When it comes to love and marriage the rules are certainly different for women. Single gentlemen of independent means in the market for a wife may pick and choose and shop around. Helpful books such as the wildly popular Marriage Guide for Young Men by George Hudson, provide advice to help in this endeavor. Yet the circumstance of the young lady of significant means interested in marriage is passed by without much comment. Perhaps this is attributable to society’s self-imposed double standard when it comes to courtship. Ladies must wait patiently in their parlors and eventually settle on a choice from among the gentlemen callers who favor them with a visit. The young lady in possession of a fortune is likely to receive the attentions of many such callers. This presents her with the odious task of divining the true motivation behind the romantic interest, which, more often than not, is to relieve the lady of her wealth. Gentlemen who are born poor, kind of naturally want to be rich. Those with money, may seek to increase their wealth. What better way to unburden the affluent young lady of her assets than to lead her to the marriage altar where she will be sacrificed into holy wedlock and the bonds of matrimony. Why do gentlemen have the decided advantage? Under the circumstances, how is true love ever to be found?
As the passenger train rumbled westward, young Maggie Lenihan thought about these things. By now she had spent many hours observing the passing landscape, acutely aware that each new mile drew her further away from her loving father, her comfortable home in New York City and all things familiar. The Kansas grasslands were a rich verdant green and when set against a cobalt blue sky, the hues were stark in their contrast. However, to Maggie, the unfamiliar prairie landscape that stretched endlessly in all directions was also sparsely populated and barren of trees. It seemed as though an eternal, unbroken wilderness had encompassed her.
She was a young woman in possession of many of life’s enviable advantages; financially secure, educated and blessed with vigorous health. In appearance she was considered attractive, her face, pleasing, with porcelain skin, light brown hair and piercing blue eyes. A petite woman, she was only about five feet, three inches tall. Despite so many fine qualities, she proceeded with caution in matters of the heart. The warning given by her father on the eve of her formal debut into society was at the core of Maggie’s anxiety. “Take care with your tender heart,” he had told her. “There are those who would only pursue you for your money.” Her father was 70 when she turned 18. A widower, he had lost his beloved wife shortly after Maggie was born. Perhaps he worried that he might not be alive when suitors came to call on his daughter.
It became difficult for Maggie to welcome the attentions of the host of male admirers within her social circle. She was constantly on her guard and ever mindful of her father’s words. The more she focused on it, the more she understood that her debut into society had been bittersweet. It came with the sobering reminder that future happiness in marriage was iffy. One may live a life of privilege and be poor in other ways. In matters of the heart, wealth may also be something of a liability, especially for a woman. Some would argue she was being unrealistic to insist on happiness in marriage. Countless people all around her, living day to day, had far more serious things to worry about than securing wedded bliss. By comparison, Maggie’s circumstances and future prospects were certainly nothing to grumble about. Nevertheless, she refused to lower her expectations. Marriage was a partnership to be mutually enjoyed, not disagreeably endured, wasn’t it?Most importantly, she believed that the greatest gift parents could ever give their children was to love and respect one another.
Her father’s observation was kindly meant, but unexpected and his words marinated in her brain. ‘There are those who would only pursue you for your money.’ A loveless marriage might be inevitable unless she did something to avoid it. Maggie was not one to take to her bed with a case of the vapors; instead, she rearranged her thinking. Perhaps it was time for a new narrative. What if she kept her financial circumstances hidden? Could she do that? Was it possible? Life was too short for uncertainties. She wanted the satisfaction of holding her fate in her own hands. Could she shape her own destiny, chart her own path? To improve her chances of securing a love-match, might she perhaps relocate temporarily to a place where she would be unknown? In a new environment, Maggie would need to conduct her everyday life without the familiar advantages of social status and privilege. Could she succeed?
Convincing her father, William Lenihan, of the wisdom of her experiment took some doing. Maggie assured him that a few months away from home would foster independence and self-reliance, strengthen her character, encourage responsibility and build maturity. After all, she argued, she was now one and twenty and it was time to begin making decisions on her own. Hadn’t she already traveled all the way to Italy to become educated about the history of the ancient Romans, Maggie reminded him? His daughter’s formal ‘come out’ had taken place well over a year ago. Since then, gentlemen had been angling after her, but she did little to encourage their society. Some of them had stopped calling altogether. William Lenihan realized too late that perhaps his opinion had been overstated. In his lifetime he had met a fair number of unscrupulous individuals who lusted after wealth and who would do absolutely anything to acquire it. But he also knew many couples who achieved blissful unions despite inequality in their circumstances. His had been a love match and he had never found another to replace his beloved Florence.
William Lenihan confided in his longtime friend and trusted employee, Cornelius Worthington. Lenihan had employed Worthington for nearly three decades, knowing him to be a very shrewd professional who could always be relied upon to competently assist with his investments in banking and real estate. Their discussions led to a conversion in his thinking about Maggie. In the end, William Lenihan accepted the idea that living for a few months as an unknown would be an opportunity for his daughter to broaden her horizons and find the clarity she needed. Above all, he wanted his daughter to be self-assured, contented and happy.
After some deliberation, the young and rapidly growing city of Denver, far removed from her home in New York, emerged as a promising choice for an extended visit. The lure of gold brought the first pioneers to the city and set its economy in motion. Close on the heels of the gold seekers came the pioneer merchants whose freight wagons containing general merchandise soon evolved into thriving mercantile stores selling everything from cradles to coffins. Colorado Territory achieved statehood in 1876. By 1879 Denver boasted some 40,000 residents who had settled from all corners of the globe. It had also shed its earlier reputation as a rough and unruly cow town. With its nearby lofty mountain peaks and high-altitude pine forests, Denver was seen to be exceptionally blessed with a wealth of gold and silver, an invigorating climate, and suitable conditions for agriculture, not to mention a bustling economy. Railroads were the main arteries of life in this vast expanse and by now Denver was the important crossing point for five busy railway lines.
‘Going in the cars’ as people called railroad travel, had been uneventful. Each passing hour carried Maggie westward, away from the fashionable streets of New York City. The trip provided her ample time to ponder her initial resolve. The final distance of nearly 600 miles aboard the Kansas Pacific train was nearing its end and soon she would be arriving at her planned destination of Denver. She trusted it would live up to its celebrated billing - The Queen City of the Plains. Maggie’s apprehension grew as she recalled the events which had led to this moment. It was a bold idea, but was it also perhaps risky, rash, or possibly even foolhardy?
The helpful assistance of Cornelius Worthington, who had personal contacts in Denver, settled the numerous details of Maggie’s relocation. He had always maintained a tender fondness for ‘Miss Maggie’ and was eager to smooth out the particulars. Through his involvement, it was discreetly arranged that Maggie was to stay on for four months as the invited houseguest at the home of John and Eleanor Gibson, who along with their daughter Evelyn, were a very respectable family living in the fashionable Capitol Hill neighborhood. John Gibson was the president of the Denver National Bank and came to know Worthington as the result of business transactions. The stated purpose of Maggie’s visit to Denver was to complete several writing assignments for a ladies magazine back East. On this point, her father had been adamant. Maggie was a young woman of high intellect and in need of mental stimulation. Composing a few articles for a ladies magazine would be to employ her time wisely.
Worthington assured Mr. Gibson that the young woman was trustworthy and of good character, and further that he would consider his help in the matter as a great personal favor as he had been tasked with securing a safe environment for a young lady who was the daughter of a friend. Gibson was only too happy to oblige. It was no inconvenience to offer Miss Lenihan the use of a spare bedroom. Helping Cornelius Worthington would advance his own standing with a very important business connection. He was further buoyed by the enthusiastic support of his twenty-year old daughter Evelyn. She was of nearly the same age and had expressed an eagerness to make a new friend from New York City.
The train chugged along at a steady pace. The conductor, a Mr. Lepley, passed through the parlor car once again. By now she had befriended this knowledgeable and attentive member of the crew. He was always pleasant and she found that he could be relied upon to give an accurate report of the time. Mr. Lepley enthusiastically shared more than she ever needed to know about train travel. There were 2600 oak railroad ties in every mile of track, he had told her matter-of-factly. They were moving along at a constant speed of nearly thirty-five miles per hour! Lepley paused to open several of the windows again. They could only be opened when the wind was blowing soot from the locomotive away from the train. Maggie was grateful not to be seated in the gentleman’s smoking saloon. For one thing, it featured a neat, round cuspidor for the men who spat. She could only imagine how stale the air would become in the smoky compartment when the windows were closed.
As it was, the parlor car where she was seated along with other ladies and a few children, had its drawbacks. The vendors on the train were a bit of a nuisance. They would drop oranges in people’s laps or shout noisily to attract attention to the newspapers or lozenges they were selling. Each passenger had a seat that swung around to face the windows or to face the inside of the car. The velvety chairs made passengers as comfortable as if they were in their own parlors. However, it was the current fashion for ladies to wear a bustle and the bustle of her dress kept her inconveniently perched on the edge of her seat for much of the ride. Maggie found relief by getting up and moving about at regular intervals.
Someone in a nearby seat was snoring loudly at the same time that two children who were traveling with their mother had become more boisterous in their chatter. They were playing the game ‘My Rose Has Budded’, in which each player passes one card at a time until someone ends up with all the cards of one suit in his hand. It appeared as though the impish little girl with the pink bow in her brown curls had won that round. The little girl looked her way. Maggie winked and smiled at her and then turned her attention to the passing scenery once again. She glimpsed a group of antelope grazing on the distant hillside and listened as the wheels clicked and groaned rhythmically beneath the floor. Maggie wondered how she would remember this journey and this moment. Was it better to look back on life and say ‘I can’t believe I did that’ than to look back and say ‘how I wish I had done that’?
Of course, Maggie’s plan raised the specter of a host of other problems that might eventually need to be addressed. If she met and fell in love with a serious suitor what would happen when her duplicity was revealed?Would the gentleman think less of her? Would her father accept the man she had chosen? In the days and weeks to come, she would have plenty to write in her journal, but for now, these and other important questions would have to wait.
Maggie’s experiment had been set in motion and it was with renewed optimism she anticipated her early evening arrival in Denver after a very long day of travel from Kansas City. The whistle blew loudly announcing their imminent arrival as the train gradually slackened its pace. Shortly thereafter, Grace Margaret Lenihan, known to the Gibson’s only as Maggie Lenihan, carefully adjusted her bonnet, slipped her gloves on, gathered her reticule, wrap and parasol, and alighted from the train at Union Station as dusk was tinting the sky.
The station platform was noisy and chaotic as the crush of newly-arrived passengers scurried about. One could hear shouting for porters and requests for urgent assistance with baggage above the din of the idle engine as it let off steam. The nervous excitement Maggie felt when she first stepped from the train gave way to warm feelings of relief and calm when she heard a man’s voice loudly calling her name.
“Miss Lenihan! Miss Lenihan!” he exclaimed.
She turned as a well-dressed gentleman pushed forward, smiling, his hand extended in greeting. There were two ladies following closely behind.
“Miss Lenihan!” he repeated as he clasped Maggie’s hand. “John Gibson,” he said. “Your hat! I was told by Mr. Worthington I would recognize you by your blue hat!”
“Ah, yes, of course! My hat! Mr. Worthington had a very good idea there,” Maggie replied.
“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Lenihan. Please allow me to introduce my wife Eleanor and my daughter, Evelyn.”
“How do you do,” said Maggie politely, shaking each of their hands in turn. “It is a pleasure to meet all of you, and please, you must call me Maggie. I cannot begin to thank you for extending me this invitation and for your generous hospitality.”
“It is our great pleasure to have you as our guest,” replied Eleanor. “And we are interested in learning more about your work as a journalist and the topics of your writing assignments. It all sounds very exciting.”
“It is not every day that we have a journalist from New York come and stay with us!” Evelyn gushed. “What is the name of your ladies magazine?”
“It is The American Woman’s Domestic Magazine,” said Maggie smoothly. “You may not have heard of it as it is a fairly new publication, just getting started.” Her father had made the arrangements with the magazine, but in truth, Maggie was uncertain if her writing would ever be published at all.
“May I have your baggage checks?” asked Mr. Gibson. “I will see to your trunks.”
“Why yes, thank you,” said Maggie opening her reticule. “I have but one trunk.”
“Excuse me for a moment,” said Gibson as he headed to the baggage car.
“After you are settled and have had a chance to rest, I would be delighted to give you a thorough tour of our fair city,” said Evelyn with a smile.
“Why I can hardly wait!” Maggie replied eagerly.
The enthusiastic welcome she received from this family of complete strangers had genuinely impressed Maggie. John Gibson appeared to be in his late forties. He was tall and stout, well groomed, and from the turn of his finely-tailored clothes, he looked every inch the professional banker. He had a neatly trimmed mustache and receding hairline. The greying hair at his temples made him look distinguished. Mrs. Gibson was perhaps about forty. She wore a fashionable green-striped satin gown with a square neckline and bustle. She had a graceful manner, was pleasant and smiled easily. Her brown hair was neatly swept upward with a few curls framing her face. Evelyn was a tall and slender young woman about Maggie’s own age. She had a fair complexion, honey blonde hair and enormous brown eyes. Evelyn seemed to possess a lively temperament and a very warm and engaging personality.
“Your trip was a pleasant one, I hope,” said Evelyn.
“Yes, it was most enjoyable. Thank you for asking. We live in an extremely vast country, do we not? I know this is true because even when speeding along at a rapid pace on a train, the journey still takes hours and hours and hours!” said Maggie.
“My experience going in the cars was quite memorable. We traveled across the country when father took us to the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876,” said Evelyn.
“How interesting! I too had the pleasure of visiting the Exhibition. We shall have to compare our stories! But for now, I am dearly looking forward to removing this corset and bustle as it has been quite a long day,” Maggie added.
“Of course, dear,” said Eleanor. “We shall have you comfortably home very shortly.”
Presently, Mr. Gibson returned with a porter attending to Maggie’s trunk. She was grateful to be relieved of all care in the matter. They all made their way out of the train station and soon the trunk was loaded into a waiting carriage. Once outside, the first thing that Maggie noticed was the sun setting behind the distant, snow-capped mountains. The angle of the sun softly tinted the clouds with tinges of orange and blue. This breathtaking view of the majestic mountains at twilight gave her a new appreciation for the wide-open landscape where one could see for great distances. She understood how the charms with which nature was so beautifully endowed in Colorado had lured so many people. This panorama was in stark contrast to the place she called home.
As the carriage moved through the busy streets of Denver, she glimpsed fair hotels and shops along with a number of saloons. The assortment of individuals she passed on the streets further reminded her that she was now far from home. There were cowboys and men of the plains openly carrying revolvers on their belts, Indians on their small ponies, teamsters in leathern suits, men in deerskin trousers and wearing beaver hats, as well as smartly-dressed tourists and men of business.
It had grown darker just as the Gibson’s home at 70 Grant Street came into view. It was an impressive two-story brick and sandstone mansion in the fashionable Capitol Hill neighborhood, a preferable location within walking distance of downtown. Maggie stepped inside the foyer and noted the embroidered motto that hung prominently on the wall. Embellished with flowers and trees, it welcomed all with the simple yet reassuring message Home Sweet Home.
She removed her wrap and handed her gloves, hat and parasol to a maid. The Gibson’s employed two live-in Irish domestics, Miss O’Malley and Miss Ford, and a cook, Mrs. Bartlett. Eleanor made the necessary introductions.
“I know you are anxious to get settled,” said Eleanor thoughtfully, “but while your trunk is moved to your room, please allow me to take a few minutes to show you around our home.” Maggie dutifully followed her hostess.
They passed the tall, longcase clock. It stood prominently in the entrance hall. The case featured elaborately carved floral ornamentation on the hood and around the clock face. A spreading eagle was carved on the pediment. There was a central stairway leading off the wood-paneled entrance hall. To the right was the family sitting room with several overstuffed chairs, bookcases crammed with many leather-bound volumes, hardwood floors and a pretty flowered rug. To the left was a lovely parlor decorated with wallpaper in an attractive pattern of cabbage-size roses. This room contained a piano and a fireplace. Gaslights were attached to the walls and thick velvet drapes hung at the windows.
More gaslights illuminated the spacious dining room. The mahogany table and ten chairs were designed in the French style, more ornate and elegant than the heavier Victorian pieces. A matching cabinet with glass doors displayed the hand-painted china service. There was a large sideboard, attractively carved with depictions of grapes, pomegranates, apples and berries. A locked cellarette made of walnut stood along one wall, presumably for storage of wine bottles.
The well-appointed kitchen was found at the back of the house. Cooking was done on a huge iron range that burned coal and wood. The kitchen table was covered with oilcloth, and a large pantry was to the left of the kitchen. The sink was just like the one in Maggie’s home and was made of zinc. At the end of the tour, it was a great relief to learn that this home had an indoor water closet. The house was modern and tastefully decorated.
“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Gibson,” said Maggie sincerely after the tour. “It is charming and cozy and I am so fortunate that you are allowing me to stay here.”
“We are delighted you are here and look forward to knowing you better. You must call me Eleanor. Evelyn will show you to your room and I will have a tray sent up so that you will not be disturbed for the rest of the evening. I will send a maid to help you with your corset,” she added thoughtfully.
“Thank you, Eleanor, you are most kind,” said Maggie.
Evelyn then led the way upstairs and down the hall. “This will be your room she said,” opening the door. “Mine is just there, across the hall.”
Maggie stepped inside. The room was comfortable, fresh and well-aired. Her trunk had been placed on the floor near the wardrobe. The bed had a mahogany headboard and brightly colored bedspread. After such a long day, she was looking forward to snuggling into it. Next to the bed was a table with kerosene lamp and a chair upholstered with a floral pattern. The Chippendale chest of drawers was of tiger maple. The floor was hardwood with a small oval rug next to the bed. There was one wide window and it was left slightly open on this mild, springtime evening. Evelyn told her that it overlooked the rear of the property.
Off the bedroom was a well-arranged dressing room containing a washstand with a large bowl and pitcher full of water, a small pitcher and tumbler to use for rising the mouth, a sponge basin, a hairpin cushion and a footbath under the washstand along with soaps and towels. The Gibson’s were gracious hosts and had thought of everything for her comfort. Maggie glimpsed her reflection in the tall cheval mirror and was dismayed at her appearance. She looked tired and rumpled.
“I will let you get settled now, Maggie,” said Evelyn. “If there is anything at all that you may need, please let us know. We are so glad that you are here.”
“You and your family have been most gracious. I am excited to be here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Maggie said in reply.
Although weary from a long day of travel, Maggie unpacked her trunk and carefully folded and arranged her garments in the wardrobe. She examined each article of clothing that she had selected for this trip. Having assumed the role of ‘stringer’ for a ladies magazine, she had been required to make serious adjustments in her assortment of clothes. Maggie’s ‘salary’ would not even pay for the fancy undergarments she normally wore, not to mention the fashionable gowns she had always taken for granted. Now, her dresses, chemises, drawers, corsets, corset covers, stockings, petticoats and night rails were all cotton. While her clothes were not out of date, neither were they too fashionable. At the bottom of the trunk was the small, framed photograph of her father. She placed it on the table next to the bed.
Presently Miss Ford came by with a tray. The light supper was delicious and was just what she needed to restore her vigor. Miss Ford soon returned again with a jug of hot water from the kitchen. She helped Maggie remove her corset and bustle and offered to give her traveling dress a good brushing.
“Thank you,” said Maggie. “I am sure it can use one – all that soot.”
“Of course,” said Miss Ford who then left her to her stand-up wash. Maggie poured some of the warm water into the bowl, dipped a flannel cloth into it and applied the soap. Body washing was done in sections with one bit scrubbed, rinsed and dried before moving on to the next. Afterward she felt refreshed. She put on her night rail and brushed out her hair. Maggie turned down the kerosene lamp and climbed into bed. The house at 70 Grant Street in Denver was quiet and peaceful. A haze of happiness filled her mind and she fell asleep almost instantly.
Breakfast was already underway when Maggie joined the Gibson’s in the dining room the following morning. John Gibson set aside his newspaper and stood to greet her when she entered the room.
“Good morning, Miss Lenihan…Maggie,” he said politely as he motioned her to a nearby seat.
“Good morning everyone,” she replied. Maggie was carrying a small package. Wrapped in white paper with a yellow bow, she presented it to Eleanor. “This is for you as a small thank you for your hospitality,” she said.
“Why, my goodness! You did not have to do such a thing!” exclaimed Eleanor with a smile. She removed the bow and wrapping paper to reveal a select assortment of fine Cadbury boxed chocolates, all the way from England! “Oh my! Chocolates!” she further exclaimed. “Why these chocolates are made in England. They must have cost you dearly. Tis too much. This was very generous of you, Maggie, too generous, and we shall all enjoy eating every last bite.” To admonish her further about spending her hard-earned money on this thoughtful gift would have been ungracious, but Eleanor worried that the young lady could not have easily afforded such a kind gesture all the same.
“The chocolates do look heavenly, Maggie,” said Evelyn.
“Well they are called the food of the gods after all!” Mr. Gibson said lightly.
“Did you sleep well last night Maggie?” Evelyn asked.
“Oh, yes, like a baby,” was the answer.
“What would you like for breakfast, dear?” asked Eleanor. “We can offer you soft-boiled eggs, toast and jam, sausages, stewed prunes, hot cocoa and coffee. Oh, and Mrs. Bartlett has made rhubarb muffins – they are quite tasty.”
“A soft-boiled egg and a muffin sounds lovely, and maybe some hot cocoa please,” she replied. Miss O’Malley, who was standing nearby, hurried off to the kitchen.
“It rained quite a bit last night,” observed Mr. Gibson, looking out the window.
“I never heard a sound,” said Maggie.
“And the clouds have not moved off,” Eleanor added with a frown.
“We are all attuned to the rain at this time of year,” Evelyn explained. “About a year ago we had a very serious springtime flood.”
“Oh, no!” said Maggie.
“Oh, yes,” said Mr. Gibson. “Cherry Creek flooded after a bit of rain. The creek runs right through town and carried out most of the city’s bridges along with several businesses.”
“It was May 22nd,” added Evelyn. “That is a day we shall all remember.”
“How awful,” said Maggie.
“The creek rose very rapidly. It was unexpected. The bridges were swept away within a few minutes. The flood surprised everyone. It had been raining here, but not extensively and certainly not enough to cause folks to worry about a flood. To produce that much water we must conclude that a cataclysmic storm of which we were unaware occurred many miles away upstream,” Mr. Gibson explained.
“It must have been very frightening,” said Maggie. “Was there any loss of life?” she asked as Miss O’Malley returned with her breakfast.
“Two people died,” said Mr. Gibson. “We were fortunate there was not more damage, but there were no buildings in the bed of the stream and the channel of the creek is fairly wide.”
“I will be sure to take my umbrella when I go out,” said Eleanor. “I am to visit Susannah Simmons today. Mrs. Simmons is a friend and neighbor, Maggie. You will be meeting the Simmons family very soon, I hope. About a year ago, Susannah gave birth to twins – a girl and a boy. They are quite a handful and theirs is an extremely lively household!” she added with a smile.
“I imagine it must be and I look forward to meeting them,” was Maggie’s reply.
“Mother is a member of the Ladies Aid Society along with Mrs. Simmons,” Evelyn noted.
“And what is the Ladies Aid Society?” Maggie asked as she reached for the muffineer.
“Our ladies group is a charity, Maggie. We not only try to help individuals in need but are also involved in projects that will improve our city,” said Eleanor.
“You are too humble, my dear,” Mr. Gibson interrupted. “Among other things, your organization helps the needy with an adequate supply of coal for the winter. Why you even find homes for orphans and donate funds to bury paupers,” he said proudly.
“We do what ladies have always done to accomplish things – we join forces,” said Eleanor.
“The ladies are sponsoring the Firemen’s Ball which is coming up very soon. It is a fundraising effort,” said Evelyn. “We shall all be going and I can hardly wait!”
“The fire brigade in Denver is made up of volunteers,” said Mr. Gibson.
“Our city is growing,” Eleanor added. “The James Archer Company No. 2 on Curtis Street is in need of a new Amoskeag Steamer to put out fires.”
“Yes our city is growing and the buildings keep getting taller and taller. Greater pressure is needed to make the water shoot up high enough to reach fires in these taller buildings. The steam engine is the best way to build up that kind of pressure. It is a necessary investment,” Gibson said with conviction. He then looked at his pocket watch, abruptly put aside his napkin and stood. “I must be off,” he announced. “I do not want to be late for our Board of Directors meeting. We are to consider a proposal brought by Mr. Crandall this morning. It concerns a gold mine to which he has a claim.”
“Bridger Crandall,” said Eleanor in a pleasant tone. “He is such a fine, proper young man. I hope you will give his proposal all due consideration,” she urged.
“If it is a sound venture, of course we will, my dear,” he replied.
“With a little encouragement, a young man like that could go far,” declared Eleanor.
“And I do hope he will be attending the Firemen’s Ball,” said Evelyn wistfully. “How wonderful it would be if Mr. Crandall asked me to dance.”
“I did not think to ask him if he would be attending when we saw him in church,” said Eleanor. “My dear,” she said, turning to her husband once more, “you wouldn’t mind asking him when you see him today, would you?”
“Why do I get the feeling that you two are part of a conspiracy?” he protested. “Nevertheless, I shall try and remember.” After this exchange, Maggie concluded that Bridger Crandall was clearly a highly eligible bachelor whose company was well favored.
“Also today I am to send a telegram to Mr. Worthington to report your safe arrival, Maggie,” Gibson continued. “Is there anything else you wish me to communicate to him?”
“Oh, I do appreciate that. How thoughtful. I was going to ask someone to help me find the telegraph office today. Now I won’t have to. He will be relieved and I know he will immediately tell my father. No, I cannot think of anything to add,” she said, taking a bite of her muffin.
“Do you have any other family, Maggie?” Eleanor inquired.
“Not close family I am afraid, only my father. I never knew my mother as she died shortly after I was born. I have no siblings, only a few cousins,” was Maggie’s truthful answer.
“Oh I am sorry about your mother,” said Eleanor.
“I sent my father a telegram before I boarded the train in Kansas City and I plan to write him a long letter very soon to keep him abreast of my activities.”
“What does he do?” asked Gibson.
“He works in banking,” said Maggie vaguely.
“Ah! An associate of Mr. Worthington, no doubt. He is indeed a lucky man to be working for Mr. Worthington,” Gibson surmised incorrectly. Maggie was not about to amend his thinking. “A fine fellow, a very fine fellow! Well, I must not be late! Enjoy your day, ladies,” said Gibson. “Until this evening, my dear,” he added as he kissed his wife.
After his departure, the ladies continued to chat and discuss their plans for the day. “I would very much like to show you some of the sites in Denver today, if you wish it,” offered Evelyn.
“I think that would be a wonderful idea,” said Maggie enthusiastically. “I need to learn my way around the city and must also develop the list of topics of interest for possible magazine articles. I am looking for more unusual subjects. Writing about gardening or the arts or ladies fashion is unoriginal. These themes are overused. I am anxious to get started,” she said just as the longcase clock in the hallway struck the hour.