The Good Queen
Catherine had decided that it would be fun to have a little New Year's celebration for everyone. She could tell that although they had all been trying to keep the kids busy, they were feeling a little down without their parents, even Butch and Hal who felt that they needed the honeymoon.
Only Trelawney seemed happy that they were gone. She understood their need to be alone better than any of the others. Once Emmeline had convinced her that they would come home to her safely, she had cheered up considerably. She even put down her books occasionally to play with Francine or Prudence. She was glad that she was becoming more sociable again.
School would restart the day after New Year's and once they started their activities again, no doubt the time would fly for them all. She hoped that Hal and Phoebe were enjoying themselves, but she wasn't worried. She knew that they had both been looking forward to the time alone.
She thought back to her own honeymoon and how special the time had been with her husband. It was the first time that they had really had time talk with one another and get to know each other. She was disturbed by the fact that there were so many things about Phoebe and her family that Hal didn't even know. Of course it was difficult to tell what he knew. His loyalty towards his wife ran deep and she knew that he would keep any confidences that she entrusted to him.
All three of the Figalilly girls seemed highly intuitive and able to read the thoughts of others. It was ironic because they never claimed to. Aunt Henrietta made the claim but so far she did not seem to be very good at it. She had made a few lucky guesses, but that was about it. Catherine suspected however, that Emmeline did not really know as much about Hal and Phoebe's relationship as she thought that she did.
She had not watched their relationship as it had grown closer over the past three months. She knew that her son had never been very good at reading other people, but he understood his young wife very well. The fact that he had come to the conclusion all by himself that he needed to change his work habits and spend more time with her was a huge leap forward. Her trust in him was implicit. He had seen her through some very dark days. If Hal wanted to know something about her or her past, she had no doubt that she would tell him.
Of course right now Hal was entirely focused on their future. She knew that although he didn't say it, he was looking forward to the day when they had their own child. He might tease her and he might claim that it was his "wedding gift" to her, but she knew her son. He loved all of his children and creating a new life with Phoebe for them both to nurture and love was very important to him.
Between her conversations with Pastor Jason and Emmeline, she was convinced that her own intuition that Phoebe was with child already was on target. She also believed that the child was the girl that Phoebe wanted. That Trelawney probably also knew did not surprise her anymore. Nothing about that child surprised her anymore.
New Year's Eve was the last time that they would all be together. She was really grateful that school was starting up again and the children would no longer have to be entertained. As always, Ben and Bob had to get into mischief. In order to have a more "thrilling" New Year's, they had gotten their hands on some fireworks. Bob had told them not to worry.
"Come on, Mother," he cajoled, as if he were thirteen-years-old himself. "We just have some sparklers, a few firecrackers, and a couple of Roman candles."
She had relented, but realized once they got started that they had a whole lot more than that. Needless to say, Butch and Hal were thrilled. Prudence didn't like the noise and Trelawney just rolled her eyes. However, it was not their reaction that was the problem.
Mrs. Fowler came over in a tizzy, worried because her dog Fifi was so upset that she needed a tranquilizer. It did no good to tell her that Waldo was presently hiding in the basement. Telling her sons that had the opposite effect of what she hoped for. They began to gleefully set off more.
The next visitor that they had was the old family friend Officer Hadley, who wrote Ben and Bob each a citation for disturbing the peace and confiscated the fireworks.
"Come on, Officer," said Ben. "It's New Year's. Why do you have to be such a party pooper?"
"Well, sir," he said politely. "This isn't exactly the safest place to be setting off explosives. It would have been better if you had gotten a permit and taken the kids to the park. You realize that you could have set something on fire in the neighborhood."
The boys had gotten their old guilty expressions on their faces that Catherine had not seen since they were teenagers. She knew that they were embarrassed because they were being scolded in front of Emmeline, but she didn't care. She had turned her attention to the good officer. Trelawney had greeted him cheerfully when he walked in the door as her "gallant knight."
"Good evening, officer. I am Emmeline Figalilly, Trelawney's cousin," she had said, charmingly extending her hand. "I would like to thank you for the part you played in helping Phoebe and Trelawney last year when the child was lost."
Officer Hadley had turned a little pink and mumbled something about it all being in the line of duty.
"Oh, but I know that you showed extra dedication by refusing to go off shift," corrected the young woman. "We are most grateful for your efforts."
Officer Hadley nodded that it was a pleasure and beat a hasty retreat after the summons were written. Catherine was amused by the discomfort of her sons. She suspected that Emmeline was, in her own way, toying with them, not so much their emotions, but their egos. She was a beautiful woman who knew that she was a beautiful woman and was no doubt very skilled at fending off unwanted attentions.
Ben and Bob were used to impressing women with their money and influence. Like their younger brother, they were also very good looking. But they had never had developed any serious relationships with the women they dated. It was nice to see them get a taste of their own medicine.
However by the end of the evening, it appeared that all three of them were engaging in a little light flirtation. Catherine thought that they must all be pretty bored with all of this "family time" where the kids were the focus of their attention. There was no doubt that all three would be happily returning to their single lifestyles in a couple of days.
The Wee Fairy Again
Prudence thought that New Year's Eve was lots of fun with the family all around. Usually it was not a very big deal. They got to stay up until nine o'clock to watch the ball drop in New York City when it was midnight there last year. Dad was doing work in his study but Mommy, who was Nanny back then, had let them watch it. She wouldn't let them stay up until midnight though. She said that they would fall asleep anyway. Hal and Butch said that they stayed awake in their room, but Prudence didn't believe them.
This year, in addition to Grammy and Grampie, they had Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben, and Cousin Emmeline. Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben were acting real funny around Cousin Emmeline. Sometimes they both tried to talk to her at the same time. And when she helped Grammy in the kitchen, they always wanted to help. Trelawney thought that it was very funny.
"They picked the wrong Figalilly girl to try and impress," she told Prudence and her brothers. "Em has always had lots of boyfriends but she never takes them seriously. She plays with them like toys and then drops them when she gets bored."
"That's not very nice!" said Hal.
Trelawney laughed. "Most of her boyfriends don't have very nice intentions where she is concerned either. She's so pretty, you know? If there was any man that really cared about her, I'm sure that she would give him a proper chance."
"Are you saying that Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben don't have nice intentions?" asked Butch.
"I didn't have to say it," replied the girl, grinning. "Aunt Henrietta said it for us the minute she met them. She does get it right sometimes."
"Is that what she meant by impolite thoughts?" asked Butch.
"What else could she have meant?"
"Well, I thought that she meant that they were just being rude. Now it makes sense," he explained. "I thought that she was getting things wrong the way she always does. Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben have been acting real polite to her ever since they met her."
"And how," said Hal. "But do we have to talk about this?"
Prudence knew that Hal didn't like it when they talked about Mommy and Daddy being in love and trying to make a baby. Now she could see that he didn't like it when they just talked about men and women and how they acted when they were together. She didn't see what the problem was here.
She could tell that there was no way that Cousin Emmeline would ever want to make a baby with either Uncle Bob or Uncle Ben, or with anyone else. Cousin Emmeline really didn't seem to like children at all, except for Trelawney.
Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben had thought that it would be fun to set off fireworks for them. Prudence did not like the noise, but then something funny happened. Officer Hadley came to the door to make them stop. Cousin Emmeline made a big deal out of the fact that he had helped Mommy and Trelawney last year when Trelawney got lost. Her uncles looked very funny when she thanked him. They had that "why didn't I think of that" look on their faces.
When Officer Hadley left, Cousin Emmeline came over because she wanted to talk to her.
"Prudence," she said. "I want to talk to you in private."
That made Prudence feel important. Usually when people wanted to talk in private, it was with other people and they wanted her to go away. So Prudence followed her upstairs to her bedroom.
"Prudence," she started. "I need for you to keep a secret and to keep an eye on some things for me. Do you understand?"
"Do you want me to spy?" she asked.
"Not exactly," she replied. "But I do want for you to watch Phoebe and Trelawney and make sure that I know if anything happens with one of them."
"That sounds like spying to me," commented Prudence. "I just promised Grammy the other day that I would do no more spying."
Cousin Emmeline got a funny look on her face. She looked like she wanted to tell Prudence that it was okay for her to break her promise, but she knew that it was wrong. Prudence didn't want to break her promise, but she knew that Cousin Emmeline wouldn't have asked her if it wasn't important.
"I think that in this case, your Grammy would forgive you if she knew," said she carefully. "You see, I can't stay here, I have to go back to England. But I also need to know what is happening here. I believe that you can help me with that, but no one else will think that you are helping me."
"That's true," said Prudence. "Nobody thinks that little kids know anything, but I think that sometimes little kids know more than grown ups."
"Why is that?"
"Well," she explained. "Grown ups say a lot more when kids are around than they do when other grown ups are around. I think that it's because they think that kids don't listen. But grown ups don't listen very well because a lot of the time they are thinking about what they want to say instead of what the other grown up is saying.
"But children should be seen and not heard, so all they can do is listen to what the grown ups are saying. It's always more interesting than what kids say, so that makes it easier to remember. I'm REAL good at remembering. Do you know that Trelawney says that we don't need a tape recorder because we have me?"
Cousin Emmeline looked very confused. It was the confused look that grown ups always got when she explained things. But she still wanted her to spy and keep it a secret.
"Prudence, if you learn anything important, then ask Trelawney to contact me to come. You may only tell me in person. Remember, you cannot give anyone any messages," she said urgently.
"Okay, why should I tell Trelawney to ask you to come?" she asked. She wanted to make sure that she got it right.
Cousin Emmeline looked like she was thinking hard.
"Tell her that I want to know that the daisies are lovely," she said.
"Is that all?"
"Yes," said Emmeline emphatically.
"But I don't know what that means," said Prudence.
"That is not important," replied Cousin Emmeline. "It's better if you don't know."
"Okay," said Prudence. "I will."
After that, Cousin Emmeline seemed happier. She didn't have worried lines on her face any more. She was even nicer to Uncle Ben and Uncle Bob. As she watched them, she realized that her uncles really didn't care about Cousin Emmeline. They just wanted her to pay attention to them because she was a very pretty lady. She didn't care about them either, but she looked like she was having fun. They were all pretending that they liked each other, but it was really just a game.
She thought about her Mommy and Daddy. They had always cared about each other, even when they didn't know that they cared. She had always wondered how Hal and Trelawney had known. Now she could see that Mommy and Daddy had never played this pretend game that Cousin Emmeline was playing with Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben.
She was glad that Mommy and Daddy had never pretended. It was much nicer to have a real Mommy rather than a pretend Mommy. She guessed that some adults liked to play pretend games just like little kids did. No wonder Grammy always said that Uncle Bob and Uncle Ben were just like big kids.
Epilogue: The Angel
Emmeline decided that on her way out of town that she would stop and see Pastor Jason again. He did have a very special understanding of her cousin. She knew that he was counseling Trelawney and keeping her in line. However, there was a side effect to keeping her in line that none of them had foreseen. The stress of controlling herself was taking its toll on her physical health.
Of course Pastor Jason knew that she needed to see him, so he was free when she walked in. After exchanging greetings, he sat back and said, "So? Have they passed inspection?"
"You know that at the moment things with Phoebe are very well," she replied. "I am concerned about Trelawney. You know that even though there has been a marked improvement in her behavior, she is very thin. There's almost nothing left of her."
Pastor Jason looked concerned. "I know that they have been trying to get her to eat. It is very difficult. I believe that she may have a disorder where young girls stop eating when everything in their lives feel out of control. After a while what they do and do not put in their mouths becomes the only thing that they can control."
"Yes, I believe that a friend of Phoebe's mentioned it to Catherine," she said.
"Yes," replied Pastor Jason. "She mentioned it to me first and I sent her to Catherine. Since then, I have done some research. One of the difficulties with the illness is that after a while it controls the girl. Physiologically as well as psychologically she is not able to eat. In extreme cases it can be fatal. The child really needs to see a doctor."
"If she needs a doctor, then she needs a doctor," said Emmeline. "What is the problem?"
"I know that she will be cooperative about seeing a medical doctor. However, any pediatrician who sees her is going to want to send her to a psychiatrist. I am not sure of how she will take to that," he said carefully.
Damn, thought Emmeline. We can't let that happen. The family would have her back in England in no time, if they could get to her. A thought occurred to her.
"Pastor Jason, I don't exactly know why you are so interested in Trelawney or why she trusts you so much. It may be better if I don't know. However, did it ever occur to you that she may not be eating in order to 'disappear'?" she asked.
Pastor Jason stared ahead. She was guessing that the thought had not occurred to him.
"Jason, the child is really very simple, despite being very well read and talented musically. She loves her sister with a fierceness that few can understand. It is unfortunate that she knows that she is a danger to her at this time. She may be passively trying to destroy herself by wasting away, disappearing. I do not believe that this is conscious action," she said.
She knew that he understood her. She could say no more.
"I must be on my way," she said. "Take care of her. Take care of both of them. In fact, take care of all three of them."
Emmeline saw herself out. She had done all that she could do. She would return to family and await the news of Maisie's impending arrival. She would conceal the girl's true condition and hope that Aunt Henrietta would not cause any problems once she knew of Phoebe's condition. And hopefully, Prudence would continue her surveillance of the others and keep her informed.
She knew now why Trelawney was afraid of the evil witch. However, she believed that Aunt Henrietta was incapable of maintaining any kind of strong control over them. It was unfortunate that she had just enough prescience to occasionally make accurate statements. However, the way that she muddled them and mixed them up with her other nonsense could be very dangerous to them all.
The peril lay in miscalculations on her part that would result in impulsive behavior on Trelawney's part, in order to give the family an excuse to bring the girl home. That could leave Phoebe, and therefore Maisie, in the dangerous middle. But the Angel was now more powerful than he realized. She had told him what he needed to know, even though he didn't know that he knew. It didn't matter. Now he could see them safely through.
To be continued . . .