His father disowned him for seeing a girl. She was a Southerner. Nelson & Cora. Chapter 2 – 2
March 17, 2013
A VG Serial: Nelson & Cora
Chapter 2 – 2
She and Mattie walked out together. Mattie would see to it that Gertrude was tucked in warm and safe before going to her own room at the end of the hall.
Randall had stressed to Mattie when Gertrude came to live with them that Gertrude should never disturb Mrs. Analisa. She was never to knock on Analisa’s door. Mattie wondered if Mr. Randall had forgotten that the boys were never allowed to disturb Mrs. Analisa, that they were never allowed to knock on her door.
Once Mattie closed the door behind them, Randall started talking again.
“How is Lawrence faring this term, George?” he asked.
Nelson thought he would stay for a bit longer to hear news of Lawrence. He was amfriend of both boys who attended law school with George. Lawrence’s family also supported the Confederacy. He and George were two of the few students from openly Confederate families attending that school. They’d gotten closer over the last few years.
George stopped shuffling the papers on the desk. He looked at the back of the chair where his father sat. Nelson saw the surprise on George’s face.
“Mr. Alvis has not spoken to you about Lawrence?” George asked.
“Spoken to me about what? What has Lawrence gotten himself into now? Not making the marks this term? Too many adventures and too few books?” Randall laughed.
He had watched Lawrence grow into a young man. He knew Lawrence’s wild streak was stronger than Nelson and George’s. Randall often thought that Alvis had given Lawrence too much freedom, not enough discipline, but Randall liked Alvis and Lawrence all the same.
George fidgeted at his father’s desk. He cleared his throat. “Mr. Alvis has not permitted Lawrence to return to school this term,” George said.
Randall turned to face George. “What is Alvis thinking? All that money invested, all that time. What has Lawrence done?” Randall said.
“He met a girl,” George said. He kept his eyes on the papers on the desk.
Nelson smiled. “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with girls at all,” he said. Nelson moved to the chair and Apollo came back to him.
“And?” Randall asked. He didn’t have much patience for long drawn out stories. Hekwanted to know what happened, and George would tell him.
“And her father served in the Union army,” George said. Then, he was silent.
No one spoke for a few moments. The fire crackled. Apollo laid his head on Nelson’s lap, but Nelson stopped petting him.
“I see,” Randall said. He tapped the pipe against his hand. “And, Lawrence is being punished,” Randall said.
“Alvis,” George paused to correct himself, “Mr. Alvis, has disowned him.”
“Over a girl?” Nelson asked. “Disowned his only son over a girl. That’s not right George. You misunderstood,” Nelson said. He stared at George, but George wouldn’t look up.
Randall took a step closer to the desk. “If Alvis disowned Lawrence and didn’t allow him to return to school this term, how did you find out about the girl, George?” Randall asked. George still would not look at him.
“Lawrence told me,” George whispered.
“How did you talk to Lawrence?” Randall asked. He was standing next to the desk now. “Did you see him?”
Nelson realized that his father wasn’t going to stop questioning George until he found out what he wanted to know.
“Yes, I saw him,” George said. He looked at his father. “I saw him when he was moving his things from the school. He said he was going to Virginia.”
“And, the girl? What of her?” Randall said.
“Her family if from Virginia,” George said.
Nelson’s eyes grew bigger.
“I see. It’s no wonder Alvis hasn’t sent word. Shameful,” Randall returned to his seat near the fire. Apollo raised his head from Nelson’s lap.
“And, you won’t be talking to Lawrence anymore, I expect,” Randall said. He paused to give George a chance to respond, but George remained silent. He continued to avoid eye contact with his father.
“George, you won’t be talking to Lawrence any further, correct?” Randall’s voice grew louder. “Father, he said he would send word to me at school when he arrives in Virginia,” George said.
“No. No. That will not do. If he does contact you, I want you to send the letter along to Alvis or bring it here and I will see to it that his father receives it,” Randall said. “Youare not to open the letter.”
“He is my friend, Father. We’ve known him since we were children. I would like to know he is safe,” George said. His voice was low andmunsteady.
“He gave up being your friend when he chose to become involved with that girl,” Randall said.
Nelson was silent throughout the conversation between his father and brother, but he could see that George was faltering now.
“It’d be fine, though, if George read the letter first before sending in on to Mr. Alvis? Just to make sure Lawrence was well? We’ve been friends for a long time,” Nelson said. He started to pet Apollo again.
“No. That is unacceptable. Lawrence knows better. He knew what would happen when he became involved with that girl,” Randall told Nelson.
“But he is our friend. We can’t deny him,” Nelson’s voice stayed calm.
“Yes, you can. And, you will. I have said that if George receives the letter, he will immediately send it to Alvis. He will not open it. He will not read it. He will not respond in any way. End of the conversation,” Randall said. He stood and walked to the doorway.
“Now, George, take those papers to your room and finish them so that we can take care of this matter first thing Monday morning with Judge Parker. Nelson, goodnight to you as well,” Randall said.
George immediately stood and gathered the papers. Nelson continued to sit and pet Apollo.
“George, go ahead. I’ll be up in a bit,” Nelson said.
As George left his father’s office, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Randall did not acknowledge that he heard him.
Nelson stayed in the chair and Apollo stayed beside him. Randall shut the door behind George. When he turned to face Nelson, his face was flushed. “What is this about, Nelson? You are bordering on disobedience,” Randall said. His voice was louder than before.
“Me and George and Lawrence have been friends for a long time,” Nelson said. He wanted to help his brother’s cause.
Randall stopped him before he could continue. “Then, I would expect that you would, have known that this was happening. Was that the case? Did you know? Did George?”Randall asked.m“If either of you knew about this and did nothing to stop it…” Randall said.
“I didn’t know anything about a girl, any girl. I haven’t spoken to Lawrence since I went with you to get George settled in at the beginning of the term,” Nelson said.
“Did George know?” Randall asked.
“If he did, he did not discuss it with me,” Nelson answered.
This was enough to satisfy Randall. He knew that George could never keep anything from Nelson. Randall sat down at his desk. He took the key from his pocket and unlocked the top drawer.
“If either of you had known and did nothing to stop it, well, that’s almost as bad as what Lawrence has done. I should go see about Alvis. Losing a son, terrible,” Randall said. He slid some papers into the drawer and locked it again.
“But, he didn’t die. Lawrence didn’t die. He isn’t dead,” Nelson said.
Randall slammed his hands down on the desk. Apollo jumped and moved to the door.
“Yes. He damn sure is. When he made the decision to get involved with that girl, he died to us. He died to his family, to his father. Lawrence knew what he was doing,” Randall said.
Nelson stood and walked to the door. “Goodnight, Father,” Nelson said. He didn’t wait for a reply. Apollo followed him out of the office and up the stairs.
Chapters of the serial are published on Sunday.
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