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Authors: Tracie Peterson,Judith Miller

To Honor and Trust

BOOK: To Honor and Trust
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© 2013 by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Ebook edition created 2013

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4412-6100-7

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the authors' imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by John Hamilton Design

Chapter 1

, G

Callie Deboyer opened the ornate front door of Fair Haven, certain there had been a terrible mistake. Who was this woman? Surely she couldn't be the nanny Mrs. Bridgeport had hired for the children.

With hat askew and mousy brown hair laced with strands of gray jutting in all directions, the woman standing on the other side of the threshold squinted at Callie through the screen door. Did she dare open the door of Luther and Eunice Bridgeport's elaborate twelve-bedroom cottage to this woman?

“Good morning.” The woman leaned forward. “I'm Maude Murphy, the new nanny. Are you Mrs. Bridgeport?”

Callie cautioned herself to withhold further opinion. If this was indeed the newly hired nanny, she didn't want to start things off poorly. She didn't want to be accused of judging a
book by its cover, but this woman was not what she'd expected. Maude Murphy came with a fine recommendation from one of the former residents of Bridal Veil Island, but this woman's appearance belied someone with years of experience as a nanny to wealthy families. Despite the fact that Mrs. Bridgeport and Mrs. Murphy had exchanged correspondence, they'd not yet met in person, and Callie couldn't help but wonder how their first meeting would go. Would Mrs. Bridgeport be as shocked as she was?

Mrs. Murphy's shoulder sagged a bit to the right, probably due to the weight of the traveling case she grasped by one hand. At the sound of clattering shoes in the hallway, Callie glanced over her shoulder. Five-year-old Daisy stopped behind Callie and peeked around her skirts while seven-year-old Lottie stared at the woman.

Lottie leaned forward until her upturned nose touched the screen. “Who are you?”

Before Callie could correct the girl's unsuitable manners, Mrs. Murphy stooped down and placed her nose near the other side of the screen. Nose-to-nose, they stared at each other for a moment. “I am Mrs. Murphy. Your new nanny. You must be Lottie.”

Lottie took a quick backward step. “You're too old to be our nanny.”

“Lottie! You owe an apology to Mrs. Murphy.”

Oh dear. So did she. She'd kept the poor woman on the porch now for several minutes. Without waiting for Lottie to beg the woman's pardon, Callie reached forward and opened the door. “Do come in, Mrs. Murphy. I'm sorry to have kept you standing on the porch.” Callie gave Lottie's shoulder a gentle squeeze. “What would you like to say, Lottie?”

Lottie coughed as she inched forward. “I'm sorry I called you old, but our other nanny, Miss Sophie, was young like Miss Callie.”

Daisy stepped from behind Callie. “Miss Sophie got married.” Lottie gave the older woman an appraising look. “Are you going to get married?”

Mrs. Murphy sat her traveling case inside the front door. “I've tried that twice before. I don't think I'll be doing it again.”

The children appeared confused, but Callie didn't give them an opportunity to ask further questions. “Why don't you girls run upstairs and tell your mother that Mrs. Murphy has arrived and we'll meet with her in the sitting room.”

Lottie coughed as she and Daisy ran up the steps. Mrs. Murphy watched for a moment. “Is the girl sick?”

“No, but she does suffer with a cough some of the time.”

Mrs. Murphy nodded. “I see. Well, I don't want to take charge of children in need of constant medical care, if you know what I mean. I'm not good around sickness and such.”

Callie peered at the woman, wondering why she would become a nanny if she didn't want to care for a sick child. “All children are ill from time to time, but the Bridgeport children are generally quite healthy.”

“Good. Glad to hear it.”

The two of them were as different as day and night, clearly separated by much more than their years. Using her own five-foot-six-inch height as a guide, Callie surmised Mrs. Murphy would measure a mere five feet, perhaps a little less. The woman's hair was dull and askew, while Callie's rich coffee-brown hair bore a beautiful sheen and had been carefully arranged. She couldn't condemn the woman for the deep lines that creased her weathered face or for the extra pounds that had settled
around her midriff. She'd obviously lived enough years to earn every wrinkle and pound. Still, Mrs. Murphy's outward form proved a stark contrast to Callie's flawless complexion and trim figure. There hadn't been much wind this morning, so Callie decided the woman's rumpled appearance must have come about during her boat ride across the Argosy River from Biscayne. If not, Mrs. Bridgeport might dismiss the woman before she'd even begun her position.

“Would you like to straighten your hat before we sit down, Mrs. Murphy? There's a mirror in the sitting room that you can use.” Callie waved the older woman toward a rectangular mirror surrounded by a frame of molded brass and tortoiseshell. The mirror was perfectly centered above an ebony side table. With its spiral-turned legs and carved ivory figurines, the table was a favorite purchase of the Bridgeports, made during their European travels.

Mrs. Murphy stepped in front of the mirror, tucked one loose strand of hair behind her ear, gave the no-nonsense felt hat a tug, and turned around. “That will do for now. I figure the missus is more interested in my ability to care for the children than whether my hat is perched at a proper angle.”

She propelled herself across the room with a short-legged gait and settled on the pale blue upholstered settee. Her feet barely touched the floor, and Callie wondered if this woman would prove capable of handling young Thomas Bridgeport. At twelve years of age, he was already taller than Mrs. Murphy, though she likely outweighed him by at least twenty pounds. Still, Thomas could be a handful—especially if he decided he didn't like someone.

“I understand you've worked as a nanny for several wealthy families in the area, Mrs. Murphy.” Callie took a seat in an
open armchair near the settee. From the appearance of her work-worn hands and ragged fingernails, Callie wondered if Mrs. Murphy's recent employment had been as a nanny or a housekeeper.

Callie immediately scolded herself for the judgmental notion. She disliked the fact that so many of the women in the Bridgeports' circle of friends judged everything from outward appearance. Shortly after she'd begun to work for the family, Callie realized that she'd taken on some of those same behaviors. Over the past couple of years, she'd been asking God to nudge her when such thoughts crossed her mind. God had been faithful to answer her request. It seemed as though He was prodding her far more frequently than she'd expected.

Mrs. Murphy squared her shoulders. “I sent my letter of reference to Mrs. Bridgeport.”

Callie hadn't intended to insult the woman, but Mrs. Murphy certainly appeared offended. “I know she was pleased with the recommendation, or she wouldn't have hired you to work with the children.”

Mrs. Murphy gave a firm nod that jostled her hat back to its previous off-centered position. Given the woman's curt reply, Callie couldn't decide if she should mention the hat. Before she could make up her mind, Mrs. Bridgeport sashayed into the room, wearing a pale yellow dress of imported batiste, adorned with wide inserts of French lace. Her ebony hair was fashioned in a perfect Grecian coiffure that accentuated her azure eyes and fair complexion.

Before greeting Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Bridgeport hesitated and let her gaze sweep over the woman. She clasped a palm to her bodice and flashed Callie a look of concern before returning her attention to the new nanny. “Good morning, Mrs. Murphy.”

Mrs. Murphy scooted forward on the settee and bobbed her head. The movement was enough to launch her hat into a graceful pirouette. All three women stared at the chapeau as it came to rest on the patterned Axminster carpet.

Mrs. Murphy jumped to her feet, retrieved the hat, and squashed it atop her head with the flat of her hand. “That ought to hold for a minute.”

“I'd be pleased to loan you a hatpin, if you'd like.” Callie edged forward on her chair.

“That's not necessary. It will stay put if I don't move my head much.”

Callie nodded. “In that case, I'll leave the two of you to your discussion and go upstairs to help the children unpack their belongings.”

Mrs. Bridgeport gestured for Callie to remain seated. “I think you should stay, Callie. After all, you spend almost as much time with the children as their tutor and can likely answer some of Mrs. Murphy's questions more easily than I.”

Callie sighed and settled back in the chair. She would have preferred to be elsewhere while Mrs. Bridgeport conducted her interview with Mrs. Murphy. Callie knew her mistress well. Being present meant Mrs. Bridgeport would ask Callie's view of the newly hired nanny. If there was one thing Callie didn't want to do, it was give an opinion.

Mrs. Bridgeport sat in a chair opposite Mrs. Murphy. “I don't normally hire anyone without a prior personal interview. However, when I received the superb recommendation from Harriet Winslow, I thought you would be perfect for our children.” From the quiver in her voice, Callie guessed Mrs. Bridgeport wasn't truly convinced she'd made the right decision.

“I met your daughters, and I believe we'll do just fine.” Mrs.
Murphy's lips curved in a half smile. “Your letter said you also had a twelve-year-old boy. I haven't met him yet, but I know boys can be taxing from time to time. 'Course there's plenty for boys to do here on the island, so between his teacher and me, we should be able to keep him from getting into too much trouble.” She shot a look at Callie. “Isn't that right?”

“Yes, of course,” Mrs. Bridgeport said. “I plan to enroll Thomas in golf and tennis lessons. And he enjoys riding horses, so I doubt you'll find him the least bit troublesome. He's a fine young man.”

“Too bad he doesn't have a brother. Boys seem to behave better when they have a brother close to their own age.”

Mrs. Bridgeport shifted in her chair. “He has three older brothers. The two closest to his age are in boarding school. Thomas will turn thirteen next year, and he'll then go off to join his brothers at boarding school.” Mrs. Bridgeport rang a bell for the housekeeper and requested she bring a tray of lemonade. “Have you worked for any of the other families on Bridal Veil, Mrs. Murphy?”

“No, I haven't, but if you want another recommendation, I could see about getting a letter from one of my other employers. They've moved to Boston, but I think I have their address.”

Mrs. Bridgeport opened her fan and flapped it back and forth. “That won't be necessary. I'm sure this will work out just fine.” She glanced toward the hallway. “Have your belongings been delivered? I saw only one small case by the front door.”

“They should be bringing them up from the dock anytime now.”

The housekeeper reappeared with a pitcher of lemonade and three glasses balanced on a silver serving tray. Mrs. Bridgeport motioned for her to place it on the side table. “Mrs. Murphy,
this is our housekeeper, Lula Kramer. Lula, this is Maude Murphy. She is replacing Miss Sophie as the children's nanny.”

Lula glanced at Callie before she turned and smiled at the new arrival. “I'm pleased to meet you, Mrs. Murphy. I'm sure you'll be very happy here. When you're ready, I'll be pleased to show you to your living quarters upstairs.” Maude tipped her head as she thanked Lula. This time her hat slipped forward but stopped just short of falling off. Lula pointed to Maude's head. “Would you like me to put your hat over there with your traveling bag, Mrs. Murphy?”

Maude snatched the hat from her head and finger-combed her disheveled hair. “I'll just hold it. No need to bother yourself.”

Mrs. Bridgeport lifted the pitcher to pour lemonade, but before she had finished, Maude jumped to her feet. “I'm not particularly fond of lemonade. I believe I'll take Lula up on her offer to show me to my room.” She held her hat in front of her like a shield. “Unless you have some other questions for me, Mrs. Bridgeport.”

“No, that's fine. We'll talk more later—after you're settled. I'll want to go over your duties so there are no misunderstandings about my expectations.”

Callie didn't miss the concern that deepened the creases in Maude's face. No doubt she was uncomfortable, and who could blame her? Being the new person in a household was difficult. To find one's place within the familial framework without offending the employer or other staff often proved to be a challenge. Callie had been readily accepted by both family and staff, but that was due to the Bridgeports' friendship with her grandmother. There had been no barriers for her to surmount, but she had seen new servants falter under
such pressures. Mrs. Murphy appeared confident and strong-willed. Perhaps she could overcome the scrutiny that was sure to come—not merely from the Bridgeport servants but from servants in other households, as well.

Once the two were out of earshot, Mrs. Bridgeport handed Callie a glass of lemonade. “She isn't at all what I expected.”

Callie took a sip of her drink. “She seems nice enough.”

Mrs. Bridgeport frowned. “Did you see her hair? And that hat? The hem of her dress was frayed. Didn't you notice? Mind you, Callie, I'm not going to judge her abilities on a frayed hem, but she's not what I anticipated. Harriet Winslow is a woman of impeccable taste, and I simply cannot imagine her hiring someone as unkempt as Mrs. Murphy to care for her children.”

“The Winslow children are much older now. Perhaps Mrs. Murphy was a little tidier when she worked for them. If she's good with the children, that's all that matters, isn't it?”

Mrs. Bridgeport traced her finger through the condensation on the outside of her glass. “I'm not sure that's true, Callie. If the person charged with teaching a child to be neat and well groomed is unkempt, what does that say to a child?”

BOOK: To Honor and Trust
11.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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