Chapter 34

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Edward burst into the front door of Montgomery Plantation. His entrance had caused quite a ruckus, causing two servants, followed by the butler, to rush into the foyer. Upon seeing Thomas Briggs' alarmed expression, he reminded himself to slow down. He did not want to cause a scene or start a panic; the first thing he needed to do was to find his sweet Elizabeth.

"Are you quite alright, Sir?" Thomas asked; looking over Edward's disheveled person.

Edward blew out a breath and smoothed down the front of his jacket. "Yes, Thomas, thank you. Just anxious to be back is all." Edward forced a calm smile.

"Yes, of course, Sir. Will you be requiring anything? Has Mr. Callaway returned as well?" Thomas asked patiently.

"Ah, Mr. Callaway has not returned as of yet. He will be arriving shortly, I expect. Can you by chance tell me where I might find Miss Montgomery?" Edward fidgeted anxiously, looking around and shifting his weight back and forth between his feet.

"No, Sir, I haven't seen her as of late, but I would check the library first, Sir."

"Of course, thank you, Thomas," Edward nodded to the older man, and took off in the direction of that very room.

"My pleasure, Sir," Thomas said as he bowed his head toward Edward's retreating form.

Edward half jogged toward the library, imagining Elizabeth's face lighting up at the sight of him. Oh, how he longed to see her face, to hold her in his arms, and to tell her all he had discovered.

He reached the large wooden door to the library and stopped short, straightening his jacket and smoothing down his hair. It seemed as though just a few short hours ago he was standing at this very door, anticipating meeting with his beautiful Elizabeth just before asking her father for permission to court her, and for her hand in marriage.

Edward pulled open the door, peeking into the room before entering.

"Elizabeth? Are you here, darling?" Edward looked to every corner of the room, but she did not appear. He quickly swept the room with his eyes, noticing a book lying open on a chair. He smiled to himself; she most definitely had been here.

Edward glanced at the large grandfather clock standing beside the fireplace. A quarter to eight. She may have gone to dress for dinner; perhaps Mr. Montgomery had delayed the evening meal expecting himself and Matthew to return.

Deciding to try the parlor in hopes of intercepting Mr. Montgomery, Edward turned and exited the library.

Upon entering the parlor, his eyes fell on Peter, Charlotte, and Amelia sitting together and chatting softly. All three glanced up at him as he stopped in the doorway, and Amelia jumped up, her face beaming.

"Mr. Stanton! Oh, how good it is to see you! Where is Mr. Callaway?" Amelia smiled broadly.

"Oh, thank you, Miss Amelia. Ah, Mr. Callaway will be arriving shortly, I am sure. He may have a visitor with him, I do hope that's no trouble; it might prove necessary. May I ask where I can find Miss Montgomery?" he asked, looking to each of them for a response.

"Oh, my! You haven't seen her yet? I bet she is still dressing for dinner, wanting to look perfect for your arrival!" Amelia giggled, "She will be so very glad to see you! I'll go and fetch her!" Amelia hurried from the room.

"Edward, have a seat. You must be positively exhausted," Mr. Montgomery gestured to a chair adjacent to where he sat. "We agreed to postpone dinner in hopes that you and Mr. Callaway might return in time to join us. I trust your trip was satisfactory?" he asked with a knowing look in his eyes.

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