Wishful Thinking [A Guardian Angel Romance--Book 2]
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by Shannah Biondine
Description: Effie Scarsmore and Coralee Nye migrate west to Silver City, Idaho after losing their teaching positions at an Eastern private academy. Effie's fiance, Milford Browne, has been in Silver City for more than a year, establishing his fortune and building a new home where he will live with his future bride. But when Effie and Coralee arrive unannounced, they learn Milford is steeped in gambling debt and has chosen to raffle off the unfinished house to pay off his creditors. Effie's furious and determined to teach Milford a lesson, so she announces that her hand in marriage is part of the raffle prize. When the burly carpenter who's been erecting the house wins the raffle, Effie finds herself betrothed to a large man who barely speaks English. She insists her friend Coralee is the ideal person to tutor him in English and the social graces. Effie has a whole scheme worked out. Coralee isn't certain she likes her role in it, for Effie's schemes have a way of going unexpectedly awry.... Fortunately for the two young women, Silver City isn't just any mining town. This one comes complete with a pair of resident guardian angels, Bliss and Echo. They have their own mission and plans for how human events unfold--with a little sprinkling of humorous heavenly grace.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2006 DDP
eBookwise Release Date: April 2006
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [296 KB]
Reading time: 190-266 min.
Coralee Nye watched her life fall apart, one scattered feather at a time.
She'd been teaching at the Margold Academy for Young Ladies for nearly three years. At first she believed the academy's owner and headmistress, Henrietta Margold, was merely an eccentric older woman. But Cora's roommate and fellow teacher, Effie Scarsmore, had asserted all along that their employer's tendencies went beyond the understandable though odd crochets of an aging widow.
Such widows often talked to their African violets or knitted tea cozies for neighbors, who might not even own teapots. They collected antimacassars, tarnished teaspoons, or glass doorknobs. Sometimes they collected too many pets, which seemed to be the case with Mrs. Margold.
"Her mind's gone round some peculiar bend, Cora," Effie said several times. Usually after morning tea with Mrs. Margold, when she'd just regaled them with Frederick's latest antics. Frederick was not-despite descriptions that would lead listeners to believe otherwise-one of Mrs. Margold's male relations. He was her newest pet parakeet.
Things went from mildly amusing to downright unsettling when Henrietta began referring to other of her pets as Frederick's fellow thespians.
"Thespians?" Effie had choked in horror. "They're birds , Mrs. M. Do you mean to say that you actually believe your birds can-" Whatever insult she'd been about to deliver had been silenced by Coralee kicking Effie sharply on the shin. Cora shook her head in warning. If they appeared disapproving, Mrs. Margold might delay the start of lessons. She'd done it before. Sidetracking the entire staff into a lecture about how astonishing and brilliant her feathered pets were. Really quite special.
Henrietta Margold purchased a decorated puppet stage. She spent evenings stitching costumes and designing miniature props to be utilized in various skits and dramatic enactments. She confided to the academy teachers that Frederick was "a fabulously talented dialogue coach." And she said it without the slightest trace of humor or sly winking.
"They're parakeets," Mrs. Hayden-Smythe, another teacher, complained to Effie and Cora behind the headmistress' back. "Not macaws or standard parrots. Even in that event, it would be hard to believe her claims that they can perform in a theatrical manner. Spouting dialogue or strutting to specific locations on the stage."
"Indeed," Cora had agreed. Then she made to leave the classroom before their discussion turned even more uncharitable. They were, after all, speaking of the older woman who paid all of them.
"Parakeets twitter ," Mrs. Hayden-Smythe went on. "They do not talk . They cannot recite the Bill of Rights or Hannibal's speech as he prepared to cross the Alps. We should contact Mrs. Margold's nephew. Someone needs to advise him that his aunt's notions are most…unsuitable."
The widow had no grown children, no siblings, no one else to look after her welfare or counsel against the idea of adding avian "enactments" to the academy's curriculum. Her nephew lived some hundred miles away and had no truck with daily operation of the academy. But surely he deserved to be warned that his aunt had inexplicably turned…a little too whimsical in her thinking? Dotty in her advancing age?
They called a secret meeting of the staff and took a vote, which resulted in a deadlock. The staff remained evenly divided on the matter of writing Eugene Strickland about his aunt and her pets. No one attempted to reach Mr. Strickland privately. No one felt brave enough to forbid the headmistress to stage a pageant featuring thirteen costumed birds one Thursday afternoon.
And no one knew how to prevent the birds from flitting around the auditorium once she released them. Or how to restrain shrieking pupils, who began tripping over furniture and dashing about in a panic after Millicent insisted Frederick attempted to nest in her hair. No one knew quite what to do when pandemonium ruled the day.
Two hours later, the staff was still trying to recapture errant birds and clean up scattered seed from the carpets and drapes. The birds had wreaked havoc everywhere, from the front foyer to the kitchens, and in virtually every classroom. Only the dormitory rooms escaped the havoc and it was to these rooms students finally fled.
Three girls packed their bags and left that same evening. It was, of course, against school regulations for young students to leave the premises unaccompanied by parents or guardians. This did not deter them. Effie tried to stop Marcella Carstairs from taking her suitcase out the front door and was told, "I would rather be accosted by filthy beggars in the street than shat upon in my own room by birds wearing silly hats!"
Hard to argue with that.
Admissions dropped immediately following the incident, and Eugene Strickland was apprised at last of his aunt's bizarre behavior and questionable judgment-when one of the outraged parents took it upon himself to notify Strickland directly. Someone from the staff described the spectacle in detail to a newspaper reporter. A scathing piece ran the following week, quoting its information as coming from "an inside source who wishes to remain anonymous."
Stanley Beckwith, who'd come aboard only the previous term to teach lower level mathematics and science classes, tendered his resignation after seeing the newspaper story. He told the rest of the staff that he'd endured all the humiliation he could withstand. Recalling his disheveled attempts to corral hopping birds from atop bookcases and window ledges, Cora could hardly blame poor Stanley.
Now she realized he'd taken the wisest course. Escaped while he could, with at least part of his dignity intact.
Eugene Strickland replaced his aunt as school administrator. His first official act in taking over the private school's operations was to assure the staff, parents, and remaining student body that he would see to it that in future the Margold Academy for Young Ladies was indeed a "strict land."
There would be demerits for tardiness or poor penmanship. Academic progress would be closely monitored. No animals of any kind were allowed, under any circumstances. Guest lecturers or visitors must obtain Strickland's approval before interacting with students. There would be no exceptions to these rules. Deviations could result in dismissals of either students or staff.
Additionally, he drew up new employment contracts for the teachers, and called them one by one to sign them. This afternoon he summoned Effie and Coralee together. He did not , however, offer them new contracts. Instead he informed them their services would no longer be required after the end of the current term.
Copyright © 2006 Shannah Biondine