• Meg Sechrest

Remember Green Peas- Preview

Updated: Jan 4





ONE

Katherine stood at the window of her bed chambers, watching the rain as it rolled down the glass, and she thought about how the events of the previous few hours would affect her life forever.

“I laid out a dress for you, Miss Wright,” the servant said as she laid Katherine’s clean dress on the chaise at the foot of the bed. “Your Aunt sent word only a little while ago that a carriage would arrive for you shortly.”

Katherine wiped away her tears and walked to her bed, taking the black dress in her hands, knowing now that this would be her life for a short period of time.

“I will return to you momentarily, miss,” the servant said, noticing Katherine’s tears, and she left the room.

Katherine sat grieving her father for many minutes. When she was quite recovered, she rang for the servant once more and wiped her face, sniffling away her sadness.

“Let me assist you,” the servant said as she entered and reached to help Katherine unpin her dress.

Sliding her arms into the sleeves, she thought of her father’s last words to her…

“Katherine, my dear, do not despair that I will no longer be with you on this earth. You have much time left and many days yet to live. Do not spend your days grieving me. You will be happy and I daresay you will someday forget this old man and have a family of your own...”

“Dear Papa, I could never forget you.” As Katherine was slipping out of her funeral dress and into the clean one, there was a knock at the door.

“Just a moment,” Katherine said.

“Katherine, it’s John.”

Her brother hadn’t left the house yet.

Katherine wiped her eyes and composed herself, walking to the door. “John, I’d thought you’d left for London.”

He entered her room and motioned the servant to leave, and Katherine slid her black gloves onto her hands.

“No,” he said. “Margaret insisted on going herself so I can prepare the house for her arrival.”

Katherine took her shawl from the side of the bed, wrapping it around herself as she sat on the corner and looked at her half-brother.

“You don’t have to leave Lockewood, dear sister.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You can stay here with us.”

“Your wife had made herself perfectly clear on the matter, John!”

“Forget Margaret, I am the man of the house now and what I say is what matters at Lockewood. Our father left the estate to me.”

Katherine stood and walked to the door, opening it for him to leave. “Yes, well, I’m not living anywhere I am not wanted.”

“You are wanted, Kitty.”

“Not by her. Goodbye, John. You own me 50,000 pounds. I turn 21 in August.”

John walked out and Katherine closed the door, thinking about her wretched half-brother’s wife and how she’d wished he never would’ve married her for the money.

An hour or so later, she received a visitor of a different kind.

“Katherine Wright!”

Katherine spun around at the sound of her aunt’s shrill voice.

“You are never ready on time!”

“Hello, Aunt Gertrude.”

“Step out here where I can see you. Let me have a look at you, child.”

The sister of Katherine’s late mother, Marjorie, tended to be brash and forthcoming, though she usually was well-intentioned. Gertrude Lemon, though married well in life, was never well suited herself for proper society. Gertrude was married to Mr. George Lemon, who was known to be worth at least 7,000 pounds a year, and she made no qualms about flaunting her money. This is where Katherine was to live now that her own father had passed on and her brother was taking over Lockewood.

“Well, Katherine,” Gertrude said, glancing around the room, “We must be going. Are your things packed?”

“I packed what I could. The servants took them downstairs already.”

“Your father’s estate and properties will all be settled soon. Your sum will be given to you when you turn 21 next year. In the meantime, your uncle and I shall see to your immediate needs. Come child, we must make haste.”

Katherine turned and looked once more at her childhood home; the home where she’d grown from a child to a woman and was rocked to sleep by her mother before her death and was told stories as a child by Miss Gilson, her companion, who would not be accompanying her to the Lemon’s home since Katherine would soon have to accept her place as a grown woman.

Bidding her home farewell, she turned and closed the door for the last time.

***

“You do not look well,” Gertrude said to Katherine on their way to Westinghouse that evening.

“My heart is heavy and I feel a terrible unease about leaving Lockewood.”

“I understand very much, Katherine. It is the only home you have ever known and with your father’s passing…”

“Perhaps once I get to Westinghouse and get settled it will take my mind off of things.”

“I’m certain. I hear there is to be a ball.”

Katherine’s spirits grew in a moment and her posture improved as her face lit up and she looked to her aunt and uncle across from her in the carriage. “Tell me it is true!”

“We have it on very good authority that in the near future there will be a very grand ball, my dear,” Gertrude said.

“Who shall host it?”

“Sir Lionel Wallsworth. He is our neighbor to the north, just beyond the pond situated behind our property. He has a great estate and some 20 bedrooms or sorts. It is very grand indeed.”

“It sounds quite magnificent!”

Katherine laid her head against the side of the carriage and dreamt of what the ball might be like and who would be there, trying to take her mind off leaving her home behind and the death of her father.

After a considerable amount of time went by and after she’d fallen into a slumber for enough time that her mind was hazy upon waking, her aunt tapped her knee and pointed out the carriage window in time for Katherine to see as they came through a clearing in the woods to rolling hills where at the top of the hills sat a large rectangular shaped house of sandstone bricks with 20 or so windows in all and a grand staircase that led up to the large four-set front doors with a few blackthorn trees on either side of it and a vast gardens in the front for walking.

“There is quite a large pond just down that way if you’re willing to take a little walk,” George said and pointed to the back of the house.

“It is a lovely property,” Katherine said.

“I am certain you will find comfort and happiness here,” he replied as the carriage stopped in front of the house.

Everyone stepped out and Katherine absorbed her surroundings for a moment, finding the house and property absolutely breathtaking. She’d always considered Lockewood the best home she’d seen, but now she was convinced Westinghouse had to be the most beautiful sight in her recollection.

“I am regretful that my father had not brought me here sooner,” she said and walked up the long entry stairway.

“Yes. After the death of your mother many years ago, your father resolved himself to be a recluse,” George replied.

“But we must never feel sorry for ourselves, shall we?” Gertrude said.

Katherine shook her head, but on the inside, she was rolling her eyes.

“Come now, my dear, let us get you settled. We may well be expecting visitors this very day.”

“Visitors?” Katherine asked, looking around as her eyes took in the sight of her aunt and uncle’s beautiful home, which was a bit grander and nicer than the house she’d known all her life until now.

“Mm, yes, dear one,” Gertrude replied. “Sir Lionel Wallsworth and his nephew Mr. Benjamin Bradley.”

“Mr. Bradley travels with his brother and sister, I believe,” George added.

“They are his half-brother and sister, George,” Gertrude said.

“This is true, Gertie,” George agreed. “Katherine, technically, Hannah and Byron are Benjamin’s half siblings. His father married Mrs. Kenton when Sir Daniel Kenton passed away several years back.”

“I think I shall forget all of this by this evening,” Katherine replied. “All these names and all this information, it’s so much to remember.”

“Do not fret, young one,” George said and opened the door to her bedroom chambers. “All shall be reintroduced to you when they arrive.” He motioned for the servants to place her things in the room and they entered.

“Oh my,” Katherine said, “It is so lovely. I am forgetting home already.”

“We are glad it is to your liking,” Gertrude said. “If there is anything you need, call for your servant. Our visitors are expected very soon.”

Katherine hugged her aunt and uncle and the door to her bedroom closed behind her. She walked over to her trunk of belongings, taking out a dress she felt would be appropriate for the evening’s dinner with guests and she began to unpin her travel dress, rehearsing all the information that had been given to her during the day.

Sir Lionel comes with his nephew, Mr. Benjamin Bradley, who brings his own half-brother and half-sister as well…

As she rehearsed the people she’d learned during the day, she put on her evening gown, then sat in front of the reflective glass and re-pinned her hair.

Once she was satisfied with her appearance, Katherine left the chambers and joined the party in the drawing room, where her aunt and uncle were already with several people.

“Katherine! Glad you are ready,” George said. “Sir Lionel, this is our niece, Katherine Wright. Katherine, this is Sir Lionel Wallsworth.”

“How’d you do,” Katherine said, curtsying.

“It is a pleasure, young lady,” he replied, taking her hand and laying a gentle kiss on it.

“Let me introduce you to my nephew, Mr. Benjamin Bradley.”

“Miss Wright,” Mr. Bradley replied with a tilt on his head.

“Mr. Bradley.”

“Miss Wright as in Wright shipping?”

“Yes, sir. My father owned Wright shipping.”

“Owned?”

“He recently passed and my brother John has inherited the business.”

“Oh, yes. I see you are in mourning. I am sorry to hear this news. My condolences.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Let me introduce you to my brother and sister, Miss Hannah Kenton and Mr. Edward Kenton.”

“It’s a pleasure,” Edward said.

"It is lovely to meet you both."

Hannah curtsied but said nothing and Katherine felt maybe Hannah wouldn’t form a liking to her.

“And this is my wife, Alice Wallsworth, and her niece, Miss Sophie Hollings.”

“Mrs. Wallsworth,” Katherine said. “It’s truly wonderful to meet you all.”

“Well, shall we go into the dining room?” George asked.

“We are expecting a few more people,” Gertrude said. “Let us wait in here.”

Everyone took seats around the drawing room and began conversation, most of it revolving around Mr. Bradley and his extensive traveling.

“Dr. Bradley, where do you suppose you’ll venture next?” George asked from across the room where he was standing next to the fireplace, smoking.

“Doctor?” Katherine asked.

“Yes,” George replied. “He is quite a revered man of medicine, actually. Do tell her about yourself.”

Dr. Bradley turned to Katherine and introduced himself. “I am in the field of medical research. I travel all over the world to find treatments and cures for different ailments and diseases.”

“How extraordinary!” Katherine exclaimed.

“Yes, my dear,” George said, “It truly is.”

“Thank you,” Dr. Bradley said.”

“Where do you think you will travel next?” a young man asked as he entered the drawing room.

“Robert!”Gertrude exclaimed and threw her arms around him. “We are thrilled that you have joined us.”

“Hello, mother, Katherine, Father, everyone,” Robert said, taking a seat next to Dr. Bradley.

“Robert!”Gertrude exclaimed and threw her arms around him. “We are thrilled that you have joined us. How was your journey?”

“Hello, mother, Katherine, Father, everyone,” Robert said, taking a seat next to Dr. Bradley.

"Please, mother, make no fuss. My journey was fine, and as you can see, I am in all one piece."

"As you wish," she said and took her seat once more.

“Nice to see you have returned from battle, Robert. There is much to report, I’m certain,” Dr. Bradley said.

“Not half as much as you always have to tell when you travel. America wasn’t nearly what I thought it would be. But you Dr. Bradley, you will travel again soon?”

“Now that I could not tell you,” Dr. Bradley replied. “When and where I am to go is as unknown to me as the day of each of our deaths. I live each day as ordinarily as I can until I am assigned to a project. Then I go. I suppose it would be somewhere east again, perhaps Thailand. I know they need some help with disease in their water supply.”

“Oh, Thailand? Good heavens! You poor young man!” Gertrude exclaimed. “The living conditions are so deplorable! How would you ever survive there? I would never wish that lifestyle upon anyone! My word, what a terrible life that must be for you. Surely having inherited your family’s estate you must be doing well enough without it. Are you not?”

“I would agree, Ma’am, that circumstances are not what I would wish when I travel, but I try to make the best of my situation, working as safely as I can then leaving as soon as possible to come home to Westborough. It is not glamorous work, but it is most important to the medical community. I am proud to do it. As for my family’s estate, I have only recently inherited it upon my brother’s passing. Samuel was the eldest, but having no heir, the estate passed to me. The people I can help with my research far outweighs the risks I encounter when I travel,” Dr. Bradley replied. It was obvious to everyone that he felt disconcerted by her comments, but Dr. Bradley remained kind, nonetheless. Katherine admired his declaration, thinking his words showed the kind of compassion that was embedded in his soul and his heart, and her first impression on his character gave her the strong sense that he was kind and warm-hearted, but most of all, generous and self-sacrificing in nature. He was willing to give up himself for medical research to help others. She was certain his family’s estate brought him fortune, but he didn’t take up a life of leisure. Instead, he risked himself and his own comfort for the sake of medicine.

Gertrude tried to redeem herself, gushing, “Oh, you are doing such noble work. Any woman would be proud to have you on her arm. Tell me, do you have plans in the future for any such woman?”

Blushing, knowing her aunt was trying to do some matchmaking of her own, Katherine turned her face away. This was beyond reprehensible. Even more to her humiliation, he looked to Katherine and said, “In fact, I have not had much time to think of women in my line of work. However, I do hope to change that someday.”

Katherine felt mortified and excused herself from the conversation for a few moments.

Seeing her humiliation, George announced that it was time to enter the dining room, and she felt saved until Sir Lionel asked to escort her into the dining room.

“Of course,” she replied, not knowing how to escape his offer.

Once they were seated—Dr. Bradley on her left and Miss Hollings on her right—Sir Lionel began the previous conversation again.

“Miss Wright, do you care much for travel?” he asked from across the table.

“Well, Sir Lionel, having never traveled, I would have to tell you I do not know. I am perfectly undecided on the matter,” she responded, thinking she had defeated his admission to whatever game they were subjecting to play.

“Come now, Katherine. You may not have ever traveled but you most certainly must have an opinion on whether or not you want to travel,” Mrs. Wallsworth replied.

Katherine combatted her remark right away. “If I say to you, ‘You must form for yourself an opinion on green peas,’ but you say to me, ‘Well I haven’t tried green peas;’ then I say to you, ‘Well certainly you must have an opinion of them even before tasting them. You must form an opinion of whether you might like them.’ Do you see how silly that sounds? That is why, consequently, I do not know if I want to travel. I have never been out of England. I have hardly left my home in Hertfordshire until now. When I do travel, I will let you know what I think.” She took a sip of wine and Mrs. Wallsworth scoffed, “Well! Mr. ”

Dr. Bradley sipped his wine with the smallest of smiles, enjoying himself and Katherine’s repartee. Katherine felt it possible by the smiles on everyone’s faces that she handled herself very well in her first dinner party away from Lockewood. Even with her father’s death just days behind her, she was now thinking she could handle anything thrown at her.

“Dr. Bradley!” Sir Lionel called.

“Yes?”

“What are your thoughts about Miss Wright’s green pea discussion?”

“I find that Miss Wright’s words show that she knows very little of the world.”

“Indeed. And how do you come to that conclusion, might I ask?"

"Well, you have someone who makes hasty assumptions about things she knows next to nothing about, yet finds before ever trying new ideas or adventures that she may just as well be better off without them. I say it strikes me she is a woman who knows very little of the things going on around her."

"My dear nephew, you could very well be correct in your assertion of Miss Wright."

"Dr. Bradley, and how do you know my views of the world are because of ignorance and not because of a tainted life lived?"

"Well, I assume by looking at you that you are hardly 19 years old.."

"20..."

"Forgive me, but what kind of life can any 20 year could have possibly lived to have formed such an opinion tainted life or not?"

"Now there you have it," Sir Lionel declared. "And Miss Wright, now that you know how my nephew finds you, how do you find him?”

Katherine looked his way from the corner of her eyes and she said, “I find him just what any other gentleman is expected to be, sir.”

“Well, I for one, think it wonderful that young ladies have learned to be bold and brave and have now the intelligence to join in on conversation rather than sit in the corner with their embroidery. I think it shows Miss Wright’s perception of everything going on around her,” Mr. Kenton said with a nod to Katherine.

“Opinions, opinions, everywhere and not a drop to spare!” George said, trying to make light of the conversation, which was his usual energy.

“My brother always seems to make the most of a young lady,” Dr. Bradley said with a glance to Katherine as the soup was being served.

“Perhaps it isn’t your brother who is making the most of the ladies, sir, but the ladies who are owning their own dignity and he happens to share in their opinions,” Katherine replied.

“ I think you may have to watch your tongue around my niece, Dr. Bradley,” George said.

Dr. Bradley took a spoonful of soup as his eyes moved to his side and he said, “Perhaps, it is not me who needs to watch their tongue at all.”

Knowing she was the guest and that she needed to mind her manners, not for her sake, but for her aunt’s, Katherine stood from the table, excusing herself.

“Please, excuse me for a moment. I feel overwarm.”

Exiting out the balcony doors to the left and walking down the stairs to the side gardens, she composed herself from the tiresome censure of Dr. Benjamin Bradley.

“Never in my life have I met a more infuriating man!” she grumbled as she walked back and forth in the first path of the garden, glancing at the rows of colorful spring flowers on each side. “I don’t know who he thinks he is talking to me like that!”

“My brother has offended you.”

“Oh!” Katherine spun around. “Mr. Kenton!”

Mr. Kenton took Katherine’s hand, bringing it to his lips. “I must apologize for his behavior. It is truly shocking.”

“I thank you.” Katherine turned and continued her walk down the garden path.

“He does not mean to be rude, I assure you. He spends very little time with ladies of your…”

“Intelligence?”

“Yes but also beauty.”

Katherine blushed. “He claims he has no interest of women or marriage.”

“I would say that is a true summation of who he is. He is very much dedicated to his work.”

“I see. That would explain why he is so…”

“Formal?”

“I was going to say impertinent, but that as well.”

“Could I walk you back inside to supper?”

Katherine took notice of Mr. Kenton’s kind face and was now thinking perhaps she had made a hasty judgment against Dr. Bradley’s character assigning him to be the kind and compassionate brother when it was evident Mr. Kenton filled that role.



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© 2020 Meg Sechrest All Rights Reserved.

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 © Meg Sechrest 2020

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