Updated: Apr 12, 2022
The Heir Comes Home-Part 3 (Part 2)
by Sandy Kay Slawson
Regina Waters entered the dining room at her boarding house and stopped short. At the table… her table, sat Mr. Scotty’s son and daughter. She spun on her heel and retreated. A chair’s scrape caused her to move faster upstairs. When she reached the landing, the sound of her name forced her to halt. With a stiffened spine and lifted chin, Regina turned to confront Mr. Stewart. With crossed arms, she waited.
“Miss Waters, may I have a moment of your time?” Mr. Stewart said.
Regina didn’t know what to expect. Would he berate her again? Make more unfounded accusations? Did he find a mistake in the ledger? She’d left the moneybag. He couldn’t accuse her of stealing it. She didn’t want him to yell whatever he intended to say for the entire house to hear, therefore she retraced her steps until face to… chin with him. His height took her by surprise. She hadn’t noticed the night before. “Did you come to force me out of my home, too?” Regina said.
“I assure you, we weren’t aware that this is your residence. Please don’t let us keep you from your breakfast,” Mr. Stewart said.
The man in front of her, calm and pleasant, seemed a different man altogether than the one she’d first met. What had changed? “I’ve lost my appetite, but why do you care? Last night, you were ready to see me thrown in jail.”
“You have my deepest apologies for the way I acted. Although I’m not finished checking the ledger, thus far I’ve found no errors in these months since my father passed. You’ve put the mercantile in better order, and kept it cleaner than I’ve ever seen it. Perhaps I’ll find a reason for concern, and I am still confused why you continued to work despite my father’s death, but I ought not have treated you the way I did without proof of any wrongdoing on your part that we’ve been able to find as yet in our search of the mercantile, my father’s possessions, or the books,” Mr. Stewart said.
“If you find any error, I ask you to please believe that I have not done it on purpose. I am an imperfect human, after all. I’ll make whatever restitution I must in order to right my mistake.”
“Kirk?” Miss Stewart said, as she entered the foyer outside the dining room. “Miss Waters, we had no notion that you lived here at the boarding house. I hope my brother hasn’t bothered you.”
Regina lifted her gaze to Mr. Stewart and noted the scowl he gave his sister, then hid her amusement. “Not really, Miss Stewart, he—”
“Call me Kathleen, please.”
The two elderly women who owned the house came from their rooms at the back of the house. “Good morning, and how is everyone on this beautiful day?” The more outspoken of the sisters asked as she looked between each of them.
“We are well and you?” Regina said.
"Fine as any two old women can be."
Regina waited until the women, then another young tenant who raced down the stairs, made their way into the dining room before she continued.
“Kathleen, he apologized and I accept. I understand how my presence at the mercantile when you expected it to be closed, appeared. Although I did not appreciate the accusations, I do acknowledge that my decision to keep the mercantile open may have been naïve,” Regina said.
“Perhaps we might discuss the situation like reasonable adults over breakfast?” Kathleen said with a glare at her brother.
Mr. Stewart raised his arms. “I surrender, enough barbs and admonitions, dear sister. I admit I acted like a toad yesterday, but yes, we should discuss this further.”
“I would, but I’m not ready for church and I must be on my way soon,” Regina said.
“But... your breakfast?”
Kathleen’s expression of concern eased some of the hurt from the previous night. “Alright, I’ll grab a plate and carry it to my room.”
“We ought to go as well. It will be nice to see some familiar faces. Kirk and I cut our teeth in that church. We'll go, won’t we, Kirk?”
“No reason not to. Maybe we can find another time to speak, Miss Waters?”
“Yes, another time.”
Forty minutes later, Regina entered the empty church and positioned herself in front of the piano. The emotional upheaval of the encounter with Mr. Scotty’s grown children, and worry about the unknown course her life may take because of their arrival, came out through her fingers and onto the keyboard. Since her family’s violent deaths two years ago, then again after Mr. Scotty's unexpected death, she’d found that music offered solace when life became too tumultuous and she felt overwhelmed.
The old hymn “Rock of Ages,” poured from her soul and filled the space. With eyes closed, Regina prayed the words of the song in silence. Let me hide myself in Thee… Whatever happened, the Lord held her and hid her, and would carry her through as He always had.
To be continued...
"The three-leaf clover, a type of trefoil plant, has been considered the unofficial national flower of Ireland for centuries. Irish legend says that Saint Patrick used the shamrock as an educational symbol to explain the Holy Trinity to nonbelievers as he converted the Irish to Christianity in the fourth century."