Early the next morning, (Phoebe and her grandfather) made their way, arm in arm, across the tiered gardens, bright with late season mums and roses and flame-like celosia, and through the gate in the privet hedge that separated the formal gardens from the service grounds. An autumn sharpness tinged the air and a bright golden hue tipped the ends of the leaves overhead. Soon, green and gold would turn to fiery reds and russets, and fall would burst forth in earnest. Phoebe was
Chapter One Newport, Rhode Island August 1898 A pair of footmen in livery lifted the wheelchair, one on either side, while two others opened the rear doors of the Bailey’s Beach clubhouse. The foursome exchanged not so much as the slightest glance, yet operated in perfect precision like the automated works at a factory that turned wool into yarn and yarn into fabric. I, on the other hand, held my breath and questioned not for the first time the wisdom of this outing Aunt Alic
Newport, Rhode Island July 1897 Bits of grass and earth pelted the air as a thunderous pounding rolled down the polo field. Long-handled mallets swung after a ball no larger than a man’s open palm. Each time a mallet connected with the ball, ponies and riders raced in a fresh, ground-shaking burst of speed. With my pencil and tablet in my hands, I stood just beyond the sidelines, out of danger of being hit with the ball yet with a view worthy of the highest-paying spectators.
“Henry, don’t you dare ignore me!” came a shout from behind the drawing room doors, a command nearly drowned out by staccato notes pounded on the grand piano. “Henry!” Stravinsky’s discordant Firebird broke off with a resounding crescendo. Voices replaced them, one male, one female, both distinctly taut and decidedly angry. Phoebe Renshaw came to an uneasy halt. She had thought the rest of the family and the guests had all gone up to bed. Across the Grand Hall, light spilled
Newport, RI, June 29, 1896 I sat up in bed, my heart thumping in my throat, my ears pricked. I’d woken to high-pitched keening, an eerie, unearthly sound that gathered force in the very pit of my stomach. There had been no warning in last night’s starry skies and temperate breezes, but sometime in the ensuing hours a storm must have closed in around tiny Aquidneck Island. I knew I should hurry about the house and secure the storm shutters, yet as I continued to listen, I hear
Consuelo came to a halt beside a rosebush. I stopped beside her and waited for her to speak. She remained silent, however, staring at the scarlet blossoms but not seeming to see them; her eyes held a faraway, pensive look. “Is something wrong?” I asked her gently. “It’s what Lady Amelia just said about her parents separating, and her being taken far from home, from her brother and her father. It’s so sad, Emma. It’s . . . it’s exactly what’s happening to me. If I marry the Du