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Page 18

He speaks English, and he can write?" Lizzie was becoming interested.

Creth spoke up. "Well, anyway, Minnie says he asked her if she knew a nice native woman who wants to get married. When she told him about you and your two children, he said he would be glad to have your children and would raise them as his own."

"My goodness, maybe he is a Prince!" Lizzie was still joking with them. "I think maybe I should meet this man.

"Is Sunday too soon?" Creth was quick to follow through.

"Sunday is fine." Lizzie consented.

So it was that Lizzie met Enrique Emillio (Henry) Hernandez. He was indeed, all that her sisters said he was. Not only was he handsome, tall and dark, he was well educated too. She believed his story that his father was a land owner in Mexico because he had such impeccable manners. Her boarding school training was challenged as to his own refinement. Narcisse fit in with the white race in a rough and tumble way, but this man was exceptional. There was something here not easily available to a woman in these parts. He made it plain to her right from the start he was looking for a wife.  With no hesitation he told her he was willing to take and raise her children as his own.

In order to be married Lizzie had to be first, divorced. These years gone by held no communication from Narcisse. She now sat before her former employer and she had to tell him of her dilemma.

"Mr. Comstock, I am here on a personal matter." Lizzie tried to carefully select her words. "You remember my husband, Narcisse?"

"Well yes, Lizzie, I remember him well."

"I suppose it is common knowledge he has been gone for several years now. For the truth of the matter, I have made acquaintance with a very nice man who wants to marry me. I have accepted his proposal. That is providing he will take my children as his own and wait until I legally divorce Narcisse."

"Seems reasonable enough to me." Mr. Comstock was watching Lizzie carefully. "I can set things in motion for you, if that is truly what you want."

"Yes sir, this is what I want. I have been alone now long enough to know Narcisse is going his own way and I must go my way, but then I must see my children are with me."

"I'll say this for you, Lizzie, you are certainly consistent in setting "firsts" for a woman here in Oklahoma. You know divorce just isn't that common among the people."

"True, you are correct. It really makes little difference to me. I have no garden parties or social obligations to attend this week or later for that matter."  Lizzie's wit was ever at her command.

Mr. Comstock smiled. "I will get immediately to working out your legal problems.

As she left Mr. Comstock's office Lizzie looked up to see Henry looking directly at her from the buggy where he waited. Once more she began to feel hope in her heart.  Her children would not, after all, need to be raised without the strength and guidance of a good father.

"Well, what is the verdict?" Henry wanted to know.

"He will take care of the legal part for us and soon as I have my divorce, we can be married.  To Henry there seemed to be a touch of lifelessness in her voice and he was quick and sensitive to pick up on it.

"Lizzie, are we going to be able to work this out?  I don't want you to go into anything heavy hearted. First, you must be sure you know I'm interested in a life long arrangement." As he talked she had no doubt he was honest. His Catholic background told her this.

"I do respect you Henry. I know you are a deeply honest person.   From your faith you must know, of course, a divorce is not right with me either." As she answered him with a partial explanation of her feelings she didn't know how to go into the subject of religion or that she probably would never completely accept his religion. She did agree to raise his children in that faith and she was baptized shortly before her death in order to be beside him in sacred ground.

Neither could she explain to him her heartbreak, probably she would never tell anyone about it, except one of her granddaughters, many years later, just before her death.

Henry reached over the back of the seat and put Edward on the front seat with them much to the boy's pleasure. He showed his feelings  with a big smile toward his mother. Velma, Henry picked up and held on his lap as he began to direct the buggy toward the edge of town.

The man was already teaching the children to call him "Papa," instead of "Daddy," as they had spoken of Narcisse. Velma addressed him, "Papa, please may I have some hard candy?"

"Yes, of course, mia hija bonita." He affectionately addressed the child in his own language.

With this warm endearment from Henry for her daughter, Lizzie raised her chin, looked straight ahead, over the backs of the horses and, mentally erased all thoughts of her first marriage from her mind.

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