Nouveau Riche (Here Lies a Soldier part 17)

Nouveau Riche (Here Lies a Soldier part 17)

By Meg Sorick. Find other parts of the story and a family tree, here.

January 2, 1913

“Hello, Ada,” Hugh said, his eyes twinkling.

I blushed. “Hello, Mr. Prentice.”

He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. “You needn’t be so formal, Ada. Call me Hugh.”

I shrugged and continued fluffing the pillows. “All right.”

“How is your father faring?” he asked. “Any better?’

I nodded. “Yes. A little. He’s still not well enough to go back to work, I’m afraid.”

“And when he does? Will you be able to stop working here?”

I nodded again. “Papa would like me to go back to school. I’d like to train as a teacher.”

“That’s a lovely idea,” he said and was quiet for a minute.

I glanced over to see him frowning. “What is it?” I asked.

“Well, it occurred to me that most young ladies who embark upon careers don’t expect to marry…” he grinned. “I am trying to decide whether to be happy that you don’t have a young man waiting to walk you down the aisle or to worry that you have no wish to marry at all.”

I turned an even deeper shade of red, which made him laugh. “Oh, Ada. You must have realized by now that I have my eye on you. Don’t you like me just a little?”

“I can’t imagine why you’d have your eye on the likes of me,” I said keeping my eyes averted. “It wouldn’t be right.”

“Ada,” he said, standing. “You think my motives are improper.”

I shrugged again.

“I am sorry. That is not at all what I intended.” He cleared his throat. “I will admit, you caught my attention when you came up from the kitchens the day the table collapsed. I asked Mrs. Cooper about you. She told me… well, she told me you were meant for better things and that you’d only ended up working because your family had fallen on hard times. So…” he paused. “I realized that you were a young woman of good character and it made me all the more… interested in making your acquaintance.”

“Mr. Prentice,” I began, turning to face him. He looked so sincere and so very handsome that I faltered for a moment. “Mr. Prentice, you can’t seriously mean that. Surely, there is a young lady of more suitable station intended for you…” I trailed off, as he shook his head.

“No, no one,” he replied vehemently. “My father would have me marry our family into title but I want no part of it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Ada, we are nouveau riche. My grandfather made his fortune in manufacturing 40 years ago. It was a case of having a good idea and being in the right place at the right time. So you see, we are not ‘society’ in the sense that you think. Our wealth has not allowed us entry into that oh-so exclusive world of gentry and nobility. I would be reduced to marrying a penniless debutante whose family would permit it only to gain access to a fresh influx of capital.” He turned away, irritably. “It would be no better than a business transaction.”

“I see,” I said softly.

“I’ve been away at one of the best preparatory schools in the country, probably had as much, if not more wealth at my disposal than half the other boys in my class. And yet, and yet,” he balled his hands into fists. “You’d have thought I was a poor charity case, been allowed into the school on a scholarship or the altruism of a benevolent patron. And so Ada, I’ve seen first hand, how that world works. I’ve seen it and I hate it. And I never want to be a part of it.”

“I’m sorry. That must have been very difficult for you,” I offered.

He turned back to me, offered me a wry smile. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to unload my frustrations on you. What I meant to say…. The point I was getting to… “ He moved closer, took both my hands in his and said, “When I marry, Ada. I will marry for love.”



October 21, 1966 – That is the day I was born. I have completed fifty years on this earth. I can safely say I am past middle age. It would mean living to 100. Not completely out of the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely. Although, I do have a great aunt who’s still alive at 104. Anyway…

Do you know what the lead story around the world was on the day I was born? A mudslide buried a school, killing 148 people in Aberfan, Wales. The local Merthyr Vale coal mine had dumped coal waste, ash and sludge to a height of 700 feet. Heavy rains led to the slide and the subsequent burial of the Pant Glas elementary school and some nearby homes. 116 of the victims were children. Horrifying.

Fifty is hitting me hard. I’ve never minded turning another year older. The other milestones haven’t affected me the way this one is. I feel like doors are closing on me – there are things I can never go back and do again. Opportunities have been lost, the consequences of past decisions have now been fully realized. The future is no longer wide open with possibilities, it has narrowed to a dimly lit hallway with doors that have been locked or that have been stuck with paint so they are hard to open. The walls are covered with artwork displaying everything that is now out of reach.


I remind myself of these words of wise King Solomon: A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth – Ecclesiastes 7:1. And I remember that really a birthday is nothing more than a way to mark the passage of time. That, at the beginning of one’s life we have no name, no reputation, no body of work, no achievements, no experiences, no friends and no memories. After fifty years, at least I have all of those things. And though I feel like a great portion of those fifty years could’ve been better spent than they were, time unfortunately does not move in but one direction.

My only option, then, is to move forward down that dimly lit hallway, yank open the paint-stuck doors and take advantage of the opportunities left to me. It just no longer seems easy or effortless. But not impossible.

Header image from owl-cation.

NaNoWriMo or no…

NaNoWriMo or no…

I am considering participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. Why on earth would I want to subject myself to that torture? Well, here’s why…


There. I feel better. The truth is I’ve been more caught up in “Here Lies a Soldier” than the novel universe. But I also feel like in being a series writer, the books need to appear in semi-regular fashion if they are going to keep the audience’s attention. Which is why I thought signing up for NaNoWriMo might force me to pick up the thread of the next  Bucks County Novel episode. If I succeed in vomiting out 50,000 words over the 30 days of November, I can edit and proof read in December, get it to the beta readers on January first, and barring any glaring problems with the manuscript, do the final edit and publish before the end of February. Sounds like a good plan.

On the other hand, what that means for blogging is that I will have to drastically cut down on the time I spend here. In fact I was thinking of just hanging in with Lula for drinking adventurously and making that my one and only weekly contribution. And maybe just a quick hello in the comments of your lovely posts as best I can.

I’m still wavering. NaNo is a HUGE commitment. I absolutely despise deadlines. The time constraints might have the opposite effect from what I intend and I’ll just get mad and frustrated. So I don’t know…

Are any of you doing NaNoWriMo? And if you are, care to twist my arm?

The Origins of War

The Origins of War

We all know the story. In Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip -a Bosnian-Yugoslav Nationalist- shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary- the event that escalated the world into war. This was however, merely the match thrown onto the gasoline-soaked woodpile that was Europe in the years leading up to The Great War.

The geopolitical wrangling that went on in the decades leading up to outbreak of hostilities is complicated. Germany felt they were being economically oppressed and excluded politically by the other European powers, namely France and Britain. They were a relatively new nation, having coalesced from the unification of the separate states of Bavaria, Prussia and so forth. And because they weren’t a colonial power like Britain and France they didn’t have the depth of resources to draw on or the room for expansion as did those two. Here is a brief background on how things got to this point. Bear in mind that massive and numerous books have been written on the subject, so this really is just the basics.

Germany as we know it did not exist in the early 1800’s. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the independent German territories were bound together into The German Confederation. The confederation that would eventually become The German Empire in 1871, was made up of constituent territories, including four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, three cities and one imperial territory.

With the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, the states of Germany had shifted from a rural agrarian economy to an industrial one, with strengths in coal, iron/steel and chemical production, and railroads. With this change came urbanization and the movement of its population from the countryside to the cities. During this time, Germany became an industrial, technological and scientific giant.

Otto Von Bismarck
With economic changes came political changes too. Economic wealth led to German nationalism which then resulted in a shift from a liberal democratic coalition among the states to imperialism and a united German Empire. During his tenure, Prussian Prime Minister, Otto Von Bismarck, engineered three successful wars, including the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which resulted in France’s loss of the region of Alsace-Lorraine and the final unification of all the German states  under an Emperor (Kaiser Wilhelm I). Bismarck’s influence was instrumental in establishing the House of Hohenzollern (a Prussian dynasty) as the reigning monarchy over the newly formed empire.

Nevertheless, economic power failed to give the German Empire the political status to which it felt it entitled within the European community. Additionally, since the Empire had failed to establish alliances with the other European powers, it found itself with only Austria-Hungary as its ally. And while the rest of Europe had embraced the concept of democracy and self-determination, Germany’s Wilhelmine Westpolitik was a powerful conservative force opposing revolution, supporting old dynastic tradition, second only to Tsarist Russia.

Alfred Von Schleiffen
The Germans felt that the British Empire had dominated the scene for too long and it was time for the rise of Mittel Europe -namely The German Empire to take its rightful place at the table alongside the other powers of Europe. It was with this idea that German growth and expansion were being strategically and maliciously restrained, that led the German military commander Count Alfred Von Schleiffen to formulate a plan for the invasion and defeat of France by way of Belgium. The Schleiffen Plan was completed in 1906, eight years before the outbreak of hostilities.

Meanwhile, the French, anxious about this new shift of military and economic power within Europe, and having been humiliated in 1870 by the German conquest of their territories, were developing their own plans to retake the regions of Alsace-Lorraine. So when the shot was fired in June 28, 1914, it was the match that set the woodpile of Europe ablaze.


Sketching from a photograph

I have discovered that my sketching definitely goes better when I have something to copy. A few weeks back, I sketched a photo I took of seagulls on the beach. Since then I made a sketch of a Marcel Duchamp photo which I wasn’t super thrilled with, but the following sketch: Man Ray’s 1931 photograph – Fleurs, turned out much better.