Image from the cover of The Great Central Fair, purchased from i.stockphoto.com
In 1860, before Maggie's eldest daughter Lydia met Philip Frost, she was seeing Edgar Lape, a struggling young lawyer who was renting a room at Maggie’s boarding house. The couple marries in 1860, fearing that war is imminent and their time together short. In 1862, Edgar goes to Flemington, New Jersey with Patrick McCoy to enlist in the army. Sadly, Edgar does not survive the war, leaving Lydia heartbroken and widowed in 1863.
Lydia is made of strong stuff, however, and since she is a budding physician, channels her grief into attending wounded soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg. She imagines and hopes that if she can save one life then she also will save the man’s wife, mother, sister, or girl the terrible pain of loss.
After the battle is over, Lydia meets Capt. Philip Frost, a doctor who has been sent to count the number of wounded men being cared for in homes and public facilities throughout the town. The men eventually will be transferred to Camp Letterman, a tent hospital that is going near Gettysburg.
Philip immediately is attracted to Lydia, but realizes that she is newly widowed and still in mourning. They also have a rather heated disagreement over some action that Lydia and her sister have taken. Despite this, they manage to mend things between them and become friends. They go on to continue their friendship by exchanging letters after Philip is sent to work as a doctor at a hospital in Washington D.C. and Lydia returns to Blaineton.
In June of 1864, Lydia learns that Philip will be going to Mower U.S. General Hospital in Philadelphia to serve as a doctor on staff. Coincidentally, Patrick also is being sent to Mower, but as a steward (a doctor’s assistant).
When the two men arrive in Blaineton for their week's leave before reporting for their new duty, they and their young women decide to take a short vacation to Philadelphia. Of course, they can't go unchaperoned. It is the 1860s, after all. After casting about for a compatible chaperone, they settle upon Chester Carson. Carson is a good choice, since he is familiar with Philadelphia and can show them the sights.
It is in Philadelphia that Philip and Lydia formally pledge themselves to each other – and in a most Victorian way. Here is the excerpt from The Great Central Fair. Enjoy the Victorian way Lydia says, "Dude, I feel happy when I'm with you," and Phil's 1860s version of "Hey, girl, I love you." Or something like that!
Note that nothing is said directly about marriage. At the same time both are making it is clear to the other that marriage is where they want to go. Also, their agreement is reached in a public space, like Frankie and Patrick. But unlike the other couple, Phil and Lydia do not broadcast what they are doing. They only exception is that Phil takes Lydia’s hand, something that does not go unnoticed by Frankie. You’ll have to read the novella to see what the couple does next.
I suspect Lydia and Philip will become another Saint Maggie power couple and they very well might have adventures of their own in another series. Nothing like looking ahead!
There is a final couple for us to look at on Monday. And they exist outside the norms of the time, so what goes on between them is done quietly.
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder