Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2016 by Parker Sheaffer
Having been abandoned, Andrew never knew the date of his actual birthday. Years earlier, when Lucas and Clive had taken him in, Clive had somehow procured for him a birth certificate. They had to guess at an age but according to that paper he was now about twenty-three years old. For the past few years he had been able to front for Lucas when necessary in his daily interactions with adults. They usually told people that Lucas was Andrew's younger brother, although now and then Andrew would slip and call Lucas 'Daddy,' which caused a lot of amusement to others.
At B…oston University, where he studied physics, Andrew met a young woman named Diana Lane, and they fell in love. One day after his classes Andrew said, "Lucas, Father, I want to tell you something. I don't know if I have ever really told you how much I love you and how much I appreciate you taking me in and being so kind to me for all of these years. I remember how frightened I was as a small boy, living on the streets and eating out of other people's garbage. You and Clive rescued me and gave me a home, love, and everything I have today. You made me the man I am and I can never repay you for all you have done."
Lucas wiped a suddenly moist eye and said, "There is no need to ever talk of repayment, Son. You have repaid me every day that you have been a part of my life. There was never a debt between us. You are a joy, a treasure. Now, why do you bring this up? Is there something on your mind?"
"I've met a woman, Lucas. Her name is Diana. Lucas, I love her so much. I want to ask her to marry me, but I don't want to interrupt our lives, yours and mine. What am I going to do?"
"Andrew, dear Andrew; I've been expecting this for a long time now. I knew you would fall in love sooner or later and I'm happy for you. Really I am. Do you think I would want you to go through life not knowing that deep fulfillment that comes from true love? No, son, I want you to have the most wonderful life possible, so don't worry about you and me. Bring your sweet Diana into our family and I'm sure she and I will come to love each other very quickly. And, who knows, later on we might let her in on our secret."
"There's a bit more, I'm afraid. You see, Diana lost her parents last year when their ship went down in a storm. They were returning from Spain, but never made it home. Diana was left to care for her two young brothers, Edward and Fredrick. There is no other close family so she has become like a mother to the boys. If she will agree to marry me, they will be part of the package. I hope you won't mind if they come to live with us. How do you feel about that?"
Lucas smiled and said, "I feel like you are giving me a present. There is plenty of room here and a woman and two boys will bring life to our home. It will be a splendid addition to our family. You have my blessing, son. How old are the boys and when can I meet them?"
"Thank you, thank you Father. I'm so happy. Ed and Fred are eight and ten years old, respectively, and they are filled with energy and intelligence. Right now their family circumstances have declined since the loss of their parents and I know that they will be joyous to come live here. It will be a good step up for them," Andrew said, glowing with excitement. "Why don't I bring them all to dinner tomorrow night? That way you can meet them and they can see where they will be living."
"Wonderful," said Lucas sincerely.
Andrew brought Diana and her brothers home the following evening as planned. The cook had prepared a special meal of clam chowder, fresh flounder and seasoned rice, which everyone found delicious. For dessert, there was chocolate pie, a special treat for the boys. Andrew told cook that it was their favorite and they were very excited to taste it.
That Ed and Fred were brothers was obvious to anyone. They were not similar enough in appearance to be twins but they certainly favored each other. Ed was two years younger than Fred, but he was almost as tall. He was heavier than Fred because Fred was thinner and lither. Both had round faces topped with brown hair and lit with merry brown eyes. They looked all around as they were being introduced and Lucas could see that they wanted to explore.
"Why don't you fellows go have a look around the house. Be sure to look at the upper floors, too," Lucas told them, and off they went with whoops of joy.
"Boys, now you behave and don't get into anything," their sister cautioned them sternly as they raced up the stairs. Lucas and Andrew laughed.
Diana was a very pretty girl with a gentle and generous disposition. She was small and pleasant, with lovely auburn hair piled up in a flattering style, a color that contrasted nicely with her green eyes. A playful smile adorned her delicate face as she said, "You and your brother are both very kind, Lucas. Your home is charming and so nicely decorated, especially for two bachelors. You will have to let me admire your art collection sometime. It appears to be rather modern."
"I'm delighted to have you here, Diana, and I'm really delighted to find that you are an art lover. We will have a lot to talk about," Lucas replied.
"You sound very sophisticated for a boy your age; almost as if you were a college professor. It's lovely to have intelligent conversations with young men like you and Andrew. I am in the habit of treating my brothers as my children, so don't be surprised if I begin to treat you the same."
Lucas bowed and said, "I'm certain that we will get along very well indeed. I can't wait for the wedding."
Andrew said, "I was going to tell you, but I forgot, that we set the date for two weeks from Saturday. That will give her aunts time to come down from Maine. You and I don't have any other family to invite so it will be a small ceremony. We've reserved that little chapel around the corner and hoped to have a small dinner here afterwards."
"That sounds splendid," said Lucas. "What about a honeymoon?"
"Oh, we may have to skip that part of the wedding," said Diana wistfully. "I can't leave Ed and Fred alone and I certainly don't want to take them with us."
"My goodness, Diana, leave them with me. I'm more than able to keep them out of trouble. I would like nothing more than to spend some time with them. We will have a marvelous time, so go on your trip and don't worry about your brothers. They will be safe and sound when you return."
Diana looked at Andrew questioningly. Andrew nodded his approval so she said, "If you are certain… then, yes. I will accept your offer. Thank you, Lucas."
After he returned from taking Diana and the boys home, Andrew asked Lucas, "Do you suppose there is any chance that Clive would come to my wedding?"
"Hmm, I'll wire and ask him, but I wouldn't be too hopeful. If he comes then he might have to bring his wife with him. I'm not anxious to see her or to have her see me. I'm sure she would be surprised," Lucas laughed.
Lucas had fallen out of the habit of corresponding with his old lover, both because he didn't wish to complicate Clive's life and because he still felt some pain at the memory of their previous happiness. Clive no longer handled Lucas' business affairs personally, but had transferred that responsibility to the able hands of his own accountants. They made certain that the money remained safe and continued to grow despite the occasional economic downturns and depressions.
Still, Lucas sent a telegram the next day and on the following day received a reply. Clive was unable to attend but sent his warmest congratulations for the nuptials. The telegram was followed a week later by a letter and a wedding gift, an ornate pair of solid silver candlesticks. In the letter he further expressed his regret at not being able to attend the wedding and wished both of his boys all possible happiness. He gave a brief account of his current home life and hoped to see them someday.
The wedding was a quiet affair with Diana's two spinster aunts as witnesses. The women were tall and strong with angular faces weathered by the coastal sea breezes. For all of their stern appearances, they were actually quite funny and cheerful. They stayed with Lucas and their nephews for two nights before returning to Maine.
Andrew and Diana gathered their already packed luggage and took a train to Canada, a place that Diana had always wanted to explore. Her grandparents had been from Nova Scotia. They planned to be gone for two weeks. Lucas asked why they didn't want to visit Europe and Andrew told him that Diana had developed a fear of crossing the ocean after her parent's deaths.
Ed and Fred enjoyed having a large home with lots of stairs to run up and down and room to play, so they didn't mind that their sister was leaving them for a fortnight. Lucas was almost as much of a child as they were and played their games with them. The boys were delighted to have the full attention of an adult, as well as his permission to behave like savages. Boys are naturally full of humor and Lucas loved to play pranks on them and to allow them, in turn, to put frogs in his shoes and lizards in his dresser drawer.
By the time Andrew and Diana returned the boys were both in love with Lucas and he with them. Diana tried to feign disapproval of how spoiled her brothers had become, but she couldn't hide her happiness at their joy. The pain of losing their parents was beginning to fade with the new distractions.
Their lives were happy for a couple of years until one day Diana remarked, "Why I swear, Lucas, you don't look a day older than when I first met you. I wish I had your luck."
Lucas and Andrew looked at each other and sighed but said nothing. Later he confided in Andrew that it might be time to tell Diana their secret.
"She's a sensible young woman with a scientific mind," said Lucas. "I don't expect her to believe us at first. I just hope she doesn't think I am insane. I'll let you broach the subject. Try to explain it as I did with Clive and say that she doesn't have to think about it right now. In a couple more years she will begin to see the truth. Preparing her now will prevent her from being shocked later."
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