The Mona Lisa Sisters

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Chapter 18

When we enter the dining room, the girls can’t control themselves. They run to the table and excitedly tell Joseph that I’m going to adopt them and be their new mother.

Joseph rises from his chair and takes the girls in his arms. “That is wonderful news. I’m so happy for you.” After twirling them around, much to the chagrin of the waiter and the people at the next table, he lowers them to the floor with a flourish.

I stand there smiling with all my heart. Joseph turns and takes me into his arms, and twirls me about before putting me down with a look of embarrassment. “I’m sorry Lura; I got caught up in the moment.”

“It is alright Joseph. You are my brother-in-law. I guess this makes you the girls’ uncle.”

In a more serious tone he whispers, “Let’s get through the adoption first.”

I agree. As I take my seat, Joseph holds the chair for me. As he takes his place, I have a fleeting thought that causes me to blush. He reminds me of Walter. He is so handsome and strong. Where did that come from?

Walking us back to our cabin, Joseph says, “Girls I have some business to discuss with Miss Lura. Please stay in the cabin until we return.”

Ada Mae asks, “How long will you be gone? I don’t like staying alone.”

In a huff Katie says, “You won’t be alone. I’m here.”

Taking them into my arms, I say, “Don’t worry. I won’t be long, no more than an hour. You finish your assignment, if you can.”

Ada Mae seems to have forgotten her reluctance to stay alone as she gets a mischievous look on her face. “I don’t think I can Miss Lura. I’m much too excited.”


“Once we have you and the girls safely in Ridgeway, the adoption should be a simple matter.”

I’m frightened that something will go wrong. “Do you foresee any problems?”

“As I told you Lura, the French authorities may lodge a formal complaint once they learn that you took the children from their jurisdiction without authorization.”

“Why must the French become involved?”

“We will offer proof that the girls are orphans. We must get a death certificate or the French equivalent to present in court.”

I have to tell Joseph about Mr. Dean’s body. The one thing I had neglected to tell him. “There may be a problem with that.”

“What do you mean? You told me your detective confirmed his death. We’ll notify the French consulate in New York and they can request a death certificate from the authorities in Paris.”

“They no longer have the body. It is on the way to Ridgefield. It already be there.”

Joseph is angry. His voice deepens and in slow and controlled speech he says, “What do you mean?”

His language and tone offend me. It is my turn to show anger. I feel my face redden and turn into a scowl. “Don’t you ever speak to me like that again.”

For an instant, I believe that Joseph is about to rise from his seat. His face reddens, not in anger, but I can tell in embarrassment. Sinking back, his voice soft, almost impossible to hear, he says, “I’m sorry Lura. You took me by surprise. It will never happen again.”

“How am I to believe that Joseph. This is at least the second time you’ve shown your propensity for violence.”

“What do you mean second time? I admit that I have a temper, and that what you have done regarding Mr. Dean’s body angers me. But only because of the jeopardy it may cause you and your adoption of the girls.”

I’m so angry with Joseph, that I call him Mr. Myer. “How then you justify the violence you committed upon those two men on the train Mr. Myer?”

“Those men were determined to steal the pendant you wear with such vanity. I’m no expert, but I’m sure that such a fine piece of jewelry would fetch at least twenty-five thousand dollars.”

Involuntarily I grasp the pendant and hold it to my heart. “It was my mother’s. I will never part with it.”

“Then maybe you should wear it concealed when it public. The train was the fourth time I interceded on your behalf and restrained the two criminals.” Joseph’s mention of the fourth time surprises me. I only saw them three times.

“What do you mean four times? I saw them at the Louvre, on the street, and then on the train.”

“The third time was at your hotel room.”

“My hotel room, whatever do you mean Joseph?”

“The day they followed you on the street, I warned them to stay away. They didn’t. That evening while you were at dinner, they tried to enter your room. They intended to lay in wait, and take your necklace when you returned.”

“Oh, my God. How did you stop them? Did you have a gun?”

“No. I abhor guns. They are hooligans but I’m a trained boxer. I knocked them to the floor and kicked them down the servants’ stairwell. I told them that if they accosted you again, I would break their hands. They didn’t believe me.”

“But when they came to my compartment on the train, I heard you tell them you had a gun.”

“Yes, that’s what I told them.” Holding up his cigar cutter, Joseph says, “This is what I used. They felt it and believed me. When I took them to that empty compartment, they saw it and jumped me. One tried to stab me. It is a mistake. It took me a while, but I beat them down.”

“Protecting me and the girls, and then defending yourself, I understand, but I still don’t understand why you had to break their hands.”

“Each time they came after you, the level of violence escalated. I feared that if they came again, they might have a gun or other ruffians to help them overcome me and do you harm. I had to make sure that didn’t happen. I stomped on their hands so they couldn’t hold a weapon.”

All I can say is “Oh”. We sit in silence for a few minutes. Each of us lost in thought. I detest what Joseph did on the train, but I understand and appreciate that it was to protect the girls and me. Finally, I break the silence. “I understand that what you did was for me and the girls. That doesn’t mean I approve. Can we continue our discussion about the adoption tomorrow? I have to get back to the girls.”

“Yes, Lura, we can. I want you to know that I’m not angry with you. I was angry at what you did, but not you.”

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