Lizzie wasn’t aware that she was crying until she felt the cold drops fall onto her hands. It was a dream-come-true. Bertie wanted her to come to New York and live with him and his new family. She would be able to continue her education after all.
Then the awful reality of her situation hit her anew. She was with child. She was unmarried and with child. There would be no further education for her. In the coming months, all her time would be occupied by the demands of motherhood. And even if she were to finish her degree, working was frowned on for those who held the important role of mother.
What would her brother think when he found out she was a fallen woman? Would he renege on his offer because her moral character would infect his females? If Bertie had been like their father, he would react in exactly that way. However, Bertie had always been rebellious and a free thinker. That was why America had seemed such a perfect place for him to go. Maybe that freethinking would extend to acceptance of a dishonoured sister.
Or, maybe not.
What if she were to write and tell him she was a widow? She could claim to have married a young man who subsequently died. But her brother named her as Elizabeth Faulkner with her employer’s address on the envelope of his letter. How could she then tell him such a tale if her parent’s solicitors had told him different?
Even so, the more she thought about it, the more determined she was that possessing a dead husband was the only way that she would be able to navigate her new circumstances. The idea of lying to her brother was repellent, but the idea of him rejecting her was even more repellent. And in America, there would be no one to say she had lied. She could start afresh as a young widow doubly weighed down by the grief at the loss of parents and husband.
A hundred dollars awaited her at the Western Union. That was about twenty pounds, if she calculated rightly. That would be more than enough for a second class ticket and the cost of accommodation in a nice place for the time it took to get a suitable steamer berth. For the first time in more than a year, Lizzie felt as if her life was finally looking up.
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Genre – Romance
Rating – Between PG13 and R (sensual but not erotic)