‘What an adventure!’ remarked Louise as she straightened the ties of her cape. Giles was less than enthusiastic with the plans set for the day but he smiled never the less.
‘I’ll just be glad when this is over and our life will go back to the boring drudgery that befits me.’ He walked Louise to the carriage and nodded to the driver. A quick kiss on the forehead and he assisted his wife into her seat. ‘Pray be home soon Louise. My heart can’t take this much longer.’
Louise stared out the window at her husband’s somber face. His broad shoulders slumped as he leaned against the carriage. ‘My dearest Giles, this is not going to be difficult at all. I’ll be home in less than two hours.’
As the carriage drove away, she slipped her hands into her reticule and made sure for the tenth time that the jewels were indeed there. She slid her tongue over her upper lip as she often did when nervous. ‘This won’t do, I’ve got to relax.’ She omitted a tiny cough and shook her head to clear it.
Julia was no less apprehensive with her plan for the day. The table had been set and her guests would soon arrive. Nigel had tried to be reassuring to her that morning. ‘It’s the only way Julia! ‘
‘True, it is the best way. I know Louise agrees as well.’ Just then Louise entered the restaurant and went in to the back room to join her.
The two women hugged and then held out their hands to give a silent pledge of unison. ‘I just know Beatrice and Mona will understand.’
Louise smiled. ‘You know, I didn’t tell my husband of the change of plans. He still thinks we are placing the jewels next to their plates. This won’t be easy but the truth never is. I’m glad you and I are doing this together.’
Julia smiled. ‘I didn’t tell Nigel either. I was so amazed when the four young ones came to us with the idea. Sheridan is a fine young man to take this chance with all of the young ladies. He’ll do you proud Louise.’
‘I can’t believe it! Here we are middle aged misfits who have to have our children get us out of trouble! ‘ Louise sat down as two other ladies entered the room to join them.
After a warm hug all around, the women sat down and ordered tea. ‘I’d forgotten Tobias worked here.’
Toby grinned and said, ‘Father thinks I need to learn to be humble. A lowly servant stands before you Mrs. Timbal.’ At six foot tall, Toby did not appear lowly at all. Yet all of the women had known him since birth and laughed at his joke.
Soon, crusty rolls and Danish accented the round table. A flower arrangement of pink carnations graced the center of the white linen tablecloth. Beatrice smiled as she thought of the pink carnation that the thief had left in place of the jewels.
Julia was the first to speak. “I have brought you all here because we have been friends since we were babies. We have a serious problem now, and Louise and I need your help.”
Beatrice and Mona both became attentive. Mona said, ‘Of course, whatever can we do?’
‘Well, six months ago Louise overheard her husband talking about money to my husband Nigel. She thought he said they were in dire straights. So…’ Julia paused to sip her tea. As she was setting it down Louise continued.
‘Instead of going to my husband with what I overheard, I got this great idea to take my family’s jewels and sell them to help out. I took them to Julia and she helped me sell them. The jewels that were stolen from you…’
Mona suddenly gulped on her tea and began to cough. While she was dabbing a napkin to her mouth Beatrice spoke up.
‘Oh, dear! Those jewels were stolen dear, if I had them I would return them immediately. I’m so sorry! I think Mona’s jewels were stolen as well! Oh, Louise! I feel awful!’ Beatrice stared at the rose pattern on her tea cup. She tried to think of what she could do.
“Perhaps I could hire a Pinkerton agent…” she said.
‘No, please do not do that!” Julia and Louise said in unison.
Louise’s mouth began to tremble. She once again shook her head and went on. “I have prayed about this and I think I was given good councel. I was told to be truthful and trust our friendship. The story gets worse…’ Louise stopped talking as a lump was choking her throat. ‘This is so embarrassing.’ She whispered.
Julia spoke up. ‘Nonsense, we did this together. Beatrice …Mona..Giles thought the jewels were stolen because Louise did not tell him she had stolen them. Rather than go to Louise, he came up with a scheme to get the jewels back. He and his son took them, thinking they had been robbed.”
The sounds of teaspoons and teacups clattering rung out in the little room. Mona finally was able to speak. ‘You mean Giles thought my Henry was a thief? He thought everyone was a thief?’
Louise shook her head. “No, he really didn’t get that far into his thinking. All he could think of was to retrieve the jewels. Really, how could I wear stolen jewels? It was so ludicrous! He really never thought farther than to retrieve them. I’m so sorry!’
Beatrice was a rather large woman and when she began to shake in laughter, the table began to shake. ‘This is hilarious! Now, Mona stop and think about it!’
Mona was hiding her smile behind her napkin. Finally, she released a chuckle and reached over for Louise’s hand. ‘Oh, darling…don’t worry so. It’s all right!’
Beatrice was still laughing. ‘I just will never forget this one Louise. No matter what my Ira has done, and he’s pulled some fast ones…Giles takes the cake. Poor Sheridan! I hope he doesn’t turn to a life of crime now!’ She continued to laugh.
Julia breathed a sigh of relief and said a silent prayer of thanks. ‘Now, I do have another thing to add. Giles has agreed to buy all the jewels back and for more than what you paid.’
‘Nonsense, tell Giles that we will sell them for the same price. But! We want him to plant a flower garden for us. Right Mona? Pink carnations!’ The laughter continued for the next few hours.
Giles was looking out the window as his wife’s carriage came up the drive. ‘Well, how did it go?’ he asked when his wife entered the foyer.
‘Excellent dear. It’s all settled.’ Julia followed Louise in and they went to the study. Nigel, John, Sheridan and Samuel were waiting. ‘Sheridan, did you tell them?’
‘No, I didn’t know if you’d like to tell them.’ He said.
‘Where are the girls?’ asked Julia.
‘They haven’t returned yet. Not to worry though.’
Giles and the others looked uncomfortably confused. ‘What?’
‘Well, first of all…we didn’t go with the original plan. We took the advice of Sarah, Juliana, and Tobias. Sheridan too. We told them the truth. ‘ said Louise.
Giles was incredulous and began to jump up. Louise put her hand up to halt him. ‘Giles, one bad decision can’t be fixed by making another bad one. In fact, it will snow ball into a terrible decision. I made a clean break of it with Beatrice and Mona. ‘ Louise said.
John sat looking out the window and saw Sarah and Juliana come into the house all smiling. ‘Well, how did it go?’ he asked.
‘You know what we did Father?’ Sarah asked.
John shuffled his feet and slowly lifted his head to meet his daughter’s eyes. ‘Yes, I think I have a pretty good idea.’
‘Well, I remembered how you always preached that God is merciful and also…the truth will set you free. That is why I told my friends of the idea. ‘ She was worried her father might be upset.
He put out his hand and smiled. ‘You are a wise girl Sarah. You also are a good leader. Where I should have been practicing what I preached. You took the chance and spoke out wisdom. I’m proud of you !’
Julia shared what had occurred during their luncheon. Juliana and Sarah explained how the girls all wanted to make everything right with Louise. Juliana had reminded them of different instances in their life when she had been there to help get them out of sticky situations.
‘The only one who was sorry to not be able to keep the jewels was Priscilla. She really liked the locket with the good chain.’ Sarah said.
Louise smiled, ‘Well, how about if we get a locket for each of the girls?’
Nigel spoke up, ‘Let me handle that one. I can have a gold locket with silver in it that they will love! I’ll have their names engraved in them.’
Two months went by and the jewels had all been restored. The story was not broadcast as the girls feared Juliana would tell of their own misdeeds if the story got out. The lockets were a huge success. So much so that Nigel began a whole new line of jewelry.
Sheridan sat under a oak tree and watched the ducks floating in the creek. Something blew near him and he brushed it away. It came back and ruffled through his hair. He unconsciously brought his arm up and came in contact with the object that was tormenting him.
Juliana stood behind the tree with a long stemmed pink flower.
‘You are the handsomest man I’ve ever seen Sheridan. Pretty even, if you can call a man that. Why, I think you are prettier than a pink flower!’