Mr. Pendlebury’s Tough Decision

Mr. Pendlebury left the hospital after spending a while with Antonia. She seemed to be improving although her face was thinner and pale. They wanted to keep her in for a little while longer for observation. He avoided any talk about Laird and Martina. He would never forget how scared he was when she had collapsed in his arms that day when he leveled with her.

When she came to and discovered that she was in the hospital, she became hysterical and had to be sedated when Mr. Pendlebury’s efforts to calm her failed. Outside of the room, he spoke to the doctor in attendance who asked him questions about Antonia and what led to her being brought to the hospital.

The doctor asked, “Has she ever had fainting spells before?”

“No. And, I’ve never seen her in hysterics before but when I tried to reason with her and get her to face reality, after accusing me of lying to her, she suddenly went limp in my arms. I guess it was too much of a shock for her. She couldn’t accept the truth. Maybe I should have handled it differently.”

“Don’t blame yourself for what happened. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference how you handled the situation. You did the right thing bringing her here.”

“I never thought I would end up here in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.”

“Well, this is the best place for your daughter. We will keep her for psychiatric assessment.”

Mr. Pendlebury replied with some difficulty, “Do what you can for her.”

“I promise you, Mr. Pendlebury, that we will do everything we can for her.”

“Thank you, Dr. Franklin. I will be in touch to find out how she’s doing and how soon I can take her home.”

“You may call reception and leave a message for me.”

“I will. May I see her before I leave?”

“Yes, you may.”

Mr. Pendlebury went into the room and his heart ached when he saw Antonia lying in the bed, her hair splayed across the pillow. She appeared to be sleeping. He went quietly over to gaze down at her. Yes, she was sleeping. She looked so peaceful. Blinking back tears, he reached over and took one of her hands in his. “I’m so sorry, Antonia,” he said brokenly. “I’m so sorry that it has come to this. Lord, please help her.” He stood there for a while and then, leaning over, he kissed her on the forehead before quickly leaving the room.

He couldn’t wait to get out of there. As he hurried to his car, he wondered if he should telephone Martina but decided against it. Martina was happy because she and Laird were expecting their first child. He didn’t want to ruin their happiness with the distressing news of Antonia. Instead, he called his sister-in-law, Margery. After explaining what had happened, she urged him to go over to her house and talk. And here, he was now, walking towards the bungalow which she lived in alone.

She must have been looking out for him because as he was walking up the driveway, the front door opened and she stood there. “Hello,” she greeted him with a hug. “You look tired.”

“I am,” he admitted.

She took his jacket and after hanging it in the closet, she encouraged him go into the living-room and make himself at home while she went to make him a cup of tea.

He sat down rather heavily on the sofa. Minutes later, Margery returned with a mug of steaming hot tea and a plate of warm scones. She handed the mug to him which he gratefully took from her. She sat in the divan opposite him. “Now, tell me what happened.”

“How long are they going to keep her there?”

“I don’t know. I guess for as long as necessary. I hated leaving her there.”

“It’s the best place for her to be right now.”

“That’s what the doctor said.”

“This may sound strange but, when you told me what happened today, I wasn’t surprised. I always suspected that there was something odd or off with Antonia. Perhaps, that’s why I warned Charlotte about pushing Karson and her together. I told her that it was a mistake but she was adamant. She explained that it would be the best thing.”

“As it turned out, she was greatly mistaken.”

“Yes, she was but at the time, she was thinking only of Laird.”

“Laird?”

“Yes. You must have known that Laird was her favorite. She loved him the most and when she realized that Antonia had fallen in love with him, she was determined to keep her from going after him. She knew that Karson was in love with Antonia and that’s why she threw them together.”

“I thought it was because she knew that Laird wasn’t romantically interested in Antonia and she wanted to spare her feelings.”

“Charlotte once confided in me that Karson was jealous of Laird.”

Mr. Pendlebury looked at her in astonishment. “Karson was jealous of Laird?” he exclaimed. “But, they were so close.”

“Yes, they were. They were thick as thieves but although he was very good-looking himself, Karson resented Laird because most of the girls preferred him. So, when Charlotte discovered that Antonia was in love with Laird and that Karson was in love with her, she had to act quickly. The last thing she wanted was for there to be a falling out between the brothers. She managed to convince Antonia to abandon any idea of a future with Laird and settle for one with Karson. They got engaged and then, shortly after, poor Karson was dead.”

“You said that there was something odd or off with Antonia. What did you mean?”

“As a child, she was shy, withdrawn until she came out of her shell. She seem a loving child, especially when she was with Charlotte and she got along well enough with the boys. I think I noticed something when she became a teenager. There was something different about her which unsettled me but I never said anything to you or to Charlotte. One summer, on Karson’s fifteenth birthday, I noticed the way Antonia looked at Emily Lancaster when she was hanging around Laird who didn’t seem to mind her company. I saw the expression on her face. It gave me a chill. I found myself watching Emily to make sure nothing happened to her.”

“I remember Emily. She was a lovely girl. I think Laird was sweet on her.”

“That’s why Antonia gave her the evil eye.”

“The evil eye?”

“Yes. That’s what it was and that’s when I realized that Antonia had a propensity to harm someone whom she perceived to be a rival like Emily.”

“I had no idea. Perhaps, it was a good thing that Emily and her family moved to Cornwall.”

“I saw the same expression on Antonia’s face at Laird’s wedding.”

“At Laird’s wedding?”

“Yes. I saw the way she looked at Martina. If looks could kill…”

“She wouldn’t dare do anything to harm Martina.”

“You’re right. Laird would kill her if she so much as touched a hair on Martina’s head.”

“I thought of calling Martina and telling her about Antonia but decided not to.”

“I’m glad you didn’t.”

“I really do hope that Antonia gets the help she needs.”

“I’m sure she will. And if I were you, I would take her somewhere for a while.”

“Like where?”

“I don’t know but take her away from London, far away from Laird and Martina.”

Mr. Pendlebury sighed. “I’m not sure she’ll want to go anywhere with me.”

“You think she will be upset with you for leaving her in a psychiatric ward?”

“Yes.”

“It’s possible that she will be upset with you for a while but hopefully, she will realize that you did what acted out of love.”

“I hope so.”

“It will be all right,” Margery assured him. “Antonia will get the help she need. Have a scone. I baked them this morning.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.