Tension in Greybeal House
Image of Chicago from the west, 1845. Source: Andreas. History of Chicago
I’ve been working on a novella about Frankie and Patrick’s wedding. The story has three weddings in it: Frankie and Patrick, Edward and Rosa, and Shelby and Millie! But the primary focus is on Frankie and her beau.
At the beginning of the story, we learn that Maggie is concerned because her youngest daughter from her marriage to John Blaine will be moving out west with her new husband. She does not like the idea of one of her "chicks" being so far from the nest. My sense is that Maggie had been hoping against hope that her wild child Frankie would stay in Blaineton like her more sensible sister Lydia.
But that isn't Frankie. She is engaged to Patrick, who is in the process of becoming a doctor and has found a job as the town doctor for a small town in the Colorado Territory.
And then Maggie learns something that almost is too much for her to digest, and mother-daughter tension breaks out.
We are coming into the situation just after Frankie and Patrick have revealed that there is a change in their plans. Here's the first part of the explosion... I mean, scene.
Once they were settled in the parlor, with Maggie and Eli on the sofa and the young couple in two chairs that they had dragged over, there was a brief pause.
Eli broke the silence. “So, tell us. What plans have changed?”
“Well…” Frankie began. “We… um… there was a telegram…”
“Oh, yes,” Maggie piped up. “It came this afternoon!”
Patrick took over now. “It was from the mayor of Rocky Creek.”
“Do they no longer want you ?” Maggie asked hopefully.
“Of course, they still want us,” Frankie replied, a bit miffed.
“I’m sorry. I just thought… well… you know… towns will change their minds about things.”
Patrick inserted himself into the conversation. “No, Mama. The town has not changed its mind.”
“Oh,” Maggie sounded a bit let down.
“Then what is it?” Eli asked. “What plans have changed?”
“The town is in the mountains,” Patrick explained. “Winter starts early there, and the snow is heavy.”
“Anyway,” Frankie blurted, “the pass is snowed in already. We can’t travel there. Not until mid-April after it’s all melted.”
Maggie burst into a wide smile. “Does that mean you’ll be here for the next few months?”
“Um… not exactly,” the young redhead replied.
Eli frowned. “How ‘not exactly’ do you mean?”
The young couple exchanged glances.
Patrick spoke up. “I’m going to attend medical school. I hope.”
“Dr. Lightner knows the President of Lake Medical School,” Frankie explained. “And he’s sure the president will request that Pat enroll.”
“Why can’t Dr. Lightner teach you?” Maggie wanted to know.
“A medical school can give me lessons and experience that Dr. Lightner can’t,” Patrick replied. “Besides, these days, having a certificate from a medical school goes a long way to reassuring a town that you’re capable of treating just about anything that comes up.”
Eli grunted. “I should think it takes medical school and a lifetime of experience to be able to treat anything that comes up.”
“You know what I mean, Eli,” Patrick retorted with a touch of irritation.
The portly man regarded the other man for a moment. Finally, he cleared his throat. “So… Lake Medical School… The name doesn’t ring a bell. What town is it in?”
Frankie shot Patrick a panicky look that said, “You tell them!”
In return, Patrick widened his eyes, as if to say, “Thanks a lot.” He took a breath and forged on. “Well… it’s in Chicago.”
“Chicago??” the Smiths chorused.
“Yes,” Frankie replied. “Chicago.”
“When?” Maggie wanted to know.
“Well, we don’t know yet. But if Pat is accepted and we arrive in Chicago at the end of November, Pat will be able to get a couple of terms in before we’ll need to leave for Rocky Creek.”
And that was when the questions began to fly.
More to come! Maggie and Frankie don't go so far as to have a wrestling match, but things do get a bit loud.
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder