His card stayed where he had left it until several days after Julie’s funeral, when I helped Lizzy clean the library. She picked it up and looked curiously at it, reading the name several time through.
“What’s this doing here?” she asked me, offering the card to me. I took it and glanced down at it.
“Andre Bourbon? I don’t think that Papa associates with journalists,” I said, turning it over.
“You could ask your father, perhaps?” Lizzy suggested.
“No,” I said. Papa had shut himself up in his room, rarely emerging. Lizzy and I had taken turns bringing him trays, but even he hardly at what we brought him. It was then that I remembered. “It’s the motorist’s card.”
“Why’d he leave it?” Lizzy asked, turning away to finish her dusting.
“He offered his assistance, should we need it,” I said, sliding the card into my apron pocket. Later I would put it with my father’s other cards.
“Samantha,” Henry said after we had finished our supper one evening. “Father received a letter concerning you earlier this evening.”
“What about me?” I asked, clearing the table. After the expenses of Julie’s funeral, we had to let go of our evening maid, which meant that Lizzy and I were trying to fill her place.
“Thomas Cook wanted to maintain correspondence with you while he’s working abroad,” Henry said. “Because he intends to pay you court when mourning ends.”
“And what does father think of this?” I asked calmly, pausing.
“Papa hasn’t seen the letter yet. Nor will he,” Henry said. “I’ve been handling his personal correspondence.”
“What?” I asked, surprised. “But, Henry-”
“Samantha, he wasn’t responding to them,” Henry said. “Good lord, have you seen the man, Sammy? He sits catatonic on the edge of his bed. His guilt is eating him alive from the inside out.”
“So you’re reading and answering his mail? It’s not as if he’s dead, Henry!”
“But it’s also not as if he’s in his right mind, Sam,” he retorted. “Now, back to Thomas. Should I give him permission to write you?”
“Do what you like, Henry,” I said, gathering my load and heading out to the kitchen with our empty dishes. I had just set them down on the counter when I heard a Lizzy shriek and a crash from upstairs.
“Lizzy, is everything alright?” Henry called, and I heard him thunder up the stairs. Terrified, I raced to follow him upstairs.
“Mr. Hancock!” Lizzy was blubbering uncontrollably. She stood outside the door to father’s room, sobbing hysterically. “I went in to bring him his supper and I found him like that!” Henry burst into the bedroom and I moved to follow him as Lizzy grabbed onto my arm, holding me in place.
“Miss, you can’t go in there!” she exclaimed. “It’s too horrible. No one should ever see that.”
“Oh God,” Henry said. “Papa! Papa! No, no, no!” He reappeared in the doorway, a sickened look on his face. “Lizzy, take Sam downstairs. Now!”
“What happened, Henry?” I asked, a sick feeling forming in my gut. “What’s happened?”
“Come this way, Miss Samantha,” Lizzy said, pulling on my sleeve. “You don’t want to see.”
“See what?” I asked, trying to jerk away from Lizzy, who only held me tighter. “What happened?” I asked again, desperately.
“Don’t struggle now, Miss,” Lizzy said, wrapping me in a hug, holding me back.
“Just go downstairs, Samantha!” Henry shouted at me as he returned to our father’s room. “Go now!”
I struggled with Lizzy for a few moments before I finally broke free, and I vaulted to the doorway, where I froze. A cord hung from the ceiling, and from it my father was dangling.
“No! Daddy!” I screamed, stumbling back. I tripped on the hemline of my skirts and landed at Lizzy’s feet. “Papa! No! Why? Why?”
The tears came unbidden, and I started to cry. My world felt like it was slipping away, one person at a time.
“Oh, Sammy, I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have seen this,” Henry said gently, kneeling beside me. “I didn’t want you to see that.” He wrapped his arms around me, and I cuddled into him.
“Why’d he have to-?” I asked quietly. “Why couldn’t he have stayed?”
“I’m sorry, Sammy,” he replied. “But I don’t know. Now will you go downstairs with Lizzy, and she can make you a nice cup of tea? I’ll clean this up, and then we can discuss father’s wishes.”
“Come along, Miss Samantha,” Lizzy said gently, lifting me to my feet. “Come on downstairs, miss.”
Wednesday 18 November, 1893
I’m getting concerned about Sammy. We had Father’s funeral three nights ago, and cremated him out beyond city limits, like we do for all suicides. But Sam- she just sits and stares into space. Rarely does she respond to anyone speaking to her, and Lizzy is doing all she can to make her eat. It’s like a part of Sam died with our father.
On another note, I have finally begun to going through the recent records of the shop. Father didn’t tell us, but his manager has revealed that we are greatly in debt. I believe this is due to poor management of the shop while Father was in mourning- Mr. Williamson is fond of taking risks with the finances entrusted him, which Father would have never approved of.
I don’t know what I can do for Sammy. I need to provide for her, but I’m afraid the monies Papa had set aside for her dowry were lost in the poor investments made. I can only hope that I can earn it back, and it won’t hurt her prospects. Maybe Thomas will take her even with a small dowry because of our friendship. At least I have a year to find a way to fix this.