Category Archives: 20 Chapter Twenty

Eden 20:2

Eden had neither had a note nor a visit from Sophia in two days. She took the letter from Paris from her drawer and walked to the girl’s house around the corner.

“Sophie?” she asked, tapping the door of Sophia’s room.

It opened a crack and Eden saw Sophia’s red-rimmed eyes peering at her.

Sophia said nothing but opened the door wider.

Eden stepped into the room and threw her hat on a chair by the fire. “Are you ill?” she asked with concern.

“Ill? No.” Sophia sat on the edge of her bed and tears sprang to her eyes anew. She took a crumpled paper from the bedside table and handed it to Eden.

Sorry to inform you…policy against the admission of women… Eden gathered the intent of letter as quickly as Sophia had. “Oh, darling,” she said now, sitting next to Sophia and pulling her into her arms.

Sophia had stopped crying but was quiet for a long moment.

“It isn’t because you aren’t good enough. They as much as admit it,” Eden finally said.

“Good enough isn’t good enough. I told you I would have to be twice as good as the best man,” Sophia said, pulling away from Eden enough that Eden could see the anger on her face.

“Who’s to say you aren’t twice as good as the best man? They only care that you aren’t a man. It’s their stupid, stupid loss,” Eden told her. Then, “What will you do?”

“I’ll go to the Boston School of Medicine,” Sophia told her as if she’d been telling herself the same words over and over these two days.

Eden looked at Sophia now with a knit brow. “You’ve never spoken of it,” she said.

“They admit women. They always have. I’ll go there and then…I’ll do some kind of research that will make Harvard sorry they can’t claim me.”

“And they’ve offered you a place?” Eden asked now.

“Last week.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? We have to go somewhere and have champagne—someplace you’ll have to wear that dress I like.” Eden grinned, “Kiss me Dr. Abington!” she teased. And for the first time, Sophia smiled.

A few hours later, Sophia was wearing the dress—some kind of floating, gauzy white fabric, bound by a draping blue satin belt—and Eden was dressed in her evening wear as they stepped into a restaurant that Eleanor had taken Eden to some weeks earlier.

Halfway through dinner—and a bottle of champagne—Eden finally put on a cheerful face and declared a bit haltingly, “I got some news this week, too.”

Sophia looked up. “Paris?” she asked.

“Yes,” Eden told her.

Sophia smiled quietly now. “Why didn’t you say so before? We must toast you, too.” But neither of them moved to pour more champagne.

Instead Eden said, “I’ll get nothing done, you know, for writing to you so often.

Sophia smiled. “You will have no time to write me, with Paris to explore—and all the painting you’ll do.” She paused and added, “I’ll be so busy too. We won’t have time to think about it. The time will fly by.”

“It will,” Eden agreed.  But she wasn’t sure how long they would be apart. She didn’t like to think of it now. “Sophie—” she began.

Sophia looked at Eden expectantly.

Eden reached out for Sophia’s hand across the table and raised it to kiss the finger that held her ring. “I meant it when I gave you this ring. You agreed to be mine. You’ll wait for me, won’t you?” she asked.

“Of course I will. You know it,” Sophia told her. And she reached for the champagne bottle.

feast-champagne-glass

Eden 20:1

Eden’s hand almost shook as she opened the letter postmarked in French.

Mademoiselle Smith,

Nous sommes heureux de vous offrir…

She had a place in the Academy Julian. She was invited to begin attending studios in the fall.

She wanted to run to Eleanor’s house on foot and give her the news. But when she thought of telling Sophia, her heart fell. She folded the letter and laid it in her drawer.

She would say nothing to anyone just yet.

***

Harvard School of Medicine

The top of the paper was stamped in crimson and gold and the Harvard seal appeared under the script.

Sophia held her breath as she skimmed through the letter, past her name, past the congratulations on her achievements at Radcliffe, past her astounding score on the entrance examination to the words, sorry to inform you and policy against the admission of women.

She sat down heavily on her bed, crushed the letter in her hand and cried.