Part 2

A few days later, Juliette went to the mailbox to check for a letter from her sister.  There was none, and she sighed.

She walked to Bob Crowley's store to hear the latest news, but she never imagined what she would find there!

"Mary!  What are you doing here?!"
"We came to surprise you!  Oh, Juliette, you look wonderful!"

The sisters hugged and laughed like old times, and went for a long walk to catch up on their lives.

Mary explained that her husband Charles was an executive with a railroad company and had accompanied a team of surveyors out west to observe progress.  "We wanted to write to tell you were were coming but it all happened so quickly, we would have arrived at the same time as the letter!"

Juliette was introduced to her nieces, Louisa and Anne.  Anne was just a toddler, while Louisa was a very outspoken young lady who definitely took after her mother.  Juliette attempted to talk to Louisa about their trip on the train.  "Trains are boring, and they lost my suitcase," grumbled Louisa.  Juliette smiled and thought this time away from the city would do both Louisa and Mary some good.

Such an elegant lady as Mary was something of a rarity in Prairie Valley.  Without even intending to, she broke a few hearts.

Far from feeling plain next to her elegant sister, Juliette felt more comfortable with herself than ever.  Mary enjoyed visiting Juliette's cozy home and spent many hours there, sampling Juliette's lovely food and sharing their experiences of the past few years.  Juliette learned that Father still would not speak of her at home, and that Mother was frequently tired and ill but refused to rest, filling her days with dinner parties and charity work.  Mary worried that Mother might not make it through the winter.

One afternoon, Mary broached the subject she'd been avoiding for several days.  "Juliette... I have to tell you something.  One of the railroad's major investors came out a couple of days before we arrived.  Charles is meeting with him today."
Juliette looked puzzled.  "Okay..."
"It's Thomas.  Thomas is here in Prairie Valley."

Juliette raised her hands to ward off the bad news.  "Does he know I'm here?"
Mary looked a little sheepish.  "When I overheard the men listing the towns the train would pass near, I recognized Prairie Valley and may have let something slip.  But I kept the secret for so many years!  It was eating away at me!"
Juliette thought she should feel angry at her sister's betrayal, but she was conflicted.  On one hand, she took her son away to protect the father.  On the other hand, she had never stopped loving him, and he had traveled so far, after all.  Finally, she gathered her courage.
"Where can I find him?"