The warm summer air rang with laughter as eleven-year-old Fanny Broadmoor made her way up from the river's edge. The day had been perfect, and she couldn't help but be pleased.
Her companion gave a tug on her pigtail. "What are you giggling about now?" fifteen-year-old Michael Atwell asked. Michael lived year-round on the island with his parents, the primary caretakers for the Broadmoor family castle and island estate.
"Do I have to have a reason?" Fanny questioned. "I'm just happy. We caught a great many fish. Your mother will be pleased."
"I think your grandmother will be less excited to see you've spent a day in the sun. You've got at least a hundred more freckles."
Fanny touched her hand to her face and shrugged. "Papa says it goes with my red hair, and he thinks they are quite delightful."
Michael shifted the string of fish and waved them in the air. "I think these are far more delightful. When my mother gets through frying them up, you'll think so, too."
Fanny gave him an adoring smile. She practically worshiped the ground he walked on. He was dashing and adventurous and never failed to treat her kindly. Other servants passed her over as nothing more than a child, but not Michael. He was always good to listen to her and never too busy to stop and see to her needs.
"You're lagging," Michael said as they reached the back of the house. "It's probably due to all that giggling."
Fanny caught up and put aside the fishing poles she'd been carrying. "Grand-mère says that being of good cheer is the secret to a long life."
Michael opened the back door and grinned. "Then you ought to live to be a hundred."
"There you are," Mrs. Atwell said as they stepped into the kitchen. "I thought I'd have to send your father out to find you." She spied the string of fish. "I see 'twas a very productive day."
"The very best," Fanny agreed. "I caught the first fish, and then Michael caught the next two. After that I lost track."
Mrs. Atwell laughed. "Well, I can see I'll have my work cut out for me. Just put them over there in the sink." She motioned to her son. "I suppose you're both ready for a bit of refreshment."
"We are. We ate everything you sent in the basket, but now we're famished."
"I'm not surprised." Mrs. Atwell affectionately tousled her son's wavy brown hair. "I'll bring you refreshments on the porch, but first I need to fetch Fanny's father. I was just on my way when you arrived. Your grandmother wants to speak with him."
"I can get him," Fanny told her. "Where has he gone?"
"To your special place," Mrs. Atwell said with a sympathetic smile. "The place he always took your mother—and now you."
Fanny nodded with great enthusiasm. "I'll go. It's not so very far."
"I'll go with her," Michael said. "It's farther than a young lady should go by herself."
"The island is hardly that big," Fanny declared, "and I am eleven years old."
Michael laughed. "And very opinionated."
"All right, you two. Get on with you now. Miss Fanny, it would be the better part of wisdom to allow Michael to join you. Besides that, if I remember right, your father took a picnic basket with him. Michael can fetch that back for me."
Fanny didn't really mind Michael's company. She simply didn't want him to think of her as a helpless child who needed to be watched over.
They made their way across the well-kept lawn and headed for the northerly side of the island, where the trees thinned out and gave way to rocky outcroppings. Fanny knew where she would find her father. Langley Broadmoor had often regaled her with stories of how he'd courted her mother on this island—how they would love to steal quiet moments in a very secluded place during their whirlwind romance. Fanny loved coming here each year. The island caused her to feel a sense of her mother's presence just in knowing how much she had cherished this place.
The family always tried to spend some time on the island during the warm summer months. The Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River were popular gathering retreats for the very wealthy, and this popularity had only increased in the years since Grandfather had purchased the island. The opulent way of life had increased, as well. What had once been a modest summer retreat was now a palatial estate with a six-story castle that held over fifty rooms.
"I found some fossils over this way," Michael told her. "Maybe we can go hunt for more tomorrow."
"That would be grand," Fanny replied and then frowned. "Oh, but I cannot. Your father is taking us to some birthday party on one of the other islands. Amanda and Sophie insist I come."
"Your cousins can be rather bossy, but I'm sure a party will be far more fun than scouting about in the dirt with me."
Fanny thought to deny that idea but spied her father down the path a ways. He was leaning up against a tree, the basket beside him. Apparently he'd fallen asleep while watching the river.
"Papa!" Fanny hurried down the path, barely righting herself as she tripped on the loose rocks.
"Slow down, you goose!" Michael called from behind her. "You don't want to fall and tear your dress."
Fanny checked her step and slowed only marginally. "Papa, wake up. Grand-mère wishes to see you." She reached her father's side and knelt beside him. Reaching out, she gave him a shake, but he didn't open his eyes.
She shook him again, and this time his body slumped away from her. His hand fell to the side, revealing a small framed photograph of her mother.
"Michael, something's wrong." She looked to where Michael had come to stop. "He's ... he's sick. He's not waking up." Fanny shook him harder, but he only slumped closer to the ground. "Papa!"
In less than a second, Michael was at her side. "Mr. Broadmoor. Wake up, sir." He gently reached out to touch the man, then pulled away. "Fanny, I think you should go get my father. Maybe get your uncle Jonas, too."
"But why? What's wrong?"
"Just go now. Hurry."
Fanny straightened and, seeing the grave expression on Michael's face, did exactly as he told her. She fairly flew up the path, and despite knowing how much her grandmother would disapprove, she ran as fast as she could to get help.
The men were easy to find. Fanny let them know the situation in breathless gasps that left little doubt to the serious nature of the moment. The men headed out, demanding she stay behind, but Fanny wasn't about to be left out of the matter. She allowed them to leave without her then followed behind, ignoring her cousins as they bade her to come and play.
Something inside Fanny's chest felt tight. She couldn't help the sense of dread that washed over her. Papa was very sick, otherwise he would have awakened. What would happen now? Would they remain on the island while he recovered, or would they head back to Rochester early? Deep inside, a most terrible thought tried to force its way through the maze of fearful considerations. What if he wasn't sick? What if he had. . .
She couldn't even breathe the word. Fanny couldn't imagine life without her beloved father. She'd already endured the horrible loneliness of being without a mother. Her mother had died giving birth to Fanny, and all she had of her were a few trinkets.
Edging up quietly to where she'd left Michael with her father, Fanny watched the men as they dealt with the situation at hand.
"This is just great," her Uncle Jonas declared. "Langley always did have a flair for the dramatic."
"Jonas, that's uncalled for," Uncle Quincy countered. "You know he's been lost in grief ever since Winifred died."
"He was a weakling. He couldn't even end his life like a man. What reasonable man would take poison?"
Fanny shook her head and flew at them. "No! My papa isn't dead!" She pushed past Uncle Quincy and reached for her father. It was Michael, however, who stopped her. He pulled her away quickly.
"Get her out of here," Uncle Jonas growled. "Take her away at once, Michael."
Michael pulled Fanny along, but she fought him. "No! I want to be with my papa. He needs me."
"He's beyond need now, Fanny." Michael's soft, gentle words caused her to halt her fighting.
"But ... he ... he ... cannot be ..." She looked back to where her uncles and Michael's father stood and then braved a glance down to her father's silent form. Tears poured and blinded her eyes as she looked up to Michael.
Fanny gripped Michael's hand tightly and closed her eyes as he led her up the path. Her father was dead. It seemed impossible—horribly wrong. How could it have happened? Uncle Jonas said it was poison. Her father had taken something to end his life.
"Why did he ... do this?" Fanny barely whispered the words. "Was it my fault?"
Michael dropped to his knees and pulled Fanny against his shoulder. She sobbed quietly for several minutes, just standing there against him.
"This wasn't your fault," Michael finally said as she calmed. "Your father was just too sad. He couldn't bear the pain of being without your mother."
"But he had me," Fanny said, pulling away. "He had me, and now I have no one."
Michael reached up and gently brushed back her tears. He offered a hint of a smile. "You have me, Fanny. You'll always have me.
"Fiddlesticks. Where are they?"
The heels of Frances Jane Broadmoor's shoes tapped a rhythmic click on the Italian marble tile as she paced the length of the entrance hall. Thus far, the technique had failed to control her impatience. At seventeen Fanny was usually not given to such displays, but this occasion merited her frustration.
"Amanda is never late. Sophie would be late to her own funeral, but not Amanda." She went to the window and pulled back the sheer fabric. One glance told her the same thing she'd known for over fifteen minutes. Her cousins had not yet arrived.
They hadn't seen each other since last Christmas, when Fanny was home from finishing school. Amanda had gone away shortly after that to take a grand tour of Europe, while Sophie remained at home. The separation had been absolute misery for the girls. They were closer than most sisters.
"Why must they torture me like this?" She dropped the sheer and began to pace again. Passing by her grandfather's study, she peered inside at the ornamental frame that held her grandmother's likeness. Grand-mère. Fanny smiled at the French word. Her grand-mère's aristocratic French ancestors would be appalled at the English use of Grandmother.
There were those who thought Fanny resembled her grandmère, but the young woman couldn't see it for herself. Fanny had a ghastly collection of dark auburn curls, while Daphine Broadmoor had hair the color of ripe wheat. At least when she'd been younger. Even as an older woman with a snow white crown, her grandmother's beauty surpassed all rivals.
Fanny heard a noise from outside and rushed back to the window. Frowning, she let out a rather unladylike sigh. It was only Mr. Pritchard, the gardener. He offered a smile and waved. Earlier in the day they had worked the garden together, one of Fanny's greatest pleasures. She waved but then quickly walked away from the window.
Had she known both of her cousins would be late, she could have allowed herself additional time in the garden. Mr. Pritchard would have been pleased for another half hour of her help. Though the gardener could be cranky, Fanny had convinced herself years ago that the man enjoyed her assistance. Hamilton Broadmoor hadn't been quite so certain, but her grandfather's assessment hadn't quelled Fanny's desire to learn from Mr. Pritchard.
With no more than the fleeting thought of her grandfather, Fanny glanced up the mammoth stairway. Sunlight spilled from the circular skylight and cast dancing prisms across the palatial landing above the first flight of stairs. She should go upstairs and see if he was awake, but she'd ascended no more than a few steps when the front door burst open.
Amanda rushed inside, holding her straw hat with one hand while lifting her skirts with the other. "I am terribly sorry, Fanny. As usual, Sophie has made us late. Goodness, but what happened to your hair?"
Instinctively Fanny pressed a palm to her unruly curls. No matter how she brushed and pinned the tresses, they popped loose and circled her face like unfettered coils. "I'm afraid my pacing has undone my grooming." She tried to force the pins back into place while scanning the entryway for some sign of Sophie. Giving up on her hair, Fanny descended the steps and hurried to embrace Amanda.
"And where is Sophie? Still in the carriage?"
"Absolutely not! I finally departed without her. Next time she'll believe me when I say I'm not waiting any longer." Amanda pulled away, removed her hat, and twisted a blond tress around her finger to ensure proper placement.
Fanny smiled at the gesture. Amanda's hair was just like Grand-mère's—the same golden shade and never disheveled in the least. "Exactly where did you leave poor Sophie?"
"Poor Sophie? Don't you dare feel sorry for her. I arrived with the carriage at exactly one-thirty. The time we had both agreed upon, by the way. When she still hadn't gotten into the carriage by two o'clock, I warned her and then departed." Amanda frowned and shook her head. "Some fellow I've never seen before was sitting in the parlor visiting with her when I arrived. Even though he clearly knew of our plans, he made no move to leave. Certainly no gentleman, wouldn't you agree?"
"Well, I. . ."
"When I issued my ultimatum, he grinned and the two of them continued their private conversation. I decided I'd wait no longer. I knew you would be worried about us." Amanda's high cheekbones bore a distinct flush; her usually gentle brown eyes flashed with anger.
"'Tis true I wondered at the lateness of your arrival. In fact, I'd decided to go upstairs for a brief visit with Grandfather, though I wasn't certain he'd be awake." She lowered her voice. "The doctor gives him a great deal of medicine, and he sleeps almost constantly. Hazel and I take turns sitting with him."
Amanda bobbed her head. "Oh, how I've missed you. It seems we've been apart for years instead of months."
"I know. I was thinking the same thing." Fanny's voice was barely audible.
"Why are you whispering?"
Fanny shrugged. "Habit, I suppose. I've become accustomed to keeping my voice low when someone is sick. I guess it's silly."
The girls looped arms and walked into the parlor. "Not so silly. You've been around more sickness and death than most of us."
That fact was certainly true, although Fanny tried not to dwell on it. It just made her all the more lonely to think about what she'd lost in her young life. She couldn't remember her mother, but her father was a different story. Memories of their years together only served to make the loss seem new all over again. She had thought they'd been happy together—that they would always have each other to hold fast to. Remembering him dead only made her loneliness more acute.
After her father's funeral, Fanny hadn't had to make any adjustment to her living arrangements. At her grandmother's insistence, Fanny and her father had been living with Grandmère and Grandfather at Broadmoor Mansion since the day after Winifred's death and Fanny's birth. But once her father had died, there had been subtle changes in her life. People talked about her father in hushed whispers. After all, it was quite unacceptable to take one's life. Fanny felt as though she'd been hidden away from society while the gossip died down. Still, she'd been fortunate, for her grandparents had easily slipped into the role of both legal and emotional guardians of their youngest granddaughter.
But now Grand-mère, too, was gone, and Grandfather seemed destined to follow. Fanny had suffered greatly when the older woman had taken ill and died two years ago. Her grandparents had insisted she remain at finishing school, and there had been no time for final good-byes with Grand-mère. A situation Fanny continued to regret. She'd had no control over that decision or anything else in her life, for that matter. With Grandfather hovering on the brink of death, she now feared losing him, as well. The two of them had become inordinately close throughout the years, but even more so since Grand-mère's death.
Amanda grasped Fanny's hand and pulled her toward the divan. "Now look what I've done with my dreary talk of illness and death. You've turned gloomy. I can see it in your eyes. Do promise you'll cheer up. I want to hear all about what's happened during your final session at Greatbriar. I know you must be delighted to have completed your education at that distant place. I do wish Grandfather would have permitted you to remain at home and attend finishing school here in Rochester."
Still clasping hands, the girls dropped onto the floral upholstered divan. Greatbriar Manor for Young Ladies of Exceptional Quality, located in Montreal, Canada, had been Grand-mère's choice. Her father had never acquiesced, but after his death, Grand-mère had insisted Fanny would love the school. She hadn't.
"He was following Grand-mère's instructions. She thought it best I finish my schooling at Greatbriar, but who knows what will happen now that I've completed my final year. Grand-mère said after my grand tour of Europe, I could consider attending Vassar." Fanny scooted into a corner of the divan. "From what you tell me about Sophie and this young man, it sounds as though she's adjusted."
Amanda cocked an eyebrow. "To her mother's death, you mean?"
Fanny nodded. It seemed all of their conversation this day would center upon the topic of death. "Yes. She appeared terribly downcast when I saw her during the Christmas holidays. She wouldn't even accept my invitation to come and spend time with Grandfather and me. I didn't take offense, of course. I knew she must be missing her mother terribly."
"You are a sweet girl, Fanny, but I don't believe Aunt Marie's death—"
Before Amanda could complete her response, footsteps clattered across the marble floor tiles. "Forevermore, where is everyone? Fanny? Amanda? Doesn't the butler answer the door anymore?"
Fanny jumped to her feet and hurried toward the parlor doorway. "We're in here, Sophie." She touched her index finger to her lips.
"Why am I supposed to be quiet? And where are the servants? No one answered the door when I arrived. Ever since grandfather has taken ill, the servants take advantage. As head housekeeper, you'd think Mrs. O'Malley would issue some reprimands."
"Grandfather is resting, and the servants are attending to their duties." Fanny frowned. "I didn't hear the doorbell."
The girls exchanged a brief embrace before Sophie shrugged and crossed the room. "You were very rude to my guest, Amanda. And I absolutely could not believe my eyes when I saw your carriage departing without me. I should think you'd have acquired better manners while traveling abroad these past six months."
Amanda squared her shoulders. "My manners have always been impeccable, Sophie. If either of us has disregarded proper etiquette, it is you. I arrived at the assigned time and gave you fair warning before I departed. You failed to heed my word."
Their long-awaited reunion was quickly turning into a disastrous affair. Fanny clapped her hands together. "I have a wonderful idea. Why don't we go out and visit in the garden? It will be just like old times, when we were little girls. Besides, I want both of you to see my lilacs."
"No need to go to the garden for that. I saw a vase of your lilacs sitting on the pier table in the front hall when I arrived. Do you like my new dress?" Sophie cast a glance at the billowing leg-of-mutton sleeves that made her waist appear even narrower than the fashionable handspan.
Fanny assessed Sophie's latest purchase and nodded. It certainly wasn't a dress she would have chosen for herself, but it suited her cousin. Intricate dark brown embroidery embellished the entire length of each sleeve and decorated the pale pink yoke before flowing downward into a simple gored skirt. The deep brown embroidered stitches were a near match to Sophie's coffee-colored tresses, and the pale pink shade of the gown emphasized her skin tone to perfection.
Amanda shifted forward and stood. "I think we should go outdoors and enjoy the garden." She ran a finger along the embroidered sleeve of Sophie's dress. "Only last week you were lamenting the fact that Uncle Quincy was pouring all of his funds into helping the homeless. It appears as if you've managed to redirect his thinking. I'm certain you paid a dear price for this dress."
"The price was fair," Sophie defended. "And after a bit of cajoling, Father agreed. How could he refuse? The dress had been custom made for me."
They all three understood that Quincy Broadmoor could have refused to pay for the gown. Likely he'd been overcome by the need to please his daughter, or Sophie had simply worn him down. Fanny suspected the latter was correct. When Sophie wanted something, she wasn't easily deterred. Fanny waved her cousins toward the entrance hall. "Come along. I promise the lilacs I want to show you are different from the ones you've already seen." She tilted her head. "They are like nothing you've ever before observed."
"If you had a hand in raising them, I'm certain they are absolutely gorgeous." Dimples creased Sophie's cheeks, and her brown eyes sparkled as she walked alongside Fanny through the conservatory and into the garden. "I used the services of the same dressmaker to design and sew my gown for the Summer's Eve Ball."
Amanda slowed her step. "Truly? Then you ought not complain in the least about Uncle Quincy being tightfisted with you."
"Easy enough for you to say, Amanda. Unlike Fanny and me, you have a mother who delights in shopping and purchasing the latest fashions for you. You live in elegance and beauty, while our home has been all but stripped of such amenities in order to finance Father's home for the friendless. He only lets us keep a housekeeper because I refuse to do the work and need someone to lace me up in the morning and help me dress."
"Perhaps it wouldn't hurt you to help him with his endeavors," Amanda countered. "At least your father cares about the impoverished."
"I'd rather he care about our place in society, like your father does. Besides, I don't see you down there volunteering your time."
Fanny could barely keep pace with the flying barbs. Where had all this animosity come from? The three of them had always been dear friends. Cousins who shared everything. Even their secrets—at least most of them. Now it seemed each comment was followed either by an angry rebuttal or injured feelings.
"Has your mother completed arrangements for the ball?" Fanny stepped between her cousins, hoping to ease the banter.
Before Amanda could respond, Sophie bent forward and peeked around Fanny. "Personally, I am surprised your mother is hosting the event this year, Amanda. There are other prominent families here in Rochester who could have stepped in to host the event for one year. Did she not consider Grandfather's medical condition?"
Amanda exhaled a loud sigh. "Grandfather specifically requested that the annual ball take place here in Rochester. And he even said he expects the family to depart for Broadmoor Island as scheduled."
"What? But that's impossible." Fanny yanked on Amanda's arm. "Grandfather can't possibly ride a train to Clayton and then take a boat out to the island. He's unable to even come downstairs to eat his meals."
"I don't think he was implying that he would join us, Fanny. Merely that he expected the family to maintain the annual tradition. He promised Grand-mère."
Fanny loosened her hold on Amanda's arm. "I'm eager to return to the island, but—"
Sophie held up a hand and interrupted her cousin. "As far as I know, you're the only one who wants to return."
"You enjoy our summers together at Broadmoor Island." Fanny looked back and forth, waiting for one of her cousins to agree. "You do, don't you?" The Broadmoor family had been summering on their private island located in the heart of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River for as long as Fanny could remember.
"Of course we do, dear girl," Amanda said. "Now, let's go and look at those lilacs you promised to show us."
But instead of her earlier excitement, Fanny's thoughts piled atop one another in a jumble of confusion. All these years she'd believed her cousins had enjoyed the endless summer hours whiled away on their grandparents' private island.
Her grandfather had purchased the island on a whim, an anniversary gift to Grand-mère, because the land was located in close proximity to Brockville, her Canadian home—or so he said. Grand-mère's version of the story differed. She said George Pullman had convinced Grandfather that the seaway islands and small communities of Clayton and Alexandria Bay were destined to become the summer playground of the wealthy, and Grandfather wanted a hand in the matter.
Fanny didn't know which story was correct, but time had proved Mr. Pullman's assessment correct. Each summer the number of vacationers flocking to the hotels and resorts that dotted the seaway increased in number. And each summer the excitement and merriment increased, also—at least that's what Fanny had thought until today.
The three cousins silently marched toward the far end of the garden. The profusion of pale purple, deep lavender, and milky white blooms swayed in the spring breeze and filled the air with their perfume. Unlike the sweet fragrance and silent beauty of the lilacs, their conversation had been a mishmash of fragmented comments and angry retorts. Before her cousins left this afternoon, Fanny hoped they would regain their former unity of spirit.
* * *
Moments after Amanda and Sophie had departed, Fanny raced upstairs. She slowed her pace in the upper hallway and tiptoed to the door of her grandfather's bedroom. Hazel sat near his bedside reading from the newspaper an update on the Cuban war. From what Fanny could hear, the paper reported that Spanish officers stated they were receiving a higher rate of pay than their counterparts in Spain and had declared their willingness to indefinitely remain and fight for Spain on Cuban soil. Silly men! Why would anyone want to go and fight in another country? For that matter, why would anyone want to participate in war at all? Thoughts of dying young men clouded her mind. She was pleased when Hazel folded the paper.
Fanny quietly approached and touched her grandfather's veined hand. "How are you feeling this afternoon?"
His color remained pale, but his eyes were clear. He motioned her toward the chair. "Sit and take Hazel's place. You can read to me."
Hazel handed Fanny the newspaper. "If you're going to be here for a while, I'll go up to the third floor and complete my chores."
"Yes, of course. Take all the time you need." Fanny glanced down the page, hoping to find something to read other than war reports.
"Well, are you going to read?"
Her grandfather had never been a patient man, and his illness hadn't changed that particular trait. "Let's see," she murmured. Tracing her forefinger down the page, Fanny scanned the report of a body being found in the river, the description of a steamer collision, the account of a bank president who had killed himself, and a tale of destruction due to an earthquake in Montana. Was there nothing cheery or uplifting in the news these days? She snapped the pages and refolded the paper.
With an air of authority, she placed the paper on the bedside table and folded her hands in her lap. "Let's visit instead."
Her grandfather cast a longing glance at the paper. He did enjoy his newspaper, but he didn't object. "What shall we talk about? The war in Cuba, perhaps?"
She giggled. "You can save that conversation for Uncle Jonas. Did Hazel tell you that Amanda and Sophie came to visit this afternoon?"
He nodded. "When I asked where you were, she mentioned your cousins were expected."
"If I had known you were awake, we would have all come upstairs for a few minutes."
Wisps of white hair circled his head like a lopsided halo. "I've been awake only a short time. You can tell me all about your visit with the girls. I'll see them the next time they come." A convulsive cough followed the rasping words.
Fanny jumped up and poured water from the cut-glass pitcher sitting on the table near his bedside. She offered the glass. He coughed again and then swallowed a gulp of the liquid. "Better?" She waited until he nodded and then returned the glass. Grandfather was adamant: they were not to make a fuss over his coughing spells. And though it was difficult, Fanny adhered to his wishes. "Let's see. Where shall I begin?"
He grinned at her and winked. "At the beginning."
She and Grandfather had exchanged those same words many times over the years. It had become their own private joke, and she was pleased he remembered. Scooting her chair closer to the side of his bed, she recounted the afternoon's events—at least a goodly portion of them. She didn't mention the barbs that had been exchanged early in the afternoon, for Grandfather didn't need to be bothered with their childish discord. He appeared pleased when Fanny mentioned Sophie's fine appearance and her beautiful gown. "She was absolutely radiant in her pink dress."
Hamilton patted his granddaughter's hand. "I'm pleased to hear Quincy purchased Sophie a new gown. I'd be happier if he'd devote a bit of time to her, though. From what I've been told, Quincy has been spending all of his time and money on the Home for the Friendless, which he's determined to make successful."
His response surprised Fanny. She considered her grandfather a generous man, someone who was willing to aid the less fortunate. Not with his time, of course, but certainly with his money. "You contribute to many charities, Grandfather."
"Of course I do. But Quincy isn't using wise judgment right now. He's allowing his emotions to rule his good sense. Marie kept Quincy on an even keel. Since her death, he seems intent upon forging ahead with these plans for the less fortunate."
"Perhaps it's his way of dealing with his grief. If my father had had such a project, he might still be with us." She frowned and looked away.
"You are right, of course. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause you distress."
"It's just that losing loved ones is so very hard."
"Your grandmother and I always tried to ease your pain."
Fanny nodded. "And you did. I could not have asked for a better home or more love. Still. . ." She let the words trail off.
"Still, it would have been better to have grown up with a mother and father at your side. I know that full well, Fanny dear. We never hoped to replace them in your life but rather to comfort you—ourselves, as well, for we had lost a son most dear."
"Of course. I sometimes forget that," Fanny admitted. She forced a smile. "I'm sure that Uncle Quincy will not succumb to sadness as did my father."
"He needs to think more objectively about the use of his time and energy. He needs to think about business and family." Grandfather turned loose of her hand and rubbed his cheek. "Why am I discussing this with you? Tell me more about your visit with Amanda and Sophie."
"Amanda said you insisted upon Aunt Victoria and Uncle Jonas hosting the annual Summer's Eve Ball and that you expect the family to depart in July for Broadmoor Island in spite of your illness." She leaned forward and pressed closer. "I won't leave you here alone, Grandfather. You know Grand-mère insisted I return to school when she was ill." Her forehead scrunched into a frown, and she wagged her finger. "As much as I love Broadmoor Island, I won't leave you."
Her grandfather brushed an auburn curl from her forehead and smiled. "Never fear. You won't be required to leave me behind, dear Fanny."
A Daughter's Inheritance (The Broadmoor Legacy #1) by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
Copyright © 2008; ISBN 9780764203640
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.