The New Girl & Wedding Bells

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“You wanted me to get a new girl to replace Hester and I did.”

“I thought it would have been someone older. How old is this girl?”


“Seventeen? She’s too young to be a lady’s maid. Oh, Rufus, why couldn’t you find someone a lot older–in her twenties or thirties?”

“Cissy was all Yates could spare.”

Mrs. Johnson sighed. “What am I going to do with a seventeen year old slave girl?”

“Annabelle, you’re making this more difficult than it has to be.”

“What did she do over at the Yates’ plantation?”

“She was a housemaid.”

“I already have a housemaid.”

“What about a seamstress?”

“I already have one.”

“What about a launderess? Didn’t you mention the other day that Missy can’t handle her chores anymore because of arthritis in her hands?”

“Yes, I did. Does this girl know anything about washing, rinsing, drying, and basic ironing?”

“Millie teach her.”

“With her arthritic hands?”

“Who’s doing Millie’s chores right now?”


“Isn’t Bertha the seamstress?”

“Yes. She’s doing her chores as well as Millie’s.”

“Then, let Bertha show Cissy’s how to do the laundering. The Yates assured me that Cissy is a quick learner and a very hard worker.”

His wife looked unconvinced but she said, “Very well, then. I will tell Bertha to show Cissy what to do.”

Relieved that it was all settled, he walked over to the armchair which was in front of the fireplace and sat down. “The Yates send their regards. Their son, Zachary is in his third year at Yale. He’s doing very well and their daughter, Mary is engaged to a lawyer. The wedding is in September.”

“How very nice for them. By the way, I got a letter from our Rebecca. She’s having a marvelous time in the English countryside. She said that she and Frederick have been spending a lot of time together.”

“That’s nice. Freddy’s a very nice young man.”

Image by Richard Jenkins

“Yes. Well, I do hope he would propose to Rebecca soon. It would have been nice if their wedding could have been this year too–possibly before September.”

Her husband shot her a reproving look. “Are you going to make this wedding business into a competition?” he demanded.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I just wish that things would move along faster. I mean it has been a while now since we and the Livingstons first expressed our desire to see their son and our daughter wed. How much longer is Frederick going to drag his feet?”

“Give him time, Annabelle. Marriage isn’t something you rush into.”

“They wouldn’t be rushing into it, Rufus. For heaven’s sake they’ve been courting for a while now. There should be wedding bells now but instead, there is a deafening silence. Instead the wedding bells are ringing for Mary Yates and her lawyer.”

Rufus jumped to his feet. So much for a relaxing break in front of the fireplace. “I’ve some business to take care of before dinner. Excuse me.” He walked briskly out of the living-room.

Annabelle Johnson’s lips compressed. Typical male behavior, she fumed. He didn’t care about his daughter’s future happiness. All he cared about was this blasted plantation and the darkies.

Source: Encyclopedia Virginia

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