Monday, March 25, 2013

THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931: Section 2 (UNEDITED)

If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-THE TIME IN BETWEEN, Section 1 before proceeding to reading THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931. 

Otherwise, read THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931: Section 2 from the jump :) 

* Note that there are four sections in THE TIME IN BETWEEN, 1846-1931 and it leads up to PART 2.  Section 3 will be posted shortly.

Plains, NY
United States

The Nathaniel Fleming Manor and Orphanage officially opened to the public in the summer of 1845, two months following the wedding of Jonathan and Kimimela Blake.  Cedric and Margaret Fleming and their daughter, Maxine, had moved into the upper quarters of the main building, which was where they would live while they ran the orphanage.  The Flemings had sold their three story house where their son, Nathaniel had passed away just shy of his twelvth birthday and were anticipating having a new start.  Cedric had put the inheritance his father had left him into the project (after putting aside what would be left to Maxine) and with the help of their friend, James Livingston, the idea had been able to come into full fruition.

Cedric and Margaret had lived just outside the city of New York, not too far from the Livingston’s home in the city.  The Flemings had lived a quiet, and relatively happy life despite the fact that they were unable to have children.  In 1830, they adopted a baby boy they named Nathaniel Cedric and doted on the little boy as he grew.  Four years later, they adopted another baby, this one being a girl they named Maxine Rosalind.  Cedric and Margaret would with their two children near the city of New York as James Livingston and others would begin to found the town of Plains.  Cedric and Margaret were also considering getting a piece of land out there after James had showed them the developing town and the area on which he was building his family’s holiday home.  But the good fortune the Flemings had been experiencing took a downward turn when Nathaniel was stricken with a severe case of scarlet fever.  The boy would last a month before succumbing to the disease in the early spring of 1842.  Cedric tried his best to be strong for the grieving Margaret.  James and Samantha, of course, tried to also reassure their friends to call on them whenever they were needed.  One evening n the early summer, Cedric had confided in James that Margaret could barely handle living in the house that Nathaniel had died in. 
“She can’t even walk passed his bedroom,” Cedric said, sitting across from James on the back porch of the Livingston home. 
Cedric also told James that he had even caught little Maxine in her room talking to an imaginary playmate named “Nathaniel” and several times.
“I hardly think that’s anything to be concerned about at this moment,” James said, trying to reassure his friend, “my guess is that that is merely Maxine’s way of coping with her brother being gone.”
“Yes, I agree,” Cedric replied, “but I’m so afraid for Margaret.  And I feel terrible because the first time I saw Maxine talking to this imaginary playmate, I scolded her, forbidding that action.  The look on my little girl’s face when I yelled at her…”  Cedric’s voice trailed off as he swallowed back the lump forming in his throat before saying, “The last thing I want is for Maxine to feel cut off from her mother and I.  Especially at this time.”
James looked at his friend and then turned his gaze out to the field that stretched out behind their house, staring at the empty guest house where he and Samantha had allowed the Blakes to live during their time in New York.  Even though it had been five years since Charles had been able to get his land out near the Iowa Territory, it still seemed odd to James to not see the Blake children out running around near the house.  He recalled his own three boys begging him and Samantha to allow them to run across the yard to the guest house so they could play with Jonathan, Brendan, and Isaiah.  There had even been times when Cedric and Margaret would bring little Nathaniel over and he would normally tag along with Lawrence and Isaiah.  Meanwhile, Frankie would come over and help Margaret with a baby Maxine.  James gave the memories a wistful smile before turning back to Cedric.
“Well,” James began, “perhaps this imaginary playmate phase just needs to run it’s course.  Surely, as time passes, she’ll grow out of it.  In fact, such things are not uncommon at all for children.”
Cedric sighed before saying, “Yes, I know.  But I am so afraid for Margaret.  My poor wife, she’s been so terribly fragile as of late and if she were to hear Maxine…I mean…I told Maxine to not do such things around her mother, and so far she’s listened.  But I still…I feel…”
“You feel what?” James replied, “Go on.”
Cedric paused, his face reflecting a mind deep in thought and trying to figure out how to form the sentences that would let James know what he had been thinking.  Finally, Cedric said, “I feel we need to sell the house.  Margaret even said to me last night that living in there has become almost unbearable for her.
“I see,” James said, “well, where were you thinking of moving to?”
“That’s what I wanted to speak with you about.  You know how Margaret and I had been talking of purchasing land out in Plains for a second home?”
“Well, I’ve been considering making a more permanent arrangement instead of it just being a holiday or weekend home.  I was wondering what type of land is available at the moment out there.  Of course, I need to be mindful of how I would approach Margaret with the idea.  But I do feel it will help in all of us being able to move on.  Start over.”
“Hmm.”  James thought for a moment, recalling the stretches of land that were available for purchase.  His thoughts then fell upon the stretch of wooded area at the top of a hill.
“There is one place in particular I can show you,” James said, “It is still wooded, but I do need to venture out to Plains tomorrow morning.  If you think Margaret would be well, you are more than welcome to accompany me.”

Cedric had gone with James that following morning while Samantha stayed with Margaret and Maxine at the Fleming home.  Samantha had tea and brunch with Margaret as Maxine wandered about the house with her dolls, and play teaset before eventually heading outside.  There was a moment during the visit when Samantha took a glance out the window to see Maxine sitting on the swing that hung from the branch of a large oak in the Fleming’s backyard.  Samantha smiled at the site of the little girl playing.  But as she looked more closely, it appeared as though Maxine were carrying a conversation with someone next to the swing, despite having been alone out there.  Samanth felt chills creep up her arm, though she couldn’t explain why.  Her husband had told her of Maxine’s having an imaginary friend named “Nathaniel” and Cedric’s personal dilemma over allowing Maxine to do such a thing.  Samantha watched the little girl for another minute before joining Margaret in the other room and dismissed the incident as being a child playing pretend games, as children often did.
Meanwhile in Plains, James had taken Cedric to see the land on top of the hill.  Cedric immediately fell in love with the view as one was able to see the land stretching out into the horizon.  The vastness of the Appalachian Mountains in the distance made Cedric temporarily forget his sorrow.  He felt complete here.  He felt happy and at the top of the world (in both a literal and physical sense).  He told James that he was interested in the land, though he would have to discuss it with Margaret.  Cedric and James spent the rest of the day walking about the property as Cedric made tentative plans on which area of the land they would clear out to build their new home upon.  James then took Cedric to see his own holiday home and the library James had founded and overseen as it was built.
That following month, the clearing of some of the brush on the Fleming’s newly purchased land had begun and Cedric had shown James the blueprints for the new home he was going to build for himself, Margaret, and Maxine.  But one afternoon as James sat in his office at Livingston Publishing eating his lunch, Cedric burst into the room, apologizing to James for the intrusion before informing his friend that he had a slight change of plan for the property and a wonderful idea.  James listened intently as Cedric told him of the plans to, instead, build an orphanage at the top of the hill.
“Margaret, Maxine, and I would still live there, of course,” Cedric said, “but we would live there as Margaret and I would run the business.”
James sat back in his chair, unable to help feeling caught off guard by Cedric’s new idea.  He had never known Cedric to be frivolous, but James couldn’t help questioning his friend.
“You’ve discussed this with Margaret?” James asked.
“Yes,” Cedric said.
James took a sip of his tea before saying, “Cedric, you know I trust your judgement and competance.  But I want you to be certain that you and Margaret are set to run a business.  You’ve seen how much work I do running Livingston Publishing and even the Plains Library.”
“Yes, I know,” Cedric said, “but Margaret and I have discussed it and while we know it will be a lot of work, I think it will help all of us to do something in Nathanial’s memory.  The most wonderful happiness Margaret and I found was through our two adopted children and if we can bring that same happiness to other parents in Margaret’s and my situation, as well as children as precious as Nathaniel and Maxine are to us, well…I think Margaret and I have found purpose again.  And there aren’t any orphanages in or close to the Plains area.”
James leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk and studying his friend.  He could see how passionate and serious about this idea Cedric was.  But he was talking of taking on a rather hefty endeavor. 
Then James said, “Well you know I will help you in any way I can.  If this is what you really intend to do.  But I really think we should sit down and begin to carefully plan.  The property is yours so you may do what you wish with it.  But there is much to do in an endeavor such as the one you are speaking of.”

The plans for the orphanage began that following week and were finalized by Christmas of 1842.  Cedric and Margaret had called it their greatest Christmas present ever.  Construction began that following spring and would be finished by early summer of 1844.  Trees were cleared for the main building meant to house the children and another building was to be the dining hall, class rooms, and living quarters for classroom instructors.  A small building was built halfway down the hill toward the entrance which would serve as a security building.  Other rooms in the main building included a chapel on the second floor and on the fifth floor where the living quarters of Cedric, Margaret, and Maxine Fleming.  Another area was cleared out to serve as a play area with swings, a sliding board, and other things one would expect to find on a children’s playground.  Cedric and Margaret named the area after their late son, Nathaniel.
The manor and orphanage sat on top of the hill, and could be seen from a distance by the Plains residents.  James had been pleased that he had helped Cedric and Margaret and he try with everything he had to try to forget what he had seen in one of the rooms at the orphanage.  He would be relieved when the next two years would pass without incident. 
Perhaps that really had been nothing more than the tricks of evening shadows...
Cedric and Margaret had been running their business rather successfully and even Maxine seemed to be adjusting well.  According to Cedric, her imaginary playmate, “Nathaniel”, was a distant memory. 
James had also attended the wedding of Jonathan Blake and had his own son, Jesse’s, wedding to prepare for. 

On this late evening in the summer of 1846, James sat in the library of his family’s home in New York City, reading a letter from Charles Blake.  Charles had written James with the joyful news that he was about to become a grandfather.  James smiled and shook his head.
“I probably won’t be too far behind you, old friend,” James said, thinking of Jess and Heather.  Memories of ten-year-old Jonathan and Jesse running around playing boys games with Brendan and Samuel filled James’s mind.
Seems like only yesterday.
James folded the letter and placed it under a paperweight on his desk.  The paperweight had the Nathaniel Fleming Orphanage inscription in it and was in the shape of the stone sign that sat at the bottom of the hill at the entrance leading up to the property.  The paperweights had been one of the items given to the administrators and others who had seen the orphanage come into fruition.  Samantha had long gone up to bed and James decided he would inform her Charles’s news in the morning. 
James stood up from his desk chair, rubbing his face with his hands.
Time to retire, he thought.
James put out the lamps and exited the library.  The house was dark and quiet as his sons were asleep and the servants were in their quarters.  James carried a small, lit candle as he headed to the stairs that would take him to the master bedroom he and Samantha shared.  But as he began to ascend the stairs, three small but sudden taps came from the other side of the front door, nearly causing James to drop his candle. 
Tap tap tap.
James took his pocketwatch out.
Twelve o’clock.  Who the devil could that be at this hour?
James was returning his watch to his pocket when he heard the tap tap tap again.  It was then an image the dark-haired girl he had seen in the room at the orphanage passed through his mind.  He shut the unpleasant memory from his mind and headed toward the door.  James pushed the drape of one of the windows at the sides of the front door, peering out to see who was at his home at such a late hour.  But he couldn’t see anyone.  His front porch appeared to be empty.
Well, whatever they needed, perhaps they’ll come calling again tomorrow, James thought.
He began to turn back toward the steps when he heard it again.
Tap tap tap.
James head snapped back around, looking back at the front door. 
Tap tap tap.  It was more insistant this time.
James took swift steps toward the door.
“Yes,” he said, “can I help you?”
There was a muffled sound from behind the door that sounded like a voice.
“I’m sorry I can’t understand you,” James replied, “who is this?”
The muffled voice continued.  James put his ear more close to the door.  The more he listened, the more it sounded as if the voice was saying I’m cold.
James pulled the curtain that covered the window to the right of the front door, peering out again.  But the voice had stopped and the porch still appeared to be empty.
James returned the curtain to covering the window it was then he heard
The light taps had turned to harsh bangs, causing the otherwise sturdy front door to shake.  James stalked to the door, reaching for the latch.
“What the HELL—
“Father?” James heard a soft voice behind him.  He turned to see his youngest son, Lawrence, at the top of the stairs peering up at him.  The boy’s face was dimly lit by the small oil lamp he carried.  There was something almost ghastly to the way the light of the lamp hit Lawrence’s face. 
It’s only my son…
“Lawrence…” James said collecting himself, “go back to bed.”
“Yes father,” Lawrence said.  James watched as his son turned to head back to his bedroom.  But the boy paused, turned back to his father, and said, “Is everything alright?”
James drew in a breath and replied, “Yes.  Yes, Lawrence…now please, go back to bed.”
But the boy looked back at his father.  In the dim light, James could see tears welling in the troubled eyes of his son.
“Lawrence,” James said, “what is it?”
The boy shook his head with his eyes shut tightly.  “Nothing.”
“Son,” James said making his way up to Lawrence, “please tell me.  What is it?  Do you feel ill?”
“No,” Lawrence finally managed to say before bringing his hand to his eyes.  James was next to his son on the steps and managed to get the boy to sit down.  Lawrence’s quiet sobbing died down after a few minutes.
“Please don’t tell Jesse and Samuel,” Lawrence said.
James smiled at his son and said, “What, that you were crying just now?”
Lawrence nodded.
“Don’t worry,” James responded, “it will be our secret.  Now, what’s troubling you?”
“I had a dream,” Lawrence began, “but it seemed so real that I actually went and looked into your and mother’s room.  I saw you weren’t there, so I came to see if you were down here.”
The hair on James’s arms would rise as he continued listening to Lawrence explain what had frightened him so.
“I saw you, father.  Sitting at your desk in the library reading a letter from Mister Blake.  Jonathan and his wife are expecting a baby, aren’t they?”
Stunned, James could only utter out, “Yes…but don’t tell anyone just yet…”
Lawrence nodded and continued.  “Well, you put the letter under the paperweight that Mister Fleming gave you before you put out the lamps and began to come upstairs.  That was when…”  Lawrence’s voice trailed off and the boy’s eyes grew wide and filled with terror before he choked out, “I saw you die, father.  I saw you answer the door to Nathanial Fleming.  He was knocking on the door and when you opened it, he killed you!”

Read on to THE TIME IN BETWEEN, Section 3 .

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