I wasn't going to post this.
I was planning to post, but I've got a roster of what I'm going to post each Friday and I was planning to skip this story. Because it's rather embarrassing.
But, I promised to post things I was proud of when I wrote them and I was more proud of this story than I can say. Which is weird since it only made it to a little over 4,500 words.
But yeah. Looking back now it's very cliche and not very well-written. But I loved this story and the characters- especially Iris Messenger.
So, here you go. All I've got written of Faith (yeah, it's long... sorry...):
Mr. and Mrs. Gare arrived with their ward Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III the day after the funeral. Faith and Mr. Sauve, the mansion’s caretaker, were just sitting down the lunch when Mrs. Pierce announced them.
“What shall I do with them?” she asked.
Mr. Sauve looked at the plate in front of him, heaped with food- turkey sandwiches, potato salad, coleslaw, crisp, green garden salad, and fresh fruit- and sighed. “Show them into the parlor, Mrs. Pierce,” he said, getting up. “Faith, you can go on with lunch.”
Faith looked up from her plate, her green eyes brimming with tears. “Yes, sir,” she sniffed and looked back at her food. Mr. Sauve watched as she slowly picked up her fork and used it to push her food around for a moment. Then she raised it to her mouth and took a small bite. She sniffed again. He left her like that, going across the hall to the parlor.
He had never met the Gares or their young charge before but he took an immediate dislike to them.
Mrs. Gare was a rather plump woman probably in her late forties. She wore a tight, revealing dress, too much makeup and tended to bat her eyelashes. She spoke in flirtatious tones.
“It’s truly a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Sauve,” she said. Bat. Bat.
Her husband, Mr. Gare was a tall, silent man. His nose resembled a bird’s beak and his ears stuck out on the side of his head in a funny way, putting Mr. Sauve in mind of a first grade art project gone wrong. He wore a scowl and only grunted a greeting when introduced.
Lastly, there was Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III, the Gares’ ward and Jay Rothwell-Parker’s heir. He was a boy of twelve, a little on the stout and pudgy side, with blue eyes and golden hair. When he spoke his voice squeaked.
“Hello,” he said good-naturedly.
“If you don’t mind,” Mrs. Gare said once the introductions were made, “we’ve had a very long trip and would be most appreciative of a small repast.”
“Of course,” Mr. Sauve said.
“And if it’s not too much trouble would you have a maid make us up some rooms?”
After instructing Mrs. Pierce to see to the rooms, Mr. Sauve led the group to the dining room. Faith wasn’t there so after looking longing at his plate for a moment he left the others and went to find her. He looked in all the usual places- the library, her bedroom, the kitchen, the schoolroom, the back veranda, the gazebo, the garden shed, the summer kitchen, the stables, the rose garden, the rock garden, the Italian statue garden, the goldfish pond, her favorite tree on the edge of the estate- before he finally thought to look in the attic. He found her sleeping in an old armchair in the far corner. He decided not to disturb her, she was going through a lot and needed the rest, but determined to talk to her later about finding the will. He descended the stairs slowly, not just because he was getting on in years but because his heart was heavy. He felt as if Faith was carrying the weight of the world and he couldn’t help carrying it with her.
Jay Rothwell-Parker brought Faith home with him when he returned from a business trip in Boston. No one knew who she was or why he had brought her; Jay was never one to give many details. His answers remained vague so everyone eventually stopped asking. Faith was only five at the time and the staff at the Rothwell-Parker mansion realized that it didn’t matter who she was. She was like every other child in that she needed to be loved.
She called her new guardian Uncle Jay but everyone was pretty sure she was no relation to the man. As far as was known he had no relatives except for a young cousin, Mr. Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III and his whereabouts remained unknown for a long time. When his parents died in an accident, young Theodore simply vanished from the face of the earth. Rumors naturally flew around, some stating that he too had perished in the accident, other that he was hiding from a murderous relative who sought to kill him for his fortune. Eventually everyone lost interest, though, and the matter was dropped shortly after.
Jay had never, to anyone’s knowledge, written a will. Mr. Sauve tried to discuss it with his employer before but Jay never liked to talk about death. “It will come when it comes,” he liked to say.
Come it did, on a day that dawned just as beautiful as the rest. Faith often looked back on that day and said it was as if the sky knew what was going to happen and was mocking it. The sky might have known but Jay certainly didn’t. He didn’t know something was wrong with his brakes or he would have driven the carriage. He didn’t know there was a parade in town that day or he would have gone another way. And he certainly didn’t know his car would hit one of the floats and kill him or he would have stayed home.
But he didn’t stay home, and he didn’t drive the carriage, and he didn’t find another way to go, and he did die, leaving Faith feeling betrayed. He had taken her in, loved her, caused her to love him, and then left abandoned her. As his closest relative, everything went to Theodore Rothwell-Parker III, who to everyone’s surprise was very much alive, and Faith was left with nothing but fading memories. She didn’t want his fortune, on the contrary she couldn’t care less about it, but Jay could have at least taken the few minutes to write a will that specified who her new guardian was to be. He didn’t and she felt hurt, lost, alone, unloved, uncared about, and abandoned, like a stray kitten no one knows what to do with. In short, he broke her heart.
Faith met the mansion’s new residences at supper that night and, like Mr. Sauve, she took and immediate dislike to the Gares. The feeling appeared to be mutual.
“You staying long, honey?” Mrs. Gare asked as they sat down to eat.
“Yup,” Faith said. “Mr. Sauve’s my new guardian.”
Mrs. Gare looked at the mansion’s caretaker. “Are you sure your income is sufficient enough to support two people?”
“Quite sure,” Mr. Sauve replied cheerfully.
“I think it will be nice to have someone my own age around,” Theodore put in.
“Now, Theodore,” Mrs. Gare admonished, “we really can’t have you playing with the servants’ children. What will people say?” Mr. Gare grunted in agreement.
“Mr. Sauve’s hardly a servant,” Theodore argued. “And Faith was my cousin’s ward. That practically makes her a relative.” Mr. Sauve decided that maybe the young heir wasn’t so bad after all.
“Well, I don’t like the idea,” Mrs. Gare said, “but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it.” She looked at Faith sternly, “You’ll have to move your things out of the family’s quarters. I’m afraid you just can’t stay there.”
“I know,” Faith said. “I’m packing now so I’ll be moved into Mr. Sauve’s apartment by next week.”
“Why so long?”
“I have to go through a lot of my own things, besides having a lot of things that didn’t really belong to me. They belonged to the family and Uncle Jay loaned them to me so I have to put those things away.”
“I don’t think I much like the idea of you poking around our home by yourself,” Mrs. Gare told her. “I’ll just have to help you.”
Faith’s eyes grew wide. It was bad enough getting kicked out of her room. But to have to Mrs. Gare looking over her shoulder every moment while she worked was too much. Theodore came to her rescue.
“Can’t I help her instead, Mrs. Gare?” he asked.
“I don’t think so, Theodore,” his guardian said.
“Please,” he begged.
“It will keep me out from underfoot while you get us settled,” he pointed out.
Mrs. Gare thought about it for a moment. “All right, Theodore,” she said finally. “But be careful.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Theodore smiled at Faith. “When do we start?”
Faith thought. “After breakfast?”
“All right, after breakfast.”
Faith was the last one out of the dining room. Mr. Sauve stopped her before she went up stairs.
“Be careful, Faith,” he warned her. “Young Theodore might be nice now but if he knows you’re looking for a will that will cause him to lose everything he’ll show different colors.”
“Okay,” Faith said.
“I want to talk to you about the will-”
“There isn’t one.”
“I think there is,” Mr. Sauve said. “Mr. Rothwell-Parker loved you and I know he would have made sure you were provided for.”
“Maybe he wanted his fortune to go to a blood relation,” faith suggested.
“You meant more to him than any blood relation ever could.”
“If you say so. What am I supposed to do?”
“Keep an eye out while you’re going through things. You never know where someone like Mr. Rothwell-Parker would think to hide his will. He always was an eccentric one.”
“It comes with being rich,” Faith said.
He put his arm around her shoulder. “Try to get some sleep tonight. You’re not looking too well.”
“I know, I’m just wasting away,” she joked.
“Seriously,” Mr. Sauve said, “I’m worried about you.”
“Don’t be,” Faith said. “I can take care of myself.”
Faith took Theodore up to her room immediately after breakfast the next morning. There were papers and books covering the floor. Theodore gasped at the sight of it.
“How can you live like this?” he asked.
“Actually, I can’t,” Faith said. “I hate it but I decided to go through my papers and there were a lot more than I thought.”
Theodore stepped gingerly into the room, careful not to step on anything, and plopped down on Faith’s bed, bouncing a little. “So, what can I help you with?”
“I don’t actually need help,” Faith said as she started sorting some of the papers. “Mrs. Gare just wanted someone to keep an eye on me. I guess to make sure I don’t steal anything.”
“She told me you were looking for a will.”
Faith’s head shot up. She quickly looked back at her work. “I don’t think Uncle Jay wrote a will.”
“That’s not what Mrs. Gare said,” Theodore said. “She said rich people always write wills”
Faith laughed. “There’s no will. It’s just Mrs. Gare’s imagination.”
“Oh,” Theodore said. “Okay.” He watched her work for a while noticing her eyes were filling with tears. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” she said. “This is just an emotional time for me.”
“I’m sorry, Faith,” Theodore said. “I really don’t want to take everything away from you.”
Faith clenched her teeth and tried not to cry. “It’s got nothing to do with this house, or the money, or anything like that. I want Uncle Jay back.”
“I think I can understand how you feel. I don’t remember my parents but I miss them every day. I can imagine it must hurt infinitely more to lose someone you know and love.”
“You know, I never missed my parents,” Faith said. “I was so young when I came to live with Uncle Jay I don’t remember them. I didn’t even think about them. But ever since Uncle Jay died I’ve been thinking about them more. I find myself missing them more everyday.”
“Do you know who they were?”
“No. I don’t think anyone but Uncle Jay did.” She wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m too emotional.”
“No, you’re not,” Theodore objected. Faith didn’t say anything and he wisely let the matter drop.
Iris Messenger came over after lunch. The Messengers lived next door to the Rothwell-Parker mansion and Iris had been Faith’s best friend for as long as they could both remember. That’s why when she arrived Iris didn’t wait in the parlor like most guests but went straight up to Faith’s room.
“Faithie,” she said as she opened the door. Faith dropped her papers and jumped to embrace her friend.
“Iris,” she cried. “I wondered when you were going to come.”
“Mama said it wasn’t polite to call the day after a funeral,” Iris explained. “I told her this wasn’t exactly a social call but she insisted I wait.”
Faith squeezed her friend tighter. “I knew you’d come.”
Iris squeezed her back. “I thought you’d need me.”
Theodore, who had been sitting on Faith’s bed watching the scene, feeling very uncomfortable, stood up. “I think I’ll go check on something,” he said, going to the door.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Theodore. Iris, this is Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III. Theodore, this is my very best friend, Iris Messenger.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Iris said.
“Thanks,” Theodore said. “Nice to meet you too. If you’ll excuse me I’ll go see about that thing.”
“What thing?” Faith asked.
Theodore blushed. “I thought you two might want to be alone. I’ll go find something else to do.”
“Oh,” Faith said, understanding. “Thanks, Theodore.”
“Who’s he?” Iris asked once he’d left.
“Uncle Jay’s heir.”
Iris scowled at the closed door. “What was he doing in here? Eyeing up your room for when it’s his house?”
“He’s not like that,” Faith said. “He’s actually very nice.”
“If you say so,” Iris said. “How are you doing?”
That did it. For the past four days Faith had been trying not to cry but the moment she heard her friend inquire about her with such concern Faith began to sob uncontrollably. Iris embraced her again. Neither girl said a word for almost an hour. They just stood there, Iris holding Faith while the girl cried her heart out, until Faith started hiccupping. Both girls started giggling. Faith sounded so funny giggling and hiccupping at the same time that it caused the girls to giggle more.
“I’m so hic glad you came,” Faith said wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “I hic really needed that.”
“Anytime,” Iris said.
“Thanks hic Iris. You’re a real hic pal.”
Iris’ reply was cut off by a knock at the door.
“Entrée,” Iris called. The knocking continued. “Come in,” she tried. Theodore stuck his head in the room.
“It’s time to eat,” he said.
“Okay,” Faith said. “We’ll hic be down in a hic moment.
“Are you okay, Faith?”
“I’m hic fine.”
“Okay. What was that you called before you told me to come in?”
“Entrée,” Faith said with a laugh. “It hic means entry in French. Hic Iris was trying out her hic new vocabulary.”
“Oh,” Theodore said.
Faith laughed again. “Thanks hic for letting us know hic about the food. Hic I’ll be right down.”
Theodore nodded and left.
“I guess that’s my cue to go home,” Iris said.
“Will you hic come back and hic send the night with me?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Iris said. “You really need some help with this room.”
“I hic know. See if you can hic stay longer.”
“Okay.” Iris hugged her friend. “I’ll be back around eight.”
Faith returned the hug. “I’ll be here.”
Iris did return at eight with permission to spend the next five nights with her friend. Mrs. Gare objected but Mr. Sauve gently pointed out that the Rothwell-Parker mansion didn’t belong to Theodore yet.
“There are still a few legal matters to be settled,” he said. Mrs. Gare “humphed.”
Iris smiled. “Thank you Mrs. Gare,” she said politely, the perfect lady, as always. Faith tried to hide her smile. Iris grabbed her hand. “Good night everyone,” she said.
“Yes, good night,” Faith said and the two girls retreated to Faith’s room.
Iris dropped across Faith’s bed. “Whew,” she said. “That is the sourest faced woman I’ve ever met.”
Faith joined her. “I concur.”
“And I’m the one showing off my vocabulary,” Iris said.
Faith grabbed Iris’ hand. “How’d you get your mother to let you stay?”
“Daddy said he thought it would be good for you so he pleaded my cause.”
“You have such a nice father.”
“I know,” Iris said with an exaggerated sigh. “I just don’t deserve him.”
Faith laughed. “Honestly, Faithie,” Iris said growing solemn, “how are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” Faith replied determined not to cry. “You know how when you burn your finger it really hurts for a while then it suddenly stops and you can’t feel anything? It just goes numb? It’s like that except it’s not my finger it’s my heart.”
“Oh, Faithie, I’m sorry.”
“What are you supposed to do when your heart breaks?” Faith asked crying now.
“Well,” Iris said sagely, “when your heart is in a million pieces only God can put it back together correctly. He can only do that though if you give him the pieces.”
“I don’t know if I can do that.”
“I just don’t know how.”
“Just tell him it’s his. Keep telling him, over and over, until you’re finally ready for it to really be his.”
“Okay,” Faith said. “God, you know how I feel about Uncle Jay’s death and you know how much it broke my heart. I want it to be whole again so please take the pieces and put them back together again. Amen. I don’t feel any different.”
“Keep it up. These things take time.”
The girls fell silent. For a long time they laid there holding hands until they both fell asleep.
The girls woke with the sun that morning and after quickly changing out of yesterday’s dresses they slipped outside. It was a beautiful May morning, just a little bit chilly but the promise of warming up hung in the air.
“Where are we headed?” Iris asked.
“I don’t care,” Faith said. “I just don’t want to be cooped up in that house anymore.”
“Well, come on then,” Iris said running off toward the shrub garden, Faith followed.
“You’re it,” she said when she caught up to Iris and tagged her. Iris ran after her and they chased each other around the estate for an hour.
“Watch out for that rock,” Faith called as she ran past the goldfish pond, jumping over the aforementioned rock. Iris didn’t register what she’d said until it was too late. She tripped and went splashing into the pond.
“Are you okay, Iris?” Faith asked as she went to the edge of the pond.
Iris laughed. “I can not believe I just did that,” she said. Faith couldn’t help joining her in laughter.
“You’d better get inside and change or those wet clothes will make you sick.”
“I think I’d rather get sick than yelled at by Mrs. Gare for tracking water all over.”
“You’re right. Wait in the garden shed and I’ll get you some dry things.”
“You mean change in the shed? How uncouth.” Iris smiled. “I like it.”
“I’ll be right back,” Faith said still laughing. She crept quietly towards the house and peeked in the dining room windows. Good. Everyone was at breakfast. She slipped through the front door. In her room she grabbed Iris a change of clothes and the towels from the wash stand. Then she darted back outside to the shed.
“Iris,” she called softly as she knocked on the door. “It’s me.”
Iris opened the door and took the things. “I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she said through the closed door. “I’ve been thinking. Mr. Jay must have left a will. He had to.”
“That’s what Mr. Sauve says.”
“Are you looking for it?”
“I haven’t had a chance because I’ve been so busy cleaning my room. I’ve also got Theodore breathing down my neck every second. That makes it rather hard.”
“Yes,” Iris said. “I can see why that would produce a problem. We’ll have to be careful.”
“I agree,” Faith said. Her sharp ears picked up a sound. “Shhh. Someone’s coming.”
As if on cue, Theodore came around the corner at that moment. “Hello,” he said. “What are you doing?”
“Iris is changing,” Faith said moving to stand in front of the door.
“In the tool shed?”
“She fell in the pond,” Faith explained. “What are you doing? I thought everyone was eating breakfast.”
“We just finished,” Theodore told her. “I didn’t think you were up yet so I decided to take a walk. Then I heard you guys talking.”
“Did you hear what we were saying?” Faith asked.
“You mean about the will? Yeah, I heard.”
Theodore put his hand on Faith’s arm. “When Mr. and Mrs. Gare told me about the inheritance I was excited. I thought it would be easy. But that was before I met you. Faith, I can’t take your inheritance. You rightfully deserve it. I’m going to confess to Mr. Sauve today.”
Theodore took a deep breath. “I’m not Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III.”
Faith didn’t say a word; she just stared at him in disbelief. Iris had finished changing and started to open door, hitting Faith, who was still standing in front of it, in the back. She’d been unable to hear what had past while she was inside. She took one look at her friend’s shocked expression and glared at Theodore.
“I think she’s in shock,” he explained.
“What did you do to her?” Iris demanded.
“Nothing. I just confessed,” he said. “I’m not really Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III.”
“You’re joking,” Iris said.
“If you’re not Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III then who are you?” Faith asked finding her voice.
“My real name is Edward Noach,” Theodore- Edward- told them. “I’m an orphan. Mr. and Mrs. Gare aren’t Mr. and Mrs. Gare at all they’re really Mr. and Mrs. Salk. They came to me last week and asked me to pose as Theodore. They told me the real heir was dead so I didn’t see who I’d be hurting. I agreed.”
“Then why are you confessing now?” Iris asked unconvinced. “In a week you’d have had everything made.”
“Because I see now who I’d be hurting. I’d have to see Faith everyday for the rest of my life and know I’d taken what was rightfully hers. I’m sorry I deceived you. I’ll go confess to Mr. Sauve and let you get back to your search. I hope you find the will.” He turned to leave.
“Wait,” Faith called. He turned back to them. “If you’re an orphan then where would you go if you left?”
Theodore- Edward- shrugged. “Not back to that orphanage, that’s for sure.”
“Then why don’t you just stay here?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Faith said, “if you confess that’ll get rid of the Gares, or whatever you said their name was, and I’ll get the inheritance. So you can just stay here.”
“Why?” Edward asked suspiciously.
“Because I like you,” Faith told him. “What do you say?”
“What are you driving at?”
“If you stick around while we look for the will then I’ll split the inheritance with you. If we find the will then I claim it and if we don’t find the will than you claim it.”
“What about the Gares?” Iris asked.
“I’ll think of something,” Faith said. “Is it a deal?”
Edward thought about it. He nodded. “Deal.” They shook on it.
“You’ll have to remain Theodore for the time being,” Faith said. “Even in private. I’d hate to slip up and call you Edward by accident in front of the adults.”
“Okay,” Edward- Theodore- said. “I can do that. When do we start looking for the will?”
Mr. Sauve noticed the difference at lunch. The three children came in together and all of them- including Faith- were laughing. The sight was bittersweet. It was good to see Faith smile but he knew that if they found the will Theodore would have to leave and Faith would once again lose someone. He was going to have to stop it before it went too far.
“My dear,” Mrs. Gare said to Faith, “you really can’t keep up this practice of skipping breakfast. It’s setting a bad example for Theodore. He’s wasting away as it is.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Faith said. She looked over at Theodore and Iris and the three exchanged smiles.
Mrs. Gare noticed. “Would one of you like to tell me what’s going on?” she asked.
It was on the tip of Faith tongue to tell her no when Iris spoke up. “It’s just that we’re impressed with your concern for poor Theodore. It’s so nice that he has someone to look after him now that his parents are gone.”
Mrs. Gare smiled. “Thank you, dear,” she said.
“Speaking of which,” Mr. Sauve said, “I’ve been meaning to ask you, Mrs. Gare, if you have legal documentation proving you are indeed young Theodore’s guardian?”
The look the children shared was very different than the one they had shared just moments ago. This conversation was going in the wrong direction. Once again Iris came to the rescue. Very innocently she reached for the muffin plate in front of her, spilling her water glass in the process.
“Oh,” she exclaimed jumping up. She used her napkin to mop up the mess. Theodore grabbed his napkin and helped her. Everyone was distracted and the conversation never went back to Mr. Sauve’s question.
“Faith, could I talk to you?” Mr. Sauve stopped her as the children started to leave the dining room.
“Sure,” the girl said. “You two can go on up to my room,” she told her friends.
“Faith, I feel like you’re hiding something,” Mr. Sauve said once they were alone.
Faith’s mouth dropped open. “Hiding something?” she said, clearly shocked. “W-why would I do that?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
Faith swallowed. “Is it something I’ve done?” she asked.
“Sort of,” the estate’s caretaker said. “You seem to be coming very close with young Theodore. I couldn’t help noticing the smile you exchanged at lunch. And then it appeared you didn’t me talking to Mrs. Gare about him.”
“What do you mean?” Faith asked innocently. “Iris is the one who spilled her water and I’m sure it was an accident.”
“Are you now?”
Faith nodded. “I’m sure. And about Theodore, we’re just making the most of the situation that was forced upon us.”
“Okay, I believe you. Remember, Faith, I’m trusting you to be responsible. Don’t let me down.”
Faith swallowed hard again. “Yes, Mr. Sauve.”
Mr. Sauve nodded and Faith took it that she was dismissed. She lost no time retreating to her room.
“We have to hurry up and find that will,” Faith exclaimed as she burst into her room. “I told Mr. Sauve he could trust me and I don’t want him to think otherwise. Besides,” she bit her lip, “I think it’s probably illegal for you to claim the inheritance, Theodore, since you’re not really Theodore.”
Theodore stared at her. “Yeah,” he said. “Didn’t you know that?”
“Theodore Maximilian Rothwell-Parker III, do you mean to say you were going to involve me in criminal activity?” Faith exclaimed.
“You’re the one who suggested it,” Theodore defended himself.
“Still, you might have said something.”
“This really isn’t solving anything,” Iris said. “We need to find the will.”
“Right,” Faith said, “where do we start?”
So there you have it!! If you made it that far, congrats! I appreciate the time you took to read through it!
Let me know what you think of what I'm doing here on Fridays. Do you like reading my old writing? Or are you going to avoid Ivory Palace at all costs on Fridays this summer?
For better for for worse, next week there'll be more writing from the past. Hope you'll stop back for it.
In the meantime, there'll be another post about heroines on Monday, so be sure to stop back for that. See you all on Monday!