17

Goodbye 1905 Hello 2005

(Or how Samantha Parkington ended up in the future)

Mount Bedford, New York 1905

Samantha let out a big breath as she stepped out of the automobile arm in arm with her best friend and adopted sister Nellie O'Malley. "I can't wait to see Grandmary again," said Samantha staring up at the mansion that used to be her home. So much had changed since Samantha had lived here. Grandmary had finally given in and married the Admiral, Samantha moved to New York to live with Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia, and best of all Nellie was now adopted into her family. For Samantha, life couldn't be more perfect. She had the perfect home, and the perfect family. She had real sisters and she felt like she truly belonged forever. And yet, staring at Grandmary's perfectly manicured lawn she felt an odd sense of bittersweet reminiscence. A part of her longed for the good old days when she lived here with Grandmary and battled the annoying neighbor boy to her heart's content. It didn't make sense since she had been lonely and miserable inside Grandmary's mansion, but her dislike for change, even good change, brought a joyful colored lens over an otherwise unhappy situation.

"Gosh," said Nellie staring up in wonder at what she considered Queen Grandmary's palace. "The last time I was here I-"

"Was just a lowly servant," taunted a rather annoying voice.

Samantha groaned. "Eddie, go away!"

Eddie stuck his tongue out at her. "And how are you going to make me?"

Samantha growled as she lunged at him.

Nellie gasped. "Samantha! Don't-"

"I have to put him in his place, Nellie."

"Yeah, Nellie the servant girl," said Eddie. "You must share your precious Samantha with high society."

"Which you are not a part of, Eddie Ryland!" Samantha shouted.

"That's what you'd like to think! But-"

"If you don't shut up and leave us alone, I'll tell your mother. . .um, I'll tell her. . . . ."

Eddie laughed. "You don't have any threats to blackmail me with, Samantha Parkington! Been gone so long you don't know anything anymore."

That slung like a slap to Samantha. She had always prided herself on having a ready comeback to throw at her neighbor and now she had nothing simply because she didn't know much about him anymore. Eddie fiddled with something in his pocket.

"What's that?" Samantha asked.

"None of your business."

"Whatever it is, I'm going to find it and throw it in the river."

"You'll have to catch me first!" And he took off running.

Samantha followed, but Nellie stayed back not wanting to get involved with the mean neighbor boy. She couldn't understand why Samantha was so obsessed with besting Eddie Ryland. Would Samantha spend their whole visit to Grandmary's hunting down Eddie? Nellie was sure she couldn't take it.

"Samantha! Nellie!" Mrs. Hawkins called. "There's a visitor for teatime."

"Samantha!" Nellie ran after her friend and tugged on her arm. "We have to go."

Samantha smirked at Eddie. "Yes, we have more important things to do than mingle with riffraff like this anyway." She tossed her hair over her shoulder in what she imagined was a high society snooty way.

Eddie Ryland couldn't help but grin as he watched them walk slowly and stately, not run, towards Grandmary's big mansion. That was the most fun he had had since she left. Wow, it felt good to have the Parkington girl back in his life if only for a fleeting visit.

When Samantha and Nellie arrived in the parlor, Grandmary, Uncle Gard, Aunt Cornelia, and a strange lady were already sipping tea. The stranger had brown hair and bangs like Samantha though it was straight as a board and not wavy like Samantha's luscious locks. She also wore a watch on her wrist. Some upper class ladies were known to wear watches, men did not as they had their pocket watches, but lady's wrist watches were mostly another piece of jewelry meant to be decorated beautifully and encrusted in gold and diamonds. But this lady's wristwatch was not beautiful at all. It was functional and ugly and unlike any watch Samantha had ever seen before with lots of weird buttons and glowing parts.

"Girls," said Aunt Cornelia. "I'd like you to meet Miss Jessica."

Nellie curtsied. "How do you do, ma'am?"

Grandmary coughed, and Samantha stumbled into an awkward curtsy. Samantha had a hundred questions like who was this lady and why was she here? But Samantha held her tongue knowing that it was not proper for her to ask any of them.

Grandmary said, "Miss Jessica is one of the head mistresses at a Young Ladies Academy."

Samantha frowned. She didn't like the sound of this.

"It's a boarding school in Boston," explained Uncle Gard.

"Boarding school?!" This time Samantha couldn't hold her tongue. Nellie had almost gone off to a school in Boston, but Samantha, Uncle Gard, and Aunt Cornelia had changed her mind or so Samantha thought. Was Nellie trying to leave them again? "And why-"

"Samantha!" Grandmary scolded.

"It's quite alright," said Miss Jessica. "All of the girls who come with me have some doubts at the beginning, but after a while-"

"Go with you?!" Samantha squealed. "But we're not-"

"Samantha," Uncle Gard said. "Miss Jessica is here to take you back to Boston with her."

Samantha felt the ground shake under her feet. She grabbed Nellie's hand for support.

Grandmary said, "This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I don't want you to waste it."

"But I'll be far away from you all." Tears sprang to Samantha's eyes. Her worst nightmares included being ripped away from all the people she loved and being alone in foreign place. And after all this family went through together, Samantha just couldn't believe that they would consider this. Did they not want her anymore?

"Actually," Miss Jessica interrupted. "Nellie will join you in one year's time. And you can come back and visit."

"But a visit just isn't the same!"

"Samantha," said Cornelia, "We love you, but we are sending you and eventually Nellie to school in Boston."

Samantha turned to Cornelia with tears in her eyes. "You'd really send me away?"

Cornelia sighed as she took Samantha's hands. "It's not my first choice for your future, but we must honor Grandmary's wishes."

Samantha jerked out of her grasp. "Uncle Gard?"

Solemnly, Uncle Gard nodded. "I'm sorry Sam, but we-"

"I thought you wanted me, I thought you all did!" Samantha turned an accusing eye on Grandmary.

"Samantha." Grandmary gave Samantha her frosty glare and Samantha squirmed with guilt in her chair. "I would not do this if I did not think it best for you. Do you doubt me?"

"No, Grandmary," Samantha whispered.

"Good. Do not blame your aunt and uncle. Though you live with them, I still have the final say when it comes to you for I am still your legal guardian. And it was always my intention to send you to this school in Boston for that was where your mother went."

Samantha clutched her locket. She took a deep breath to steady herself. She didn't want to leave everything she's ever known and loved to go off all alone to Boston. "Surely, there are other schools here in New York?"

Miss Jessica shook her head. "Not like the one I'm taking you to, no."

Grandmary added softly, "Your mother went there. And she appreciated the opportunity. It was where she met-"

"But I am not my mother." On trembling legs, Samantha ran out of the room as fast as she possibly could.

"Samantha!" Grandmary called out on horror. "A lady never runs-"

Cornelia laid a hand on her arm. "Perhaps today should be an exception."

Samantha tore down the hall, down the steps two at a time and out the door. Tears poured down her cheeks so much that she could barely see and so she ran straight into a couple of maids struggling with a big basket of laundry. Laundry spewed everywhere, but Samantha didn't care and kept running across the lawn to the Ryland property. Her petticoats were flashing for all the world to see and for the first time in her life she didn't feel guilty for deeply disappointing Grandmary. As she scurried up her favorite climbing tree, Samantha's precious locket with the only keepsake of her parents inside, scraped against the bark and the threads holding it to her dress popped loose to leave the brooch trampled into the dust below.

Samantha didn't even notice; she was so upset. How could they consider sending her away? Weren't they a family that truly loved and cared for her? Weren't families supposed to stay together forever? Was it all because she was the orphan, the one whose very presence still made them feel the pain of losing their Lydia? She sobbed for several minutes until a taunting voice coming from another branch of the tree said, "Samantha Parkington, you're such an ugly crier. Sobbing like a big baby, it's no wonder you're so ugly all the time."

"Shut up, Eddie Ryland!" Samantha unbuckled her shoe and threw it at him. He ducked.

Eddie laughed. "Na, na, na, na! Missed me, missed me, bet you want to-"

Samantha threw her other shoe and this time it hit the mark which was Eddie Ryland's face. "Ow!"

Samantha stuck out her tongue at him. "Serves you right."

Eddie aimed his slingshot at her.

Samantha gasped. "Don't you dare."

Eddie smirked. "Make one move and-"

"Please," Samantha sobbed. "This day has been bad enough."

Eddie had never seen Samantha so upset before. He lowered his slingshot. "What happened in there?"

Samantha wiped her nose on her skirt. "They're sending me away."

"Big whoop. You've already gone to New York and Europe and-"

"This time it's different. They're sending me alone. To Boston."

Eddie's eyes widened. His mother was always threatening military school for him, but thankfully she had never actually done it. Yet. "What did you do?"

Samantha giggled. "Nothing." Her smile fell. "Except be a burden, apparently."

"Oh, Sam."

"Don't call me that!" She snapped. "Only Uncle Gard is allowed to call me that and you're not-"

"Sam. Sam. Sam. Sam!"

Samantha's hands curled into fists. "I don't know why I even bother. You'd never understand."

"Not understand your fears of being unwanted and alone?" Eddie scrambled near her so that they were sitting close on the same branch. "Not understand that the changes that life throws at us are hard and horrible? Not understand the fear of being thrown headfirst into the unknown when you don't think you'll ever be ready?"

Samantha looked at him in wonder. Did those mature words really just come out of Eddie Ryland's mouth? She stared into his eyes and for the first time she saw something else besides obnoxious mischief, something a little more serious and grown up.

Eddie brushed a piece a bang out of her eyes. He lowered his voice, "Because if you think for one minute, Miss Samantha Parkington, that I don't understand any of that then you're wrong. Dead wrong. I'm not always as stupid as I look. Because I know exactly how your brain works."

He leaned closer at the same moment Samantha did until their lips met in a kiss. Her first kiss. And it was stolen by none other than Eddie Ryland. She gasped and pulled back wildly while he grinned feeling quite pleased with himself.

"Eddie Ryland, you monster!" Samantha put both hands on his chest and pushed for all she was worth.

"Ahhh!" Eddie floundered backwards as he fell out of the tree. There was a painful thud as he hit the ground, but Samantha didn't care. She scampered down neatly, landing light on her feet like a cat, and took off running.

"Wait!" Eddie cried, jumping up on his feet no worse for wear.

Samantha didn't stop or turn around.

"You forgot your shoes!"

"I don't care!"

"But Grandmary will!" He pelted both shoes at her and she fell into the dirt. He ran towards her. "Here, allow me." Eddie grabbed a shoe and knelt to put it on her foot. Samantha picked up the other one and whacked him over the head with it. She wretched the shoe out of his grasp and marched off stocking footed and steaming mad.

Eddie watched her go and didn't make any attempt to follow. He turned back to the tree and stared at the branch where he had his first kiss. It wasn't as gross as he imagined it would be. He didn't know what had come over him, but he supposed it didn't matter now. What's done is done. Out the corner of his eye, he saw something sparkling on the ground. Greedily, he dove for it. He held it up and grinned for he recognized exactly what it was and where it belonged.

Samantha Parkington stood by her vanity with a pitcher, a bowl and a big bar of soap. Nellie and her sisters were outside playing. Samantha could see them from her window and she was sure they were enjoying the fact that Eddie Ryland was nowhere to be found for the moment. She wondered if he was washing his mouth out with soap right now like she was. A young girl dreams of her first kiss being something romantic and lovely and something so wonderful that you'd cherish it for the rest of your days. Too bad Eddie Ryland had to rob her of that moment. Her lips tingled, and she touched them as she remembered how it felt. How it lacked disgust. She was disgusted with herself for not being more disgusted! Samantha was determined to tell no one of that moment. This was a secret that would go to her grave.

"Knock, knock." Miss Jessica rapped on the door as she opened it anyway. "Can I talk to you for a moment?"

Since Miss Jessica was already sitting on Samantha's bed uninvited, all Samantha could say was, "Sure."

"I know you don't want to go to boarding school."

Gee, what made her figure that? Samantha wondered to herself sarcastically for she knew better than to say it.

"Nobody does," continued Miss Jessica. "Which is why I'm not taking you or Nellie to boarding school."

"Then where are you taking us?" Samantha was suddenly filled with fear. A cold, dark fear that perhaps even Eddie Ryland could understand after all.

"I am taking you to an orphanage of sorts."

"Orphanage?" Samantha's voice was barely a whisper. "Like Cold Rock House?"

Miss Jessica laughed. "No, nothing like that at all."

Samantha let out a breath though she still didn't feel any better.

"I'm also taking you to the year 2005."

Samantha laughed. "Yeah, right. That's a hundred years from now!"

"No, it's true," Miss Jessica insisted. "I'm a time traveler and you will be soon too."

"Prove it."

Miss Jessica didn't bat an eye; it was almost as if she were expecting or waiting for Samantha to ask. She pressed a few buttons on her watch. It glowed neon green and the whole room spun in circles. Samantha closed her eyes. She was dizzy by the time the spinning stopped. When she opened her eyes, she wasn't wearing her normal clothes. Both she and Miss Jessica were wearing tight fitting leggings made of a scratchy, chafing, uncomfortable material and they had tight shirts that was almost like a chemise but shorter and with nothing covering them. Samantha felt naked. Her room didn't look like her room. There were ropes blocking part of it off and a group of tourists snapping pictures of everything. A tour guide lady droned on. "And this is where the murder happened on August 15, 1942. See those blood stains? That's where Peter James Edwards the fourteenth was stabbed to death by his crazy wife the night before he was supposed to ship out as a soldier in World War II."

Samantha gasped. Murder in her bedroom? World War II? Did that mean there was a World War I? She rushed to the window as a security guard tried to pull her back. "Miss, you can't disrupt the museum-"

Samantha didn't care. Out the window, she saw lines of parked automobiles that were very different looking from her Uncle Gard's automobile and there was not a single horse in sight. Her favorite climbing tree was still there, but it was bigger, older, and scratched into the bark was a heart that read: Eddie loves Samantha. Forever and Always. No Matter What Time It Is.

Samantha was horrified, but then she frantically thought that there were lots of people named Eddie and Samantha in the world and that heart probably wasn't about her. Maybe the futuristic museum security guard was named Eddie, and maybe that droning tour guide lady was named Samantha and perhaps they had lunch under that tree every day and fell in love through their jobs. Yes, that must be it.

"Seen enough?" asked Miss Jessica calmly.

Samantha nodded. Miss Jessica pressed more buttons on her watch and suddenly they were back in her bedroom. With relief, Samantha realized she was wearing her own clothes again. "I hate the future!"

"That's too bad," said Miss Jessica, "since I'm taking you to 2005 with me tomorrow morning whether you like it or not."

"No!" Samantha threw herself onto her bed and shouted into her pillow. "I won't go!"

"You don't have to wear jeans and a t-shirt. You can wear your own old timey clothes. Will you at least consider it?"

Samantha looked up at her. "No."

Miss Jessica sighed. "Well, I tried. Guess I'll have to find someone else to help me run my orphanage of time travelers."

"Wait," said Samantha. "The other orphans are time travelers too?"

Miss Jessica nodded. "Most of them yes, though there are a few from my own time too."

"Why do you need me?"

"Because you have something very special to offer them that others don't. Because I'm very busy and I need someone like you to look after them in my absence. It is no secret that you've always wanted a big family. You once told Nellie that you've always wanted sisters. That when you see children hurt and hungry and poor that you want to help them all, to hug them all and never let them go-"

Samantha gasped. "How do you know that?"

Miss Jessica whipped out a book that was title Nellie's Promise on the cover. There was a picture of Nellie in her blue dress wearing a cross necklace with Samantha in the background.

Samantha was burning with curiosity. "What is that book?"

"Hush, you'll understand once I get you back to my house in 2005. Ah, here it is. Page 59. 'I wished that I could help all the children at the settlement house and make their lives better like Bridget and Jenny's and it made me sad and angry to know that I couldn't.' And on page 61 you say, 'Don't you see, Nellie? We're trying to start a whole new family.'" Miss Jessica slammed the book closed. "So, you see, Miss Parkington, starting a whole new family of time travelers is exactly what I'm trying to do. And I need both you and eventually Nellie to help me do it. By coming to 2005, I'm giving you the chance to help every lost, hurting, and confused orphan that you see."

"But everyone I've ever loved is here in this house, in 1905."

"But as you yourself said, you've already helped Bridget and Jenny. There isn't anything more that you can do for them," said Miss Jessica throwing Samantha's own words back in her face. "These people here don't need you the way my time traveling orphans do."

"But-"

"You can still come back and visit any time you wish. But that family of orphans in 2005 needs you than the people here ever will. And you will come to love them just as much if not more than you already love these people here. As Grandmary said, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. You'd best not waste it."

"Does Grandmary know?"

Miss Jessica shook her head. "Grandmary does not know about time travel and I'd like to keep it that way. No one here, except Nellie, will never know about time travel which is why they need to think you're going to boarding school."

"Grandmary said my mother-"

"Your mother did not time travel, if that's what you're wondering. She did go to a boarding school in Boston where she met your father, but that is not at all where I'm really taking you."

Samantha's head spun. 2005? Time travel? A big family of other time traveling orphans? It all sounded too crazy to believe. And yet, Samantha believed Miss Jessica. A small part of her wanted to leave right now while the rest of her screamed no. Curiosity won out as well as the thought of all the good she could do in the future, different from here and now, but possibly more wonderful at the same time. Was the future filled with stifling rules about properness? Based on what she saw she didn't think so and that idea delighted Samantha most of all. "Okay."

"You'll come willingly so that I don't have to knock you out and kidnap you against your will?"

"What?"

Miss Jessica smiled. "Nothing. But you will come?"

"On the condition that Nellie will eventually join me, yes."

"That's not a problem. That will be arranged when the time comes. Now, say your goodbyes and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime."

Samantha and Nellie sat outside on Grandmary's big porch swing. Bridget and Jenny were painting with Aunt Cornelia. Cornelia knew that the girls needed time alone to discuss the earthshattering news and so she offered to occupy the younger girl's attention. Though Bridget and Jenny loved Samantha, the thought of her leaving them wasn't such a hardship for them to bear. It was when Nellie left a year from now that would be the probably, but Nellie had a year to prepare them for that moment.

"I don't want to go," Samantha whimpered.

Nellie sighed. "I don't, either. But I don't think we have a choice."

"Of course we have some say! Isn't Cornelia the one who is always-"

"Samantha," Nellie said gently in that patient way she had with always explaining things to Samantha. "It's not the end of the world. School is temporary. You'll write to us and visit and we'll be together again in a year. It's not like they're sending us back to an orphanage or something."

Or something. What would Nellie say if only she knew what Samantha knew? Was it really temporary? Would time traveling to 2005 be just as temporary as boarding school would be? Samantha wasn't sure, and she didn't want to risk losing everything she had here if it didn't work out. Would Nellie say the same thing if only she knew where Miss Jessica was really taking them? Miss Jessica made it clear that Samantha shouldn't tell anyone about where they were actually going. But Nellie was different and if she was going to know soon anyway. . . . .

"Nellie, Miss Jessica told me something unbelievable," Samantha began. She reached to touch her locket for support only to realize that it wasn't there. She gasped.

"What?" asked Nellie in alarm. "What's the matter?"

"My locket, it's missing!"

"When did you for sure remember you had it last?"

"I always have it," said Samantha crawling on her hands and knees around the room. "And I bet I know who stole it!"

Nellie rolled her eyes. "It probably wasn't stolen. You probably just misplaced it, or it fell off your dress. Come on, let's go look."

Samantha and Nellie searched through every inch of Grandmary's house but did not find it. They asked all the servants to keep a sharp lookout for it. Then they went outside and searched the yard. They searched the hedge, and under the tree where Samantha admitted she had been earlier. Samantha was careful not to tell Nellie what had happened up in that tree with Eddie, she only said that this was where she ran to earlier when she had been upset. They carefully combed through the dirt, but still the locket was nowhere to be found.

"At least Eddie isn't here to bother us," said Nellie.

"Yes," agreed Samantha but inside she was feeling quite suspicious because when Eddie Ryland didn't capitalize on an opportunity to tease then it meant that he was plotting something even more horrible.

Finally, Samantha and Nellie had to give up the search and go to dinner. Dinner was quiet and strained that night. Miss Jessica didn't show for she had already retired to the guest room for the night because she wanted to give Samantha this last night alone with her family without intruding. Even then things were still awkward and quiet because everyone knew that this was Samantha's last night with them before she left tomorrow morning and that in her heart of hearts Samantha did not want to go.

After dinner when Samantha and Nellie retired to Samantha's old room that night, Samantha was still terribly upset about her missing locket. "I don't understand it, Nellie. We searched every inch of this property and still no locket. It's bound to be somewhere. A locket just doesn't get up and walk away on its own. And I'm leaving with Miss Jessica tomorrow! We have to find it before then."

Nellie shrugged. "Perhaps it's not the most important thing in the world. I don't need a locket to remember my parents." When she saw the look on Samantha's face, Nellie hastily apologized. "I'm sorry, Samantha. I didn't mean-"

"What's this?" Samantha was distracted by a note tucked into her windowsill. There was a small round hole in the window that Samantha knew hadn't been there earlier. A folded piece of paper was tied to a smooth blue rock that Samantha recognized as the gem of Eddie Ryland's rock collection. He must have shot it up to her window with his slingshot. "Oh, no. No, no, no." With a sinking feeling in her chest, Samantha tore open the note: If you ever want to see your precious locket again, come to the hedge at midnight. Alone. -E.

Nellie read over Samantha's shoulder and gasped. "You're not actually going to do it, are you?"

Samantha crumpled up the note in her fist and said grimly, "I don't have a choice. This is war and I'm not going to let him make off with my locket. He might do something rash like melt it down or throw it into the river. And I am not going to let that happen."

"But Samantha," Nellie argued, "at night? All alone? What would Grandmary or Aunt Cornelia say?"

"Grandmary is never going to know. Please Nellie, I have to. If I'm not back by 1 o'clock then you can worry. But it's just Eddie, I can handle him."

Nellie huffed out an aggravated breath. "Alright, but I'll be watching by the window just in case."

At a quarter to midnight, Samantha quietly slipped out of the house. She wore her play outfit with the pinafore because she was not going to meet Eddie Ryland in her nightgown and she knew that whenever he was around things were bound to get messy. She decided not to wake up Nellie though Nellie had asked her to. She didn't want to disturb her sleeping friend and she didn't want Nellie watching from the window just in case Eddie Ryland tried to kiss her again. Her cheeks flamed red at the thought especially since she wasn't sure if it would totally be a bad thing.

"Eddie?" Samantha called softly as she entered the hedge. "Eddie?" Samantha heard some branches snap and she jumped in fright. "Eddie, whatever trouble you're trying to cause-"

Eddie emerged from the shadows and Samantha screamed. Eddie clamped a hand over her mouth. "You trying to get us in trouble? Quiet. Yes, I'm here, Sam."

Samantha pried his hand off her mouth. "It's Samantha to you, buddy. Not Sam."

Eddie grinned. "Sam."

Samantha rolled her eyes. "Just give me my locket."

"Uh-un. Not until you pay up."

"How much money do you want?"

"Money isn't going to cut it this time, Sam. I want something else."

"What do you want from me, Eddie Ryland?" Eddie didn't answer. He just dangled the locket in her face. Samantha tried to snatch it, but he just held it higher. "Give me that locket!"

"Not until-"

"Not until what? I kiss you again because you love me?" This time Samantha clamped her own hand over her mouth. Both of their faces flashed hot and red.

Eddie threw the locket into the dust and started to storm off. "Just forget it."

"Wait!" Samantha knelt to grab her brooch. She noticed that something had fallen out of Eddie's pocket. She grabbed that too. It was a pocket watch with the name Ryland carved into it.

Eddie saw it whirled around to grab Samantha's wrist. "Give me that!"

It was Samantha's turn to grin. "No way."

"Give it!"

"No!" Samantha turned it over in her hand. She realized it probably belonged to Eddie's father who had died turning the Spanish American War. She dropped it quickly.

Eddie dove for it. "You're not the only one who has lost a parent, Samantha Parkington. Even though you act like yours are the only ones that matter."

"I-" All this time they had been fighting with each other when they could have been bonding over the grief of losing their fathers. And now it was too late. Time had run out for them since Samantha was going to the future tomorrow. Wait, bonding with Eddie Ryland? What was wrong with her? That kiss must have really addled her brain. Her face flashed red again. "I'm sorry," Samantha choked out.

Eddie staggered backward as he cupped a hand over his ear. "You're what? Do my ears deceive me? Did Samantha Parkington really just say-"

"Why did you want me to come out here tonight anyway? So you could gloat over the fact that you stole my locket?"

"Yes," replied Eddie.

Samantha shook her head and started to leave.

Eddie grabbed her by the arm. "Wait."

Exasperated, Samantha nearly shouted. "What? What do you want from me?"

Eddie released her. "I just wanted to say goodbye."

Dumbfounded, Samantha stared at him.

"You're leaving tomorrow and. . . . ." Eddie shrugged. "I just wanted to have one last go around."

"One last go around, huh?" Samantha thought for a moment and then she smiled a smile that meant trouble. "That can be arranged."

"No!" Eddie cried as Samantha scampered off to plot up one last prank. "That's not what I meant-"

Samantha turned around to smile sweetly at him. "Isn't it?"

"Sam-"

Samantha didn't want to ask her next question, but she had to be sure in order for this last trick to work. "Do you love me?"

Eddie Ryland's face turned red. Then he laughed in her face. "No, I hate you."

"Good, cause I hate you too. Which will only make this last go around all the more satisfying."

Eddie lurked around the hedge for a while waiting to see what Samantha would do next. When Samantha was completely sure that he had finally given up and gone to bed, Samantha ran to the carriage house and looked for Mr. Hawkins' paint. There was a big white picket fence outside the Ryland's front yard and Samantha aimed to redecorate it. And then she planned to round up all of the neighborhood boys to view Eddie's latest masterpiece. . . . .

Samantha woke early the next morning. Everyone gathered in the parlor to say their goodbyes. First, Samantha presented herself to Grandmary who was wiping her tears with her handkerchief. "My darling Samantha." Grandmary hugged Samantha close. "You're just as beautiful as your mother."

Samantha smiled. "I'll try to do you proud, Grandmary."

"I know you will, child, I know you will."

Next Samantha turned to Aunt Cornelia and Uncle Gard. "Thanks for everything."

"Oh, you're very welcome, and I will miss you very much," said Cornelia.

"You go get 'em Sam, you go get 'em," said Uncle Gard with a twinkle in his eye.

As Samantha hugged him she whispered, "You're like a father to me."

Without any words, Uncle Gard patted her back.

And finally, Samantha turned to Nellie. The two girls hugged for a long moment. "It's only a year," said Nellie. "And then we'll be together again. Boarding school won't be so bad, you'll see."

Samantha's throat was tight. Nellie still didn't know about time travel yet, but for now it had to be that way. It wasn't Samantha's place to tell her, even though she knew that Nellie would experience it herself soon.

"Ready?" asked Miss Jessica.

"Ready," Samantha said. As soon as they left the parlor, Samantha bolted in front of Miss Jessica and ran outside to the front of the Ryland yard to see a whole group of neighborhood boys laughing and pointing at what used to be a pristine white picket fence. Now it was a bright pink fence with little red hearts. There was a giant heart in the middle with a badly drawn picture of Eddie wearing a court jester's costume. It read: Eddie is a fool for Samantha.

They were laughing and teasing and chanting, "Eddie's got a girlfriend!"

"No, I don't!" Eddie screamed.

"Eddie and Samantha sitting in a tree-"

"Stop it!" Eddie shouted at his friends but they didn't listen.

"Wow, Eddie," said one kid. "Didn't realize you liked the Parkington girl that much."

"I don't!"

"Edward Troy Ryland!" Mrs. Ryland stormed out of the front of the house. "What on earth is going on out here? What did you do?"

"I did nothing-"

Mrs. Ryland gasped when she saw that every inch of her perfect white fence was now pink. "Eddie Ryland! You wash this off immediately! I don't care if you're a fool for the girl, you won't be showing it with my fence as a display board!"

"But, ma'am, I didn't-"

"Edward." Mrs. Ryland had her hands on her hips. "Fix this mess right now."

Eddie hung his head as his mother stormed off. The kids were still laughing at Eddie, but they quickly scampered off not wanting to get stuck helping him. When Eddie looked up, he saw Samantha. His eyes blazed. "You."

Samantha giggled. "That last go around good enough for you, fool?"

"I'll get you someday, Samantha Parkington! I'll get you good! Even if it's the last thing I do!"

Samantha grinned as she stepped up into the automobile with Miss Jessica quite certain with the idea that Eddie Ryland would never find her in the year 2005. "Ha! I'd like to see you try, Eddie Ryland! I'd like to see you try!"