The past events that have occurred within Harkwood estate have left Eden in a state of confusion and uncertainty on what her role should be in the midst of such circumstances. Her family had suddenly become quite attached to Bradley that it seemed they have won his interests amongst the many who wished to be acquainted with the gentlemen. Each morning past with Bradley and Ashton Moulier's frequent visits and it seemed that her sister was to expect a surprise proposal soon enough.
Maxwell often noticed these differences of atmosphere in the household which left him with an air of discomfort as well. He sought out Eden and inquired frequently of the current situation between Annabelle and Bradley and most strongly on Charlotte and Mr. Moulier.
"If I had not been the gentleman my parents have brought me up, as well as I being under the tutelage of the respectable Mr. Carting back in the university at Oxford, I would've rounded them men up and have interrogated them of their intentions, if whether it was the academy plans and sponsorships they are seeking or my sisters' innocent hands in marriage," he spoke with such vexation that brought alarm to Eden. "Surely it must be the former that be their goals," she replied. "For how could one man risk his reputation and the town's respect of him, bringing into shame as well the family which his intentions may seem currently focused on, which I am sure would not only bring pain to himself but that of the lady which he offers his undivided attention and who he opens his heart to?" "I cannot make a firm judgment of Bradley's intentions, I can assure you of that dear Eden," Maxwell said, running his hand through his dark brown hair. "But it is that Moulier which I cannot walk around the halls and be calm and serious."
"What do you see in him that seems reproachable besides Charlotte's interests?"
"I know of his background. He is familiar back in Oxford."
Eden's eyes widened at this news. She prodded her brother to go on.
"At first I halted my curiosity for I was unsure if it was the same Professor Ashton L. Moulier that was very much admired by the people at the university, yet the same physical features could not deny his identity. I declare him being admired in the negative sense as his interests were very shameful that only members with good connections around campus could have access to." Eden looked into his brother's face and only saw a frustration and anger that could only be observed and undisturbed. She walked across the room to which they were both alone, and waited for Maxwell to continue.
"Ashton Moulier was a professor of fine arts presenting lessons and teaching new students for half a day. The women could not help but notice how much of a fine charmer he was and that he was a man of sensibility with knowledge of perspectives and architecture. He declared himself a bringer of immense appreciation of the arts and offered side consultations to whoever wished to make his better acquaintance and to know more of his journeys through the New World and farther Europe." Maxwell stopped and walked towards the fire place where the family portraits stood. He looked solemnly at the young blonde-haired Charlotte, frowning immensely, and turned away. "I thought highly of him, not wanting to let rumors of his charms and advances on his students get in the way of my opinion of him until I spoke of him to my fiancée once at a dinner."
"You mean your fiancée, Miss Lydia Morton?"
"Yes, the same Lydia that I am to bring home for formal introductions."
Eden looked at him with earnest concern. What could Lydia have to do with Moulier's past? Maxwell suddenly took Eden's hands and was about to mention something when a knock on the door was heard. They turned and saw their mother staring at the both of them with intense curiosity.
"Mother!" Eden exclaimed.
"What's this I see? Anything you might want to share Maxwell?"
"It is of no importance Mother," he assured. "I was just discussing with Eden of the fine background of Oxford." "Ah, and Lydia was a part of this?" his mother asked. She walked slowly towards them and embraced them both. "It always lifts the sadness in my poor heart whenever I see my children sharing moments with one another despite the circumstances that deem us to separate for duty and education. And it would bring much joy to a mother if the children all share in moments of happiness approval of one another's decisions." "I agree with you but am rather perplexed at what you are deriving at," Eden replied, releasing herself from her mother's embrace. "I meant to speak to both of you privately on the account of Annabelle and Charlotte's new interests," her mother said.
Maxwell and Eden glanced at one another and back to their mother. "Though the circumstances since the arrival and visits of Bradley and Mr. Moulier have altered around the manor, it is to my observation that my girls are very happy and have been engaged in frequent conversations with the said gentlemen," Mrs. Bennington explained, walking around the room while speaking. "I personally believe both to be amiable, respected, and of good intentions. Annabelle has always been keen to Bradley and Charlotte is very much entertained by Mr. Moulier's sense of humor and wit. A mother would only wish for her daughters to be married in due time and it is important that all family members must be aware of the circumstances at hand and share in the joy." "Mother you cannot possibly hope for the fulfillment of an engagement between the two!" Maxwell burst in indignation. Eden gasped and Mrs. Bennington screamed in disbelief.
"Not to agree? Maxwell what has become of your reasoning? It is simply the happiest thing that has ever happened to your sisters and you disapprove?" "I cannot venture on, to speak of my reasons to which I disapprove of the possibilities of my sisters' engagements to the gentlemen, for I am speaking on my own judgment and have not the proof to bring forth my convictions to the public," her son replied. "But I do insist Mother that you observe and halt your encouragements, for it is wiser to watch with keen eyes than to act on impulse for the sole reason of the supposed security to be gained from the gentlemen." Mrs. Bennington would not hear any of it anymore, putting her hands to her forehead and exiting in a rush for relief and a cup of tea.
"I say Maxwell I never expected such behavior from you in regards to these events," Eden mentioned after a long pause. He sighed. "I should apologize accordingly for disturbing her peace and bliss…it is beyond my power to conjure changes in the opinion of others, much more our mother's, and it cannot be helped that Bradley and Moulier have taken quite a liking to Annabelle and Charlotte." He then turned to Eden, took her hands, and said lastly, "I now depend on you Eden to remind our sisters of grace, respect, and to equip themselves with reason than of their hearts alone. We cannot avoid the opinion of the many who observe these things, and it would bring sorrow and wretchedness if something is to unfold and gossip would sprout from it. With this I leave all my trust and confidence in you."
Maxwell kissed his sister and hurriedly left the room to retrieve Mrs. Bennington from her state. Eden called out to him, remembering at once the story of Ashton Moulier which he interrupted, and knew
that he was out of her sight and hearing already. She would have to remind him the next time, hopefully before his return to Oxford, for it seemed a very heavy subject and must be known by her in order to know what must be done of Charlotte and Moulier.