Those days at Cousin Jean’s farm were golden. The children basked in the love showered on them. Geneva treasured her times with Cousin Jean, knowing her elderly relative’s time was running out. Cousin Jean had a special affinity for little Charley, knowing the difficulties that lay ahead, difficulties she had faced decades earlier. She and Geneva had many discussions of how Charley’s road could be made easier, especially in view of Ellen’s feelings toward her. Cousin Jean resolved to leave her farm to Charley, knowing it would be a refuge and living. Geneva felt greatly relieved, knowing the child would be well provided for.
Ellen slowly improved after her return home. Her recent memory was cloudy due to the shock treatments. She still spent most of her days quietly in her room, but Charles asked that she join him and the boys in the dining room every evening, hoping to ease her back into normalcy. The boys chafed at formal dining and often wriggled out of it, but Ellen was starting to inquire about their school and sports again. She’d not mentioned the girls, but did ask after her mother. She was a bit miffed at learning her mother was attending Cousin Jean, but softened upon learning Cousin Jean’s health was failing. “I suppose it’s only natural she’d want to be with her. Cousin Jean was the closest she had to a mother.” She sat quietly and sipped her wine. “Charles, I am starting to feel lonely. I am still to weak to go out, but I’d like to see my friend Sarah Marshall. I think I’ll ask Cora set a light tea and invite her over a week from Thursday. Do you think I’ve recovered my looks enough to see her? I wouldn’t want word to get out that I’ve lost my looks.”
Charles was pleased to hear of her interest. “You are still weak, but you seem stronger every day. I love your hair in that soft curly style. It makes you look like a girl. I’ve noticed lots of women are starting to cut their hair. You’ve gotten your figure back, too. I think it would do you good to have Sarah to tea. I could get Miss Jessie to send you some dresses over to try if you like. If that doesn’t tire you too much, I think it would be good to have Sarah to tea one afternoon. Let’s just see how it goes over the next few days.”
Charles made up his mind to talk to Sarah and Miss Jessie, warning them not to ask disturbing questions. The time was approaching when they’d have to talk about the girls. He’d not gone into her illness and she hadn’t asked specifically. so far, she’d been satisfied when he’d alluded to female troubles and complications.