The Library 2 (Part 2)

Old Mill on two Rivers

(This is the latest installment of the series that starts with The Old Mill.  The previous chapter was  The Library 2 (part1).  The Table of Contents is here)

(Note 2 – This is Part two of a four part chapter)

— —

“After Samuel and his two sisters left, Thomas went right back into his old routine,” Mike said.  “Nobody ever found out what it was, but he sure lost money hand over fist while doing it.”

“Ouch,” I said.  “You’ve already talked about debt.”

“It got worse.  He sold a lot of land and other mills were built in Amesbury on land that he had previously owned and planned to use.  And then, to stay afloat, he took loans from all of the other mill owners.  It wasn’t good.”

“I can tell.”

“Since history repeats itself, I’m sure you can guess that one day he came home to another preemie child, a boy this time.  Ignoring the calendar, he named it Thomas Jr.”

“How nice.  He had his father’s name, if not his eyes.”

“Exactly, though as the boy aged everyone talked about how much he looked like his father, meaning Thomas.  Maybe he was the father and history is just unkind.  Nobody at the time seemed to think anything was out of place.  People said the boy favored the father more than the mother and he looked like a younger version of Martha.  They say she doted on him.”

“It’s nice to hear a human side of her.”

“As opposed to a ghostly side? That was in 1811.  In 1813 there was another child, Abigail.”

“Sweet.  One for mom, one for dad.”

“Exactly.  Margret took a shine to little Abby.  They were inseparable, though she loved the little Thomas as well, almost as much as Martha did.  She was a very maternal girl, which continued into adulthood.”

“Was Abby a preemie too?”

“Very possibly, but not by as much as Thomas Jr.  And again, nobody talked about her except to say how much she looked like her siblings.  It’s today that we look and say, ‘tsk, tsk,’, back then nobody questioned any of the children.  After Abby was born, things seemed fine, but, of course, the debt grew.  Oh, I almost forgot, it was about the time little Abby was born that the old house was finally torn down and the carriage house built.  As I said, Thomas kept the foundations in place and just built over the old structure, that’s why it is so oddly shaped.  It was a carriage house, workshop, stables and whatever else he could throw in there.””

“OK, I was wondering. It is pretty big for just a few carriages.”

“And it was about the time that little Abby was about one that Thomas threw Samuel out of the house for good.  He had taken control of the mill and was making it work wonders, and Thomas hated him for it.  Of course, he did it in a very polite, gentlemanly way.  He had a great talent for appearing so noble and acting calm.  Believe it or not, but most people really liked him.  Today you might say, ‘he presents well’.”

“Beautiful exterior hiding a… never mind.  Go on.”

“Life for the Goodes continued as usual, at least usual for the Thomas era.  The mill kept them afloat, but the debts continued to grow.  It was a couple of years later that things almost bottomed out.”

“Oh dear.”

“Out of the blue, Thomas came home from one of his journeys and was ripping mad.  No records of what happened.  But things changed.  He stayed put and didn’t leave.  He brought up the person he owed the most money, Alexander De’Trell, from Boston, to manage his affairs.”

“I’ve heard that name.”

“Depending on who, he was either a devil or an angel.”

“It was Barbara Adams.”

“Ah, a devil then.  Alexander had a great business mind.  He turned the mill around and it started to make a lot of money.  He made working conditions better, so the people in town loved him.  He also improved the rental property and tenant houses, so people had better living conditions, and he changed these around so they made money.  Thomas even gave him control over some of the investments, at least for a year or two, and he turned those around as well.”

“Wow, pretty cool.”

“Yeah.  Besides bringing in Alexander De’Trell, Thomas also sent away the two younger kids.  He packaged them up shortly after he arrived and said he was sending them to some of his relatives in Connecticut.  Nobody knew of any relatives, and he was always vague.  The kids were never heard from again, at least not directly.”

“So he offed the bastards.  Sorry, first thing that came to mind.”

“It was the first thing that came to most people’s minds, but there is absolutely no proof of foul play and he talked about them as if they were alive and with relatives the rest of his life.  He even talked about visiting them on his travels.  Back then, there was no mention that anybody thought any harm had been done to the children.  Now today, those who think they were murdered, the idea is that the two older girls are at least Goodes, but nobody had any ideas about the two younger kids.  One of the researchers noticed that before this incident there was a lot of mention of another Tom, a worker at the mansion, Tom Phillips.  He was young, strong and handsome.  After Thomas came home, he ceased to exist, though someone of the same name showed up in Milford at about that time.  No proof anywhere, no hints from that time period, but that is my best guess.  I have reason to believe that even if the other Tom wasn’t the father, our Thomas thought he was.  Truthfully, he would have just been a child himself when Thomas Jr. was conceived, but I really think Thomas didn’t care and blamed the kid anyway.”

“Children of children.  OK.  Hmm, so if the kids were a servant’s children, he wasn’t wrong to do away with them.  He was justified, at least in his mind.  That is, if he did them in.”

“Well, we are talking about someone who just might have killed his own father, so you tell me.”

“Ouch.”

“Double ouch.  The two kids would have been two and four when they were sent away, either truly, or euphemistically.”

“OK, so what next?”

“Thomas was a good boy for a while.  It wasn’t too long before Abigail was pregnant again.  The story is that Thomas slept with her every night and didn’t let her leave his side for more than a few minutes at a time until she was with child, so we’re completely sure it was his.”

“A bit of rape thrown into the story.”

“Martha started her diary about this time and, yes, she thought her mother was being raped.  Not those terms.  Of course, back then it was legal.  If he beat her black and blue it was all fine.  And there is little mention that he abused her as much as some men abused their wives.  In fact, most records showed that he treated her quite well, at least when not in the privacy of their bedroom.  But I almost always go with Martha’s hunches.”

“Sounds like a good idea, and with this, I would agree.”

“Luckily for all involved, the child was a healthy male.  Thomas told everyone he saw that he thought of the new child, George, as his heir.  It didn’t matter that officially Thomas Jr. was still around, being educated down in Connecticut.  This thing about George being the heir was never written, but enough people heard it that it later came back to haunt Martha.  And no, Martha is not a ghost, so there is no pun intended there.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything, honest.”

Mike looked over his glasses with mock severity.  “No haunts or ghosts, so I guess I should say Martha was bitten by this, not haunted by it.”

“Right.  Bitten.  So all of those people are seeing a vampire, not a ghost?  Oh, sorry.”

“Now happy and with an heir,” Mike continued, totally ignoring my silliness, “Thomas went out to do whatever it was he did again.  He left Abigail in charge of the household, as always, and Alexander in charge of the mill and Amesbury property.  These two did great and made a lot of money, but Thomas pissed it away instead of lowering the debt.”

“Sounds like a real wiener, I mean winner.”

“Yeah, he was great.  Only now there were some stories of drunken debauchery, though the family always said these tales were baseless slander.  Even Martha never believed it.”

“He was such a nice guy in all other ways, a little drunken debauchery might have added a little spice to his character.”

“Yes, it would, and help explain where the money was going.  But at least all of the Amesbury stuff was running well.  Martha really liked Alexander and he took a shine to her, almost fatherly.  He brought her to the Mill and showed her how it worked.  He taught her the books.  He was a big mentor.  When he wasn’t working, he spent a lot of time at the Goode Mansion.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“The people in town, or at least the rich people in town, didn’t think it was reasonable.  We’re not really sure why, but they all hated Alexander.  Was it because he had turned the mill around and so the Goodes wouldn’t forfeit on their debts?  My guess is some of those in town really wanted their hands on the Goode Mill.  Was it because he made the conditions so good and had the wages so high that the others had to improve to keep up?  I know there was resentment there.”

“Taking care of the common workers?  That is unheard of!  He must be evil!  Beat the workers and feed them sawdust, that’s the only way.  It’s for their own good.”

“I know you’re joking, but the condition in some of the mills were pretty bad.  So, when he spent a lot of time at the mansion, some people talked.  Not everyone, but some.  Some thought that the young Martha was sleeping with him, and some even thought that Abigail was.”

“I guess small town gossip was a thing back then too, huh?”

“It was.  Anyway, all of the Goode ladies loved Alexander, for young Margret also spent a lot of time learning from him.  And don’t forget that Thomas’ mom, the older Margret, was still in the picture. She doted on her daughter-in-law and loved the kids.  She also liked Alexander and publicly said he was doing his daughters a much better service by teaching them the family business than their own father had ever done.  Some people agreed with her, others didn’t.”

“I can see how having a ‘strange’ man in the house would upset some people.  And teaching girls ‘man’s businesses?”

“The average mill worker, of course loved him.”

“I’m sure.  He improved their lives.”

“As a repeating theme, one day Thomas comes home and Abigail is pregnant again.  He seems to take it in stride.  He even acts happy, but he is happiest when talking to and playing with George.  It’s as if he doesn’t care what Abigail was doing or whose bed she was keeping, as long as he had his heir.  He was proud of his son.”

“His son.  I guess that’s it, he had his own child, at last.”

“Right.  However, when the child was born, or I should say when the children were born….”

“Twins?”

“Yes, twins.  In very early January, when the children, Nathaniel and Samuel, were born, for some reason Thomas went ballistic.  He’d been there for Christmas, through the New Year and seemed to treat Abigail and her huge belly with respect.  Nothing appeared out of place at all.  He was happier than any had ever seen him.  He seemed fine until he actually saw the babies, at least according to Martha’s and Margret’s diaries.  That’s the young Margret, for Alexander made them both keep a diary as part of their lessons.”

“Did he think they weren’t really going to show up?  Or was it because they were twins or what?  Some physical attribute or defect?”

“Nobody knows.  To make matters worse, in early February Abigail announced that she was going to throw a big ball.  The ball was officially a “coming out” ball for Martha.  She was 16 and needed one.  But Thomas accused Abigail of inventing the ball to show off the babies.  Thomas vowed to put a stop to it.”

“Odd.  I know a ball happened, so what was it?”

“Yes, the ball did take place.  What happened is Thomas said he was going to send the kids down to Connecticut to join the others until the ball was over, and then they could come back home.  It isn’t good to have babies in the house when so many strangers were there and all.  The ball would upset them.”

“OK, but is travel in winter any better?”

“Of course not, though it was early April when they actually left.  There were a lot of arrangements that had to be made.  Margret, that’s Margret his mother, put her foot down.  Abigail, obviously, wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t even allowing her to enter any room he was in.  Margret persuaded him to get a wet nurse.  He said, fine.  At that age, the babies needed breast milk.  No formula back then.  Then she said she was going along for the ride to make sure the babies were well cared for on the road.  They were young and needed their grandmother.  Also, she wanted to see her other grandchildren. Thomas always insisted that they were alive and well and that he saw them often in his travels.  Margret put pressure on him, very publicly.”

“Calling his bluff…”

“Exactly.  But he was a great player and didn’t flinch.  He found a wet nurse.  A young mother from Wilton had just lost her newborn.  She came out to the house and took over nursing duties form Abigail.  This girl, Mary, was no more than 17.  She had enough milk and the twins were happy.  Abigail cried and complained, but Thomas didn’t listen.”

“Total bastard that he was.”

“Much later in the evening than most people would start a journey like that, they headed out.  It was Thomas, a farm hand that doubled as a coachman to drive the carriage, Richard, Thomas’ mother, Margret, the wet nurse, Mary, and the twins, Nathan and Sam.”

“Let me guess, nobody ever saw them again.”

“Thomas showed up in a few days later, but the others never did.  Of course, things changed greatly on April 27, so nobody really noticed that they were missing.  Frankly, I don’t think the carriage left town, but that’s just me.  Maybe they made the journey, ended up fine, living happily ever after in an unnamed town in Connecticut, but with all that happened, Thomas never called them back.”

“Assuming the worst, what’s the body count?  I lost track.”

“Too high, but most likely ready to grow.”

“Ooo, sounds bad.”

“Well, there were a few deaths and most people blame Thomas, but there are some…”

“I know, they say that Alex surely had a hand in it.  I’ve talked to Barbara, remember?”

“Yes, I know.  Alexander was the devil incarnate and all and he killed people for fun.  If something happened to the babies, Alexander ate them.  Obviously.”

“Yep.”

“As the ball approached, Thomas kept leaving and returning.  He spent a lot of time at the mill, but hiding in his office, not working.  Sometimes he’d go away and comeback with a wagonful of who-knows-what, and unpack it at the mill at night.”

“Circumstantial evidence.”

“It seemed he was making his preparations for the ball at the mill as Abigail and company made theirs at the mansion, but as you say, that’s circumstantial evidence.  He had legitimate business at the mill and could have been taking care of it.  A couple of weeks after the kids left, April 27, 1821, the night of the ball, finally arrived.”

“Be still my heart.”

— —

The Old MillPrevious – – Table of Contents  – – Next

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3 thoughts on “The Library 2 (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee on the 6th of May | Trent's World (the Blog)

  2. Pingback: The Library 2 (Part 3) – The Old Mill | Trent's World (the Blog)

  3. Pingback: The Library 2 (Part 1) – The Old Mill | Trent's World (the Blog)

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