Love Across the Ocean
Charlotte Mesinger is willing to do almost anything to escape the beatings in the home where she grew up. When she spies an advertisement for a wife to help care for three children, she sees it as an answer to her prayers, even though it means going to America and forgetting the young man she's been seeing.
When Friedrich Haupt's wife dies giving birth to their third child and her parents insist he must hand over the children to them, he is frantic. A customer in his jewelry shop suggests going to America, and another offers to buy the establishment. But convention forbids a woman living in his household without marriage, for whatever reason, and he places the ad, ready to give the woman her freedom after a year.
With these desperate situations resolved, Charlotte and Friedrich still have many secrets...
Charlotte hand-carried the letter to the newspaper. She wanted to make sure it would not get lost in the mail. Thursday evening finally arrived. Near the end of choir practice, Charlotte kept her gaze on the last pew. It was almost eight when she saw an old man sitting there and praying.
Oh, no, he’s old. I suppose “young father” doesn’t mean young man. It probably means only that he has young children. I don’t know if I even want to go and talk to him. But Papa… I need to get away from Papa.
Soon the old man rose and left the church. Then she saw a young man enter the church, remove his top hat, and sit in the middle of the last pew.
Can that be him? He is beautiful, with dark wavy hair, and clean shaven. I hate those mutton-chop sideburns so many men wear nowadays. He can’t be real; a man like that must have women swooning over him. There is something definitely wrong. Maybe that’s not him.
A man dressed in coarse laborer’s attire entered the church. He stood there uneasily, twisting a cap in his hand.I bet that is him.The man walked down the aisle and sat in the middle of the church and started praying. She let out a sigh of relief.
“Now we sing ‘Joyful’ one more time from the top, and then you can go home,” said the choir director.
Charlotte sang with gusto. It was one of her favorite songs.
She rushed down the stairs and sat down in the last pew a short distance from the man.
“Are you C. M.?” the young man asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“I am Friedrich Haupt. It is a pleasure to meet you,” he said, keeping his gaze on the altar.
“We have to talk quickly; otherwise my father will come looking for me, and you would not want to see that.”
He took a deep breath and spoke in a low tone.
“I am a jeweler and watchmaker and have had my own shop. My beloved wife died in childbirth three weeks ago, and my in-laws are trying to take my three children away. I love her and am in deep mourning. I also love my children and don’t want to lose them. The boy is four, one girl is two, and now the infant. I have sold my shop and apartment and will need to vacate very shortly. I want to go to America, but I need a wife quickly to help with the children. I will consider this a marriage of convenience, with no intimacy. Do you understand? If you decide you can accept that, look my way and say yes.”
“One question first. Suppose I get to America and hate it there; what would you do?”
“I ask you to give it a year. After that, I would pay your passage back to Germany and pay you some for your trouble.”