Eden 42:6

car

Eden had been in Provincetown for a fortnight when the motor car arrived on Beacon Hill.

One morning before Sophia left for the hospital, Jack, the footman, appeared in the morning room and announced that Miss Abington had better come to the front door. Sophia had left her breakfast and followed to find a coughing, rumbling machine in the street. A man in goggles sat in the driver’s seat and smiled. He stopped the engine and got out.

“Are you Eden Smith?” He bowed slightly in Sophia’s direction.

“I am Sophia Abington.” Sophia held out her hand.

The man removed his glove and took it. “Anderson,” he said. “Dr. Abington is it? The lady doctor?” Sophia nodded. “I am your new chauffeur.”

The next day a letter arrived from Eleanor explaining that Wil Hyland had bought an automobile and taught Eleanor to drive. Eleanor had ordered one, sent Jack to inspect it and hire a chauffeur and hoped that Eden and Sophia would find it useful until her own arrival in Boston

Sophia could not understand exactly what the car’s use was. She always walked or took the streetcars unless Eden ordered the landaulette for a special occasion. Such occasions were few. But at long last, her research paper was finished and submitted to Harvard.

She might as well celebrate with a motor drive to the cape.

***

Eden was painting a still life of seashells when she heard the chugging of an engine, the whinny of a frightened horse and the shout of an irritated neighbor. A wide smile crossed her face.

She dropped her brush, wiped her hands on a rag and walked quickly to the front door, “Sophie!” she called as the driver stopped the noisy motor and leapt out to open Sophia’s door. Sophia pulled the veil up over the wide brim of her hat and gave Anderson a gloved hand as she climbed carefully down.

Eden was at her side in a step, kissing her cheek and giving her an arm as the driver restarted the car and turned it into the carriage house where an anxious groom held open the door.

“The drive has done you good. There are roses in your cheeks already. And Lucy’s clam chowder will put some flesh back on your bones,” Eden said.

She showed Sophia all over the cottage, from the little front parlor and dining room to Eden’s studio at the back and the veranda that curled around three quarters of the house like a sleepy cat. Last, Eden showed Sophia into the largest room on the main floor, a drawing room with a broad window and a thick Turkey carpet. Upon the carpet was a grand piano, nearly as fine as the one in the house on Chestnut Street.

“Oh!” Sophia said, dropping Eden’s hand and stepping to the instrument to play a little trill.

“It arrived yesterday.” Eden smiled. She had spent half the annual allowance Eleanor had given her to buy the piano. She hoped it would keep Sophia on the cape longer than the week or two she had promised in her letter. “You can play all day long, darling.”

“My poor boy,” Sophia said, looking at Eden with a smile. “I’ve neglected you terribly, haven’t I?” She kissed Eden. “Show me the water.” And Eden led her out the back of the cottage and down the boardwalk to the end of the pier.

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