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"EL DORADO WEST" [PG] - Chapter Two

The following is Chapter Two of my story about a pair of free black siblings making the journey to California in 1849:

Chapter Two - The Marriage Proposal

February 20, 1849
Charles Maxwell has proposed marriage to my sister, Alice. God above! I just cannot image a lively girl like Alice married to that walking block of ice. What had Father been thinking to give that man his consent?

Like the Flemings, the Mawells happened to be an old and respected Negro family here in Cleveland. Charles had been the first Maxwell to attend Oberlin College, one of the few universities in this country to accept both women and non-whites as students. I had attended Oberlin for two years before leaving five years ago. My younger brother, Jerome, is now a student there.

If my family could be considered staid, the Maxwells were downright archaic. Being related to a handful of the first families of Virginia (through slavery, of course), they considered themselves to be amongst Cleveland's most respected Negro families. Frankly, I consider them to be a bunch of bores. If Alices does accept Charles' proposal, she would have my deepest sympathy.

February 22, 1849
Rejoice! Rejoice! Alice has rejected Charles' marriage proposal.

I seemed to be the only family member who is relieved by this turn of events. The household is in an uproar. Randolph called Alice a fool for rejecting Charles. Papa remained silent, but his displeasure was apparent. A potential for a family dynasty has crumbled in the wind, thanks to Alice's decision. My other siblings seemed not to care one way or the other. As for my mother . . . Poor Mama! She had a fit after learning about Alice's decision. She ranted, raved and called my sister an ungrateful child. Now she refuses to speak with Alice.

I am certain that my parents will get over Alice's decision to reject Charles' offer. She is such a beautiful and lively girl. She is bound to catch the eye of some other man. Whether any of them possesses Charles Maxwell's attributes remains to be seen.

End of Chapter Two



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