Category Archives: 33 Chapter Thirty-Three

Eden 33:3

Dearest daughter,

I cannot take back the shock I felt at luncheon yesterday when you announced your plans to leave Boston. I cannot take back the first impression it gave me when Miss Smith explained her intention to support your medical education.

It is difficult for a young person to understand the grief of a parent who, even when proud of a child’s accomplishments, must lose a certain intimacy with that child and give way for the larger world. Perhaps you will never quite understand this, Sophia, if you have no children of your own. But however I grieve at the thought of your going so far from all you have held dear in your young life, know that I am proud of you as well.

When I imagined you a grown woman, I never imagined someone like Miss Smith as your friend, and I have spent many hours in worry for your well being, since learning of your devotion to her. But I see that you will not relent in your intention to stay by her side and I have no choice but to accept this.

If Miss Smith keeps her word about supporting you at the medical college in Paris, I cannot but thank her in the humblest way, for doing something for my only child I could not do myself. I find that I must trust in the good judgment and faith your father and I have tried to pass onto you and believe in Miss Smith for your sake.

I will not pretend that this is what I would have chosen for you. I cannot say I do not hope that your life will lead you—for all happy reasons—back to Boston and the people who have loved you since your birth. But wherever life takes you, dearest child, may God go with you and bless you there.

Your mother,

Olivia Beales Abington

Eden 33:2

Sophia“What money?” Sophia asked immediately when they had taken leave of her parents and begun walking to the hotel where they were staying. “I know you’ve sold some pictures, but—”

“It isn’t from the pictures.”

“From your family then? How can I ask them to pay my way when my own family—”

“Not from my family.” Eden’s voice betrayed impatience.

Sophia suddenly stopped walking. Eden stopped too.

“I said I would go with you anywhere. I put no conditions on my promise,” Sophia said.

“Then come with me to Paris and take up your work there. Isn’t it better that way? I thought you would be pleased.”

Sophia eyed the pavement for a moment. She was pleased—more than she wanted to admit to herself. Wherever the money came from, it must Eden’s to spend—Eden wouldn’t lie about that. And didn’t Sophia deserve some kind of compensation? If she had to live abroad and learn the ways of a place and a people so alien to her own, wasn’t it only right that she should at least be allowed to pursue the one goal that had guided her life until now?

For the first time, Sophia’s heart really swelled at the thought of Paris. It was a beautiful city, after all. She was sure, like Eden, that she could pass the entrance exams—even in French—and the thought of taking her degree at such an esteemed institution tempted her to premature pride.

Eden

At last she lifted her head to meet Eden’s earnest eyes. “I am pleased. I only wish 

you had not surprised me in front of my parents.”

“I’m sorry. You’re right. It was foolish.” Eden reached for Sophia’s hand, placed it in the crook of her arm, and they walked on to the hotel.  

They did not speak of the source of the money again.

Eden 33:1

EdenEden looked from her soup to Sophia’s mother.

They had been in Boston for little more than a week, but their passage to Liverpool was already booked.

“Paris?” Mrs. Abington said with a worried frown.

“Yes, Mother,” Sophia said evenly.

But Mrs. Abington turned to her husband, in silent expectation.

Mr. Abington looked at Eden. “Your painting career demands your presence in France, I suppose?”

Eden put down her spoon. “Well, ‘demands’…”

“Yes,” Sophia cut in. “Eden’s work is already quite promising. It has been selling in Europe—all the painting she did in Arizona—and she needs to be in Paris.”

“Dear child,” Mr. Abington turned to his daughter. “However true that may be—however commendable Miss Smith’s work—your own ambitions require you to be in Boston, do they not?”

Sophia shifted her weight and took a breath. “I have decided not to…” Sophia lost her courage.

But Eden broke in. “She will continue her studies at the Ecole Medicine in Paris and take a medical degree there.”

Sophia turned to Eden in confusion, “You know I can’t afford that.”

“Never mind the expense, Sophie.” Eden spoke as if Sophia’s parents weren’t there. She nearly reached out to take Sophia’s hand before she remembered they were. She stopped herself and brought her own hands together instead, and nervously twisted the ring she had finally agreed to take from Eleanor.

“I have some money—enough for two to live on as well as to pay Sophia’s fees at the medical school. It is only on the condition that the Ecole Medicine accepts her as a student that we will stay on in Paris.” Eden smiled at Sophia.  “But I am certain they will.”

Mrs. Abington spoke at last. “You accept such dependence on Miss Smith, Sophia?”

Sophia looked at Eden. “I don’t know.”

Sophia

There was silence for a moment.

“Perhaps it would be best to talk of this again in a few days,” Mr. Abington announced. He picked up a fork and gave his attention to his meal, and the others quietly followed his example.