Miss Evelyn Winsome sat in the drawing room of the three-story Eastlake-style house waiting for her mother’s daily inspection of the ground floor. Today, she planned to convince her mother to let her go to Yellowstone National Park with her uncle, Teddy Roosevelt. Persephone
Evelyn began her plot by wearing what her mother called proper tea attire. The powder blue taffeta dress with a bustle and elbow length sleeves would be sure to get her mother’s approval. Evelyn preferred to wear a split biking skirt and a simple white blouse which were laid out on her bed. The moment her mother agreed to her trip, she would change and go for a celebratory bike ride through Central Park.
When she heard her mother’s footstep coming down the stairs, she stood, straightened her skirt, took a deep breath, went to the foyer, and watched her mother descend toward her. She crossed her fingers behind her back.
“Good gracious, Evelyn, do we have a tea to attend this afternoon? Where’s my calendar?”
“No, mother, no tea to attend today.” She smiled, thinking her plot was already working.
“Thank goodness. I am looking forward to a simple day. It’s already too hot for outings.” Her mother walked around the parlor and fluffed a pillow on the settee.
Evelyn launched into her rehearsed speech. “Mother, Uncle Teddy said the weather is marvelous in the west in August. And, the weather here is dreadful and Father is refusing to go to the Cape or the Hudson this year because of the business deal.”
“I wish Theodore hadn’t invited you to Yellowstone. Traveling across the states and staying in the wilderness. Who knows what animals will horrify you?”
“Exactly, Mother, the stories I’ll have to tell. They would make me more interesting to a suitor. Just imagine a winter ball. I would be dressed in a subtle pink dress and Susie would be in a stunning red velvet gown. All the beau’s would surround her and her costume. She would have them laughing about a mishap in buying her latest hat.”
Her mother moved a porcelain cat from one end of the mantel to the other end and stood back to admire the effect.
Evelyn frowned at the cat, hating how it now cover her dress in the family photograph and continued her story. “I’d giggle at her tale in the right places while using my fan to win over George’s attention. When Helen made the inevitable pause, trying to invent a new adventure with which to entertain, I would tell a marvelous truly true story about a grizzly bear. My next utterance wouldn’t matter because George would take me out to the balcony for some fresh air and.” She paused for a dramatic effect. “propose! Mother, just think, Engaged!” Her voice rose with excitement. “And, this season! My first season! All because of my trip to Yellowstone with Uncle Teddy.”
Evelyn watched as her mother, who was seemingly unimpressed by her daughter’s story, paused in her task of plucking dead leafs from her display of indoor horticulture, “Who are George and Helen?”
“No one, Mother. I made them up. The point…”
“Yes, the point is you want to gallivant across the country with Uncle Teddy who, no doubt, will be hunting the whole time. You’re barely eighteen. Who would be your companion, your chaperone?”
“It’s not a hunting trip. You know he’s head of the Yellowstone Park Board. He has meetings, and Alice travels with him all the time. She’ll be my companion.”
“Yes, of course, Alice, poor dear widowed Alice. Bless her. Has it been one year or two since she was widowed? She would be a good companion during your first season too. Her petiteness would enhance your willowy height.” Mrs. Winsome left her plants and headed toward the kitchen. Evelyn knew her mother sought a headache cure because her requests and ramblings always gave her mother a headache.
Evelyn followed, feeling unbearably restricted in her clothes, asked for a definite confirmation. “Mother, you haven’t answered me. May I go? May I get out of the city for at least the last half of August?”
“Yes, Evelyn, you may go to the wilderness and leave me in the sweltering heat with your brother and father.” Her mother pulled a bottle from the shelf.
Evelyn ran to her mother’s side, kissed her on the cheek, and dashed from the room. A fast retreat was necessary because she knew if she started to talk about what she would wear on her adventure, her mother might change her mind. Before climbing the stairs, she made a detour to the parlor and moved the porcelain cat from in front of her dress and placed it to block her brother.
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