“We offered you a place in our wine business, Jacob. Why did you not take it?”
“Father and I discussed what I would do if I survived the war. The plan was to continue in medicine. During our travels we both became concerned in seeing the quality of medical care decreasing as towns and villages distanced themselves from the big city medical centers. Our plan was to leave the big city after completion of my training and set up a modern medical practice for the developing outlying communities. The amount of money you offered would not permit finishing my MD training nor see to the future father and I projected.”
“So what did you do Jacob Cotter?” Pamela Skyler intertwined her fingers on upright elbows resting on the table.
“I worked in law enforcement and was successful in collecting rewards from criminal apprehension.”
“I had no idea being a policeman was so lucrative.” Pamela smiled and her pause was a cue for him to continue.
“I wasn’t a policeman. My job was to track down criminals and bring them back to the arresting and prosecuting authorities.” There. It’s said. The ice is broken and life goes on–I hope.
“Do you think you’ll have difficulty getting back to medicine after an almost 3-year hiatus?” Robert Locke changed direction.
“I’ll find out in a few weeks. I resume my third year at Yale next month. In the meantime I’ve just about been living in the Yale Medical Library catching up. It’s coming back fast plus the changes and advances in surgery and medicine seemed to have paralleled what I learned and adapted to during the war when father and I were taking care of the sick and wounded.”
“Shall I begin serving, madame?” The interruption by the female domestic was welcomed by Cotter. Her remark was directed to Nancy.
“Yes, please.” Nancy looked at the approval nods from her guests.
Bread and cheese appeared very quickly along with a change of wine. Cotter moved the conversation to local politics and business in New Haven as the main course of cured ham and vegetables was served.
“New Haven is still a city full of Democrats, I see.” Cotter looked at Mathew for a response.
“The Republicans were okay in war but the Democrats are entrenched in New England,” Mathew said. “Small land owners and upper classes are needed for the large labor force. The labor group performs well if we’re also allied with the Democratic electorals.”
“I want to know where Jacob is living.” Pamela Skyler smiled at Cotter.
Cotter put down his fork and looked at the expectant faces. He knew his brother and sister were aware of his probing the purchase of available vacant farms. “I actually just bought one of the old vineyard places.”
“Are you going into the wine business? I thought you told us it wouldn’t pay.” Elizabeth Cotter sipped her wine after her question.
“No. I’m still going to Yale. I wanted a place that wouldn’t lose money when I graduated. It’s an investment property. I’ll clean it up, make it livable and in two-years sell it. In the meantime it offers privacy and solitude–the things required for me to delve back into my medical studies.”
“That’s good to hear.” Nancy also sipped her wine. “We were concerned about you being competition.” She looked up. “Oh, here comes dessert.”
The young woman set the tea service on a side table and poured for everyone. She came from the kitchen with two large apples pies. Both pies had blackened edges and sunken middles. There were seeds and parts of the cores still in the body of each pie. No one completed the dessert.
Nancy looked at her cook and server with disdain. She turned to her guests after the woman disappeared back into the kitchen area. “I must apologize. I had to get a new cook and housekeeper at the last minute. The woman I had was the best kitchen domestic and housekeeper I ever employed. She just up and resigned yesterday.”
Too bad, that’ll be the least of your problems now that I’m here. Cotter moved his chair back. The evening was over and everyone stood up. His coat appeared with the male servant as he got to the door. Pamela Skyler stood next to him as he waited for his horse.
“I enjoyed our evening Jacob. I hope we shall see each other again.” Pamela Skyler touched his hand.
“Yes, it was a more pleasant evening than I’d anticipated. I think your presence had something to do with the success of the get together.”
Cotter received his palomino and removed his holster and gun from the saddlebag. He put a finger into the trigger frame and lifted the pistol out three-inches and spotted the telltale fingerprints of trespass on the oiled gunframe. He strapped the rig on, tied down the holster around his right thigh and mounted his horse. Cotter looked over to the stable where the liveryman was standing. Their eyes met and Cotter sensed this man was a foe not to turn his back on. He gave Pamela a last farewell nod and rode off.
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