When Joseph returns from Boston with the good news, it is nigh on to impossible for me to contain the joy I feel. When no one is looking, I skip, yes skip, from the portico to the entrance gate and back. I think Earl is watching, as I see him in the window with a smile on his face. When I look in his direction, he turns away and disappears.
When Joseph first told me, I impulsively threw my arms around him and embraced him. After a second of hesitation, he embraced me back. Our embrace was not that of brother and sister-in-law. Embarrassed we both back away and talk of nothing important until the girls appear.
“Uncle Joseph, where were you? We missed you?”
“I missed you girls.”
Ada Mae is done with the pleasantries. It is time to move on to more important matters. “Did you bring us anything Uncle Joseph?”
“I did young lady. What do you think I have in my pocket?”
She is ready to pull the pocket from his coat to get at the treasure held there. “No, first you must attempt to guess what I have?”
“Uncle Joseph you know I’m no good at guessing games. Katie you guess.”
Katie always the analytical one, says, “You must give us a hint.”
“Well, let me see.” After a pause, Joseph says, “You can eat it?”
“That is not enough of a hint. You must give us another one before I guess.”
“Paris.” I’ve a feeling I know what he holds, but I restrain my tongue.
Katie smiles, “I know what you have Uncle Joseph.” Turning to her sister, she says, “You guess.”
Both girls giggle and jump up and down. Katie shouts, “French Chew, its French Chew.” Joseph pulls two small bags from his pocket and hands one to each girl.
I have to say something, “Girls, you must save some. You cannot eat it alright now. It will spoil your dinner.”
Katie stops and stares at me before saying something that surprises me and fills my heart with joy. “You sound just like a mother.” I hold my breath and strain to maintain my composure.
Joseph sees my emotional reaction and holds my hand. He saves me with, “I have some French Chew for Miss Lura as well.” He makes a flourish with both hands, reaches into the same pocket and brings out one piece of French Chew. As he hands it to me, I curtsy and pop the tasty morsel into my mouth.
Joseph filed the papers with the Fairfield County Superior Court in Bridgeport, and after the judge interviewed the girls, he appointed Joseph as their attorney.
“Joseph, now that you’re officially the girls’ attorney, what is the next step?”
“The court has questions and concerns about the French demand for the return of the girls to France.”
“I thought Captain Delacroix said that we didn’t have to worry about that until after the adoption was settled?”
“He did, but he told us that in a private conversation. The judge wants to hear it from him. There is no way we, or the court, can compel the appearance and testimony of a foreign diplomat.”
“Diplomat? I thought he was an army lawyer.”
“It seems that our friend, Captain Julien Delacroix, is much more. He is the French military attaché. He may be a junior officer, but he is well placed in French politics. His father is the equivalent of one of our Senators. An uncle is the head of the Ministry of War. Julien will someday be a general, mark my words.”
“Invite him to dinner tomorrow. We will ask him ourselves. I’m sure he will help us.”
“Lura, don’t get your hopes up. If he is allowed to help, he will. But if his orders are to the contrary, he will obey his superiors. I will take the carriage into town and see if the good Captain is available.”
“Joseph do not make light of this. I’m angry and frightened.”
“Lura, I make light of nothing that involves you or your happiness.” He turns and storms from the house.
When an hour passes and he doesn’t return, I call Earl. “Have you seen where Joseph has gone off to?”
“I saw him enter the carriage house and followed. He was hitching the horse and I offered to do it myself. He refused saying he wanted to be alone.” I walk to the carriage house intending to apologize but Joseph is already gone. Why must he be so irritating? The more I’m around Joseph, the more my feelings confuse me.
Could I be falling in love? No, I mustn’t. It is too soon.