Richmond

Main_Street_Station-1900

JASON LOCKHART paused on the step of the train, but he saw no one familiar on the platform. Not that he expected to recognize anyone. The letter from Nelson Smathers, the Chairman of Clinical Research, had said only that someone would meet him.

He pulled his duffel bag close and stepped down. At the other side of the platform, he put down the bag and looked around. Everyone seemed to know where they were going. Most of the men were in uniform, as he had been until just last month. He stopped a porter.

“Excuse me, where are the taxis?”

“Through that door and straight across, sir. That’ll be Main Street. There’s a stand there.”

“Thanks.” He shouldered his duffel and joined the crowd heading for the main exit. Out on the sidewalk, he queued up at the taxi stand.

“Doctor Lockhart, I presume?”

He turned to see a tall, slender woman with shining auburn hair and bright hazel eyes holding a sign with the word “Lockhart.” She smiled and arched an eyebrow as if expecting a response to her corny cue. But Jason was flummoxed.

“Uh, yes. How did you guess?”

“Apart from the fact that you look like a lost Yankee?” She smiled. Her tone put him at ease, making him chuckle. “Over there.” She pointed to a dark green Hudson parked on the other side of the street.

At the car, she opened the trunk. “Don’t you have a footlocker or something at baggage claim?”

“No, this is it, Miss –?”

“Ardwood. Nancy Ardwood.”

“I’m Jason.”

“Not yet, you’re not.” She smiled at his surprise. “I’m still a student.”

“But I don’t mind. You’re not my patient or my student.”

“My Daddy taught me better than that. I’ll call you Doctor Lockhart at least for today. Jump in – no, the other side.” She slid smoothly into the driver’s seat while he stumbled around to the passenger’s side.

“Sorry, force of habit.”

“I understand, but no one drives this baby but me. I almost have it paid off.”

“Where are we going?”

“Unless you need the men’s room in a hurry or are starving, we’re going to your quarters. We could have walked, but I expected you to have more luggage.”

“My brother has my things in Illinois. I’ll send for them after I get settled.”

“I heard that you were from New York.”

“Before the war, yes. But our parents died, and my brother sold the house. So here I am with just a duffel bag.”

“Sorry about your parents.”

“Thank you. I’m dealing with it.”

“Here we are.” She pulled up in front of an antebellum house next to the Valentine Museum. “The College has contracts with boarding houses in the neighborhood. The Dean told me to settle you with Mrs. Crawford.”

“This is close. And convenient. I expected to stay in a hotel and find a room while I looked for a home.”

“You’ll probably still want to find your own place, but this way, the College can put you to work faster.”

He followed her up the stairs. A thin woman in black, with silver hair drawn into a bun, welcomed them in. She eyed Nancy sternly.

“I know, Mrs. Crawford. I’ll be on my way now.” She turned to Jason. “The Dean would like to see you at two, so you have time to freshen up and change. I’ll be back at one-thirty.” She let herself out.

“I’m delighted to meet you, Doctor Lockhart,” Mrs. Crawford led him upstairs. “You have a suite at the end of the hall. A small study, bedroom and its own water closet. The bath is in there.” She waved at a door halfway down the hall.

Jason was still distracted. “Miss Ardwood seemed in a hurry to leave. I hope I haven’t offended her.”

“Heavens, no. She is a fine young lady and she knows the rules.” Seeing his confusion, she added. “No mixing of the sexes in the house. That’s what the front porch is for.”

“I see.” He set his duffel on the floor in the study. It was small but well appointed: a desk, a reading chair with a floor lamp, bookshelves. He could see a comfortable-looking full bed and an armoire through the open bedroom door. “This is very nice.”

“I hope you like it here, Doctor Lockhart. Starting tomorrow, you may take your breakfast and supper downstairs, but please give me a day’s notice so that we cook enough for you.”

“I will. Thanks.” Giving him the room key, she closed the door behind her.

At one-thirty, Jason was standing on the porch as Nancy walked around the corner to his right. He admired her purposeful stride and her athletic grace. This is no shrinking violet, he thought. He liked that.

“Hello, Doctor, are you ready for a short tour on the way?”

“Sure.” Seeing that she didn’t slow down or stop, he took the steps two at a time to catch up with her.

“Are you always in a hurry?”

“Not at all, but I like to keep moving. I usually practice at this hour, and my body expects it.”

“Tennis? I saw the gym bag and racket in the trunk.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I play tennis. Where?”

“There are several clubs in the city. I like the one at the University of Richmond because it’s near my home.”

“Would you like to play me?”

She turned to give him long look up and down. “Why not?”

“Are the courts nearby?”

“Not UR, but the MCV courts are just at the end of this street.”

“Could we play today? I’ve been on the train for two days. I have my racket.”

“Sure.” Her smile had a mischievous twist to it, but he thought it was cute.

She led him to the Egyptian Building, which housed the Medical College of Virginia and turned him over to the Dean’s secretary.

***

“God, you’re fast!”

“Game set and match, doctor.” Nancy stood easily by the net, relaxed and barely glowing from the exercise. Jason was soaked in sweat and breathing hard, but he was also high on endorphins.

“Do we have time for another game?”

“I won’t let you win it, but you could try for a draw.” She cocked her head and dared him with a smile.

“I may be out of shape after tromping around the desert for two years, but I’ll get my game back. Let’s do it.”

She danced through the next half-hour, allowing a draw. Jason thoroughly enjoyed her sassy humor and her company. He felt no shame that she could beat him.

“Why do you look like a cat playing with its food?” He said as he caught his breath. She laughed.

“Because you looked so cocky when you asked me to play this afternoon.”

“I concede that you are the best player I’ve ever met, but give me some time.”

“Considering that you haven’t been able to play all that time, you’re actually doing quite well. I wouldn’t mind helping you with your recovery.”

“Won’t I drag your game down?”

“I still have the team that practices at UR. I’ll stay in shape.”

“Let’s discuss the details over dinner. I have to eat out the first night anyway. Are you free?”

“Why, Doctor Lockhart, we only just met!” She tilted her head and batted her eyelashes. He laughed. She poked him in the chest. “I’ll meet you at six.” She headed for the ladies’ locker room, while he walked back to Mrs. Crawford’s house.

***

The following Monday, Jason walked to the new clinical research laboratory on the other side of the campus. While being toured, briefed, examined, and evaluated, he met the other men and the one woman on the clinical research faculty. Almost all were recently discharged medical officers like himself. He had attended his first planning meetings and met the staff in the lab.

Over the next few weeks, he settled into a routine of planning and coordinating trials, meeting with patients and other faculty, and on weekends, looking for an apartment. With the GI’s returning from the war, housing construction had turned the suburbs into boom towns; finished places were hard to come by.

Three times a week, he met Nancy at the MCV tennis courts. She described herself as an army brat, so she had moved around a lot growing up. Upon his questioning, she admitted that she spent the war in Montréal, where she studied at McGill University. Although she obviously enjoyed his company and ribbing him, she kept the conversations short.

But she couldn’t keep out of his mind. From his colleagues and the staff, he found out that the “team that practices at UR” was the American Lawn Tennis Association club. They told him that Nancy worked as a pro with both men and women. That explains the car and graduate school tuition, he thought.

“I can tell you don’t read the sports section,” said Mike Clancy, his principal lab technician. “Nancy Ardwood is going to put the Richmond club on the tennis map at the national championships next spring.”

“In New York?”

“That’s the one.”

He also learned that she was in the first cohort of MCV’s new PhD program in pharmacology. Classes and student labs were in the older buildings, so he never saw her off the court.

Not that he could obsesses about the dark-haired woman who haunted his dreams. His days were crammed with the busy-ness of building a brand-new research operation as the city around him madly raced to rebuild a peacetime existence. These were heady times for the surgeon-turned-researcher. Still, in quiet moments, he would find himself grinning privately as he pictured those bright eyes laughing at him over her tennis racket or that smile that told him that she was happy to be there too.

***

After the fall break, Nelson Smathers called him to the department office. Elaine Johnson, the chairman’s secretary, motioned him into the conference room off the reception area. There he found Dean Haag, Nelson, and the Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, whom Jason had met early in the semester. Gersheim, Jason thought. Ari Gersheim.

“That’s everyone,” said the Dean. “Nelson?”

“Gentlemen, you know that the Pharmacology program is very special at MCV, partly because it’s our first academic degree program. We’ve had a proposal from one of the PhD candidates to carry out drug trials at our clinical research facilities.”

“We’re quite excited about it,” said Professor Gersheim. “One of our students designed a program for us to do independent testing of new drugs for the local pharmaceutical companies. MCV has the newest facilities available anywhere, but we can’t finance large scale trials on the meager grants that the NIH sends us. The student approached Abbott, Pfizer and Smithson. They are willing to finance the trials – including indirect cost recoveries, of course.”

“Now that the war is over,” Jason said, “the government is pulling back research and development funding. I wondered when someone would notice.” The others nodded.

The dean looked at Jason. “You have the labs, the companies have the money, and both they and the pharmacology school need the research.”

“It sounds like a win-win to me,” Jason said. “What do you need from me?”

Nelson answered. “When the time comes, the students will join our staff in the lab for the duration of the trials to which they are assigned. We’ll set them up with internships. If you are willing to work with them, Doctor Gersheim here will ask one of us to sit on the dissertation proposal committees of the PhD candidates that are participating. That’s just one now. Except for that and the extra activity, it should be business as usual for us.”

Jason left the meeting looking forward to new project. It would be more work, but he was busy already. He was excited to have younger people challenging the old timers. He had seen what teenagers and young adults could do in combat and in sandstorms; he missed them.

***

As the leaves turned and fell, Jason found a furnished apartment in the block between Mrs. Crawford’s house and the MCV tennis courts. He felt his muscles returning to the form he had developed at Cornell before the war. Some of the faculty at the lab also played, so he was able to fit easier workouts in between the sessions with Nancy.

The week before Thanksgiving, he finally won a match with Nancy. In the time it took to walk to the net, they both recovered their breath.

“Thanks,” he said.

“What for?”

“Letting me win at last.”

“Jason, you won that fair and square. Congratulations.”

“It’s ‘Jason’ now?”

She grinned. “After our second game last summer, I decided when I would use your name.”

“This feels like a graduation ceremony. Let me take us somewhere to celebrate.”

“Not tonight, sorry.” She chuckled at his crestfallen expression. “I need to be in top form tomorrow morning. Let’s go out tomorrow night. By then, I’ll have my dissertation proposal defended and be ready to relax.”

“I forget that you’re a student here when we’re playing. What’s it about?”

“Tell you tomorrow. Until then, only my proposal committee can ask that.” She smiled and poked him with her racket. “If they accept the answer, I’d like to go to the Jefferson for dinner. Can you handle that?”

“I think so. I’ve been too busy to spend my severance pay from the Navy.” She laughed.

“I don’t eat that much, and we can go Dutch.”

“I wouldn’t hear of it.”

“Okay. But don’t be too proud with me. In case you haven’t noticed, I like carrying my own weight.”

“I noticed, and I’ll remember to ask when I need to. Promise.”

“I’ll come by with the car about six. If it’s nice, we can walk.”

“See you at six, then. I’ll make the reservations.”

***

The next day, Jason moved through his duties in a distracted state. He did not know what Nancy was studying or where the dissertation proposal defense would be held, but he had no doubt that she would pass. There was nothing about that woman that accepted failure, he could tell.

Elaine Johnson called him in the lab just as he was about to go to lunch.

“A Miss Ardwood called for you.”

“Nancy.”

“Yes. She said that she would meet you as agreed.”

“Did she leave a number?”

“No, sir.”

“No problem. Thanks.”

Back in the lab, he tried to concentrate on the pile of release forms on his desk. His principal lab tech walked in.

“You okay?” Mike asked. “You seem out in space today.”

“Oh, I’m fine. To tell the truth, I have a date tonight, and it occurred to me that it’s my first date since before the war.”

“That explains it.” Mike picked up the finished pile of forms. “I’ll take these to Doris. You want to skip the calibration of the spectrometer today? It’ll still be here Monday.”

“Sure. It’s close enough to quitting time. Let’s call it a day.”

***

Jason admired the skill with which Nancy backed the Hudson into the parking space outside his apartment building. He had stood in the space to keep it free after his neighbor had pulled out.

“It doesn’t look like rain to me,” she said. “But you’re the sailor. Shall we walk?”

“I was a surgeon, not a sailor, but yes, let’s walk.”

She locked the car and took his arm. Standing almost as tall as he, she matched his stride in her low heels. He enjoyed the pleasant warmth running up his arm like an IV drip of something strong.

The Jefferson Hotel was a landmark of downtown Richmond, and the restaurant was arguably the finest in town. With rationing lifted, the staff had wasted no time in filling out the menu with the many delicacies that had established its renown before the war.

When they turned their coats over to the coat check attendant, Jason could appreciate Nancy’s style off the court.

“Are you all right, Jason?”

He shook his head. “Sorry. I’m fine. And so are you, I confess. I’ve never seen you dressed for the evening.”

“You look pretty good yourself.” She took his arm as they approached the maître d’hôtel.

Over supper, Nancy asked Jason about his family, especially his twin nieces. Jason did not forget her promise.

“So, I take it you disarmed the defense and they approved your proposal.” She nodded. “Now you can tell me what it’s about.”

“But wouldn’t that be talking shop? Bad manners, at least.” She wiggled her eyebrows and left one in an inquiring arch. Jason chuckled.

“You are a very private person, but I can go to the Provost’s Office and get a copy of the whole proposal, you know.”

“Maybe I should let you do that.” She smiled and cut a small piece of the filet mignon. “Tell you what. If you want to talk shop, I’ll let you go first. What do you think of the facilities at the Clinical Research Lab? Say, compared to Cornell or wherever you worked after that.”

Through the main course and salad, she kept the conversation focused on Jason’s work. Clearly, she knew the layout and the equipment. Over the crème brulée, he tried to turn the subject.

“I think you know more about my lab than I do. Why haven’t I seen you in our building?”

“I worked in your lab before you got here.”

“What are you working on now?”

“I’m on a team comparing different protocols for cost-effectiveness.”

“Sounds like a business school project.”

“It does, doesn’t it? Maybe I should get an MBA after this. Anyway, we don’t need to be in the lab to run the numbers at this point.” She stifled a yawn, but it caused him to yawn too.

“Coffee?” He signaled for the server.

“No, thanks. The walk back should wake us up.” He asked for the check.

At the stairs to his building, they paused, each looking expectantly at the other.

“Mrs. Crawford doesn’t live here, and I’ve known you for almost six months now” he said. “Would you like to come up?”

“Yes. I thought you were never going to get your own place.” As they climbed the stairs, she slipped her arm in his and gave him an affectionate tug….

****

Jason awoke to the sun streaming in the east window. He opened his eyes and saw the familiar outline of the College beyond the trees across the street.

Then he smelled coffee. He leaped out of bed and ran to the bathroom for a robe. It was missing. Nancy! He jumped into the trousers that he had left on the chair and went to the kitchen.

“Good morning, sleepy head. I don’t know if you like the full American breakfast or the Continental, so I’ve only brewed coffee. She pointed to a chair and set a steaming cup down. “The milk went bad, so the coffee is black today.”

“My fault. I don’t use the milk fast enough.” He sipped the coffee and looked at the beautiful woman sitting at his kitchen table. She was staring back, with that mischievous smile that he had come to love. “What?”

“Just thinking about how smooth your skin is. I like that.”

“Compared to what?” He blushed and looked down.

“Nothing in particular. I didn’t know what to expect, and that stood out among my impressions.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For everything. Letting me celebrate with you. The tennis lessons. Getting to know you. Everything.”

“Thank you, too.” She rose. “So, breakfast?”

“What do you usually have?”

“Crusty bread or a croissant, jam and café au lait. What about you?”

“The chefs in the mess tent were French. Pretty much the same.” He took a loaf of French bread from the bread box, while she found the jam and butter in the refrigerator….

***

The weekend passed in a fog for Jason. Mostly he daydreamed of Nancy after she left Saturday morning. He was surprised to find out that she lived alone out on the West End, but had boarders. They were packing out, and Nancy would be inspecting their rooms on Sunday.

Monday morning, he was up early, feeling some anticipation for the week ahead. The first cohort of student interns for new drug trials for Smithson Pharmaceuticals would arrive on Wednesday for orientation. Ari Gersheim would be coming over to introduce the Principal Investigator. Smithson had only signed off on the arrangement on Friday, so the details had been kept confidential. Jason knew that drug companies were more secretive than the War Department when it came to new products, but he still felt a little annoyed to know so little two days before the start.

Elaine Johnson stepped into the lab as he was hanging up his coat.

“The Dean called for Dr. Gersheim, so he’s sending the PI over alone.”

“Still nine o’clock?”

“Yes. I’ll bring her down.”

“Her?”

“Yes, doctor.” She crossed her arms and arched an eyebrow. “We’re not all secretaries around here.” Jason blushed with embarrassment.

“I’m sorry. With Madeleine on my team, I should know better.” Madeleine had landed at Juno Beach in Normandy, and followed the Canadian Expeditionary Force into France.

“Accepted.” Elaine smiled. “One of the changes while you were gone. You’ll get used to it.” With a wink, she turned and left.

At nine, Elaine walked back in, with a familiar figure trailing her.

“Dr. Lockhart, this is Dr. Ardwood.”

Jason stood and stared. “Doctor Ardwood? I thought you were a student.”

“I am, but that didn’t cancel my M.D.”

Elaine was grinning. “I’ll leave you two to get this rolling. Call me if you need anything.” She left.

It took a minute for Jason to recover. He wanted to hug her and scream at the same time. Finally, he said. “Coffee, doctor?”

She laughed. “Sure.” She took off her coat and hung it next to his. They walked down the hall to the break room “You can call me Nancy, unless you run a stuffier lab than you did last week.”

“We’re on first names here. Even the principal lab tech is a PhD in physics.”

“I know Mike. He’s one of the reasons I wanted your lab to run this program. Not much can go wrong with him in charge of the equipment.”

“You’re the PI? I thought you only just defended your dissertation proposal.”

“I am and I did.” She took two mugs with one hand and decanted coffee into each. She replaced the carafe, then handed a mug to Jason. “Ari would have explained it had he been here this morning. A medical doctor can direct research, especially at MCV, where we don’t have academic degrees yet.”

“I get it. That’s why Ari is your advisor for the PhD.”

“Right. But I can be the PI for the research itself and apply for grants.”

“Weird, but I’m delighted to get to know you better.” They turned into his office.

“Friday wasn’t enough?”

Jason blushed. “Of course, but you know damn well you’ve been stringing me along.”

Touching his cheek with the back of her hand, she looked into his eyes and said “I’m sorry about that. It’s part of my nature not to volunteer more about myself than I must. I didn’t expect Friday night.”

He looked at the door in case to be sure of some relative privacy. “I hope it won’t be the last time. I don’t think this qualifies as fraternizing with the students.”

“I hope so, too. We’re peers here: my project; your lab.” She smiled. He smiled back. “Are you going away for Thanksgiving?”

“I had forgotten about it. No.”

“Good. You are hereby invited to our house for the traditional feast.”

“Our? I thought you lived alone.”

“I do – until tomorrow night. I’ll be meeting my parents at the station. Dad is taking leave between duty stations.”

“I’d be delighted. Can I come out early to help?”

“No need. I’ve been getting this ready for months.” She looked at the clock. “I’ll fill you in better later. Let’s get Mike and Madeleine in here.”

“Not so fast. I think you owe me some explanation about the research before we call them.”

“You haven’t read the proposal?”

“Of course not. Everyone has been handling this tighter than the plans for the Normandy invasion.”

“I’m sorry, Jason. I gave it to Nelson on Friday.” She looked past his shoulder to the desk. “I think that’s it on your in-box.”

Turning around, Jason lifted the heavy manuscript and sighed. “I left early Friday, so I didn’t know it was here.”

“That explains why you were so surprised this morning. I thought you were stringing me along Friday night.”

“I take it Mike knows all about this.”

“No. But he worked with my earlier research, so he knows what to expect.” She picked up the coffee mugs. “While you read the introduction and as much of the research methodology as you can, I’ll get refills. Okay?”

Shaking his head to reestablish his focus, Jason opened the dissertation proposal. Nancy proposed to examine two new drug lines doubling the number of runs to see if a protocol with fewer steps could achieve the same results as the current setup in Jason’s lab.

When she came back, he looked up and grinned. “You could get your MBA with this.”

“Maybe that’s why Smithson likes it. Their honchos can understand it.” She set his mug down. “Did you read enough to call in the others?”

“Sure. I’m used to chasing the troops to the fight. I’ll catch up.”

***

Wednesday afternoon, Nancy and Jason helped Mike and Madeleine close the lab for the long weekend. As Nancy had expected, Mike’s team of technicians had set everything up on Monday, so they were off to a good start in the first three days.

“Tomorrow, I’ll pick you up about one,” said Nancy as they collected their coats in his office. “Is that too early?” She gave him that mischievous smile he loved.

“Of course not, but I could make my own way out there. Certainly, I can find a taxi even on Thanksgiving.”

“That would cost more than flying to Illinois to be with your brother. I’ll pick you up.”

“Okay. I can see that you like to drive.”

“That, too.”

“Your father must be a career regular. Is that right?”

Oh, yes. West Point and all that. Why?”

“You’ve never told me much about him except that he’s Army and you lived in Europe before the war. Where was he during the war?”

“Pacific theater.”

Jason snorted. “Maybe I can ask him.”

“You could, but be prepared to get just as much as I got. He doesn’t talk about the war. Ever.”

Jason’s expression darkened. “I can understand that.”

As they walked to the exit, she added, “Bring your tennis kit and plan to stay over. We have plenty of room, and I don’t expect you to make a fool of yourself.”

“If I make a fool of myself, what then?”

“I’ll take you home, or maybe make you sleep in the backyard.”

He gave her a one-armed hug. “I’ll take that risk. See you at one.”

***

Jason did not make a fool of himself, but Thursday morning, he lived in terror of tripping on himself. Nancy had told him that the house was her father’s childhood home, with room for generations and siblings. He was not prepared for the stately antebellum home on Three Chopt Road, less than a mile from the UR tennis courts and the Richmond Country Club. As Nancy drove the Hudson around the driveway to the front of the house, her parents came out to the porch.

Even before he could make out their features, Jason understood where Nancy got her height and her good looks. Colonel Matthew Ardwood stood at least six foot four; Annabelle Dampierre Ardwood close to six feet. She looked like a blonde version of Nancy. But there was another quality, which Jason recognized from his travels in France and Morocco, a confident bearing that was utterly feminine and alluring while conveying great strength of character. These were women who would never look old in any sense of the word.

Nancy hugged her parents, then turned to introduce Jason. Her father’s handshake was firm, and his smile was wide. “I am very delighted to meet you, Jason. I’ve heard more about you than anything else for the last two days. This is my wife, Annabelle.”

Enchanté, madame.” Jason bowed slightly as he took her hand. Annabelle smiled.

Je ne savais pas que vous parliez français, monsieur.” I didn’t know you spoke French. Annabelle Dampierre looked at her daughter. Nancy shrugged.

Pas d’occasion, maman.” It didn’t come up. She took Jason’s hand. “It’s been tennis and work, so far.”

“Perhaps this will be the first of many pleasant surprises, non?” She indicated the door and led them into the house.

“I’m afraid it’s rather plain,” said Colonel Ardwood. “With boarders living here, we stored almost all our personal things.”

Even without the memorabilia, the house did not lack for comfort or elegance, in a simple, understated way. They gave Jason a tour of the ground floor and the yard out back. Then he went for his tennis bag. Nancy showed him his room upstairs.

“Mom and Dad are down there on the end. My room is the one across from yours. Bathroom there in the hall, just like Mrs. Crawford’s.”

“I’ll be right at home, then.” Jason smiled. He looked around. “You’re managing all this by yourself? With school, tennis and research?”

“It’s not that hard. When my grandparents died, Dad kept the gardener, the cook, and the housekeeper. The rent from the boarders pays for them. Of course, they’re home for the weekend. We’re on our own for the Thanksgiving feast.”

“May I help?”

“Of course. Dump your stuff, hang up your coat and jacket, and come downstairs.” Moving into his arms, she gave him a long, lingering kiss, then slipped out the door, closing it behind her.

***

While Jason sat on a stool in the corner of the kitchen whisking egg whites into a meringue, he enjoyed listening to Nancy and her mother swapping stories of their adventures since Nancy left Montréal. One advantage to serving in North Africa, he thought. I could never have followed their French before the war. He had helped her father set the dinner table. The colonel then went to the train station to meet his sister Mary. Gravel crunching in the driveway signaled their return.

If Norman Rockwell had lived in Virginia, he would have painted Thanksgiving dinner in the Ardwood home. The conversation lasted until midnight, over drinks in the dining room and then in the kitchen as everyone helped clean up.

The next morning, they walked to UR for tennis. The family prevailed on Jason to stay Saturday night, with the thin excuse that Nancy could take Aunt Mary to the train station and Jason home in one trip. Clearly, they enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed theirs.

***

The semester ended in the middle of December, though the research trials would continue through the winter. The evening of the last day of school, Jason took Nancy to the Jefferson and proposed. She paused with that mischievous smile before saying “yes.”

Nancy insisted on a small wedding at Saint Stephen’s Church, with only their colleagues from the College, the Lockharts from Illinois, and Mary from Washington. In January, before leaving for a new duty station in Kansas, Colonel Ardwood gave his daughter away. Nancy and Jason settled into the big house on Three Chopt Road.

 

© 2020, JT Hine

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