An Undeniable Passion Ch. 15byopels©
A few days later Virginia suggested to Billy that they bring some of the items down from the attic. "I'd like to get those muskets and bayonets out of the house. I'd also like to go over the china and silverware and see just what we have," she said.
"All right. Those crates might be heavy though. Do you think maybe we could ask Mr. Ogilvy to help us bring them down?" he asked.
She recalled the way he had seemed so eager to know about what was in the attic and for some reason she had reservations about letting him up there and about knowing where the doorway was.
"I think we can manage on our own without bothering Mr. Ogilvy. If need be we can just bring things down in smaller batches. I'm going to change my dress and then we'll get started?" She began to go upstairs when she turned and said, "And by the way, I've been thinking about those muskets and you're right. We should keep a few of them and you can teach me how to shoot one. I'm actually getting rather excited about it," she announced with a smile.
It took most of the day but by the end of it, they had the crates of muskets, bayonets, china and silverware downstairs. Virginia laid out the silverware and began checking for any damage that the tarnishing may have done. Billy looked over the muskets checking for any damage and selecting a few to keep. He was nearing the bottom of the crate when he noticed several small pouches hidden among the guns. He scooped them up and noticed that it felt like they held small stones. They're too big to be shot pellets he thought as he walked over to the billiards table. He put the covers over the holes and undid the drawstring, spilling the contents onto the green felt. Pale shiny orbs rolled over the table top. He slowly picked one up and rolled it between his fingers. It was a pearl!
He scooped up a small handful and ran to the kitchen. He burst through the door as Virginia was holding up a large serving spoon checking for damage.
"Ginny, Ginny, look what I found!" he said holding out his hand.
She walked over to him and stared into his outstretched palm. She picked up one of the pearls and rolled it between her fingers. "It's a pearl!" she exclaimed. "Where did you find these?" she asked staring at the shimmery ball.
"In a pouch hidden amongst the muskets. There's lots more, I spilled them out on the billiards table. Come look. There's more pouches too, but I haven't opened them yet." He turned and ran back to the library.
When Virginia walked in the door Billy was leaning over the table gathering up and counting the pearls. "There are fifty here," he announced. He funneled them back into the pouch before picking up one of the others. "Do you want to open this one?" he asked holding the bag out to Virginia.
"Isn't it more of the same?" she asked. "You can open it."
He undid the drawstring and tipped the bag over the table. Pearls spilled out again, bigger ones this time. Virginia gasped as they rolled about the table top. "They must have been pirates," she whispered. She picked one up and inspected it in the candlelight. "They're exquisite," she murmured. "Open the other bags."
There were three other pouches and pearls spilled out of all of them. There were over three hundred pearls rolling about on the table.
Suddenly remembering that the house and its contents were Virginia's and her's alone, Billy asked "What are you going to do with them?"
"I'm not sure, what do you think we should do?" she said gathering them together.
"It's your decision. They're yours, not mine."
Looking over at him, standing by the window with his hands jammed into his pockets, she was reminded that even though she considered everything to be theirs, it was indeed hers. "How about this, I'd like to have a necklace made of these and you can have whatever is left over to do with as you like. I'll need about two hundred, so there will be around a hundred left." Smiling she said, "Enough for a single strand necklace. Perhaps Elizabeth might like to have some pearls."
"Oh, I don't think she would accept such an extravagant gift," he said.
"Well, you could save them until such a time comes that she would accept them."
Billy just smiled and stared down at his feet, knowing that the only way she would ever accept such a gift would be if they were married.
"Why don't we go into town tomorrow with these and take them to the goldsmith and see if we have enough for two necklaces? I'm quite sure we do," she said, scooping them up and spilling them back into the pouches.
Watching her, he said "I wonder if there are more bags of jewels hidden up there? Just tucked away in trunks and crates?"
"Well I didn't find any in with the china and silverware. If you go searching through that crate of bayonets though, be careful. They're probably still very sharp," she warned, tying the pouch closed.
"I'll go out to the barn and get some heavy work gloves," he said.
He laid the last of the bayonets on the floor and looked into the empty crate. He hadn't come across any pouches of jewels. He sighed and began placing the bayonets back into the crate. When he had finished he joined Virginia in the kitchen. He was pulling off his gloves as he walked in the door.
She looked up at him. "Any luck treasure hunting among the bayonets?" she asked.
"No, that's all that was in that crate," he replied. "How did you do? Anything broken or ruined?"
Smiling she said, "No, everything is fine. The silverware does need a good polishing though. That will keep me busy for a couple of days. We can stop at the mercantile tomorrow for some polish."
It was several days later and Doris was paying Virginia a visit. As Doris loved to know everyone else's business, the conversation turned to Billy and Elizabeth's romance.
"They make such a cute couple. Both so blonde and blue eyed. Is Billy officially courting her?" she asked.
"I believe so. He's quite smitten and I believe she is too. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a wedding sometime in the new year," Virginia said happily.
"Well, I wouldn't be surprised if there's more than one," Doris said suggestively.
"What do you mean?"
"In case you haven't noticed, Thomas is also quite smitten with you," she replied with a twinkle in her eye.
Virginia blushed and looked away. "I didn't realized he felt that way," she said demurely.
"Oh my, yes. He talks about you constantly. Quite frankly, my dear, if I hear your praises sung one more time I'm just going to scream!" she said laughing.
"I had no idea. I felt quite sure that he was beginning to grow fond of me, but not to such a degree!" she said obviously surprised by Doris' comment.
"So, how do you feel about him?" she asked bluntly.
"Well, I think he's a fine man, and I do like him and would like to continue seeing him. I still don't know him very well, though," she admitted.
"Yes, Thomas can be a hard man to get to know," Doris stated a bit dramatically. "But you must give him a chance. Like you he hasn't been very lucky where love is concerned."
"Has he even been serious about anyone?" she asked, intrigued.
"Yes, there was a woman quite a few years ago, but she died in a tragic house fire. And then there was another one, she seemed such a lovely girl, but she ran off up north with a fur trapper of all things. Thomas was crushed. I think he really loved that girl. After that he seemed to give up on love, until you came along. I think he now may be willing to give Cupid another chance," she said brightening.
I wonder if I should give Cupid another chance myself, she thought. Both Charles and Drake had broken her heart. Thomas and myself have each had our hearts broken twice. Perhaps third times the charm for us both. "Well, I hope I don't disappoint him," she said nervously, pushing the thoughts of Drake away.
They continued chatting happily about Virginia's plans for the house and the upcoming Christmas season for the remainder of the afternoon until it was time for Doris to go.
At the door Doris turned and said, "Why don't you come by for tea tomorrow? Thomas asked me to invite you and, silly me, I almost forgot!" she laughed. "Are you free tomorrow afternoon?"
"Yes, I think so," she replied.
"Splendid, I'll send the carriage for you at around three?"
"Yes, three will be fine."
"Three it is then," she called out as she descended the steps.
Later that afternoon Billy returned home after spending the day with Elizabeth. He couldn't keep the smile from his face but every time he looked at Virginia he got a guilty look on his face and a blush crept into his cheeks.
"Billy, what is going on?" she finally asked him. "What happened today?"
Billy paled and stammered "N-nothing happened. We just went riding is all."
"Oh don't you give me that, William Forrester. I know something happened, you're looking as guilty as can be. Now tell me!" she demanded excitedly.
Glancing quickly at her, he said quietly, "I kissed her."
Pretending she didn't hear him she said, "Speak up, I couldn't hear you. What did you say?"
Blushing furiously he repeated, "I kissed her."
"You kissed her? And she didn't slap you?" she asked with mock seriousness.
With a bashful smile he said, "No, she didn't. And, well, um, she kissed me too."
"She kissed you?" she exclaimed, genuinely surprised. "Well I don't know about this Billy. Such a forward girl," she said with exaggerated concern.
"Oh no, she's not forward. It was just a kiss on the cheek that she gave me. Nothing bad at all, really," he said with great concern.
Virginia couldn't help but burst out laughing. "I was only joking Billy. I think it's wonderful that you two are getting along so well. A few stolen kisses are fine. To tell you the truth, my ex-fiancé, Charles, kissed me a few times as well."
"What about Cap'in Stratford? I know something happened between the two of you."
Quietly she said, "Yes, Billy, he kissed me too."
Sensing that he had touched upon a painful subject he didn't pursue it. He tried to lighten the mood by talking about Elizabeth. "I wasn't sure if she liked me, but I sure know now," he said. "I know you kept telling me how taken she is with me, but I just couldn't believe it that someone as special and as beautiful as she is could be interested in a regular old sailor like me."
"Don't sell yourself short Billy, you're very special as well. I don't think I'd still be here if it wasn't for you. I probably would have gone back to Liverpool by now, but instead I've stayed and I'm glad that I have. I have you to thank for that," she said gratefully.
"Really?" he asked, genuinely touched.
"Yes, really. Elizabeth is a wonderful girl and you deserve someone like her. You're both very lucky to have found one another."
He didn't know what to say, so trying to change the subject, asked, "How did your visit with Miss Ogilvy go?"
"It was very pleasant and I've been thinking, ever since Doris mentioned the upcoming Christmas season and the social events that will be happening, what do you think about having a Christmas ball here? I think we can finally pull those bags off the chandeliers and we could really make the house look beautiful. Doris could help with the guest list and we could meet some of the other people in Williamsburg."
"I think it's a grand idea!" he said. Frowning, he continued, "I've never hosted a ball before. I wouldn't know what to do."
"You could play the piano to entertain guests and otherwise just mingle and chat with people. I could take care of the official hostess duties. What do you say?"
"Alright, let's do it! We'll have a party!"
They spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening talking about the party and making plans.
Shyly Billy asked, "Do you think you could teach me how to dance properly? I'd like to surprise Elizabeth at the ball."
"Yes, I could teach you, but maybe you'd prefer to have Elizabeth teach you. What better way to spend hours with her in your arms?" she suggested with a mischievous gleam in her eye.
Billy's eyes grew wide as he thought about it. "Do you think that would be alright?"
"Certainly, we can invite her and her mother over and maybe Doris as well and we can plan the ball while the two of you dance around the ball room."
"But what about music? Don't we need music to dance to?"
"We'll see if Mrs. Robbins or perhaps Doris knows how to play. We'll work something out."
They lapsed into a comfortable silence but she noticed that Billy appeared to be deep in thought about something. "A penny for your thoughts, Billy."
"Hm? Oh, I was just wondering about something," he said with a small smile.
"Wondering about what?" she asked.
"Well, you remember that little house out in the fields?" Shortly after moving in, they had gone for a tour of the grounds, and had come across a cabin, suitable for an overseer or as a place to rest and eat during a long day in the fields.
"Yes. We really should get out there and tidy it up."
"Do you think it's big enough for two people?" he asked.
"Two people? Well, I guess so, it would be a bit crowded..." she noticed that he was blushing and avoiding her gaze. "Why do you ask?" she inquired.
"Well...I really like Elizabeth quite a lot...and I was thinking that maybe if she and I...well...if we ever..." he stammered and blushed.
"If you got married, you'd like to live there?" she suggested.
Blushing even more, he said, "Yes."
"Are you thinking of asking her?" she said with surprise.
"Well, not right away. But maybe sometime in the future."
"I think that would be wonderful. We could always build onto it, make it bigger. Although we wouldn't be able to do that until spring and it would take awhile. Do you want to wait a year until you ask her?"
"No, not really. But what am I thinking? I'm in no position to marry anyone. I have no money, no real station in life yet," he said dejectedly.
"If you make your feelings and your intentions known, she'll probably wait for you. You're both young yet. There's no need to rush into it," she said. "Why don't you continue seeing her and getting to know her before you decide?"
"All right. Anyway, I was just wondering."
The next day, promptly at three o'clock the Ogilvy's carriage arrived to pick her up. After arriving at the mansion, a butler showed her into a large sitting room where Thomas was waiting for her.
"Miss Templeton. I'm so glad you were able to come. It's lovely to see you again," he said kissing her hand.
"Thank you for inviting me, Mr. Ogilvy," she replied.
"Won't you please sit down? Doris will be joining us shortly. She's just seeing to the tea."
She sat down on the couch and Thomas sat next to her. "Have you begun your pistol shooting lessons yet?" he asked with a smile.
"No, not yet. I can't even bring myself to touch one, let alone learn how to shoot it," she said.
"You really should learn, you know. Life here in Williamsburg is much less civilized than it is in Liverpool and it can be dangerous at times."
"Yes, I know. I will endeavor to get over my fears of the gun," she promised, as Doris entered the room followed by a maid pushing a tea cart.
"I'm so sorry for being late, my dear," she apologized. "Sometimes something as simple as preparing tea can be so trying."
"Yes, I'm sure it can be," she sympathized, even though she was sure that Doris had no idea herself how to prepare tea for three people. She did know how to serve it though and began to pour.
They spent a very pleasant afternoon together, but after a couple of hours, Virginia announced that she should be getting back home.
At that moment a maid appeared at the door. "Miss Ogilvy, ma'am? Sorry to interrupt but there's a...situation...in the kitchen. We need your assistance immediately."
"Oh my. Oh my," Doris said, suddenly flustered. To Virginia she said, "I'm so sorry dear, but as you see, I must go. Thomas will see you out." She hurried out after the maid.
Watching her go, Virginia said, "I do hope everything is alright."
Thomas turned her by the shoulder and said, "Everything is fine. I asked the maid to call Doris away so that I could have a few moments alone with you."
She looked up at him with surprise. "You did?"
"Yes," he said staring tenderly into her eyes. "I'm not sure if you know this or not Virginia...may I call you Virginia?" he asked.
Blushing, she said, "Yes, you may."
"Then you must call me Thomas."
"Alright...Thomas," she said with a shy smile.
"As I was saying, my feelings for you have grown and I'm becoming quite fond of you. I was wondering if you felt the same way," he looked at her hopefully.
"Yes, Thomas, I am growing fond of you. I'm very happy that you've continued to call upon me and invite me to your home," she said.
Smiling he said "I'm happy to hear it. I'm sure my sister has told you that I haven't been very lucky as far as love is concerned so I just wanted to make sure. I'm very protective of my heart." He paused a moment before continuing, "Doris tells me that you're in a similar situation. That you left a fiancé behind in England?"
"Yes, I discovered him in a compromising...embrace...with another woman at a party," she said looking away, unable to meet his gaze.
"I'm sorry," he said tenderly.
"Thank you," she replied quietly.
"I think the carriage is ready," he said. "I'll show you out."
She followed him to the front door and was about to thank him again for inviting her when he placed a finger under her chin and tipped her head slightly so that she was looking up at him. He looked into her eyes and then pressed his lips to hers. He pulled back with a tentative smile but she was so surprised she could only stare at him.
"I'm sorry, was that thoroughly inappropriate?" he asked, worried that he had gone too far.
Shaking her head, she stammered, "No, no, that wasn't inappropriate. It was, um, it was...very nice."
He opened the door for her and watched as she descended the steps and climbed into the carriage. He smiled to himself as he closed the door.
Virginia sat in the carriage and touched her finger to her lips. His kiss had elicited no reaction from her other than surprise. No butterflies and certainly no parting heavens. Even when Drake's kisses had been quick and unexpected they had stirred a whirlwind of emotions and sent shivers up and down her spine. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the cushioned head rest. Was she ever going to get over him? Was any other man ever going to measure up?
A few days later, Virginia was up in the old servant's room that she was using to store the fabrics she had found in the attic. She was deciding which fabrics to use for the gown she would make for the ball. She realized that if there were going to be a number of social events then she would need several gowns. She was thinking that she may need to take the fabrics to the dressmaker and have some gowns made, as she would just not have time on her own, when she heard Billy running up the stairs, calling her name.
"I'm in here Billy. What is it?" she asked with alarm.
He burst into the room holding a large roll of paper. He unrolled it across her large sewing table. "I was looking at the house plans that we found," he said excitedly. He pointed to a spot on the drawing. "Look at this."
She couldn't tell what he was pointing at. With all the lines and symbols she could barely tell that it was her house. "What is it?"
"Look, here's the outline of the house, see? Here are the old servant's rooms and here's the attic," he explained. "Do you see it?"
"Yes, yes I do. But what is this over here? It looks like another room off the attic," she asked, finally making sense of the drawing.
Looking up at her he cried, "It is. It's another room. A hidden room!" With a whoop he exclaimed, "It could be the pirate's treasure!"