The Velvet Shadow

The Velvet Shadow by Angela Elwell Hunt Read Free Book Online

Book: The Velvet Shadow by Angela Elwell Hunt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Angela Elwell Hunt
option. There was only one medical school for women in the South—Graefenberg Medical Institute in Dadeville, Alabama—but her father had not been impressed with that school’s facility. In Boston Flanna had enjoyed access to a vast array of resources: a real skeleton, lab equipment, and an entire room of normal and pathological specimens in glass beakers. Graefenberg did not even have a decent medical library.
    Dear God, what should I do?
    Flanna’s gaze fell on her anatomy textbook. She had nearly memorized the entire text, and in just four weeks she’d be tested on the material. That anatomy examination was the last hurdle, all that stood between her and a bona fide medical degree. If they went home now, all her hard work would count for nothing. Surely God would not want her to toss away two years of an expensive and hard-won education.
    “We can stay a few more weeks,” she whispered, running her hand over a map of the human body’s arterial system. “Let’s wait until all this excitement dies down. Besides, Papa wouldn’t want us traveling while things are so…undecided.” She drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. “Surely this will pass, Charity. It has to.”
    The maid’s face fell in disappointment, but the touch of the textbook calmed Flanna’s pounding pulse. Apparently South Carolina had worked itself into a dither while she lost herself in her studies. If she immersed herself in her studies again, perhaps God would lead South Carolina to straighten itself out. What good would worry do? Her father had sent her to Boston to earn a medical degree, and she could not let him down. He needed her at home, but he needed her as a doctor.
    With that decision made, Flanna’s mind shifted to practical matters. Until this secession business had been settled, her father must not know about Roger Haynes and his intentions. News of that development could wait. If it took the better part of a year for the dust to settle, so much the better. She would have earned her degree and begun to fulfill her promise to her father. Roger seemed to have enough ambitions to keep him busy, and if in the interim he found some nice Massachusetts girl who’d make him a better wife, that would be fine. She’d miss his wit and his charm, but if God closed one door, he was certain to open another.
    “Charity, bring me pen and paper, please.” Flanna tossed the newspaper to the floor and resolutely pushed South Carolina from her mind. She had to write her father and assure him she was well, and tomorrow she’d have to tell Roger to postpone his letter indefinitely.
    Until South Carolina came to its senses, matrimony would just have to wait.


    M eagan, the Hayneses’ Irish maid, sat at the shiny new piano and began to play “I Dream of Jeanie with the light Brown Hair” for the third time. Sipping her tea, Flanna caught Roger’s eye over the rim of her cup. He was seated on the sofa by his mother, his head propped on his hand, his eyes dull with displeasure.
    He hadn’t handled the news well. When Flanna told him that an engagement could not possibly be arranged until after the storm of secession had ceased, he’d been clearheaded enough to see the wisdom in her words, and politician enough to protest. His howls had filled the carriage as they rolled through the Beacon Hill district, and Flanna rolled her eyes, knowing that Charity, safely seated on the dickey, had to be giggling at his ridiculous display of disappointment.
    Now Roger’s gaze roved over the flickering fire while his foot absently kept time to the tinkling piano. Flanna knew he was weighing the advantages of not having a Southern fiancée against the disadvantages of campaigning without a fiancée at all. A genteel woman would give him added polish and respectability when he ran for office. His mother was a virtual queen among the Boston elite, but to fulfill his aspirations Roger’s appeal would need to extend far beyond Beacon Hill.

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