to feel like he was in a different world to escape the old one.  The walls were white, crisp, and clean looking.  It was a stark contrast from the darkened walls of The Munroe Mansion.  Joseph was glad that they had purchased some nice warm coats.  Jake had outgrown his clothing and Joseph needed a new one too.  They also bought some new suits, hats, shoes, and umbrellas for the cold, damp weather of London, England.  Jake had heard stories about the big ocean liners but had never seen it before in the flesh.  The luxurious cabins, the wood grain walls in the dining room were more elegant than the ones at The Munroe Mansion.  Jake felt out of place at first, he was not used to such plush looking sofas or a large library with floor to ceiling shelves adorned with hundreds of books.

He felt a stir of excitement in his breast.  Joseph was feeling kind of low about Ophirah, Jake was sad as well but the excitement of being on a big ship soon over took his sadness turning it into joy.  Jake began to enjoy the lull of the water, waves, and the fresh sea air.  There were many activities to keep Jake busy so Joseph spent his time in the smoking lounge, and the saloon drinking his sorrows away while Jake ran around the ship on his own.

The crew was getting used to Jake’s many questions about the running of the ship and one of the sailors gave him a tour of the engines and Captain’s quarters.  Jake tried to tell his father about it but Joseph just sat there with glazed eyes and was in a drunken stupor.

Jake was feeling quite lonely by now it had been a few days since they left Quebec.  Not only did he cry himself to sleep at night missing his mother, but he was also missing Mr. Stalin, Mr. Atkins and his beloved tractor.  Jake did not want to leave them but his father insisted that they needed to travel before it has to be too cold on the high seas.  Thanksgiving dinner on the ship was a joyful event with turkey, mashed potatoes, and squash with apples, gravy, and dressing.  Jake especially liked the pumpkin pie with whip cream for dessert.

It was Monday October 17 now and Jake was wishing he could make a friend or something.  Fate played its hand, only this time it brought some happiness into his life.  Jake was running along the deck when suddenly he slid on the wet freshly scrubbed slippery wooden floor and crashed right into a young pretty girl who had just walked around the corner.

He laid there stunned for a moment with the wind knocked out of him.  Then he looked over at the girl lying there on the deck, she too had the wind knocked out of her and she was nursing a scraped knee.  She looked very angry.  Her nose was bleeding, her eye puffy and swollen, she looked like she wanted to kill him.

Jake said, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

The pretty girl shouted, “What were you doing?  This is not a park to play in, we are on a ship; you’re supposed to WALK not run on deck, didn’t you read the signs?”

She pointed to a sign that said, “Caution slippery on deck – NO RUNNING.”

She had a stern look on her face as if she was his mamma or something.  She was standing there with both of her hands on her hips, and had the cutest pouty lips he had ever seen.

‘Jake looked at her and couldn’t say a word, she was so beautiful.  Jake thought about the fact that he had not seen very many children let alone any girls — except for the two native girls while living in Place Royale.  If Anthony Atkins were here, he would have told Jake to steal a kiss from the girl.  Suddenly the young girl’s voice interrupted Jake’s thoughts.

She said, “Are you alright?  You passed out there for a moment.  By the way my name is Jesseline Thirkill, what is yours?”

Jake smiled, and pulled himself up off the floor, “I’m Jake Munroe, pleased to meet you.  I’m sorry for being so foolish; I hope I can make it up to you.”

Jesseline smiled and shook his outstretched hand, “Just don’t run around the ship anymore.  You’re making the passengers dizzy.”

Jake turned red then said, “Wait here for a few minutes, I’ll be right back.”

Then he turned around and ran down the stairs.

Jesseline sighed to herself, “That boy doesn’t learn very quickly now does he.”

Jake looked furtively to the right then to the left.  Good it is empty.  Then he spotted Joseph sitting at the bar with his head in his hands.  Jake felt bad for his father but he wished he would snap out of it.  His father’s depression was getting to him.

Jake walked up and whispered, “Father, can I have some money?  I have made a new friend and I knocked her over by accident up on deck; I would like to buy her a gift as an apology.  She’s really pretty.”

Joseph smiled and handed him a handful of money and slurred, “Don’t spend it all at once my boy.”

Jake said, “Thanks Father, you know I love you but I’m getting tired of seeing you here day after day at the bar.  I wish we could spend some time together.  Maybe you could meet my new friend when you’re sober.”

Joseph nodded in agreement then motioned to him and said, “Boy, I need you to help me get back to the cabin — I’m tired.”

Jake asked one of the sailors to give him a hand, they took Joseph to his room, laid him on his bed, and he began to snore loudly.  The sailor felt sorry for Jake, no son should have to put up with this kind of behavior.  Jake thanked the man, gave him a tip, and headed towards the gift shop.  He bought a lovely necklace and some flowers.  Then he went back to the deck where he had left Jesseline, but she was not there.  Jake looked around the ship for an hour and could not find her anywhere.  He went back to where he had originally left her and just sat down there on the bench, hoping that she would come back.

He started thinking about what had happened a month ago,

‘When a man named Chago Sima had come to Place Royale to find Anthony and tell him a very interesting story.  Jake remembered the eerie feeling he had when he first saw the Atkins Mansion.  It was a very large estate with grey stoned walls.  It looked more like a Medieval Castle, than a Mansion.  A combination of medieval gothic tastes and a hunter’s paradise; for there were various types of Medieval weapons hanging on the walls, like swords and axes.

Suits of armor placed at each doorway along the great entrance hall that seemed to go on forever due to the mirrors at the end of it.  There was a gaming room with pool tables and a dartboard.  Hanging on the walls were various heads of moose and deer; a bear rug was in front of the fireplace with two chairs on either side.

The cold stone floors would echo your footsteps in an odd way as you walked down the halls.  It was a maze of corridors, large dark rooms, and you had the feeling that someone was watching you.  Jake thought he had heard voices whispering around him as he walked in the door but attributed it to his wild imagination.  Jake felt uncomfortable at first, but then he started to enjoy his visit when he saw Mr. Stalin wrapped in a blanket in a sparsely furnished room.  It had a double bed with red covers on it and a rug, with a fireplace.  It was quite cold in the room.  Jake felt bad when Anthony told him that Mr. Stalin suffered a stroke and could no longer speak.

The reason he looked so anxious was that he wanted to tell Jake how much he loved him but could not.  Jake saw the tears rolling down Mr. Stalin’s face.  He grabbed his hand but it felt cold and hard and Jake thought that it was strange.  Mr. Stalin’s eyes closed and it seemed that he was lying there so still, as if he were dead.  Jake was going to lean forward to listen to his heart but Anthony advised him that they needed to let Mr. Stalin get his rest.

It was precisely at the same moment when Anthony’s butler announced that there was a man waiting to see him downstairs.  Anthony thought it odd and closed Mr. Stalin’s door then locked it.  Jake troubled by this but did not say anything as Anthony rushed down the stairs.  Jake who decided to eavesdrop on the conversation by hovering near the base of the stairs watched in fascination as Anthony went to greet his visitor.

Jake saw a handsome looking Spanish Gypsy who introduced himself to Anthony as Chago Sima.  He was dressed in a black suit and tie with a white frilly shirt, which made Jake snicker.  Anthony heard him and advised him to come downstairs and join them.  All three were in the parlor when Chago started to share a fascinating story with Jake and Anthony.

At first, Chago thought that Jake was Anthony’s son but was soon corrected and told that he was in fact Joseph Munroe’s son.  Chago was impressed to meet such a smart and fine boy from a very well off family.  Anthony’s Mother, Axelle Atkins had remarried upon the death of her husband Klay Atkins.  She had met a Spanish Man named Alonso Sima, who had become her lover during Klay Atkins illness.  Alonso was a widow, his wife Adalene had died, and it was shortly after this that Alonso met Axelle while she was on vacation in Spain.

After Axelle married Alonso, she found out that he had a son named Chago Sima, and she revealed that she had a son named Anthony Atkins.  Anthony, who had nothing to do with his parents, had not seen or heard from either one of them since attending University in London, England.  Anthony was not aware that his Father Klay Atkins was dead; nor that his Mother Axelle Atkins had remarried a poor man named Alonso Sima in Spain shortly after his father’s death.

It grieved him to know that both Alonso and Axelle Sima had perished while on a cruise from Spain to Africa.  Chago Sima said that he had inherited a portion of Axelles fortune but she had left the brunt of her fortune to Anthony.  It had been Chago Sima’s desire to find his Stepbrother Anthony Atkins and deliver the news and legal documents to him in person.

To find out that he had a stepbrother was a major shock for Anthony, and to know that his mother had married a poor Spanish man named Alonso disturbed him, but finding out that his mother had never contacted him about his father’s death was the biggest blow of all.  Anthony did not care for Chago, he was angry that a total stranger came to give him the news about his parent’s deaths.

Soon though Anthony realized that his Stepbrother Chago was all he had left in the way of family.  Chago was a very intelligent man.  He was increasing his fortunes by investing in imports and exports.  His business was soon a global enterprise starting in Spain and then branching into America and now he had his sights set on Canada.  Chago Sima was determined to conquer the world of new business ventures and become the man of the year in all the business magazines, just as Joseph Munroe had once been given that title.

The funny thing had been the expression on Aunt Lorraine’s face when she walked into the room.  She had turned white as a sheet and fainted.  It was almost as if she had seen a ghost and Mr. Sima had acted uncomfortable and distressed around her too.  Lorraine had asked to be retired to her room, for she was suffering from a headache.

Jake asked Anthony about it and he just said, “Never mind, they must have reminded each other of someone from the past.”

Anthony had wondered why his new stepbrother was so cold towards him.  He could see the jealousy in his eyes when he looked at Lorraine; it had been somewhat disturbing.  Soon though in the week that followed, Chago Sima became warmer towards both of them and he would take Lorraine out for carriage rides when Anthony was away doing business.  Lorraine always looked so happy around Mr. Sima and so sad when she was with Anthony…’

Jake snapped out of his dream state for he had begun to feel chilly and started to notice his surroundings.  The air was crisp and cool and he shivered as he realized that he must have missed dinner by now for he had been sitting there in the dark for quite some time.

Jake looked up at the stars and said with tears in his eyes, “Mother I miss you so much, please bring me a friend.  I wish Jesseline would come back.”

He was sitting there crying when Jesseline appeared from out of nowhere and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

She said, “I’m sorry Jake, my Chaperone made me leave, I had to go have dinner, I thought maybe I would have seen you there.  Why are you crying?”

Jake sniffled some more and quickly wiped the tears away.

Jesseline saw the gift box and flowers and asked, “Who are they for?”

Jake handed them to her, “I bought them for you.  I am sorry about bumping into you earlier.  I did not realize that I had missed my dinner.  I’m crying because I miss my Mother and my horse, they both died a few months ago.”

Jesseline was shocked and dismayed, she felt sorry for him and told him so.

She mumbled, “I’m sorry about your mother and your horse, thank you for the gifts they are lovely.”

She gave Jake a hug and sat down next to him.  She opened up the box in it was a lovely golden cross on a dainty gold chain.

Jake said, “its real gold, I’m rich you know.”

Jesseline smiled, “I’ll be rich myself someday too.  I want to be a movie star.  I plan to go to Hollywood or New York City.”

Jake looked at her and shuddered, “I hated New York City.  Are you sure, you want to live there?  Do you have any idea how busy it is there?  You are a beautiful girl, I am sure you’ll be a star in no time once you find a producer that takes your fancy.”

Jesseline retorted, “And what is that supposed to mean?”

Jake grinned, “Well nowadays you can’t just waltz in there and be discovered.  That happens once in a million.  How will you afford any acting lessons?  You do not dress like a rich girl.  They can be very expensive you know.”

Jesseline leaned over, kissed him lightly on the lips, and giggled, “Shut up.  Never mind about my dreams.  I will take care of them when the time is right.  I can feel it in my bones that it is my destiny.  We, however, can always be friends.”

Jake sat there wishing, hoping that someday they would become more than just friends.  He hoped that Jesseline would not want to be a star and go live in New York City instead he wished that she would fall in love with him and marry him someday.

Jake asked, “Can I have your address I’ll be living somewhere in London, England and I’d like to keep in contact with you.”

Jesseline grinned, put her address down on a piece of paper, and told him, “Please write to me.  I will be attending Carrington’s Finishing School for Young Ladies in Paris, France for the next two years.”

Jake asked, “What do you learn there?”

Jesseline replied, “We learn how to dance, have pretty manners, use proper etiquette, and get a well rounded education about things.  It teaches us how to be well mannered and get a rich man’s attention.  I guess I already have though.  You have bought me flowers and jewelry and were not even courting.”

She said it in such a saucy fashion that the both of them burst out into a fit of giggles.  Jesseline made Jake feel alive inside.

They sat there holding hands in the moonlight sharing gentle kisses, and then Jesseline said, “I have to go now.”

She quickly got up to leave.

Jake offered to escort her but she said, “No my Chaperone Carina Anders, would tan my hide if she knew I was out here with a boy.  She is a very strict woman on propriety.  She is asleep now; I put a sedative in her cup of tea.  She is snoring roundly in her rocking chair with a book in hand.”

Jake grinned, “Will she not be the least bit suspicious?”

Jesseline said, “Heavens no.  I gave her the book before I offered to make her tea for her.  She always falls asleep in the chair, she will just assume that she was tired and drifted off to sleep.  Besides, I wanted to come out and see you.  You’re lucky you get to do whatever you want.”

Jake said, “Not really, my Father is drunk all of the time.  I am sick and tired of him yelling at me about stupid things.  He has taken Mother’s death hard.  I’m afraid he will spend all of my inheritance at the gambling tables.”

Jesseline laughed, “I doubt that.  Your Father has millions of dollars and has a very large and profitable Estate in England.  Is that where you are going?”

Jake pretended to act surprised, “We have an estate in England?  We have always lived in the Munroe mansion in Place Royale.  I wasn’t aware of any other home?”

Jesseline said, “Well your Grandfather Denley Munroe owned the estate.  When he died your Father graduated from University then fled from England to Canada.  He was really close to him and couldn’t bear his death.”

Jake sighed, “And now the reverse has happened.  My Mother died from a riding accident.  We also lost our horse Misty.  My father had to shoot her.  It was the hardest thing for him to do; he really loved that horse, more than my mother or me.  My Mother did say she loved us both before dying though.  I still wonder if it is because of the Munroe curse.  They say on the thirteenth year, the woman of the house has an unfortunate accident.  I think the curse killed my grandmother Destine Munroe too.  She died when my father was born; she had lived in the mansion for thirteen years.”

Jake had tears in his eyes and he shook with sobs as Jesseline hugged him close she whispered, “In time you will feel much better.  Be sure and write to me.  I may not be able to visit you but I will keep in touch.  I plan to tour Europe for a few years after I graduate from school.”

Jake parted ways with Jesseline on a happier note.  They decided that they would have to keep their friendship a secret.  Jesseline’s Chaperone Carina would forbid them to see each other if she knew they were spending time alone together.  Jake would have to find a way to get close to Jesseline.

Chapter Forty-Eight

The Deal with the Devil Oct 18, 1921

The next day Jake noticed a man with short golden blonde hair, blue eyes, rugged features, and a slender build sitting on the deck reading a book about flowers; Jake overheard the man mumbling to himself and interrupted his train of thought, “My Mother taught me quite a bit about English Gardens.  Maybe I can help?”

The man smiled and patted the seat beside him.  They were in an earnest discussion when Jesseline came by.  Jake admired the lovely yellow sunflower dress and matching coat and hat that she was wearing.  It matched her long golden blonde hair and vivid blue eyes.  Jake noticed that she was wearing the gold cross that he had bought her.  Jake smitten with her beauty, sat there transfixed, gazing at her.

Jesseline who was shocked to see Jake there asked, “What are you doing here?”

Jesseline was looking at Jake with a strange look on her face but then the man beside Jake said, “I take it you two have met somewhere?”

Jesseline went red with embarrassment.

She stuttered then Jake came to her rescue by saying, “I bumped into Jesseline the other day, by accident while I was running around a corner.  We introduced ourselves then.”

Jake extended his hand out to the man, “Sorry I forgot to introduce myself.  My name is Jake Munroe, my father is Joseph Munroe.”

A light of recognition was in the man’s eye.

He smiled and shook Jake’s hand heartily and replied, “My name is Ronel Thirkill, and this is my Daughter Jesseline.”

Jakes jaw dropped in surprise and then he smiled from ear to ear.

Ronel patted the seat beside them and said to Jesseline, “Sit down dear we were having a discussion about flowers.  Jake here is very knowledgeable about plant life and is answering many of my questions about the best kind of flowers to grow in Canada.”

Jake was grinning from ear to ear and Jesseline was watching him and could not help but smile.  Jake could not believe his luck.  Jesseline gave him an inquiring look and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Ronel Thirkill sat back looking at the two of them and remarked, “You know Jesseline’s been kind of bored with no one to play with on the ship perhaps it would be good for the two of you to keep each other company.”

He noticed the smiles of gratitude on both of their faces.  Ronel Thirkill thought to himself,

‘You old devil you, still matchmaking.  Jake would make a good son in law someday.  He is smart, intelligent, and rich, I would love to have my daughter marry a Munroe.  He could see that Joseph was having a hard time with the death of his Wife Ophirah.  The night before, Ronel Thirkill had endured an hour of boredom as Joseph Munroe had gone on about his so-called virtuous wife having an affair with his best friend Anthony Atkins.

Ronel could not believe his ears; it had to be a secret, warned of impending black magic spells and disaster if he ever breathed a word about it to any soul.  However, Joseph had also said something good had come out of his marriage to Ophirah.  A good hard working boy, his son Jake was from good seed and would prove to be very successful in the future.  A young man driven by ambition and great wealth, his son would make his mark on society he just knew it.  Joseph had pulled out a picture of the boy and Ronel Thirkill had recognized him on the deck when he walked by.

Joseph, while slurring his words, gave a speech about Jake’s passion for flowers and Ronel decided to set up the whole conversation to introduce himself to the young boy.  He would play matchmaker and he could see it would be easy to do now that the two young ones had met.’

Ronel Thirkill had bragged to Joseph about his Daughter Jesseline being a young, virginal, beautiful, refined, and well educated young woman.  He had said that she wanted to tour Europe first before settling down and having children.  She could provide a handsome heir with both beauty and brains.  Ronel then pulled out a picture of a vibrant, gorgeous young woman.

Joseph began to drool, she was the most beautiful blonde that he had ever seen, and “You say she’s a virgin?”

Ronel nodded.  He knew of the rumors about Joseph Munroe’s reputation as the Virgin Slayer in the pubs of London, England.  It had become quite a joke at the time.  Joseph would bed any virginal servant girl just for the fun of it.  He was a rake, but a loveable one admired for his wealth.

Ronel suggested, “Let’s gamble on it.”

He knew that Joseph was drunk and did not have his wits about him.  Ronel knew that Joseph would not be able to say no.  Gambling was an addiction to Joseph, a need, something to fill the void in his soul.

Ronel said, “The stakes will be high, for interest’s sake of course.  If I win then we will set up an agreement of an arranged marriage with a tidy sum of money for my daughter and me.  If I lose then you can bed my virginal daughter.”

Joseph thought for a moment, and Ronel held the picture out to him and said, “Just picture her in your bed.  A delicious morsel with firm breasts and a luscious, warm, giving body – One you could be proud of, to bed the most gorgeous blonde in all of England.”

Joseph could not believe Ronel’s lack of scruples.  Jesseline was a doll.  Joseph liked the idea,

‘He would want an heir for the Munroe Estate.  Ronel Thirkill suggested that Jake had to be married in order to obtain any of his trust funds when he came of age at twenty-one.  He would also be required to provide an heir within the first two years of marriage to obtain the rest of his trust fund.  It was an hour later and Joseph sat there weary with defeat.  He had lost.  He wanted Jesseline so bad, maybe he would have her anyway.  No, he could not.  He did not want to hurt Jake.  What was he thinking?  He was angry at being tricked by his own lust.’

Then Ronel handed him his business card.

‘Joseph laughed when he read Ronel Thirkill, Estate Lawyer.  Joseph almost felt like it had all been a set up right from the start.  Joseph was sure that Jake would fall for Jesseline with a beautiful face and figure he was doing the boy a favor.  The boy was smart but simple minded, any filly would have turned his head.  This way he would ensure that Jake would marry or end up being penniless.  He would secure an heir for the Munroe Estate and not have to worry about it in the future.  Jake did not have a clue about women or their ways.  It would be best to leave him in the dark until he was older.’

Joseph shook hands with Ronel and agreed to visit him, set up the trust fund, the marriage agreement, and sign the legal documents sealing the deal they had made between each other.  Joseph would also make it part of his last will and testament if anything happened to him the same conditions would apply to all heirs of The Munroe Estate.  Then he excused himself and went to bed feeling very pleased with himself…

Chapter Forty-Nine

Jake Learns the Value of Friendship

The Munroe’s and the Thirkill’s became acquainted with one another.  Joseph was delighted to meet Mrs. Dafny Thirkill who was just as beautiful as her daughter was.  Dafny was tall, slim, and busty with shoulder length curly blonde hair and dark blue eyes.  Joseph tried flirting with Dafny but she never took him up on his advances.  She was truly a classy woman and one to have someone’s admiration.

Then he met the lovely Chaperone Carina Anders.  A petite, short, round figured woman with short curly auburn hair and hazel eyes.  She was a lively soul, full of mirth and a delight.  Joseph suspected that she was also Ronel’s mistress.  He was surprised to see Dafny ignore her husbands philandering.  He also discovered that Dafny had her lovers, in secret on the ship.  Joseph was out walking one night with Carina when they spotted Dafny leaving the cabin of one of the young sailors.  She did not see them and they never told a soul.

Carina helped Joseph forget his troubles and pain and he spent the rest of the trip sober while enjoying her company in their late night rendezvous.  Jake really liked Jesseline’s chaperone.  He had seen the change over his father and felt that it was good.  Joseph had even started to hang around with his son, every time Jesseline and he were with Carina.

Carina Anders was a lot like Anthony, she loved spending time with them, shopping, making crafts, playing card games, singing and playing music on the piano, and drawing pictures.  At times Carina almost reminded Jake of his mother, all the kindness, and love she had.  He wondered if his father would ever court Miss Carina Anders.  Jesseline thought it unlikely, knowing that Carina was in love with her father, but she never told a soul.  Jake learned his first lessons in love while on that trip and he was deeply smitten with Jesseline for years to come.

Jake was sad to part ways with Jesseline.  Joseph knew that his dalliance with Carina Anders was over.  Jake again promised to keep in contact with Jesseline and suggested that during her summer holidays she come visit him at the Munroe Estate in England.  Ronel Thirkill and Dafny both agreed that they would stop by sometime for tea.  They reached England on Saturday October 23, 1921 in the early morning hours.  Joseph and Jake feel relief as they see the ports of England for it felt like that had finally come home…

The End

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