Authors: Ramona Flightner
© 2016 by Ramona Flightner. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
Ramona Flightner/Grizzly Damsel Publishing P.O. Box 624 Boston, MA 02128 www.ramonaflightner.com
Cover design by Jennifer Quinlan
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Ordering Information: Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the “Special Sales Department” at the address above.
Tenacious Love/ Ramona Flightner. — 1st ed.
ISBN Print: 978-1-945609-01-5
To My Grandparents: Grandpa Joe, Grandma Kay and Grandma Ruth, You were my first storytellers and
fostered in me a love of family.
You encouraged me to excel and
cultivated my natural curiosity. You inspired me with your strong social justice values and dedication to those not as blessed as you. I will miss you. Always.
- brother to Gabriel, married to Florence, blacksmith
– married to Richard, used to teach with Clarissa
- suffragist, mentor to the McLeod women
uncle to the McLeod boys, married to Delia, father to Zylphia, excellent businessman.
married to Aidan, mother to Zylphia, still aids the orphanage
daughter to Delia and Aidan, suffragist and painter,
successful Boston businessman, interested in Zylphia
- social misfit, inventor, from England, Zylphia’s friend.
Zylphia’s friend; excellent pianist
Zylphia’s friend, helps teach her social norms.
Parthena’s nemesis, successful Boston businessman.
- cabinetmaker, married to Clarissa
- married to Gabriel, used to work as a teacher and a librarian, suffragist
- cabinetmaker, works with his brother Gabriel at his shop, married to Savannah
Savannah Russell McLeod-
married to Jeremy
Melinda Sullivan McLeod-
Savannah and Jeremy’s adopted daughter, Colin/ Clarissa/ Patrick’s much younger sister
-Clarissa and Patrick’s brother, blacksmith
- a McLeod friend, a cobbler, injured in mine in Butte, uses wheelchair
- Savannah’s brother, a famous pianist, travels the world performing.
Mr. A.J. Pickens
- close friend and mentor to Clarissa, used to work at the Book Depository and Library with her
friend to the McLeods, helps care for their children and clean their homes
new librarian in town, championed by Mr. Pickens
sister to Mrs. Vaughan, busybody in Missoula
sister to Mrs. Bouchard, busybody in Missoula, blames Clarissa for her family’s misfortunes
- Clarissa and Colin’s brother, accountant
– Patrick’s boss and friend, lives in Butte
Samuel Sander’s secretary, and Patrick’s friend
- miner from Finntown, Patrick’s friend
- runs the sawmill in Darby, married to Amelia, great friend to the McLeod’s
Amelia Egan Carling
- close friend to the McLeod’s – lives in Darby
before President-Elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, Clarissa McLeod gathered with other female marchers, all clad in white dresses with purple capes. Alice Paul, the parade’s organizer and a leading suffragist, had designed the day’s official uniform. A boisterous crowd had burgeoned to watch women march to demand the right to vote. Police stood alongside Pennsylvania Avenue, alternately pushing men behind the low metal chain off the parade route, chatting with onlookers and bemoaning the need to patrol two marches in two consecutive days. Red, white and blue patriotic bunting hung from the balconies and banisters of the buildings lining the avenue in readiness for the next day’s inaugural parade, and lent a festive air. A group from a local women’s club hawked sandwiches, doughnuts and pies.
However, the most popular item sold this day—by the newspaperwomen in their purple, white and green sashes—was the parade’s program. Its cover depicted a woman herald on a white steed proclaiming, “Votes for Women,” as she blew her trumpet. Inside, a detailed map showed Inez Milholland, a suffragist and labor lawyer, would lead the parade, riding a white steed, followed by National American Woman Suffrage Association officers. Four sections of marchers would come next: representatives from countries already granting women the right to vote, the pioneers of the US suffrage movement, professional women in favor of the vote and then male supporters of suffrage.
Along the side streets of Pennsylvania Avenue, the marchers, numerous bands and floats awaited their signal to move. The white horse shifted from side to side, its hostler rubbing its nose to calm it. Miss Milholland, dressed in white, mingled with dignitaries at the front of the parade. Clarissa smiled, wishing for a moment she could be a spectator to watch Miss Milholland as she led the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. As Clarissa made her way past floats and bands, she passed a large double-sided placard, the length of a wagon, which proclaimed
We Demand an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Enfranchising the Women of this Country
Clarissa approached her designated area, choosing to stand in the professional group, as she had recently resigned as a librarian in Montana and had been a teacher before her marriage. She mingled with doctors, businesswomen, lawyers and nurses. Plus she could walk beside her close friend and sister-in-law Florence Butler McLeod. Florence had taught with her at the immigrant school in Boston before she married Richard McLeod. The group of women who had walked all the way from New York City to Washington, DC, would march directly in front of their group, while elaborate floats would bring a decorative and festive end to the parade.
She spun, attempting to locate the caller of her name. Clarissa stood on her tiptoes for a moment and then raced forward, pushing through the crowd. “Flo,” she gasped a second before she threw herself in Florence’s arms.
Florence’s curly black hair was tamed in a tight bun, while her round face had become a little rounder since Clarissa had last seen her.
They rocked to and fro for a few moments before separating. “Oh, how I’ve missed you, Rissa. I can’t believe it’s been eleven years since I saw you in Boston. I wish your children were here so I could meet them too,” Florence said. Her smile dimmed as she noted the tightness around Clarissa’s mouth and the effort she made to smile. “I see we have much to discuss.”
“Where’s Sophie?” Clarissa glanced over Florence’s shoulder, expecting to see their fierce suffragist mentor and friend.
“She’s at the culmination of the march. She said she didn’t have the energy to walk such a great distance, and she wanted to have the distinction of watching our triumphant arrival.” Florence stumbled into Clarissa when jostled by a few of the women marchers preparing to line up. “Richard and Gabriel decided to sit with her, not march at the back of the parade with the other men. They said they wanted to cheer as we arrived.”
“I was sorry I could not see you yesterday,” Clarissa murmured as she half listened to instructions to form rows four abreast and to prepare to march forward in a few minutes. Rather than the white cap most women wore, Clarissa donned a purple hat with a yellow ribbon set at a jaunty angle atop her chestnut-colored chignon.
“I wasn’t feeling well.” At Clarissa’s inquisitive stare when Florence blushed, she whispered, “I’m expecting again.”
“Oh, how wonderful! Maybe a girl to go along with your five boys?” Clarissa pulled Flo into a tight embrace. “I can’t imagine Richard was pleased you insisted on marching.”
“No, he wanted me to sit next to Savannah but relented when he realized our impending argument would be far worse for the baby than me walking a few miles.”
“I know Sav’s disappointed not to be marching, but she’s simply too weak.” Clarissa shook her head as she thought of her other sister-in-law and cousin, Savannah Russell McLeod. “I still can’t believe she insisted on traveling all this way.”
“Jeremy was at a loss as to how to encourage her to care for herself when I saw him yesterday,” Florence said. “I haven’t seen such a hopeless look come into his eyes since his return from the Philippines.”
“Savannah’s persistent disappointment is devastating to them.”
Florence gripped Clarissa’s arm, correctly interpreting the well of emotion behind Clarissa’s words. “I have a feeling it’s not just Savannah’s.”
They took their places in the middle of their group, listening to the nearest band’s discordant notes as it tuned up. When given a signal to begin, the band played a rousing John Phillips Sousa march, earning cheers from the crowd. The parade participants moved forward and, after a few minutes, marched down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Clarissa waved her small yellow pennant and smiled, her spirit light, as the thick crowds behind the feeble chain barricades cheered while they walked past. Clarissa gripped Florence’s hand, and they shared a smile, both overwhelmed and unable to speak at that moment.
“Where’s Zylphia?” Clarissa asked. “I thought she’d traveled down with you, Sophie and Richard.”
“She did. She’s one of the beauties at the Treasury Department pageant. We should see her shortly, although I can only imagine how cold she’ll be in that flimsy outfit they instructed her to wear.”
“Is that why we didn’t see her last night?”
“Yes. She had to practice the dance routine for all of them to do. Miss Paul has it timed perfectly so that their performance will culminate when Miss Milholland and the front of the parade marches past the Treasury Department. It should be something to see!”
“You know I’m thrilled to march. However, a part of me wishes I could see the parade too.”
“I know,” Florence said with a long sigh. “Savannah and Sophie are lucky to observe.”
“Well, this way, we’ll be able to share our experiences, as they’ll all be slightly different. Even Zee will have something distinct to tell us about the day.” Clarissa paused for a moment as their forward progression stalled. Her attention wandered, missing her children who were in Montana, missing Gabriel … even though he was with her in Washington, DC. She shook her head to banish the thought. “How was Zylphia chosen?”
“You know Sophie. She’s acquainted with everyone, and, when she discovered this march was planned, she obtained hotel rooms, a plum role for Zylphia and then ordered us to attend.”
“I think she’d phrase it as a strongly worded invitation,” Clarissa said with a giggle. “Although I am thankful she was able to book hotel rooms for us on the eve of the inauguration.”
“And at one of the nicest hotels in the city.” Florence looped her arm through Clarissa’s, frowning as they swayed in place.
After about an hour, when they should have marched at least a mile, they had barely moved six blocks. During their slow movement forward, the broad lines of women four abreast in front of them had funneled into a narrow line, further barring their progression. Clarissa shared a worried glance with Florence, before remembering the words of one of the organizers
to smile and to project confidence
Clarissa straightened her shoulders, smiled and attempted to walk with a bold purpose. She nodded to one of the policemen at the side of the parade route and edged her way forward. However, each stride became shorter—to the point she was marching in place. Clarissa noted that the policemen on the sides, who were to separate the marchers from the unruly crowds, were thinning. One even appeared to be jeering at the marchers.
“Where are your husbands?” a man yelled in the increasingly restive crowd.
“I doubt they could get husbands,” another jeered.
A balled-up wad of paper hit Clarissa, and she jumped but continued to smile and wave her pennant. She noted Florence doing the same, when, in an instant, they were surrounded by men, pushing and prodding them. Clarissa used her small pennant as a club to shove men away from her. One man spit on Florence, who reared back as a chicoreed splat of tobacco marred her cheek and the front of her white dress and purple coat.
“Flo!” Clarissa shrieked, momentarily distracted from protecting herself as she reached for her sister-in-law. She thrust out an arm, looping her hand through Florence’s arm to keep them together, only to be grabbed by a pair of strong hands. At his strong tug, she was separated from Florence. Another man grasped Clarissa’s pennant, and she didn’t have the strength to hold on to it.
Suddenly Clarissa was jostled, encircled by a crowd of leering men, with not even her pennant for protection. She attempted to still her breathing but continued to pant, watching with wild eyes as men poked and prodded her. She had nowhere to turn for safety, and she pushed away hands touching her skirts or flicking at her purple cape. When she brushed a man’s hand from her hat, she was slapped, her cheek aflame with pain, the man muttering that a woman such as her should be thankful for any sort of male attention.
A hand pawed her backside, and she flinched, unwittingly leaning toward a man in front of her. He jeered at her evident distress, reaching forward to tug at the front of her cape and dress. Clarissa reared backward, and his grip on her clothing tightened. She heard a loud ripping noise and glanced down at her torn bodice. She fought to rein in her panic, to find a way to fight back, determined to free herself from the mob.
All around her she heard whistles, shrieks and demands that the women be allowed to pass. No one seemed able to bring any semblance of order. One word,
, carried on the breeze, and Clarissa thrust her elbow at a sneering man getting too near. She reached up, yanking on two long hatpins, freeing her purple hat, uncaring when it fell to the ground.
“Stay away from me!” Clarissa shrieked. Her chestnut hair remained in a tight chignon, although loose tendrils floated around her face and neck from her exertions. She grasped a hatpin in each hand and held them out toward the men circling her. One man sneered at her, his brazenness enhanced by drink, and she poked him in his hand, drawing blood. He yelped in pain and drew back. After a few more exchanges where Clarissa poked deserving men with her hatpins, the men near Clarissa kept their distance, searching for easier prey.
She turned around, frantic to find Florence. She saw her sister-in-law a few feet from her, elbowing men away from her. “Hatpins, Flo!”
Florence nodded, reaching to pull the pins from her hat. After a few well-placed piercings, Flo and Clarissa again stood next to each other. “Where are the police?” Florence asked. “Why aren’t they doing anything to protect us?”
* * *
ylphia McLeod inched
toward a ray of sunlight to warm herself as she awaited her signal to begin her part of the allegorical dance on the treasury’s steps. She was a participant in a Greek-styled play, showing the marchers and onlookers that a new period in women’s history had begun. She stood alongside fifty women, facing another fifty, all in flimsy white dresses and sandals. Zylphia’s jet-black hair formed a coronet on which a crown of flowers lay. However, their thin garments, suitable for a warm summer day, proved no match for the early March winds. The women and girls formed an honor guard of sorts for the main characters in the play, soon to be performed when the forefront of the parade marchers arrived.
Zylphia sighed with relief when she heard the herald of the first trumpet. With the final blast, the main performers danced. They represented Liberty, Justice, Charity, Hope and Peace, and they danced in harmony as they moved toward the front of the treasury’s steps. When their dance ended, they raised their arms in triumph, expecting to see Miss Milholland and the first marchers below them. However, the street remained deserted.
After a few minutes they lowered their arms and peered up the street toward the Capitol. “That doesn’t look right,” Zylphia murmured to the woman standing next to her, as they broke formation and moved toward the edge of the steps. An angry roar crested and receded, depending on the wind, and the avenue was filled with an enraged mob, not the well-organized parade marchers.
“Something has gone terribly wrong,” whispered the woman next to Zylphia.