Mr. L.A. Meyer is acknowledged as the creator of the Bloody Jack characters and story.
I walk up the street of tidy and well appointed houses in this fashionable part of Boston. It is a pleasant spring afternoon with the early flowers in full bloom. The last chill winds of the harsh winter seem to have finally gone for another year.
There it is. Number 27. A modest house compared to its grand neighbours, but one clearly belonging to a family who are comfortably off. It is hard to imagine that a successful lawyer and former executive of a shipping line lives here. Such an important person must surely want to live in a larger house than this.
Before me is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Pickering. A couple I thought I'd never meet again. A couple I perhaps shouldn't meet again. Last time it caused trouble and heartache which I, for one, don't wish to repeat.
I don't know what reception I will receive. In truth, I nearly didn't come in response to her letter. It's not too late to go back. Perhaps I should. But then I'll always wonder why she asked me to come.
I walk up the path and knock on the front door. Seconds later I hear footsteps on the tiled floor and the door opens. Before me stands an elderly servant whom I vaguely remember from before. He definitely recognises me and gives me a polite but indifferent look.
"Good afternoon. I believe Mrs. Pickering is expecting me," I say, trying to keep my voice calm and steady.
"Good afternoon, Miss. Please will you follow me to the sitting room. I shall let madam know that you've arrived."
I'm escorted to the well appointed sitting room and invited to sit. I look around the room while I wait . Nothing unusual. A collection of family memorabilia, probably handed down through the generations. A couple of paintings of long dead ancestors. A vase with a pretty collection of spring flowers is the only thing that adds colour and life to this room.
A couple of minutes later a maid enters the room.
"Madam shouldn't be much longer, Miss. May I bring you some tea? Madam always has tea at this time of the afternoon."
"Oh. Yes, thank you."
The maid scurries off. Before she can return, the door opens and in walks the one person in this world I thought would never want to have anything more to do with me.
"Mrs. Pickering," I say as I scramble to my feet and give a polite curtsy. She frowns at my failure to use her first name.
"Amy. Please … And how are you? You seem to have blossomed since we last met. When was it now? Three years ago?"
"Nearly three years, yes. I'm keeping well, thank you."
Actually it was two years, eight months and five days since that fateful day when I was ignominiously banished from Ezra Pickering's life. The day he made his choice and proposed marriage to the woman before me.
Fortunately the maid returns with the tea before we reach the embarrassing stage of not knowing what to say next to each other. Clearly she has no intention of immediately telling me why she asked me to come. Perhaps she is uncertain about whether she's done the right thing.
Our conversation drifts along as we drink tea. We talk about our mutual friends and acquaintances; the current fashions; the weather; the latest news of the war. We talk about many things, all of which serves to put me at ease. The one thing we don't talk about is why I've been asked to come. Until suddenly …
"Do you remember the dance when we graduated from the Lawson Peabody School?" she asks.
How could I forget. Amy and Ezra. Ezra and Amy. The most talked about couple at the dance. Even Mistress Pimm changed her attitude. No longer did she regard Ezra as a bookish young legal advisor, but as a potential match for one of her girls. Miss Amy Trevelyne in particular.
"Was that the first time you realised you were in love with Ezra?" she asks.
What a question! Surely a trap. A wife asking another woman to openly admit love and affection for her husband.
"I don't know if it was love. I've always liked Ezra. But I wouldn't go as far as calling it love," I lie, knowing full well I was an impressionable 17 year old and head over heals in love with Ezra at the time.
"Hmmm. I was. I couldn't get Ezra out of my mind. But I could see I had competition from you."
The maid enters to clear away the tea cups and we halt our conversation for the moment. I take the opportunity to consider what to say and do next.
"Did you make your feelings clear to Ezra?"
"The talk that evening was of Ezra and Amy, not Ezra and someone else. So I don't believe there was any misunderstanding on anyone's part."
"Hmm ... You're probably right."
She walks over towards the fireplace and pulls the cord to summon a servant. The maid who served the tea enters the room.
"Please have another place set for dinner, Lucy." She turns towards me. "Please say you'll stay for dinner. You will, won't you? Ezra will be most disappointed if he misses seeing you. He'll see you safely home afterwards."
Having reached this far in our reunion, I welcome the opportunity to see Ezra again. If only to confirm my belief that I no longer have romantic feelings towards him. Added to which, I still don't know why I've been asked to come.
"Yes, I'd be delighted. Thank you," I reply.