by Candy's Caper
Candy watched the morning sun peeking up over the hills nearby Pony’s Home. She leaned out the window to the familiar sights and smells she had known, growing up in the small orphan’s home where she was abandoned as an infant. Yet, today it seemed like her life had started all over and the many disappointments of the past few years, since leaving the home, were all far behind her now – a bright future awaited her! She caught sight of a flock of geese soaring skyward from some lake hidden by the green hills and she pondered over recent events. Was it only yesterday that she experienced the single most greatest revelation of her life – or was it the “second” most greatest? On one side things were most confusing but on the other they were crystal-clear. It was a wonderfully, jumbled-up blur of events the last week of her life. But the end result wound-up to make her the happiest girl she had ever been – although there were other happy times, those didn’t last, no, not for very long, she reflected.
What made this new, exciting, happy feeling so wonderful, so different from anything she had known before?
Candy looked down at the shiny, golden object in her hand. “All those years”, she mused “He knew all about me, but I hardly knew him all at.” The object was a pendant or broach in the shape of an large bird, like an eagle and it was fashioned of solid gold. A large, red cursive “A” was enameled in the center of the pendant, it had a green jewel for an eye and under the tail feathers tinkled a tiny golden bell. She nudged it coaxing delicate music from the bell, “Uncle William…Albert and…my Prince” she half-whispered. “To think they’re all the same person!”
The pendant was the crest of the wealthy and highly influential Andrews family and had been her prized possession for a decade…and now since the mystery that puzzled her most of her young life was finally solved the pendant was, if possible, worth even more to Candy. Yes, the recent uncovering of the strangest enigma of her childhood put all the pieces of he puzzle perfectly in place! This and also the fact that the Lady Reagan and her two spiteful children would never torment Candy again, put the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Candy took a deep breath of the fresh country air; it was misty that morning and the atmosphere was moist, cool and delightful. She felt peaceful and calm in her soul, yet she was exhilarated and charged with excitement concerning her future; finally knowing the truth was like an intoxicant to her brain. “I guess no one can really know how I feel” thought Candy with an inward smile. “To find out Mr. Albert was really Lord William of the Andrews, that was mind-boggling; but then to discover Albert was really my Prince on the Hill, that’s just too much…and he really did look like Anthony when he was younger.” Candy didn’t dwell longer on her last thought. She held the pendant up, it was catching the first golden rays of the rising sun and reflecting it in a golden splendor. “That sneak” she thought while gazing at the pendant “He said that I needed rest & relaxation after all the stress that Neal, Eliza and his mother put on me, but he had a mixed motive for getting me up here to Pony’s.” Well, Candy knew most of the story, but there were also a few things she didn’t know and here is how it went:
At William’s request, Candy boarded a train and came to Pony’s Home where a “grand reunion” of sorts was planned because Archie, Annie, Albert and Tom and some other select guests from the area had come and Annie’s father prepared a huge BBQ, his specialty. While the food was cooking Candy had wandered alone up past the Father Tree, up to Pony’s Hill and a very special place; she walked up the Hill straight to the little grove of trees where 10 years earlier she lay sobbing in the damp grass. The trees were bigger now but the place looked pretty much the same and she thought that she could still almost hear the sound, the cheerful, lilting sound of the Scottish bagpipes. Candy was lost in these thoughts when it seemed the music in her head was really in her ears and grew louder and louder. She twirled around to see a tall figure coming up through the trees towards her. Candy blinked and could hardly believe her eyes; mottled sunlight came through the tree branches in bright beams that illuminated a man in traditional Scottish costume in full regalia coming closer into view and the music of the pipes filled the air.
Candy stood there transfixed as the man approached and stopped just a few feet away from her – she instantly recognized the piper, who played the last couple of bars of his tune and stopped. Candy wasn’t quite sure what to say or do – the man stood there smiling at her as if he was waiting for something. Candy frowned a little and scrunched up her nose, “Are you trying to tell me, Albert – that you’re my “Prince?”
Albert laughed and said, “You’re much prettier when you smile, little girl.” Convinced finally that he was the real “Prince”, Candy broke loose and gave him such a hug that eventually Albert had to tell her it was getting difficult to breath and she turned him loose. Happy tears were flowing down both their faces but presently Candy composed herself. She looked Albert and her eyes scanned his chest and then she pulled something out of her pocket and held it right next to its perfect duplicate pinned to Albert’s blouse. “So this pendant belongs to you” she said. Albert started, “Yes, it must have come loose while I was up here that day. I didn’t know that you had found it, until…until you were caring for my amnesia and then without my memory I had no idea what it was but I noticed you taking it out of your drawer a couple of times.” Candy then had a very inquisitive look on her face, “But how did you happen…” Albert interrupted her, “I know you must have a lot of questions, Candy – but first, lets continue where we left off 10 yrs. ago since I rather rudely left you up here alone; pretend it’s our first meeting and what would you have done or said to me next? Candy stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth as she thought. “I remember! I wanted you to play the “snail sound” again. So play me something!”
For the next 30 minutes or so Albert played several “somethings” while Candy sat in the grass listening intently. Finally he said, “Can’t I take a breather now, Candy? I am not well practiced I have to admit, I am fairly winded! Candy looked slightly disappointed but said, “Okay, I guess you deserve a break.” Albert replied, “I didn’t get to see much of this beautiful countryside the last time I was here, may I take you for a little walk?” “That would great, Albert! Let’s go!” As they roamed the environs around the Hill they talked about many things. Albert told Candy the story of how he happened to be on the Hill that day and also explained his reasons to Candy for not revealing his identity to her sooner. “After adopting you,” he said “ I didn’t want to use my office and position to influence your choices. I was very glad when you chose to go to Saint Paul’s Academy on your own. I thought that maybe you would go because Archie and Alistear were enrolling, but you didn’t let that influence you.” Now Albert posed a question to Candy, “What made you change your mind?” Candy answered him, “I thought I had all the education I needed but I almost caused one of the children to be seriously hurt. At that time George showed up and the sisters thought I should go and I realized the truth was I wasn’t really prepared to even be an assistant to them. So I agreed and went with George.” Albert continued, “And when I learned that you had left St. Paul’s abruptly I tried to get back to England as fast as I could but you had probably already reached the States before George was able to contact me, that was my fault going off to such a remote area. The onset of the War made travelling very difficult; anyway, you know the rest of the story, I made it as far as Italy and then the accident.”
“The irony of it all, you know Candy is that after all I had done to try and help you…I was the one who was helpless and needed help. And you more than repaid me, with your dedication and kindness.” And Albert also thought to himself, “And now we must go our separate ways, maybe forever. After what happened it’s best for us both but…but I don’t know if I can leave you Candy; that is why I am leaving the choice up to you.”
The sun had reached noon-day and it was growing hot while the two companions were still sitting on the cliff’s edge conversing away; when the sound of a far-off bell signaled the BBQ was ready to be served. “Hey, we better hurry or there’ll be nothing left!” Albert exclaimed. So they both walked at a very brisk pace back towards the orphanage chatting about this and that and what the future would hold and all the while the delicious smell of BBQ brisket got stronger and stronger. Passing through the trees into the clearing Candy thought see could see Annie running towards them, calling to them…
“Candy! Candy! – Hey! Candy can’t you hear? Your breakfast will be cold!” Candice White Andrews snapped suddenly back to the present, spun swiftly around and scowled at the youngster at the door who dared to disturb her indulgent daydreaming. “You get outta here, I’m not dressed yet!” she screamed at the child and reaching out for the nearest pillow she hurled it full-force at his head. The boy ducked and quickly shut the door and ran down the hall -- this day had not started out good, he mused, “Candy’s upset already and she doesn’t even know who’s coming by this morning!”
Chapter 2 (to be continued)