Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Don't Worry, You Cannot Mess up the Seating

By the time Pearce was able to step out on the stoop, there was a crowd of guests walking up the front walk. He greeted each one, welcoming them to his home, and thanking them for their generous donation.  Adair Butler laughed. "It is well worth it - both to support the Historical Society as well as finally see what you have done with the house," added with a smile.

Pearce gave a small little laugh. "Well, I hope you get your money's worth this evening."

The Butlers thanked him for the invitation and moved into the house. Pearce continued introducing himself and welcoming each guest to his home. When Colleen and Haynes arrived, like everyone else, Pearce was captivated with Colleen. He took her hands into his. "I've always loved the name Colleen, such a beautiful Irish name for a lovely lady."

Colleen thanked him and told him how excited they were to be invited. Haynes introduced Bob and Parker to Pearce. They spoke for a moment, and the 4 of them moved into the house. Ella was next. She gave Pearce a big hug when she reached the stoop. "Oooh, I cannot wait to see the house, now that it is finished."

"Where is your friend? Rayanne, if I'm correct."

"How sweet of you to remember. She sends her regrets. Unfortunately, she came down with something  this morning."

"Well, I must say, the 2 of you are truly unforgettable. Please send her my regards and tell her I hope she feels better soon."

'Miss' Ella was followed by Bunny and Mike along with Annabelle and Walter. Vivian and Terse came in along with Della and Sam. Shortly behind them were the Jacksons, the Hollingsworths, and Cordelia. Wade arrived about the time Iris, Mercer, Stella, and Hollis were walking in. Pearce spoke to each of them. Dixie and Harrell walked up with Kathleen and Jeb, who had just returned from their honeymoon. The line of guests continued.

There was a gentleman dressed in livery, showing everyone the way to the patio and gardens. The band was playing wonderful music in the background, low enough to allow for pleasant conversation. The bar was busy serving the guests. Attendants in tuxedos were walking among the crowd serving champagne and light hor d'oeuvres to the guests from large silver platters.

While waiting at the bar for drinks, Winfred and the Colonel ran into Clark and Adair Butler. Clark gave Winifred a little smile as he spoke to them. "Well, Colonel you look splendid as ever. And, Mrs. Wadsworth . . ."

Winfred interrupted him, "It's Winfred, please."

"Winfred, that color really suits you."

The Colonel complimented Adair. While he had not caught the half second look between Winfred and Clark, it was not lost on Adair. No doubt something was going on between the 2 of them. She had noticed a change in Clark over the past several months. But she couldn't put her finger on it, until just then.

The Colonel beamed. He was so proud of Winfred. It had not taken him long to adjust to her new life. It was as if she was a new person. She was beautiful lady. As much as he was devoted to dressing in period costume, he had come to accept that it was not best for her.

Stella stood in the garden waiting for Hollis to get a drink for her. It was hard for her to believe that just a few months ago, Madison was alive and her life was so different. Even though they were not on the best of terms, his death had been difficult for her. She found these feelings confusing. She was still very angry with Madison's law partners for not stepping in and aiding her in getting Madison the help he needed for his addiction. Certainly, at least one of them, could have intervened.

Mercer and Iris were on the patio, making their way to the garden. Iris held Mercer's arm and pulled him close to her. "Did I ever thank you for bringing me back from the abyss?"

He kissed her on her forehead, "Once or twice."

Dixie and Harrell were talking with Kathleen. When Dixie spotted Colleen, she turned to Kathleen, "Do you see her? You know the story?"

"Yes, Mama, I do, and . . .?"

Dixie interrupted her, "Well, I cannot believe what she has done to Haynes."

"Done what to "Mr.' Haynes? He seems happier than I have seen him since 'Miss' Blair died."

"Kathleen, she is making a fool out of him."


"You sound just like Charlotte. I mentioned it at tea the other afternoon, and she got upset with me. She actually defended Ms. Cantrell." She took a sip of her champagne. "I honestly think Charlotte is naive, taking Colleen's side."

"Good for her," Kathleen said. Having heard enough, she turned to Harrell, "Daddy, I'm going to go find Jeb."

When she had left, Harrell turned to Dixie. "That is enough. I'm tired of you acting so high and mighty. Of all people, after what you did at the kids' reception? You don't have the standing to comment on anyone." He gave her a look Dixie had not seen in a while. "I don't want to hear anymore of this." They looked to see Haynes and Colleen walking toward them.

"Haynes good to see you. And, Colleen, I knew you would be a fashion plate tonight. What a lovely dress," Harrell said as he reached over and kissed Colleen on the cheek. Dixie was incredulous.

It dawned on Harrell, for the first time, how angry he was at his wife. She was getting worse. At first he tolerated her, but now it was down right embarrassing. In the past week, he had considered leaving her, something that had never crossed his mind before. Only one thing stopped him. He knew a divorce would be ugly and felt she deserved nothing from him. Lately, all she had contributed to the marriage was angst and misery. If only she would disappear - just go away.

They were interrupted by Pearce's Irish brogue coming from the patio. He welcomed the guests and thanked them for their generous donations. "My Mum always said Gallagher was a special and now I know why - the people." He smiled. "If any of you are curious, feel free to tour the house." Pearce pointed out Mack in the crowd and introduced him. "If you have any questions, Mack knows more about the house than I do." He laughed, "Although, we are both  still looking for Uncle Falon's ghost that I was told wondered around here."

Pearce told them it was time for dinner. "As you enter the dining room, you will see a seating chart. There are tables in the dining room and living room. Enjoy!" With that he stepped away from the mike and let the combo continue playing.

Setting up the seating had been like shooting in the dark for Pearce. When he asked the Colonel for suggestions, he was told not to worry about it. "Gallagher is such a friendly place, you cannot mess up." So Pearce had assigned seats randomly, only making sure everyone with a date, spouse, or significant other were seated together.

As it turned out, Pearce had put together some 'interesting' combinations. He had seated the Colonel and Winifred at a table up front. Looking over the donations the guests had made (above the $1000 per head for the dinner), he tried to seat the higher donors up front. That put the Wadsworths together with the Butlers, Cordelia, Stella and Hollis.

As soon as they were seated, Winifred found herself sitting by Clark. Keeping in mind she had managed to handle her last dinner seated with the Butlers, she took a deep breath. Clark made polite conversation with everyone at the table, as well as Winfred, who was sitting to his right. Sitting on his left, Adair could not hear their conversation, but she paid close attention to Clark and Winfred. The more she thought, the madder she got. How could he humiliate her like this?

From across the table Hollis asked Adair, "You were out of town last week when I visited Clark. He showed your gardens to me. This is the first time I've been able to tell you that they are just lovely, as always. "

Adair offered an icy response that was lost on Hollis, "I'm surprised he was home. But then, I was out of town."

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