Being married had advantages that attorney gideon
Bates had never even considered during his bachelor days. For example,
he no longer had to think of polite excuses when a client offered to
introduce him to a marriageable daughter, as he was starting to suspect
Mr. Sebastian Nolan was working his way up to doing.
"I'd like to
arrange for a sum of money to be settled on my daughter, Irene," Nolan
was saying. He was a large man, tall and substantial without being fat,
and his weathered face indicated he had worked very hard for his
fortune, although Gideon happened to know Nolan just spent a lot of time
on the training track with his Thoroughbred horses. "Not so much money
that she would draw the attention of fortune hunters but enough to
ensure her a comfortable income and to sweeten the pot."
"Sweeten the pot?" Gideon echoed in confusion.
guess that's a poor choice of words, but I'd like to provide any
potential suitors with a little incentive. You see, Irene is . . . Well,
don't get me wrong. No man could want a finer daughter. She's smart as a
whip and has the disposition of an angel, but a girl needs something
more. We're both men of the world, Mr. Bates, so I know you understand."
"I'm not sure I do, Mr. Nolan," Gideon hedged, afraid he understood only too well.
sighed. "A man wants a woman who's at least a bit . . . attractive. It
shouldn't matter, of course, but we both know it does, at least to most
men, and Irene . . . Poor Irene took after me when it comes to looks,
instead of her sainted mother, God rest her soul. She's a wonderful girl
but not one a man would look at twice, if you know what I mean."
dear, poor Irene indeed if that's what her own father thought of her.
Gideon didn't even have to imagine what his mother would say on the
subject of females being judged on their appearance, and his wife,
Elizabeth, would agree with her wholeheartedly. For his part, Gideon
wanted to argue with Mr. Nolan, but he couldn't exactly take the high
ground on this subject since his own wife was quite lovely. He also had
to admit that it had been her beauty that originally attracted him
before he fell in love with her spirit. Still, he didn't want to confirm
such a shallow quality in his gender as a whole.
"I'm sure your daughter will have many suitors who find her quite appealing."
admire your optimism, young man, but she's twenty-three and hasn't had a
suitor yet, which is why I want to give her a dowry of sorts. It's an
old-fashioned idea, but it used to do the trick, and I don't see why it
couldn't do so again."
"Perhaps we shouldn't call it a dowry,"
Gideon suggested. "I like the word you used, 'settle.' Perhaps we could
call it a settlement."
"So, you can fix that up for me?"
have a few ideas on the subject, but I'd like to discuss them with my
partners who have a lot more experience with things like this." Was that
really true? He hoped so. "They may have some even better suggestions.
If you give me a week, I can prepare a proposal for you."
Nolan actually clapped his hands together with satisfaction. "That's the ticket! I knew you'd figure something out."
"Please wait until I've actually done it to compliment me, Mr. Nolan," Gideon begged him good-naturedly.
"Of course, of course. I appreciate your attitude, Mr. Bates. You're married, aren't you?"
blinked at the abruptness of the question. "Why, yes, I am." So, his
fears that Nolan wanted to fix him up with Irene had been unfounded.
fingered his luxurious beard thoughtfully. "I'm wondering if you and
your missus might enjoy a day at the races. The Belmont Stakes are next
Wednesday, and it should be a good show. Sir Barton is running. They say
he's the best horse of this year, maybe of this century."
"Yes, I've read a lot about him."
"I'd love to have you and your missus join me. I've got a box reserved since I have two horses running that day."
"In the Belmont?" Gideon asked in surprise.
"Oh no, in other races. I don't have a horse that good yet, but I'm still building my stable."
"I knew you raised horses, but I didn't know you raced them."
shrugged modestly. "I took up raising them as a hobby when I first made
some money, but I finally started racing seriously the past few years.
How about it? Do you think your wife would enjoy a day at Belmont Park
or is she one of those folks who don't believe in gambling?"
was pretty sure Elizabeth had nothing against gambling, and she might
very well enjoy a day at the track. "I'm sure she'd be happy to
accompany me," Gideon said with confidence, "but I'll need to check with
her in case she has other plans."
"I understand. And how about your mother? Would she join us, too, do you think?"
"She very well might. That's nice of you to include her, Mr. Nolan."
I've got to fill up my box, and I've been thinking Irene should meet
some society ladies. You see, her mother died when she was born, so she
spent way too much time running wild at the stables growing up, and I'm
afraid she knows more about horses than she does about etiquette."
bit back a smile. He should probably admit that his wife wasn't exactly
a "society lady," but she was quickly becoming one, and, in any case,
her background was certainly none of Nolan's business. For her part,
Elizabeth would probably love the idea of being a role model for Irene
Nolan, and his mother would like nothing better than helping Irene
polish her social skills. "I'm sure my wife and mother will be delighted
to meet your daughter at Belmont Park next Wednesday."
loved greeting gideon at the front door when he returned home from work
at the end of each day. He was always as happy to see her as she was to
see him, and they shared a few moments alone in the front hallway to
demonstrate that happiness before removing to the parlor, where GideonÕs
"Have you seen the newspapers?" his mother asked the moment he entered the parlor.
His smile matched hers. "Of course I did. Newsboys were hawking extras on every street corner. Congratulations!"
hardly deserve congratulations," Mother Bates demurred. "I'm not solely
responsible for the passage of the Woman Suffrage Amendment."
certainly did your part, though," Elizabeth said, and turned to Gideon.
"We've been remembering our days in the workhouse and how many women
made such important sacrifices to get this passed." Elizabeth had never
thought being sentenced to six months of hard labor for demonstrating
outside the White House would result in meeting the love of her life-or
more accurately, his mother-but she would always be grateful.
"I suppose you'll be planning some kind of celebration," Gideon said.
mother shook her head. "Probably not until it's been ratified. We've
been disappointed too many times over the past eighty years, and
ratification is far from certain."
"But surely, we can't fail now, and it won't take long," Elizabeth said. "We only need thirty-six states to approve it."
"I hope you're right," Mother Bates said. "But it will certainly take some work."
work is all it takes, I have every confidence it will be approved,"
Gideon said. "I've never seen people work harder for anything in my
Elizabeth drew Gideon down beside her on the sofa. "Now, what is your big news?"
"What makes you think I have big news?" he asked, obviously surprised and probably a little peeved that she'd noticed.
sighed like a good wife who has been underestimated yet again. "You
always get that little gleam in your eye when you have something
exciting to tell us."
He narrowed that eye and pretended to glare at her. "Maybe that little gleam means something else entirely."
Elizabeth fluttered her lashes in mock innocence. "Oh no, when you mean something else, it is a completely different gleam."
Mother Bates cleared her throat to remind them they weren't alone. "Why don't you just tell us, dear?"
shook his head in mock despair. "How would you both like to go to
Belmont Park with me next Wednesday to watch the Belmont Stakes?"
you serious?" Elizabeth cried in delight. "Mother Bates, Sir Barton is
running in the Belmont. He's the most fabulous horse."
"How do you know that?" Gideon asked, a bit surprised.
"I read the newspapers, and they've been full of reports of his victories this past month."
Gideon confirmed. "He's already won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness
and the Withers. They're calling him the horse of the century."
"My goodness, Gideon, I had no idea you knew anything about horse racing," his mother said with a smile.
gave her a pitying look. "No young gentleman's education is complete
until he has lost his entire monthly allowance at the track, Mother."
She was absolutely delighted to learn this fascinating fact about her son. "I had no idea."
"Which was the whole point," Gideon said.
"And did you lose your entire monthly allowance?" Elizabeth asked, equally delighted.
"Sadly, more than once, which is why I no longer frequent the racetrack."
"Then what has kindled your suddenly renewed interest?" Mother Bates asked. "Is it this horse, Sir What's His Name?"
client has inspired it, Mother. He owns racehorses, and he has two of
them entered in some of the other races on Wednesday, so he has invited
all of us to join him in his owner's box."
"What fun!" Elizabeth said. "You must go with us, Mother Bates."
I don't know the first thing about horse racing. It isn't, as you might
guess, a required part of a lady's complete education."
don't have to know a thing about it to enjoy it. The races are so
exciting, and the horses are all just magnificent to watch. You'll also
get to see a lot of rich women dressed up so we can gossip about their
"You do make it sound intriguing," Mother Bates
admitted with a smile. "But did you say it's on Wednesday? Don't you
have to work, Gideon?"
"I can take the day off because a client invited me, so it's really business."
Elizabeth shared a knowing glance with her mother-in-law. "Men have such a broad idea of what business is."
"And there's one more thing you need to know," Gideon said to change the subject.
"Oh my, that sounds ominous," Elizabeth teased him.
"Not ominous, but I think it's important. Mr. Nolan-Sebastian Nolan, he's the client who invited us-has a daughter named Irene."
"How lovely," Mother Bates said. "I assume she will be there, too."
"Yes, she will. Mr. Nolan would very much like for her to meet some society ladies who will set her a good example."
"Does she need a good example?" Mother Bates asked with a worried frown.
Nolan seems to think so. You see, her mother died when Irene was very
young, and the girl spent more time in the stables than in the drawing
room, if you know what I mean. Her father seems to think she's a little
rough around the edges."
"I'm sure that isn't true," Elizabeth
said, having no idea if it was or not but feeling compelled to defend
the young woman. Elizabeth had a few rough edges of her own.
"Does he think we can improve her by our mere presence at the racetrack for one day?" Mother Bates asked skeptically.
"I think he'd like for Irene and Elizabeth to become friends, which would give Irene time to observe and learn from her."
"I hardly feel qualified to teach someone about society," Elizabeth said in dismay. "I'm still learning myself."
my dear," Mother Bates said. "You know more about how to be a lady than
most of the women I know. Irene Nolan would do well to learn from you."
gave her mother-in-law a grateful smile. Really, she was so very lucky
to have such a wonderful woman in her life. But then, she'd learned to
love Mother Bates long before she even knew Gideon existed, having first
met her when they were in prison together for demonstrating for Woman
Suffrage. "I don't know how much I could teach Irene, but I know she
could learn a lot from you, as I have."
"If she even needs it," Mother Bates said. "Perhaps her father is just being too persnickety."
"He may be, but he's concerned because she's twenty-three and hasn't attracted a serious suitor for her hand yet," Gideon said.
"Maybe she doesn't want to get married," Elizabeth said. "Maybe she is actively discouraging their attentions."
didn't think of that," Gideon said. They all knew a young lady in that
very situation, so it was a definite possibility. "But her father thinks
it's because she's . . . Well, he doesn't think she's very pretty."
Elizabeth and Mother Bates both exclaimed their outrage.
"I know," Gideon said, waving his hands to calm them. "I agree. I'm just telling you what he said."
"He actually said that?" Elizabeth cried.
"I'm afraid so. Or at least he said no man would look at her twice."
"As if that were a woman's sole purpose in life," Mother Bates huffed.
"I didn't want to tell you," Gideon said, "but I thought it was important for you to know."
thank you for telling us, darling," Elizabeth said, taking his hand in
hers. "This girl needs far more than lessons in deportment, and we are
just the two females who can help her."
Gideon smiled and squeezed her hand. "I knew you'd accept the challenge."
trip out to belmont park was quite pleasant, since the Long Island Rail
Road had run an extension from the Queens Village station to the park
itself, which made it easy for city dwellers to reach the track. A lot
of city dwellers were taking advantage of it today, too. The crowd
moving toward Belmont was already large, proving Sir BartonÕs appearance
in the Belmont Stakes was quite a draw. The weather just happened to be
perfect as well, sunny but cool for June with a high temperature
forecast to be around seventy degrees.
"Mr. Nolan was so
thoughtful to invite us to join him for lunch at the clubhouse before
the races start," Elizabeth said as they strolled toward the entrance
"Have you spent a lot of time at racetracks?" Mother Bates
asked quite innocently. Few society mothers would need to ask such a
question of their daughters-in-law.