First and foremost, I’d like to thank Fay for her valuable contribution to the Candy Candy fandom. A while ago I mentioned on my Facebook page that a few dedicated Candy Candy fans have translated CCFS from the Italian version to Spanish PDF files (2 volumes). They can be downloaded for free, but the links will expire. Fay doesn’t understand Spanish, but while using Google translator, she’s keeping notes in English. Then an idea dawned on her one day. She might as well share her notes with us. I’ll keep updating this page whenever she sends me new links. Please bookmark it for your own convenience and let her know what you think. 😍
I delight at the idea of dining out with Master William, and yet I hesitate, “I’m afraid-”
He cuts me off, his inviting smile replaced by an understanding frown, “Right, what was I thinking? Nanny must be expecting you home.”
When I nod, he lets out a tired sigh, slowly pulling himself up from his chair. “See you tomorrow then, Georges.”
That’s a signal for me; that means I can leave the office any minute. As I see him making his way to the office door, it suddenly becomes clear to me why Master William doesn’t go home for dinner anymore these days. Nobody is waiting for him, except the servants, who will not join him for dinner. In fact, before his travel to London and later Africa, for many years Master William had been eating alone in a dining room dedicated to him, away from everyone in the household. There were trustworthy, middle-aged servants attending to his daily needs, but they were, as Master William used to say, “just as stoic as statues”.
I know them. They have been loyal servants for as long as I can remember, always keeping polite distances from their masters. They were trained to show no emotions regardless, not even the premature deaths of Master William’s immediate family members could move them. That explains why the young heir has never been close to them. They are too cold to his liking.
Perhaps this is also one of the reasons why Master William was reluctant to leave Miss Candice? She’s the complete opposite of these servants. I can imagine how much he has treasured her companionship.
Hence, just when Master William reaches out for the door handle, I make up my mind. “Sir, I believe my housekeeper has cooked more than enough for all of us.”
He quickly turns his head over his shoulder, his eyes lit up. “Is that an invitation?” he asks, looking hopeful.
I bow with exaggeration. “You are more than welcome to come to my humble abode, sir.”
Over the course of the scrumptious meal, the grin hasn’t left my housekeeper’s face. She’s content by watching her master eat. “Master William, if you wish, you can come everyday. I can cook your favourite dishes.”
He throws his head back and laughs. “No, Nanny, I can’t afford to gain too much weight before that day.”
When puzzlement flashes across her features, he reveals to her about his impending début, so he has to look his best to present himself to the public for the first time in his life. His facial expressions are a little over the top to me, or am I too sensitive?
Nevertheless, he agrees to try to come again soon. However, for the following two weeks, since it’s the beginning of the new year, even I cannot go home for dinners. Together with the senior executives, we have meetings after meetings so that we can present the updated budget to the board of directors at the end of January. They’ve turned down the previous one, believing we can invest and explore new business opportunities.
One day, after one of these meetings, my secretary Mrs. Thompson informs me of a personal telegram sent from a place called “Rockstown”. Master William is anxious to know if this is an update about the search of the Broadway actor, but the first question that comes forth his lips is, “Where is this place, do you know?”
“I have no idea, sir.”
Indeed it’s from the private investigator whom I have hired. His message couldn’t be more brief. It’s the hotel name and the room number the investigator resides.
Despite himself, Master William decided at the last minute to meet with the private investigator, Mr. Hastings; our contract agreement is that once Mr. Hastings can track down Mr. Graham, he’ll stay in that place until the actor moves to somewhere else. Then the investigator will notify me right away.
My young boss and I exchange a questioning glance. Apparently, neither of us has heard of this town, and even if we know where it is, I’m not entirely sure what my boss has in store for the missing actor. Should we go there or what?
“It’s time,” says my master after a moment of awkward silence, taking a deep breath. “… for me to take some action. I’ll go there myself.”
“Sir, I beg you to reconsider,” I caution. “Our meeting with the board-”
Before I can say that the meeting with the board is early next week, he cuts me off, “You have my full trust, Georges. You can always reschedule if necessary.”
I’m at a loss of how to respond, but seconds later I suggest, “Sir, rather than going there yourself, how about you send him instructions of what to do in Rockstown?”
He instantly rejects the idea, “No, he’s done his part. Now it’s my turn.”
Yet, I can’t help asking, “What about Madam Elroy?”
“I know what to say to her,” he answers, shrugging his shoulder nonchalantly. When I offer to accompany him, he shakes his head, giving me a reassuring smile, “Georges, you need not worry about me. Just take care of everything during my absence. I’ll do my best to return before the important meeting.”
“What if you can’t find either of them?”
He flashes me a quizzical look. “What do you mean?”
“Say…” I begin. I have to think fast. “Suppose Mr. Graham would only stay there temporarily, and our investigator didn’t know you were coming from Chicago?”
It seems that this possibility hasn’t crossed his mind. Without a word, he contemplates the highly probable scenario, but in about a minute’s time he makes up his mind, his features suddenly relaxed, “I’m willing to take the risk.”
Having said that, he winks at me, “So, wish me luck!”
The next thing I know, he turns on his heels, leaving my office in a rush. Apparently, he’s determined to take matters into his own hands, and he doesn’t want my involvement this time.
In other words, Master William has to act fast to minimize the risk. Later, when I sit down, working on some documents, it strikes me that I’d better check with him when he is going to set off.
Little did I expect he’s left already, without the bodyguards. They have been dismissed for the day; they won’t be summoned to work until he returns.
As soon as I pass by my secretary’s desk, she says, “Mr. Villers, here is a message for you, from Mr. President.” It’s a short note, in his own handwriting.
‘If I stay in the office longer, I might change my mind. I have to do this, for Candy. Mrs. Thompson will give you a note for my aunt too. Find a messenger to pass it to her.’
I swallow hard, the only consolation being: Things usually work out, no matter how bad they seem at this moment.
That’s true. I should learn to trust my boss’ instincts. After all, who else knows Miss Candice better than he does? Perhaps he’s right, that seeing Mr. Graham again will brighten up her day.
Also, I must admit my boss is considerate. If he asked me to pass the message to his aunt, I wouldn’t be able to escape some sort of interrogation. Just then, my secretary gives me another note, and she remarks, “This is for Madam Elroy, Mr. Villers, but Mr. President said you should read it first.”
I go ahead and unfold the paper,
‘Dear Aunt Elroy,
You’ve always taught me that being preoccupied is not a valid excuse to close the door on opportunity. Hence, you won’t see me for the next few days. I’ll explain when I return.
William A. Ardlay’
Just in case, I use a similar reason to reschedule the meeting with the board: “Mr. President sees an opportunity he can’t miss.”
The weekend comes and goes, and on Tuesday, he shows up at work after lunch. That is, he has ample time to prepare for the meeting on Thursday, and he’s satisfied with the new plan we have come up. Other than being exceptionally quiet, he appears as if nothing unusual has happened these few days. Besides, because he doesn’t bring up the topic himself, I respect his privacy and only ask if he has achieved his goal during the trip.
He immediately replies, “Yes, absolutely. Georges, no words could describe my feelings when I saw Terry, but I was more convinced than ever that I was doing the right thing.”
Despite the positive pitch in his answer, sadness veils his brow. I have no clue what Master William did when he was there. Did he talk to Mr. Graham? Did he persuade the actor to come to Chicago? Or send him to New York? Nevertheless, like always, I would not ask my boss. In time he will reveal the details when he feels like doing it.
A couple of days later, merely hours after we have celebrated the budget approval and getting new investors on board, I receive a letter delivered by Mr. Hastings himself. He comes to my office when the sun is near the horizon and gives me a verbal update of what he has written on paper for Mr. Ardlay. While listening to him, I pretend I know everything about Master William’s plan of bringing Miss Candice and Mr. Graham back together.
The investigator says, “Yesterday afternoon, I left the parcel at her door as instructed. Mr. Ardlay reckoned it would take too long to send it via mail, so I paid for the postage and got the package stamped to make it look like one.”
They have to ensure it’s safely arrived at the apartment, I suppose. What’s in the package, I wonder.
“That’s great! Mr. Hastings, is that all you want to say?” I ask in a business tone.
He chuckles, shaking his head. “No, that’s not it, Mr. Villers. I’m here because of something more important. Miss Ardlay is leaving for Rockstown tomorrow, and I’ll follow her in secret by boarding the same train. As per Mr. Ardlay’s request, I must report at once whether she makes a move or not upon receiving a present from a man named Albert.”
Does that mean the investigator is clueless about who Albert is? Also, I believe her bodyguard will inform me too when he calls me later tonight…
But his goodbye cuts through my train of thoughts. “That’s it. I must get ready for another trip to Rockstown. Have a good evening, Mr. Villers.”
After that, I waste no time and pass the report to the president. Almost as soon as he gets the envelope from my hand, I ask for permission to go back to my work, believing that he wants to read the update alone. With an appreciative nod, he readily grants me my wish. As I stride across the spacious office, I sincerely hope he’s happy with the outcome, that Miss Candice’s instant response is what he has anticipated. On the other hand, I wonder why he gave her a present in his own name. Did he reveal the whereabouts of the missing actor in the package?
If Master William was quiet before, he’s become even more pensive, if not anxious, since that particular evening. On Monday morning, Mr. Hastings comes again with a report for the president. This time he’s in a rush, only leaving an interesting remark with a perplexed frown, “Mr. Villers, I was unaware that Mr. Ardlay is actually Albert himself. I thought you would have told me.”
His grumble piques my curiosity beyond words. How did the investigator figure that out? Before I can respond, he has to leave. “Please let me know if my commission is finished.”
Yesterday, I learned from Miss Candice’s bodyguard that she had returned to Chicago. At this moment, when I’m the only one in my office, I have to exercise tremendous self-control not to open the unsealed envelope. Right then, Master William comes to my rescue. My secretary saw Mr. Hastings earlier and passed the message to the president already.
When I enter the president’s office, he’s facing the windows. Without turning around, he says, “Georges, I hope you don’t mind I bossed around Mrs. Thompson.”
“Of course not, sir,” I reply in a level tone, making my way towards his executive desk. “This is the report from the investigator. With your permission-”
He interrupts at once, with his back still facing me, “No, Georges, take a seat.”
As I comply, he begins to recount the story of his lost badge.
“You mean you met a little girl that day, and she’s kept your badge all these years?” I ask incredulously. I’d never forget that day when the young heir escaped, which caused panic among the entire household.
“But sir, wait a minute… how did you find out about this? Did you run into her again?”
“Yes,” he replies, turning around with a half smile. “I met her again because of an accident.”
“Accident? In Italy?”
He lets out a chuckle, shaking his head thoughtfully. “It took place in Lakewood, near our family villa. When I saw what happened, I had to brace myself to plunge into the rapids to save her life,” he explains without looking at me.
“Oh…” I murmur unknowingly. Why does this sound so familiar…
All of a sudden, it all makes sense. “Master William, was the girl a little orphan from Pony’s Home?”
His face breaks into a reminiscent smile. “You won’t believe this, Georges. The little girl actually made me laugh heartily for the first time in many years.”
“Really? What did she do?” I play along as though I didn’t know who she was. Who could have thought their first encounter occurred roughly ten years ago, and their paths crossed again and again?
But he dodges my question. Instead, he remarks, “Even to this day, it’s heartwarming whenever her charming smile resurfaces in my mind… there’s no denying that back then, I was so captivated that I had the impulse to do anything just to see the lovely smile.”
He then falls into nostalgic silence, turning sideways to look outside the window. A long moment later, he adds, his focus back on me, “Years later, when we met again by the waterfall, I recognized her and found my badge dangling around her neck, but she didn’t recognize me. I could see it was something precious to her, so I let her keep it.”
“I see…” I murmur. Then I it dawns on me. “So is it true that she still has no idea who that boy was?”
He nods emphatically, a bitter smile forming on his lips. “Anyway, what matters is that I haven’t changed. I still want to make her happy, you understand?”
“I do, sir.”
Then, spinning away from me, he asks, “Can you read the report to me?”
“My pleasure.” He doesn’t want to let me see his facial expression, does he?
So I start reading the long report. ‘Miss Ardlay went into the roadside theatre just as Mr. Ardlay had visualized in his mind. Despite shedding lots of tears, when the actor miraculously sobered up and received applause from the audience, she left quietly without waiting for his performance to end.’
At this very instant, the young boss whirls around, his face a mask of utter disbelief. I lower the letter, asking, “Perhaps you want to read it yourself, sir?”
He promptly shakes his head, pulling the leather chair to sit down. “No, you can go on,” he urges, fixing his eyes on the desk. He looks tensed, like a defendant waiting for the sentence to be imposed.
I continue, ‘But a very beautiful woman invited Miss Ardlay to go to a restaurant. I recognized her. She’s the famous actress, Eleanor Baker, the rumored birth mother of the Broadway actor. Yet, later when Miss Ardlay left the restaurant, she didn’t return to the roadside theatre. After spending a night in a hotel, the young lady rose early next morning and searched high and low for a friend called Albert.’
I stop reading. No doubt Master William is stunned by the unexpected turn of events, the tension vanished and now replaced by astonishment. He sinks in his high back leather chair, his eyes doubled in size and his mouth dropped open as if he was unable to comprehend the investigator’s narrative.
Meanwhile, he isn’t aware I have stopped reading the letter out loud, like he’s spellbound. It takes him at least two minutes before he snaps himself out of his trance. He rubs his face to compose himself, straightening up, and speaks in a controlled voice, “The report isn’t finished, is it?”
“No, sir, but almost.”
‘She held a pencil portrait in her hand to show the people all over the small town what her friend looked like. She believed he was somewhere in town. Some time later, she even approached me, not knowing that I was a private investigator, whose job was to observe all her actions. Mr. Ardlay, she was keen and desperate, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Why didn’t you tell me earlier that you were Albert? At any rate, she didn’t give up until hours later when realization hit her. Simply put, she finally accepted the fact that nobody had seen her friend, and she appeared so disheartened and crestfallen that for a moment I felt sorry for somewhat misleading her. No offense.’
I pause at this point, lifting up my eyes from the paper. The young man sitting opposite to me has his head dipped low with his elbows on his desk, his hands supporting his forehead. The hands have formed a barrier, shielding most of his features from being exposed. He mutters, his voice muffled, “Why… oh why…?”
In normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have let his vulnerable side show. Evidently, he’s under the influence of some powerful tug o’war inside him, his heart warring with his rational mind. Since Mr. Hastings used the word ‘misleading’, judging from his account of how Miss Candice’s hope of finding her friend Albert in Rockstown was dashed, I gather the package she had received made her believe Albert was in Rockstown. Did she know about Mr. Graham’s presence before her departure, I wonder?
Nonetheless, for the sake of wrapping up my task at hand, I inwardly count to ten before I read the conclusion, ‘Sir, in short, your plan didn’t unfold the way you thought it would. The good news is that Mr. Graham quit his job and took a train back to New York. Let me know if you want me to follow up on that. On the other hand, Miss Ardlay returned to Chicago, back to the House of Magnolia… alone.’
I took a break before enunciating the last word. Although Master William isn’t paying attention to me now, I utter, “That’s the end, sir.” His mind got carried away. Even a fool can sense it.
“Candy…” Master William mumbles under his breath, his voice filled with regrets. “I let you down…”
He then breathes out a heavy sigh, plopping himself down on his chair; he stares emotionally at the ceiling, his eyes brimming with tears. The implications of her behavior must have seeped into his brain. Contrary to what he had envisioned, Miss Candice didn’t leave the small town with Mr. Graham. Not only that, the report seemingly indicates that they didn’t even talk to each other.
Within seconds, a big drop of tear trails down the young president’s cheek. Right at this flabbergasted moment, he reacts by slapping his own cheek. When he lowers his hand afterwards, he examines his palm with wide unbelievable eyes, as if he couldn’t perceive why his hand is moist.
Master William has my full pity, but I think it will take him some time to digest all these. As I fold the report and insert it back into the envelope, he suddenly shots up from his chair, saying in a hoarse voice, “I need some fresh air.”
He dashes out of his office in no time; without second thought, I follow him closely behind, and so do his two bodyguards who were waiting outside the president’s office. They eye me with bewilderment, what’s the matter with the boss?
Note: Thank you for reading this chapter. By the way, I hope you like the song “What is Love?” (from the soundtrack of the movie “The Giver”) I recommended above. I had it in my head while writing this. Anyway, when I published the one-shot, Reunion, around this time last year, I already had a vague idea of Georges’ perspectives of the Rockstown episode, so you can consider this chapter a sequel to the minific. 🙂 That also explains why I decided not to repeat what I have already written in that short story.
This chapter is my imagination completely based on the manga version. Some of you might have known that I’ve never liked the equivalent episode in the anime version, which was totally opposite to what’s in the original story. Candy saw Terry but walked away, not the other way around. Undoubtedly, she went to Rockstown to look for Albert, and seeing Terry again didn’t make her change her mind. Hence, I was so relieved when I found out that Rockstown was in Candy Candy Final Story, not about a bar in Chicago.
It means a lot to me when I received the positive feedback on Facebook or Chapter 17 from you wonderful ladies (no particular order). Thank you for your continued support. Please accept my gratitude. 💕
JeannyJJ, marmalade, chosen615, Martha Cervantes, Mariacristina Marchetti (Anonymous), Antlay, Marlene Mendes de Abreu, Tracy Jordan, Loren Rios, and Elen Harket