Merry Measures (Part II)

Flora the Housekeeper was desperate. She had just witnessed Mr. and Mrs. De Groff — who had been married for ten years at least — kissing in the wagon outside as if they had never kissed each other before. How strange! How incredibly curious! she thought, twisting it around in her mind until it became bigger than it was. And now that it was big, she just had to tell someone about it. But who? Nellie? Yes, Nellie would do.

After a brief search of the main floor, Flora found Nellie standing in the middle of the study, paging through a tattered book. Flora entered the room on tip-toe, as if worried someone might hear, and closed the door gently behind her. Just as dramatically, she glanced around the room to make sure no one else was present, then leaned forward and gasped, “You won’t believe what I just saw!”

With an almost guilty flush of her cheeks, Nellie set down the book and took a step forward. “What? What is it?”

Flora and Nellie

Flora glanced around again before continuing in a half-whisper, half-shout. “I just saw Mr. and Mrs. De Groff outside in the wagon…kissing.” She said the last word as if she were accusing them of a horrible crime.

A look of relief and confusion submerged Nellie’s blush. “But…why is that so hard to believe? They are married, are they not?”

“Well, you know,” said Flora, increasing the volume and speed of her voice, “it wasn’t the kind of kiss you normally see between husbands and wives — you know, an affectionate peck, or if they don’t think anyone is watching, something a bit more involved, with meaningful glances and hands groping about…” Flora began to demonstrate on an imaginary person in front of her.

Flora kisses the air

“That’s quite enough!” cried Nellie, amused and embarrassed by such a display. “Please proceed to the point.”

Flora continued speaking, unfazed. “Well, this kiss wasn’t like that. It was…awkward, you might say. As if they’d never kissed each other in their lives! Mrs. De Groff turned bright red, and Mr. De Groff looked stunned — completely stunned! Why should she blush, and why should he be surprised, I wonder?”

“Who can say?” asked Nellie, shrugging her shoulders. “Perhaps they were conscious of being out in the open and didn’t want to exhibit. Not all couples are so free in displaying their affections.”

“Then why should Mr. De Groff be amazed, as if he’d won some impossible victory?”

Flora presses her point

“Perhaps you misread his expression. Perhaps he was thinking of something else entirely! There could be a hundred explanations.” A note of agitation crept into Nellie’s voice. “And anyway, I don’t see how their kissing is any of our business, whatever the circumstances.”

“It’s our business, dearie, because we live here, too. We’re as much a part of this household as they are. And if there’s something shady going on, I think we have the right to know about it!”

Nellie was quite perturbed now. “Something shady? It’s one thing to gossip idly, Flora, but to make up such ridiculous stories…”

Nellie is angry

“Whatever you may think, I don’t lie,” said Flora, surprised at Nellie’s anger. “You heard about Mr. De Groff’s past. You can see with your own eyes how the children look nothing like him. You know how late he stays out every night, and no wonder, too, if his own wife won’t even kiss him. Mrs. De Groff is always ill, and the other day I heard her sobbing in the bath. Now tell me something isn’t terribly wrong in this house!”

Nellie simply glared at Flora for a long moment, then said in a calm voice, “If the De Groffs are so horrible, I wonder how you can remain living here. Perhaps another house would be more suitable.”

Flora is angry now

Now it was Flora’s turn to be angry. She flustered about for a moment, then steeled herself and said, “I have my reasons for staying. And you sound just like Mrs. De Groff. Well, if you ask me, you’re both in denial. DEE-NIAL!” With that, she flung open the doors of the study and hurried from the room, calling “Tom! Tom! Where are you, boy?”

The exasperated look on Nellie’s face faded as Flora scurried off, and she gave in to a half-laugh. She knew Flora wouldn’t find Tom — she had seen him sneak out just before the De Groffs had left. And he wouldn’t return for a good hour, at least — he liked to walk down to the harbor and watch the ships sometimes — but on a cold Christmas Eve he might cut his outing short.

Remembering that, Nellie stirred to action — she didn’t have much time. Glad for Flora’s distraction, and moving with as much stealth as she could muster, Nellie made her way out into the hall and up the front stairs to the childrens’ room. There she withdrew something from the highest shelf of their closet and carried it to Tom’s room down the hall.

Beneath Nellie’s placid exterior she was bursting with excitement. It had been difficult to procure this gift, and more difficult still to keep it hidden for the past week. She shared a room with Flora and knew that Flora was a snoop; more than once she had entered her room and found her things not quite as she left them. But Flora rarely poked about the children’s room — that was Nellie’s domain, and Flora knew she had no business being there, unless she was sweeping or changing the linens.

So the gift had remained undiscovered, and that added to Nellie’s joy as she placed it gently on Tom’s nightstand.

Nellie places the gift

“Merry Christmas, Tom,” she said, though no one was there to hear. Pleased with herself and the gift, she stood and admired it a moment before slipping out the door and back down the front stair.

(continued on Page 2)

14 thoughts on “Merry Measures (Part II)

  1. Oh. Wow. Cool!

    This is the first time I’ve ever posted on this site, and it looks like I’m one of the first to comment on this story.

    Carry on the good work, Jen, this is truly awesome!


  2. Yay!!! An Annabel Island update! Im so curious to know what went on between Cecily and James! And why her and Max have only kissed once! But it seems to slowly be making sense, the pieces are falling into place =)

  3. Wow, I love this story so much. I’m so glad you updated it! I’m looking forward to the carnival, it sounds like a lot of fun. Hopefully there won’t be any painful confrontations there. I must ask, where did you get the boat? And, also, where did you get the play boats that the twins were playing with in one of the earlier updates? I looked everywhere for boats a few weeks ago and couldn’t find anything. The story is wonderful and suspenseful, like Kath said, pieces are starting to fall into place. I love how you are developing the relationships and how things stand now, especially when you contrast it to how they stood when you first started posting about the family. I can’t wait until you update again. I’m looking forward to the next part!

  4. I am so happy that you updated with Annabel Island. Here I was thinking you had forgotten about me and my love affair with the Braytons…or should I call them the DeGroffs. I can’t wait until you unveil the dirty little secrets that Flora is so determined in making hints about…like she knows what’s going on..but no harsh feelings! She helps me to find out a little more of the story like that Max might find pleasure in other places..staying out until all times of night. That man should be shamed. But im sure he isnt…can’t blame him when his own wife thinks of him more as a friend. But anyway, lets get away from that subject before I lose the Teen rating. So anyway, now on to what I loved about this update. For instance, Nellie giving Tom a nice little sweet of her. I wonder if they will end up liking each other. Or if that will girl’s territory. Haha i forget her name. I love the Brayton’s new house. It’s so wonderful and decorated nicely, like always. Arianna( if that is her name) is such a loving mother..I enjoy the fact that it seems eveyone is still strained about Cecily’s romp in the sheets with..Samuel’s brother. I seem to have some disease where I can’t remember any one’s name. I think it’s called…too early in the morning on a non-schoolday syndrome. I wonder why the Dunnavants came over to invite the family to the Palace. Maybe the Samuel boy and his brother will be there. I can’t wait to find out what happened to them and who they married..if they married anyone and what happened allthose years to make us get here and and and…EVERYTHING else there is to know about these people. I am addicted. I need my fix of Annabel Island more often than about once every month Jen…I might go into withdrawal and die of..not enough enjoyment. Haha. I understand that you can’t write all day about them because it takes time and you have to work and you have a life with a family and all that other wonderful stuff, but I still like to talk anyway haha. So anyway, I absolutely can’t wait for the next update. Thanks again for updating on them..made my day. Thanks.

  5. Hi! I haven’t commented for awhile, but I’m still reading and enjoying all your posts very much. As always, I’m glad to see the direction you are taking with Cecily’s life. Very suspenseful. I enjoy the fact I can’t always figure out where you are going with your stories. A round of applause for you and a dose of encouragement! :)

  6. Oh it’s always good to be back on Annabel Island. The level of detail in this story is a true work of art and you never fail to take my breath away. You are a virtual museum of custom content. And the story has us all hooked and panting for more, more more. A pleasure as always.

  7. I love the Annabel Island updates! I’m currently re-reading my collection of Lucy Maud Montgomery books and so I’m all caught up in that time period right now. Can’t wait to read more about Annabel Island. :D

  8. Yay! So glad to see a Annabel Island/Brayton update once again! I just love that time period and your wonderful story-telling! Can’t wait for the next one!

  9. intriguing! waiting for the next installment indeed! thought I’ve forgotten quite a few people like who the donavents are :p

  10. Hey Bitsy, sorry for the delay in answering your question, but here’s a link to where I got the pirate ships that the DeGroff kids were playing with. They’re on Page 6.