The quick and easy victory Jeff had spoken of never came about. The Battle of Bull Run was fought on July 21st. We heard from Jeff and were relieved to hear he had not only survived the battle, but had managed to come out unharmed. Aunt Helen said it was his lucky stars that saved him, Uncle Andrew called it God's grace. The sad news was he wasn't going to return anytime soon, because while Bull Run did bring about a victory for the Confederacy, it became painfully obvious to all that this would be a harder fight than anyone anticipated. I was afraid, afraid of how long this war would drag out, afraid of what the outcome might be. All around me spirits were high, this first victory gave everyone assurance that we would win the war.
In the beginning of August, Elsie came to the garden, where I was working with Kristoffs on the rose bushes, and said, “Sarah, Mr. Albert Thompson is here, he wishes to speak to you.”
“Albert, what could he want?” I wondered as I went to the parlor where he was waiting for me.
“I’m going to join my regiment in the morning,” Albert wasted no time in telling me as soon as I came in. “I’ve come here to say goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Albert, I wish you well.” I stated, not knowing what else to say.
“I was wondering,” he took a step closer to me, making me instinctively take a step back. “I was wondering if you might reconsider the offer I made to you several years ago.”
“Albert, don’t do this,” I shook my head.
“Three years ago you refused me, I’ve given you plenty of time to rethink and see where you’ve gone wrong.”
“Albert Thompson!” My voice went from annoyed to indignant. This man’s arrogance was astonishing.
“I’m giving you another chance before I leave, will you marry me?”
I took a deep breath, trying to control my anger. Inwardly I was fuming that he had the nerve to come and ask me again when I had made it so obvious that I didn’t want to marry him, but I strove to keep my composure and calm, after all, he was about to go off to war and I didn’t want his last moments here to be filled with hot and angry words. “Albert, I am sorry, but I made it clear to you last time that I don’t want to marry you. No, Albert, listen,” I lifted my hand to silence him before he could start talking, “I don’t think we suit each other. I am not the right girl for you and you certainly aren’t the right man for me. We have opposite points of view on just about every possible subject. Marriage is sharing your life with someone, and I just can’t see myself sharing it with you. I know there are plenty of young women out there who are willing to share in your form of lifestyle, but I am not one of them.”
“You say that now,” he spoke in a strained voice, “but I know with time you will think differently. You are stubborn and independent, but that is alright, I am a patient man and can afford to give you more time. When I return from the war, a hero for all to see, you’ll understand the truth. Every young lady will want to be in your place.”
“Albert, please, I’m not like your sister. You can’t bribe me like the way Jeff was able bribe her.”
“Of course I can,” he scoffed, “you women are all the same. A little money, a little flattery, flowers, candy and that’s it, you are completely won over.”
I resisted the urge to slap him. After a speech like that he still thought I would want to marry him. “That is not true, we are not all the same! Just like you men are not all the same! I don’t want to have to go through this a second time, but you leave me no choice. My sentiments have not changed, I don’t want to marry you, not now and not in ten years. Can’t you understand that and move on? My decision is final!”
He shook his head. “I’ll come back from the war and we’ll see how things are. There is plenty of time for you to change your mind, and knowing you women the way I do, I’ll bring back an engagement ring with me.”
I decided against answering. His mind was set in one direction and he was treading it like a mad bull. The sad thing was my mind was made up as well and I knew nothing he would do could change me. One of us would have to give in, and it most certainly would not be me!
We stood there in silence for a few minutes, till at last he spoke up again. “You wouldn’t deny me a kiss before I go off to the battlefield, would you?”
I drew my breath angrily. “Albert Thompson, I hardly think it would be proper for me to kiss you.”
“Then at least allow me to grant you a kiss.”
He was so persistent! I was tempted to retort something smart, but the thought did occur to me he was going off to war and for all I knew he would never come back. Walking up closer to him, I held out my hand. He took it with a resigned air, I suppose he was hoping he would at least be able to kiss my cheek.
“Goodbye, Albert.” I said, “take care and stay safe.”
“Goodbye, Sarah,” He stated, putting his hat on his head. “I look forward to celebrating our engagement when I return.”
“We’re not getting engaged, not now and not when you return.” I reminded him as I showed him out of the parlor.
“We’ll see,” He replied.
At the door way we met Uncle Andrew.
“Off to the war, Albert?” He asked.
“All the best to you then.”
They shook hands, Albert lifted his hat to me, asked that we send his compliments to Mrs. Greensten and left.
“He came to say goodbye?” Uncle Andrew questioned once Albert had left.
“He came to propose again. He seems fixed upon the idea that as soon as he returns from the war I’ll suddenly have a change of heart and marry him.”
Uncle Andrew gave a sad laugh. “So, when he returns it will be the third time you disappoint him?”
I shrugged in frustration. “I don’t know what to do to make him understand I am not at all interested in marrying him! Not now, not ever.”
“I think the only way he will fully understand is when you finally marry someone else.”
I shrugged again, hoping Uncle Andrew spoke the truth. The last thing I wanted was Albert Thompson hounding me for the rest of my life.
I just wanted to make a little note that I am going to change the name of the story from A White Rose to Roses of White. I'm warning ahead of time to prevent confusion when I do change the name :)