Author’s Note: So I find myself posting two parts again today. That’s what happens when I’m a bit ahead and Wednesday rolls around with words I can use in a part that’s almost done or ready to go next. This one was half done when I saw the words, and I thought, “well, I was going to post the flashback, but maybe I’ll skip it and just go right to this scene.”
Since there needed to be some delay between the scene in the park and this new piece, I went ahead and left the flashback in where it is, though I might have to move it when I organize this into a book later.
Anyway, this is the one that has the Three Word Wednesday prompts in it, trample, vigilant, and helpless.
“I think you may want to reconsider your position on that young man’s honor.”
Violet lowered her book with a frown, blinking at her aunt’s words. She had not been able to pay much attention to the pages that she was turning, her mind occupied with thoughts of Robbie, of Winston, and the pain in her back from the child. “What?”
“He is not gone. I saw him in the marketplace today.”
Disliking her aunt’s rather triumphant tone, Violet sat up, knowing that her mother was frowning as well.
“You saw Mr. Winston in town? Today?”
“Yes. He lied to you about leaving.”
Violet almost laughed. Her aunt was so proud of her discovery, but Violet could not help the rather perverse satisfaction that came with knowing that she could ruin the older woman’s triumph with ease. “He did not actually say that he was going. He said that he would if it was necessary. He did say he was planning on leaving, but planning is not the same as doing, as you have often told me.”
Beatrice’s nose wrinkled with disgust. “It does you no good to hide behind those excuses, child.”
“It does you no good to seek out these things to spoil hope or disparage him, either, sister. I know you were once wounded in love, but not all men are so false, and not all of us women are the same. We are not so terribly naïve as to believe beyond all reason, but your heart has become so cold that you do not attribute a positive motive to anyone anymore.”
“That is not true, Rose.”
“You disagree with my assessment? I suppose you always have. You will not alter my opinion. You have ceased to see anything in the world of value or goodness. I have been a widow now for twenty years. No man has been able to tempt me away from that state, a thing that would suggest that should be quite miserable indeed. I am not. I have watched my daughter grow, something that is to my mind a privilege. I have seen her suffer, and I have almost lost her and my grandchild. Yet you do not see me turning away from life and becoming bitter. You did not see Violet do it, either, and she was betrayed in one of the worst ways possible and will have a child because of it.”
Beatrice sat down, leaning back in her chair. “We should all curse the day any man named Winston came into our lives.”
Violet placed her hand on her stomach, looking to her mother and then back at her aunt. “The man you knew, the one who jilted you… His name was Winston? You wouldn’t mean—”
“Mrs. Carpenter, Mrs. Carpenter! Someone attacked Mr. Winston. He just stumbled in here with blood on his head and asked for a towel and—”
“Calm yourself, Harriet. Violet, you stay. Beatrice and I will see what has happened.”
Violet waited for her mother and aunt to walk away before she made her move. They were both fools to think that she would stay still when she knew that Robbie was hurt. She was not that helpless, no matter what the doctor said. She was pregnant, not ill, and since all they could do for her was tell her to rest, she could rest later, after she knew that he would recover from whatever had happened.
She took the stairs with as much care as possible, making a slow descent until the end. Her current shape did not allow her to do much running, but she pushed herself on until she could get to the parlor, opening the door to see Robbie on the floor with her mother fussing over him.
“How did this happen?”
“I fear I was rather less than vigilant. I heard a voice call my name, but I did not see the speaker, and I thought… Well…”
“You thought you’d gone back to the war, did you?” Violet asked, easing herself down beside him despite the glares from the other two women. He blinked, and she grimaced as she saw the pain in his face. At least she did not see much blood. After Harriet said he’d had blood on him, Violet had feared something terrible.
His hand brushed hers. “Yes. It… I don’t know why. I guess it was—I didn’t stop to think of the possibility that the person was hiding or intended me harm. I didn’t realize they’d hit me the moment I was distracted. I feel like my head’s been trampled upon by whole armies, and I rather think I might deserve it for being so easily unbalanced.”
He forced a smile that turned into a grimace. “I think I’d better have a bowl. I do believe it’s a concussion, and I’ll vomit in a minute.”
“You were doing rather well there.”
He closed his eyes. “I wish that would last. My head aches so… Sorry I got you out of bed. Was not going to hurt you again.”
“I am not hurting. You are.”
“My father said terrible things about you, and I told him to leave and that I didn’t want his name or his money. I… I am penniless now. A penniless cripple. Cannot believe I did that. Should have… I don’t know. Shouldn’t have done it before my debts were paid. So sorry…”
“Oh, Robbie,” Violet said, wincing as her aunt carried over a bowl to set beside him. “It’s not your fault. I am sorry to have caused this rift between you and your father and—”
“Move, Violet,” her mother said as she pushed in to help Robbie reach the bowl when he vomited. “There, Mr. Winston. That might actually help. You just rest now. We’ve already called the doctor, and we’ll get you taken care of.”
“Can’t pay for the doctor. Please don’t ask him to come.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Beatrice said. “You need the doctor. Worry about the money when you are not trying to cover my sister and niece in vomit.”
“We need the police as well,” Violet said. “We need them to find the person who did this to Robbie. I… I can’t help fearing that it might have been Winston. That… That he has returned, and if he has… I don’t know what we will do.”