Chapter Thirty Four
“Hello, Gregory Johnson here, can I help you?” said the voice on the other end of the line.
“You certainly can, this is Caroline Gilfords can you be at the Estate by eleven o’clock this morning?”
“The Gilfords estate? We just finished remodeling the south wing,” said Gregory, puzzled. “Is there something wrong with the job we did?”
“Not that I know of, but I’ve yet to see it. Will three hours be enough time for you to contact your interior designer? If so could you bring him to Gilfords Hall? I’d like to discuss plans for renovating the whole shebang!”
“You want to, the whole, all of, why that’s, that’s . . .
Yes ma’am, we’ll be there in exactly three hours and Mrs. Gilford, thank you!” said an astonished Gregory.
Karr, Dennis, Tommie and the cabbie, wrestled the last of the heavy trunks, from the truck bed, into the huge walk in closet. The Tomlynes had been notified at about seven that morning, that Caroline would be there around ten.
Mavis had been anxiously sprucing up the south wing and Jenny had been agonizing over the menus she’d planned to discuss with Caroline. True to his word, Gregory Johnson had appeared at exactly eleven o’clock that morning with his interior designers, Forest and Chatney Myers. He’d also brought the schematics he’d had drawn the last time he worked on the house.
After a quick examination of the destruction, Caroline had declared, “I’ll be glad when every single room in this house is renovated. I want their stink erased from this place for good!”
“You can start in the west wing.” She told them, “I’ll settle for nothing less than a child’s paradise. I want the first floor of that wing to be a child’s dream come true, for all my little princes and princesses.”
“I want the west wing on the second floor divided into fourteen fantasy bedroom mini suits. The thirteen large connecting west attic rooms will become a huge nursery. It will feature three full baths, kitchen, pantry, dining room, babies play, grow and learn area, plus a rest area for the governesses.”
“You’ll probably need five, if not six crews, of forty, fifty men to complete the work within the next six weeks.”
“While one crew works on the west wing, another can be working on turning the east wing into a honeymoon paradise. The whole suite, upstairs and down, must be a welcoming haven from the time the newlyweds enter it, to the time they close the door behind them to leave it!”
“My rooms in the south wing, will also need to be redone, as will the pantries, kitchen and dining hall parlors, offices, and all the other rooms. I want the second floor of the north wing transferred into eight spacious guest suites each with its own private balcony.”
“I’d also like to rehire everyone that worked here before and if we can locate them, we probably will,” said Caroline. “And as with the last project, Angelia and Myrtle will be in charge of most of this one too.”
“Today you will need to concentrate on the west wing. Figure out what supplies you’ll need to get started, give me a cost estimate and floor plan. Than hire your crews. I don’t care if it takes seventy or seven hundred men to do the job, if that’s what it takes hire them! The east and west wings must be done first and quickly.”
“Order the supplies you’ll need to get started, and have them delivered today. You can start work at seven sharp, tomorrow morning.”
The previous crews had all shown up at precisely seven o’clock that morning. A hundred or so people looking for work had also come looking for a job. “We just need a little sump thing to tie us over for the winter,” they’d say looking beseechingly at the ladies. Not one single person looking for work was turned away.
Glancing out the window Caroline noted that even with the snow, the work on the garden, castle, racetrack and train, was advancing smoothly. She’d been ecstatic when over forty bricklayers had shown up at her door with fourteen rail and tracklayers, looking for work. She quickly hired them, telling them there was work for anyone needing a job.
Caroline had immediately sent them to look at Mary’s garden, the train station and the tracks among other things. Then she’d sent for Gregory Johnson and his drafting team.
Within one hour forty minutes, the garden went from five acres to twenty. The train would now seat up to fifty passengers, and take them anywhere they wanted to go in Mary’s garden.
The original castle would be demolished, and a three story, two thousand square feet, castle would be built fifty feet from the entrance to the west wing of the manor house.
A separate three story dungeon with kitchen, dining room, living room, den, office, four bedrooms and two private baths would be built for the groundskeeper’s large family to live in. It would be separate from, yet part of, Mary's castle and would be connected by an enclosed portico or battle station with an enclosed widow’s walk.
The circular racetrack would be enlarged, graded and packed with sand, so the children could race each other by foot, bicycle, or on the ponies which Carl was at that minute ordering. The ponies, from Dancing Lady’s bloodline were the finest, gentlest ponies, money could buy, and were to be immediately be transported to the estate.
Caroline determined that never again would any child be locked into or stolen from Mary’s garden, had ordered the old wall torn down, and a new wall, that enclose the whole garden, be built. An enclosed walkway would allow any child wanting to enter the garden to open the west wing door and walk fifty feet through the tunnel to the garden’s entrance. As an added precaution, an alarm would signal the house and grounds keeper that someone had entered the tunnel.
The doorway from the middle of the old tunnel to Rosebud Cabin had been filled in, and a cement pad poured over the tunnel opening, to insure that the tunnel stayed buried!
To ensure the children’s complete safety, an underground tunnel, with a security alarm would extend from the barn to the garden. Once finished Carl or one of his crew, would bring the ponies to the children.
Billy’s birthday was June fourth, and as spectacular birthday plans were already in the making, Caroline had stated explicitly that Mary’s garden must be finished by the twenty fifth of May.
Caroline had, on the spur of the moment, decided that the huge room over-looking the garden would make a great sitting room, for staff and children alike. It would be the perfect place to help the children with their studies, relax in their off or spare time, or even watch the sun set over the garden.
However, before the workmen could convert the attic room into a sitting room, the ladies, would have to sort through all the clutter, left by the original owners.
The women had eaten a hearty breakfast, at six thirty that morning. By seven, they were hard at work in the attic. By ten-thirty they had discarded most of the clutter, which a group of workmen were bagging up, and loading onto the trucks that would take it to the city land fill to be recycled.
Other workmen were busily repacking all salvageable items of any use, or value, which they would store in the numerous turret rooms that lined the mansions roof.
By twelve-forty-five, the only things left for the workmen to remove were some ancient trunks, a stack of books, three horsehair couches, several odd pieces of furniture and a coat rack.
Caroline remembered the itchy old horsehair couches with fondness. Chuckling softly to herself at the memories they had evoked, she had immediately ordered them to be reupholstered for the staff to recline on.
Two beautifully carved secretaries were also in the room. Myrtle, awed by their beauty, wandered over to take a closer look. Intrigued by the delicate flowers, rivers and waterfalls carved onto them, she called Angelia and Caroline over to look at them.
“They’re absolutely beautiful,” Myrtle exclaimed upon further investigation! I’m not sure, but I think they’re one piece of furniture, made with two, or three separate parts so they would be easier to move. I also think there’s a piece missing, as it somehow looks incomplete! Let’s push it together to see if these two pieces fit.” said Myrtle running her hand over the delicate design.
“Why, they’re the pieces I wanted in my parlor, exclaimed Caroline. Cole thought they had warped on the trip over from England, sometime during the early eighteen hundreds and to my dismay, he’d sent them to the attic with the rest of the junk.”
“Well, if they’re that delicate, we’ll just have to be careful moving them, won’t we.” said Myrtle, as she determinedly took ahold of the corner closest to her. They soon discovered that the pieces were surprisingly solid and slightly heavy. It seemed the only thing delicate about the pieces were their looks.
It had taken the ladies more than a few minutes to push and pull the pieces together. Myrtle wasn’t one bit surprised when the hooks and eyes on one piece lined up perfectly with the hooks and eyes on the other piece. Once they’d joined the two pieces together, the ladies realized they were a perfect fit and breathtakingly beautiful, even though the centerpiece was missing.
Caroline immediately wrote, keep. Mary’s setting room. Office. onto a sheet of paper and taped it to the joined secretaries. In the meantime, they’d keep a lookout for the missing piece.
Mary and Michael, had decided to send Billy and Kimmey home with Rose-Marie so they could continue their schooling, while Jackie stayed in Gilfords Falls.
Henry had left early that morning to drop Billy, Kimmey, and Rose Marie off at Jackie’s. He then collected Iona and brought her back with him. Jackie and Iona would oversee the running of the business and the hiring of a crew to help run the deli and the store, which was doing triple business, because of all the workers at the Gilfords Estate!
Henry would then be free to concentrate his efforts on finding their daughter and the other children, while Myrtle helped Caroline and Angelia with renovations at the manor house and estate.
After dropping Iona off at the Deli, he and his deputies had spent a long, tiring, day looking for any information concerning his daughter’s and her friends where abouts. Unfortunately, they’d had little luck and every clue was a dead end.
It was after six when Henry arrived at Caroline’s. He was beat tired and discouraged. All he wanted to do was collect his wife, go home, and relax with the evening paper while she prepared their supper.
The minute he walked into Caroline’s she invited him to supper, as tired as he was, he was just as hungry. He tried, but just couldn’t resist, the food smelled just too good to pass up.
As they dined on creamy lobster lasagna, squash casserole, green beans almandine, crescent rolls, chocolate éclairs and coffee they discussed the progress on the house, the men’s day, their search for the missing girls and their plans for Mary’s wedding, while eating the delicious meal Jenny Tomlin had prepared and so graciously served them.
“Really Michael, I’m fine,” said Mary. “I’ve had more rest then I’d ever get at the commune! We were forced to turn our babies over to the women at the nursery, twenty-four hours after they were born. We then went back to our jobs. After that Zachariah allowed us to nurse our babies three times a day, for six months, to insure a bond formed between mother and child. When our babies turned six months old, they were put on a bottle and preteens were assigned to care for them.”
“All babies lived at the nursery until they were a year old or walking. Then they were sent to the children’s quarters where they were strictly and severely disciplined, until they became little zombies, programmed to jump at every command. The only bright spot in our lives was that once every four months we were allowed to spend one whole night with our children.”
“Did you know we had never laughed until that first morning at Angelia's? Laughter was forbidden, anyone laughing or smiling was severely punished.”
“Now, I’ve been in bed for a lot longer than twelve hours! I’m not afraid to laugh! And I no longer fear reprisal. So why won’t you let me do one simple little thing, like getting out of this bed and going home!” Mary said, giving him her best imitation of a scowl.
“Hum, I suppose you do have a point,” said Michael, grinning at her. “Only thing is Angelia’s not at her place. She's at the manor house with Caroline. Mom and Angelia are in the middle of something or other with your Grandmamma. Believe me when those three put their heads together roll up their sleeves and get busy, I don’t want to be anywhere near them! If you’re smart you won’t want to be anywhere near them either!”
“Well in that case, I guess I’m stuck right here.” sighed Mary dejectedly.
“Let’s compromise,” said Michael teasingly, as he walked to the closet, took out a gaily-wrapped package and handed it to her.
“What’s this?” she asked, staring at the pretty wrappings.
“Why don’t you open it and find out,” said Michael.
“You don’t have to buy me things, Michael! You’ve already given me so much, she said, looking at the ring he’d put on her finger just days ago and the silver chain with the crystal angel on it that she‘d worn since the day he’d fastened it around her neck.
“Well, if you don’t want it,” he said, teasingly reaching for it.
“Don’t you dare!” she said, playfully slapping his hand away as she tore into the wrappings and excitedly opened the box marked, Exclusively Beasley.
“Oh Michael!” she exclaimed gazing at the beautiful princess style, floor length, pale bluish green dress, wrapped in several layers of tissue paper. Breathlessly she lifted the dress and held it up. Oh Michael, how did you know?”
“Know what,” he said grinning at her, “that you liked that particular dress? That’s easy, I saw you holding it up to you and looking wistfully in the mirror the day we bought those cute little slippers for our young’uns. While you were busy helping them decide which slippers, they wanted, I ordered the dress, matching jacket, your engagement ring and some other things, to be sent to my office.”
“Jacket,” she said, “what jacket?”
“This jacket,” said Michael handing her another package and laying two more on the bed in front of her.
“The jacket was a beautiful cream color, trimmed with dyed teal green fur. The third package contained teal green slip on shoes, made especially for the outfit and Mary’s comfort. The last package made her blush a pretty rose color and contained several pair of silk panties, special made silk nursing bras, long slips, silk stockings, two corsets and several garter belts.
“What will I ever do with all these beautiful things?” asked Mary awed by the expensive finery that lay before her.
“Why, you’ll wear them of course,” said Michael mischievously. “I made eleven thirty, lunch reservations for two at Tyrrell Towers that is if you’re feeling up to going?”
“Really! Oh Michael, Tyrrell Towers! Most people only dream of going there,” she exclaimed. “I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes.”
“And I’ll help you,” said Wanda-Ann, carrying a small tissue wrapped box, as she entered the room.
“I’ll see you in about twenty minutes,” said Michael, leaving for his office to change into the suit he had bought especially for this very occasion.
Wanda-Ann had pulled Mary’s slightly curly, auburn hair onto the top of her head and into a partial chignon, with a handful of ringlets falling over her left shoulder and curly wisps of hair falling around her face. The crystal earrings on her ear lobes reflected the teal green of the fur in her jacket and the dress clung alluringly to her slender figure.
“The minute Michael walked into the suite, he was so awed by her breathtakingly flawless beauty that his eyes all but popped out of his head. “You my lady, are so very beautiful that you take my breath away! No one seeing you, would believe that you gave birth to quadruplets just ten days ago,” said Michael, staring at her, in open-mouthed admiration!
Caroline, informed of Michaels plans, had called Beasley’s exclusive photo studio: ESPECIALLY FOR YOU, and had set up a private photo shoot for them at one-forty-five that afternoon. Once they arrived, ESPECIALLY FOR YOU, would take engagement photos, of the happy couple. The photos and the announcement of their upcoming nuptials would be published in Sunday's edition of the Gilfords Falls Daily News.
Caroline, having sent for her banker, had opened an account in Mary’s name, for nine-hundred-ninety-nine million, nine- hundred-ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred-ninety-nine dollars, and ninety-nine cents.
“It’ll take a while to print and emboss her name in gold on the cover and checks. But, it should be finished by three this afternoon,” said her banker. The money, less than one sixteenth of the vast inheritance accumulating in the many trust funds Caroline and Cole had set up for her, was Mary’s to spend as she pleased.
Michael and Mary would dine at Terrell Towers, then go to the photo studio for their engagement photos. From there they’d go to the bank so Mary could be presented with her checkbook, then on to Exclusively Beasley’s for some shopping before going back to the suite.
In honor of the occasion, Caroline had offered Michael the loan of her new limousine and driver for as long as they needed his services, which he’d immediately accepted.