One evening in October, 1872, Frederick Garland said to his sister, "I say, Rosa, I've had an interesting day."
She looked up from her script. "Hmm?"
"I was taking a picture in Swaleness-"
"How long did it take you?"
"A few hours. I was experimenting-"
"Experimenting! If you spent half the time working that you do experimenting you'd make five times the money."
"We've been through this before. One good new invention could make my fortune and change the art of photography forever. Now, I was in Swaleness, and a horrid witch of an old woman asked me the way for Foreland House. A while later a very pretty girl asked me the same question. She came back about ten minutes later. Said the old woman was following her. I told her to hide in the tent. Then the woman came and asked if I'd seen the girl. I said she was going to Ramsgate, and the woman hurried off. What's going on? I asked the girl. She's 'mixed up in something horrible.' Couldn't tell me about it. And she offered to pay me, but I told her just to tell me her name. Sally Lockhart, of London."
Quickly Rosa went from scolding to being concerned. "You just let her go? I hope she isn't in danger."
"No, she said she would avoid the witch. Anyway, she looked as if she could handle whatever happened. I quite liked her." Indeed, Frederick already felt that he could fall in love with her. He wanted to know more about this girl and her mixed up trouble. He hoped he would meet her again.
A little more than a month later, Sally entered the kitchen of 45 Burton Street, carrying a chest. Rosa and Jim were at the theater; Trembler had not yet stopped searching for Adelaide. Only Fred was there, reading one of Jim's penny dreadfuls. She sat next to him. "I have new."
He put the book down. "Is it good?"
"I received a letter from Mr. Bedwell today with a message from my father. Look under the clock. So I went to our house in Norwood, and under the clock tower I found this box. She watched his face as she opened it. First he looked amazed at the amount of cash, then delighted as he realized what it all meant. She couldn't help but smile. "There was a letter too . . . my father said to invest in a small business. And I think I know one that needs it. We can buy chemicals and paper and anything else now."
Fred clapped his hands together. "Capital, Sally, capital! You're brilliant."
"It wasn't my doing," she protested.
"Well, I still think you're brilliant. And you've helped us so much. We would have gone bankrupt if you hadn't shown up." Something in his voice had changed; it made Sally quite nervous. She remembered the day Chainey's came, the day Jim told her Mr. Selby was dead, and what Fred had said then. With both hands she clutched the box, which was still on her lap.
"You're a real partner in this, Sally, and when Uncle Webster returns I shall tell him to replace Garland and Garland with Garland and Lockhart. Unless . . ." He stopped.
"Unless?" she repeated.
"Unless you want to be a Garland too. Because I love you, Sally, I always have since I met you in Swaleness."
She was speechless for half a minute, then she cried, "I can't get married!"
"Because-" Why not? Think quickly, she told herself. "Because I couldn't be a businesswoman if I were married. I couldn't have my own property or my own money. Everything a woman has goes to her husband."
"Is that all? I won't touch your property, I promise. There must be some sort of legal document we can sign-"
Sally shook her head. "You don't understand. It's the principle of the thing. Don't you see, if all the women in England refused to get married a new Act would be passed."
He protested some more, and asked why it mattered, she was only one woman, and her property was safe. She answered him back until a customer came in. Glad to be alone, she went behind the shop to think.
Fred loved her and wanted to marry her. She did not know what to do or think about it. She was not sure if she loved him. She liked him very much, she was fascinated by his mind and personality, and she enjoyed working with him. Yet she didn't think she wanted to marry him, or anyone just then. She loved being independent and she was quite happy with her life the way it was. Could there be anything better than working her with the Garlands and Jim and Trembler? If there was, Sally couldn't imagine what it would be.
She was surprised to find that knowing what she knew changed her daily interaction with Fred very little. It was almost as if that conversation had never happened at all. They worked and laughed and argued together the same way they had before.
Months later, when Webster had returned from Egypt and when the business was growing and doing excellently, he asked her again. She refused again and the same the next time and the time after that. He called her cold and passionless. She replied that he was a fool who never took anything seriously. On each occasion they exchanged words until he laughed at how ridiculous they sounded. Sometimes she laughed too.
But Fred never gave up after the laughter. "Really, Sally," he always said, "it isn't as if marrying me will keep you from doing what you want. Nothing will change except your name. We already share a great deal, so why not? It makes perfect sense."
She answered him with as firm a "No" as she was able to give. She was proud of herself for always getting the last word.