Summary: Mandie Shaw's uncle and Alex's father, John Shaw nearly breaks up the family to keep a promise he made years ago. When he forbids the girls to go, the Shaw cousins and Mandie's new-found mother, Elizabeth Taft, take matters into their own hands.
A/N: Hi, everybody. Now is the time for this story that I promised last spring, dealing with the new Mandie movie and Mandie's kid cousin, Alex. I found the movie on Saturday, watched it, and got ideas on how I want to go with this.
Chapter 1- Meeting Elizabeth and Teatime
Alex Shaw followed her father, cousin, Elizabeth Taft, and Ned into her father's mansion. Except for her father holding her small hand, she felt lost and wistful as she saw Mandie hugging her mother.
She wondered how Elizabeth could even be alive. Ned had said that Elizabeth had died in childbirth as Alex's mother had done. Watching Mandie hug her made her long for her own mother, but it was too late for that now.
"Aunt Lou, hurry down here!" Alex heard Liza, one of her father's servants, as they entered the parlor. Having a servant was still an oddity as Mandie and Alex weren't used to it, but sometimes, especially in Liza's case, it could be fun.
"Oh my gracious sakes alive! My sweet child!" Aunt Lou exclaimed. They all turned to face the housekeeper, who hugged Elizabeth tightly. "Praise the Good Lord! Land sakes! But what took you so long?"
"May we offer you some refreshment?" Liza asked before Elizabeth could answer.
"Well, hot tea will be lovely. Peach," Elizabeth said in a soft, cultured, southern voice.
"I'm afraid we don't drink that anymore," John said, looking slightly perturbed.
"Father, we don't?" Alex spoke up beside him. Her father looked down at her with a bitter expression on his face.
"I do, Miss Alex. I never stopped," Aunt Lou said smugly. John looked really put out as he sighed deeply.
"Coming right up," Liza said as she and Aunt Lou left. Elizabeth turned and looked at Mandie with love and awe.
"My little Amanda. My baby girl grew up with out me," Elizabeth said sadly as she stroked Mandie's face and hair.
"Not entirely," Mandie said with a grin. Elizabeth hugged her again and Ned stepped up to John and Alex.
"I bring news," Ned said. John released Alex's hand and turned to be stopped by Mandie. Mandie grabbed both his and Alex's hands and pulled them and Ned into a hug.
Elizabeth then noticed Alex. "Who's this?" Elizabeth asked.
"Elizabeth, this is my daughter, Alexandra," John said, smiling faintly at Alex.
"Hello, Miss Taft," Alex said, feeling her face turning red to the roots of her dark reddish hair. She hated meeting new people. Especially people who could take her cousin from her and her father.
"Who was her mother?" Elizabeth asked, looking into Alex's eyes and then up at John.
"Laura Bernson," John said.
"Laura Bern- My friend, Laura Bernson? You married Laura Bernson?" Elizabeth asked.
"You knew my Mother?" Alex asked, feeling tears come to her eyes.
"I did indeed. I went to school with her. I must be dim-witted for not seeing it. You look like your father, but I can see your Mother if I look hard enough. She was quiet and studious. I never saw her without a book," Elizabeth said, stroking Alex's hair.
"You never see Alex without one either. You wouldn't believe how much she can read. I think she's read every book in the place in the two or three weeks she's been here," Mandie said teasingly.
"Not every book, Cousin. Just be glad I know how to read. Actually I would like to learn how to read in Cherokee since it's a part of me too," Alex said.
"Alexandra," John said warningly.
"I'm not ashamed of my Indian blood, Father. I'll learn it. I may be slow in history, but learning the language can't be that difficult, I hope," Alex said, not sounding all that convincing to herself.
"Tea's ready," Aunt Lou said cheerily as she and Liza came back into the parlor. Aunt Lou appeared happy that Elizabeth was back. It was going to be proven in a few minutes that she was also an incurable matchmaker as well.
John didn't know about Alexandra learning the Cherokee language. He had no problems with her being proud of her Indian blood, but she wasn't going to be accepted in the White world if she became a Cherokee overnight.
John felt Ned's hand on his arm and he motioned him aside. John shook his head, indicating they'd talk later. Elizabeth sat down in the dining room. Aunt Lou looked at him and motioned to the chair next to Elizabeth.
John should have known Aunt Lou would play matchmaker. She had done it 14 years before when he had been in love with Elizabeth and before she had noticed Jim. John felt like rolling his eyes, like his daughter did often.
He sat down, facing his daughter and niece. "Where did you come from?" Mandie asked as Liza poured the peach tea for her and Alexandra.
"Asheville. The home of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Taft, my Mother, your Grandmother Taft," Elizabeth said, putting down her teacup.
Mandie looked confused as she looked at Alexandra and then back at Elizabeth. "The Grandmother Taft who broke up your marriage and told you I died being born and separated us at birth. And told Daddy you were dead. That Grandmother Taft is who you live with?" Mandie asked, an angry look in her brown eyes.
"Not anymore. She said that if I left in search of you to never return, so I'm quite homeless," Elizabeth said, with a laugh.
John looked at her in surprise. Mrs. Taft would kick her out because Elizabeth wanted to find her daughter? She was that angry and hated Mandie's Indian blood that much? "A little heartless!" Alexandra said, repeating his sentiments as she stirred her tea with a spoon.
"Stuffin' nonsense. You can come live with us as long as you want," Aunt Lou said. John looked at the housekeeper, willing her to be quiet.
"What kind of mother banishes her child from her home?" Mandie asked sadly, shaking her head.
"A very sad one. She's also been talking to Alexandra's grandparents. Their attitude towards Indians hasn't changed," Elizabeth said, looking at Alexandra.
"Don't you mean she's cruel or heartless?" Mandie asked. Elizabeth shook her head.
"Why do you live with her, Miss Taft?" Alexandra asked.
"I'm all she has. Had, Alexandra," Elizabeth corrected herself.
"I'm sure once she sees Mandie she'll take you both back," John said quickly. He felt a sharp pain in his shin and looked at Alexandra. She was glaring at him, her dark brown eyes shooting sparks.
"She's not going to see me," Mandie said dejectedly.
"She will. If you choose to live with your mother," John said, taking on a pointed tone to Alexandra. It didn't take much to realize that she was the one who had kicked him. While he loved having her back, he didn't appreciate that she would show a lack of respect. Playing a good-natured prank was one thing, kicking him was another.
Mandie looked thoughtful. "What do you think, Cousin Alex? Mandie asked Alex.
"I don't know, Mandie. All I can say is what my brother, Marcus, used to say; go into this with your heart, if you go into it at all," Alexandra said, taking a sip of tea and making a face. Alexandra wasn't a tea drinker, but she usually forced down a cup whenever they had tea.
"Marcus must have been the thinker among the Rocklins," Mandie said. Alexandra's eyes watered slightly and she played with the gold filigree handle on her teacup.
"Yeh, in the annoying older brother way. Why is it that brothers who are 15 years older think they know everything?" Alexandra asked, apparently forgetting that her father was 15 years older than her uncle.
"Daddy used to say that brothers cause a ruckus and that's all they do. I asked once if he and Etta would give me one and he said no," Mandie said as she finished her tea.
"Well, considering how Etta treated you AFTER Uncle Jim died I can't blame him for saying no. Would you want a brother or sister to look like Etta Shaw?" Alexandra asked with a shudder.
"Now that you mention it, no. I guess I just better be satisfied with you as my cousin," Mandie said with a smile.
"Well, if y'all are done, why don't we go outside and we can play croquet," Aunt Lou suggested, changing the subject.
"Aunt Lou, I don't know how to play croquet," Alexandra said.
"I don't either," Mandie said.
"Well, I think we need to educate these two in the fine arts of playing croquet. You coming, John, Ned?" Elizabeth asked as they stood.
"Of course. I'll join you in a minute. I just need to talk to my daughter for a minute," John said sternly, fixing Alexandra with a glare. Alexandra grimaced slightly as Aunt Lou, Ned, Mandie, and Elizabeth left the dining room.