I walked home that evening with a webbing of thoughts spreading their sticky tendrils through my mind. I recalled each sentence, word, as I had said it, and tried to remember the exact reaction of the ever-watching, always listening, family.
The mother was of kind, bubbly spirit, always smiling warmly. She was an accomplished hostess, skilled at making her guest as comfortable as possible. The son was similarly pleasant. I had already met him a few select times earlier. He was quite a bit younger than me, and had a lively, energenic air.
Mr. Morris was not so open in his emotion, or so generous with his praise. I thought him a rather impressive figure, with the sternest of eyes that made you self-conscious of every movement, having you think your words three times over before saying them. I had encountered such men before, and yet, the pressure of winning his approval for my courtship of his daughter had my hands sweating profusely at times.
And dearest Miss. Morris was no help; a beautiful distraction seated as a untouched doll at her chair. I wished to sit directly beside her the entire night, to hold her hand under the table and speak only with her. She was a picture of radiance in the candle light, rich curls cascading luxuriously around her delicate expression aflame in the golden glow.
Although, in the same breath, she offered the encouragement of a blissful smile. Her very presence reminded me of why I stood before her stony father; giving me the determination and confidence that a Princess might to her Prince as he stands before a dragon.
My mind continued to wander on the evening as I strolled absent-mindedly to my home, only brought from within myself as I realized my brother was awaiting me at the front step, a not-so-pleasant suprise.
"Where have you been this hour at night?" He asked irratibly. "I have been standing here for ages."
"Dinner," I said simply, confused. "What are you doing here?"
"I was in the area," Charles replied vaguely as I stepped by him, digging in my coat pocket for my keys. I proceeded to push open the door and enter, allowing my older sibling inside.
We both shook off our coats, hanging them haphazardly nearby. "Goodness, Henry, do you have no maid to open the door and hang your coat?" he said as I guided him to the small parlor.
"I allowed her leave. I didn't think I would be entertaining guests tonight. Have I seat," I offered. "Would you like me to fetch you tea? Bread?"
"No thank you," said Charles, wryly smiling as he took up my previous offer and found himself a comfortable chair.
As he said no more, I sat down myself and inquired, "How is Beth? And the baby?"
"Fine, fine," he waved his hand carelessly. He continued with other things at his mind,"But the true reason I came here was not to annoy you, but to ask you a favor."
"And what is the nature of that favor?"
My older brother, despite his heftier inheritance, was not as successful as I was in business endeavors. Adding to this, he married far too young, to a woman I suspected he was 'forced ' to marry - upon his own doing. Already he had the responsibilities of a wife and two children, the newest of which was just very recently born. I had already loaned him considerable amounts of my savings in an attempt to help him and his family, none of which had yet been repaid, and it seemed he had come to my doorsteps with wallets empty and palms open.
You would believe there would be a degree of shame in coming to your younger sibling repeatedly to beg for monetary assistance. Although I suppose his family was in troubled waters, and I was easily convinced to hand him over piece after piece of my precious savings in an effort to keep them "fed and clothed". For all my help, nothing seemed to change. He continued returning like a ragged beggar for more and more of my rations. And I had begun to feel frustration at his incompetence to provide for his own family, his greedy fingers constantly in my accounts.
And yet, this time was different (just as they all were different), and with his smooth-tongue he played the guilt card - on me, of all people, after all I had done for him - convincing me that I was now "investing in a business venture" that would bring both him and me "great success", that I would earn back my money "and more!"
With chances that he could care for his own family with the success of this plan, I offered him the necessary funds with a promise that this would be my final loan to him.
He walked away with the remnants of my savings in his pockets, yelling cheerily, "I won't disappoint you! You won't regret this, Henry - you'll see!"
I frowned, shutting the door after him and readying for bed.
Yes, Charlie, we'll see.