Miss Susanna Courtland from Scarlet Letters


She shifted from one foot to the other in what seemed like a nervous gesture. “Now promise you won’t laugh?”

“Cross my heart.”

Her nose wrinkled. “Cross your heart?”

“Sorry. It means, ‘I promise.’”

“Fascinating. I always find that people who read have the most delightful vocabulary.”

“Indeed.” I grinned. “Now, you were going to suggest a mystery?”

“Right. Well. . . I must be honest with you, Ms. deGrey.” She drew in a deep breath and continued. “I happen to enjoy the Halfpenny Marvel periodicals.”

“Wonderful.” I replied. “I know exactly where to find them.”

Obviously encouraged to share more, she leaned in. “In fact, I’ve saved every single one I’ve read.”

“So you’re a collector.”

She thought about it for a moment. “Yes, I suppose I am.”

“What a wonderful hobby and to have such a passion for the written word.”

“I agree.” But her smile soon faded. “I just wish all females in my set looked upon reading the way we do.”

“Now, don’t fret. In order to enjoy reading, one must possess a delightfully vivid imagination. Not only that, but they must take pleasure in being swept off to distant lands and meet interesting persons. . . Even though said persons are fictional.” I winked.

“It’s so true. Perhaps someday, reading will be as embraced as embroidering hankies.” She shivered. “A tedious labor, to be sure.”

At that moment, the library clock struck ten.

She blessed me with the brightest smile I’d encountered on my journey. “It was lovely chatting with you, Ms. deGrey, but I must join my club.”

We shook hands again. “Likewise, Miss Courtland.” And off she went, across the main room. An elder woman, most likely her escort for the day, joined her, following close behind. Within moments, they slipped between a pair of green velvet curtains.

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Until next time —