When the Going Gets Tough
Ah, tea time. The blessed hour of the day when one could relax, enjoy a cup of Earl Gray, or perhaps Darjeeling, and nibble on Mrs. Clausing's teacakes and dainty sandwiches. And endure the gossip of a hundred million matrons.
"Marion! Are you going to read that all through tea?" Samantha Hillcrest frowned at her daughter. "You haven't heard a word I've said about the van der Root's gala."
Marion, hidden behind a newspaper, rolled her light blue eyes before dutifully replying, "Sorry, Mama. Do continue. I'm sure it is more accurate than the Herald." She continued to read a brief article about a lady naval architect. Far more interesting than the write-up of Alice van der Root's masquerade. It sounded like Alice had written it herself, which wouldn't be surprising. She didn't trust newspaper reporters to do justice to anything related to high society.
"Too coarse mannered, you know," she often explained with an empathetic nod. It needed someone of the right status who could write well, praising the right people and making even the dullest social gathering sound thrilling to those unlucky (or lucky, depending on view point) enough not to be there.
Like you, a voice whispered in her mind.
Marion dismissed the thought as quickly as it had come. Impossible. She was the daughter of J. R. Hillcrest, the shipping tycoon. Even if her family�mother�allowed it, her fianc� definitely would not.
Thomas. She frowned at the black and white print before her. While he certainly was handsome, and professed to love her, something was missing in their relationship. They were so different from each other, like sunshine and rain. How did they ever end up betrothed?
"And honestly," Mrs. Hillcrest continued, blissfully ignorant of the fact that her daughter still wasn't paying attention, "what does Amanda see in him?"
"I don't know, Mama," she replied truthfully, thoughts elsewhere.
The thought nagged her all week. Why not write a society column for the newspapers? She could do it. Ladies Home Journal had published, under the nom de plume Ivy Burnett, several short pieces she had written, and even sent a letter complimenting her writing. And her father had indulgently let her learn to typewrite when she was twenty-five. He thought it was a very practical idea, in case she needed to support herself one day.
"Really, John!" her mother had said, aghast. "That's what a husband is for."
"What if she never marries? Someone will have to run the company when I'm gone." He smiled affectionately at his only child. "Marion is my heir after all."
Samantha had glowered for a week over that comment. Marion was not the kind of daughter she would have wished for, and she honestly would have preferred a son to carry on the family name, run the family corporation, marry well, and be a credit to his family. He would have been at the top of his class at Harvard, or maybe Yale, strong, handsome, athletic, someone to be proud of.
Unfortunately, Marion was too much like her father than her mother would have liked. Wasn't interested in marrying for a long while! Didn't enjoy society functions! And those looks! Oh, why hadn't she inherited the Stieflmeyer beauty instead of the Hillcrest plainness? Whenever Samantha started recounting her woes, her husband would wink at Marion, and they both ignored it.
Why not begin supporting herself now, in case there was a run at the bank in the future and she and Thomas Knapenburger ended up penniless? No one else would have to know, if she continued to use her pen name. Her father would approve if he ever found out. She had already disappointed her mother. Janet, her personal maid, would probably have to know, but she was already expert at keeping secrets.
And if a lady could become a naval architect, an heiress could become a newspaper society columnist.
So why not? She'd start job hunting first thing Monday morning.