I’m so excited. I’ve got a new home. After so many years, I finally feel like I’ve found my forever home. And if I do say so myself, it is well deserved. I’ve been cooped up so long in various places I’ve almost forgotten what sunlight looks like. Now that I’m out in the open and cleaned up, I twinkle, shine, and can show my personality.

I haven’t always been cooped up. My life began seventy-five years ago. It was an idyllic time. I had been placed in a display case at Tiffany’s – yes, that Tiffany’s - shortly after my birth. I wasn’t the most extravagant addition to the case but I held my own. I’m a one carat, round, diamond solitaire in a traditional setting. I hadn’t been in my first home for very long when one day a young gentleman came in who had recently returned from fighting the war in Europe.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

His name was James Frayne and he practically bounded into the elite jewelry store. I later learned he had arrived in New York City by boat about six hours earlier. Having spent the past three years in Europe fighting Hitler and the Germans, he couldn’t wait to get back home to his sweetheart, Nell Vanderkein. He hoped that she had kept her promise and waited for him. She had been sixteen when he had been drafted. As much as he wanted to marry her before he left, her parents would have nothing of it.

No matter how hard he tried, Nell’s parents would not give in. He had tried to write regularly but that hadn’t lasted. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to; it was that he didn’t want to share the atrocities he had experienced in Europe with her. There wasn’t very much spare time either. Add to that the mail wasn’t reliable, and it meant he’d only managed a handful of letters the entire time he was gone.

Now he was home. She would be nineteen now, almost twenty. His first priority was going to be making her his wife. And that meant buying her a ring. He didn’t want anything gaudy but he did want the best for her. He’d saved most of the money he had earned while overseas and now he was going to spend it.

A clerk looked up as he entered the store. When he saw it was a soldier who looked like he had marched across half of Europe and hadn’t bathed in four weeks, he scowled. James ignored his look, too excited to notice.

“Hi,” James said. “I want to buy a ring for my girl.”

The clerk barely looked up from what he was doing.

“Excuse me,” James tried again. “I said I’d like to buy a ring for my girl.”

The clerk cleared his throat, looked down his nose at James and condescendingly said, “I heard you. I’m afraid we don’t have anything here within your budget.” He started to turn away.

James wasn’t going to be deterred. “Look, Mister,” he started, glancing at the name tag. “Mr. Appleby, I’ve just spent the past three years fighting to defend this country. I’ve been on a boat for the past three weeks and the thing I want to do most is to get on a train and head to my home in Westchester County.”

Mr. Appleby started to speak but James stopped him. “All I want to do is buy a nice ring for the best girl in the whole wide world.”

Mr. Appleby rolled his eyes. He had heard that line or a similar one several times a day for the past month and a half. Most of the soldiers who came in had no idea how much a Tiffany engagement ring would cost. When they found out, the majority of them made some quick excuse about just checking out what was available and then hightailed it out of there.

As he was speaking, James reached in his pocket and pulled out a thick stack of bills. It appeared that they were not the five and ten dollar bills Mr. Appleby was accustomed to seeing from a soldier, but one hundred dollar bills. He straightened his shoulders and reached into the case for a tray of rings.

“What kind of ring are you looking for?” he asked.

I was so excited when Mr. Appleby pulled out the tray of rings where I had been resting. My band was shiny and new, with no scratches and the platinum metal made me appear to glimmer extra brightly. James looked at several rings before he picked me up. The sun was shining through the window and I winked at him. At that moment I knew I was the one for his girl.

James gave me back to Mr. Appleby, telling him he would take it and asking him to wrap it up and put a big bow on it. Mr. Appleby tried to convince James that a fancier ring would be much more appreciated.

“This is just perfect,” James had said. “It has some nice delicate details and it’s a nice size diamond but it won’t outshine my Nell.”

Mr. Appleby bent down behind the display case and pulled out a pretty pale blue ring box. I had heard of the Tiffany Blue Box with its white satin ribbon, but this was the first time I’d actually seen it. Very gently he placed me in the white velvet that lined the box. Just as I was getting comfortable in my new home, he placed the cover on the box. Then I got scared. It was pitch dark inside. My sparkle could not shine without the light.

Despite my fears, I just knew I’d be going to a better place. For a few minutes I could hear muffled voices talking. Then I was dropped into something and I could tell we were moving. After some time, it seemed like we had stopped moving but not really. I knew James wasn’t walking any more. It felt like he had sat down but we weren’t still. We seemed to slowly rock back and forth. Before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.

Every so often he would pull the box out of what I soon realized was his pocket and we were riding on a train. He would turn the box around. I could feel him start to pull on the ribbon but then he’d stop. Then he would place me back in his pocket. And he kept muttering something about Nell waiting for him.

I was worried that this Nell wouldn’t recognize him. He had a scraggly beard and his hair was in need of a good cut. Oh, and boy did he reek. I kept thinking, “I hope this Nell lady doesn’t have a good sense of smell.”

Finally, the train stopped and James put me back in his pocket. He got off the train and seemed to run. I’m not sure what happened to his baggage but there was a spring in his step. He grabbed a taxi and made his way to a modest two-story home in town. I learned later the home belonged to his aging parents. George and Wilma Frayne had married later in life. They had two children, James and George, Jr. George was two years younger than James and had not been drafted due to severe asthma.

When we entered the house, no one was home. I was surprised. I figured there would be a huge welcome home, but there wasn’t. James didn’t seem to mind. He headed up to his room.

Thankfully, he took a shower and cleaned up before anyone saw him. As soon as he was dressed he grabbed his car keys, cranked the engine, and headed down the road. He stopped the car and paused for a few minutes. Finally, James got out of the car, walked up to the house and lightly rapped on the door. After a few minutes, someone opened the door. It was difficult but I was able to hear what was going on through the ring box.

“Mrs. Vanderkein,” he greeted the person who answered the door. “Is Nell here?”

A woman, obviously Mrs. Vanderkein, replied angrily, “She’s working and won’t be back until late tonight.”

“Working? I didn’t know she had a job,” he replied.

“Well, if you wrote once in a while you would know that she had to take one to help out the family,” the woman tersely stated.

“Oh,” James said sadly. “I know I should have written more often but we were always on the move. I think I marched across Europe and back. Just because I didn’t write doesn’t mean I didn’t think about her. I thought of her every day.”

She harrumphed and started to close the door.

“Wait,” he said. I could feel him move his leg and the door bump against it, jarring me a bit. “When will she get off work?”

“Not for several hours,” she replied. Again the door jarred James’ leg. I could hear a car coming down the street. I could hear the giggles of two women. A car door slammed and there was an exchange of goodbyes.

“Nell,” James gasped. I felt him place his hand in his pants pocket and grip my box as if to draw strength from it.

The next thing I knew I felt James bracing himself as the young woman Nell launched herself into his arms. James held her tightly and then spun her around. I thought I was going to get motion sickness from all the spinning.

“You’re home,” Nell finally said. “I’ve been so worried about you. When did you get in?”

He set her down. “I just got back to Sleepyside about an hour ago. I only went home to clean up. I’ve haven’t even seen Mother and Dad or George yet.”

“They won’t be home for a couple of days. They went to Colgate to look at the college there,” Nell volunteered. “They’ll be so disappointed they weren’t here. Why didn’t you let us know you were coming home?”

Again James placed his hand in his pocket and fingered my box. “I was going to write a letter but figured I would probably get home sooner than it arrived. I was going to send a telegram when I got stateside but then things were just so hectic I thought I’d just show up.”

“Well, this is a pleasant surprise,” Nell said.

I heard Mrs. Vanderkein mutter something unpleasant under her breath. Something told me she was not happy with Nell’s choice in men.

“You definitely are a sight for sore eyes,” he said. He grabbed her hand and started walking toward the cottage. “Do you think your parents will let me take you out for a soda tonight?”

Nell stopped walking. She hesitated and then said, “I’m not sure. You aren’t their most favorite person right now. They thought if you were so interested in me you would have written more than a few times.”

I’d been right. This could get ugly. I could feel James’ shoulders sag. “I’m sorry. Like I told your mother earlier, there wasn’t much time to write. I didn’t think you’d want to hear about all of the fighting and killing. I lost lots of friends over there. It doesn’t mean I didn’t think of you. Just ask my buddy, Paul Kadelec. He listened to me talk about you all over Europe.”

“I understand,” she said sadly. I could hear the confusion in her voice. “And I didn’t make a big deal about it. They tried to push other boys on me, saying they didn’t want me to grow up to be an old maid. Sometimes I’d humor them but usually I just put them off.”

“Why don’t I go in and talk to them? Maybe after I explain everything to them they’ll change their minds,” he said.

I felt James grab her hand and lead Nell towards the house. They walked up some stairs and through a doorway, into the house. By the sounds of throats being cleared I could tell that Mr. and Mrs. Vanderkein were waiting for us.

“Mr. Vanderkein, can I have a word with you?” James asked politely.

There was a long silence and I wondered if the Vanderkeins had left the room. Finally I heard who must have been Nell’s dad say, “Why don’t we go into the den and talk?”

I felt James slowly drop Nell’s hand and follow Mr. Vanderkein out of the room.

After he stopped walking and I heard a door shut, James began, “I understand you and Mrs. Vanderkein are upset I didn’t write enough when I was gone.” I could hear the panic rising in him. He seemed to struggle to explain himself. James tried to describe his experiences, but the words failed. He must have said something right because Mr. Vanderkein seemed to warm up to James.

“Even though I didn’t write often, I did treasure every letter that Nell wrote to me. They kept me going when things were bad and I thought of her throughout the day, every day,” James concluded. “From the day I left the States for the European Theater, I knew Nell was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’d like to ask for her hand in marriage.” The nerves must have finally gotten to James and his voice cracked and his knees started to shake.

It seemed like an eternity before Mr. Vanderkein said anything. James was shaking so hard I thought he might faint. Finally, Mr. Vanderkein said, “As a father, I don’t think there will ever be anyone that is perfect for my daughter but I’m sure she would disagree. You have my permission to marry Nell. My only request is that you wait until you are settled and have a job secured.”

James breathed a huge sigh of relief. “That won’t be a problem,” he said. “I have a job waiting for me at the bank and I’ve saved almost everything I made while I was in the Army so you won’t have to worry about Nell being cared for.”

When Nell returned, I could hear the excitement in James’ voice. He could barely contain himself. He reached into his pocket and felt around for my box. I think he wanted to make sure I hadn’t gone anywhere. I was getting a little queasy with all of the movement he had made.

Pretty soon the three of us were headed outside and into his car. He had told the Vanderkeins they would be back in about an hour. We drove for a few minutes and then he stopped somewhere. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear just about everything the two were saying.

“What do you think, Nell?” he asked.

“About what?” Nell asked. “I’m excited that you’re home. I’ve missed you so much. Sleepyside hasn’t been the same without you here. In fact it’s been rather sleepy. They stopped having the Friday night mixers at the Legion Hall because the only men that showed up were in their sixties. All the young men were fighting in the war. A lot of the young women had left as well. They went to work in the factories. You’d be surprised who became a Rosie the Riveter.”

James was interested in what had happened while he was gone but he had more important things on his mind. “I’m talking about this land. It doesn’t look like much and it’s only ten acres, but it’s mine. I had my parents buy it with my salary from the army. Someday soon I’ll build a showcase that will be home.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” she said unenthusiastically not understanding the implication.

I began to believe that James had no clue to other people’s feelings. He went on for five minutes about the house, the summer house, and plans he had for the property. Nell didn’t say much.

Finally, he reached into his pocket and took out my box. I couldn’t wait. This was it. I could feel James bend down and realized he was going all out. He was actually getting down on bended knee.

I knew that James had been rehearsing what he was going to say. He had practiced a very poetic little speech on the train. In the end he forgot all about it and said, “Nell, please say you’ll marry me.” He said it so fast that I don’t think she understood it at first.

When he repeated it, he held the box to her.

“You want to marry me?” she had asked in disbelief.

“More than anything in the world,” he had replied. “Open it.”

“Is it really from Tiffany’s?” she asked. I could feel her caress the satin ribbon. I’m not quite sure what shape it was in after being in James’ pocket for so long. Slowly the lid had opened. The sun was beginning to set and the light hit me just right and I winked at Nell. She gasped. I gasped back at her. She was so beautiful. No wonder James was so in love with her.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. Reverently she picked me up and held me between her thumb and forefinger. “Put it on my finger.”

James chuckled nervously. “I will after you answer my question.”

Nell looked puzzled. “What question?”

“Will you marry me?” he asked again.

“Yes,” she replied vehemently.

And with that he slipped me onto her left ring finger.

And that’s where I stayed for twenty years. The only time I came off her finger was when they took me back to the jewelers to have me engraved. They were, for the most part, twenty wonderful years. James treated Nell like a queen. He never took her for granted. After they were married, they moved in with Nell’s parents for a year while James built their dream home.

He turned out to be a very shrewd businessman. He built a huge mansion for what he had hoped would be a huge family. Sadly, Nell and James were never able to have children.

Nell put on a good face but many a night tears ran over me as she cried herself to sleep. When James’ brother, George, Jr., and his wife had a son and they named him Winthrop in honor of James, some of the tears stopped. James and Nell doted on Winthrop. Whenever they could, Winthrop would spend time with them. He enjoyed exploring the woods that surrounded what had become known as Ten Acres.

Winthrop grew up to be a wonderful young man. He met Katje Vanderheiden one day when Nell had asked him to take some fresh vegetables over to their neighbors. It had been love at first sight. They were married within six months. Unfortunately, they moved upstate when Winthrop couldn’t find a job nearby.

Nell wrote to Winthrop and Katje several times a week. At first Katje wrote back with the same regularity. Then she became pregnant. The letters, while still very newsy, became fewer and fewer. The logical part of James’ and Nell’s mind knew that was to be expected but they couldn’t help but being a bit hurt when the letters practically stopped coming.

It was an exciting day, however, when the letter came announcing the birth of their son. The biggest surprise had been that they had named their son James Winthrop Frayne the Second.

It was a beautiful day in mid-August when Nell and James drove up to Rochester for his namesake’s christening. That was quite an event, for although James had become quite a successful businessman in Sleepyside, he never traveled far out of Westchester County. He said he’d seen enough of the world during the war and he didn’t need to see any more. Nell never complained. As long as James was at her side she was happy.

Before they left on that trip, he and Nell took the train into the city and visited Tiffany’s again. He was surprised to see that Mr. Appleby still worked at the famous store.

“Mr. Frayne,” he greeted him. “What a pleasant surprise and this must be your lovely wife.”

“Why yes, this is my wife Nell, but how did you remember me? It’s been over ten years.”

Mr. Appleby winked at Nell and said, “Oh, it’s a trade secret. What can I do for you today? Is there a little Frayne that needs a special locket or bracelet?”

“Unfortunately Nell and I have not been blessed with any children ourselves, but we do have a new great-nephew who was named after me. We’d like to get a special christening gift for him,” James said.

“I have just the thing for him. Everyone is buying them,” Mr. Appleby said as he headed into the back room. When he returned he carried a silver mug. It was about eight inches tall and had a sturdy bottom.

James examined the mug carefully as Mr. Appleby continued to explain. “The idea is to engrave the recipient’s name, birthday and christening date on the mug. You can also include the godparents’ names if you like. Then when the child grows up and has children of his or her own they add the names and dates of his children and grandchildren. It’s like what people do with their family Bible only it would be on the cup that could be displayed on a mantle or shelf.”

“What a lovely idea,” Nell exclaimed. “It’s the perfect gift.”

After deciding what should be engraved on the mug, James paid Mr. Appleby and made arrangements for the cup to be sent to him in Sleepyside. It would be ready by the end of the week, which would give them plenty of time before the actual christening in two weeks.

After the christening, James and Nell settled back into their routines. It was a happy time for me because Nell and James were so happy. They went on long drives in the country on Sunday afternoons and I would sparkle as brightly as Nell’s blue eyes did when the sunlight would catch in my facets. Life was good for them. They truly seemed happy and in love.

Then tragedy struck. It was a few years after the christening. The summer had been an extremely dry and hot one. James and Nell spent a lot of time in their summer house. Shaded by the trees in the arbor, it was much cooler than the main house. Most summer evenings were spent out there.

They found themselves spending many evenings in their matching rockers, James usually reading the Wall Street Journal and Sleepyside Sun and Nell either embroidering or reading as well.

One evening, Nell moved her chair to sit closer to James as he read her an article that had been posted in the Sun. As she bent down to move pick up the chair to move, a copperhead snake struck and bit her on her left arm. Immediately, her hand started to swell and I could feel the pressure of her skin on my delicate band.

James panicked. Instead of immediately tending to his wife, he tracked down the snake and killed it. Without thinking about what he should do, he hurriedly picked up his loving wife and carried her to the car. He knew she needed medical attention fast so he decided to take a short cut along an old logging trail that ran behind Ten Acres.

That proved to be a fatal mistake. About halfway to town, the car sputtered and came to a complete stop. The logging road was a short cut but unfortunately, hardly anyone knew about the road.

James sat at the wheel trying in vain to get the car to start. Eventually, the battery wore down. He tried to keep up a conversation with Nell but she began to lose consciousness.

James slammed his hand on the steering wheel when the battery died and swore. He then looked over at his wife and noticed she was barely breathing.

“Hang on, Nell,” he urged. “I know help will be along soon.”

Nell looked a James one last time, tried to smile and then whispered, “I love you, James.” Those were the last words that she uttered.

To say that James was devastated is an understatement. It wasn’t until the next morning that someone passed them on the road. When they realized someone was in the car, they stopped and tried to help.

James was inconsolable. He could not accept that Nell was dead. When the ambulance arrived, he would not let go of her. Finally, they allowed him to ride with Nell to the hospital. Everyone knew that Nell had passed away, but James wouldn’t accept it.

From what I understand, James never had the car moved and it stayed there for years to come.

At some point, James finally accepted Nell’s death. However, he was a changed man. He shut everyone out of his life. Those nice Beldens who lived down in the valley were turned away and at one point James accused Peter Belden of moving the property fence.

I thought I would have been buried with Nell but the funeral director had removed me from Nell’s ring finger right before the casket had been closed. I was placed in the safe at the funeral home and there I remained for several months. It felt like years but I know it wasn’t that long.

When James came to pick me up he was not happy.

“This was supposed to be buried with Nell,” James insisted.

“Yes, I know,” said William Olson. “There was a misunderstanding and Bill, Jr. removed the ring right before the casket was closed. He placed it in our safe and I just realized today that we had it.”

“Get rid of it,” James said. “Throw it in the garbage, sell it, I don’t care. I never want to see it again.”

William paused not sure how to approach the issue. “James, are you sure you want to do that? Some day that great-nephew of yours will get married. It would be a wonderful legacy to your wife if he was able to give it to her.”

James sighed and said, “I don’t really care, but if you insist, give it to me and I’ll take it home with me.”

James stuffed me in his pocket. This time I wasn’t in a beautiful blue box. I was just put in the pocket along with his car keys and some change. It wasn’t comfortable at all. When he got home he marched up to Nell’s room. He hadn’t been in there since her death. I thought he was going to destroy the room, he was so angry.

Instead he opened up an old ring box, threw me unceremoniously in it and slammed the lid shut. And that is where I lived for ten years. Ten long years of solitary confinement. I think I would have been happier if he had thrown me into a lake or dump. At least then there was a chance for someone to rescue me.

Over the years James moved that box from one place to another. He never opened it up; he’d just move me. I’m not sure why. I never heard any voices other than once in a while I would hear James muttering to himself about something. It was never anything happy; always with an angry note to his voice.

Then one day something amazing happened. After several days of not hearing anything outside that box, I began hearing voices. Not just one voice but several, and they were younger voices. And it wasn’t just voices but there was noise as well. It sounded like they were moving things or maybe digging for something. The sounds moved around, sometimes coming from overhead, other times like they were right next to me. And they weren’t the sounds of mice and squirrels either. I know those sounds and I definitely know the difference between rodent and people sounds.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of a door opening and the voices got louder and clearer. My heart quickened as I felt someone pick up the box. I could barely contain my excitement. Maybe I would be released from this prison. The box stopped moving. I know now that I had been placed on a desk. Slowly, the lid of the jewelry box was opened, and the light filtered through the dirty window with just enough rays for me to wink and sparkle. “Free at last,” I thought. “I’m finally going to get out of here.”

“It’s an old-fashioned engagement ring.” I heard a young girl say. I looked up and there was a teenage girl with a riotous mess of curls holding me up to the light. “Golly, did you ever see such an enormous diamond?”

Another girl with long hair that looked like spun gold replied, “It’s huge. And it must have belonged to Jim’s great-aunt. Now I know his uncle was crazy. He hid her ring in here, boarded up the top floors and deliberately let the summerhouse and the arbor get overgrown. It just doesn’t make sense. I bet he did lose all his money in bad investments.”

I wanted to scream, “He wasn’t crazy unless you call it crazy in love with Nell.” Despite having been hidden in a box for ten years, I still remembered the happy times that Nell and James had shared, not how she tragically died.

The girls chatted about the ring and James for several minutes until they heard someone coming. Quickly, they slammed the door to the safe where I had been stored. I cringed as they put me back into that box and I was shoved into a pocket. So much for enjoying freedom. They raced into the kitchen and down into the cellar and stayed there for what seemed to be an eternity. It seemed like I was always waiting for what seemed to be an eternity.

Finally, they must have decided it was safe to leave the cellar. They cautiously climbed the stairs. They left the house and headed through the woods to another home. They ran all of the way. I thought I was going to be sick. It was such a bumpy ride. I could hear a door open and then slam shut. Then that curly-haired girl yelled, “Jim, look what we found! A diamond ring!”

I felt her pull the box out of her pocket and open it. I flashed my brilliant smile. A teenage boy with red hair took me in between his fingers and held me up to the light, examining the inside of my band.

“It belonged to my great-aunt, all right,” he said. “See, here are the initials and what was probably the date of their wedding. I hate the thought of selling it, but it’ll keep me for a long time, in case I don’t get a job right away.”

I sagged in disappointment. All of the time I was locked in that safe, I dreamed of one day being placed on a Frayne finger again. Who knows who would buy me and what they would do with me?

Jim continued, “Well, you win, Trixie. You did find some hidden treasure, after all.” So that’s what the girl’s name was, Trixie. What a unique name. It seemed to fit her.

“It was really Honey who found it,” she said. “It was her idea that there might be a wall safe behind that old painting.” Well, the name Honey sure fit the other girl as well. She seemed like a sweet girl and her hair was the color of honey.

The three teenagers chatted about some guy named Jonesy who must have been really evil. Jim did not like him and seemed rather afraid of him. Eventually, I got put back into my prison. This time I was put in Jim’s pocket. They walked for a while. I really couldn’t hear what they were discussing. There was some commotion that appeared to be around a dog. I think it kept getting out of the house. I thought being placed in the pocket of someone who was running was torture. Let me tell you that was nothing compared to that horseback riding. It took all of my will not to get sick.

Finally, the awful ride ended and I thought we were headed home but then we got sidetracked. I think we went back to Ten Acres. I was tired and still a little sick so I didn’t really hear what they were saying. They were whispering so it would have been hard to hear if I was really awake.

I must have fallen asleep for a few minutes because the next thing I felt was Jim pulling the box out of his pocket and placing it somewhere. He must have also gone to sleep because I didn’t hear anything and eventually I fell back to sleep as well.

I don’t know how long it was, but I soon began to smell smoke. It was faint at first. I thought I was imagining things. Suddenly, things changed. I heard Trixie yelling, “Jim! Jim! The Mansion’s on fire! Your stepfather’s cigarette! All that trash! Jim!” He got up, headed out of the summer house, and left me along with the Bible and christening mug behind. For what seemed like an eternity. Yes, I know I used the word eternity again but I’ve got a limited vocabulary. It was a really long time. I could hear voices and people running around. Then I heard the sirens from the fire trucks approach. Jim came back into the summer house.

I could tell that Jim was not happy waiting in here. He paced back and forth muttering things about that Jonesy guy and cursing his bad luck. I felt bad for him. As the night wore on he seemed to become more defeated. At least the smoke wasn’t getting any worse. I feared I would be dulled by the smoke and never sparkle again. Then I realized I should just be grateful that I hadn’t perished in the fire.

As time went by Jim got more agitated. He started talking about wanting to get away. I could hear a lot of activity outside of the building. Sirens sounded and it sounded like there were hundreds of people around. Jim came back to the building after a while. I could hear him muttering to himself, something about needing to get away. He opened the box and looked at me. A look of sadness washed over him.

“Uncle James must have really loved Aunt Nell,” he said. “I hate to part with this but I have the family Bible and my christening cup. If I take this ring with me, I’ll be tempted to sell it when things got bad.”

He paused for a few minutes. Then he continued, “I’m going to give this to Trixie. If it weren’t for her and Honey I would never have survived the last few days. She’s been such a sport. I hope she uses it to buy that horse she’s wanted.”

He closed his fist over me. I noticed he also closed his eyes and it was if he was seeking some sort of divine guidance to tell him what to do. Then he pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. I’m not sure where he had them. He wrote a few words and then placed me next to the paper. He left shortly after that and I figured I’d never see him again. I just hoped I wouldn’t be stuck in this building for the next fifty years getting dusty and grimy, not to mention having to deal with bugs, mice and snakes. I shudder thinking about it. At least there was a little light so I could see what was happening.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait very long. The girls made their way into the building and found the letter. They read it and were discussing me. I was relieved to hear that Trixie wasn’t going to sell me. They didn’t dwell too long because someone else came along. Once again I ended up in a pocket and couldn’t hear what was going on.

Eventually, I found myself at Trixie’s house. For several weeks I sat on the mantel in the living room. There was lots of excitement but I couldn’t hear much. Despite not knowing what was going on, it was much better than that safe. I was getting complacent. I thought I had it made. I had been given to a girl. I knew I wasn’t the type of ring that a girl that age would regularly wear. I thought I’d be put in a jewelry box. I would be admired from time to time and maybe for Christmas or other special occasions I would actually be worn. Was I wrong! I thought the jewelry box was a prison. Let me tell you it is nothing compared to a safety deposit box.

Do you know what a safety deposit box is? It’s this metal box that is in a wall at the bank. There are locks to get into the box and then there’s a door that is also locked at the end of the day. It’s very cold with no personality at all. I was placed in the box with a will, some savings bonds, and a few other pieces of jewelry. None of these guys were very friendly. The will was very crabby. He’d been in the box for several years and no one had come to look at him even once. He knew that the only way he would get out would be when someone died. The savings bonds were not much friendlier. They at least had some hope of getting out in a few years.

The other pieces of jewelry thought they were better than me. They had been there for several years and were the only ones who occasionally got out for some fun. It was always a special occasion when they went out. I looked forward to hearing about their adventures.

It took me a while to realize that Trixie, that’s the blond girl who Jim gave the ring to, was not a girly girl. She had no interest in anything frilly. I never got to go anywhere. Well, there was that one time that I got out.

It wasn’t that long after I had been placed in the safety deposit box. It was actually the first time it had been opened after I had been placed in there. When the dark-haired gentleman, who I soon learned was Trixie’s dad Peter, took me out, he commented about not being able to figure out his daughter. He mentioned to the bank teller, who was assisting him, something about Trixie suddenly becoming interested in girl things.

I was so excited. I was going to be worn again. Peter took me to his home and handed me over to Trixie. She slipped me on her finger and ran upstairs. She changed into a fancy dress and then came down to dinner. Her brothers seemed to take great pleasure in teasing her about some boy named Ben. I didn’t pay much attention. I was so excited to be out in the open again. It wasn’t Nell’s finger but it still was nice.

Well, I set myself up for a huge disappointment. Apparently, Trixie and her friend Honey had come up with this scheme. Trixie’s brother Brian had finally earned enough money to buy a jalopy from the owner of a little general store down the road. Something had happened and Brian no longer had the money. The girls came up with the idea of using me as collateral until they could raise the money for the car.

Mr. Lytell, that’s the general store owner, was something else. He came off as a curmudgeon and old gossip but he has a heart of gold. When Trixie and Honey took me over to the general store the next morning, he seemed really nervous. I thought for a minute he was going to back out on them. He was really grumpy. That changed after the girls left.

I figured he’d just throw me in the cash register of in a drawer in his desk. He didn’t do that. First he held me up to the light and examined me. I tried my best to sparkle and shine. It was hard since I hadn’t been polished in years.

I got a little scared when he put me in his pocket along with his keys and some change. I took a little beating there as the keys and change would rub up against me. That didn’t last too long. Just until he closed the store for the day.

He took me back into the living quarters that were attached to the store. First he put me in the cupboard in a glass. That didn’t last too long. He moved me to the medicine cabinet muttering something about trying to find a safe place to put me.

That Mr. Lytell was kind of different. He would take me out of his hiding spot every night and hold me up to the light. One night he got down on one knee and started reciting some really awful poetry. It was if he was talking to someone, a lady I hope. He’d get this funny catch in his voice. Then he’d mutter something about a woman named Margery.

Another day he took me outside under the stars. He started singing “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from the musical South Pacific. He did change he words up a bit and once again mentioned that Margery lady. He totally ruined that musical for me. James had taken Nell to see it on Broadway with Mary Martin. Mr. Lytell is no Mary Martin. He wouldn’t even make a good Luther Billis.

I was starting to get worried. Maybe the Lytell guy wouldn’t give me back to Trixie at the end of the week. Or maybe Trixie and Honey wouldn’t come up with the fifty dollars. I shuddered at the thought of living with this guy for the rest of my life. I hate to say it but I was starting to miss that safety deposit box.

You’ll be relieved to know that I survived that week, if just barely. I don’t know who was more excited when Trixie’s brother, Brian, came into Lytell’s store and gave him the fifty dollars; me or Brian. When Mr. Lytell handed me over I sparkled as much as I could.

Brian couldn’t contain his excitement. I soon realized he was more excited by the car than me. He placed me again into a pocket and went out to the car. Boy, was I in for a shock. When Trixie had brought me to Mr. Lytell the weather had been rather warm for November. Today it was cold and I could tell by the way Brian walked that there was snow on the ground. I said a prayer that Brian was a good driver.

When we got home, Brian quickly handed me over to Trixie who in turn handed it to her father.

“Here, Dad,” she had said. “You take this. Then if it’s lost I’m not responsible. Just make sure you put it out of Bobby’s reach. Despite what happened on Thanksgiving, I don’t know if he’ll remember not to take things that aren’t his.”

The next day I was returned to the safety deposit box. There I stayed for years. Every so often, someone would open up the box to put something in or take something out. I’d get my hopes up each time and each time I would be extremely disappointed. After a while I just didn’t care. The other objects in the safety deposit box were starting to get on my nerves. We were all tired of being cooped up. We all knew we were important to one Belden or another but then why were we cooped up in this prison?

One day someone came to open the box. I was surprised because not only was Peter Belden there, but Jim Frayne was too. He had changed over the years. He wasn’t much taller than he had been but he had filled out, grown up. And he was quite handsome. He seemed a little nervous however.

I just sat in the box trying to ignore what was happening. After all no one had come for me except for that Thanksgiving weekend. I shut my eyes so I wouldn’t see who the lucky one was. Suddenly, I felt myself being lifted up. I could barely contain myself. I was the chosen one.

“It’s a real beauty,” Peter Belden had said. “I can see why you want to use it.”

“I thought about buying a new ring, but then I remembered this one. I hope it’s not cheating since I gave it to Trixie ten years ago. It just seems right. I think the fact that she’s had it for as long as we’ve known each other has some significance,” Jim replied. “I thought of resetting the stone but I can’t think of any other setting that would be appropriate.”

Jim pulled out a velvet ring box, gently placed me in it and headed out the door.

When he got back to his apartment, he took me out and examined me closer. He started muttering things about loving someone for what seemed like forever. He must have gone on for hours, or at least several minutes. My sense of time has been screwed up after so many years of confinement.

He set me down, took a pen and piece of paper, and started writing. He started with poetry. Jim Frayne should stick with limericks, he did not write very good romantic poetry. I think he knew it as well. He stopped and started several times and finally gave up.

The next day he took me out again. This time he took me to a jewelry store. There they tightened my setting and cleaned me up. I felt like a new ring. I don’t remember ever sparkling and shining as much as I did that day. I was gently put back in that velvet box and Jim picked me up after a few hours of pampering.

“This is it!” I thought. “I’m going to have a new home.” I got a little nervous when instead of putting on dress clothes, Jim put on some well-worn jeans and a t-shirt. I thought he had forgotten about me but before he left the apartment he grabbed my box and put it in his pants pocket.

He must have been very nervous because he kept reaching into his pocket and would just jiggle me. I was kind of getting seasick. He was a lot like his great-uncle.

Then he really surprised me. He drove up to the Manor House, parked the car and headed to the stables. Maybe I had been wrong and he wasn’t going to visit Trixie tonight. But then why did he bring me along?

He entered the stables and Trixie was there dressed similarly to him.

“Thanks for meeting me here, Trixie,” he said. “It seems like forever since I’ve been on a horse and I thought it would be fun to go on a moonlight ride for old time’s sake.”

Trixie’s eyes sparkled. “I love moonlight rides and it really has been a long time since we’ve done that. Too bad the rest of the Bob-Whites couldn’t join us.”

Jim suddenly got silent. I later learned he had called all of the other Bob-Whites and told them under no circumstances should they be anywhere near the stables tonight. He didn’t say any more but he sensed they all knew what was about to happen.

Jim saddled a black gelding with white socks.

Trixie started to saddle a grey filly. They finished within a few minutes and then led their mounts outside.

“Which way to do you want to ride?” Trixie asked.

“I don’t know,” Jim replied. “Let’s just give the horses their heads and see where they take us.”

That Jim is kind of sneaky. He knew exactly where he was going. On the way over to the Manor House he kept talking about a plan. He had it down to the last second, I swear. It was a full moon that night so they didn’t really need much for light. I, of course, couldn’t see anything because once again I’d been relegated to the pocket. I was getting really impatient. Except for a few times, I really hadn’t been out for years and years and years.

Trixie was totally oblivious to what was going on. I could hear her chatter as they rode. She talked about finishing up her senior thesis. Something about low tech ways to catch a bad guy. It wasn’t something I would be interested in. Jim seemed to be paying attention but I guess he really wasn’t.

She asked him what he thought about something she had said and he replied, “You have to remember to read the word problems first then write down what the equations should be.” I don’t know where that came from. Trixie, however, seemed to understand.

She kept chattering away but changed the subject. She talked about the Bob-Whites and what everyone was up to. Apparently Diana and Mart were getting married in a few months. Trixie was not thrilled with the purple bridesmaids’ gowns that had been chosen. She tried to be tactful but I could tell that she would rather have worn jeans, a blouse and her moccasins.

Her chatter did one thing. She wasn’t paying any attention to where they were going. Jim had guided the horses over to Ten Acres. She was prattling along when suddenly she gasped.

“Jim, you started work on your school,” she exclaimed.

The horses stopped and they dismounted. “We’ve been planning for so long. I didn’t want to do a huge ground breaking. Unfortunately, there have been some locals who have not supported the school. I decided it would be better to wait until the first buildings are ready and have an open house instead.”

He gave her a brief tour of the grounds, talking about where the main school building would be, the neighborhood that he would be constructing for the students to live in. The kids would live in a home-like setting with a set of foster parents and several “siblings”.

They slowed down and I heard Trixie say, “Is this what I think it is?”

“It’s the summerhouse. It’s surprising how well it’s held up. The architects said that it was structurally sound. I wanted to preserve the one structure that was original to the property. It had some bad memories for Uncle James but it saved me. So I decided to make it a chapel. Come on, let me show you,” Jim explained.

“It looks so different with all of the brush removed and the landscaping. Is that a crabapple tree by the entrance?” she asked.

“Well, I wanted something to honor your parents. They were always supportive of my dreams. I know it seems odd but if you look at the entrance you’ll see a horse shoe above the door. That’s for Regan. He had faith in me from the beginning as well. Remember how he let me take out Jupiter on our first moonlight ride and didn’t ask any questions?”

The entered the summerhouse and Trixie gasped again. “The stained glass windows are gorgeous. I bet when the light shines in they are beautiful. What is that one over the side altar?”

“It’s St. Matthew. He’s typically shown as an angelic human and it symbolizes his compassion and empathy for mankind. It’s my tribute to my parents. I know many people think of Dad as a hard-hearted businessman but you know what a softie he can be.”

“Oh, Jim, that is so wonderful. Have they seen this?”

“Other than the workers, you are the first to see this,” he replied. “Dad knows that I made this summer house a chapel but I wanted you to be the first to see the finished project.”

Trixie then noticed the windows that were on each side of the aisles. There were six in all. They were each a work of art. “Did Diana design those windows?” she asked.

“Yes, what do you think of them?” Jim replied.

She studied them and then gasped. “It’s the Bob-Whites,” she exclaimed.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without you guys. Diana was so clever incorporating a bob-white bird into each window. Brian’s has Raphael the Archangel in it. He’s the patron saint of physicians. Mine has Gabriel the Archangel as he’s the patron saint of teachers. Mart’s is St. Isadore the farmer. St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of policeman so that’s Dan’s over there. Diana’s window features St. Catherine of Bologna the patron saint of the arts. Honey’s is another St. Catherine, of Alexandria. She’s the patron saint of school girls. I figured that was close enough to school girl shamus.”

He paused a second and then pointed to the last window. It was in the front opposite the one of St. Matthew. That one is in honor of you,” he said.

“Is it St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes?” she asked with a chuckle.

“No,” he said quietly. He started to bend down on one knee and pull the box out of his pocket. He looked solemnly up into the love of his life’s eyes and said. “Yours is St. Agnes of Rome. She’s the patron saint of engaged couples.”

“Engaged couples?” Trixie asked a bit confused.

But then he opened the box and continued, “Trixie, since the day I met you, you have been the only girl for me. Will you marry me and be my wife for the rest of our lives?”

It was several minutes before Trixie said anything. I was getting nervous, so I can imagine how Jim was feeling. I could feel his hand begin to shake but he still didn’t move or say anything.

Finally, Trixie exclaimed, “Yes, yes, yes!” She pulled him to his feet and then leapt into his arms.

“I hope you don’t mind that I got Aunt Nell’s ring from your dad. I just thought it was the right ring for you. If you want something different, we can pick something out together.”

Trixie quickly stopped him. “No, this is perfectly perfect. I can’t imagine wearing any other ring. I know your great-aunt and uncle would be honored that you chose this ring.”

Jim pulled me out of the box and reverently placed me on Trixie’s ring finger. Despite the low light in the chapel, I shone brighter than I had ever shown.

I was finally home!


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Author Notes

This story is written for Jen (uptowngirl). She won my NCAA March Madness Basketball Contest. The prize was a story of her choice. She asked for a Jim and Trixie story about their engagement.

I haven’t used a lot of the prompts that Trish has so wonderfully been managing this year but I did like the idea of writing from the POV of an inanimate object. From there things just flowed.

The text that is bold print is from Secret of the Mansion. Lovingly used without permission.

All of those Saints really are patron saints. I don’t usually think about what religion Jim and Trixie are but I just couldn’t resist using them because they all were so perfectly perfect.

Thanks to my diehard editor, BonnieH and my new editors, Pam and PatK. You all added so much to the story. Paul Kadelec is a cameo appearance of PatK’s awesome husband. He didn’t serve in WWII but he did serve in the armed forces.

And finally thank you Mal for all you do to keep my website beautiful. Any broken links are my fault.

Word count, 9,203


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