The Scholar (Emerson Pass Historicals 3) - Page 66

I struggled mightily just then, wishing I could tell him what had happened. How wrong he was about Cymbeline being able to take care of herself. As Louisa had pointed out, it was not my place. “Regardless, you’re their father. What does Mama say about all this?”

“She figures she came across the country alone when she wasn’t much older than Cymbeline. Surely a trip to the dance hall our son owns isn’t as dangerous as all that?”

“I see.” I didn’t see at all, but there was no use arguing.

“How is it you know about their evening activities?” Papa asked.

“I took Louisa there after dinner,” I said.

“I see.” His eyes danced with humor.

“Very funny. She wanted to go down and see what it was all about. Once I knew my sisters were down there, I had to go check on them.”

“Did you have a nice time?”

“We did.” Until we didn’t. “The girls taught her how to Charleston. She had a grand time.”

“Don’t sound so grim,” Papa said. “You’re both young. You should have some excitement before all the responsibilities of parenting come into your life.”

I smiled, recalling the delight on Louisa’s face when she caught on to the steps of the Charleston. “She deserves some fun if anyone does.”

“You maybe?”

“I don’t need fun,” I said. “I have my work.”

“May I share another bit of wisdom I’ve learned in my decades on earth?”

“Could I stop you?” I smirked and raised one eyebrow.

“No, indeed not. The other thing about women—if you don’t show them some fun occasionally, they grow old before their time.”

“Is that really true?”

“Yes, it’s true. Life can’t only be work. We only get one chance through. It’s best to enjoy some of it, anyway.”

“How many nights is Fiona at the club?” I asked, changing the subject before he further pontificated.

“Just two.” Papa crossed his ankles and continued to look at me as if I amused him. “It’s good for her to use her gifts. They give people joy, you know. Women have it harder than us. Most of the time, they have nothing of their own. Nothing to give them the sense of their own power. That’s what’s wrong with Cymbeline. She wants to do all the things you and Flynn were allowed to do—encouraged to do—simply because you’re men.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

“For Fiona, she has her music. She owns it. No one can take her God-given talent away. There’s an outlet for her. Cymbeline has none.” He pointed at the paper. “Do you know how she devours the sports news and scores? She wishes she had the chance to try out for the Olympics, for example.”

My initial reaction was to laugh, but it wasn’t funny. He was correct. Cymbeline’s life was nothing but a lesson in frustration. “What can we do for Cymbeline? If something doesn’t change, I’m afraid for her.”

His brows came together. “What do you mean?”

“There’s a recklessness in her. She needs an outlet of some kind.”

“Working with Poppy is just such a thing,” Papa said. “She loves being outdoors and with the animals.”

“I hope you’re right.” I glanced outside. A sparrow hopped along the outside edge of the window. Was the bird trying to get in or stay out? What about Louisa? Did the idea of marriage make her feel trapped? Was she the same as Fiona and Cymbeline? “Papa, how did you know what to do when it came to your marriage to Mama? Did you know instinctively how to make her happy?”

“Not always. Women are complicated. When I don’t know what she needs, I ask her.”

“Would that be your advice, then?”

“Talk about everything, yes. Be sure to hear her, too. Listening is what she’ll need most from you. No one can make anyone else completely happy, but you can give them your full attention when they need to talk or even just be with you. Your obligation is to be her friend and confidant but not magically give her everything she wants and needs. She must find those things in ways that aren’t always wrapped up in you. Especially not a woman like Louisa.”

Tags: Tess Thompson Emerson Pass Historicals Historical
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